Apologetics for the Masses #472 - Eight Questions From A Protestant Minister

Bible Christian Society


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How to answer common questions from Protestants, and then turn it around and ask them some questions of your own.

General Comments

Hey folks,

Just wanted to ask if the "Articles of Interest" section has indeed provided you with articles of actual interest?  Let me know.

This week there is an article on the Shroud of Turin, which I find to be the most fascinating ancient artifact in the world.  There's another couple of articles on IVF - one giving Jerome LeJeune's perspective on it - along with an article that details something about the last 18 months of Woodrow Wilson's presidency that I had never heard of before and found fascinating, and kind of scary, a Finnish study on "Woke" people, an African bishop's perspective on Fiducia Supplicans, and a couple other miscellaneous articles. 


This week I'm going to give you eight questions that were sent to a Catholic friend of mine by a Protestant (Baptist) minister that my friend had engaged in a dialogue with via email.  The questions, and particularly the underlying misconceptions about Catholicism behind the questions, are fairly common throughout Protestantism, so I thought I would share them with all of you. His questions are in italics, and my answers to those questions are set off by a triple asterisk (***).

But, remember, if the other guy (or gal) gets to ask a question, then you get to ask at least one question for every one that is asked of you.  So, I gave my friend some questions to ask of this Protestant minister.  I'm sure you will be surprised to learn, that the Catholic's questions went unanswered.


Eight Questions for a Catholic from a Baptist Minister

1. What is the gospel?  Or another way of asking the same question, how do you believe that someone becomes a Christian and has their sins forgiven?

***What is the gospel?  The gospel by which you are saved is this: “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures,” (1 Cor 15:1-4).

***How does someone become a Christian?  A Christian is a member of the Body of Christ, right?  How does Scripture tell us one becomes a member of the Body of Christ?  Through Baptism (1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:27; Col 2:11-12).

***How does someone have their sins forgiven?  1) Through Baptism (Ezek 36:25-29; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16); and 2) By confessing your sin to the elders (John 20:21-23; Matt 9:6,8; James 5:14-16). 

My Comments
If you are ever asked, "What is the gospel?" always, always, always go to 1 Cor 15:1-4.  That is the answer the Protestant is looking for.  That's one of their "test" questions for a Catholic to see if you're a Christian or not.  You don't have to add anything to it. 

How does one become a Christian and have their sins forgiven?  Through Baptism.  Although, that is not the answer he is looking for.  He's looking for, "One becomes a Christian and has his sins forgiven (i.e., is saved) by believing in Jesus Christ!"  So, just say, "Baptism," give them the Scripture verses - read those verses to them if necessary - and then shut up.  No need for long explanations.  This guy doesn't care about what the Catholic Church teaches.  At this point, he's just trying to get you with an "Aha!" moment.  "Aha!  The Catholic Church says this, but the Bible says that!"  So, quick answer..."Baptism," followed by the Bible verses that say exactly what the Church teaches.  Then just smile at them.  You could also add, if you would like, "Do you believe what the Bible says on that?"

2. Do you understand the Catholic Church to teach a gospel of works or a gospel of faith in Jesus?

***The Catholic Church teaches that we are saved by neither our faith nor our works...we are saved by God’s free gift of His grace (Titus 3:4-7).  It is a dogmatic teaching of the Church that nothing that comes before our Baptism - whether faith or works - can save us.  We first receive this saving grace through Baptism which saves us (1 Peter 3:20-21).  But then, we must respond to this free gift of grace with both faith (Rom 3:28; Eph 2:8-9; Heb 11:6) and works (Matt 7:21 and 19:16-17; John 6:53-54 and 15:1-6; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 5:6; Eph 2:10), as the Bible clearly teaches.

My Comments 
He is drawing a false dichotomy between faith and works and the role each plays in our salvation.  And he is doing so based on his misconception that Catholics teach a salvation based on our works. Don't fall into that trap.  Just ignore what the other guy is saying and give them, again, in a short and concise manner, the truth on salvation.

3. Is your salvation/justification dependent on works or the things you do or is it dependent fully and completely on Jesus and the work that he did for all who put their faith in him?

***Let me ask you a question: If a man is unsaved on June 19, 2023, but then he gets saved on June 20, 2023, what was the difference in him being saved vs. him being unsaved?  Was it something he did on June 20th that he had not done as of June 19th, or was it something Jesus did for him on June 20th that He had not done for him as of June 19th?  As you know, Jesus is the Savior of all men (1 Tim 4:10), since He redeemed all of mankind with His death and resurrection and paid the price for all sins (Heb 10:12).  So, what is the difference between the redeemed and saved, and the redeemed and unsaved?  Is it something Jesus did for the saved person that He didn't do for the unsaved person, or is something the saved person did that the unsaved person did not do?  By the way, are you aware that the Bible tells us that the act of believing is a work?  (John 6:28-29)

My Comments
This is basically just a re-wording of Question #2.  He's trying to trip up the Catholic with the way he's re-phrasing the question.  Whenever I get a question about my salvation being fully and completely dependent on Jesus (which it is), I like to bring up this example about the difference between being unsaved one day and saved the next (under a Protestant Sola Fide theology).  Is the difference something Jesus did for me that He didn't do the day before, or is it something I did that I hadn't done the day before?  The answer is the latter...it's something I did that I hadn't done the day before.  I believed.  I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior.  Which shows, that even though our salvation is completely dependent upon the grace of God, I still have to "do" something to have that grace applied in my life.  In other words, salvation by faith alone, is a crock. 

4. How would you define justification?  In the Catholic Church what is the difference in Sanctification and Justification?

*** Justification - The gracious action of God which frees us from sin and communicates “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” (Rom 3:22).  Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man. 

*** Sanctification - The healing of our wounded human nature by receiving a share in the divine life of the Trinity - becoming partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4).  Through sanctification we become holy and can continue to grow in holiness (2 Cor 3:18) so that we may see the Lord (Rom 6:22; Eph 5:26; Heb 12:14). 

*** Sanctification and justification are closely related (1 Cor 6:11).

My Comments
He asked for what the Catholic Church teaches.  Give it to him straight out of the Glossary of the Catechism.  No need to add anything to it other than the fact that the Bible shows the two concepts to be closely related.

5. Do you believe that Justification is conditional (dependent on faith, works, and the sacraments) or unconditional (dependent on God and His sovereign work of making us a new creation in Christ Jesus by grace through his gift of faith)?

*** See my answer to #2 above.  For an example of how Catholics believe we are justified unconditionally by the free gift of God’s grace, you need to look no further than infant Baptism.  The child, who cannot have faith and who cannot do any works, is saved completely, wholly, and totally by God’s gratuitous gift of grace. 

My Comments
The practice of Infant Baptism, absolutely destroys the accusation that Catholics believe in a "salvation of works".  What "work" did that baby do in order to "earn" salvation?  None.  What faith did that baby have in order to "earn" salvation?  None.  Catholics believe more strongly in a completely free, unmerited, gift of salvation, solely by God's grace, than does any Sola Fide Protestant.  Again, Infant Baptism is a prime demonstration of that fact.

6. Does the Catholic Church teach that baptism justifies you and makes you free from sin at the moment you are baptized?

*** The Bible teaches that Baptism justifies you and makes you free from sin at the moment you are baptized (Ezek 36:25-29; Acts 2:38 and Acts 22:16; Eph 5:26-27; Titus 3:5-7), which means that, yes, the Church teaches that as well.

My Comments
First, give them what the Bible says, and then inform them that the Church teaches exactly what the Bible says.  Again, no long drawn out explanations.  When you start getting into these long explanations and start bringing in quotes from the Church Fathers or some such thing to bolster your arguments, you just give the other guy more opportunities to start going down rabbit trails.  With questions like this, just reply - the Bible says this, the Church teaches the exact same thing.  No contradiction, whatsoever, between the Church and the Bible.  The only thing they can do here is to say, "Well, you're not properly interpreting the Bible."  To which, you read the Scripture verses to them and then say, "That's exactly what the Church teaches."  If they persist, then you simply say, "Are you infallible?"  They'll answer, "No, no man is infallible."  "So, what makes you think your fallible interpretation of the Bible is more valid than my interpretation of the Bible?"  And go down the road to authority. 

7. Is baptism required for salvation/justification?

*** Yes, see answer to #6 above. Plus, John 3:3-5 and 1 Peter 3:20-21.

My Comments
Again, no need for any kind of drawn out explanation here.  He asked a yes or no question, so give a yes or no answer.  Then give a Scripture verse of two to back it up if necessary.  By giving direct answers to direct questions, you are setting the bar for them to do the same.  If they don't, then ask them why they can't do so.  Ask them why they expect direct answers from you to their questions, and you give them those direct answers, yet they cannot seem to reciprocate when you ask them questions in return.  Why is that?  (Could it be because of the weakness of their theology and the inherent contradictions baked into their theology?  Hmmm...)

8. What things must be done by a Catholic in order for them to be justified or become a Christian?

*** Be baptized.  See answers to #’s 1,2, 5, 6, and 7.

My Comments
No matter how many times he tries to re-word his question about works, don't fall for it.  Short and sweet are the answers.  Keep your verbiage to a bare minimum.  I've had so many Catholics send me their email conversations with Protestants where, when I print out the conversation, the Protestant asks a question and the Catholic responds with 2-3 pages of an answer.  That is rarely, if ever, necessary.  Then, when the Catholic asks a question, the Protestant will say, for instance, "We're saved by faith alone, Romans 3:28."  And that's it.  You want the Protestant to say a whole lot more than what you say.  Because the more they talk, the more you have the opportunity to show the discrepancies and outright contradictions in their beliefs and between their beliefs and the Bible.


My Questions to the Baptist Minister
Okay, the Baptist Minister asked 8 questions, so it's fair to ask him 8 questions in return.  These are what I gave to my friend:

1) In Matthew 19:16, Jesus was asked, "What good deed must I do, to have eternal life?"  Jesus responded, in verse 17, "If you would enter life, keep the Commandments."  Do you agree with Jesus' answer?

2) If, "Yes," then do you believe works (keeping the Commandments) contribute to one receiving salvation?  If, "No," then do you believe Jesus was wrong?

3) In Eph 2:10, it says that God has prepared good works for us that we "should" walk in them.  If we don't walk in them, can we be saved?

4) If, "Yes," how do you reconcile your answer with Matt 7:21 that says if we do not DO the will of God (walk in the works He has prepared for us), we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven?  If, “No,” then doesn’t that mean works are necessary for salvation?

5) In John 6:51, Jesus says that the bread He wants to give us to eat, is the flesh that He will give for the life of the world.  He gave His flesh for the life of the world on the Cross, right?  Was Jesus' flesh on the Cross real, or merely symbolic?

6) If you answer "real," to #5, then if Jesus was talking about giving us His real flesh on the Cross as the bread which we are to eat in verse 51, do you then claim He was speaking of His symbolic flesh when He said we must eat His flesh and drink His blood and that His flesh and blood are real food and real drink in verses 53-58?

7) In John 15:1-6, Jesus talks about being the vine, are the branches Christians or non-Christians?

8) If the branches are indeed Christians, then how is it the branches that don't produce fruit can be cast forth and thrown into the fire to be burned, which is an obvious reference to Hell?  If the branches are not Christians, how could a non-Christian be a branch of the vine that is Christ?

My Comments

I think those questions pretty much speak for themselves.  And, as I said, as far as I know, those questions were never answered.

Closing Comments

If you have any questions about the questions I asked above, don't hesitate to shoot me an email.  And, don't forget to check out the "Articles of Interest" below. 

I hope you have a great week!  We're praying for you, please keep the Bible Christian Society in your prayers!


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Articles of Interest

Fiducia Supplicans - Cultural Colonization?

The Shroud of Turin Shows What Jesus Endured for Our Salvation

From the Perspective of the Embryo - IVF is Not Very Pro-Life

Woodrow Wilson - Unfit to Be President

Jerome LeJeune on IVF

Finnish Study - "Woke" People Are More Unhappy

A Simple Movie About God's Providence and Dogged Determination

New Hampshire Invokes Fetal Homicide Law in Murder of Mother and Unborn Baby


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Apologetics for the Masses