Are Protestant Apologists Ushering People into the Roman Catholic Church?

1601134_701317589911941_1584487051658798835_nFor this post I’d like to discuss one of the major reasons why I’m probably going to join the Roman Catholic Church; and that reason is, ironically, Protestant apologists.

When a simple layman such as I can see through the distorted use of history and misrepresentations employed by most of these “defenders of the faith” what other conclusion should I hold except that their arguments are illegitimate? If the “silver bullet” existed they would be all over it, right? It suggests the “silver bullet” doesn’t exist when Protestants are forced to use foolish arguments.

Some friends and I recently watched this DVD from Always Be Ready (ABR) Apologetics Ministry with some guy named Charlie Campbell. Viewers of this DVD would be wise to verify any information contained in this talk; maybe even see how Catholics explain their own faith (a novel thought). I’d recommend Catholic Answers for starters.

Campbell’s use of argumentation is painful to watch and his use of history is so bad one is forced to conclude he relied solely on secondary sources that he felt were trustworthy enough to not bother verifying the information contained.

It was an hour-long talk so I will not go over every point. It would take too long. However, a few some simple examples should suffice to show the shallowness of his talk. If anyone watches this DVD, take everything said with a huge grain of salt and not at face value. This guy is dealing with issues that do not have a cut-and-dried answer, and he did not even do his homework well.

Example 1: Bad Argumentation

Towards the beginning, Campbell said, “Most scholars, outside of the Catholic Church, reject the popular teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that the church at Rome was established by Christ Himself through the apostle Peter. Why is that?”

Well…… If a person truly believes the church at Rome was established by Christ Himself through Peter, then that person would be Roman Catholic, right? That sort of argumentation is like saying, “Only those people who like bacon actually like bacon. Most people who don’t like bacon don’t like bacon. So that proves we should not like bacon.” Uhhhh….what?

Campbell is apparently trying to create an “ah-ha!” moment in our minds but such argumentation only suckles the cravings of those who already reject the RCC and are willing to grab hold of any “proof” against it, whether the proof is true or not. There are many scholars who have studied the early church and joined the RCC. Maybe Campbell should actually read some of those guys and find out their reasons (men like John Henry Newman, Robert Hugh Benson, G.K. Chesterton, or Scott Hahn).

Example 2: Bad History

Apparently feeling firmly grounded upon his argument of sand, Campbell went on and gave two successive points.

  1. There is no historical evidence Peter was ever bishop in Rome.
  2. The list given by Irenaeus lists Linus, not Peter, as the first bishop in Rome.

Campbell even praised Irenaeus as a “very trusted source for early church history.” But if Campbell had actually read Irenaeus he would have seen these statements.

  • Irenaeus stated “Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church” (vol. 3 chap. 1).
  • Irenaeus talked about “the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul” and said “For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre-eminent authority” (vol. 3 chap. 3).
  • Irenaeus then said, “The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate” (vol. 3 chap. 3).

So Campbell’s two points are utterly destroyed by the trustworthy source of his own choosing. Irenaeus himself says that Peter founded the church in Rome, the Roman church had pre-eminent authority, and Peter passed the “episcopate” to Linus. (We get the word “bishopric”, and therefore “bishop”, from the word “episcopate.”)

Needless to say, at this point Campbell’s credibility is already waning and he’s only 9 minutes into his talk.

But wait! Campbell gave a recommendation for anyone “in the dark when it comes to church history.” What is the recommendation? Wait for it…. The movie “Luther” starring Joseph Fiennes…… Hhmmm…. Considering his constant appeal to “most scholars”, I was hoping for something a little more, I don’t know, scholarly.

The next blog post will be about the questionable hermeneutics Charlie Campbell employs.

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Disclaimer – This blog post is just that: a blog post with my personal thoughts. I am not a Catholic apologist or theologian. What I say here is not official doctrine of the Catholic Church. I am still learning and am susceptible to error. Don’t take anything here as Gospel. Don’t be stupid. Do your own research and learn for yourself what the Church teaches.

Catholics: if my understanding of Catholic doctrine needs adjustment, please point out my error.

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Frustrations of a Potential Convert

I don’t know who will read this, but maybe it will help someone facing conversion or help someone who has a loved one facing conversion.

Making it personal

One of the frustrating things I’ve faced, mainly from family, is how personal they make it. This is certainly human nature to which we’re all susceptible. No one likes being told by a loved one that they might be wrong, or have believed wrong their whole lives, or that the family line for generations past has believed wrong. Most converts (or potential converts like me) probably never intentionally make this critique but the critique is inherent in that conversion regardless. There is no escaping it.

One family member asked me, “Do you think I’m going to hell?”  I could only respond with, “I’m not even sure where I’m going right now.”

When discussing Jesus’ words in John 6 another family member asked “Are you telling me that if I don’t enter into a Catholic Church and eat the Eucharist, than I’m going to hell?” To which I could only respond, “If it’s true than I’m going to hell too because I’m not taking the Eucharist either. If something will keep me out of hell I’d sure like to know about it.”

It’s frustrating how they turn it back on themselves. They’re trying to keep me from crossing the Tiber and yet somehow the discussion becomes all about them. I’m facing spiritual agony and heartache (which I will probably not share in this blog), and yet the conversation becomes about their feelings and I’m put into the awkward position of trying to give them some sort of comfort.

Legacy

Legacy is another strike that can be used against the convert. “Generations of this family have believed such-and-such.” “This family has a long line of preachers.” Do you think the convert doesn’t know such things? Do you think the convert doesn’t feel the pain of walking away from whole generations?

In his conversion story Confessions of a Convert, Robert Hugh Benson, son of the Archbishop of Canterbury, told of three people who tried to convince him not to convert to Rome. He actually praised their efforts saying,

“They were all three as kind as possible. Above all, not one of them reproached me with disloyalty to my father’s memory. They understood, as all with chivalrous instincts must have understood, that such an argument as that was wholly unworthy.”

Chivalrous instincts. That’s something we all should cultivate more. Remember, some things are “wholly unworthy” of being said, and especially so to the aching heart.

Note: Read passages like Matthew 10:34-39 to see what people like Jesus said about legacy.

My Advice

If you know someone considering a conversion to anything and want to help, you’re greatest asset is love. Be chivalrous. Be a gentleman. Be a lady. Know that they are already hurting and be there for them.  I have three friends (all are women, interestingly) who have no plans to convert but have never attacked my considerations and have been nothing but supportive.  For that I thank them.  Being available for your loved one doesn’t require you to accept their new found beliefs, but it does require you to man up enough to face opposition without losing your cool (something I’m certainly not good at either, to my shame at times).

This is a world with competing world views and there is no escaping it. Get over it and accept the fact that your beliefs will be challenged, even by those you love most. We don’t get to retire from defending our beliefs until we’re dead.

Who knows? Maybe the potential convert will actually reveal some things to you that you never thought of before. If you’re missing something critical in your Christian walk, wouldn’t you like to know about it? And likewise, a reasonable conversation instead of a condemnation over the phone might draw a potential convert away from the brink and back to your more accurate beliefs.

“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” — C.S. Lewis

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Disclaimer – This blog post is just that: a blog post with my personal thoughts. I am not a Catholic apologist or theologian. What I say here is not official doctrine of the Catholic Church. I am still learning and am susceptible to error. Don’t take anything here as Gospel. Don’t be stupid. Do your own research and learn for yourself what the Church teaches.

Catholics: if my understanding of Catholic doctrine needs adjustment, please point out my error.