How should I respond to this?

My husband’s older brother very much has a “Jesus came to condemn the Pharisees and their set of rules and therefore, we don’t really have to do anything” view of church and spiritual life. We had a heated a spirited conversation with him this last weekend when he said he “thought it was good” that we were researching the Catholic faith but that Jesus was against man-made “check the box” religion, which is what he thinks Catholicism (and a lot of Protestantism) is.

What is the best way to respond to him in differentiating the Catholic Church (and it’s related teachings) from the Pharisees and their rigid system of rules? I think that basically, he feels that the Catholic Church is more about the rules (and works) than the relationship. I know that SOME Catholics may actually fall into this camp, but how can I eloquently explain to him the beauty of the Catholic Church and it’s teachings. He’s a very analytical thinker so scholarly work would very much be appreciated. Thank you!

Jesus did condemn the “traditions of men”, but there are many verses that clearly show that we are to “do” some things as part of responding to the Gospel.

Why not go through the Gospels, highlighting those verses, and share them with him?

The following is not from a Catholic site, and I have not reviewed it carefully, but it may be a start:

What are the commands of Christ?
49 Commands of Christ
iblp.org/questions/what-are-commands-christ

Forget about everything he says about check the box religion and rules.

Talk to him if you can about the healing and peace that comes from the sacrament of confession and the joy of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. Talk to him about healing, peace and joy instead.

-Tim-

Thank you. I feel like he is at the position that the sacraments are “traditions of men”. While he CAN be a logical and analytical thinker, he can also be very obstinate in his own contrived position :banghead:

He definitely likes to speak his own opinion without doing any research first…he and my husband got pretty spirited over the Eucharist (real presence vs symbolic) over dinner the other evening at the local Mexican restaurant :o

Problem is that he views Catholicism as a “works based religion” and that anything required (i.e., confession, Mass, etc.) are man-made traditions. His opinion is that anyone can plainly see that Jesus was talking symbolically in John 6 and he says that John 6 and communion are NOT even the same thing. However, he did admit that he’d never read the church fathers on the Eucharist, etc. :rolleyes:

And on that note, he even let his unbaptized children participate in communion at our {Protestant} church service the other night. He sees no problem with that (which now that we’ve come to see it differently, I guess bread and grape juice aren’t really a problem ;))

He is hard hearted toward this topic.
Personally I would back off because it makes people like this dig their heals in even deeper. I would pray for him the God send him the Holy Spirit to rain on that hard ground of his heart so that he can receive the seed of the gospel and have it produce a hundred fold. Pray for the people who are in his life and will be in his life down the road. When he goes through hard times (as they come for everyone) God will be working there and then thank him for what he’s doing in that heart whether you can see it or not. Praise God for what He’s going to do with him! Sometimes you have to look up to the horizon and know that it may take decades, so have patience. God bless you.

There’s no doubt that Jesus commanded us to confess and to take part in Eucharist. Not really sure if there’s a way around that tbh. Although it can be argued what confession looks like and what Eucharist truly is. I don’t think it can be argued that Jesus didn’t want us to ‘do’ certain things; which may be called works.

I see John 6 as symbolic too. Ask him why he does.

Communion should only be for believers.

Help him where he is at right now. His position isin’t TOTALLY a bad thing. I see great light here. He wants relationship right?

So your task is to help him see the sacraments as not so much “check the box” things…but a call to a relationship. He needs to understand what the sacraments are…he’s simply missing the boat…help him get on that boat and he will QUICKLY grow in love with Jesus and His church.

I know Scott Hahn (a great theologian and biblical scholar) wrote a great book on the sacraments and how the help us enter into a relationship and into Gods own blessed life. You can read a few paragraphs on this book here:

amazon.com/Swear-God-Promise-Power-Sacraments/dp/0385509316

Also, if he’s soo into relationships… great time to get him to a Eucharistic adoration chapel:cool:

Meet him where he is…help give him things that will touch his strengths…then he will want to delve into his weaknesses cause in all relationships… ( u see this in a good marriage)…the more and more u fall in love with someone…the more you want to better yourself and know them more.

And if he dosent want to go to the Eucharistic chapel…YOU go. let him see u interested in a deeper relationship with God. Also, why not try reading and talking though a few pages of the catechism together as a couple each day ? This will help your relationship as well as strengthen your faiths and relationship with Jesus and the Church.

God bless

:thumbsup:

I see John 6 as symbolic too. Ask him why he does.

That’s it. I don’t think he knows why, except that if he did believe it was real, he couldn’t stay where he is now. He’s have to be Catholic, Orthodox, or Lutheran, all of which I know he would say “require” too much effort from him :shrug:

Communion should only be for believers.

Actually, the ECF’s say it should be for “baptized believers”. He would say that his children believe, but they just haven’t been baptized yet.

Justin Martyr said, "“This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God’s Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.” (emphasis mine)

I always found 1st Timothy chapter 6 :17 interesting were Paul is giving Timothy instructions on how to run the church. Here Paul tells Timothy to COMMAND the rich in this world to be rich in good deeds.
Let us not forget that Jesus said on the last day he would separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep had good deeds and goats didn’t. The sheep went to heaven and the goats to hell.
Also let’s not forget the book of James that says we are not justified by faith alone but also by works.
It is the idea that one simply get baptized and make a profession of faith to be saved that is the false and dangerous doctrine.
What about the wicked SERVANT ( follower of Christ) who did nothing with the talents given to him. How did that work out for him?
There are many more clear passages that show you must have works, then the few obscure ones they twist to say you don’t.
Take a few weeks and read the new testament in its entirety taking notes. Then you will be prepared to counter his arguments. I guarantee you will show him scripture passages that he had no idea existed.

Thing is that he is a Christian, attends church regularly, AND has a psychology master’s degree :shrug: I don’t think he feels like he needs anything more.

We’ve given him several CD’s of Scott Hahn’s and he did download a Peter Kreeft’s audiobook. He’s not made his way through all those yet, so I’m hoping he will be enlightened. I probably should just keep my mouth shut :o

:thumbsup: Great idea! Thanks!

The bolded quote of yours above is EXACTLY what my husband and I discussed immediately after leaving the restaurant the other evening. Very dangerous indeed.

My pleasure

First I would ask him where this is stated in Scripture…then you can carefully dismantle is various arguments.
Jesus Came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it.
He also upheld the authority of the Pharisees in Mt 23:1-3 ( I think).
What he objected to in the Pharisees was their lack of mercy and compassion. The fact that they had divorced the laws from the underlying principle of Love (See Mt 22:36-40)

As far as not having to “do” anything…that is just plain false as any number of Scriptural passages attest to.

We had a heated a spirited conversation with him this last weekend when he said he “thought it was good” that we were researching the Catholic faith but that Jesus was against man-made “check the box” religion, which is what he thinks Catholicism (and a lot of Protestantism) is.

Don’t get sucked in by (what I call) bumper sticker arguments. Ask him what he means by such a comment and then deal with it in detail.

What is the best way to respond to him in differentiating the Catholic Church (and it’s related teachings) from the Pharisees and their rigid system of rules? I think that basically, he feels that the Catholic Church is more about the rules (and works) than the relationship. I know that SOME Catholics may actually fall into this camp, but how can I eloquently explain to him the beauty of the Catholic Church and it’s teachings. He’s a very analytical thinker so scholarly work would very much be appreciated. Thank you!

First of all, your example should show him that it is not just about rules and works. I assume that he does not think that you and your husband are idiots…so if you are finding the Church and her teachings to be worthwhile…that in itself should work to undermine his outlook.
Secondly - ask him what specific things he sees negatively as just “rules” and then walk him through the logic of it, how it feeds back to and springs from the great commands of Love.
If you get stuck on one…tell him you will get back to him and post it here…
CAF has got your back…:thumbsup:

Peace
James

Yes - there are folks like that. Just remember this. Seeds can be planted in such discussions, even if he seems to dismiss your arguments. Just be patient.

Peace
James

Sometimes it’s best to approach folks like this in writing.

Also, pray much for him and leave it in God’s hands. :slight_smile:

And you know what? Perhaps where he is on his path, he is simply not ready for anything more right now. God’s timing with things is not always ours. On the flip side, perhaps his questioning of your beliefs is because part of him does want to be convinced. What sort of gut feeling do you get from his comments and questions? Does it feel like he’s trying to convince you or does it feel more like he needs more information?

:slight_smile: Sometimes, that’s exactly what we need to do. If you’ve put the information out there to him, that’s about all you can do. It’s not your job to convince him. If you’ve given the information, then the seeds are there for him to make use of when he’s ready.

Maybe this video will help

wordonfire.org/resources/video/why-i-hate-religion-but-love-jesus-commentary-by-fr-robert-barron/226/

For me, this really is the key that totally obliterates the position alluded to in the original post, to wit, “Jesus came to condemn the Pharisees and their set of rules and therefore, we don’t really have to do anything.”

This position is wrong, and in Matthew 23, Jesus comes right out and says

The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.

Much of the rest of that particular chapter lists a series of woes with which Jesus condemns the Pharisees; and the theme that unites all of them is hypocrisy and blindness. For example:

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

It was the hypocrisy and the blindess of the Pharisees that Jesus condemned, not the fact that they had “rules,” and I would challenge the OPs brother-in-law very strongly on this point.

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