Advice for an Amateur Apologist



I would like to ask for some advice on how to respond to a reoccurring statement made by a couple of my family members.

I bit of background; I converted to Catholicism three years ago after many, many years of searching for the Truth. Most of my family members do not understand my decision and a couple of them like to bring up various issues to “discuss” (read as debate). I certainly do not mind as I love the Catholic Church, I love history and I love to discuss them both!

The discussions are always respectful, but anytime I pose a question they can not answer about their own beliefs or refute a misconception about the Catholic faith the stock response is; “I am glad we have different denominations! If there was only one, people would be burned at the stake!”

We don’t even need to address the second part of the above statement, but I would appreciate some suggestions on how to respond to the first part. Jesus did not say; “OK Pete, I want you to start the Catholic Church and Bart you start the Pentecostal movement, Little Jimmy the evangelicals and the rest of ‘ya, do your own thing!” I believe it was only through man’s ignorance and arrogance that we divided the one true faith God gave us in the first place and the same things are keeping us apart.

I certainly do not want to attack their beliefs, but I do want them understand that it should be God’s will, not ours and frankly am tired of this statement being used as a conversion stopper.

Any suggestions, quotes or scripture passages you think helpful would be most appreciated.

Thank you.



I would say, “Well, I’m not glad there are 27,000 different denominations and neither is Jesus. In John 17:20-21, Jesus prays that we will all be one so that the world would believe. The fact there are all these competing denominations who seperated themselves from the one visible Church he established is a scandal and stumbling block to non-Christians, and in direct disobedience to Jesus.”


Jesus insrtucted his disciples (Matthew 28:19) to… “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you, always, until the end of the age.”

Since Jesus can not teach error, if the Apostle’s faithfully taught all that Jesus commanded; and we followed it faithfully, we would all be following the same faith!.

Lastly, Saint Paul certainly does not teach that we should be of many different teachings when in Corinthians 1:10 " I appeal to you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgement."


Luke 12:48 Much will be required…


When people say having many denominations is good thing, I think what they are really saying is they don’t want to embrace those things in the Catholic Church’s teachings they don’t understand. And, they don’t want to negate the faith experiences they have had in their denomination.

To answer the first part is harder because they are used to thinking within a particular mind set, so they reject certain Catholic teachings outright. Helping people get past this is very hard since it requires them be open to thinking and seeing things in ways they had always thought wrong. Your job (and mine as apologists) is to help them see outside their theological box.

The 2nd objection is easier to deal with because those interested in Catholic belief and practice do not have to negate their faith experiences nor the kind of relationship they already have with God in order to embrace the Catholic Church, as I’m sure you found out. You may want to reassure them that Catholics love Jesus and know him in the most intimates way possible through both the Sacrament of the Altar and their prayer lives.

All the best to you in your endeavors in apologetics, and I will remember you in my Evening Prayers this evening.


Thank you all for the advice and for the prayer Della! I’ll try out your suggestions here in about a half hour! :thumbsup:



[quote=George Waters]Thank you all for the advice and for the prayer Della! I’ll try out your suggestions here in about a half hour! :thumbsup:


You’re welcome, George! Go out there and give them “reason for the hope that lies within you”, and may God grant you not only the right words, but peace and joy in serving him as an apologist for the Faith. :smiley:



This is not biblical but I like to use the analogy of the US Government. Say we print out 120 million copies of the constitution and the declaration of independence, then mail it to every citizen and tell them to interpret it their own way and then do their best. As sincere as each person would interpret these, there will be far more than 1 million different versions of the United States. The idea is complete and utter insanity.

Now, we have the bible written by different authors spanning at least 4000 years apart. Is God so careless as to let them go at it on their own? Surely, a central authority should be in place to animate the scriptures.

Furthermore, these two pieces of paper need a system of executive(papal), legislative(development of doctrine if you will), judicial(magisterial teaching) to apply. What more this tome usually printed on 500 pages?

Not a perfect analogy(it will break down at some point taken to its conclusions), but by common sense, the spawning of different denominations does not equl “that they may be one.”

Hope that adds to your apologetic thoughts.

in Christ.


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