Catholics and Protestants have much in common, but many significant things not in common. The beliefs have been argued about for centuries and it led to some wars. You write well in that you again got me wondering "Am I sure of what I believe?" But after some thought and research, my answer to myself is "Yes". I could answer your questions, but again they are carefully worded to get the answer you want. Meanwhile, you seem to have some weak areas. For example: My question about priests being single and celibate: I do not see how Matthew 19:12 is an answer. 1 Cor 7:32-35 and Mark 10:28 give you some credibility, but are not as clear as 1 Timothy 3:2.
This is going to be real quick, because I have to run to the store and help get dinner ready, but I will send out a more detailed email to you sometime this week. But let me tell you something...you sound like you're frustrated with Catholics. Why? Because you asked them questions and they couldn't give you answers. Well, unfortunately, there are millions of folks out there who call themselves Catholic who do a very poor job of teaching folks what the Church actually teaches. It's unfortunate, but it's a fact. That situation is changing, but we've got a lot of work to do.
However, just because this or that Catholic, doesn't know or can't properly explain what the Church teaches, does not mean the Catholic Church is wrong, it means that there are plenty of folks who don't take their Faith seriously. But, and I don't mean this to be ugly, so I hope you won't take it that way, I'm frustrated with folks like you. Why? Because they come to me and tell me Catholics don't teach what's in the Bible, then when I start to show them that what Catholics teach is indeed in the Bible...when I start to give them answers to the questions they have, what do they do? They back away from the dialogue. They don't answer my questions.
There are no trick questions in what I asked you. Yes, they are carefully worded...they are carefully worded because you asked about specific things or made accusations about specific things. So, I carefully word my questions to you so as: 1) to stick to the topic; and 2) to stick to the Word of God. I asked you very simple, straightforward questions, relating to the Bible and your beliefs...and you either can't or won't answer them. I'm asking you about what it says in the Word of God, why won't you answer my questions?
Yet, you continue to say Catholics either can't or won't answer your questions...do you see the source of my frustration?
Strategies and Tactics:You see what he says, "I could answer your questions, but again they are carefully worded to get the answer you want." In other words, he has a problem answering my questions. I just asked straightforward questions about the Bible...why can't he answer them? And see how he responds to my answer to his question about celibacy, he just dismisses it out of hand. No explanation about why it's wrong, or how I've misinterpreted Matthew 19...nothing like that...it's just wrong based on his "opinion." You've got to call folks on it when they do things like that. You need to remember Strategy #4, "But That's MY Interpretation!"
Have you seen the movie Luther? It came out 2-3 years ago and should have gotten as much attention as The Passion of the Christ. It tells a powerful story about Martin Luther (a true story). Was Luther right? Well:
I found a book today called Fast Facts on False Teachings, 1994, by Ron Carlson. Chapter 14 is devoted to Catholicism and has great stuff. The Council of Trent in 1545 declared that Catholic tradition is equal in authority to scripture. That so strongly opposes what the bible clearly says. That is more than major red flag. That decision also opened the floodgates even more for Catholics to add whatever things they saw fit. I imagine you've heard the list so I won't repeat it except to say: Vatican II in the 1960's suddenly went from no meat on Fridays to saying it's OK. In Lyon in 1274, Catholics invented Purgatory.
These and many other examples are EXACTLY what Jesus warned us would happen from false teachers. He wasn't just talking about Mohammed and John Smith (or was it Joseph?). But Catholics continue to do what their parents and priests and popes say to do, and won't listen to anything else.
You wrote "Infallibility 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." I agree with one thing: No, I don't know of any pastor who doesn't sin and who doesn't make mistakes. Where do you come up with this perfect man pope who cannot similarly make "teaching errors"? No meat on Friday, then meat on Friday is okay - somebody taught wrong. Yes, please tell me where the bible points to the doctrine of infallibility, and how only a Catholic pope qualifies for this club.
In my opinion, Catholics have "added to and taken away from", which God doesn't like (Revelation 22:18-19). Most Catholics don't even know it. I wrote a letter to men on a Catholic softball team and encouraged them to read the bible. The lack of interest was amazing. They don't care what God says; they just care what their priest says God says.
When I ask Catholics how to get to heaven, they don't even know (I'm not saying their answer is wrong, I'm saying they have no answer). The catechism says someone is only saved through the sacraments. That is not in the bible. Again, why is the bible not enough?
I'm sure you disagree; that's why I give up. Some Catholics are saved; some Protestants are not. I guess it boils down to how someone's relationship is with Christ. That's what your website should stress is reading the bible; not man-made stuff.
You said you were open to hearing another side of things...well, are you or aren't you? I think you've already decided that you don't want to be Catholic and you don't really want to talk to someone who might make you reconsider the claims of the Catholic Faith. For example, you say that "the catechism says someone is only saved through the sacraments. That is not in the Bible." Would you kindly read John 6:53-54? "Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Let's see, eternal life by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. That's the Eucharist. You have eternal life through the Eucharist - isn't the Eucharist one of the sacraments? The catechism says it, the Bible says it.
Also, something else that frustrates me. I give you biblical backing for Catholic beliefs and you just say something like, "In my opinion, that's not good enough." Well, why is your interpretation of the Bible more valid than my interpretation? If you go by the Bible alone, and everyone has the right to pick up the Bible and read it for themselves to determine truth and error, then don't I have the same right?
I gave you valid biblical passages, which make perfect sense in light of those particular doctrines of Catholic teaching, and you just dismiss them out of hand. You don't tell me how or why I'm wrong, you just say that in your opinion I'm wrong. Forgive me for being a bit frustrated with that.
Matthew 9:6-8. The people were amazed and they glorified God who had given such authority to MEN [plural]. What authority? The authority on earth to forgive sins. Not a biblical teaching you say? Read John 20:20-23 also. Do you now believe in salvation by faith
alone? If so, can you give me a single passage of the Bible that says that? You can't, because it doesn't. The only verse in the whole Bible where the words "faith" and "alone" appear together is James 2:24. Check it out, I think you'll find it very interesting. It says the exact opposite of what you believe.
Again, I have sent and will send emails responding point-by-point to what you say, so I would appreciate an email to respond point-by-point to what I asked you in my previous email. At least a quick email to answer my questions...there were only about six or seven or so. I think it's only fair, that if you accuse Catholics of not answering your questions, then shouldn't you answer questions when asked of you? If not, then please stop accusing others of doing that which you yourself are not willing to do.
Again, I say this not to be ugly or unruly or disrespectful or anything like that, I say it in all Christian charity (emails cannot accurately convey emotion, etc.), but you're accusing Catholics of certain things that I don't think are fair, and if you're not willing, or unable, to answer my questions, then I simply ask that you refrain from making these accusations. If you're worried that something I might say might make you re-consider leaving the Church, then shouldn't you be all the more eager to investigate what I have to say? And, if you can't answer my questions, from the Bible, shouldn't that also give you pause?
Strategies and Tactics: So, I responded in my first 3 paragraphs by saying that he basically has no room to talk about Catholics not answering his questions, when he does the exact same thing. And I pretty much repeated that theme throughout my response. If you allow folks to ignore your questions and they just keep firing new questions at you, you will rarely make any progress in a discussion. You have to call them on not answering your questions, and basically not answer any new questions until they've answered yours. If they won't (or can't) answer your questions, then the dialogue may end fairly quickly, but I can guarantee you that you've planted some seeds.
So, I get onto him about not answering my questions and about dismissing my answers to his questions with just a wave of his hand. And I actually answer for him a couple of the questions I asked him in my first email. Also, I give him biblical support for the Catholic teaching on Confession and I show him, in answer to my question about salvation, the one and only verse in the Bible where the words "faith" and "alone" are used together...James 2:24. Which says we are "NOT" saved (justified) by faith alone.
And then I close out the email by asking him to please respond, point-by-point, to the questions in my previous email. And, I make it a point to tell him that if he can't answer my questions, or if he's afraid to answer my questions, then maybe that should give him pause...and maybe he needs to look at the Church a little more closely. And notice, with one exception, I didn't respond to any of the new issues he brought up...Martin Luther, Catholics adding to the Bible, etc. I'll get to those after he answers my questions.