Fun with protestant ministers


#1

While I was hanging out at my girlfriend’s house this weekend, her father suggested that I go with them to their very Evangelical Church. I agreed, as I was once an Evangelical myself, and I love hearing what the other side is saying.

At the end of the surmon, I was ready to freak out. So, I sent an email to the minster asking some questions. I am going to cut and paste all of it here, as I thought you guys might enjoy the read. This is why I became a Catholic…right here:

My email was as follows:
*Good Evening!

I was present for your message this morning, and it has caused me to ask several questions after the sermon. I was hoping that you might address them.

First, let me say that I really did enjoy the message, and I think that it was well thought out. However, there were a few things that I need a little help with.

First, lets talk about a statement that you made concerning the advancement of medical treatment. In the course of your address, you asked the congregation. “How many of you believe that the advance of medicine is a gift from God?” I was troubled somewhat by this, and the more I thought about it, the worse it got. Let’s consider a couple of “medical advancements”: stem cell research, abortion, breast augmentation, plastic surgery in general to aid in vanity, and even assisted suicide. Clearly, these are not all scientific advances to which God would be pleased. I was wondering if you would like to comment on this a bit, as I am sure this is not what you intended.

Secondly, I wanted to make reference to something that you quoted from James this morning. Note that I am going to use the KJV of the Bible, as it is the one that I have handy. In James 5: 16. In that verse, it states that the righteous, when they pray for us, may facilitate in the Lord raising us up. You then went on to say that you had a group of people in the Church that prayed for you every day of the year. My question is, and I am in no way trying to disparage those fine people, how did you determine that they were righteous?

Finally, and this is the big one for me, I was a bit concerned about the passage in James also under James 5:16. In this, the Bible says that we are to confess our sins to one another that we may be healed. I hearkened back to John 20: 22-23. Here Jesus appears to the Disciples and breathes on them, as God breathed life into Adam, and tells them that the sins that they forgive are forgiven, and that those sins that they retain are retained. When we combine the two, James and John, it appears to make quite the case for the Catholic Rite of Reconciliation (what we commonly refer to as confession). So, I was wondering if you could elaborate on what is being said in James and John here.

Thanks so much!
*

Now for some fun, this was the response that I got.

Bradley,

Thank you for your note. I appreciate your attentiveness during the sermon and I will attempt to answer your three questions.

  1. In no way do I believe that God is pleased with the special medical procedures you mention.

  2. First of all they are Christians. Secondly, I spoke to another person who knew all these people well and verified from his perspective that they have demonstrated a level of maturity in their faith.

  3. In the James text there is no indication that the forgiveness is given by people. Our confession to each other is sign of our repentance, and then God provides the forgiveness. that is my understanding of that text. In the John text the traditional (Protestant, albeit) understanding is that the disciples “declare” forgiveness or non-forgiveness on God’s behalf depending upon whether or not people receive the gospel. In other words, as I preach the gospel and people receive it I can tell them they are forgiven. If they do not receive it I can say they are not forgiven. I don’t offer or withhold forgiveness, I simply announce it on God’s behalf based on their response to the message. One thing that has helped me with this is to understand it in light of Biblical context. In other words, are there scriptures elsewhere that give people (even priests or clergy) the authority to forgive sins? None that I know of. We announce it only on God’s behalf based on people’s reception of God.*

The wonder of this kind of logic is amazing to me!!!


#2

[quote=sadie2723]In the John text the traditional (Protestant, albeit) understanding is that the disciples “declare” forgiveness or non-forgiveness on God’s behalf depending upon whether or not people receive the gospel. In other words, as I preach the gospel and people receive it I can tell them they are forgiven. If they do not receive it I can say they are not forgiven. I don’t offer or withhold forgiveness, I simply announce it on God’s behalf based on their response to the message. One thing that has helped me with this is to understand it in light of Biblical context. In other words, are there scriptures elsewhere that give people (even priests or clergy) the authority to forgive sins? None that I know of. We announce it only on God’s behalf based on people’s reception of God.

The wonder of this kind of logic is amazing to me!!!
[/quote]

Biblical context? Except for John 20 I suppose. Just by asking if there are scriptures “elsewhere” that give people people the authority to forgive sins, he is implying that at least that one passage does. It reminds me of when people don’t want to hear that they’re sick, so they want a “second opinion” from another doctor…

As for declaring forgiveness “on God’s behalf based on their reception of God”, I would ask him how this doesn’t contradict “judge not, lest ye be judged”. For what he says to be true, we would all have to be capable of perfectly reading people’s hearts. The ironic thing is that the Catholic sacrament of reconciliation is implicitly understood to be invalid if the penitent’s heart is not in the right state. I don’t think this guy covered all his bases here, needless to say.


#3

[quote=sadie2723]3. In the James text there is no indication that the forgiveness is given by people. Our confession to each other is sign of our repentance, and then God provides the forgiveness. that is my understanding of that text. In the John text the traditional (Protestant, albeit) understanding is that the disciples “declare” forgiveness or non-forgiveness on God’s behalf depending upon whether or not people receive the gospel. In other words, as I preach the gospel and people receive it I can tell them they are forgiven. If they do not receive it I can say they are not forgiven. I don’t offer or withhold forgiveness, I simply announce it on God’s behalf based on their response to the message.
[/quote]

Guess I’ll have to amend my Bible. Apparently, John 20:23 should read: “Whose sins you declare forgiven (provided they have received the gospel) are announced as being already forgiven.”

Come to think of it, maybe that’s how he knows certain people are righteous–he’s declared their sins forgiven.

One thing that has helped me with this is to understand it in light of Biblical context. In other words, are there scriptures elsewhere that give people (even priests or clergy) the authority to forgive sins? None that I know of. We announce it only on God’s behalf based on people’s reception of God.

I’m wondering where he got this idea. Where does the Bible say Jesus has to delegate authority more than once for it to be vaild?


#4

Thanks for your comments guys! My future father-in-law is going to want to war with me on this, so your comments are very much appreciated!


#5

And the reason you had him put all this in writing and then share it on this board is to … what? Make fun of him? :frowning:


#6

That’s what I was thinking. Sounds sort of prideful to me. Also somewhat arrogant.


#7

[quote=MaryD7]And the reason you had him put all this in writing and then share it on this board is to … what? Make fun of him? :frowning:
[/quote]

Not at all. I just wanted to recount a conversation that I had with the guy, and open the discussion about confession. As this is the “non-Catholic” forum, I thought that it would start some conversation about confession and what other faith’s thought of it. No pride in it for me.


#8

It was pretty funny…


#9

I wanted to simply state that I was bothered by the title of this post. The minister’s reply seemed to be both humble and lovingly written. Regardless of whether his interpretation of repentance and the Gospel is wrong, I’m not sure I understand the motive of the OP for either quizzing him on his interpretation…or…posting it here.

The very fact that he is a protestant minister who doesn’t recognize the sacramental nature of Penance is a given. If the OP is interested in sincerely leading him to the Catholic faith, its not apparent from the post. I’m struggling to imagine what other motive there might be.


#10

[quote=byHisGrace]I wanted to simply state that I was bothered by the title of this post. The minister’s reply seemed to be both humble and lovingly written. Regardless of whether his interpretation of repentance and the Gospel is wrong, I’m not sure I understand the motive of the OP for either quizzing him on his interpretation…or…posting it here.

The very fact that he is a protestant minister who doesn’t recognize the sacramental nature of Penance is a given. If the OP is interested in sincerely leading him to the Catholic faith, its not apparent from the post. I’m struggling to imagine what other motive there might be.
[/quote]

I am from that old school questioning approach to apologetics. I find that by asking questions, people begin to think outside of their normal box, and in doing so, often find Rome. I had no interest in showing what the man did not know. Rather, I was interested in questioning what he knew. I am also very interested in what the Bible Christians say when confronted with something like this. I find that they often say that a literal interpretation is what they use when reading and preaching. What actually happens, such as in this case, is that they are literal only when it suits them.

I know this minister a little, and he is a good man. All that I wanted to do here was point out to him that there is another system of belief out there that may prove to be more accurate than his. I know that system is a better one, and thus I want to share it with the world.


#11

For those who think we intend to make gleeful fun of the good pastor, we most certainly don’t intend to do that. :eek: The “fun” comes in finding the verses that show that he has a faulty or partial understanding of these things based on his limited theology. We certainly don’t want to have “fun at his expense.” :nope:

As to the Apostles having the power to forgive or not forgive, Matthew also tells us about it here:

Matt.18:18 “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”


#12

[quote=Della]For those who think we intend to make gleeful fun of the good pastor, we most certainly don’t intend to do that. :eek: The “fun” comes in finding the verses that show that he has a faulty or partial understanding of these things based on his limited theology. We certainly don’t want to have “fun at his expense.” :nope:

As to the Apostles having the power to forgive or not forgive, Matthew also tells us about it here:

Matt.18:18 “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
[/quote]

Thanks!


#13

Okay, so there is no glee. But keep in mind that there is your relationship with your future father-in-law to consider as well.

Can you imagine stumbling across an evangelical web site where he has posted “fun with Catholic priests” and then put the priest’s polite reply online “for some fun?” Doesn’t feel so charitable when the shoe is on the other foot, does it?


#14

[quote=neweyes]Okay, so there is no glee…

Can you imagine stumbling across an evangelical web site where he has posted “fun with Catholic priests” and then put the priest’s polite reply online “for some fun?” Doesn’t feel so charitable when the shoe is on the other foot, does it?
[/quote]

Believe it or not, we’ve stumbled across much worse than this on Protestant cites. On the more rabid ones our priests are accused of every crime in the book and on the less rabid ones the priest scandal is used to bludgeon any poor Catholic who dares defend the Church. Indeed, the shoe has been on the other foot, and then some. But, you are right, we Catholics here, since we represent the Church Christ founded, ought to do better. :o


#15

Here’s a real conversation:

Protestant: "Dwight, my husband is in hell."
Me: “Really, how do you know that?”

Her reply:

“My husband beat me and I never forgave him for it. Scripture says that whoever sins you retain are retained. I retained his sins; he’s not forgiven.”

:whacky:


#16

[quote=neweyes]Okay, so there is no glee. But keep in mind that there is your relationship with your future father-in-law to consider as well.

Can you imagine stumbling across an evangelical web site where he has posted “fun with Catholic priests” and then put the priest’s polite reply online “for some fun?” Doesn’t feel so charitable when the shoe is on the other foot, does it?
[/quote]

Peace.

Believe me, they are out there. Would you like the address to two?

Peace.


#17

By “fun” you mean “having a jolly old time” right? Good. :rotfl:


#18

[quote=neweyes]Okay, so there is no glee. But keep in mind that there is your relationship with your future father-in-law to consider as well.

Can you imagine stumbling across an evangelical web site where he has posted “fun with Catholic priests” and then put the priest’s polite reply online “for some fun?” Doesn’t feel so charitable when the shoe is on the other foot, does it?
[/quote]

I agree. Just because some (not all) Protestants insult and harass Catholics doesn’t mean anything. Catholics should strive to behave better than that. This minister is probably doing the best he can to lead people to the Lord with the knowledge that he has. This thread doesn’t seem to be very charitable to me.

The title of this thread says a lot. I wonder how this minister would feel if he knew that his e-mail, which he most likely thought would be a private exchange, was posted here for so many people to read. I wonder what he would think of the title of this thread as well?

I’ve been the brunt of things like this in the past, and it doesn’t feel very good.


#19

[quote=MaryD7]And the reason you had him put all this in writing and then share it on this board is to … what? Make fun of him? :frowning:
[/quote]

Peace.

I do not think the intent was to make fun of the minister, but rather present the misrepresentations that often occur in non-Catholic churches. The minister may be a swell person, but, similar to many non-Catholic leaders of congregations, is his own pope and magesterium. From his presentation, the emphasis is solely on the Bible (i.e., Sola Scriptura, and if it is not in the Bible it does not count; and if it is in the Bible and Catholics practice it then it is misinterpreted by the Catholics and does not count) and even in that he does not reveal the fullness of the truth. Tragically, he is truly limited in the breadth and scope of his knowledge. If this minister is misguided by the examples cited, how can this minister accurately explain John 6 to his congregation?

In the end, why settle for fast food when you are invited to a gourmet banquet?

Peace.


#20

[quote=byHisGrace]I wanted to simply state that I was bothered by the title of this post. The minister’s reply seemed to be both humble and lovingly written. Regardless of whether his interpretation of repentance and the Gospel is wrong, I’m not sure I understand the motive of the OP for either quizzing him on his interpretation…or…posting it here.

The very fact that he is a protestant minister who doesn’t recognize the sacramental nature of Penance is a given. If the OP is interested in sincerely leading him to the Catholic faith, its not apparent from the post. I’m struggling to imagine what other motive there might be.
[/quote]

I would agree… In fact, the minister’s response kind of hits me as a person who himself may be searching or uncertain. Furthermore, it is accurate to still say that God is the one forgiving our sins–whether we go to a priest for Confession or to God directly (not intending to discourage the Sacrament of Confession here, but I employ both approaches in my spiritual life).


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