A Reader Needs Your Help

She writes:

I walk my dogs every morning and a fellow dog walker is a former Catholic now baptist preacher. While discussing redemption I told him he had some very Catholic ideas. He wasn’t too happy about that. He claims he knows “everything” about the Catholic Church. He also told me he knows what a monstrance is and I just smiled and gave him a thumbs up. Then he asked me to quiz him. Ask him anything he said. At that point we parted ways on our walk. He is away on a business trip. While he is gone I am looking for 5 questions to ask about the Church that will make him think. He is not a stupid man and prides himself on his intellect. Perhaps you and your readers can think of some questions and answers I can present to him to give him a bit of a challenge. He’s the one who asked to be quizzed after all.

I’d start here. I’d also give him a copy of By What Authority?, from which that is excerpted.

Learned readers, feel free to add whatever questions you think might be useful here.

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  • JB

    “What kinds of baptism does the Church acknowledge as authentic and sufficient for salvation?”

    Two things might surprise him:

    1. In my experience, most Protestants – including Evangelicals who, as they actually believe in the Bible, are in my opinion closer to the Church’s magisterium than most other Protestants – are not aware that the Catholic Church acknowledges most Protestant baptisms as valid Christian baptisms;

    2. But even less well known among Evangelicals is the Church’s teaching that persons who do not receive any formal baptism can still be saved:

    1260 “Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery.”63 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

  • JB

    PS, a corollary of Catechism s.1260 (cited above) is that the Catholic Church is more generous toward non-Christians than Baptists are. Therefore a corollary question – not about the Church but about its separated brethren the Baptists – would be, “Why don’t you Baptists believe in the import of the parable of the Good Samaritan, who did God’s will regardless of being a heretic?” BTW, the parable of the Good Samaritan reminds me of Mormons.

  • Yvonne

    Ask him how many churches there are?

    Triumphant Church in Heaven
    Militant Church on Earth
    Suffering Church in Purgatory

    • Scott

      Yvonne, you didn’t supply the answer so I’m not sure if it’s a tricky one. I’m gonna say “one” because the Church Triumphant, Militant, and Suffering are all the same One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church- just situated differently (almost said in different locations, but we’re dealing with reality outside the customary parameters).
      Is that what you’d say?

  • I would start by asking:
    1. If the Church is the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-31), how can the Baptist Church—which originated in the 17th century—be Christ’s Church?
    2. Is it not troubling that the formal principle of the Protestant Reformation—justification by faith alone—is explicitly contradicted in Sacred Scripture (e.g., James 2:24, Mt.12:36-37; Rom. 2:6-13)?
    3. Is it not troubling that, in order to justify repudiating the Catholic doctrine of justification, Martin Luther added the word “alone” (“allein,” German) to his interpolation of Rom. 3:28, and proceeded to launch his rebellion against the Church upon this artificial, arbitrary doctrine?
    4. Has it occurred to you that in abandoning the Church that Christ founded (cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch, “Letter to the Smyrnaeans,” e.g.), you have participated (objectively speaking) in the “rebellion of Korah” which Jude decries (Jude 11; cf. Num. 16), consisting in repudiation of Divinely instituted authority?
    5. Do you not agree with Martin Luther’s admonition to his protege, Philip Melanchthon, “It is very dangerous to assume that the Church which had existed for so many centuries, and had been the instructor of the whole of Christendom, should not have taught the true doctrine of the Sacraments”? (Martin Luther, “Letter to Philip Melanchthon,” 1536; in M. De Wette, __Letters of Luther__ [Berlin, 1828]; quoted in Stephen K. Ray, __Crossing the Tiber__ [San Francisco, CA: Ignatius, 1997], p. 268).
    There are a host of other good questions, but these may spur fruitful discussion.

  • JB

    Another more simple question for a Baptist (in this case a nominal “ex-Catholic”), about what he thinks he knows about the Church:

    “What does the Catholic Church say about how and why Satan’s rebellion was based principally upon Satan’s proud refusal to acknowledge a flesh and blood Human – Mary – as the Mother of God and the greatest of all of God’s creatures?”

    Indeed Mary is one of the main stumbling blocks for our Protestant separated brethren, and especially for Evangelical Protestants precisely because they are so close to the Gospel. But the truth about Mary is inseparable from the truth of Jesus Christ’s Incarnation, and therefore at the end of all disputations among those of us (including Evangelicals) who profess belief in Jesus Christ who was born and died and rose from the dead – all in his true body, true incarnation – well, in light of THAT belief, then the truth about Mary is EITHER:

    1. She was a sinner and therefore Jesus’ body was born in sin, OR,

    2. (The truth) She is sinless, ever virgin.

    If the Baptists and other Evangelicals REALLY believe Mary was a sinner (which is the only alternative to her being an extraordinary creature), then they have a lot to answer for, regarding their belief that Jesus’ body came from a body stained by evil. Because if Mary was not sinless, then the Body of Christ was born from the womb of a sinner, a body stained by evil. And IF that is true, then HOW could the Body of Christ be totally sinless?

    In light of the above, the sinlessness of the Body of Christ makes no sense unless His Mother’s Body were sinless.

  • I’m breaking my “never write in a bad mood” rule, so this might be a little too smarmy, but… if its good enough to pop into my head, it’s good enough to share with the entire Internet, hm? 🙂

    I would ask:
    In Scripture, the apostles witnessed a very structured, liturgical gathering in which the high priest offered bread and wine, said the words “This is my body.. this is my blood”, and distributed it to all gathered. Only one of them walked away from it. Which one was it?

  • Greg V.

    In my very humble opinion, it appears that one would need a better idea of what this gentleman’s reasons were for leaving the Catholic Church before settling on questions that one could ask him. I would guess that he had difficulties with one or more teachings of the Church.

    Based on his being a Baptist and his intellectual approach, I would presume the that this gentleman has justified his leaving the Church due to a belief that Christ instituted only an invisible Church, or only one in which each believer has the authority to decide, based on his or her own reading of the Bible, what the Church and its true doctrine are.

    Thus, Mark’s own suggestion of providing a copy of his “By What Authority” is probably the best suggestion. Also, anything relating to the insufficiency of sola scriptura would be important. If he is not willing to read such material questions designed to elicit thought about the underpinnings of the visible Church and its hierarchy, along with the place of Sacred Tradition alongside Sacred Scripture as being part of Divine Revelation, are important here.

    IOW, deal with the necessity to hear the Church first, and doctrinal issues second.

  • Baptists are generally the most Anti-Catholic lot. (It depends on what type of Baptist, as they are all over the place regarding beliefs.) Growing up Baptist, you couldn’t have swayed me at all. But I think maybe Rome, Sweet Home would be a book that could help. After all, if he’s a Baptist preacher, he should make sure he’s preaching the truth. And Scott Hahn became convinced of the truth of the Catholic church through the scriptures. Also the conversion CD of both Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s journey into Catholicism. Listening to them speak about their conversion is very moving.

  • thomas tucker

    Question: where in the Bible is the doctrine of Sola scriptura found? (And, since the books of the New Testament hadn’t been written yet, how does it apply to them?)

  • Ted Seeber

    A slightly more subtle version of Thomas Tucker’s version that I’ve been using as of late:
    “Were people who were Christian before the Synod of Hippo saved?”

    Neat thing about this is it kills two birds with one stone in this case- I’m willing to bet most American Catholics who haven’t dealt with the question of Sola Scriptura and “we only know Christ through the Bible and salvation comes through Christ alone” Christians haven’t ever even heard of the Synod of Hippo.

  • WesleyD

    If he’s open to reading books, the two best books are Alan Schreck’s Catholic and Christian and Mark Shea’s By What Authority. The former is “defense”: it shows that Catholic doctrine is indeed compatible with Scripture. The latter is “offense”: it shows the inconsistencies in the Protestant understanding of Scripture and its contents.

    If the person is very anti-Catholic, I would avoid giving them the latter without the former; otherwise you might shatter their belief in Protestantism without offering them any alternative!

  • JB

    “Don’t play the game of thinking that he cares to have an honest dialogue here. He doesn’t. He just wants to talk smack about the Church, so smack him back.”

    That might be a good point. The Devil convinced himself that he “knew everything” about Jesus before tempting Him with bullsh– including citations of scriptures. Come to think of it, Satan knows every word of the Bible, and as an enemy of the Church Satan would prefer sola scriptura, leaving the Church out of it.

  • Theresa

    A few things come to mind.
    1. Your buddy must have been very hurt by something/someone within the Church. Maybe a teaching that seemed particularly “unfair” or something that seemed to take advantage of somebody else (family, friend, or general population). Fundamentally, he has tried to cling to Jesus in cutting off the Church, however misguided his tactic has been.
    2. I would opt to ask him 1 question per day, so as to give time for the Holy Spirit to work and guide each of your hearts. Pray hard about the questions you ask and pray harder for the grace to be a good and faithful representative of the Church, that your buddy may find the spiritual home he’s been missing.
    3. I would be cautious about selecting questions, perhaps geared toward the beauty and the freedom found in the Church, the simplicity of her teachings and joy in the full communion with her and her sacraments. Be prepared for rebuttals. By taking it 1 question at a time, you may have a chance to go back, research the rebuttals and have a better dialogue. Aim for dialogue not a show-down.
    4. Before starting your conversations, pray together for the Holy Spirit to guide your words and hearts. (You could even ask him to start since he probably believes he is in a position of authority as a preacher.) Take your Bible with you. Depending on the translation he uses, you may find you can use your won “Catholic Bible.” (If he uses NASB/NSV, you can probably use your NAB/NSRV.) But I know that a lot of protestants are very surprised by a willingness of Catholics to use their own Bible.

    As for some topics:
    – Praying to saints for intercession. (Emphasizing the familial relationship we have with those who have gone before us.)
    – The Eucharist and the real presence. (particularly John 6)
    – Faith as a gift and how it is cultivated, and why we baptize our babies.
    – Faith as a unifying force. (All will be one.)
    – Peace as a communion of wills and found in being in full communion with Christ. Peace is an absence of conflict/protest. (How do you find peace in a religion that is set up as a protest to other Christian brothers and sisters?)

    I’ll be praying for you guys!

  • John C

    Give him Shea’s book. Otherwise avoid the jerk. He sounds like some puffed-up 12 year old who knows EVERYTHING about the Red Sox or the Yankees or whatever. Go ahead, ask me ANYTHING. There is such a thing as Christian maturity, ya know. Maybe you should ask him to think about that.

  • slimsdotter

    I would ask him only one question: Name one teaching that the Church is in error about. Understand the actual Church teaching, not Protestant misconception, and show from scripture or however, that the church is wrong. Worked for me, as a very Bible literate devout protestant. By What Authority absolutely knocked me flat, by the way.

  • slimsdotter

    Edit previous post to add, I am no longer protestant. Was received into the church Easter Vigil a year ago.

  • BobRN

    Why do Baptist Christians not recognize the power of relics and their proper place in the devotion of the faithful? Relics are clearly Scriptural:
    2 Kings 13:21
    Matthew 14:35-36
    Acts 5:15
    Acts 19:11-12
    I know this is hardly a central matter of Christian faith, but I recall that the conversion of the Hahn’s began with their re-evaluation of the question of contraception. When they realized that the Catholic Church, and only the Catholic Church, got that one right, they began to re-think other matters of faith and morals as well. If your friend recognizes that relics are Scriptural, and that only the Catholic Church (and Orthodox) recognizes that, it may inspire him to re-evaluate other matters. Who knows?