Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #81

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

I’ll be in Kalamazoo, Michigan, next weekend (April 12). I don’t know if my talks there are open to the public or if they are only for parish and diocesan personnel needing to get in a certain number of hours of “Continuing Education.” If you’re in the area and would be interested in coming, then check out the contact info on the “Calendar” page of the website (www.biblechristiansociety.com) and call the deacon to see if they are opening things up to the general public or not.

After that, I don’t travel again until I go to Boise on May 16 and 17.


This issue contains another reply from, and response to, Tricia, who is a very pleasant young lady, currently attending a Baptist church, and who is open to hearing the Catholic view of the Catholic Faith – a rather refreshing change of pace for me.

I’ve been asked why I haven’t included any “Comments/Strategies” sections in the last two newsletters, and the simple answer is that I didn’t really feel the need to do so. But, I am including some in this newsletter just to give some general ideas behind my thinking.

Tricia’s comments appear first in their entirety, and then my response follows.


Hey there John!

I popped in the cd that was on Mary and Purgatory.. You have been studying!

I have pondered the question why I believe the Bible is the Word of God…. I knew when I answered the question I really didn’t answer it… So it stirred me to “why” do I really believe the Bible?

I went to a Joyce Meyer conference this weekend (it was great, and I’m not sure if you know who she is) – she’s a Bible teacher/speaker/preacher (whatever you want to call her) – One of the things that was brought up at the conference is why the Bible is “the Word of God” - without much studying on my part (the conference was about bringing people to Christ and teaching them how to walk with Him and live it out) – Joyce Meyer is more like a Bible/life coach than a theology teacher or religion “study” so it really opened my ears to what she was going to say…

She said the “salt water test” was the question, How is it working in my life?… I’m sure that other religions could say that theirs is working in there lives. Jesus came to set the captive free.. I don’t know what the other books talk about. Also, other religions and even some christians (in all denominations) believe that we have to do something to “earn” our way to God.. The Bible is an account of history and how God came to us.

Now it is our part to “believe” what it says… I am thankful I was not raised in another home that taught any other form of religion. I really grew up with a choice of what to believe. I do think the world is thinking God is like all the people who “claim” to know Him and this and that… People look to people. Makes me all the more sure that I better be living this out every day and not just on one day of the week and choosing to act like whatever I please all the other days.

I have a very good Catholic friend who I consider a close christian friend of mine. She grew up in a Methodist church and now she and her family are all Catholic. Her husband is Catholic. She loves her Catholic faith now too, but she is amazing at her grace she bestows on other christians of other denominations. In fact, I had no idea she and her family were Catholic for a while. I told her about you (her name is Amy too!!) and I think she really wants to listen to the cds. I think they will bless her…

One thing she said to me this morning (maybe she would make a good apologetics companion)- she said she considers Mary as the first christian. She also said she comes to church to get filled with Christ. She takes that time to reverently worship and be filled with Him with the Holy Communion. The other thing she really likes about her church is the consistency.. always remaining the same….

Just wanted you to hear her thoughts.. I know God has placed me in the family and circle of friends for a reason. I do have a new-found respect for Catholicism.. education and knowledge are a really powerful thing.. we all need to be wiser from studying and remembering.

I don’t have anymore questions for you… If I do, there’s probably an answer in the cd.

I hope you are blessed in your ministry for God’s glory…

Take care!



Hello Tricia,

I’m glad to hear you’ve listened to the CD on “Mary and the Bible.” I hope you enjoy the other CDs as well. And, tell your “other friend” Amy that if she wants any of the CDs to just let me know – I’d be happy to send her some. By the way, do you know what parish she goes to?

I would like to use this email, if you don’t mind too terribly, to close our dialogue with a challenge, of sorts (although, if you have any questions after listening to the CDs, please do not hesitate to ask). Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who was the first great TV evangelist, once said that Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. So, I want to use this email to maybe make you a little tiny bit uncomfortable, in a friendly and amicable sort of manner.

The reason I want to do that is your answer in regards to why you believe the Bible to be the inerrant, inspired Word of God. Please forgive me if I’m misreading what you wrote, but you basically seemed to be saying, “I believe the Bible to be the Word of God because that’s what feels good for me to believe.” In other words, that’s what you’re comfortable believing. You’re comfortable in the church you’re in now, and you’re comfortable with the Bible teachers you currently have…which is all well and good, unless…unless…the folks teaching you the Bible have gotten it wrong here and there.

With all due respect to Joyce Meyers (I am familiar with her and her work), she got it wrong here. Her “salt water test” for believing the Bible is the Word of God, sounds simply like a rationalization for basically ignoring the question. A rationalization for not looking into the question at anything other than the surface level. She’s basically using the old hippie canard…if it feels good, do it. She probably doesn’t realize it, and with all due respect to the many fine things she does, but that answer is basically a cop out. If she really pondered the question, I think the answer might make her a bit uncomfortable.

If something is true, it must be true for all people in all places at all times. Truth cannot be relative. If the question, “How is it working in my life?” is all one needs to consider when deciding whether or not something is the Word of God, then we can say that the Bible is not the sole source out there for the Word of God.

For example, the Koran must be the Word of God because there are a billion plus folks who believe it works in their lives. L. Ron Hubbard has apparently published the Word of God because there are many Scientology folks for whom his writing works in their lives. The Book of Mormon is the Word of God because it works in the lives of many Mormons…and on and on we could go. The writings of Hinduism, Buddhism, New Age cult leaders, etc. could all be considered the Word of God if all one needs to do is apply Joyce Meyers “salt water test” – does it work for me?

Now, the Koran and the Book of Mormon and such may not be the Word of God for you and for me – they don’t work for us – but we have no reason, using Mrs. Meyers’ test, to doubt that they are the Word of God for all these other folks. Could you look a Mormon standing in your doorway in the face and say, “The Book of Mormon is not the Word of God,” if they tell you that it works for them in their lives? You couldn’t, not if you really believe Joyce Meyers. But think about it…does that really make any sense?

Comments/Strategies: This is just an argument from basic logic and common sense. I think Joyce Meyers does not want to go into this question of how we know the Bible is the Word of God, because the answer could take her out of her comfort zone.

My strategy in my conversation with Tricia is twofold: 1) Quickly and simply answer her particular questions about the Catholic Faith, quoting the Bible whenever I can, but not dwelling on the doctrinal matters; 2) Question, in a general way, her macro approach to the Bible and to doctrine. And to do this by looking for what appear to be inconsistencies in what she writes and try to gently point them out in the hope that either: a) she’ll better explain herself and thus clear up the inconsistency, or b) she’ll recognize that there is indeed an inconsistency which will hopefully nudge her to examine not only her beliefs more deeply, but the Church’s teachings as well…in other words, that some seeds will be planted. In either situation (a) or (b), she has to more deeply examine what it is she believes and why…which is what you want to have happen.

The main question here is THE main question…who do you trust? Who is your authority when it comes to the Bible? The Church? You? Your pastor? Joyce Meyers or some other Bible teacher/preacher? The question of authority is the fundamental question in every area of disagreement between Catholic and Protestant. Who has the authority to not only give an authentic interpretion of the Bible, but to tell us what the Bible is in the first place? These are the questions you should always be aiming to get to when talking with non-Catholic Christians. [End Comments]

That line of reasoning, used by Joyce Meyers in this instance, but by many others as well, bothers me. It bothers me because God wants us to love Him with all of our mind, as well as our heart and soul. Joyce Meyers’ “salt water test” can only result in confusion when it comes to determining what is and is not the Word of God. And God is not a God of confusion. If how whether or not something works in my life is the determiner as to whether or not it is the Word of God, then there are many things out there – some of which I’ve already mentioned and most of which contradict the Christian Faith – that could lay claim to being the Word of God. But, that’s not possible because God cannot contradict Himself. Which leads to the inevitable conclusion that Joyce Meyers got the answer to that question wrong.

This is why I want to make you a bit uncomfortable…in a thought-provoking sort of way. Because truth is so important…Scripture tells us so. The truth will set you free. Jesus is the truth. All who have the truth hear His voice. If Joyce Meyers got the answer to that very important question about the Bible wrong…and she did…what other important things has she gotten wrong? 99% of what she teaches may be right on the money, but that 1% she gets wrong could be very critical to one’s faith life…to one’s salvation.

Comments/Strategies: The truth is always what the conversation should be about. Not us vs. them or Catholic vs. Baptist or any such thing; but, what is the truth? And, how do we know? [End Comments]

Now, in your last email you said that you don’t believe any church “has got it right.” But, as I mentioned in my last email, that means that every church, including the church you’re in right now, has gotten it wrong. Do you know which of your church’s teachings are wrong? How do you distinguish between the things they got right and the ones they got wrong? In other words, how do you distinguish between the errors your church teaches and the truth your church teaches?

Comments/Strategies: When she said that no church has got it right, I don’t believe she realized the full implications of what she was saying…that every church was getting it wrong, at least, some of the time. For me, that really would be a depressing thought if I believed that way. But, this is actually a common Protestant belief. This belief leads to the expression that it’s okay to disagree on the non-essentials, as long as you believe in the essentials. One has to justify the fact that their church is wrong on something, by coming up with the term “non-essential” doctrines. If something is “non-essential,” then it’s okay if we got that one wrong. As long as we get it right on the essentials. But, that begs the questions: 1) Who is it deciding which doctrines are essential and which are non-essential; and 2) How is it you can consider any part of God’s Word as being “non-essential?” [End Comments]

Questions like these are why I think it is incumbent upon all Christians who believe along these lines to really consider this one very important question: How is it the church founded by Jesus Christ, and guided by the Holy Spirit unto all truth, could get something wrong? Jesus promises in Matthew 16 that He will protect His church from the gates of Hell, did He fail in His promise?

And, this is also why it is so important to realize where the Bible came from and how it is we can be sure it is indeed the inerrant, inspired Word of God. Which church vouched for the authenticity of the Bible? Which church said, “Yes, the Letter to the Hebrews is inspired Scripture, but the Acts of Paul is not inspired Scripture?” Which church witnessed to the authenticity of Mark’s Gospel? Of John’s Gospel? That they really were written by men inspired of the Holy Spirit? Which church held that the “Teachings of the Apostles” was not an inspired book? Could that church have been wrong? And, if you believe that church’s witness in regards to what is and isn’t inspired Scripture, which all Bible Christians do, then why don’t you believe that church in its interpretation of that very same Scripture?

I don’t mean to be disrespectful to any one’s faith tradition here, but just some food for thought. Jesus founded His church about 2000 years ago. Is the Lutheran church the church which vouched for the authenticity of the Scriptures? Was it the Presbyterian Church of America? What about the Baptist church? These are all important questions to ponder.

To finish this up, I want to ask you to consider this one final thing: Can the good, ever be the enemy of the best? Let me explain: Is there a difference between the feelings that one has for someone when initially dating that person…and the feelings one has for that same person after a few years of marriage? In the former, there are feelings of euphoria and giddiness and excitement and so on. Awesome feelings! Good feelings! In the latter, when ordered properly, those initial feelings are mostly replaced by a love that is deeper and stronger and longer lasting and more beautiful and satisfying than any of the “feelings” one had when dating.

But, what if someone avoided marriage because they didn’t ever want to lose the excitement, the euphoria, the giddiness of dating? So, instead of settling down with one person, they moved from one relationship to another…always looking for those good “feelings.” And, what if the memory of those good feelings, cause many people to fall “out of love” once they get married and those feelings have disappeared? What if the memory of those good feelings interfere with the deepening of the relationship in marriage because those euphoric “feelings” are no longer there and the spouse doesn’t recognize that there is something deeper and more satisfying than those feelings to be had? In other words, someone loses the good “feelings,” and so they abandon their marriage. They abandon what is ultimately so much better than the good feelings…because they are hooked on the good feelings.

In such a situation, it can be said that the good is indeed the enemy of the best. If I may be so bold, and I know I risk some measure of good will here, but know that I say this out of love and respect for my Savior and for you…what if what you have now is the “good,” but there is something else out there that is the “best?” What if Jesus brought you into your current circle of friends for the express purpose of you being introduced to me, and through me to the teachings of the Catholic Church?

What if the relationship you have with Jesus Christ could be much deeper and go beyond anything you can even imagine right now? That is what I believe the Catholic Church offers you…and not just you…but all mankind. The deeper and more intimate relationship that comes through the union of husband and wife…through the marital bond…through union with Christ in the Eucharist. Just something to consider…

Comments/Strategies: One of the problems in trying to get Tricia to consider the Catholic Faith, is that she recognizes that where she is now is better than where she was before, and she is so much happier where she is now than where she was before. So, you have to try and get folks to at least consider the fact that where they are now might be good…might be very good…but it may not be the best. [End Comments]

Well, I’ll leave it at that. Again, I have enjoyed our exchange and I very much appreciate the kindness and respect you have shown me and, by extension, the Catholic Faith. If there is anything else that I can do for you…please consider me to be at your service.

In Christ,


In Conclusion

To my surprise, I received a response from Tricia after I sent this email out. Based on the closing comments of her email, I assumed that she was not wanting to continue, but an answer came within a few hours on the same day. So, we might have one more newsletter dedicated to this particular exchange. Stay tuned…

I hope all of you have a great weekend!

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Apologetics for the Masses