HELP! In debate with Protestant minister!


#1

Greetings, Everybody! I need some big time help over here! I am a convert to the Catholic faith (since 2000) and I would rate my apologetics as rather novice. And as luck would have it, right now I’m in a little bit of a debate with a Church of Christ pastor! (I’ll keep him nameless for the time being). His church is rather large (especially for a CoC church) in Oklahoma City with probably a few thousand members that attend weekly and probably hundreds more on his mailing list.

My father attends his church everynow and then and is on his mailing list. After the death of Pope John Paul the Great, this is what he sent out this bulletin to all of his members (Note how it starts off rather well, then quickly sours):

TOLERANCE AND TRUTH

In October of 1978, Ruth and I led a group of people on a tour of Bible lands. While in Jerusalem, we stayed in the Notre Dame Hotel. It was operated by the Catholic Church. We received excellent service and the food was very good. Most of the service personnel were nuns. We had a wonderful time.

While we were there, the pope died and a new pope was chosen. It was Pope John Paul II. When the announcement was made, the nuns were all atwitter. Their excitement excited many of our tour members. While we could not fully appreciate the significance of the event for them, it was obvious that it was very meaningful for them. They had no way of knowing this man from Poland would become one of the most popular popes of all time.

I find no inconsistency in considering the church of Rome to be an apostate church and to consider the papacy a great evil and yet recognize the man as a powerful force for good in many areas of life. To say that he was a world figure is to put it mildly.

Why would I consider the institution of the papacy to be evil? It presumes to regard a human being as the head of what they consider to be God’s church. He is regarded as the rightful ruler of the universe. For centuries, kings were crowned by popes. If they displeased him, he could dethrone them.

Would I deny anyone the right to practice without fear of reprisal? By no means. God made us creatures of choice. That does not mean we do not have to face the consequences of our choices.

We must recognize the difference in toleration and approval. If we change people, it must be by persuasion and not by force.

Needless to say, after reading this letter full of nonsense, I was rather upset. I tried to just forget about it, but it bothered me incredibly to think that people would read this letter and really think that Catholics thought the pope was “rightful ruler of the universe”, etc. I couldn’t sleep at night! So a few days later, I sent him this letter. Basically, I told him that his bulletin was full of errors and tried to point them out as best I could in a kind manner.

He then wrote me back and said that he had proof and documentation for all of his statements that he would be happy to send me. To which, I agreed and asked if I could see it, which I received in the mail yesterday. You can click here to view all of his documentation. That is where we are in the debate as of now.


#2

[part 2 – continued]

He sent me articles from the World Book Encyclopedia, copies of pages from the books, “Church History for Busy People” by George Klingman, and from the “Story of the Christian Church” by Jesse Lyman Hurlburt. Now, after just reading these pages for a few minutes, it becomes incredibly obvious that these books are extremely anti-Catholic in nature. Furthermore, as far as I can tell, they just are not historically accurate.

At the beginning of his documenation, the minister stated:

If this is fact (as it is), this would pose a serious problem to a sincere Catholic’s belief in a universal human father.

As I mentioned earlier, you can read all of his documentation in full here. (I took the pleasure of scanning them for you all to read). But I know some of you are very busy people, so here are some of the things he underlined:

At first only three bishops were thus designated; namely, the bishops of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch; but ere were long the bishops of Jerusalem and Constantinople were made Patriarchs.

…]

…honors which had been conferred upon the Bishop of Rome were due to the Bishop of Constantinople …] Leo, the Great, Bishop of Rome, opposed with vehemence the passing of this decree…

Then he goes on to show a supposed dialogue that took place between Gregory the Great and John the Faster around 588 AD, in which John the Faster says:

in case of shame should not cure you of pride so profane and reprehensible … a title senseless as vainglorious.

…]

what will you say to Christ, who is the head of the universal Church – what will you say to him at the last judgment – you who, by your title of universal, would bring all his members into subjection to yourself? Whom, I pray you, tell me, whom do you imitate by this perverse title if not him, who, despising the legions of angles, his companions, endevored to mount to the highest, that he might be subject to none and be alone above all others.

I mean, his “documentation” just rambles on and on! Feel free to read it all for yourself! So, after all of this, here is my question: What do I say to all of this?? I mean, either my Catholic books are wrong, or his books are wrong – and I know it’s the latter. I just don’t know what to say! Do any of you know anything about these books, these authors, this dialogue from John the Faster?? As I mentioned, I am a very amateur apologist, and have no idea what to say to this man. I know he means well, but he is sadly misled in his beliefs and I have no idea how to respond to this. Any advice and comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, guys!!!


#3

Many are blind to the truth even when it is dangling from their nose! Do the best that you can and commit the situation to God and trust Him for the rest of it.

Karen Anne


#4

Boomer Sooner,

Pius XII states in Mystici Corporis §40:

Since He was all wise He could not leave the body of the Church He had founded as a human society without a visible head. Nor against this may one argue that the primacy of jurisdiction established in the Church gives such a Mystical Body two heads. For Peter in view of his primacy is only Christ’s Vicar; so that there is only one chief Head of this Body, namely Christ, who never ceases Himself to guide the Church invisibly, though at the same time He rules it visibly, through him who is His representative on earth. After His glorious Ascension into Heaven this Church rested not on Him alone, but on Peter, too, its visible foundation stone. That Christ and His Vicar constitute one only Head is the solemn teaching of Our predecessor of immortal memory Boniface VIII in the Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctam; and his successors have never ceased to repeat the same.

The medieval Pontiffs did occasionally make rather outlandish claims to temporal power (you might wish to consult also Powell, James T. Innocent III: Vicar of Christ or Lord of the World?. CUA Press, 1994): Boniface VIII, for instance, claimed that all power, both spiritual and temporal, derived from the Holy See (a view which, Pius XII, commenting on these words, stated was “conditioned by its era”):

just as the moon has no light except that which it receives from the sun, so also no earthly power has anything which it does not receive from the ecclesiastical power. … all powers … are from Christ, and from Us as the Vicar of Jesus Christ. (Statement to the Envoys of Albert of Habsburg, 1303 AD)

However, they were sporadic and eventually gave way to the orthodox doctrine:

The Almighty, therefore, has given the charge of the human race to two powers, the ecclesiastical and the civil, the one being set over divine, and the other over human, things. Each in its kind is supreme, each has fixed limits within which it is contained, limits which are defined by the nature and special object of the province of each, so that there is, we may say, an orbit traced out within which the action of each is brought into play by its own native right. … Whatever, therefore in things human is of a sacred character, whatever belongs either of its own nature or by reason of the end to which it is referred, to the salvation of souls, or to the worship of God, is subject to the power and judgment of the Church. Whatever is to be ranged under the civil and political order is rightly subject to the civil authority. (Pope Leo XIII, Immortale Dei, 1885 AD)

Mr. Hale’s only mistake, so far as I can see, is that he doesn’t realize that the view of the Pope as “lord of the universe” which, to be sure, was held by some in the medieval era, never entered into Church doctrine, nor is it held today. But he is correct in stating that Catholics hold that the Pope is Head of the Church: we do.

On the right of deposition: Bl. Pius IX clarified that this was to be considered as having been derived from the medieval civil law through custom and common consent, not from divine law. This is in Dom Butler’s history, The First Vatican Council: 1869-1870: you may wish to get this book out of the library and give Mr. Hale a photocopy of the proper page.

John the Faster did claim to be the “Ecumenical Patriarch”, which St. Gregory (mis?)interpreted to mean that he was claiming to be the sole bishop. This is not, of course, what Catholics mean when we call the Pope the universal bishop. St. Gregory himself vigorously affirmed the papal primacy: “For as to what they say about the Church of Constantinople, who can doubt that it is subject to the Apostolic See, as both the most pious lord the emperor and our brother the bishop of that city continually acknowledge? Yet, if this or any other Church has anything that is good, I am prepared in what is good to imitate even my inferiors, while prohibiting them from things unlawful” (Register, IX, 16).


#5

Look up his sources, debunk them, and then provide alternatives. I’m sure if you call the apologists line they will be happy to help you.

I would start with a Google search, or check out www.metacrawler.com to search out his authors and find out who they are and where they get their supposed “authority” this “pastor” is using as his basis.

As far as finding better authors…definitely rely on the professional apologists. I would recommend calling the apologist line for CA-- I can’t find this so can anyone provide the phone number?


#6

Hello All,

Catholic Answers has a tract about the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) that might help you out. Here’s the link catholic.com/library/Iglesia_Ni_Cristo.asp . Also, these tracts might help too *Are Catholics Born Again *http://www.catholic.com/library/Are_Catholics_Born_Again.asp
and *Assurance of Salvation? *http://www.catholic.com/library/Assurance_of_Salvation.asp .


#7

Different “Church of Christ” (gotta love the Protestant denominations)… this “Church of Christ” I’m speaking of was founded during the 1830s ‘American Restoration Movement’ by Stone and Campbell (also known as the “Stone-Campbell Movement”) around Kentucky. (A little further away from the Pacific “Church of Christ” you were thinking of). These are the Bible-only, no music, only acapella singing, Protestant churches you see scattered mainly throughout all of the American South/Southwest. :rolleyes:


#8

It presumes to regard a human being as the head of what they consider to be God’s church. This sounds like the basis of what he is arguing from. Focus on Papal Authority the most, because everything else revolves around this. Let me also recommend the book: Where is THAT in the Bible? by Patrick Madrid. Pick this one up as soon as you can, and give him the arguments from this book. The apologetics are awesome, and there are many more resources by this same author that you can find and use to defend the Catholic Faith. Good Luck!!! :slight_smile:


#9

Boomer,

My advice is to take your time in debating. Oftentimes you can use their own arguements against them. So he denies the office of the Pope, but yet he shephards a congregation of many every Sunday! What do you call that? What happens when a new issue arises in the Church of Christs? He will tell you they will form a meeting (a council) to discuss it, and ussually one or few guys acting as pope or popes nullifies or ratifyies the issue! Gee this sounds kind of Catholic, doesn’t it?

Hope this helps, God bless


#10

Bless you for defending the faith, Boomer Sooner! Is this the correct Campbell Church?

catholic.com/thisrock/1991/9108prof.asp

I agree with the poster who said you need to research the backgrounds of the men who wrote the works offered to you. This is all I have found:

George Adam Klingman (1865-1939) was part of the Stone-Campbell movement so it is not surprising that his work was a-C.

I found something from Jesse Lyman Hurlburt from 1907 but I was unable to establish his Church affiliation. Maybe someone else knows.

I also agree with the poster who said you should focus on proving the legitimacy of the Papacy. Here are some ideas to get started:

On Peter’s Primacy:

catholic.com/thisrock/1992/9202frs.asp

Scott Hahn, a Protestant convert, would probably have the right words to speak to Protestant objections to the Papacy. Here’s a link:

catholic-pages.com/pope/hahn.asp

Here is some information about St. Gregory the Great and Papal Primacy:

cuf.org/faithfacts/details_view.asp?ffID=117

Here’s another site defending the Papacy:

catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=4424

Here’s an excerpt:

"If the Bishop of Rome is, in fact, the successor to St. Peter as the divinely appointed Chief Steward of the Church, then the Reformation should never have happened.

Dr. Horton rejects as “arrogance” Paragraph 882 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which says, quoting Vatican II:
“The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful. For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”

Dr. Horton thinks that papal supremacy is based on “Rome’s appeal to tradition” but “is contradicted by much of that tradition.”

He’s wrong on both counts."

I hope this helps!


#11

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

HIS Church of Christ is NOT in unity with other Church of Christ groups, even in his own town, even from one side of the street to the other. At best, SOME of them maintain a loose affiliation. But NONE of them have a consistent, comprehensive doctrine, much less a fully annotated Catechism as we do.

Remind him: when he dies/retires, another will take his congregation and will guide them in a different direction, as he/she feels led by the Holy Spirit at the time.

Ask him: If his church is so superior, why have he and the other local Church of Christ pastors not either united as a single body or published a comprehensive statement of faith? Why is so much of the bible subject to re-interpretation at the discretion of individual ministers? In fact, it seems the ONLY things the Church of Christ groups are truly in agreement about is their insistence on acapella music and their hatred for the papacy.


#12

Regarding to canon 3 of Constantinople I which states

The Bishop of Constantinople, however, shall have the prerogative of honour after the Bishop of Rome; because Constantinople is New Rome.

this relates to prerogative of honour but not of jurisdiction.

In later Councils, such as Chalcedon, primary of Rome has not been objected. For example in Chalcedon, when the legate of the Pope said:

We received directions at the hands of the most blessed and apostolic bishop of the Roman city, which is the head of all the churches…

No one in the Council objected to such statement.

Also:

"After the reading of the foregoing epistle *, the most reverend bishops cried out: This is the faith of the fathers, this is the faith of the Apostles. So we all believe, thus the orthodox believe. Anathema to him who does not thus believe. Peter has spoken thus through Leo [regn. A.D. 440-461]. So taught the Apostles. Piously and truly did Leo teach, so taught Cyril. Everlasting be the memory of Cyril. Leo and Cyril taught the same thing, anathema to him who does not so believe. This is the true faith. Those of us who are orthodox thus believe. This is the faith of the fathers. Why were not these things read at Ephesus * ? These are the things Dioscorus hid away."Session II (A.D. 451),
**

Francis


#13

Some great resources already have been provided. But I would ask and hope that this information will be passed on and shared with your father as well as the minister? If your dad goes there only sometimes, now is the time to show him the lies of the that church before he goes all the time.

God Bless,

Maria


#14

YIKES! I can see how upset this made you!

I would forward this ignorant pastor this marvelous website! being on the page “The Papacy”. I have looked at many many websites, and this is the easiest and best I’ve found. And every topic is right there at your fingertips.

www.catscans.com/catholicsite.

Nothing ever will probably change him except the Holy Spirit. All you could do is tell him he is wrong, and in error, that you understand how he probably is just going along with what HE was taught, but that hey, HE could be wrong.

I had an old friend just last week, forward me an article put out by a HUGE church here, Grace Community Church which was filled with the same anti-catholic sentiment. Sickening!!! And that so many Christians are being taught this stuff!!!

Good Luck and God Bless!!


#15

Besides all of the great advice above,

newadvent.org/

has the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia. Everything you need to debunk this gentleman, and perhaps, give him something to think about.


#16

This one’s easy.

His comments are bait, which are capable of enticing you into a fight. All he really wants to do is crow about how he considers himself better than Catholics.

Calmly ask this person who makes the final decisions on temporal matter in the CoC, or is every member always in complete agreement? If he says that the Spirit leads each member to think exactly alike and make exactly the same decisions, then I’ll congratulate him and say I can see that he holds his beliefs very deeply.

This guy may be like St. Paul; he might have a great Catholic inside waiting to get out. It is very strong, and requires a tough exterior to get that great man out. Since he can’t come out on command, we use non-response to his allegations as bait to see the love that true Christians have, even as our Savior did when they accused him this fiercely. When all else fails, sometimes silence is the best weapon. That way you do not reveal strengths the enemy would fear, or weaknesses the enemy would like you to fret over.

Alan


#17

[quote=AlanFromWichita]This one’s easy.

His comments are bait, which are capable of enticing you into a fight. All he really wants to do is crow about how he considers himself better than Catholics.
Calmly ask this person who makes the final decisions on temporal matter in the CoC, or is every member always in complete agreement? If he says that the Spirit leads each member to think exactly alike and make exactly the same decisions, then I’ll congratulate him and say I can see that he holds his beliefs very deeply.
This guy may be like St. Paul; he might have a great Catholic inside waiting to get out. It is very strong, and requires a tough exterior to get that great man out. Since he can’t come out on command, we use non-response to his allegations as bait to see the love that true Christians have, even as our Savior did when they accused him this fiercely. When all else fails, sometimes silence is the best weapon. That way you do not reveal strengths the enemy would fear, or weaknesses the enemy would like you to fret over.

Alan
[/quote]

Interesting quote Alan:

Could you explain the last paragraph a little more. “We use non-response to his allegations…, etc”…Are you saying when he says something, accuses Catholics as doing this or that, just to say nothing? Or first point out his error, then say nothing??? what do you mean? Please explain more simply your steps to witnessing-----using apologetics. I need it too! For we need to defend our faith in Love, state the error or others, but then if they keep bickering about it. Just stop. Will wait to hear back from ya!


#18

[quote=sparkle]Interesting quote Alan:

Could you explain the last paragraph a little more. “We use non-response to his allegations…, etc”…Are you saying when he says something, accuses Catholics as doing this or that, just to say nothing? Or first point out his error, then say nothing??? what do you mean? Please explain more simply your steps to witnessing-----using apologetics. I need it too! For we need to defend our faith in Love, state the error or others, but then if they keep bickering about it. Just stop. Will wait to hear back from ya!
[/quote]

I think he is just saying that one needs to discern when someone is asking a sincere question and when they are simply looking for a fight. The former case you answer, the latter you don’t because he is unbalanced and is looking for your resistance to keep him propped up (and keep him confirmed in error). When I was Protestant I ranted to a Catholic friend when we were reading Tolkien’s “Leaf by Niggle” about how Niggle performed some work to get into heaven (faith vs. works). My friend just listened attentively and said he understood my point and left it at that. See? I was looking for some crusher to win an argument. He was out to win a soul.

Scott


#19

I stayed at the Notre Dame hotel once myself. How nice the guy enjoys the hospitality of the anti-Christ, lol. Church of Christ clergy are a tough nut to crack. I have debated them before myself. You can win, but that doesn’t mean they will accept their loss. Learn as much apologetics as you can before you debate them. Remember, even if you don’t know how to answer what they say there is an answer.


#20

Here’s my two cents worth on the documentation the minister provided.

I read through the articles and had one thought, and one thought only.

SO?

When the minister says that the Pope is called “ruler of the universe” or whatever he had said (forgive my short memory), he is assigning an incorrect definition to the word “universal.” The pope is the leader of the universal church…the Catholic Church. After all, Catholic is Greek for universal. By this sense of the word, we do not mean “of all the universe.” Rather, we mean

**

u·ni·ver·sal

adj. Of, relating to, extending to, or affecting the entire world or all within the world; worldwide: “This discovery of literature has as yet only partially penetrated the universal consciousness” (Ellen Key). ****

**It amazes me that a lot of religious debates can turn into debates about semantics and usage.

Anyway, that’s a small bit that may help. You’re certainly in my prayers.

-ACEGC


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