I have a friend who was raised in a non-denominational, Bible-based church. She has no (visible) doubts about what she was raised to believe: Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide mainly, and we occasionally get into discussions about each other’s beliefs.
When I have discussions with her, I always get the feeling that she’s “putting the ox before the cart,” as in she has defined her beliefs before seeing any evidence of them, so when she looks at Scripture or anything else, all she can do is look at things in a way that support her beliefs.
For example, (she knows very little about church history-- I’m not saying I’m exactly a scholar on the subject, I’m still in high school…) she had no idea that the early church (the one that Catholics are linked to by Apostolic Succession and Tradition) was the one that canonized the Bible. Once she learned this fact, she promptly told me that she believes corruption within Catholic beliefs started just after the canonization of the Bible- to put it in loosely into her own words “The early church kicked it off by making the Bible, but then they started adding things in and changing stuff”
What do I say to this? Is there some crazy-long line of Church corruption I’ve missed? Sure, things were a little dark in the Middle Ages before the Reformation, but aren’t we the closest link to the early Christian church that the world has?
When I ask her if she has anything to substantiate these claims, she can’t produce anything. She has it in her head that since Catholics do more than sit around and read the Bible, we’re all crazy and off on the wrong path. Infant Baptism, Communion, Reconciliation, going to church a lot during Holy Week, adoration of Mary, Saints, our knowledge on angels, demons and exorcisms… The list goes on… These are all crazy corrupt Catholic mumbo jumbo to her. How can I explain to her that they’re not? **When did all of these **(especially some of the more specific) traditions begin? If some of them were in fact “added in” later, how can I justify this?
She is a heavy-duty Bible fundamentalist; she told me that she thinks she’s likely a direct descendant of Noah, and that the Earth was created in seven twenty-four hour periods. As a response to this, I like to point out how, if taken strictly literally, the Bible contradicts itself all over the place, and often contradicts science (for example, the Bible says that hares chew cud). Is there anything more I can say here?
She is also a VERY heavy believer of Sola Fide. Recently, to argue my point, I picked a semi-random Bible story from the Liturgy of the Word a few weeks ago; Lazarus and the Rich Man. I pointed out how Lazarus went to Abraham’s Bosom (so for argument’s sake, Heaven), and the Rich Man went to Hell, without any mention of the faith in God of either; the Rich Man went to Hell for not going out of the way to help Lazarus- he wasn’t a jerk or anything, but he didn’t go out of his way to help him. Is my interpretation of this parable correct?
When I told her this, she said something like “So what did he go to Hell for? His lack of good works?” hoping she’d lull me into a trap by my agreement; I’d say “yes” and she’d whip out a Bible passage (I don’t know if off the top of my head, but I’m sure all of you who are familiar with the Sola Fide argument have heard it multiple times) that denounced the necessity of “good works” for Salvation. Finally, she conceded, and turned her nose up at the passage, saying “Well okay, you have one thing that maybe supports your case… What else is there? I have a lot supporting mine.” So… I’d like to ask all of you the same thing; what else is there? I’m sure there are tons of Bible passages that reference the necessity of other things than faith for Salvation. Can any of you give me some?
What else can I say to my dear friend? It worries me that she belongs to a rather radical group of Christians, and I’d love it if I could help her come closer to Home- or at least help her lose her contempt for my Catholic beliefs. Praying on the matter is obviously an important thing, and I’m doing my best to be direct and use general rules of having a peaceful argument- no sarcasm, no accusations, answering all of her questions to the best of my ability, etc.
For the TL;DNR crowd- just read the bolded questions, along with the background information in their respective paragraphs, and please answer any of the questions that you can
Thanks in advance for your responses
Peace be with all of you!