Jack Chick Invades Zambia
Here in Zambia there is a great deal of anti-Catholic literature in circulation (especially in secondary schools) originating in the U.S.
Apart from the quite extraordinary efforts produced by Chick Publications (Crusader Comics), there is a great deal of material circulated by the Home and Health Education Service of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, by the Watchtower Society, by Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, and by others.
We are thinking of producing a series of leaflets, perhaps entitled My Friend Says, to respond to some of the more common attacks. But this is still at the planning stage.
Br. Kieran Bhorten, 0FM Cap.
Catholic Bulletin Boards
I got lost in the article by Fr. Mateo ["Was Jesus an only child?" This Rock. January and February 1990]. I am interested in the Catholic Information Service bulletin board. Can you tell me in what other cities this board is available? I live near Seattle. Is there a board in Seattle or a local phone number one could use to access the board?
Editor’s reply: No, there isn't a Catholic Information Network board in Seattle, but you can access four of the six CIN boards through PC Pursuit. The cities, phone numbers, hours of operation, and modem speeds for the six CIN boards are:
San Francisco, California:
(415) 387-3251, 24 hours, 300/1200/2400/9600;
Santa Clara, California:
(415) 967-3420,24 hours, 300/1200;
(707) 255-1581,6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., 300/1200;
St. Louis, Missouri:
(314) 842-4676, 24 hours, 300/1200/2400.
(713) 530-5300, 24hours,300/l200/2400;
(614) 283-6409, 24 hours, 300/1200/2400/9600;
All the boards except Kolbe-Napa and Steubenville can be accessed through PC Pursuit for the cost of a local phone call. For further information about CIN, you can speak with a live human being at (415) 387-4145. For information about PC Pursuit, call (800) 835-3638. All the other numbers are for data only, not voice.
Report from India
The menace of the sects is still on. In fact the number seems to increase. The main worry is the sect Emmanuel Prayer Group, and the Cardinal here is still making a decision whether they are anti-Catholic or not. So we are just praying that God may guide us in this matter.
Retreating Toward Front Lines
Thank you for the swift delivery of the pocket cards. They were in time for the confirmation retreat so that each young woman and young man received a small packet. I am praying that with the grace of God they will begin to love their Catholic faith and, while respecting what is good in the belief of our separated brethren and always respecting the person of those who oppose us, begin to share their faith with others.
Fr. Serge Propst, D.P.
Sic Transit Transit System?
Thanks for being in existence. Wish I had known you from the start. Have read the tracts, and I must say they are great. But the tool I like the most at this time is the pocket cards. I am planning to stamp "Your local Roman Catholic Church" in the space provided. I plan to get one or two a month. We like placing Scripture truths on buses or trains in the transit system. Then, too, I like sending them with bills.
John W. Nadeau
You're Too Condescending
I found "A Hitchhiker's Guide to Kolob" [This Rock, January 1990] a bit too condescending.
I think the Mormons are probably all too aware that other people find the idea of the star Kolob weird; pushing them on this would probably only convince them that it's wise to keep their religion esoteric.
I don't mean that we shouldn't confront them with the fact that their god is too small, just that we should be careful about unnecessarily bruising feelings.
Not that I'm perfect in this regard. Recently, after a Fundamentalist woman as work asked me, "Why do your priests wear dresses?" I showed her the November 1989 issue of Moody Monthly (on the origins of Evangelical traditions) with the comment, "According to this, the reason the men in your choir wear 'dresses' is that they're trying to pretend to be Catholic priests."
If I was raised Protestant instead of Catholic, I would have probably believed that most Catholics are unfamiliar with the Bible (because otherwise they would have seen how unscriptural their church was), but instead I suspect that even the pre-Vatican II missal gave the average Catholic as much "Bible" as the average Protestant received.
Consider the fact that Protestants still buy children's Bibles in the King James Version, rather than one of the simplelanguage versions. What are these but "missals" for the children to take to church?
Even the simple-language versions, if they don't have a good set of footnotes, are confusing once you leave the narrative sections. I now suspect that while I'm personally aware that some people I know do read text-only Bibles on their own, that most people who buy text-only Bibles do so expecting to read them only in Sunday school and during the service.
Must Be Someone We Bribed
I was very pleased to see This Rock. Congratulations! I think you and your staff have done a terrific job on a journal that needs to be published today. I can only hope that you get the widest possible circulation.
Sorry, But You Failed
No doubt: it's a powerful temptation -- as anyone knows who has argued in defense of Church teachings. You have been tempted. And failed. ["Dragnet"] is evidence that you have been tempted toward sarcasm and ridicule and succumbed through this display of elitism (pride).
The results can only mean failure, no matter how high-minded you perceive your mission to be. Good people, Catholic and non-Catholic, will turn away by the thousands. Too bad. Until now I have been very enthusiastic about your work, being a convert myself. I do hope you can work things out.
Canastota, New York
Now, an Objective Comment
This is the best magazine I've ever read, bar none. You've put out good things in the past, but now you've outdone yourself. Keep up the great work!
Thanks for the Start
About six months ago I began a Bible study with a Southern Baptist of recent acquaintance. He is a good man and educated far beyond the average person of faith, even having taught at one of their Bible institutes in Texas. It is apparent to me that this man has been put into my life to challenge my understanding of my Catholic tradition, which I am deeply committed to and active in. Far from winning a convert in me, I think I will at least bring him some appreciation for the true Church. Thanks for helping me get started.
R. G. Denman
Cancel My Subscription
I would like to make known my displeasure with your publication. Under the guise of apologetics and evangelization, I consistently detect a spirit of condescension, arrogance, and doctrinal smugness.
Your articles are cloaked with an intellectuality that translates into a self-righteous disdain and, at times, open ridicule toward anyone with divergent theology. My concern is that while this publication professes, editorially, to be a teaching and defending mouthpiece for the Catholic tradition, in actual reading it represents the spirit of Pharisaic tradition.
Converts to the Catholic faith in specific and to Christianity in general are not persuaded and won over in this way! I strongly suggest you seriously review your writing style. Please cancel my subscription.
Richard F. Ceo
Port Jefferson, New York
Cancel His, But Renew Mine
I have received my first copy of This Rock and felt compelled to respond. As a dazed and disheartened pilgrim wandering through the looking glass world of altar girls, pantomime gospels, and liturgical dancers, I had just about given up hope. I believed fellow travelers had gone the way of the Latin Mass. What a relief it was to get my copy of This Rock. It's like Fulton Sheen with an attitude.
Your "Dragnet" section was funny, irreverent, and not afraid to have a point of view. And it also reminds us that the enemies of the Church are not only without but also within. Keep it up.
Your cover article by William Reichert was insightful, and I enjoyed immensely "A Hitchhiker's Guide to Kolob." Keep up the good work, and in between the puppet shows on the altar and dances of the seven veils, I'll keep you in my prayers.
Robert E. Brennan
Van Nuys, California
This Man Needs a Modem
The magazine is terrific. It is exactly what we Catholics need to understand and defend our faith in an adult manner. As a cradle Catholic and parochial school student, much of my understanding of the Catholic faith was at the catechism level. Your publications have helped me to see the depth involved in our faith.
I thought I should tell you which was my favorite article, but it would be hard to choose. I enjoyed finding out about the Catholic Information Network bulletin board. Now I just have to get a modem and learn how to use it.
Thin, Smart, and Sad?
Congratulations on the first issue of This Rock. I do, however, feel concerned about the tone of some of the writing that appears. For example, the phrase that struck me when I saw the front cover [of the January 1990 issue] was "fat, dumb, and happy."
I think it was in bad taste. Quite a few of your readers may be fat; that makes them neither dumb nor happy. The phrase was out of place in an otherwise excellent conversion story.
I enjoyed reading about the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, and would like to hear more about vocations programs, religious education programs, evangelization programs, RCIA, religious communities, and individuals who are making a positive difference in promoting and strengthening our faith.
Self Deprecation Gone Awry
I was offended by [William Reichert's] remark about himself as "fat, dumb, and happy." It came so quickly after his reference to himself as a "rather complaisant Evangelical Protestant" that I wondered if that was his opinion of other Evangelical Protestants.
Mrs. Robert Kelm
Stink of Indifferentism
I found a disturbing statement by William Reichert in an otherwise edifying article.
He states in his penultimate paragraph, "I am not arguing that Evangelicals cannot be saved unless they join the Catholic Church surely they can be saved, and the Catholic Church so teaches." I do believe Mr. Reichert should have qualified that remark, or else the uninformed get the impression it doesn't matter what false Christian sect one belongs to, he will be saved.
When I read that unqualified statement of Mr. Reichert's, I smelled the stink of religious indifferentism, which was formalized by the liberals of Vatican II and which is a gross insult to the majesty of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Jerry C. Meng
William Reichert replies: Starting at the opposite ends of my article, Mrs. Heuser, Mrs. Kelm and Mr. Meng have, ironically, arrived at opposite views of my intent. I am neither religiously indifferent nor intolerant concerning Evangelical Protestants. The complaisancy that I poked fun at was my own, not theirs, but I think it is not atypical of that of many well-meaning Evangelicals.
Most Evangelicals I know have been so convinced that they are absolutely correct that they cannot even begin to consider the claims of the Catholic Church.
It would not occur to me to poke fun at my Evangelical Protestant brothers, but my experience has been that in private (and sometimes in public) they are only too willing to mock the Church and all Catholics who give their full allegiance to the Church.
On the other hand, my continuing love and admiration for Evangelicals does not mean that I believe that everyone is right, no one is wrong, and that we'll all go to heaven regardless of the faith we hold. If I believed that, I would not regard my own entry into the Church as important.
But I do, for outside the Church there is no salvation. All who are saved are saved through the Catholic Church, whether they know it or not, by employing the graces they receive, however limited they may be outside the Church. Thus some of my Evangelical friends may find on Judgment Day that they have been Catholics unaware. But surely at the very least it is imprudent to stay outside the visible Church solely in the hope that God is an indifferent ecumenist.
Keep Speaking Out
This is just what the doctor ordered for a "Church in chains." You are not afraid to speak out against television evangelists who put down the Church and others who really abhor our dogmas and beliefs. We surely need this type of magazine to instruct our people not to be afraid to speak out in defense of our holy faith.
Catholic Through and Through
I am especially pleased that your group seems to have a healthy, whole view of what the Church has and has not been.
Too often, those committed to apologetics seem to have an ahistorical view of the Church and are unwilling to acknowledge change in practice and development in doctrine. That brand of apologetics is anxious, unthinking, and dishonest. It's simply not helpful.
I'm also turned off by apologetics materials that are steeped with a "conservative" viewpoint. I suppose that most are because we "liberals" are so darned tolerant, we don't want to offend anyone by affirming the truth and distinctiveness of our faith.
But I happen to be one of those happy Catholics who was trained in Church history (M.A., Vanderbilt) and in the mainstream of "moderate/progressive" theology, ecclesiology, and biblical studies, is a feminist (pro-life at that), hopeful for future development in the Church, but who, despite all appearances to the contrary, is Catholic through and through.
Sometimes I feel as if groups and individuals engaged in apologetics see me as an even more urgent target than are Protestants.
Let's Reach Non-Believers Too
I have just received and read the inaugural issue of This Rock. It is one of the finest new publications I have ever seen. And in terms of current need, my only comment is, "Why did it take so long to get published?"
Many that I talk to are not Christian of any stripe whatsoever. Some don't even believe in God. My problem is to convince others that our Bible is indeed a work inspired by God and that Christianity is a logical and valid continuation of the religion of Abraham. Most of my Evangelical and Fundamentalist friends (I am still not sure of the difference) seem to be unable to defend their beliefs at the very basic levels.
But even Catholic scholars are falling for the rationalists' theories that the Gospels were written by the "Christian community" at the end of the first century and so are of very questionable historical accuracy. Hence there is also a need for Christian, as opposed to Roman Catholic, apologetics.
He Disliked Review of His Book
Some of the statements made by Patrick Madrid in his review [This Rock, February 1990] of my book Why You Should Believe in the Trinity: An Answer to Jehovah's Witnesses (Baker, 1989) seem to me deserving of response.
Madrid claims that I made an "elementary blunder" by identifying Tertullian as the first person to use the term "Trinity" even though Theophilus used it earlier.
First, I was quite well aware of Theophilus.
Second, as Madrid points out, Theophilus used the Greek trias while Tertullian used the Latin trinitas, from which our word "Trinity" actually derives.
Third, all I said was that Tertullian developed the use of the word "Trinity," not that he invented it.
Madrid also claims that when I argue that the Jehovah's Witnesses' views must be wrong because there was no group in the early church holding views comparable to theirs, I should admit that Protestant Evangelicalism (my own tradition) falls by the same argument.
The early church, Madrid argues, held to Catholic views on the "Eucharist, the priesthood, sacraments, and purgatory." I would dispute this claim, but won't take space to argue the matter here. But these doctrinal matters are less fundamental than one's doctrine of God, which was the subject of my book.
Unless Madrid thinks all Protestants are lost, he must concede that there are whole Christian groups which do not adhere to the Catholic view on these things.
But he would surely agree that any group denying the Trinity must be regarded as non-Christian. It is thus legitimate to argue that to be Christian a group must agree with the early church in its view of God but not necessarily in its view of everything else.
Finally, Madrid claims that "since the Bible isn't auto-interpreting, neither Bowman nor the Watchtower can appeal to an infallible authority to validate their scriptural interpretations."
But we agree that the Bible is itself an infallible authority. And it's not only the Bible that isn't "auto-interpreting" - the creeds, conciliar statements, papal decrees, etc., also need to be interpreted. Thus there really is no escaping fallibility on our side.
Nor do we need to escape it all we need is to trust in the infallibility of what God has said. Assuming you're not willing to speak of post-biblical pronouncements as the word of God, you really have no basis for viewing them as infallible.
Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
Patrick Madrid replies: My criticisms of Mr. Bowman's book are not directed at him but at his methods and conclusions. 1'd like to make three points in response to his letter.
(1) If, as Mr. Bowman explains, he "was quite well aware" Theophilus of Antioch used the word Trinity before Tertullian, why does his book imply the opposite? It seems to say Tertullian invented the doctrine - at least that's how I took it, and I suspect other readers will take it that way too.
This is a minor issue, to be sure, but a cavalier approach to the details of Church history (or to clear writing) does not strengthen an apologist's efforts to refute the errors of the Watchtower.
(2) Mr. Bowman seems to misunderstand my criticism of his argument from history: "Unless Madrid thinks all Protestants are lost [a position I do not hold], he must concede that there are whole Christian groups which do not adhere to the Catholic view on these things. " This is true, and we have no quarrel on this point.
I also concur that belief in the Trinity is a crucial criterion in determining if a group is Christian.
The larger question arising from Mr. Bowman's argument from history is not whether some Christian groups disagree with Catholic doctrines such as the Eucharist, but whether or not the early Church was in fact Catholic.
I suspect the real reason Mr. Bowman declines to dispute my claim that the early Church was Catholic, not Protestant, is that he is stymied on this point. I welcome efforts on his part to demonstrate otherwise.
(3) Catholics don't argue that ecumenical creeds, conciliar statements, and papal decrees are auto-interpreting. They are not-nor, as Mr. Bowman admits, is the Bible. They all rely on the magisterial authority of the Catholic Church, which produced them, to interpret and promulgate them accurately.
The Lord Jesus established his Church, the household of God, to be the guardian and infallible interpreter of the gospel. It is his Church, "the pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tim. 3:15), which safeguards orthodoxy.
I remind Mr. Bowman that, were it not for the guardianship of the Catholic Church for the fifteen centuries preceding the Reformation, Evangelical Protestants would know nothing of the doctrine of the Trinity - nor would they have a Bible with which to defend it.