Apologetics for the Masses #369 - Questions and Answers

Bible Christian Society

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Answers to Some Questions I've Received...



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General Comments

Hey folks,

     I hope all of you are surviving the Wuhan flu and that this pestilence hasn't resulted in too much harm to you and your family by way of either illness or economics.  We've been praying for all of you and I would ask that you keep all of your fellow subscribers to Apologetics for the Masses, and their families, on your prayer list.



This week I am going to take a few of the questions that have been sent to me via email that I think might be of general interest to all, or most all, of you newsletter subscribers and just do a little Q&A session. 



Question; Reid H., in Dallas

"John…What would be your recommended “boot camp” to listen to / read if I wanted basic information to gently (or not so gently) argue why Catholicism is IT, with a Protestant friend (5 point Calvinist no-less / highly reformed) who thinks Catholicism is doomed. Maybe too tough a question, but wonder what you might suggest as a starter?"


My Answer


1) Always, always, always go to the "Newsletter" page of my website, and do a search on whatever topic you are interested in to see if I have done a newsletter on that topic.  That's the first place to go.  In this instance you would want to do a search on Calvinism, or irresistible grace, or predestination.  But, it just so happens, that I have not done a whole newsletter on Calvinism and predestination (I've touched on it in a few) so my Newsletter page will not offer that much help on this particular topic.  But, on the part of your question about Catholicism being "IT," you need to get the free CD I have, or listen to the free download, titled: "One Church."  That uses the Bible to draw a path that leads straight to the Catholic Church.

2) The 2nd place to always check is Catholic Answers' website: www.catholic.com.  Type those particular words into their Search engine and you will have both written and audio resources pop up.  I always prefer written resources so that I can print them out, mark them up, and file them under the appropriate topic.  But, a lot of folks prefer the audio. Either way, catholic.com will have a lot of what you are looking for. 

3) You need to also go to: www.newadvent.org and check out the Catholic Encyclopedia there.  Same thing as with the other two - look up the pertinent terms and go from there. 

4) When talking to Calvinists, I like to particularly bring up 3 Scripture verses:

a) 1 Tim 2:4 - "[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."  Well, if God's will absolutely trumps man's will in each individual's life, as Calvinism teaches, then everyone is saved, because it is apparent from this verse that God's will is for "ALL" men to be saved; therefore, all men must be saved.  Ask your friend if he thinks all men are saved.  When he says, "No," ask him how that is possible if God wants all men to be saved?  Doesn't God's will override man's will? 

b) Luke 7:30 - "...but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by [John the Baptist]."  How is it, if man does not have free will, and God's will triumphs over each individual's will - according to Calvinism - that the Pharisees and lawyers could have rejected God's purpose for them?  God wanted them to be baptized by John, but they weren't. 

c) Luke 13:3,5 - "I tell you, 'No;' but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."  Why would Jesus tell these people that "unless you repent," when it has already been determined, according to Calvinism, as to whether or not they will repent.  Jesus is acting as if they have free will in such a way as to be a factor in determining their fates.  Calvinism says, "No you don't!" 


Question; James C.

Can you render an opinion about the Predestination mentioned in Romans 8:29? 
Romans 8:29-30, "For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.  And those whom He predestined He also called; and those whom He called He also justified; and those whom He justified He also glorified."
My Answer
God has all of eternity - past, present, and future - immediately in front of Him.  He is in the eternal present.  So God knows who it is that will answer His call, and who it is that won't.

God has, in essence, predestined all to be conformed to the image of His Son.  That is why Scripture says, "[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth," (1 Tim 2:4).  We are all predestined for Heaven.  That is why God made us - to be with Him forever.  However, Scripture also recognizes that there are those who, because of free will, will reject the will of God for their lives and thus reject the predestination of God.  We see this, for example, in Luke 7:30, "...but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by [John the Baptist]."  They rejected God's purpose, or God's will, for themselves.  They can't do that unless they have free will. 

So, predestination does not mean we have no choice in the matter, it simply means it is God's purpose for our lives, but He allows us to reject that purpose.
(This answer can obviously also be used in conjunction with the information in the answer to the previous question.)
Question; Tyler M.
Is today's Gospel (Mark 7:1-13) a scripture Protestants point to in order to argue against Catholic traditional practice? It seems like it could be twisted in that way. How would I explain what this Gospel is actually talking about to a Protestant?
My Answer
Yes, Protestants will indeed use that passage to try and denigrate Catholic belief in Sacred Tradition.  And you are absolutely right in the fact that they are "twisting" Scripture to do so.  Something that is a very dangerous thing to do (see 2 Peter 3:16).  The two verses of that passage, in particular, that they will quote are: "In vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men," (verse 7), and, "Thus making void the Word of God through your tradition..." (verse 13).  They'll say something along the lines of, "You Catholics and your traditions, don't you know the Bible says that tradition is contrary to the Word of God?!  Your traditions of men are contrary to the Word of God!" 
Okay, just a few problems with their interpretation of these verses and their line of reasoning in that regard.  First of all, the passage is talking about the traditions of men that are being used to counter the Word of God.  It doesn't say all traditions of men are bad, just those that are contrary to the Word of God.  I mean, ask a Protestant who is a big college football fan if the tradition of tailgating before the game is contrary to the Word of God.  Or, ask them if a family tradition of gathering together for a big meal on Thanksgiving is contrary to the Word of God.  And I could name thousands of other "traditions of men" that are not contrary to the Word of God.  So, traditions, particularly the traditions of men, are not automatically bad things. 
Now, they might say, "Well, those traditions you mention don't have anything to do with the worship of God or with the church."  That's when you ask them if the following traditions of men are contrary to the Word of God: 1) Altar calls? 2) Wednesday night church service? 3) Using grape juice for the Lord's Supper? 4) Having denominations? That's the first point.
Secondly, are there traditions that are not the traditions of men, that the Bible speaks of?  Yes, indeed there are.  1 Corinthians 11:2, " I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you."  Are those traditions Paul is speaking of traditions of men?  Ask the Protestant you're talking to that question.  If they say, "Yes," then you can ask them, "So, there are certain traditions of men that are not contrary to God's Word, and we are supposed to maintain them?"  If they say, "No," then you just say, "Well, then, if they aren't traditions of men, then that means they're traditions of God, and we should follow the traditions of God, right?"  And as proof that there are traditions of God, you can follow that up with, "And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers," (1 Thes 2:13).  So, the Word of God came to them in what they "heard," oral tradition, and not necessarily in what they "read".  Very interesting.
You can continue by quoting from 2 Thessalonians 2:15, " So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter."  So, what Paul calls the Word of God in 1st Thessalonians, he refers to as "traditions" in 2nd Thessalonians - traditions that they "heard" from him by word of mouth - Sacred Tradition.  But then he also references the traditions that he put down in writing - Sacred Scripture.  Both/and, not either/or.  But, we're not done yet.  2 Thes 3:6, " Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us."  If there are persons who are not living in accord with the tradition that Paul has given them, those persons are to, essentially, be shunned. 
All of which goes back to the first point above: an interpretation of that passage from Mark, or the corresponding passage from Matthew (15:1-9), that makes all tradition in the Church as being something bad and contrary to the Word of God is a false interpretation because there are plenty of traditions of men that are not contrary to the Word of God, but then there are traditions, as the Bible clearly tells us, that are actually the Word of God, and need to be kept and followed.
Now, what Protestants will say when you bring up these scriptural verses on tradition, is something along the lines of: "Well, all of those traditions were eventually written down in the Scriptures."  Really?  Where does the Bible say that Mr./Ms. Sola Scriptura?  It doesn't.  Or, they might ask you, "Give me some traditions your church believes in that aren't in the Bible?"  You can respond: I will give you 3 traditions that I believe, that you also believe, that are not found directly in the Bible: 1) That the canon of Scripture is closed after the death of the last Apostle.  2) The canon of Scripture itself.  3) That Sunday is the day of worship for Christians. 
Finally, you can tell them, "Look, when all is said and done, the Bible says there are traditions that are indeed the Word of God, which is exactly what the Catholic Church teaches.  I believe it, and I'm surprised that you don't."
Question; Victor E., from Africa

Good day, sir. The first time I tried to convinced my Mom to support the BCS, she basically said evangelization, or whatever, is up to a priest. Please what should I do if this happens again?


My Answer

Victor, first thing you do is ask your mother this: "Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God and that we, as Catholics, should follow and practice what the Bible tells us?"  Hopefully she will say, "Yes."  Then, you can take her to 1 Peter 3:15 and read this to her: "Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you..."  And say to her, "The Word of God is telling us we must be prepared to answer those who question us about our faith.  In other words, it is telling us that we must be ready to evangelize."  Tell her that 1 Timothy 2:4 says that God wants all men to be saved.  Can the priests talk to all men?  No!  Which means it is up to the laity to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to those around us.  If we are to truly love our neighbor, then we need to do what we can - big or small - to bring them to Jesus Christ. Vatican Council II says it is the work of the laity - men and women - to bring the Gospel to those in the world. 


So, whether or not she wants to support the Bible Christian Society is not really the concern here, it is the fact that she needs to realize that by planting a seed or two - by the grace of the Holy Spirit - with a family member, or a friend, or a neighbor, she could have an impact on their eternal destination.  And, if she wants to learn how to do that, she can come to the Bible Christian Society and make use of all of our free resources, whether she decides to support us or not.  The first, and most important, thing, is to be prepared as the Word of God tells us.


Closing Comments

I hope all of you have a great week!  Please keep the Bible Christian Society in your prayers.  We're working on a new website and some other projects.  All of which will, hopefully, produce much good fruit.



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