Is this the common view?

I was speaking to a Deacon and several members of the Catholic Student Society here in town and mentioned that I’ve read through several translations of the Bible, as well as other texts (apocryphal, New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, Book of Mormon/Pearl of Great Price, Koran, etc) and was told that it was wrong of me to do so, since I was indulging in “evil things”.

From someone with an M.Div, I find this view quite strange and a little archaic. If I’m to engage in a discussion with someone from another faith, it would be logical to not only have a firm foundation in my beliefs and Scripture to support it, but to understand the scripture used by others to point out flaws, changes, and misrepresentations. For example, if I were to point out that Jesus is not in incarnate of Micheal the Archangel (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses believe) I must know where in the Scriptures it gives such information, and where in the NWTotHS it implies such. I must be able to show them the conclusion and where such an idea deviates.

But still, I’m quite taken aback. I plan on going through RCIA in this parish, and would hope that I would be joining a church that could support intellectual apologetics, because let’s be honest, “Hey, sinner, you know you’re going to Hell?” just doesn’t cut the mustard. It’s never worked, and to remain in that mindset will only lead to disaster.

So tell me, not just in the Catholic faith, but in Christianity in general, is this the common belief of your average believer. If so, we’ve got some MAJOR work to do.

For the “average” person I would imagine that reading through the writings of other faiths could be dangerous spiritually - confusing to say the least. I would assume that the Deacon was concerned that you might be misled by these text before your confirmation into the Church. As I have no idea were you are in your journey, I would say that it could be logical to assume such a thing - for the “average” person.

Now, if you have a firm foundation and understanding of the Catholic faith (given the fact that Catholicism is a very broad subject), and the dangers of being derailed are a non-issue, then this would not be as true. You are correct in thinking that one must understand the others side of the argument to refute it completely in apologetics. Although, apologetics should be reserved for those secure and knowledgeable of their own faith. And this might be where the Deacon saw some reservation in you studying text outside of the word of God - or text that may somehow distorts the Gospel.

If you are indeed interested in apologetics, I would recommend that you first start with furthering your knowledge of the Catholic faith, and securing belief in the Holy Mother Church. Then once your belief has indeed been secured, you could delve into the text of faiths outside of the Church.

BTW, when my wife was going through the R.C.I.A. process, the catechist had told her to avoid all internet apologetic sights - including C.A.F. because they feared that she might be derailed by the deceiver somehow. They told me, when I asked them why they would encourage people not to study via the internet, that they had experienced individuals whom would bring anti-Catholic propaganda into the class that they had found on the internet and this would somehow cause the entire class to loss focus on the lesson plan for that day. R.C.I.A. is good for a basic foundation of knowledge in Catholicism but most Catechist are not prepared to refute every theological battle.

God be with you.

For the OP, was the Deacon aware that you held a Masters in Divinity (studied at Protestant academy/seminary I’m guessing)?

In general I agree with Irish about studying other faiths in depth when not properly grounded. I just wonder whether the Deacon’s advice might had changed if he’d known the particular’s of your situation.

He’s fully aware of my academics. We work together from time to time in a local prison ministry, and I attend mass with my wife weekly. I’ll be joining the RCIA program shortly, and hope to learn quite a bit, even with my theological knowledge and faith firmly grounded. You’re never too smart to learn something new, and I hope to fully understand the Catholic faith so that I can join without all these "why"s going through my head.

But back to the topic on hand, it wasn’t a matter of “be careful where you tread” kind of thing, because I’m aware of how persuasive and misleading some of these texts can be. Gnostic writings, for example, are written to sound like original canonical writings, and one could be misled into a faith that has no leg to stand on, as well as the popular belief (Dan Brown’s novels are based strongly off of Gnostic texts).

I was told, flat out, that what I was doing was a sin. Now, I’ve stopped my canidacy for Deacon in the UMC, but still, I feel that I have a strong enough faitht to discern something being a sin, and “evil”.

What I’m asking, is this the average viewpoint? That one shouldn’t read into other non-biblical and apocryphal texts because they’re evil? I’m hoping that I caught the guy on an off day and there was a poor selection of words used. I’ll see him again shortly when he and the parish priest come to administer the Eucharist to the inmates. Hopefully I’ll have a second to talk with him.

My local parish priest has a copy of the Koran on his bookshelf.

That is the common view…

…among less-educated backwater Catholics in the fourteenth century. But these are the same Catholics who thought it was a sin for non-clerics to read the Bible. Granted, reading any kind of scripture can be dangerous without a firm foundation in logic, philosophy, and the human person… but so’s everything, and religious claims must all be taken seriously if we take any of them seriously. (Exception: Scientology.)

I’m really quite shocked the UMC – hardly your major conservatives, unless I’ve mixed them up with another denomination – would reject outright one of the most important parts of academic theology. St. Albertus Magnus couldn’t have argued against Islamic belief as brilliantly as he did without reading the Koran! And, hey, just look at the Pope and his recent engagement with Islam.

There is absolutely nothing evil about reading any of those works. This Deacon literally does not know what he is speaking about.

I was first exposed to the Koran at the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit School. We studied it in some detail. I truly doubt if the Jesuits are having their students study evil texts.

The potential for evil is in whether or not you accept the teachings of those books as being equal to the Bible.

Catholic Deacon. I was in the proceess of becoming a Deacon in the UMC. Sorry for the confusion.

That’s an odd, and possibly superstitious way of putting it.

From someone with an M.Div, I find this view quite strange and a little archaic. If I’m to engage in a discussion with someone from another faith, it would be logical to not only have a firm foundation in my beliefs and Scripture to support it, but to understand the scripture used by others to point out flaws, changes, and misrepresentations. For example, if I were to point out that Jesus is not in incarnate of Micheal the Archangel (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses believe) I must know where in the Scriptures it gives such information, and where in the NWTotHS it implies such. I must be able to show them the conclusion and where such an idea deviates.

Awesome! :thumbsup: Likewise as a statistician I make it my business to understand the so-called mathematics of The Da Vinci Code. I have the education so I might as well use it for good.

But still, I’m quite taken aback. I plan on going through RCIA in this parish, and would hope that I would be joining a church that could support intellectual apologetics, because let’s be honest, “Hey, sinner, you know you’re going to Hell?” just doesn’t cut the mustard. It’s never worked, and to remain in that mindset will only lead to disaster.

Oh, well RCIA! That’s quite different. Yes, you should shut the F- up while you’re in RCIA. The thing is for better or worse RCIA classes are quite small and the abilities of the people in RCIA range all over the place. You sound like a guy that will do well in the Catholic Church, you’ll self identify and correct your own misconceptions. You’ll educate yourself. But there are people in RCIA who struggle with what you do so easily. They don’t have the ability to understand all the finer points of dogma let alone carry out your verse by verse take down of JW.

So tell me, not just in the Catholic faith, but in Christianity in general, is this the common belief of your average believer. If so, we’ve got some MAJOR work to do.

Tremendously uncommon. However, there is widely accepted that there are diminishing returns on studying error. I know the math of the Da Vinci Code, but I didn’t read it, and I certainly didn’t memorize it.

Oh! Nope, my bad.

Less surprising coming from a Catholic cleric, unfortunately. Still incorrect, and uncommon.

I’ve read a lot of that stuff and it would surprise me to hear that coming from any kind of responsible Catholic leader. It kind of sounds like the JW fear of “apostate literature”.
Anyway, if our faith can’t stand up to such nonsense it probably isn’t very substantive to begin with, and yes, that info is important for apologetics.

This makes me think of the reason many older Catholics, many of whom attended Catholic elementary and high schools, give for not having read the Bible, even after they were adults. They were told that they would get all that was needed in the Gospel, and that there were things in the Bible that they would not understand and which “might lead them astray”. I can’t even imagine what the answer would have been if one had asked about reading the Koran.

This sounds more like a fundamentalist belief rather than a Catholic belief. But there does exist in the Catholic Church among some of it’s members a fundamentalist mindset, of the Catholic variety. But that is to be found in any major religion, or in Christianity in general. There are always a few who have a fear of going beyond what they are familiar with. The Catholic Church is not anti-intellectual–that would make no sense considering it’s academic history and it’s contributions to the development of Western civilization.

I think what you are encountering is something particular to that group. I’ve run into people who think like that, but they are not reflective of Catholicism in general. I’d be inclined to ignore them, and trust my own discretion in the matter. I agree with you–if you want to engage in apologetics, you need to know what you are up against.

And BTW, the Catholic Church teaches there is a hell, and people can go there, but does not presume to declare who is or is going to be there. The “Hey sinner, you know you’re going to hell” is not really part of the vocabularly. We prefer to try to keep people OUT of it:D We are, after all, preaching the GOOD News.

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