Need help defending the faith in love


#1

Hello all,

I am a long time reader of this forum (although I don’t post very often). Like many of you here, I’m a “cradle” Catholic, who was tremendously strengthened in the faith as a result of challenges to it. I found this site and many others that did a great job of explaining things to me and refuting some anti-Catholic charges. I recently got married, and my wife and her family are ex-Catholic evangelical Christians. My father-in-law and I have gotten into some pretty heartfelt discussions about my faith, and has brought forward all of the “standard” Protestant arguments against me. When I (attempt to) refute these arguments, he doesn’t seem to accept them or at least acknowledge the basis for them.

So after the long winded introduction, I would like to bring forward three questions to the people on this forum.

  1. I was presented with two verses in particular that I did not know how to refute. I tried to read the verses in context, but if someone else could give me insight on these verses, I would appreciate it.

1 Timothy 4:1-3
Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the last times some will turn away from the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and demonic instructions through the hypocrisy of liars with branded consciences.
They forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

and this one:

Hebrews 6:1-3
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,and of faith in God, 2instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.

.

  1. In general, is there a way I can more effectively defend my faith when challenged…to at least get some kind of acknowledgment from the person I’m debating

  2. I would like to introduce my evangelical wife to the faith I love so much, and show her the fullness of Christ and His Church. Right now, we “alternate” churches on a weekly basis, going to “her” baptist church (I am aware I am not meeting my Sunday obligation every week, but I’m doing the best I can to try to be fair and loving), and going to “my” Catholic church. She is “bored” at the Catholic mass, and things it’s “cult-like” to actually believe in the body & blood of Christ. I’ve tried to lovingly refute her claims and explain things to her, as well as gently questioning her on why she believes the Bible is inspired, etc. What else can I do to help her understand and appreciate what the Church has done for Christians? How can I reconcile being “fair” with going to her baptist services, and meeting my Sunday obligation?

I know this is a long-winded post, but hopefully someone can offer some advice. Thanks, and God bless!

-erbo


#2

#3

First of all, and this is extremely important, you must fulfill your Sunday obligation! If your wife won’t go, go alone. This is not optional. Besides, what does it say to your wife that you’re willing to forgo a mandatory requirement of your Catholic faith? Sounds to me like you’re telling her (by your actions) that you don’t take Catholicism all that seriously. What’s the problem with going to both Mass and (for the sake of peace) her church? Please, please go to confession about this and then start attending regularly.

As for the scripture verses, what is your FIL’s imterpretation of those verses? It would help if we knew that.


#4

Hey everyone,

Thanks for the help so far! I guess I oversimplified what I wanted when I asked you all to “refute” those Scripture verses. The Bible is a Catholic book, and as you said, there is nothing in there to “refute”. You are right when you said that I need to “refute” an erroneous interpretation. So here are his interpretations:

1 Timothy 4:1-3
My f-i-l asserts the following from these verses:

  • The Catholic Church is evil, and has strayed from the Bible
  • “forbidding people to marry” = Priests, as protestant Pastors can be married
  • His Bible says “abstaining from Meats” in verse 3, which was one of the “big” reasons why he left the Church originally, as he believes certain Catholic disciplines are arbitrary and un-Biblical.
  • Since the Catholic Church advocates priestly celibacy and abstaining from meat under pain of mortal sin, this verse is referring the modern-day Catholic Church.

6 Hebrews 1-3
My f-i-l asserts the following from these verses:

  • Sacraments are un-Biblical, and don’t provide any form of sanctification (not that sanctification is needed, because he claims he is Once-saved-always-saved)
  • The Catholic dogmas alluded to in this verse (Reconciliation, Laying of Hands, Purgatory, Works-based salvation) are “elementary” and overall unimportant in your salvation, and you just need “faith and a personal relationship with Jesus”.

As for the Sunday obligation, you are very right about it. I have been going to Confession a lot more since I have come to understand and appreciate my faith. The problem is before I “re-discovered” Catholicism, I basically promised my wife that I would go to a church she liked, and we would go “together”. Of course, when I made this promise, I didn’t understand my faith or appreciate it. I have since changed, and she gets upset with this fact, and sees it as a broken promise.

This actually brings up an interesting point. We now live over an hour away from her parents and the baptist church she goes to, so she is searching for a more local church to participate in. Her main criteria is that the church must have “really good (contemporary) praise & worship music” and “good preaching”. I try to show her how superficial and “worldly” those requirements are, as all that matters is receiving the Eucharist.

I guess the most important thing for me to do is be a good example and witness to my faith. Thanks for the help!


#5

I’ll let those more knowledgable than I handle the scripture. But Jesus does say some are made eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom. And Paul does say it is better for the man of God not to marry so that his attention is not divided between his wife and God. You might find those verses and ask your FIL what they mean.

As for the Sunday obligation, you are very right about it. I have been going to Confession a lot more since I have come to understand and appreciate my faith. The problem is before I “re-discovered” Catholicism, I basically promised my wife that I would go to a church she liked, and we would go “together”. Of course, when I made this promise, I didn’t understand my faith or appreciate it. I have since changed, and she gets upset with this fact, and sees it as a broken promise.

Well, if you go to both on Sunday, you would fulfill your promise to her and your obligation to God.

BTW, I’m not sure making her go to Mass when she seems to despise it is the best course of action. I remember my Mom used to force me to eat foods I hated because “You’ll learn to like it.” Actually, I learned to hate it more. But that’s just my opinion. You, of course, know her better than we do.

This actually brings up an interesting point. We now live over an hour away from her parents and the baptist church she goes to, so she is searching for a more local church to participate in. Her main criteria is that the church must have “really good (contemporary) praise & worship music” and “good preaching”. I try to show her how superficial and “worldly” those requirements are, as all that matters is receiving the Eucharist.

You know, maybe it would help if you asked what criterea *God *would have for a church we should participate in. It seems to me God is more interested in us having the truth than having good music.

I guess the most important thing for me to do is be a good example and witness to my faith. Thanks for the help!

I believe it was St. Franics who said something like, “Preach always. When necessary, use words.”

In the meantime, I highly recommend the resources you will find at: biblechristiansociety.com/ There are a number of free tapes, CDs, and MP3 downloads you can get, including a very good talk entitled “Apologetics for the Scripturally Challenged” that discusses strategies for engaging non-Catholics (like your FIL).

Hope this helps!


#6

Hopefully this helps you my brother for I am going through something similar myself (my wife is Baptist) so here is what I am doing. Let you life, actions, and faith be the big talker. Do not judge but be understanding. If they ask you a question answer it, but do not get into an argument with them because that is what they want for that is what they are taught. If you live you life as a Christian should then sooner or later that will speak to them a whole lot more than your arguments (even though that part is fun.) See the problem that they have is that they have a very confused view of the Catholic Church and your life and faith will go a long way in clearing that up for them. Also pray for them for remember it is only through the Father that one is called.

Another big point is you must understand that your wife and in-laws are Christians just like you. The only difference is that they do not have full access to the true church as you do. So remember Christ’s commandment concerning relating to other Christians: “Love one another as I have Loved you.”

But answering the questions below:

Another poster already threw out some other really good points on this one as well.

Concerning abstaining from meat it should be pointed out that abstaining from something and fasting are the same concept for the most part and the Scriptures in way too many places talks about the importance of fasting and abstaining.

Elementary does not mean unimportant. In fact the quite opposite! Elementary means that these are foundational needs of the church. They are basic.

Also he needs to look at some of the teachings coming out of his church lately, for there are many evangelical scholars that are challenging the “once saved always saved” doctrine that they are peddling. He needs to read the Letter of James for one thing and also ask them, that if it is just a belief without changing ones life by following the commandments that saves you, then why does it say in almost every passage that talks about the final judgement that each will be judged according to their works?

I think with this one you should go to your Pastor on this. Typically they will give you permission to do this but they normally understand the situation better these days than in the past since interfaith marriages are much more common today than in the past. But you should talk to him to find out what your obligations are.

One thing concerning the differences in the worship services you may want to point out that for the most part our entire Mass is one big prayer. That the community is coming together for about an hour to pray to God together, and that the homily or preaching is not the center of our worship as it is in theirs. Rather it is Jesus Christ that is the center of worship.

Concerning the music you may want to look at going to a few masses at the Cathedral for normally the music is a lot more spectacular than the average parish church.


#7

ex-catholics (or ex-anything) are extremely difficult to persuade back into the old system. especially if they are enjoying their new beliefs. give it a rest. you chose to marry an ex-catholic, suffer the consequences. maybe one day she will get disillusioned with her new faith. only then will you get a better chance of persuading her back to rome.

otherwise you may well be refuting each other your way to divorce.


#8

#9

A couple points on this erbo. The Catholic Church forbids marriage? Since when? Priests choose not to marry in accord with the superior call described by Christ (Mt 19:12), repeated by Paul (1 Cor 7:1, 1 Cor 7:38). So if your father-in-law has a problem with them…then that IS a problem.

Secondly, what food did God create that is “to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.”

Hint: Eucharistia = “thanksgiving”.

The Eucharist is to be received only by those who believe (1 Cor 11:29).

Paul wrote both Corinthians and the letter to Timothy. Timothy would have understood the “deceitful spirits” as those who forbid the Eucharist.

:smiley:


#10

Thanks everyone!

MarcoPolo, I guess your response shows how he totally took that verse out of context. He associated “eating meat” with the discipline of abstaining from meat on Fridays. In context, it looks like the verse is actually talking about the Eucharist! Cool!

As for the course of action to pursue with my wife… Both my wife and I really wants us to become “spiritually unified” in our beliefs. We do our best to work with what we have…we pray together, say grace at meals, attend both churches together, and read books together. From reading your suggestions, this is how I plan to progress:

  • I’ll PRAY
  • I’ll continue to be a witness to my faith by leading a good example, going to Mass and confession regularly, and living a Christlike life.
  • I will help her find a church she is comfortable with locally, and attend church with her (but still always fulfill my weekly obligation, extending the invitation to her, but not “insisting” she comes).
  • If our differences come up in conversation, I will try to talk to her lovingly, and study scripture with her so she understands the Catholic point of view. I will also be humble to ask her questions about her position.

As a side note, the “books” we are reading are actually interesting-- we are reading “The Five Love Languages” and “Covenant Marriage” by Gary Chapman. He is an evangelical Christian, but the focus of these books is how to communicate and love your spouse. I have been very careful while reading these books with my wife, and I haven’t come across anything taught by these books that is directly in conflict with Catholic teachings. Have any of you read these books or have any comment on them? The next book on our list to read is “Rome Sweet Home” by Scott Hahn. I’m really looking forward to reading that one!

Thanks again for all the help and insight!

-erbo

PS- Looks like I should have maybe posted this in the “Catholic Living” section. My initial question was apologetics-related, but it seems the discussion has expanded :wink:


#11

1 Timothy 4:1-3
Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the last times some will turn away from the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and demonic instructions through the hypocrisy of liars with branded consciences.
They forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

First ask them to show when, where, and how Catholics turned from the faith. At what point in history? How do you know? Where is the evidence that a deceitful spirit and demonic instruction through the hypocrisy of liars with branded consciences applies to Catholic Teachings? Catholics believe these verses refer to the Protestant Reformation.

Second, the Catholic Church no where at no time forbids marriage. This verse is usually used to defame the celibacy of the priesthood. However, priests are not forbidden to marry. The Church recognizes that some persons are called to be celibate for the sake of the kingdom, and that a married man is divided in his interests. The Church prefers to choose the celibate for the priesthood, so that they will be free to dedicate their whole efforts to the kingdom, as did Paul the Apostle, and Jesus our model. They are well aware that becoming a priest requires also a call to celibate life, and they fully embrace this as a matter of choice.

I cannot imagine why this would be a controversial verse, so you will have to say more.

The best witness you can give is to be the best Catholic you can be. Make sure you get to Mass every week. Go to the Sat. vigil mass, or a very early Sunday Mass. Participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, starting with the failure to meet the Sunday Obligation. Read the daily readings daily, and have a prayer time.

She is not ready for the Mass.

Perhaps a little reading of the early church fathers? :wink:

Don’t try to be fair. Be obedient.

I thought your post was fine. you and your family will be in my prayers.


#12

but yourself a copy of Scott Hahn’s “The Lambs supper”. Read it, and then ask her if she’d like to read it. Mass is “boring”, not when she learns what it truly is. It’s a life changing book for some. If you know nothing about Scott, he was a protestant minister and didn’t understand what the Mass was.


#13

Here is some more general help:

Here’s a video some excellent Apologetics tips:
youtube.com/watch?v=9gc26ZyR_js&feature=related

These videos are by Tim Staples, who was an ordained Baptist minister before discovering the Truth of the Catholic Church. He addresses a lot of issues.

youtube.com/watch?v=w6JwWJWbsbs&feature=related

youtube.com/watch?v=MKO1JAUNWQY&feature=related

youtube.com/watch?v=GT7CSG1RYr4

youtube.com/watch?v=xBlxNhFHSis

This site has some articles on commonly used attacks on the Church.
scripturecatholic.com/

This site has some great audio files addressing many of the issues raised by our Protestatn brothers and sisters and does so in a very charitable way.
biblechristiansociety.com/

I hope this all helps.

Your servant in Christ.


#14

The advice I have given to those who are Catholic and married to Non-Catholic is everything you stated.

  1. I’ll PRAY

  2. I’ll continue to be a witness to my faith by leading a good example, going to Mass and confession regularly, and living a Christlike life.

  3. I will help her find a church she is comfortable with locally, and attend church with her (but still always fulfill my weekly obligation, extending the invitation to her, but not “insisting” she comes).

  4. If our differences come up in conversation, I will try to talk to her lovingly, and study scripture with her so she understands the Catholic point of view. I will also be humble to ask her questions about her position.

All the Catholics I gave this advice to are now married to Catholic converts who know the Faith better then the cradle Catholic they’re married to:p

Explain the Mass! Step by step!

We dip our fingers in the Holy water font to remind us of our baptism.

Holy water mentioned here Numbers 5:17

Baptism with water here Acts 10:47

We bend our knee (genuflect) out of respect, for our King, Jesus who is present in the Eucharist.

Just like He said in John 6

The priest is in persona of Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:10 (King James Version)
10To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;

When the priest walks into the church, we are reminded of when Jesus came into Jerusalem on a donkey. **Palm Sunday **(notice the cross on his back)

The priest at the altar with the Host and the Cup it is a reminder of Jesus at the Last Supper. Holy Thursday

When the priest washes his hands it reminds of us when Pontius Pilate washed his hands.

The priest breaking the Host is a reminder of Jesus dying on the cross. Good Friday

When the priest takes a piece of the Host and adds it to the Cup it is a reminder of Jesus defeating death. His Body and Blood back together. Easter Sunday

Jesus is our **Passover Meal **our sacrifical Lamb…think Old Testament

Eucharist is Greek it means “Thanksgiving”

Holy Communion…Comm (community) union (united)

In order to receive you must be in “union” with the church.

Family shares flesh and blood.
Catholics are family we share His Flesh and Blood

Host comes from the Latin “Hostia” means Victim

Explain why we do what we do,then things seem to make more sense. I love our Faith! Praise God!

A pamphlet to printout/ Scripture in the Mass
pjpiisoe.org/pamphlets/27…tureInMass.pdf

Walk through the Mass
americancatholic.org/News…/CU/ac0889.asp

Scripture Catholic
scripturecatholic.com/

Research the history!

List of popes (notice the years!)
newadvent.org/cathen/12272b.htm

Research other denominations!

How old is your church
ewtn.com/faith/teachings/churb4.htm


#15

Hey Erbo,

I am going through something similar allthough I’m not Catholic but I’m studying the faith and am basically Catholic in mind. My wife is a “cradle” evangelical and we have debated every major issue within the Church [e.g. baptism,celibate priests,eucharist,pope,purgatory, etc…]. It got us no where. We began to write letters and e-mail each other to debate but that just led to a build up of frustration and a huge argument that pretty much ended our talks on religion. We no longer talk about our differences of beliefs. It’s been my experiance that debating won’t help. I’ve giving her books and showed her multiple websites to answer her questions. We still pray together and attend her [our] church together. * I focus more now on just being there for her. Reading with her, having little date nights and quite time together, basically doing things that shows love to her. We keep the religion out of it allthough we still read scripture,pray and do talk about issues we do agree upon. Just love your wife and pray for your marriage.

I’ve heard my wife say “I can’t go to a church that doesn’t sing and clap”. She thinks Mass is boring and when in church she sometimes wants to jump up for joy and dance around and at Mass she can’t. Her church is all about up-tempo music with clapping,dancing and jumping up and down during worship music. 45 min of preaching and communion once a month. The church is like an office building. The music and dancing are good things but compared to a Catholic Mass, the Mass seems [is] much more holy. If one of the main criteria for a church is good music [and dancing] then It’s like “what can you do for me?”. Truth in teaching should be the only thing on our list, allthough music is a good and encouraging thing.

Try giving your father-in-law some resources on Catholicism. Print out some material from Catholic websites and make some booklets. I printed out numerous resources and organized them into binders for easy reading and quick reference. Try praying with him for peace and understanding. And always pray for him and his family.

Christ be in us, In all Things
Jamie*


#16

This is excellant advise - and easily forgotten in our zeal sometimes.

James


#17

Great responses so far!!
I like especially that you both are exploring through reading and doing it together.
If you are not already, may I suggest that you pray together for the Holy Spirit to guide you in truth and protect you on your journey together. Your wife should appreciate this because it is very biblical, and also is a very powerful link between the two “church” views. That is to say that you as a couple are looking for the Truth and Fullness of God together, and not as “my church” advocates.
This will help to remove any barriers between you on doctrinal grounds and allow for a much more free and open exchange of ideas and insights. Neither of you should be made to feel that the other is “evangelizing”. Let the spirit work in His time, and in His way.

As a final note, may I suggest looking at the “Journey Home” program on the EWTN website. These are excellant interviews of persons (often times ministers) who have come from home to the church from non-catholic (and often protestant) backgrounds. The host, Marcus Grodi, is a protestant convert to catholicism himself and has written on the subject. I read his book “How Firm a Foundation” and found it quite good. (it’s written as a fiction story of a protestant ministers journey and that makes it very readable for those who are not “theologens”)

May God Bless you and your wife on your Journey
James


#18

Thanks again everyone!

There sure are a lot of resources that you generously gave me. I just checked out biblechristiansociety.com. It’s funny, I never would have guessed from the URL that that was a Catholic apologetics site.

We will continue to pray, and lay off of the debating for now. It really just starts more trouble and leads to bitter feelings. Hopefully time and the Holy Spirit will convince her, and in the meantime we can still pray and grow spiritually together.

Keep us in your prayers, and God bless!!

-erbo


#19

Indeed erbo. Very interesting thread. Good luck! :slight_smile:


#20

As a baptist, she probably believes to a certain extent or another, that the husband is the spiritual head of the household.

Unless she believes Catholics are not even Christian, she really needs to take her spiritual guidance from you.

And you have a responsibility to find a Mass that has the kind of music that your wife likes. You can’t dismiss this easily. For your wife, the music is “worship music”. It allows her to become one with God spiritually, much in the same way, although on a smaller scale, that we become one through the Eucharist.

Your wife has never experienced the Eucharist and so for her, music is the way she enters into worship, mind, body and soul with God. You may need to find a charasmatic Catholic Church or one with a “folk” type Mass.

It would also be helpful if you were to get a missalette and go through the Mass and discuss each action and the words.

For example: You could discuss “Peace be with you”. Does she know that those are the first words Christ said when He rose from the dead? That we should not be just greeting our neighbor but are/should be declaring the Good News that Christ is Risen? This is/should be so much more than just saying hello to your loved ones and fellow church goers!

Discuss why we dip our fingers into Holy Water and cross ourselves as a way to bring up our baptismal promises to follow Christ.

There is much you can discuss without getting into arguments about doctrine, but explaining the richness and symbolism of Mass.

Another tool would be “How do Catholics Hear the Gospel” by Gary Michuta, which uses a missalette and shows the 4 steps of salvation that are presented at each and every Mass.

God Bless,
Maria


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