Meeting with Protestant Pastor


#1

Hey all,

I will probably be converting soon, but I told my wife that I would meet and discuss what I’ve been studying with her former pastor, who performed our wedding ceremony.

He’s a independant reformed baptist (think Piper, Spurgeon, etc) and I know one of his main arguments against Catholicism is that it is “another gospel” and is therefore condemned by Paul.

Now I have a feeling he is including a specific reformational sola fide formula for justification as part-and-parcel of the true gospel. So I will challenge him on that.

But I wondered if anyone had some articles they could link for me that addressed this argument specifically.

I will be bringing him Scott Hahn’s testimony on CD and I might pick up a copy of Jurgen’s ECF’s for him as well. I will also use this thread to update y’all on what happens. . .

Thanks for your help. And I’d appreciate your prayers! :slight_smile:


#2

I’m not sure why you are meeting with him. If it is just a courtesy, you don’t have to have an argument with him. Just inform him of your decision, thank him for the role he played in your faith development and ask him to pray for you as you continue in your faith journey.

If the purpose is to “make sure” you are doing the right thing, this is a matter for which a proper response would be very long. To paraphrase what that response would be, I think you need to approach the meeting in a discerning mood such that you are less interested in arguing but listening intently and then taking the information to prayer and learning outside your meeting with him.

If the purpose is to convert him or otherwise convince him you are making the right decision, I doubt you would be effective. Furthermore, when one is very studied yet committed to a particular “theology”, it is unlikely that information will convert him but will be the work of the Holy Spirit (ala Scott Hahn).


#3

[quote=RonRule]Hey all,

I will probably be converting soon, but I told my wife that I would meet and discuss what I’ve been studying with her former pastor, who performed our wedding ceremony.

He’s a independant reformed baptist (think Piper, Spurgeon, etc) and I know one of his main arguments against Catholicism is that it is “another gospel” and is therefore condemned by Paul.

Now I have a feeling he is including a specific reformational sola fide formula for justification as part-and-parcel of the true gospel. So I will challenge him on that.

But I wondered if anyone had some articles they could link for me that addressed this argument specifically.

I will be bringing him Scott Hahn’s testimony on CD and I might pick up a copy of Jurgen’s ECF’s for him as well. I will also use this thread to update y’all on what happens. . .

Thanks for your help. And I’d appreciate your prayers! :slight_smile:
[/quote]

I would pick up a copy of Catholic for a Reason by Hahn and Not By Scripture Alone. Challenge him on sola scriptura. Even the issue of sola fide will eventually have to boil down to authority. My favorite two questions to ask are: 1) Where did we get the Bible? 2) Where does the BIBLE teach sola scriptura? Many Protestants, including R.C. Sproul in his book on sola scriptura argue that the church is birthed by the Scriptures. That, however, is completely backward and wrong. Paul is writing to churches already in existence, thus it is ludicrous to make such a claim. Turn sola scriptura on it’s head, and everything else will follow.

Now since this is your pastor, you will probably want to approach it differently. Keep it focused on yourself and your focus for truth. These were questions you had, and could not answer through the reformed position. This way, he does not get put on the defensive. Maybe he will surprise you and discuss it with you. It could be a learning experience for both of you.


#4

Ron, this site has a number of articles you should find helpful:

bringyou.to/apologetics/apolog.htm


#5

I agree with Orionthehunter. There is no need to meet with this pastor. In my experience, reformed baptists are some of the most antagonistic and vitriolic toward the Catholic faith. The last thing you need is to leave there angry, bitter and disturbed. Good luck and God bless.

Mickey


#6

If you’re going to meet with him, just be careful he doesn’t cause you to stumble. These folks are adept at throwing scripture verses at you that APPEAR out of context, to support their position.

Love,
Jaypeeto3


#7

[quote=Orionthehunter]I’m not sure why you are meeting with him.
[/quote]

Let me quote a portion of my email to him, which may help you understand.

I know my wife and others have told you about my interest in Roman Catholicism. I have kept my study of the issues mostly secret but have recently begun discussing it with my wife more. She encouraged me to talk to men I respect about the issue. I have already had email discussions with my dad and other friends about it; not just that but history, liturgy, etc.

Anyway, I know you are very busy, but if you’d like to get together for coffee or something, or if me coming to your office would be easier, or even just discussions through email, I’d appreciate it.

To let you know where I’m coming from, I have already read many of the modern catholic apologetics works by Thomas Howard, GK Chesterton, Karl Keating, Scott Hahn, Steven Ray, Peter Kreeft, Frank Schaeffer (Orthodoxy) etc. I have also read stand-alone works or responses by James White (website), James McCarthy, RC Sproul (TableTalk), Francis Schaeffer, and Doug Wilson, and others plus 24 years of growing up in Evangelicalism. I feel pretty familiar with the arguments on both sides. I have also listened to many debates between these folks and others. Unlike you however, I am no expert in theology or biblical languages and even a friendly debate between us would end rather quickly I’m afraid. I think it would be fun to discuss the “big picture” issues of theology though, but let me know what you think and we can go from there.


#8

This “other Gospel” belief is similar to the “other Jesus” belief and never addresses truth just denies Catholicism, so it is important to focus on the truth and not the arguement that just tries to pigeonhole Catholicism.

Since Catholics believe in firm truths , a great way people have found to convert Catholics is just to shoot a whole bunch of attacks at Catholicism. If something sticks then it puts doubts in the truth and allows someone to be led to private beliefs.

Here is one way of addressing this if this comes up…
Stress the importance of absolute truth. Jesus came here and gave us an understanding of the Gospel.
Did He give us one understanding? or multiple?
Now this Pastor better be 100% correct in his doctrine or he only has part of the truth.
This Pastors Church should be the same church founded by Jesus 2000 years ago and should be able to back that up.
There should be a worldwide creed or understanding of the faith that is shared by this Pastors church, one baptism, one faith.

Those are a couple things you can think about that might help in your discussion.

God Bless
Scylla


#9

Ron, based on your email to him, I think you are still in the discerning stage. I’m still not sure preparing a debate will be fruitful. However, the Church doesn’t fear the pursuit of knowledge as it holds the Fullness of Truth.

It is my suggestion that you respectfully listen to his “best arguments” against the Church or staying with him. Don’t be concerned with having counter-points as much as take note of his arguments that you believe are the most strong. Then take this information to prayer and further study. It is through this process of discern and reject of your past faith tradition that will most allow you to come to believe (understand and stand) and assent to what the Church teaches. This my friend is the process that every Catholic Christian is undertaking every day of their faith journey so we can better know and love God and experience His love for us as well as follow His plan for our lives.


#10

[quote=Orionthehunter]I’m not sure why you are meeting with him. If it is just a courtesy, you don’t have to have an argument with him. Just inform him of your decision, thank him for the role he played in your faith development and ask him to pray for you as you continue in your faith journey.

If the purpose is to “make sure” you are doing the right thing, this is a matter for which a proper response would be very long. To paraphrase what that response would be, I think you need to approach the meeting in a discerning mood such that you are less interested in arguing but listening intently and then taking the information to prayer and learning outside your meeting with him.

If the purpose is to convert him or otherwise convince him you are making the right decision, I doubt you would be effective. Furthermore, when one is very studied yet committed to a particular “theology”, it is unlikely that information will convert him but will be the work of the Holy Spirit (ala Scott Hahn).
[/quote]

These are nice categories, but it’s hard to specify which one exactly this meeting fits into.

I suppose the main reason is courtesy. Not to him. He is not my pastor. It is a courtesy to my wife. She is not excited about me becoming catholic. I want to show her that I am taking my time, that I am taking the issues seriously, and am willing to discuss them with men I respect like my dad, and this man, her old pastor, whom she has looked up to since she was 13.

I really appreciate everyone’s responses so far. After reading them, I think I might not bring him any materials, and avoid trying to convert him or change his mind. Though I really just wanted to pique his interest.

What I’ll probably do is just tell him how I’ve come to this place. We’ll see what his response is and go from there. If he starts challenging me, I won’t be able to argue much and I don’t get carried away with arguments that are above me. I predict that after hearing what I’ll say, he’ll express some concerns about the Catholic Church, and maybe about my personality. I’ll respond to what I can, and we’ll go from there.

For those who don’t think I should do it at all, besides the above reason of honoring my wife, I also need it myself. I need to make the jump from internet conversion to real life conversion. It’s one thing to say I’m becoming catholic as RonRule (not my real name). It’s another to actually say it to family, friends, and reformed baptist pastors. :slight_smile:

thanks again everybody.


#11

[quote=Orionthehunter]Ron, based on your email to him, I think you are still in the discerning stage. I’m still not sure preparing a debate will be fruitful. However, the Church doesn’t fear the pursuit of knowledge as it holds the Fullness of Truth.

It is my suggestion that you respectfully listen to his “best arguments” against the Church or staying with him. Don’t be concerned with having counter-points as much as take note of his arguments that you believe are the most strong. Then take this information to prayer and further study. It is through this process of discern and reject of your past faith tradition that will most allow you to come to believe (understand and stand) and assent to what the Church teaches. This my friend is the process that every Catholic Christian is undertaking every day of their faith journey so we can better know and love God and experience His love for us as well as follow His plan for our lives.
[/quote]

I don’t mean to sound like a parrot, but again, I agree with Orienthehunter.
Wisdom be attentive!
img64.imageshack.us/img64/9551/3barcross4tg.gif


#12

God bless you. You are in my prayers.


#13

[quote=RonRule]These are nice categories, but it’s hard to specify which one exactly this meeting fits into.

I suppose the main reason is courtesy. Not to him. He is not my pastor. It is a courtesy to my wife. She is not excited about me becoming catholic. I want to show her that I am taking my time, that I am taking the issues seriously, and am willing to discuss them with men I respect like my dad, and this man, her old pastor, whom she has looked up to since she was 13.

I really appreciate everyone’s responses so far. After reading them, I think I might not bring him any materials, and avoid trying to convert him or change his mind. Though I really just wanted to pique his interest.

What I’ll probably do is just tell him how I’ve come to this place. We’ll see what his response is and go from there. If he starts challenging me, I won’t be able to argue much and I don’t get carried away with arguments that are above me. I predict that after hearing what I’ll say, he’ll express some concerns about the Catholic Church, and maybe about my personality. I’ll respond to what I can, and we’ll go from there.

For those who don’t think I should do it at all, besides the above reason of honoring my wife, I also need it myself. I need to make the jump from internet conversion to real life conversion. It’s one thing to say I’m becoming catholic as RonRule (not my real name). It’s another to actually say it to family, friends, and reformed baptist pastors. :slight_smile:

thanks again everybody.
[/quote]

Now I have a good understanding of where you are coming from.

The respect you have for your wife is commendable and virtuous. As you may be the person who blazes the trail in your marriage, she will probably gain confidence from the seriousness that you are doing this. And the confidence you show in exploring the contrary arguments will also give her more comfort in your ultimate decision. KUDOS!

I think also that your realization that you need to proclaim publicly where you are going on your journey is a under-appreciated component of what you are doing. You show a great deal of maturity and wisdom. I am inspired by you. God Bless.


#14

[quote=Orionthehunter]It is my suggestion that you respectfully listen to his “best arguments” against the Church or staying with him. Don’t be concerned with having counter-points as much as take note of his arguments that you believe are the most strong. Then take this information to prayer and further study.
[/quote]

I think I’ll take this advice to heart. Most of his arguments I’ve probably heard before and have heard the catholic rebuttals. I was thinking though, that if I try to respond to every issue he brings up, it will just seem like he’s not getting through and that I’m somehow oblivious to common sense.


#15

[quote=Orionthehunter]It is my suggestion that you respectfully listen to his “best arguments” against the Church or staying with him. Don’t be concerned with having counter-points as much as take note of his arguments that you believe are the most strong. Then take this information to prayer and further study. It is through this process of discern and reject of your past faith tradition that will most allow you to come to believe (understand and stand) and assent to what the Church teaches. This my friend is the process that every Catholic Christian is undertaking every day of their faith journey so we can better know and love God and experience His love for us as well as follow His plan for our lives.
[/quote]

I think Orion’s advice is right on. As a courtesy to your wife, listen respectfully to what this man has to say. If he challenges you with something specific that you have a ready reply to, by all means respond, but make clear to him that you are not here to debate, but to hear his views. The probablility is remote, but if he becomes verbally abusive and hateful, you do not have a responsibility to sit and take it.

Don’t arrive with any pretension that you are going to convert this man. That is not the purpose of this visit, and if the Holy Spirit chooses to use something that comes up toward this goal, that is up to Him.

I know this isn’t your particular concern, but it’s worth mentioning that no one has anything to fear from hearing even the most compelling anti-Catholic challenges to the Faith. They have all been answered before and these answers can be easily found. Good luck to you.


#16

It is commendable that you are doing this for your wife. It shows that you care about her opinion, however I would not try to get into a debate with the minister. Sit, listen, maybe tell him you are just there because your wife wished for you to go, but other then that thank him for his time (and concern) and leave it at that.

Good luck.


#17

take it from someone who’s discussed this with several pastors. You aren’t going to change his mind, and his goal is to get you to change your mind.

If he believes that Catholicism is another gospel, then he sees his mission as saving you from being lost.

As he is already pre-disposed to not hearing what you are going to say and is convinced of his bias against Catholicism, he will not directly answer your apologetics points. It becomes bible verse ping-pong after a while.

I have never seen these types of things lead to positive outcomes.


#18

[quote=Dan-Man916]It becomes bible verse ping-pong after a while.

I have never seen these types of things lead to positive outcomes.
[/quote]

I won’t play Proof-Text Ping Pong. If he starts that, I might say: “Ok, if I email you a group of verses that shed some light on that point in a different way, would you reconsider your dogmatic interpretation?”

I wrote out a draft email to him that I have never sent, basically challenging him respectfully on some items from his church’s Statement of Faith. I might bring that. Probably not though. Here it is if you’re interested:

Hello Pastor Joe,

I was looking through your Statement of Faith and have some questions about it. I know you are very busy and I understand if you don’t have time to answer even one. I am not asking them in a challenging spirit, but in the sense that, if I remained protestant, I would personally need very good answers to these:

  1. What Biblical precedent do we have for local congregations developing a “Statement of Faith”?
  1. Is everything listed there considered to be of equal theological importance? Why or why not? (it includes specifics about historical-grammatical bible interpretation, eschatology, etc.)

[quote]" We acknowledge that there are various views within premillenialism that are recognized as, and are consistent with, orthodox Christianity."

  Could you please define "orthodox Christianity"?  Is it this statement of faith?

We believe the canon of Scripture, consisting of the sixty-six books of the Bible, to be the complete and final Word of God. We do not believe any further revelation outside of the Word of God exists. We believe the Bible is the absolute and final authority for the church. It is the standard by which everything must be measured. It is to be the rule of life to the believer. We believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible. By verbal inspiration we teach that the human writers of Scripture were guided by the Holy Spirit in the original writings. By plenary inspiration we teach that all sixty-six books of the Bible are equally inspired in all parts. We believe the Bible is literally God-breathed

and is absolutely accurate and completely inerrant. We believe the Word of God is to be interpreted in a literal, historical, and grammatical method. Attention is focused on the historical background and grammar to determine Scripture’s meaning. We believe that thus far the prophetic Scriptures have been fulfilled in a literal, historical, and grammatical manner and that any future prophecies will be likewise fulfilled. We believe that one of the continued themes of the Bible is the anticipation, presentation, realization, and exultation of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Mt. 5:18, 24:35; Jn. 17:17; 2Tim. 3:15-17; 2Pt. 1:20-21)

  Could you please show me where the Bible clearly teaches everything not bolded?
  1. How can salvation be a “complete act of God” yet require a “response of faith”.

  2. Where does the Bible use the phrase “faith alone” when referring to salvation?

Thanks for your help and God bless,
[/quote]


#19

Ron,

I’m not telling you what to do. However, ask yourself, if you believe in the Catholic answers to all of those questions you posed.
If you still have doubts or are discerning, that’s fine.
If you believe as the Church does regarding the subjects in those questions, then what purpose does entering into a debate with pastor Joe (his last name doesn’t begin with an M does it?) if you have already decided to convert?

If you want to debate him, that’s fine.
I would just say that you need to be honest with yourself as to the reasons you have for asking him these questions.
If you are telling him of your conversion as a courtesy then you can tell him that your faith journey has taken you to the point where you have found that your beliefs cannot be reconciled with Evangelical Christian beliefs.

As I said, I’m not trying to tell you what to do. Just that pastors sometimes read these things as the person looking for spiritual guidance because you are unsure so they answer that call and try to bring you back to Evangelical beliefs.


#20

[quote=Dan-Man916]Ron,

I’m not telling you what to do. However, ask yourself, if you believe in the Catholic answers to all of those questions you posed.
If you still have doubts or are discerning, that’s fine.
If you believe as the Church does regarding the subjects in those questions, then what purpose does entering into a debate with pastor Joe (his last name doesn’t begin with an M does it?) if you have already decided to convert?
[/quote]

My sponsor is always asking similar questions of me. “Are you sure the Catholic Church is the one true church founded by Jesus Christ??? If so, this. if not, that”

And my answer is always kinda…“I hope so! (probably)”. I haven’t talked to other converts about this, but I’m certainly going through a weird time where I don’t feel comfortable as a protestant, yet I can’t actually get myself to move beyond the doubting stage, and in a way, I’m not ready to get beyond that stage yet. It’s really hard to explain. I end up telling my sponsor that I just “need time” or something similar. Like I’m courting the church or something. (probably the other way around, right?)

Thanks for listening to those random thoughts. :slight_smile:


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