How can one defend the Church when there is so much false information spread about her? I had a protestant friend claim the Church has executed over 16 million people in her history. I told him that his facts were so wrong that they are unworthy of trying to counter. But should I have tried too? In the past it seems to get me no where. Is there an easy answer book out there to help persuade them?
The best way to defend the Church is to be always prepared to explain your faith, or at least be able to say ,“I don’t know the answer to that, but I will find out and get back to you”.
Another “best” way is to let your friends know that you expect them to support any assertions they make about the Church with actual evidence. In your recent case, your friend should either provide the evidence that supports the claim about these 16 million people being put to death (from credible sources) or he/she should admit that it’s a specious and unfounded statement.
There IS a good book, just for you!
]How to Defend The Faith Without Raising Your Voice
]The Seven Deadly Sins of Apologetics
I just read a quote that said the Catholic Church killed 3 BILLION people! We sure have been busy. I doubt any organization can match that! We’re number one! We’re number one!
Catholic Answers has a great DVD on that subject. I can’t recall the name of it but I bet if you contact them, they’ll tell you. What amazes me is they seem to forget all the Indians slaughter by the non-Catholics that settled on the East coast. They taught the Indians how to scalp!!. God Bless, Memaw
Not really when it comes to false historical claims such as the one thrown at you. You will have to do some research and get the actual facts. There is material such as Catholic Bible cheat sheets out there that list the teachings and doctrines of Jesus Christ and His Church and the various Bible verses that relate to them. Stuff like that helps when coming up against a false doctrine like sola scriptura. Of course the Catholic Church also holds Tradition (which includes where we got the Bible) sacred so eventually it all comes down to authority.
Here are some book recommendations…
Where Is That In The Bible by Patrick Madrid
The Protestant Dilemma by Devin Rose
The Essential Catholic Survival Guide by Catholic Answers
The Fullness of Truth by James Seghers
Of course, there are a lot of great apologetics resources out there. And I would encourage being ready to discuss things.
However, I would caution against coming at this from the angle of “defending the Church against lies.” I understand the impulse. It is natural when one loves the Church so much. But I prefer to focus on getting at the underlying issues the other person has with regards to the Church. Oftentimes, these historical accusations are just the surface rationalization for the real reason the person rejects the Church. As soon as you counter it, the will have a dozen more similar arguments.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that the focus should be more on the conversion of the person you are talking to rather than defending the Church against slights. The Holy Spirit can take care of the defense.
That one is actually pretty easy to refute with simple reason. Ask them where and when all this was supposed to have happened. Then point out that such numbers would have effectively depopulated Europe and since we know that didn’t happen their allegation is untrue so they should check their source for reliability and don’t believe everything that they hear or read.
They probably haven’t heard this;
*]Of all the Inquisitions together throughout Europe, scholars estimate that the number of people executed ranged somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000. That averages, at most, about fourteen people per year throughout the entire continent over a period of 350 years.
CA has a number for very good articles and resources on this and here are some links.
Wow! Where did they claim that the bodies were hidden (and how did they explain the rest of the population being unaware of the destruction of half the world’s people)?
“Preach the gospel at all times, and, when necessary, use words.”
What you do, how you live your life, and especially how you treat others will make a far, far greater difference than anything you say.
According to Fr. Mitch Pacwa, that was never said by St. Francis. I haven’t the slightest idea where it came from!! I am thankful many of our Holy preachers, like St. Dominic, Arch. Fulton Sheen, Fr. Hardon, etc. never followed it. God Bless, Memaw
The burden of proof is always on the one making the accusation. Or does your friend not believe in “innocent until proven guilty”?
Good answer, and the best advice, IMHO.
I’d add that I’ve encountered people who don’t actually want the facts…they simply want to engage in catholic bashing…so it’s not wise to engage or to get down in the weeds. Trying to refute with fact “well we only actually killed 5,000…” seems useless to me as well.
If you want to defend your beliefs about things you believe to be true, then I advise getting to know some of the original doctrines and learning the answers to some common arguments. For example, getting familiar with what’s in the catechism and reading up on Augustine’s works. The more you know, the better.
Another thing I would throw out there is: Be very careful about what you say when you’re debating/explaining your position. If you use language that is accusing the other person of having wrong beliefs, then you will likely provoke a defensive response. Once the other person is defensive, you probably aren’t going to change their mind about much. Being polite tends to work better, or at least that’s what my experience has been.
In my view you should never try to defend the Church against any unsubstantiated claim. The onus is on the person making the claim to provide you with supporting documents to back up their claim then it can be discussed and any false claim refuted. They are either too lazy or they realise they are just blowing hot air.
That needs to work both ways. Most of the time those confronting me have been confrontational in their accusations. And not willing to even consider they may be wrong. I usually just ask them if they believe in the 8th Commandment. Tho shalt not bear FALSE witness against they neighbor! God Bless, Memaw
I understand the feeling. I debate with atheists often, and I normally hear a lot about an evil God who loves to see humans suffer. The best we can do is to politely explain what the Truth is and hope that the other person listens. I personally find it easier to be polite when I focus on explaining my views instead of focusing on trying to convert the other person.
Very good point … as one of my favorite saints wrote, having all knowledge is valueless without love (paraphrasing). It’s very easy to get caught up with the arguments and the 'aha, I will hammer you to dust" and find that you’re not listening to the other person, only planning your next jab, and in the end you might win the argument and see the loss of a soul (and a friend).