Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #7

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

Many apologies for the long delay between newsletters. We have had, in Liminy Snickett terminology, a series of unfortunate events in the last several weeks here at the Bible Christian Society that have gotten me way behind on just about everything. The most critical problem being a total collapse of my email system…it just crashed, right in front of my eyes. That resulted in my losing about 600 emails which were in my inbox and my outbox, including several dozen tape/CD orders and all of my ongoing correspondence with a number of Protestants.

After many days and hours, it was determined by computer experts that I would not be able to get back any of the lost emails. This was a big problem in many ways, but in terms of this newsletter, it meant that all of my correspondence with non-Catholics, which I use in this newsletter, was gone. If you remember, in the last newsletter I said I had an email from a Protestant that I was going to address which would introduce some objections to the Faith that we had not yet looked at…gone! I had all my information about the folks I was corresponding with in my email system…all gone! Which means I have no way of even contacting these folks to try and start up the conversations again.

So, I’m in the process of trying to get some new conversations with non-Catholics going, but, in the meantime, I’ll have a couple or three newsletters with some general apologetics information or some apologetics advice. For example, in this newsletter, I’m going to give an example of how not to start off an apologetics dialogue. I hope you enjoy the slightly different newsletter and, as always, I’m open to hearing any feedback you may have.

On the positive side, I’ve been able to hire a part-time administrative assistant who will, hopefully, take a lot of the non-apologetics work that I do off of my plate. I appreciate all of your prayers in that regard. Also, my new assistant went back through all of the old newsletters that are archived on the website and edited them to the same format as the most recent newsletters to make them easier to read and follow. (Please let me know if you find any spelling or grammatical errors – I went back through them after she was done and found an error or two, but I can’t be sure I caught all of them.)


This newsletter covers an exchange between a fellow Catholic and a non-Catholic. The non-Catholic’s emails will be in italics. The Catholic is fairly on-the-money with what he is saying, the problem is “how” he is saying it…particularly his first email to the non-Catholic.
The Catholic wrote to me when he got to a place that he didn’t feel he could adequately respond to the non-Catholic. The first part of what is below is the exchange between this Catholic and non-Catholic, with my comments interspersed under the heading of “Strategy” and in parentheses. After that is my response to the non-Catholic’s “main” question.

One last thing, this newsletter is a little long because it contains two back and forths between the Catholic and non-Catholic and then a response from me. I wanted to include all of the back and forth so you could see the entire flow of the discussion, and I wanted to get it all into one newsletter rather than stretch it over two.


1st Email from Catholic to Non-Catholic

-—— Original Message -——-

Subject: The ignorant and the unstable twist scripture to their own distruction…

From: A Catholic

To: A Non-Catholic

I will pray for your sole. You are leading many astray, and the Bible is very clear about those who lead others astray�. Please take an HONEST look at what you believe and why you believe it�.

Strategy: Not the best way to start off a conversation…telling someone you will pray for their soul and that they are leading many astray. The defensive walls will come up immediately and you will probably have little opportunity for a productive conversation. Also, folks, please check your spelling…the overall impression created when there are a myriad of misspelled words is not a good one. Back to the Catholic’s email…

Everything on your site is based on the premise that the Bible is the SOLE source of truth for the Christian. You base your argument on 2 Timothy, 3:16. If you were to put the verse in context, you would plainly see that Paul is referring to the OLD testiment here. Few, if any new testiment books were written when Timothy was a child (read a couple verses before 3:16). Paul was referring to "scripture" which is now our old testiment. Does that mean (by your argument) that all we need is the old testiment? We both know that is wrong. Also, it says scripture is inspired and profitable. AMEN. But it does NOT say sufficient!

Now turn to 1 Timothy, 3:15. Note that it does NOT say that the Bible is the upholder and defender of truth. It says the CHURCH is the upholder and defender of truth! And which Church did Jesus found? The Catholic church! The same church that gave the Bible to the world. How can you give authority to the Bible without giving authority to the Church that declared the Bible as the Bible? Read your history and find that the Pope ratified the Canon of Scripture in the 400’s AD. This same Church was the ONLY church for 1500 years. It was this Church that Jesus promised to protect until the end of the ages, to guide into the fullness of truth. Then, after 1500 years we see the beginning of churches established by MEN! Was your church founded by a man? Doesn’t this make you wonder?

Strategy: Again, the Catholic is basically on the mark with what he is saying, but notice that most of his comments are in the form of declarative statements, rather than questions. And, the questions he does ask, he immediately answers. When you are constantly telling someone something, you’re using your words…words which they can easily dismiss. However, if you ask questions, and get them talking, then you can come back and use their words to support your argument. Words which they cannot easily dismiss. Which is why I always tell people to ask more questions than you answer. Get folks to defend their faith and why they believe what they believe…the inconsistencies in their theologies will floor you.

For example, instead of making a declarative statement about 1 Tim 3:15, he could have asked a question about what, for a Christian, is the pillar of truth…the Bible? When the guy answered, as he probably would have, that, "Yes, the Bible is the pillar of truth," then the Catholic could have asked, "Why then does the Bible say the Church is the pillar of truth…1 Tim 3:15?" And then taken the non-Catholics answer and run with it. More of the Catholic’s email…

I will say a pray for you, that the holy spirit guides you into Truth. I would also be happy to send you a tape on the "One Church". If you genuinely pray to be guided into truth, I think you would have your eyes opened�.

A brother in Christ.

Strategy: Praying for someone is a good thing, but in this instance, telling them that, in this way, is basically telling them that they are wrong and you will pray that they see the error of their ways. It is sure to raise defensive walls. Remember, ask questions whenever possible. Be offensive (aw-fensive) without being offensive (uh-fensive). And, again, the Catholic was on the mark with what he was asking, just needs some practice on the how.


1st Email from Non-Catholic to Catholic

From: A Non-Catholic

To: A Catholic

Subject: RE: The ignorant and the unstable twist scripture to their own distruction…

Dear Catholic: It is meaningless to mention 2 Tim. 3:16 and say the scriptures there refers to the OT. Of course. God also had that written for those of us after the apostles when more Scriptures (the NT) would be available.

Strategy: This provides an opportunity to ask the question: "So, are you saying that 2 Tim 3:16 referred to the Old Testament for Timothy and Paul and the others that read in when 1st written, but that now it refers to the Old and New Testaments for us?" I hope you can see the consistency problems this could lead to for the non-Catholic if the Catholic followed up with the right questions.

How you could connect the Roman Catholic church to 1 Tim. 3:15 is without proof. It just says "church." The "church" is not an institution, according to the Bible, but all those corporately that are real Christians.

Strategy: The question here is, "Where does the Bible say that?"

Bottom line is: You have been taught and you believe Mary is "our life, sweetness and hope" when the Bible clearly says "our life, sweetness and hope" is JESUS. This is a SALVATION issue and nothing less.

Strategy: The bottom line is, he switched topics. He’s doing the doctrinal dance. He had no real answer to what the Catholic said, so he just dismissed it out of hand and switched topics. If you don’t know how to deal with this, you’re going to get very frustrated, because all Protestants do this.



2nd Email from Catholic to Non-Catholic

Original Message -——-

Subject: RE: The ignorant and the unstable twist scripture to their own distruction…

From: A Catholic

To: A non-Catholic

Thank you for your reply. I trust it is with genuine concern for me and finding the truth.

Regarding your first point, I was merely responding to your website that used this passage to justify the position of "bible alone":

"The Only Sure Guide To God’s Truth The Bible is to be the sole source of doctrine for the Christian (2 Tim. 3:16,17). When this basic fact is recognized various forms of confusion are immediately cleared up. When the truth of Scripture is received one can find the God of the Bible, if he seeks God with all of his heart:"

Even if this passage means ALL scripture (OT and NT), it still does NOT say SOLE or ALONE or SUFFICIENT. It says profitable. AMEN. I agree 100%. By adding the word "sole", you are making it say something it does not.

In a similar way you are making the Catholic teaching of Mary say something it does not. If you read the Catholic Catechism, you would understand the correct teaching of the church. We ask Mary and the saints to pray for us the same way you ask your friends to pray for you. And who is closer to God? Mary and the saints or your friends? Do you think those in heaven are less alive than we on earth? I would say they are MORE alive than us? We DO NOT attribute any power to Mary and the Saints. EVERYTHING comes from the Lord. When Jesus gives authority to others, it is still His authority (as Jesus gave men the power on earth to bind and loose, and to forgive sins.)

Regarding your 2nd point, Jesus founded only 1 church, not 30 thousand churches. And scripture is clear that doctrine is VERY important in His church. I think you would agree on this point. Jesus also founded a visible church, one that scripture clearly states is the final authority between disputing christians… "…if he doens’t listen to them, tell it to the church. If he doens’t listen even to the church, treat him as you would a tax collector…" How can this passage be fulfilled if there isn’t a visible church of single doctrine? What if a Baptist is in dispute with an Episcopalian? One says abortion is wrong, the other ways it is personal choice. One says homeosexual behavior is wrong, the other says it’s ok (even for its leaders). One says baptising a baby is wrong, the other says is not. WHO SPEAKS FOR THE CHURCH (in your definition of church)? Jesus gave his church authority, and promised to protect it in truth to the end of the ages. The ONLY church around at the time was the Catholic church. We can see in scripture at least 4 generations of bishops being appointed (read Pauls letter to Timothy carefully). We also know that the catholic church created the canon of scripture and the Pope ratified it. How can you give authority to the bible without giving authority to the church (Jesus’ Church) that gave it to the world?

The bottom line is "where do you give authority"? I give it to the church Jesus founded! (back to 1 Tim … the upholder and defender of truth!) Not one established by A MAN 1500 years after the death of Jesus. A man who removed books from the bible to fit his "own theology", and added the work "alone" to Romans so it would say what he wanted it to say.

Please share more of you insights. I appreciate your perspective.

Strategy Overall, the Catholic did a pretty good job here. It’s a good thing to ask for insights and perspectives. And, he’s sticking to one or two main points and he’s on target with the "what". Again, though, try to ask questions and keep asking questions…get the other guy talking about what he believes and why…if you don’t get them talking, all the inconsistencies in their beliefs will not come to light.

From: A non-Catholic

To: A Catholic

Subject: RE: The ignorant and the unstable twist scripture to their own distruction…

You ignored the VITAL part of my email about JESUS being our life, sweetness and hope, not Mary.

Strategy: The non-Catholic is setting the tone for the conversation and deciding what will and will not be discussed. Try to avoid that if possible. After this email, the Catholic contacted me and asked me for a response to the non-Catholic’s question. That response is below:

Dear Non-Catholic,

You stated: "You ignored the VITAL part of my email about JESUS being our life, sweetness and hope, not Mary." I apologize for that, but I didn’t realize that you considered that THE vital part of your email. I will be happy to respond. You are taking that quote about Mary being "our life, our sweetness, and our hope," from one prayer that Catholics are known to pray. This prayer is known as the "Hail, Holy Queen."

I find it curious that you would take one line, from one prayer, that not all Catholics even know, and use that one line from that one prayer to portray Catholics as elevating Mary to a place above Jesus. And, this is a prayer that is not used in any official liturgy of the Church. May I ask if you have ever bothered to read the Catechism…the official teaching of the Catholic Church? As a Christian, do you not have a responsibility to honestly portray the teachings of others, even if you disagree with those teachings? How can you do so if you haven’t read the Catechism?

Let’s go through that whole prayer, shall we…and I will tell you what it means. As a Catholic, I think I have the right to explain what a Catholic prayer means to me, don’t I?

1) Hail Holy Queen…Mary, as mother of the King, is Queen Mother, is she not? And, she is with Jesus in Heaven, therefore, she is holy, isn’t she?

2) Mother of Mercy…Jesus is mercy, and Mary is His mother. So, can’t we say she is the Mother of Mercy?

3) Our life…she is our life in that she undid what Eve had done. As sin entered the world through one woman’s disobedience, so Life entered the world through one woman’s obedience. Through Mary, Life came to us. Do you believe that Jesus came to us in some other way rather than being born of Mary?

4) Our sweetness…Mary, united to Christ from the moment of His conception, is indeed our sweetness. Wouldn’t Jesus think the same of His mother? Do you think Jesus may have, at some point in His life, said something about His "sweet" mother? Are we not to imitate Christ in His feelings for His mother? She is our sweetness, again, because from her absolute Sweetness came into the world.

5) And our hope…we believe Mary was raised, body and soul, into Heaven to be with Christ, her Son. That, too, is our hope…to be raised, body and soul, into Heaven to be with Christ her Son. So, we hope that her Son will one day raise us up to Himself, as He did His mother. In that sense, she is our hope, because Christ did for her what we hope He will do for us.

6) To thee do we cry…we ask Mary to intercede for us, just as we ask any member of the Body of Christ to intercede for us. What is wrong with that? Will you pray for me that I will be saved? If so, you have interceded for me through prayer…does that mean I worship you because I asked you for prayer?

7) Poor banished children of Eve…that’s who we are.

8) To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning, and weeping…same as #6 above.

9) Turn then, O most gracious advocate…Wait a minute! I thought Catholics believed Mary is a goddess of some sort! That she could grant us our every wish and desire? But, she’s just an advocate…an advocate with whom? Or should I say with Whom? Why don’t you latch onto that line of the prayer to portray what Catholics really believe about the relationship between Jesus and Mary and us? Doesn’t fit what you want people to believe about us, does it?

10) Thine eyes of mercy towards us…Mary, as a member of the Body of Christ, perfectly united to Christ in Heaven, is merciful, isn’t she?

11) And, after this our exile…we are in exile here on Earth

12) Show unto us the Blessed Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus…why, if we Catholics put Mary above Jesus, would we be asking her help in reaching Jesus?

13) O clement, o loving, o sweet virgin Mary…she is all of those things.

That is the prayer that many Catholics pray. There is nothing theologically wrong with it. There is nothing un-Christian about it. There is nothing in it that elevates Mary above Jesus. Unless of course, one is ignorant of the whole, or many parts, of Catholic teaching. Is it fair to us Catholics, for non-Catholics to decide for us what we mean when we say something? If I say to you that I believe it’s raining cats and dogs outside, are you justified in telling people that Catholics believe cats and dogs fall from the sky like rain? If you don’t know our teachings, if you don’t know our faith, if you don’t know our language, then you don’t know us. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father but by Him. That is what the Catholic Church believes and teaches. Please do not presume to tell a Catholic what he "really" believes, when you are so uninformed regarding our teachings. If you find something in the Catechism, again, the official teaching of the Church, that bothers you or that you believe to be "unscriptural," then I would be happy to discuss it with you.

Now, I have answered your question fully. Would you now answer mine? You agreed with me that 2 Tim 3:16 refers to the O.T. at the time it was written. So, translating that verse to mean Scripture ALONE, as you do, you are apparently saying that Paul was telling Timothy that the O.T. ALONE was sufficient as a rule of faith for Christians, are you not? Why do you believe that Paul taught the sufficiency of the Old Testament? That is not a Christian teaching is it?

And, if you don’t believe Paul was teaching the sufficiency of the O.T. to Timothy, then what was Paul trying to say to Timothy in 2 Tim 3:16? You seem to be saying that the Bible teaches different doctrine to those who first read it, than it does to those who read it today, are you not?

Strategy: (Answer his question, let him know that Christians need to accurately represent the beliefs of others, even if they disagree with them, and then get back to the questions that he needs to answer.)

In Conclusion

I never heard back after I sent my email response, so I don’t know if the discussion between those two continued after that or not. Just remember, ask questions and try to keep the conversation focused by asking questions…and insisting upon answers to your questions.

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Apologetics for the Masses