Catholic does not = blind faith


#1

So one of my friends, from a modern Evangelical Protestant background seems to be warming up to Catholicism. Aside from the Blessed Virgin Mary, of course, his other big stumbling block is that he thinks that Catholicism is “too rigid” and that we “don’t think for ourselves” and we just blindly obey the Pope. He thinks we lack freedom and believes we have too many “rules.”

Obviously, his impression is skewed. How would you go about showing him the breadth, beauty and diversity of a Church where you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself? :frowning: apologetics is tough for me.

Thanks, and God bless.


#2

It seems like his objection is that we actually follow Proverbs 3:5. Ask him why his church doesn’t. Don’t accept any answers along the lines of “I follow The Holy Spirit,” but instead counter them with, “Are you suggesting that The Holy Spirit contradicts Himself 33,000 times over?” (That number, a rough estimate of Protestant denominations.) Also, use 1 Timothy 3:15 to show the Church(As opposed to the Bible) as being the “pillar and bulwark of truth,” while using 2 Peter 3:16 to show that the Bible itself condemns the doctine of Sola-Scriptura. You can find more help on this site and on staycatholic.com


#3

One point you might make, though not right away, is how many devotions are possible for a Catholic. For example, Pope JPII had a stong Marian devotion, but another person might prefer reading the works of, say, St. Thomas Aquinas. The Faith is so marvelous in the infinite ways it can develop. No two people believe in the exact same way.


#4

Speaking from personal experience here: It all comes down to authority. Get him some of the Bible Christian Society CDs:

One Church
Apostolic Authority and the Pope
Mary & the Bible; Purgatory & the Bible
Which Came First, the Church or the Bible?

and while you’re at it, get for yourself:
Introduction to Apologetics
Apologetics for the Scripturally-Challenged
Two-Minute Apologetics

and any others that sound interesting! I’ve listened to almost every one and they’ve helped me tremendously! :thumbsup:


#5

The Church (Magesterium, Catholic scholars and theologians, writings of Church Fathers and Doctors, writings of the saints, etc.) collectively has, in the 2000 years since Jesus, more education, knowledge, and experience than you could ever hope to have in your lifetime. Using this collective education, knowledge, and experience, our Holy Mother Church guides us in how to live a more holy life. Your friend interprets this guidance as “rules,” “being rigid,” and “blindly following the Pope”.

I think to the contrary, many Catholics and especially converts, do indeed think for themselves and that’s how they have come to believe in Catholicsm of their own accord. Personally speaking, the more I learn about our Catholic faith and practices, the more I realize the wisdom of the Church, and I trust her guidance.

The Church is like an onion. It has so many layers. On the surface you have Mass and the sacraments. Another layer is devotion to Mary and the saints. Another layer is apparitions and private revelations. Another layer is the writings of Church Fathers and Doctors. Another layer is an in-depth understanding of the Eucharist and the Real Presence. And on and on. And it all leads to Jesus at the center.

People who complain about “rules” truly have no understanding of the Church and it’s beauty. Would your friend consider attending a Mass, for starters?


#6

I think the Church is more like a parfait, myself. . .:smiley:


#7

Print out My Testimony and give it to him and show him what happens when one thinks for oneself. :rotfl::rotfl:


#8

What about cakes? Cakes have layers:D


#9

Thank you. :slight_smile: I like the onion metaphor and you’re so right about the collective wisdom of the church.

Oh, and he does go to Mass with me. And he likes it. :smiley:


#10

I skimmed it. What an interesting journey:)


#11

:smiley: It was great to read your story. Thanks for sharing!


#12

:blushing: :slight_smile: Thanks. (Luke 17:10)


#13

What’s this big hangup that so many non-Catholic Christians have with being “too rigid”? I mean, was there any more “rigid” faith in the ancient world than Judaism? And who made all those rules for the Jews? Yes, it was God. So God obviously doesn’t think much of the “it’s too rigid!” complaint. :slight_smile:

Anyway, ask your friend how he would counter this argument made from an atheist perspective:

his other big stumbling block is that he thinks that Christianity is “too rigid” and that we “don’t think for ourselves” and we just blindly obey the Bible. He thinks we lack freedom and believes we have too many “rules.”

I think you’ll recognize the argument :slight_smile:


#14

I have a similar conversation “going” with a protestant friend of 20 years. She says she believes Catholics are “saved” but that she has been taught, and agrees, that Catholicism is wrong in being “legalistic.” This seems to be the common criticism.

We can point to places in the NT where Jesus obeyed Jewish laws. He was circumcised. He was always going to the temple to observe the Feasts. His family made the ritual sacrifices. I don’t know what else. But He came not to destroy Law; He came to fulfill the Old Law in the New. He became the Lawgiver.

There are all the things we are told to DO in the New Testament (in addition to believing): To fight the good fight; to run the race to the end. To persevere in doing good works. To obey the commandments. To feed the hungry, visit the sick, etc. We can remember Mt 7:21–not he who says, “Lord, Lord,” but the one who does the will of the Father will be saved. Also, that we are to work out our salvation “in fear and trembling.” That a man is “justified by works and not faith alone” (James).

When we are in the realm of DOING, we are in the realm of action, and action is practical. Practical things are subject to practical wisdom–prudence, the ability to pick the best means to accomplish a given end within a given framework. This is where Church government and laws–discipline–comes in. The Church has the duty and the authority to exercise practical wisdom with respect the work done by her members. So She tells us when to come to Mass, and how often; whether and when to fast; etc.

Protestants seem clueless about the distinction between doctrine (which can develop but doesn’t “change”) and discipline (which changes with changing conditions), and this muddles the water quite a bit, seems to me.


#15

he thinks that Catholicism is “too rigid” and that we “don’t think for ourselves” and we just blindly obey the Pope. He thinks we lack freedom and believes we have too many “rules.”

Obviously, his impression is skewed. How would you go about showing him the breadth, beauty and diversity of a Church where you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself?

You get him the bigest, honkin’est volume of St. Augustine’s works, selective writings from St. Thomas Acquinas, a copy of the documents proceeding from Trent, Vatican I and II, and maybe a copy of Pride and Prejudice, and tell him to read all of them by next Thursday on penalty of general discontentment.

OKAY … Just kidding. You get out bibles and wager, “Whoever has the most books wins! Oh, too bad for you … Welcome to the Church!”

Or maybe not. Anyhoo, simply tell your friend that no one instantly receives a copy of the Catechism or Canon Law upon walking into any given parish. Rather, one receives the Word, the Sacrament, and the fellowship of Christ. Tell him that rooted in this, all other things proceed but are secondary, and that from personal experience, if it be true, you’ve never found the Church’s guidelines strict or oppressive–heck, they can be liberating, odd as it sounds! Tell him that they challenge one as a Christian and provide depth but are far from “rigid.”

If he’s never been, invite him to Mass. Let him see for himself. No one’s trying to re-establish the Law (well, with the exception of our Seventh-Day Adventist friends, that is) but rather simply to assist the faithful in good, Christ-centered living.


#16

Keep inviting them to mass. Nothing else will be as convincing of the things you list.

Unfortunately, your friend is right that many catholics don’t think for themselves, and cling to a legalistic outlook, full of “rules” - as evidenced by half the posters on this website. But we certainly don’t lack freedom, and Papa Ratzinger is nothing if not a daily inspiration to all of us.


#17

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