I apologize for the delay in responding, it was not for lack of wanting to exchange perspectives and discuss our differing positions. Rather, it is because of a lack of a very precious resource...time. I have a business that is, in essence, in the start-up phase of its existence. I am the only full-time employee and sometimes it just takes awhile to get to all of the emails coming in.
Your website mentions Mary in perpetual virginity. The bible makes it clear that Jesus has one or two (maybe more) brothers. Where does the "perpetual virginity" come from?
Before I answer you specifically as to where that came from, would you do me a favor and answer a question for me. In Galatians 1:19, it identifies James as both an apostle and the Lord's brother. And, in Mark 6:3, it mentions four of Jesus' "brothers" and one of them is named James. Is the James, the brother of Jesus, in Mark 6:3 and the apostle James, the brother of the Lord, in Gal 1:19, the same person?
Strategies and Tactics:There are 4 main apologetics strategies that I teach people to use: 1)The Ignorant Catholic, 2) Being Offensive (Aw-fensive) Without Being Offensive (Uh-fensive); 3) It's the Principle of the Thing; and 4) But That's MY Interpretation.
I will be talking about all of these off and on in the coming newsletters, but for this newsletter, the strategy I use most is #2 above...Being Offensive (Aw-fensive) Without Being Offensive (Uh-fensive). (In fact, this is my primary strategy in all of my apologetics discussions.) And, the best way to be aw-fensive without being uh-fensive is to ask questions. Be a student of what the other person thinks and believes. Ask as many questions as possible about their beliefs and the Bible passages they cite. Try to ask more questions than you answer.
At the heart of this strategy is my contention that many non-Catholic Christians do not have a comprehensive, logical, and consistent system of theology. In other words, their theological system has any number of inconsistencies, but these inconsistencies are never brought out by Catholics, because we're too busy answering the other guy's questions. Well, we need to ask some questions of our own so that we can expose these inconsistencies and hopefully plant some seeds of truth.
Now, regarding the Perpetual Virginity of Mary: what I am doing here is asking what I call a set-up question. The set-up question sets the stage for the ultimate answer to the other guy's question. And, I prefer to answer questions as often as possible with a question. The reason I ask if the James in Gal 1:19 and the James in Mark 6:3 are the same person, is because if they are, then the "brothers" of Jesus mentioned in Mark 6:3, cannot be sons of Joseph and Mary. This is because the two Apostles named James were the sons of Zebedee and Alphaeus (see Matthew 10:2-4).
So, if the James of Galatians 1:19, who is referred to as the Lord's brother, is the same as the James in Mark 6:3 who is referred to as the Lord's brother, then we see that the "brothers" of the Lord are not sons of Mary and Joseph and, therefore, Mark 6:3 does not "prove" that Mary had other children. And, if someone says that the James of Gal 1:19 and the James of Mark
6:3 are not the same James, then the question is, "How many brothers named James did Jesus have?" And, one other question, "Where in the Bible does it say that they aren't the same James?" We'll hopefully get a chance to see how he answers.
Could you explain the Catechism to me? Why did the Magesterium need to clarify what God said? Why did it take them and the popes 600 or so pages to do so in the Catechism? Aren't they clearly saying "Who cares what God's word says - we can read his mind and we know what he tried to say so let us tell you"?
If you check out the indices in the back of the Catechism, you will see a biblical index that is some 32 pages long. In other words, the Catechism refers back to the Bible many times over. It is not saying, "Who cares what God said," it is saying, "This is what we believe and why." Do you go to church on Sundays? If so, does the pastor of your church give a sermon each Sunday? And, is that sermon maybe 30-40 minutes long, or longer? How many Scripture passages does the average sermon reference? 4? 6? 12? In other words, in his sermon, he's not just reading God's Word is he? He's explaining it. He's talking about how to apply it to your life, isn't he? He's explaining what it means. Why does he do that? Shouldn't you just pick up the Bible and read it for yourself? Why do you have to listen to what some pastor tells you about the Bible? Isn't that just saying, "Who cares what God said, I'm listening to my pastor instead?" The Catechism is basically a series of sermons put to paper, but with a lot more scripture references than the average Protestant pastor's Sunday sermon.
Strategies and Tactics: Just a basic answer about the Catechism, but notice that I don't just answer, I ask him questions as part of the answer. Being aw-fensive, without being uh-fensive.
In five places the bible says very clearly that church leaders can be married (1 Corinthians 9:5, 1 Timothy 3:2 and 3:12, 1 Timothy 4:2-3, Titus 1:6), yet popes ignore God and say the opposite. That's a minor topic, but it suggests the possibility of similar errors in bigger topics, like salvation. Jesus warned that things like this would happen (Matthew 7:13-27, 1 Timothy 1:3-7, 4:1-2, Mark 7:6-13, Colossians 2:8).
Are there any leaders in any Protestant denomination that you know of, who fulfill what Jesus said in Matthew 19:12? Do you know of any leader in any denomination who has made themself a "eunuch for the kingdom of God?" We've got a whole bunch of those folks in the Catholic Church. Or, do you know of any leaders in any of these denominations who follows Paul's advice on serving God that he gives in 1 Cor 7:32-35? Or, do you know of any leader in any Protestant denomination who can say what Peter says in Mark 10:28? The Catholic Church takes to heart what Jesus said and what Paul and Peter said, and asks those who serve in leadership roles to give up everything to follow Christ so that their interests will not be divided. Why is it said that we go against the Bible in this, when clearly we do not?
Strategies and Tactics: Again, answering a question with a question. And, giving a scripture verse and then explaining it in the Catholic context. Don't just give a verse and say, "See, this says what Catholics believe." Try, as often as possible, to give the verse and then expand on it a bit and ask the other guy some questions about it. And say things like, "So, here's a verse of the Bible that teaches exactly what the Catholic Church teaches."
Where does the bible mention "mortal" sins, confession to a priest, or the existance of purgatory? With confession for example, 1 Timothy 2:5 says "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ". Priests in confession are clearly not the mediator (as also stated in 1 John 2:1). Revelation 22:18-19 says "I warn everybody who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues, and if anyone takes words away from this book, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life." Over 90% of religions have done this.
If I can show you a passage, in the Bible, that clearly delineates between deadly sin, or mortal sin, and non-mortal sin, would you believe Catholic teaching in this matter?
And, if I can show you a passage, that clearly shows that God has given men the authority to forgive sins, would you believe Catholic teaching in this matter? By the way, does the Bible anywhere say that we are to confess our sins to God and to God alone?
Strategies and Tactics Answer a question with a question. If he answers "yes" to my question, then I just turn to 1 John 5:16-17, which very clearly delineates between mortal (deadly) sin and non-mortal sin.
Regarding confession, same strategy because I can show him passages (Matthew 9:6-9; John 20:22-23) where men are given the authority on earth to forgive sins. And I also ask him a question to show me, in the Bible, where his particular belief is. Because it's not in the Bible.
Remember Jesus' talk with Nicodemus where he clearly says not once but twice that you must be "born again"? Why is "born again" not even referred to at all in the Catechism or Catholic definition of salvation?
Again, you are misinformed as to Catholic teaching and to the contents of the Catechism - I think you're listening to too many folks who are misrepresenting what Catholics believe and teach, like the folks at Reaching Catholics for Christ. Anyway, simply check out paragraphs 2790, 1257, 1262, 782, 1265, 1215, 1238; and I came up with those in just a couple of minutes, I'm sure there are more. Being born again is one of the central tenets of our Faith. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are simply misinformed or they are outright lying.
Unlike the old days when I assumed the pope and priests knew what they were talking about, now I've seen way too much clear evidence that they just follow blind human tradition and a man-made religion set up to serve man's ego. It's as clear as simple things like:
1. The pope letting people bow down before him.
2. The pope took no action to fix the sex abuse scandel - that's infallible??
3. The whole "infallible" thing - clearly the bible says the opposite, and makes no exception for the pope.
4. As for those who claim Peter (the rock) was the first pope and laid the groundwork for how God meant for us all to be Catholic, Peter was far from infallible, as we saw three times before the cock crowed.
Here is a perfect example of what I mean about needing a Catechism to clarify for folks what the Catholic Church teaches. You have an incorrect understanding of the Church's teaching on infallibility. Infallibility has a very strict definition. It simply means the Pope, when teaching as the earthly head of the Church, to the
entire Church, on matters of faith and morals, will be prevented from teaching error by the Holy Spirit. It doesn't mean that the Pope cannot sin or that he cannot make mistakes. Did the Pope make mistakes
regarding the sex scandal...possibly. But, did he ever teach to the whole Church that the sex scandal was an okay thing? No. Infallibility does not apply here. He's still human. Tell me of a pastor of any
church, anywhere, who doesn't sin and who doesn't make mistakes? The Bible does, however, very clearly point to the doctrine of infallibility. If you're interested in finding out where, I'll respond accordingly in my next email.
If a young man bows to a young woman in a formal dance setting, does that mean that he is worshipping her? People bow as a sign of respect to the Pope, as they do to the President, to kings, to queens, and other such dignitaries. Bowing, does not, in and of itself, signify worship.
5. Your website's Apologetics question 101-16 [from the 2-Minute Apologetics page] is just playing with words. The proper question should be "Why have Catholics elevated Mary to the level of deity, to be worshipped as is done with the Hail Mary prayer? Answer: for no biblical reason whatsoever. I hope all the questions are not misleading; 101-16 is just today's featured question so I took a look.
I do not worship Mary, nor does any Catholic I know, nor does the Church teach such a thing. You honestly believe that saying the Hail Mary is worshipping Mary? If you do, then I guess you believe God worshipped Mary...because the Hail Mary is simply repeating what God said to Mary Himself. Do you believe God was worshipping Mary in Luke 1 when He said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee?" Was the Holy Spirit worshipping Mary when He inspired Elizabeth to say, "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb?" And, when He also inspired her to call Mary the "mother of my Lord?" Are you not aware that by repeating the Hail Mary we are simply praying scripture?
It's really easy to say something like, "You're playing with words," isn't it? But, it's not so easy to counter the logic with an argument of your own. It's not playing with words...I make valid points and I use logic and scripture. Give me a counter argument. Most people can't, so they say something along the lines of what you just said.
Titus 3:9-10: "Avoid foolish controversies and arguments about the law, because these are useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him." I didn't try to win you over to some man made religion like you did; I tried to win you over to God's word. I tried, but I guess you can't stand the truth - God's word. It's a shame.
Okay, I've answered pretty much everything I found in your last email...if I missed something, then let me know and I'll address it in a future email. Now, would you answer a question or two for me, in
addition to the 3 or 4 I've already asked? And please remember to answer those questions I've already asked, they are quite important.
1) How are we saved? Is it by faith alone?
2) Is God's sole criteria for judging us worthy of salvation based on whether or not we have faith...alone?
3) Once a person is saved, can they lose their salvation?
4) Why do we have some 25,000 + Protestant denominations all over the world, many teaching doctrines that absolutely contradict one another, when they all go by the Bible alone? Isn't the Bible easy enough for everyone to read and come to the same conclusion?
5) Does it matter if folks all believe the same doctrines or not?
6) Do you believe in the Trinity? If so, why? Does the Bible mention anything about there being one God, but 3 persons in God, each of Whom is fully God?
I hope you answer my questions and that we can continue this discussion. I stuck to the topics that you laid out, I hope you will respect me in the same manner and respond to what I have presented. I have no fear of God's Word, and I can back up Church teaching using God's Word much
better than you can back up your current beliefs, whatever they are, using the Bible. I'm not trying to win you over to anything but the truth. By the way, the current church or denomination you now
attend...what year was it founded, and by whom?
Strategies and Tactics: The other topics discussed pretty much follow the same logic and strategy. Explain where necessary and ask as many questions as possible. Then, I close out by asking my own questions. I want to get to what he believes and why. I want him to give me the Bible verses that say what he believes, because there really aren't any that back up what he believes.