Two Questions from an Unhappy Listener

by Steve Ray on May 26, 2007

After my Catholic Answers Live "appearance" on Friday evening, I received an e-mail from an ex-Catholic. The e-mail contained two questions — the questioners words are in blue. I have removed his name out of respect for his privacy. 

Dear friend, you wrote:   >> I found it rather interesting you had all those questions for Bible Christians. I am a Protestant convert that had been Catholic for 20 years. I just have two simple questions for you that I cannot get a reasonable answer from any other source, even Catholic answers. <<

First, let me say I appreciate you writing and understand your probable motive. I understand that many people have left the Catholic Church to become everything from agnostics to Jehovahs Witnesses, from Baptists to Communists. I also know that far more leave for moral reasons than for theological reasons. Why you left I do not know. I am, for the most part, singularly unimpressed with the arguments and reasons given by ex-Catholics. On the other hand, I am very impressed with the reasons why thousands are becoming Catholics. Anyway, let's get to the points at hand.

Second, I have no desire to debate or carry on a long argument with you. I have far too much to do and am quite convinced of the truth of Catholicism (being once an anti-Catholic evangelist) and the weakness of the Protestant arguments. So, I will anwer briefly and hope you are an honest and noble man who is not just looking for a punching bag. So . . .  

 1.)     Where do I find an infallible list of infallible Catholic traditions? (and prove to me the infallibility of the list)

Before I answer your question, let me show you how flawed your question is by your own standards. You can't even provide such an answer concerning what you accept as infallible — the Bible. Provide me a list of infallible books in the infallible Bible and prove to me the infallibility of the list. And since the Bible is your only infallible authority, where does the Bible says that the individual writings contained within are infallible and inspired? Answer this and I will give you an answer for Tradition.

Since your theology is that the Bible is the only infallible source of revelation from God binding on the Christian, then where do you find a list of which books are exclusively infallible and to be included in the canon of Scripture? And let's take it one step farther– who has the authority to define that list or make that determination?

Remember even R. C. Sproul (Evangelical Theologian) says that Catholics have an infallible list of infallible books; Protestants have a fallible list of infallible books; liberals have a fallible list of fallible books. The books are infallible and inspired, not the Table of Contents. And remember, if you say it is "obvious" then why did it take four hundred years for the early Christians to come up with a final list and who put the authority to put that list together and declare it infallible and binding? And why is there differences in the collection of books in the Bible even today?

And where do we find in the Bible alone, that your list is infallible and binding for all time? Martin Luther sure didn't think so. And, by the way, where do you find in the Bible that everything that is the word of God is contained only in the book when even the book refutes such a claim?

2.)     Did Mary (Mother of Christ) die?

I noticed you call Mary the "Mother of Christ" instead of the "Mother of God" (both of which are true). But that is another discussion. Regarding the end of her life: we are not told in Scripture or Tradition whether Mary died. We believe that at the end of her earthly existence she was taken into heaven body and soul. Now, please don't tell me that it is necessary for everyone to die since we know of at least two cases in Scripture where men were taken to heaven without dying first. Whether Mary died or simply fell asleep is not the issue. The issue where you and I might disagree is what happened to her in the end. All Christians have believed that Mary was assumed into heaven. Only recent Protestant innovations have denied it. You find yourself in a very small and novel slice of the Christian pie and one with a very short and troubled history.

Now, I hope you have answers for these "Questions for 'Bible Christians'", click here.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

george May 26, 2007 at 9:03 AM

Can you please tell me why Roman Catholics refer to themselves as ‘Catholics’?
Is this not an insult to Rome and all that it means to the Roman Catholic church?

Hector May 26, 2007 at 12:40 PM

George,

I’d rather ask; “Who coined the term “Roman Catholics”? If my research is right, this was a term given by the followers of Anglicanism as an insult to “catholics” faithful to the See of Rome. Remember how Henry VIII, founder of Anglicanism, wanted to stay “catholic” without being under the authority of Rome because of his immoral decision? Even so, the term is gladly accepted by catholics, just like in the early centuries where the followers of Christ were first called “Christians” as an insult to the church.

With regards to the term “catholic” this has been a term used since the early church history. Even Ignatius of Antioch in the early 2nd century used this term for Christ’s church. Whether this was used to particular members or not, it might hold true that this was also used to members belonging to the true church of Christ.

Dan May 26, 2007 at 7:25 PM

Steven,

Well said! I was a Protestant for approximately twenty years (attended Anglican seminary and Liberty University). Once I allowed the Church to define what it means by what it says, my argumentation began to look silly (even those arguments that were fairly sophisticated on topics like justification).

Anyway – keep of the good work. You are a profound blessings to the One True Holy Apostolic Church.

Dan

Steve Ray May 28, 2007 at 6:11 AM

George:
Your question is not entirely clear, and I thank Hector for clearing up part of it. The word “catholic” simply means universal. The Catholic Church is universal in that it covers the whole earth, teaches all truth, for all time to all people. Hardly could another “church” call itself “catholic” in that sense. I have a long article explaining the meaning of the word on my site under Resources > Steve’s Writings > Apologetics.

How using Catholic could be an insult to Rome I am not sure. The Catholic Church is headquartered in Rome where the two Princes of the Apostles died and has been there for 2,000 years.

There were four other patriarchates in the early Church of which Rome was the head. The others were Alexandria, Jerusalem, Antioch and Constantinople. To say we are the Roman Catholic Church simply means that we are Catholics in the Latin Rite, under the authority of the Roman patriarchate.

Pat May 29, 2007 at 5:28 AM

Steve,
Thanks for your ministry. You said:

“Remember even R. C. Sproul (Evangelical Theologian) says that Catholics have an infallible list of infallible books.”

Where does he say this and in what context?

Thanks, Pat

Steve Ray May 30, 2007 at 9:53 AM

R. C. Sproul says this in his book “Essential Truths of the Christian Faith” on pages 22-23 . He says, “Some Christians are bothered by the fact that there was an historical selection process at all. They are nagged by the question, how do we know that the New Testament canon includes the proper books? Traditional Roman Catholic theology answers this question by appealing to the infallibility of the church. The church is then viewed as “creating” the Canon, thereby having authority equal to Scripture itself. Classical Protestantism denies both that the church is infallible and that the church “created” the Canon. The difference between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism may be summarized as follows:
Roman Catholic view: The Canon is an infallible collection of infallible books.
Classical Protestant view: The Canon is a fallible collection of infallible books.
Liberal Critical view: The Canon is a fallible collection of fallible books” (Sproul, R. C. (1996, c1992). Essential truths of the Christian faith. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House).
He then gives a very inadequate list of reasons of circular reasoning why Protestants can be sure of their canon.

Anthony May 31, 2007 at 3:31 PM

Steve,

First, I want to say how much I appreciate your efforts to defend the one holy and apostolic church that our Lord founded on St. Peter. I’ve listened to some of your your CDs & DVDs and am currently greatly enjoying reading Crossing the Tiber.

Unfortunately, two of my family members have recently left the Church due to a crisis of faith related to (a) the recent sex abuse scandals of some priests within the Church combined with (b) the teachings of Harold Camping, head of Family Radio, who has been exhorting “true believers” to “come out of the churches” (both Protestant and Catholic), which he claims have been completely taken over by Satan. He claims that the “Church Age” is at an end, despite the many passages in scripture to the contrary. As is sadly typical, he claims that this is not his personal interpretation, but what the Bible expressly teaches, which one has to read “with your spiritual eyes opened”. He teaches that believers should no longer be baptized or receive communion, as those are “ceremonial laws” that have fallen away, as did their Old Testament precursors. He also predicts that the world will end in 2011, much as he predicted that the world would end in 1994, in spite of Christ’s teaching that “no man knows the day, nor the hour…”

My question is this: do you have any recommended resources on this matter that I can review? I’m trying to pull together anything I can to help my family members, who were lifelong devout Catholics that have now fallen under this devastating teaching.

Yours in Christ,

Anthony

Steve Ray June 1, 2007 at 7:33 AM

Anthony: Thanks for your thoughtful and eloquent post. It is devasting when the Bible is thrown up in the air for everyone to do with as they please. It was written as a family book to be read in the heart of the Church.

I am not aware of this Harold Camping and his teaching adds an interesting new twist and shows that the Bible can be twisted and distorted like a rubber nose for those who want to ignore the Bible’s long history and purpose. In the Philippines there are many groups who go off in all crazy directions using the Bible as their source.

I would suggest that you post your question (cut and paste the heart of it) on my Message Board where 2000 people are talking about all kinds of things and will love to ruminate about this too.

I don’t have any profound words on this other than to pray and be a good example. However, I would make three quick points:

1) It seems to me that if Our Lord intended all these things to cease (church, sacraments, etc.) he would have expressly stated so. There would be some kind of clear and unmistakable “retirement clause” added to the New Testament so that everyone would be sure of the fact.

It also seems to me that in 1 Cor. 11:26 Jesus gives the exact opposite of a “retirement clause.” Instead of saying “You should do this in memory of Me until 1994 when Prophet Camp comes along,” he actually says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death auntil He comes.” Seems the Eucharist is something we do until we see Jesus come again.

And Camp’s teaching is novel, meaning new and innovative. It has not been heard before. He is one of the false prophets arising in the end times that Jesus warned us about. I throw my hat in the ring with the Church that has been teaching the same thing for 2000 years and who has continuity both organically and theologically back to the apostles.

Nowhere is Camp’s nonsense taught in the early Church. This should always cause one to raise their eyebrows. Anyway, may the Lord be with you and your family and don’t give up hope. The crazier the cult, the faster people jump ship to come back home to the Church.

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