Why is it that as a Catholic, I feel inferior when trying to discuss Scripture with Protestants?
It seems that they memorize chapters and verses, and know how to handle the Bible better.
As a Catholic, I feel that they have the command and authority…
Well, it depends on the person. There are some Catholics who know Scripture better than some Protestants. However, in general, I know what you mean. Most Protestants who would identify themselves as “born again” or “Bible-believing” put all their emphasis on learning Bible verses. From childhood in Sunday school, they memorise verses.
Catholics tend not to memorise single verses so much but to look at the big picture of salvation history (in my experience). For example, at Mass we don’t usually say the chapter and verse of the Reading, but say the book of the Bible it is from.
One thing you can do is improve you own knowledge of Scripture (and I personally avoid arguments with Protestants and focus on my own spiritual journey).
Here is a very good website: Scripture Catholic
“ScriptureCatholic.com provides over 2,000 Scripture citations from the Old and New Testament that explain and defend the teachings of the Catholic Church. This site also provides hundreds of excerpts from the writings of the early Church Fathers (1st through 8th centuries). These writings explain the Fathers’ interpretation of Scripture and demonstrate that the early Church was unequivocally Catholic. Through the study of Scripture and the Church Fathers, we see that, not only is the Catholic faith biblical, Catholicism is Bible Christianity par excellence.”**
The home page currently looks like all they do is sell books, but if you look to the list at the left, all the articles are FREE. Just click on the topics on the left side that interest you to get the relevant Scriptures.
No you’re not. Its a gimmick really. If you take your time to learn more about scripture, you know that many of what they say have been personal interpretations of Scripture and not factual. Sometimes people with a little knowledge and a lot of self confidence can pass for someone who appears to know a lot. Don’t feel you have to compete with what they have memorized.
I think it is because of the emphasis put on the various traditions. If you believe that the bible is the only thing necessary for your edification then you are going to try and memorize it. Catholics look at it differently in that we have a teaching Magisterium and the Bible to teach us gods truths. We don’t need to cherry pick various verses to try and prove our point because we are focused on the big picture and not private interperation to try and make the bible fit what we want to believe. As such Catholics know the bible quite well – just not chapter and verse.
Just know Pablo that all catholic beliefs are quite biblical and that if you need to you can find the catholic rational behind all our beliefs quite simply. Don’t be intimidated because realy the authorty to understand the bible rest in the Church and not in private interpretation.
However if you feel that you need to be able to quote scripture as well then simply start studying it with an emphasis on memorizing particular passages. I think there is even a book called Memorizing Scripture or something along those lines.
They haven’t got the “command and authority”, but they have got the confidence. As Catholics we tend to leave the Bible scholarship to the priests, whereas Protestants regard lay persons as “priests” and responsible for learning Scripture themselves. They in turn often struggle when confronted with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, who are rigorously trained in how not to look outside their own blinkers.
So they are better at it because they emphasise it more. Moreover if you listen to Protestant sermons, they usually emphasise Scripture a lot more, whereas Catholic homilies don’t (one of my personal beefs, as a former Protestant, is the lack of good Cathoic homilies, compared to the standard of the sermons I used to get in my first church in particular). A lot of them also read the Bible daily, whereas I’d be surprised if many Catholics bother to do that.
Personally I think we need to introduce the use of “home groups” similar to that of the Protestants, but with a wider ambit, so that we can speak authoritively not only on Scripture, but also Tradition, Church History, Marianism, Sacraments etc.
If you feel inferior when discussing Scripture with Protestants then it may be a result of many issues.
Most Protestants I have encountered know nothing about what they are speaking about. What they know is what they are taught and when pinned down to specifics cannot discuss. Example…note how many Protestants on these threads answer questions with a volley of Scripture…without saying anything to explain.
Most Protestants I have encountered have not studied the Bible, they have memorized particular verses that when strung together make a point. It does not mean that they understand it.
Most Catholics are not prepared for Apologetics and if you have not noticed that there on these threads very good Apologists…you can learn lots from them…I do…
Most Protestants are not discussing Scripture they are discussing their theology with the use of Scripture…
Most Protestants have not studied or know the OT. Get hold of some Scott Hahn studies like “Rise and Fall of the OT Church”, “Salvation History”, “Finding Christ in the OT”…taking a Protestant into the OT with knowledge and precision usually silences them because they have no strength there…Scott Hahn usually refers to most Protestants as New Testament Chrisitians that we can help educate.
I do not know what you have studied. I suggest that you get grounded in the book of Romans…I suggest reading some commentaries…for sure get hold of Scott Hahn study of Romans “Romanism in the Book of Romans” and study it…he will give you tools for apologetics…
You may want to get hold of “Not by Scripture alone” and know how to undermine the false position of Sola Scriptura…If you can do this this weakens the entire Protestant position…see the many threads on this site and you will see that no Protestant can provide evidence for this position.
Your goal should be not to win arguments but to win souls for Christ…consider how fortunate Catholics are to be able to speak to someone that understands the basics of Christian thought and accepts most of the truths you accept…it is their man made theology that is corrupted.
Be prepared never to win an argument. If you cause them to reflect and consider why they have accepted this theologic point you will find that at least they know you are not a target for conversion. In my experience with Protestants they either give up and go away in which case they believed that they could convert me, they accept that there is no point in arguing with me and we are on even ground and we can have further dialogue, or they go and find someone that knows more than they do and even a pastor or two have crossed my paths and the results are the same.
To discuss Scripture with with Protestants you have to know their position and weaknesses as well as your own position before discussing anything…this is what Aquinas does…
If you feel inferior then you may not be prepared and should study more.
Catholics know the bible much better that you may think. Even though you may not be able to quote chapter and verse, in mass you hear more of scripture in the three year cycle than most prostestant denominations.
As eaxmple, today is the baptism of the Lord. Even if you do not know that which chapter and verse it falls in the gospels, you can descrbe the event and know it’s importance.
Know the bible is much more than just knowing chapter and verse and being able to quote it. Knowing the scripture means knowing what it meant to the people who first heard it, what the Church tells us about it and what the application is for it in our lives today.
Since Vatican II, the Catholic church has become far more advanced and has suppased all others in command and authority.
Ultimately, since Protestants are almost strictly Sola Scriptura, of course there is going to be an emphasis on memorizing and interpreting Bible passages. SOLELY Bible passages. Of course most Protestants know this.
The thing is, in MY experience, that is ALL they do---------just memorize and quote. Catholics are much more better (for the most part) at INTERPRETING the Bible CORRECTLY--------in other words, put it in the proper context.
The priests and apologists, in particular, have much more of a historical and textual grounding which enhances their knowledge.
According to John Martignoni, a former Protestant himself, they only know about 20 or 30 verses out of context. Do your homework and you soon can feel competent. John has some free materials on his website. biblechristiansociety.com/download
In Protestant Christianity, the canon is the body of scripture comprised in the Bible consisting of the 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.
In Roman Catholicism, additional books were added in 1546. These books are known as the apocryphal books: Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, The Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), and Baruch. I need to add here that Roman Catholicism maintains that the apocrypha was always inspired along with the Eastern Orthodox, Coptic and Armenian churches. The Protestant movement has not accepted the apocrypha.
In Mormonism, four additional books have been added to the Canon: The book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
I am under the impressionj that Protestants are better at quoting individual bible verses. AntiCatholics can be great at it. Catholic seem better at understanding understanding the context of scripture.
Some other rooms that I go to the antis are frequently quoting verses and sentences from the Catechism. But looking more closely we find there are misquotes and statements taken out of context.
I recall some years back a study was done that showed that Protestants read the bible on a daily basis at the same rate as Catholics. When I knew I would convert I heard people say “those Catholics don’t read the bible.” I sometimes then asked if the person making that claim read it. “Well, no, I don’t myslef but those Catholics don’t.”
Quite often people will come at you with a verse they have prepared. You are not prepred for a sneak attack.
All they have is self-confidence and a list of Bible verses to cite that they think support their Protestant traditions. In response to that, I would make the following recommendations:
*]Never try to “win” an argument with a Protestant. First, it won’t work; second, that’s not the point anyway. So what if s/he goes home crying at having lost an argument? All that will happen is the pastor will shore up the person’s doubt, and you won’t have accomplished anything. On the other hand, if you calmly and confidently explain why we differ, perhaps that person will experience a little doubt and then, over time, start thinking about it, researching the issue, and praying; and eventually convert.
*]Don’t try to get to “I know all the Scriptures” immediately. Pick one issue – Petrine authority, the Real Presence, the alleged “sufficiency” of Scripture versus the importance of Sacred Tradition, the alleged idolatry of Catholicism, or what have you – and research the arguments. Take part in some of the debates on this thread, and note the responses to your arguments. Eventually you’ll know that issue very well, and you’ll be able to handle it in conversation with Protestants.
Then pick a second topic.
*]Remember that you never discuss theology with a Protestant who hasn’t memorized Scripture, because the ones who have not memorized Scripture never ask “Could I have a minute of your time to discuss my personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” The ones who approach you about this have already prepared. So, now it’s your turn. Prepare, then go forth.
In a few years, the Protestants you know will be asking their pastors, “How come Pablo knows Scripture so much better than I do?”
I agree with all these points. This is a marathon not a race. The number of Protestants that I have encountered that are now Catholic are a small number and it did not come over night. I presently am involved with some Reformed, Evangelicals, and a Dispensationlist pastor…
Understand that the best thing you can do when you are approached by the prepared is that you probably know more than they do…I like to set the stage by providing equal footing and I have mentioned this before…so I won’t repeat it…if you have questions contact me privately as to how I do this…
Next I like to ask questions as I know they are trying to evangelize…I once met an AOG missionary who just returned from Ireland. He and his wife went. I asked him if he knew what tribe Paul was from…“Judah”…no Benjamin…I asked him if he knew to whom the letter to the Romans was written to…no answer…to Christians I told him…I then asked him who the Apostle to the Gentiles was “Peter”…no Paul…and on an on it went…soon his wife told him he could no longer speak to me…it kind of goes like that…
I sometimes like to ask leading questions, knowing where they are going…if you are approached by someone with a Bible…just listen…then ask…'cmon…now you expect me to believe that all Scripture is inspired…where do you find that…and with that you are in to
2Timothy 3:16…and you can read it and ask…have you read a few sentences back…
Next I often say…next you are going to tell me that if I just confess and believe that I will be saved…right to
Romans 10:9…and you read it and point out that the letter was written to Christians and that this verse is no where mentioned anywhere else and that if it was written to Christians it could not be a formula for salvation…
I then say next you will tell me that the Bible says that there is on one that is righteous
right to Romans 3:10…and when you point out that Paul is quoting Psalm 14 you will further weaken their position.
this goes on and on until you have undermined their evangelical zeal to convert you to a man made religion…You will then have established your self confidence. You will need to continue to study.
Most Catholics I know cannot go head to head with a Baptist or Evengelical Bible Christian. Before people get all insulted at my postion, it is based on the average Catholic in the pew - regular CAF members are not average Catholics.
Yes, the Evangelical or Bible Christian interprets much of scripture incorrectly but they do interpret it in relation to their own theology and many Catholics cannot do the same. Though they have heard the verses many times over the years, most Catholics I know don’t know how scripture ties into their beliefs or can’t point to where Church teaching about any particular doctrine is found in scripture.
Take this test…
*]Where does the Bible say that Mary is our Mother?
*]Where in the Bible does it say that Mary is Queen of Heaven?
*]Where in the Bible does it say anything about Purgatory?
*]Why do Catholics insist that we have to do good deeds to get into Heaven when Paul says at least a dozen times in the Book of Romans alone that if we believe in Christ and have faith in him that we will be saved?
*]How can the Catholic Church teach that contraception is a sin based on the Bible?
*]How can the Catholic Church teach that one has to confess to a priest based on the Bible?
*]Where does the Church get the Sacrament of Confirmation from the Bible?
*]How does the Church justify calling Mary intercessor and mediatrix from the Bible?
These are all valid questions and Catholics should be able to answer every single one of them by opening a Bible. Most of these subjects are all but explicit in scripture and most Catholics can’t answer these types of questions when challenged, other than to say, “Well, it’s not in scripture” and then fall back to arguments about Tradition.
When the Bible Christians, Baptists, Methodists and other seperated brethren finally come back into the Church, they will bring great gifts with them, including a deep passion for Sacred Scripture. I know Evangelicals who wear out a good Bible every five years or so.
I appreciate your tact and understanding. I come from the Martial Arts school of Apologetics. The Martial Arts as you know is defense oriented however it is defense that uses the opponents strength to defeat them…I don’t want to sit and block punches and kicks…I want to block one punch and then come back with numerous attacks at varying levels as I learned in Kempo…this is my approach that works and your approach as I see it is mostly defense…
Evangelization is an ongoing event that requires the ability to give what you can, create questions in the minds of those that approach you and then marvel at how their lives will be changed after you encounter them…it is not the Protestant approach of getting someone saved…God saves…I will give two recent examples.
I was involved in a business transaction. I noticed that the person I was speaking to had the Nativity scene at their home. After two hours of discussing a business proposition it was time to leave. The gentleman I was speaking to took a piece of paper…wrote on it “be honest…Do you believe in God?”…he passed it to me…and I said of course who does not. He said many don’t. He then went on to describe the marvels of the computer, a watch, the universe and if this was design we accepted how could we not believe in God. I waited and said…yes I understand…this is called the argument by design…He looked at me and said “huh”…I said this is one of the 5 ways described by St. Thomas…he said “who”…He then took his pen and started writing…I said yes…there are 5 ways explained by St. Thomas in the 13th century…as I explained he wrote away…I then said you may want to look into St. Anselm…he wrote that down…and then I explained Paschals Wager…he wrote it all down and I said as I left…you know you cannot make anyone believe anything they don’t want to…he said…well they can see what it is I am trying to show them…I said you know even seeing may not be enough unless someone is ready…and then as I left I said you know…Paul was blind on straight street until like scales fell from his eyes he could see…he was ready…he asked for my phone number and I left…
I was called by Global Solutions…I am starting a business…the caller introduced themselves…as a Christian organization providing security…after a brief discussion…I said…You are a Christian company? Yes. You are a Christian?..Yes…Do you read the Bible…Yes…which version?..The King James was the answer. I said good. Do you read the 1611 or a later version…it would not have mattered what the answer was the dialogue would have been the same…I then said OK, the 1611 version…now tell me what do you think about the deuterocanonicals…the what he said…you know the Apocrypha…well, he said I have read the Bible cover to cover and I don’t recollect that… I then said you know, Sirach, Wisdom, Macabees…he said I never heard of those…I said…I rarely trust anyone that does not know those books…I then said…do you believe the Bible is the word of God…he said Yes…I then said…how do you know…well, he said The Father, the Son and Holy Ghost gave them to us…I said does the Bible anywhere say it is inspired…he said I don’t know…after asking again he got frustrated and said…I think I have to go now…I know he will never be the same.
This is sort of what I do…I doubt either of us felt inferior.