You surely have been through it. There is a knock at the door. Outside is a man or woman with a big smile, an open Bible, and a bunch of questions designed to attack the Catholic faith. Or you are accosted on the street by someone who asks, "Have you been saved?" Or, outside church after Mass, you find people passing out leaflets opposing Catholic beliefs and arguing with any who object.
At times Fundamentalists talk as if they thought no case could be made for the Catholic faith. That’s understandable. After all, if you’re a Fundamentalist instead of a Catholic, it is because you do not believe that Catholicism is true. You reject it because you think it is false. But make sure what you’re rejecting is Catholicism, not merely a caricature of it. If you think Catholics worship Mary, pray to statues, and claim the pope is equal to God, then you aren’t rejecting Catholicism, but someone’s misrepresentation of it. You deserve to have the facts before you make up your mind.
Fundamentalism is a relatively new brand of Protestantism started in America that has attracted a tremendous following, including many fallen away Catholics. How did this popular movement originate? The history of Fundamentalism may be viewed as having three main phases. The first lasted a generation, from the 1890s to the Scopes "Monkey Trial" of 1925. In this period, Fundamentalism emerged as a reaction to liberalizing trends in American Protestantism; it broke off, but never completely, from Evangelicalism, of which it may be considered one wing.
Around 926 b.c., the kingdom of Israel split in two. Up to that point, all twelve tribes of Israel (plus the priestly tribe of Levi) had been united under the monarchies of Saul, David, and Solomon. But when Solomon’s son Rehoboam ascended to the throne, the ten Northern tribes rebelled and seceded from the union. This left only two tribes—Judah and Benjamin (plus much of Levi)—under the control of the king in Jerusalem.
The Iglesia ni Cristo (Tagalog, "Church of Christ") claims to be the true Church established by Christ. Felix Manalo, its founder, proclaimed himself God’s prophet. Many tiny sects today claim to be the true Church, and many individuals claim to be God’s prophet. What makes Iglesia ni Cristo different is that it is not as tiny as others.
One of the most tragic divisions within Christianity is the one between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches. Both have valid holy orders and apostolic succession through the episcopacy, both celebrate the same sacraments, both believe almost exactly the same theology, and both proclaim the same faith in Christ. So, why the division? What caused the division?
"There is one jewel for my poor soul, in a life which desires not sin; it is the beads... Suitable are these for a gift; bits of the tree of Him Who redeemed us."
~ Gitto'r Glyn, Welsh poet; opening lines from his "popish" Cywydd y paderau prennau (Ode to the Wooden Beads); secretly circulated among private Catholic homes in Wales during the English persecutions, when possession meant a death sentence.