Escape While You Can
Thanks for the opportunity to subscribe to This Rock. Sorry though--I'm still (and will be) a Christian. Like J.I. Packer, I find Catholicism grotesque, although I could fellowship with a Catholic to the extent of our mutual beliefs.
Question: Why are you so wrapped up with fighting Protestantism and Evangelicalism, as if they were the enemy? Are you that spiritually dense? Why the barbs against non-Catholic Christians like myself?
Believe me, you'd do much better to fight against the New Age cult, which, as you know, is really old-age Eastern mysticism with worldwide tentacles. [See this issue's "Dragnet."]
As for your list of Protestants and Evangelicals who have defected to Catholicism, supposedly after much prayer and study, well I get a little (yawn!) bored with this reporting. [Again, see "Dragnet."]
All it shows is that the individuals concerned were either (a) a little ignorant of the facts, (b) weak-minded, (c) tugged by the massiveness of Catholicism and their psychological need (perceived) to belong to a system that is fairly consistent as opposed to the differing views of Evangelicalism, or (d) just spiritually blinded.
I have read Catholicism and Fundamentalism, and, though I grant that you are a good writer, your arguments are weak and unconvincing. Similar books, like Catholic and Christian by Alan Schreck or A Closer Look at Catholicism by Bob Moran evoke similar responses in me.
You guys are good writers, but you're mired in Catholicism. Like I've told you before, careful study and prayer does not lead to Catholicism. Church history certainly does not compel toward Catholicism. And most certainly not the Scriptures, do they lead to Catholicism.
Oh, I know. I'm not going to convince you to shake yourself free from Rome. Wish I could. I'd like to see you give your energies for the defense of the faith once for all delivered by [sic] the saints! And, regardless of how much you'd like to tell yourself, we both know Scripture was (and is) referring to the Christian faith, not the Roman Catholic faith.
Simple browsing into Church history shows this conclusively. But you really don't like the facts, do you? You would rather keep on believing that Jesus Christ established the Roman Catholic Church in A.D. 33 in spite of the fact that the term Catholic nor the liturgy did not develop until decades later. (And this is not fanciful history.)
Remember, Paul warned that distorters of the truth would come during his time and would continue to the end. Sure, Catholicism started early, but Christianity started earlier, and the Scriptures reveal Catholicism for what it is: a distortion of Christianity--although a product of Christianity, nevertheless an apostate product.
In a Fundamentalist Prison
I am currently a prisoner here at the new facility of Folsom Prison. I work in the chapel, where I am clerk/secretary to our Catholic chaplain. The Catholic chaplaincy here is in dire need of educational materials, mainly in apologetics.
Having been a student of theology before my imprisonment, I see the need and feel it most acutely, especially when I observe the hard-sell evangelism practiced by the Protestant chaplaincy, with whom we share offices.
The greatest concern we have is over Catholics who've fallen away, as entirely too many do, under the onslaught of Fundamentalist preaching. What makes matters even worse is that a fair amount of evangelization is carried out by the Protestant associate chaplains, volunteers who come into the prison from various congregations outside and among whom are a disproportionate amount of--you guessed it--fallen-away Catholics who now attack their Mother Church.
Constrained, as we are, by policy, we aren't able to make much headway using the direct approach, but can and should use some of their own tricks against them. One of their most potent weapons has been the sheer volume of literature they are able to make available to the prisoners, all donated to their chaplaincy.
We have no such sources, unless you'd be willing to send us any back issues of damaged copies that you might be willing to spare. I realize that I'm asking something for nothing, but please understand that, as a Catholic, I feel a responsibility to my Church to try.
I certainly hope that you'll be willing to help us. No matter what your decision, please accept my sincerest wishes for the ongoing success of your endeavors.
Editor’s reply: Catholic Answers sends packages of free literature to prisons and prison chaplaincies--as funds permit, of course. We have more requests than we can handle.
If you'd like to earmark a donation for such work--Catholic prisoners may have deserved to lose their freedom, but not their faith--please make your check out to "Catholic Answers" and mail it to P.O. Box 17181, San Diego, California 92177. Write on the comment line, "Prison Fund."
Two Priests: Too Strange
I'll promise to pray for your work, if you'll promise to pray for two priests at my parish.
One says that we don't have to listen to the Pope, bishops, or even himself, just our own consciences. (Fine--I'll do what he says: I won't listen to him.) The other one says hell is only temporary. Isn't that neat! Whatever happened to purgatory?
What a Debate!
As a long-time friend of Catholic Answers, I had put off attending any of the debates and seminars offered in parishes in my area. "Why should I attend?" I thought. "I'm a life-long Catholic with a string of conversions to my credit. I've heard it all, and I can handle myself with (what used to be called) heretics."
Last Monday I was at St. Cyprian's in Long Beach [California] when Gerry Matatics met James White [of Alpha and Omega Ministries]. I am still reeling! I have never felt like I did that night. All the pride, joy, and fire of the day I was confirmed came back to me. That and more.
I would press any priest to contact Catholic Answers immediately and arrange for a similar program in his parish. To any layman having an opportunity to attend such a program, I say: "Go!" I almost wish they had left the Blessed Sacrament on the altar; our Lord would have been very proud of his faithful servant Gerry Matatics, just as I was.
This Rock "Speaks" in Ghana
May I humbly apply for some cassettes to help me in my priestly ministry? My work comprises coordinating and organizing prayer sessions, talks, workshops, and symposiums on the promotion of vocations. I give retreats to seminarians, aspirants, and the faithful.
Rev. F. Gregory Eduah
This Rock gives a concise editorial purpose: "to explain clearly and accurately the Catholic faith" (January 1990). Perhaps your hidden agenda of Mormon bashing is out of sync with your stated expertise in Catholic matters. I question how "clearly and accurately" issues are illustrated in a publication whose ridicule and disdain for the teachings and practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have such an obvious "anti" bias.
Your credibility on Catholicism will be less suspect when your editorializing is not accompanied by the overt contempt and contentious spirit you foster for the beliefs of your fellow man. No doubt your resident expert on Mormonism has experienced firsthand some hints of the fruits of those who sincerely practice their faith and who can do so without tearing down the ideals held by others.
Gary J. Coleman
Editor’s reply: Mr. Coleman, as an official representative of the Mormon Church, debated Catholic Answers' Patrick Madrid on two themes: the Trinity vs. a plurality of gods and apostolic succession vs. the "Great Apostasy." The debate, called "A Mormon/Catholic Dialogue," is available from This Rock in two formats: video ($15.00) and audio (two tapes for $10.00). If you wish to order, please use the Mini-Catalogue.
Saved from a Horrid Fate
I attended your Brooklyn seminar. I'm the one who was studying with Jehovah's Witnesses.
There are a lot of Catholics who are looking for more than just Mass on Sunday. The Catholic Church is a huge organization with a vast flock, so it's not possible for individuals to be catered to; this can be very disheartening for the person who needs and is searching for more.
I was totally unaware that an organization like Catholic Answers was to be found. Besides learning facts about Fundamentalists, Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnesses which they themselves do not publicize, I found a fellowship among Catholics of which I was unaware.
I never would have gone to your seminar if it weren't for the fact that Lisa, my girlfriend, became paranoid that I was going to end up selling Watchtower magazines on Fifth Avenue outside the building where she works.
She went to her local priest to save my soul, which I would have lost had I become a Witness. He had heard about the seminar in Brooklyn and advised her that both of us should go.
Incidentally, Lisa made her First Communion last Saturday. (No, I don't have a seven-year-old girlfriend. Her mother just never got around to preparing her for Communion.) She has been studying at her own parish for the last month to prepare.
Michael A. Kirwan
Bronx, New York
Angels and Pins Reconsidered
Whoever writes the "Quick Questions" column missed the boat when it came to answering the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin [August 1990].
This question is generally put forth as an example of the sterility of medieval thought in general and the lack of intellectual ability of churchmen in particular. But in reality it shows how truly brilliant and far-thinking were the monks of that era.
Angels are spiritual beings, and as such they have no dimensions. To ask "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" is to ask "How many points are there on the smallest of surfaces?" The consideration of this question was man's first attempt to leap from Aristotle's ontological concept of infinity to the modern mathematical concept of infinity.
The answer to the question (an infinite number) directly led to the development of the mathematics of the infinitesimal (the calculus) and the scientific revolution of the sixteenth century.
"Catholic"? So What?
What I want for my family is for each of them to have a personal, fulfilling relationship with the Lord Jesus. Labels such as "Catholic" have such temporal meaning and tend to close us in and make us subject to a prideful attitude ("my religion is better/ older/richer than yours"). My belief is that people need Jesus, and when they meet and accept him as their Savior they'll go to church.
Jesus saved my soul in 1975 through a Catholic charismatic person's ministry to me in a time of crisis. Religion has not helped me--Jesus did! The thing I love about Jesus is the way he loves me in spite of my failures, falls, sins, weaknesses. He cares when no one else does. He came for the rejects, the hopeless, the hurting, the weak and lost. I was all of that! I was a Catholic pagan, it seems. Jesus is all I live for. The rest of it is quicksand.
I was hurt by your references to "Fundamentalists." Aren't Catholics about as fundamental as you can get? I do not understand the inference. And your phrase "Protestants of all stripes"--does that infer they are skunks, or what? I am descended from a long line of Protestants, Puritans, Quakers, etc. What does this make me?
Jo Ann Pulver