Catholic Faith contradicts the Bible, some Protestants will say. Karlo Broussard explains that this is a challenge Catholics must answer because we accept the Bible as the Word of God. Not to worry, he also shows how such claims are wildly mistaken.
Cy: Hello and welcome again to Catholic Answers Focus. I’m Cy Kellett your host. And part of the reason Protestantism has lasted and persists is that it poses serious intellectual challenges to the claims of the Catholic church. And an intellectual challenge deserves a well-reasoned response. Unless of course you have the power to burn people at the stake, in which case no arguments are needed, but we don’t have that authority. So we have to go the route of reasoning together. And if you’re looking for a well-reasoned response, our guests, Karlo Broussard is your man. Karlo is an apologist here at Catholic Answers. A speaker extraordinaire, the author of several books now, two of which are in print thus far, and the latest of which is called, Meeting the Protestant Challenge, how to answer 50 biblical objections to Catholic beliefs. Hi Karlo.
Karlo: Hey Cy.
Cy: Thanks for being here.
Karlo: Hey man, thanks for having me. It’s always great to be on the focus of CA man.
Cy: So it would be good if a person listening to this episode were to get a, first of all, a sense of how we re make reasoned responses to reasons, challenges that are given to us, what some of those challenges are and what some of the actual answers to those challenges are.
Karlo: Amen to that. And also too, to distinguish the challenges.
Cy: You make a clear distinction between two separate kinds of challenges.
Karlo: That is correct. So the sort of… still a prevalent challenge that we face, but it’s the challenge that was centered around or centered on with the advent of the modern apologetics movement in the late eighties pretty much started by Karl Keating, our founder here at Catholic Answer. And that challenge, that Protestant challenge was, where’s that in the Bible? And that challenge is operating or coming from, sort of the root Protestant belief of [inaudible 00:01:54] that we look to scripture alone in order to derive certainty about God’s revelation for the Bible alone is our rule of faith and fallible rule of faith. And so if that’s your operating principle, well then of course in order to discern whether I should believe a particular doctrine, I’m going to have to ask, “Where’s that in the Bible?” And in the modern apologetics movement, you know, all Catholic apologists were centering on that question and providing positive biblical evidence to support various Catholic beliefs in order to meet that challenge. But what’s interesting about that challenge Cy, is that a Catholic is really not required. It’s not necessary, from the Catholic perspective, the Catholics part to meet that challenge, you might be necessary for the Protestant who is inquiring in order to persuade them and lead them to the faith. But from the Catholics perspective, it’s not necessary to meet that because we don’t operate-
Cy: You could say to somebody, “Well I accept because the Catholic church teaches it, why do you not accept what Christ’s church on earth teaches?”
Karlo: That’s right. I have other reasons for accepting a belief rather than it strictly coming from sacred scripture. I can say it’s in sacred tradition. The magisterium of the church teaches it and it has divine authority invested in it by Christ. And so that’s why I believe it. So you can see how a Catholic can sort of parry that challenge and bypass him. However, there is another kind of Protestant challenge that a Catholic can’t get around. A Catholic has to meet this particular kind of challenge because this kind of challenge that I’m addressing in my book is a claim that the Catholic belief contradicts sacred scripture. And that’s a challenge we have to meet. Because if we believe anything, it at least can’t contradict sacred scripture.
Cy: Okay, so that’s a fair, that’s a challenge that we’ve got to meet. We can’t excuse ourselves from this one. You got that right. Look, why do you believe this, when the Bible says this?
Karlo: That’s right.
Cy: That’s a fair construction.
Karlo: That’s the formula that we, you know, that this kind of challenge takes. That’s the form it takes and that’s what we address. That’s what I address here in my book Meeting the Protestant Challenge. How can the Catholic church teach X when the Bible says Y. And just fill in the blank with X and Y. X being the Catholic belief and Y being a particular Bible passage that a Protestant sees as undermining or contradicting a particular Catholic belief.
Cy: So in a way, we’re obligated to answer that question very seriously because that’s playing by the same rules we play.
Karlo: That’s right.
Cy: We claim that nothing in our faith can contradict the Bible.
Karlo: And the reason why we claim that is because we believe that sacred scripture is the inspired word of God. You see? So we acknowledged sacred scripture as the inspired word of God. So whatever we profess to believe at least cannot contradict God’s word. Otherwise, we would be doing what Jesus hammers the Pharisees for doing in Mark 7:8. Which by the way, I address in the book and that’s what I’m challenging[crosstalk 00:05:19]. Where Jesus hammers the Pharisees for having a tradition that he says, nullifies the word of God.
Cy: And you can’t do that.
Karlo: You can’t do that, brother. We don’t want to be on the receiving end of that indictment, judgment.
Cy: Well, it’s probably the most obvious example of a question we get for this, where it’s, it strikes on its face as a very strong argument. Why do you Catholics call a priest father when Jesus himself says call no man father?
Karlo: That’s right. That’s Matthew chapter 23:9.
Cy: That’s a perfectly fair challenge.
Karlo: That’s a perfectly fair challenge because on face value it seems that our particular practice in this case and then as based upon some belief that he’s a spiritual father, right? That this practice and belief contradicts sacred scripture and I actually address that particular challenge in the last section of my book where I address some challenges concerning Catholic life and practice. This is sort of a Catholic practice that we do, of calling priest father. Now in the book, we don’t have time to go into all the details, but basically I lay out a couple of ways in which you can meet that strategy. Number one, we know Jesus can’t be saying we can’t call men on earth father in an absolute sense. Because we have scriptural passages that refer to our biological fathers as father. Also, we know he can’t be precluding or excluding calling religious leaders father, because Paul calls himself father in the sense of a spiritual father or a religious leader. In first Corinthians four, 14 through 15. He refers to himself as a father of the Christians in the church in Corinth. And then there are several other passages that I cite in my book that indicates how the term father can be used for religious leaders, right? I mean, Abraham, father Abraham, right? He’s called father. And so we know that Jesus can’t be saying this or precluding the use of father in an absolute sense. So what is he getting at? Well, he’s speaking hyperbolically right? In a hyperbolic way in order to… as sort of an indictment on the religious leaders of the day because they, when you read the context of Matthew chapter 23 you discover that the religious leaders were taking an unhealthy pride in their religious titles as father and as a rabbi or a teacher. Because in verse eight Jesus says, “Call no man, rabbi for you have one teacher.” Right? Well there are elsewhere in scripture we see people who are called teachers. So they were getting puffed up and failing to realize the source of their role as father, the source of their role as teacher. And so Jesus, in order to drive the point home to pronounce an indictment upon them for their unhealthy pride in their role and to realize and recognize where their authority comes from, namely from the one teacher and the one father, God the father. Jesus uses hyperbolic language in order to drive that point home. So that’s just a summary.
Cy: And that’s one of the 50 that you cover in here.
Karlo: And that’s one of the 50 that I cover in there.
Cy: So 50 different Protestant challenges that you don’t and cannot dismiss as, “Oh, come. That’s, you know, I don’t have to answer that.” These are questions you got to answer.
Karlo: Because it is a claim that we are contradicting scripture.
Cy: The word of God.
Karlo: That’s right. And we can’t do that. So we need to try and show how our belief and this scripture passage that our Protestant friend poses to us can harmonize and cohere with one another.
Cy: Let me give you one.
Karlo: Okay, go ahead.
Cy: All right, so this is one about Peter. We claim Peter-
Karlo: Is the leader.
Cy: -is the leader, and that-
Karlo: Pete got the seat.
Cy: – [inaudible 00:09:12] our success. Pete got the seat.
Karlo: That’s right. Good [inaudible 00:09:14] by the way.
Cy: So how can the Catholic church teach that Peter was the leader of the first century church when the Bible teaches in Acts 15, that James was the leader of the council of Jerusalem.
Karlo: Yeah. This is a challenge that we hear often and our Protestant friends will point to a couple of things in Acts 15 in the narrative about the council of Jerusalem and the council proceedings. So the council has to do with the apostles and the elders. Convene to consider the matter how a man is saved. Particularly is circumcision necessary for salvation because some Jewish converts to Christianity, were saying, “Yes, you got to be circumcised, hold fast to the precepts of the mosaic law in order to be saved.” Others were saying… Paul and Barnabas and others were saying, “No.” They had a debate. They had no small dissension. As Luke tells us in Acts 15, one through two. So they take it up to Jerusalem for the apostles and the elders to convene, to consider the matter, right? So that’s what the council proceedings are about. But our Protestant friends will say, “You know, James seems to be the leader here at the council.” Because for example, in verse 13 he uses the imperative mood for listen, [akoúo 00:10:29] like, “Brethren, listen to me.” Right? So he seems to take charge of the council and demanding that everybody listen to him. And then James decides the results of the council they say. When he says, therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles. And he begins to articulate certain precepts that the Gentiles are going to have to hold to, right? So how do we respond to this? Well as I point out in my book in this particular chapter, in fact, it’s chapter one, right? In this section, [inaudible 00:11:00] church hierarchy and church authority, the imperative mood for [akoúo 00:11:05] side doesn’t necessarily connote authority over the group. That is to say the command to listen, right? So suppose we’re in a Catholic Answers meeting, right? And we’re sitting around the conference table and everybody’s talking and you know, sharing their ideas on how to do it this way or that way. And I just say, “Hey guys, listen.” Right? And I go on to articulate my idea. That doesn’t necessarily imply that I have authority over the group and that I’m somehow now in the place of Chris [inaudible 00:11:37], right? It just simply implies, “Hey guys, I’ve got an idea to share. So go head and be quiet and listen to me.” Right?
Karlo: And then I share my idea. So the word [akoúo 00:11:50] or listen doesn’t necessarily imply having charge over the group. And we see this in Acts 22:1, where Paul says to the Jewish brethren, “Brethren and fathers hear, the defense which I now make before you.” He wasn’t exercising authority over the group. He was just saying, be quiet. Listen, I have an idea to share. And we see that in verse two where they were all quiet, and they listened. So the point is, is that given that the imperative mood of listen or [akoúo 00:12:21] doesn’t necessarily imply charge over the group, you’re going to have to look to the context or something else in order to discern, which sort of a meaning we should ascribe to this command. Is it just, “Hey guys, be quiet. I need to share something.” Or does it suggest authority over the group? So we have to look at the context and when we look at the context Cy, we discover that it’s not James who is leading the council and has authority over the apostles and elders there, but that it’s Peter. And the reason is, as I point out in the book, is that Peter’s the one who speaks first and settles the substance of the debate. So Luke sets it up in verse six, right? He says that there was much debate among the apostles and the elders. And the subsequent verses reveal that it’s Peter’s speech that settles the debate in verses seven through 11 and that’s when he says, “God has revealed that the Gentiles can enter into the [inaudible 00:13:25]. Through my mouth, the Gentiles shall hear my voice and believe in the gospel, right? And he answers the question whether they have to be circumcised to be saved in the negative and says no, it’s by the grace of God through faith. Now, what’s interesting is [inaudible 00:13:42] verse 12 right after Peter’s speech, Luke tells us and they were silent. And then verse 13 and Paul and Barnabas began to recount what some of the things that happened in their journey. And then, and also in verse 13 James does begin to direct the council, right? And the council proceedings. But Cy, it’s after Peter’s speech that settled the substance of the debate. And even James recognizes Peter’s declaration. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name. Okay? So notice Peter’s speech comes first, settles the subs- if James was in charge here, you would think James would be the one initiating the proceedings of the council. Speaking first and settling the substance of the debate, not Peter. So we see that that indicates that Peter is actually the leader of the council, not James. And finally, one last point I’ll throw out at you Cy, and I go into more detail in the book is that, James’ speech is a pastoral proposal. Whereas Peter’s speech is a doctrinal declaration. You see Peter’s speech, the content of Peter’s speech is a matter of divine revelation. How is a man to be saved? What is God’s will with this, right? Circumcision or not. Grace, faith, whatever. Peter declares the issue settles the substance of the debate, right, and notice Cy, Peter’s declaration wasn’t mere opinion, but it was a doctrinal statement because he says, “We believe that we shall be saved.” He doesn’t offer this as a mere opinion for consideration. He says, “This is it Jack. This is what we believe.” Period.
Cy: He gives a creed basically, cradle.
Karlo: That’s right. It’s a cradle. We believe. Now there’s… Contrast that with James’ speech, you see a stark contrast, right? First of all, James’ speech is pastoral in nature. He is saying, listen, we have this, we have a problem in the early church, right? We have these new Gentile converts to Christianity and these Jewish converts to Christianity and all the Jewish sensibilities about eating meat, not eating meat offered to idols. These Gentiles, they’re going to be eating that meat offered to idols, right? So what James proposes is that in order to keep the peace. Let’s oblige the Gentile converts, to follow these certain disciplinary precepts. And so notice it’s pastoral in nature. How we’re going to keep the peace. It’s not doctrinal concerning like it was for Peter’s speech. And secondly, James offers his ideas for consideration. He says, “Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turned to God, but should write to them.” Right? Well, in subsequent verses, what happens? The apostles and the elders are considering that proposal. And then they eventually come to the conclusion, “Yes, let’s go with it, James. That’s a great idea.” Basically, and they go with it. That’s in stark contrast to Peter. There was debate. Peter makes his declaration, it’s settled. James stands up, he says, “My judgment is to put forward these precepts. To oblige to the Gentiles, to hold to these precepts and there has to be consideration about the precepts.” Then they come to a conclusion at the end of the narrative of the council.
Cy: It all seems very hierarchical. It’s like church leaders around Peter have the authority to teach.
Karlo: That’s right.
Cy: That’s what I’m getting from this.
Karlo: James has an authority.
Cy: Sure, they all do. Together.
Karlo: Together, they do have an authority together and in fact, in Acts 15:28, “It has seemed good to the Holy spirit and to us.” This is something I point out in one of the sections of the chapter called the afterthought, right? That the Holy spirit guides and leads the church not apart from God’s ordained ministers, but in and through them. And we see a clear example of this. So they all have authority to exercise, but it’s in union with Peter who at the council of Jerusalem exercises a supreme authority concerning declarations about God’s revelation. So James is not the leader of the council of Jerusalem in Acts 15. Peter clearly is. So we can see that our Catholic belief that Peter is the leader, right? Coheres with this Bible passage in Acts 15 and the proceedings of the council of Jerusalem in James’ role. We are not contradicting scripture in any way as our Protestant friends will allege.
Cy: We’ll cover some more out of those 50 [crosstalk 00:18:41] over the course of the next two episodes. Karlo Broussard. Thank you very much.
Karlo: Hey, thank you Cy.
Cy: Karlo’s book is meeting the Protestant challenge, how to answer 50 biblical objections to Catholic belief. We’ll see you next time. Oh Hey. In the meantime, go ahead and give us a note or a little like or something wherever you get this podcast because that’s what allows this podcast to grow. Also maybe go and sign up to be a member of the radio club over at catholicanswerslive.com. Just put in your email address, you become a member and we start sending you free stuff. We’ll see you next time. God willing on Catholic Answers Focus.