Honest and Dishonest Questions


#1

For those of you who don’t get The National Catholic Register, Mark Shea had a very apt column this week, judging from recent threads like “Are you Born Again?” and “Evangelism question.”

Shea uses a discussion ostensibly about the evidence John wrote the Gospel which bears his name to highlight insincere questioners who claim to be “seeking the truth” but in fact are avoiding it at all costs (emphasis mine):

But conversations like this aren’t motivated by reason. They are motivated by a will that is seeking to heal some sort of personal wound.

Nobody leaves the faith because some obscure scholar is skeptical about whether John wrote his Gospel. Nobody leaves the Church because the manuscript of the Masoretic text is faulty at some points.

They leave because of pride, sin, pain, anger and all sorts of other intensely personal issues much closer to home.

For this reason, people who wish to bear witness to Christ should tread lightly since, as St Ephraim observed, every man is fighting a great battle. But it is also the case that evangelists and apologists ought to point out the fact that those who engage in such rhetorical tactics are kidding themselves if they think they are being cold rationalists.

The diagnostic clue for the insincere questioner is the steadfast refusal to admit any answers that favor the Church’s case. When you encounter that drive to ask questions in order to keep from finding out what the Church teaches, chances are good you are not dealing with difficulties of the intellect but with a problem of the will.

Is Shea right?

Why or why not?


#2

The proliferation of obstinate “questioners” lately seems to agree with the article.


#3

Absolutely. I am not on sufficiently intimate terms with any ex-Catholics to get a feel for each case. In fact, the acquaintances I have seem to drop the “clincher” question, such as “Why do you worship statues?” and then, when they get an answer, they run away: fearful of a Catholic who knows the territory and can quote book, chapter, and verse.

Fleeing from the truth is part of the package. Cynic that I am, I have observed that immediately behind “reasons” for discontent with the Church (scandals, cranky nuns, priests who don’t really care), the problem, all-too-frequently lies about 8 inches below the belt. It nearly ALWAYS involves sex: Divorce, cohabitation, fornication . . . and all the rest of that hoary list.

Lately I’ve been trying to asses the QBQ when confronted by one of these “are you saved?” challenges. It’s easy to answer the questions/objections posed but it’s hard to respond to the REAL need of the inner person.

I believe to some degree the approach ties in with a poor sense of personal value. You don’t get this stuff from mature Protestant evangelists. Would Jim Dobson act like this? Billy Graham?

Come to think of it, both Dobson and Graham take heat from extreme Fundamentalists for cozying up a little to close to the Whore of Babylon.


#4

Actually, when I asked about the difference between Christian evangelism and Roman Catholic evangelism, I was being very sincere.

The funny thing is that not one of you could answer the question and your attacks on me got to be so bad that the thread had to be removed.


#5

you might one to do a search on one-hit wonders on this forum, trolls who post one such empty insincere question, never respond to any of the arguments that follow, and are never heard from again, until they post another genius poser under another name.


#6

It is certainly convenient for you that the thread was removed, since the “question” was answered multiple times and you simply ignored the answers.

One example from the thread was where you asked an irrelevant followup (“sleight of hand”) regarding where in the Bible it said that we should exclude those who persist in disbelief of church doctrine. I posted the relevant passage from Matthew 18 wherein Christ himself tells us to do just that.

You ignored it and moved on without acknowledging your error.

That, among others, is why I question the sincerity of the question.

One other example:

You claimed that the Catholic Church teaches that you and other Protestants and non-Catholic Christians are not in fact Christians. We quoted the Catechism and the recent Vatican letter which demonstrated that your claim was false—you ignored it and moved on to the Eucharist.

Again, as Shea points out, this is the mark of an insincere questioner.

The structure of such exchanges goes like this:

Non-Catholic: “The Catholic Church teaches A.”

Catholic: “Per the Catechism, the Catholic Church does not teach A. It teaches Not A.”

Non-Catholic: “Oh yeah? Well, the Catholic Church teaches B.”

Catholic: “Per the Catechism, the Catholic Church does not teach B. It teaches Not B.”

Non-Catholic: “Oh yeah? Well Scripture says C.”

Catholic: “The entire passage referenced does not say C. Moreover, C is inconsistent with the following passages, which say Not C.”

Non-Catholic: “Oh yeah? Well, Catholics worship Mary/statues/saints/The Pope.”

Catholic: “Catholics worship God. Moreover, here is the Scriptural basis for the things which you claim are signs of worshipping someone or something other than God.”

Non-Catholic: “Why are you attacking me?”

I should also note that we are blessed with many non-Catholics on this board who are sincere seekers after truth. The above does not refer to these; indeed, discussions in which they take part do not fit this profile.


#7

And it’s convenient for you because this way, you can claim that you answered the question.

One example from the thread was where you asked an irrelevant followup (“sleight of hand”)…

I didn’t say anything about “sleight (sic) of hand”. I was discussing evangelism.

You claimed that the Catholic Church teaches that you and other Protestants and non-Catholic Christians are not in fact Christians.

And I demonstrated from your pope’s own words that he says we’re not.


#8

Perhaps a good place to start would be to acknowledge that Catholics are Christians.

Without making apologies for any hostility you may have encountered here, a question like: What is the difference between Christian evangelism and Roman Catholic evangelism already sets up an adversarial assumption.

You may be unaware of the history of Catholicism in America. The KKK targeted Catholics even ahead of blacks. The Know-Nothing movement spread vicious untruths about the faith in the 19th Century, much of which I was fed with a silver spoon by my English Grandmother.

It is hardly remarkable that when somebody dredges up “the Jesuit Oath,” The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, The Two Babylons, or *The Trail of Blood, *Catholics can get combative. No excuse. But it does rather explain it. I guess we have trouble comprehending how anybody can BELIEVE that stuff, all of which has been soundly discredited – by Protestants. But people do.


#9

#10

You are certainly providing an excellent example of what Shea is referring to.

“Sleight of hand” is not a reference to anything you said, but a reference to a behavior Shea noted in his column, i.e. changing the terms of the question when the answer provided doesn’t suit your preconception.

An example of sleight of hand is to take a thread ostensibly about evangelism and, when provided an answer, to introduce irrelevancies such as by claiming that the Catholic Church teaches that non-Catholics are not Christians.

Another example is to refuse to engage the thread topic and instead seek to divert the discussion—in this case, regarding insincere questioners, into something else.

In this particular case, I don’t mind, since in doing so you’re essentially making Shea’s case.

If you disagree with Shea, you should stop exhibiting the behaviors he describes and instead put forth an argument for why he is wrong.

Likewise, you are free to demonstrate where my formulation of Shea’s argument above is in error. As a non-Catholic, your perspective may be particularly interesting on this topic.

One way you might shed light on this is to reverse the parties.

Let’s say I claim you, as a Christian belonging to a “Bible-believing” community (those are not scare quotes; I’m simply quoting your terminology) do not worship Christ but worship the Bible. (I do not really claim that, btw—you are a Christian; you worship God).

Let’s further stipulate that you offer evidence to rebut my claim.

I then ignore your evidence, and instead say, “You don’t recognize the successor of Peter as the Vicar of Christ, so how can you claim to believe the Bible?”

Am I being insincere in this hypothetical? Am I truly a seeker of truth, in this case, seeking to ascertain whether or not those who belong to “Bible-believing” communities indeed worship God?


#11

And what “vicious untruths” did I spread that warranted your attacks on me?

It is hardly remarkable that when somebody dredges up “the Jesuit Oath,” The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, The Two Babylons, or *The Trail of Blood, *Catholics can get combative. No excuse. But it does rather explain it.

Refresh my memory: when did I mention any of these things?

I guess we have trouble comprehending how anybody can BELIEVE that stuff, all of which has been soundly discredited – by Protestants. But people do.

I know what you mean. I have trouble comprhending how Roman Catholics can believe most of the things they believe when all of that stuff has been soundly discredited by the very same Bible they claim to have been so kind to give us.
And when did


A Challenge for Those Who Claim Catholics Are Not Christians
#12

I’m losing track—is this Exhibit W or Exhibit X in Brosam making Shea’s case for him?

Let’s get back on topic, please. And Brosam, try not to introduce anymore anti-Catholic calumnies in this thread, okay?

You are more than welcome to start another thread on the Scriptural basis for Catholicism if you’ve got a thick skin for the ensuing evisceration of your misconceptions.


A Challenge for Those Who Claim Catholics Are Not Christians
#13

Actually, I was responding to a statement that one of your fellow Roman Catholics made.

Another example is to refuse to engage the thread topic and instead seek to divert the discussion—in this case, regarding insincere questioners, into something else.

Actually, I tried very hard to engage in the thread topic but the very first post was about how Protestants are wrong.

Let’s say I claim you, as a Christian belonging to a “Bible-believing” community (those are not scare quotes; I’m simply quoting your terminology) do not worship Christ but worship the Bible. (I do not really claim that, btw—you are a Christian; you worship God).

I hear that from Roman Catholics all the time.

Am I being insincere in this hypothetical?

Am I truly a seeker of truth, in this case, seeking to ascertain whether or not those who belong to “Bible-believing” communities indeed worship God?

The difference, of course, is that I was sincerely seeking to ascertain why there is a difference between Christian evangelism and Roman Catholic evangelism.


#14

You’re right. This thread should be reserved for anti-Christian calumnies.


A Challenge for Those Who Claim Catholics Are Not Christians
#15

Have I attacked you? If so, I apologize. Perhaps you did not actually read my post, which attempted to put reactive Catholic belligerence into a historical context.

Refresh my memory: when did I mention any of these things?

Who said this was about you?

I know what you mean. I have trouble comprhending how Roman Catholics can believe most of the things they believe when all of that stuff has been soundly discredited by the very same Bible they claim to have been so kind to give us.
And when did

There ya go: changing the subject. I had referred to virulent anti-Catholic mythology. You bring up Scripture.


#16

How do you know your interlocutors follow the Latin rite and not, say, the Byzantine? Or were we using “Roman Catholic” as a perjorative?

In any case, Christ did not enjoin us to “respond in kind”, but to “turn the other cheek”.

Actually, I tried very hard to engage in the thread topic but the very first post was about how Protestants are wrong.

Are you a Protestant?

You might also consider that ignoring some posts is good for the soul. There are many non-Catholics on this Forum; you can always trust them to address any misconceptions about Protestantism.

I hear that from Roman Catholics all the time.

Perhaps you could post evidence of it. In another thread.

The difference, of course, is that I was sincerely seeking to ascertain why there is a difference between Christian evangelism and Roman Catholic evangelism.

And that’s got to be Exhibit Y.

As noted, Catholics are Christians. You make the insulting inference in your “question” that we are not.

In fact, when I asked you directly, you refused to state that Catholics are Christians.

You apparently believe we are not.

You therefore were not legitimately seeking after truth, but were in fact seeking to recycle the calumny that Catholics are not Christians.

Aside from being a dishonest practice, it is one which destroys your credibility as evangelist or apologist for your faith.

More importantly, it puts you in danger of violating Christ’s commandments, which I as your brother in Christ (whether you acknowledge me so or not) urge you to avoid.

You have utterly refused to engage on this thread at all, even when I handed you an opportunity for fruitful, calumny-free discussion.

So why not hit the reset button now, clear the previous discussion, and let’s talk about the topic?


#17

Roman Catholics are Christians, brosam, which is one place you are standing on an errorneous premise. Most of the readers misunderstood the question because Catholics think “the Gospel” means the teaching of Jesus, and not the four spiritual laws book. The thread was removed because you were hostile and pejorative toward the Catholic faith, which is against the forum rules. Read over the forum rules, and try again!


#18

Why would Catholics seek to insult themselves?

Or are Catholics not Christians?


#19

Perhaps you might look at the Church in Africa, which is bringing in 10,000 converts a week.


#20

And rather than get this thread removed, which I really would like to discuss, I will put Brosam on kind notice—please discuss this topic, find another thread to discuss, or we’ll have to notify the moderators that you’re violating the rules of the Forum.

There is no need for any of that, since we have ample space for polite discussion about the topic of the thread. You are also obviously welcome to discuss situations where the insincere questioners are Catholics. That’s fine, and on topic.


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