This is a continuation of the discourse from the last post about a Protestant apologist named Charlie Campbell and how people like him are one of the reasons I’ll probably be entering the Roman Catholic Church soon.
Alongside bad history, Charlie Campbell, in his attempts to set up “ah-ha!” moments in our minds against the RCC, also employed questionable hermeneutics.
In the first place, Protestants can’t help themselves; they must prove themselves from the Bible, even when the best arguments are elsewhere. But using the Bible as “proof” gets sketchy since the Bible can be, and constantly is, interpreted in many different ways. G.K. Chesterton said,
“The Fundamentalist controversy itself destroys Fundamentalism. The Bible by itself cannot be a basis of agreement when it is a cause of disagreement; it cannot be the common ground of Christians when some take it allegorically and some literally.”
Any use of Scripture will be rife with alternate opinions and therefore I don’t believe any “ah-ha!” Scripture exists for any side of the debate. But allow me to show why I think Campbell’s opinions are questionable, at best.
Campbell started giving his own view of salvation. He said, “The Bible over and over again teaches that salvation is by grace alone through faith in Christ alone and not the result of any effort or work of man.”
Now the topic of salvation gets a little foggy because it involves defining what is meant by the words “faith”, “grace”, and “works.” But I’m guessing Campbell hasn’t put that much thought into that so I’ll just offer a few other Scriptures that suggest other than what Campbell boldly declares.
He might have missed when the Bible says baptism saves (Mark 16:16, John 3:5, Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21). Or maybe he missed when the Bible says works and effort saves (James 2:24, John 15:4, Phil. 2:12, 1 Cor. 9:27, Rom. 2:6-8). Or maybe when Jesus said unless we eat His flesh and drink His blood there is no life in us (John 6:53).
After this statement Campbell uses verses talking about faith and ignored any part of Scripture suggesting something other than what his theology allows. Actually dealing with those issues would make the topic of salvation more complex than he is willing to admit and it softens the blow of his “ah-ha!” (Actually, he probably doesn’t even know such passages exist.)
Sinless-ness of Mary:
Talking about Mary’s sinless-ness, Campbell used Romans 3:10; “There is no one righteous, not even one.” But that verse is poetry quoting Psalms 14:3. Why take it literally? Biblical books written as history, and therefore should be taken more literally than poetry, called Joseph a “righteous man” (Matthew 1:19), said Zechariah and Elizabeth were both “righteous in the sight of God” (Luke 1:5-6), and called Simeon “righteous and devout” (Luke 2:25). Hebrews 7:2 called Melchizedek the “king of righteousness.” So maybe there’s a bit more to “righteousness” than people like Campbell insinuate. Romans 3:10 is certainly not an “ah-ha!” verse against Mary’s sinless-ness.
Campbell also appealed to Luke 2:22-24 saying, “You don’t go and give sacrifices in the Temple if you’re not a sinner.” But Mary was simply fulfilling the Law that required a purification process for women who gave birth, which included offering two doves if a lamb could not be afforded (Leviticus 12).
Campbell quoted Luke 1:47 where Mary said, “And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” As if Catholics don’t believe Mary needed a savior? The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The ‘splendor of an entirely unique holiness’ by which Mary is ‘enriched from the first instant of her conception’ comes wholly from Christ: she is ‘redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son’” (para. 492) and “By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long” (para.493).
RCC teaching is that Mary needed a savior too, therefore this argument against the RCC is moot. Her Immaculate Conception was a free gift with no merit on her part. She is redeemed “by reason of the merits of her Son.” Her salvation anticipated Christ’s sacrifice, but His sacrifice was still needed. (Scott Hahn explains the Catholic view of Mary in Scripture with this and other talks on Mary).
Now Campbell and others can disagree with Catholic interpretations of Scripture, but it still comes down to a matter of opinion. The “ah-ha!” reasons don’t exist, as if Scripture is so “clear” on beliefs we already hold and couldn’t possibly be seen in a different light.
Considering that I just posted about loving attitudes, perhaps my words have been too harsh in these last two posts about Charlie Campbell. “Crises of faith” are very emotional times. When I look for answers from people who make this stuff their living and still find their answers completely inadequate, frustrations naturally grow. Like others, Charlie Campbell clearly didn’t study the history of the church, and not even his hermeneutics have any conclusive content.
So what is this Faith that leaves critics no recourse but to use falsehoods as facts and odd argumentation as game-changers? For those of us who don’t want false-front defenses, should we not conclude that the Faith they reject in such bizarre ways might actually be right? If illegitimate arguments are necessary to reject the RCC, does it not suggest the RCC is actually legitimate?
Now I agree with Campbell that Irenaeus is a trustworthy source, which is exactly why I am probably entering into the Roman Catholic Church soon. Protestants (especially American Evangelicals) should beware which early church fathers they claim are reliable sources because it will open a whole can of worms they probably don’t want to deal with. I know it did for me. It’s also what made John Henry Newman convert after saying, “To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant” (An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).
The people who accept DVD’s like this one are those who are comfortable in their Protestantism, want reasons to stay out of Catholicism, but who have no intention of looking into the reasons themselves. And yet Catholics are the crazy ones for “blindly” following men.
What is this Faith that cannot be proven wrong and too often seems right? What are people like me supposed to do?