The Holy Spirit Made Me Do It!
I thought you might be interested in how I find myself "forced" to consider the Roman Catholic Church.
I have been on a search for "the church" for several years. I started out in the Southern California Jesus movement in the early seventies. I directed a portion of the youth ministries at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa [California] and attended an Assemblies of God college. As a fruit of my seminary studies I moved to Presbyterianism.
A few things over the past couple of years are causing me to keep growing in my understanding of the church. The first concerns the Evangelical understanding of marriage, divorce, and remarriage.
As a result of reading Jesus and Divorce by Heth and Wenham [two Protestant writers], I found myself strongly agreeing with the teaching of the Catholic Church.
Reading the Apostolic Fathers and some other early church history led me to appreciate a "higher church" setting. Quite frankly, I would have preferred Anglicanism or the Orthodox Church, but ran into the divorce issue except in some of the small branches of Anglicanism.
I am very involved in the pro-life movement, particularly through Operation Rescue. Having spent time in jail in close proximity with some extremely devout Catholics has had a major impact upon my view of Roman Catholics.
A final area attracting me to the Catholic Church is in its teaching on procreation. I believe that the major pro-life battle of the 1990s will be over chemical abortions. I am terribly afraid that Christians who have fallen for chemical killing via contraception will be powerless and "saltless" to stop the chemical killing via abortion. The lives of millions of preborn children hinge on spreading the Catholic message on procreation.
Thanks for your wonderful ministry. I would appreciate your prayers for my spiritual pilgrimage.
Rev. Stephen Wood
Confusion in Honduras
I am working in western Honduras, after having spent my first five years of priesthood in Hispanic ministry in New York City. The work here is challenging, poverty is severe, educational and job opportunities for young people are extremely limited.
Most of our work is in the training of lay men and women as Delegates of the Word of God and catechists. In the absence of priests, the laity celebrate the Liturgy of the Word in the small and not so small villages of our parishes. The priests visit many of the villages only two or three times a year.
As you can well imagine, the knowledge of the Catholic faith is essential for the spiritual well-being of the Delegates and our communities of faith. As in most places in Latin America, Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, Assemblies of God, and Mormons are spreading their influence.
In our town there are a number of Evangelical churches and an Evangelical radio station. The situation here is not negative or black as far as the Catholic Church is concerned. The lay people who serve as spiritual leaders in their communities are faithful, and their dedication is admirable.
Yet, we must be realistic. There is much spiritual confusion due to ignorance of the Catholic faith and attacks against it.
Rev. Peter J. Danaher
Nueva Ocotepeque, Honduras
Tackling Mormon "Elders"
As a subscriber to Catholic Answers [the predecessor publication to This Rock] for several years, and having just completed a reading of [Karl Keating's] Catholicism and Fundamentalism, I've taken a big step toward my front door and listened to two Mormon elders. Both individuals were less than twenty-five years old.
Earlier, I had been washing my car in the drive and saw the two at my neighbor's house and figured they'd be at mine soon. As I washed I thought about my approach if they did come. Should I ignore them or politely brush them off? Or should I chat with them for a while and "get my feet wet"?
Well, I chose the latter, and with one foot keeping the dogs back, I decided to listen outside. The coolness of the air did not help my nervousness. My knees shook and my voice trembled when I responded to their canned speech.
The younger of the two seemed to misfire repeatedly, then was helped along by the other--"Joseph Smith founded Mormonism in 1930, er, 1830."
I searched my memory for some of Patrick Madrid's excellent commentaries, but to no avail. For the most part our dialogue was tenuous at best. They claimed their belief in the Book of Mormon was based on an answer to prayer in search of truth!
I asked them, "If I prayed similarly and determined that the Book of Mormon was untrue, then who is right, you or me?"
They simply answered, "Well, if that's what happened to you, that's fine." When I pressed a little more on this same issue, the subject was changed. Our meeting lasted only ten minutes. I made them nervous when I mentioned I had some literature for them. The elders were not interested in anti-Mormon tracts. I mentioned that these were different and that, like myself, they were not anti-Mormon.
My meeting ended with a shake of hands and a new resolve on my part to reread the Mormon commentaries in your publications.
Mountlake Terrace, Washington
I'm Okay, You're Hopeless
Mr. unsaved Roman Catholic; you and your blasphemous "Mass" ... . "The wrath of Almighty God abides on you" (John 3:36; Matt. 25:41; Rev. 14:9-12)! Yes, very true; to you unsaved Roman Catholics, I am a "frenzied, wild-eyed anti-Catholic."
And the original King James Version of the Bible is, in your mind, a "heretical Bible alone theory."
Even if you were able to eat Christ's flesh and drink his blood, it wouldn't do you any good "because it is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
But you will not and cannot understand or believe because you are a "goat" at the left. You are not of the "sheep of God" or even a "lost sheep."
You, Mr. Unsaved Roman Catholic, are a "goat" and Christ died only for the sheep. And a goat does not become a sheep at conversion. Another lesson in "divine election."
You have been Roman Catholics too long. "You are a people of no understanding" (Isa.27:11). You are unsaved "goats" to the left (Matt. 25:41). You are "tares" that will soon be gathered and burned in the fire (everlasting fire--Rev. 14:9-12).
William Carr, Jr.
It's Hard to Like 'Em
I love your ministry. I am so proud to be a Catholic; with your help the truth is so obvious. I hope that someday you can have a radio program to combat people like CRI [Christian Research Institute, which produces the "Bible Answer Man" show].
Last week they had a special on the Pope, and I was sick after hearing them run the Vatican down to the ground. I know as Christians we should love our brothers, but there are times it is so hard.
Woodland Hills, California
Priest Survives Attack!
What a fantastic job you are doing with Catholic Answers! Having been ordained eight years ago as a product of one of our "new, updated" seminaries, I barely knew what apologetics was. We were well trained in making people feel good with banners and candles, but as far as explaining the faith. . . Catholic Answers has filled a void in my training as a priest. Keep up your excellent work.
Our cathedral was "attacked" by some Fundamentalist group over the weekend. Dozens of large posters decrying all the standard "Catholic inventions" were plastered on a fence around our church.
Normally I would have been upset, but having been armed with a much greater understanding of who we are as the Roman Catholic Church, I was very able to explain and teach to some parishioners who were taken aback by the "attack."
Rev. Gregory Kirsch
CRI's Catholic Bashing
There is a daily radio call-in program on station WABC in New York called "The Bible Answer Man" which bothers me. They are associated with the Christian Research Institute of San Juan Capistrano, California.
Two speakers (co-hosts) [Craig Hawkins and Paul Cardin] do a very subtle job on our Catholic faith, particularly criticisms of the Pope, the Blessed Mother, and Catholic theology.
Just recently they devoted a whole hour to a tape of [the late] Walter Martin in which he cleverly debunks the claims of the Catholic Church on being built on the Rock of Peter. He also went on to challenge our Holy Father as the Vicar of Christ, successor of Peter, infallibility, one true church, the bad popes, Luther, Protestantism, etc.
Do you have anything on CRI or material constructively critical of their positions or that of Walter Martin?
Manhasset, New York
No More BS on This BBS
I am a computer lover. I communicate frequently on what are known as computer bulletin boards, systems whereby computer users may exchange messages with one another and carry on several conversations simultaneously.
Approximately seven months ago I entered the religion conference (or specific topic area) of a bulletin board, having always been interested in religious matters.
What I found was a collection of born-again Christians, most of whom were confirming their anti-Catholic beliefs with one another. To many of their charges I was stupefied, and I began to wonder if some of their claims might not be valid. As that point I had nowhere to turn.
A few days later a fellow Catholic entered the conference, an apparent convert from Fundamentalism. On the question of the Eucharist he quoted from parts of Catholicism and Fundamentalism. I was amazed--there was actually a reasonable answer to the Fundamentalist charges. About a month later I picked up a copy of Catholicism and Fundamentalism and read it all in the space of three days.
I am now an active member of the religion conference and have found myself very capable of defending the Catholic faith. (In fact, I have become the "Catholic expert" on the conference.) To the old charges which once confounded me I can now give intelligent replies.
I have learned more about my faith in the last five months than in all my years of religious education. And the more I learn, the more I am convinced the Catholic Church is the true church Christ founded.
Despite this, there are still several die-hard Fundamentalists who are sticking to their anti-Catholic garbage. I would ask your prayers on their behalf, that they may come to see through some of their bigotry. I would ask, also, for your prayers on behalf of all those Catholics who are confused about their faith and who are leaning toward Fundamentalism.
Stephen J. Konig
On the March in Nigeria
We are a group member of a Society known as the Catholic Youths Movement. The establishment of this Movement was necessitated by the daily invading forces of the Fundamentalists. We refer to this force as Fundamentalists encroachment.
In various countries of the world, where Catholic Faith have been well established, they suffer attack from several non-Catholic denominational groups. This attack of the Catholic Faith is very much yielding to the Fundamentalists and they have greatly reduced the numbers in the Catholic Church.
Many are abandoning their Faith as stated by Christ in Matthew 24:10. Except meaningful and courageous steps are taken this will continue and many will give up their Faith to the Fundamentalists.
My country is not exceptional to this attack of the Fundamentalists against the Catholics. They are gradually taking over the country.
It is with the view of this that the Catholic Youths Movement was formed. The movement, to our knowledge, is synonymous to the Catholic Truth Society in England.
We are greatly concerned about the defense of the Catholic Faith. This implies that we must have to be very familiar with the Doctrines of the Church and also know the central Faith of the Fundamentalists. This is greatly to our advantage. It will help us to know how to handle the Fundamentalists. We are poised to convert these Fundamentalists, and we do this by spreading the truth about the mysteries of these late times. Many Fundamentalists are ignorant of the Truth when they were former Catholics.
Also it is our responsibility to make the remaining Catholics know the Facts about their Faith and the Falsehood of the Fundamentalists, and then make them realize the significance of practicing in Truth and with dedication the true Doctrine of God in the Catholic Church.
Pentecostals in the Pen
I am currently incarcerated at Watertown Correctional Facility at Watertown, New York. I have been a Catholic since birth but, like many of my brethren, I strayed along the way. One of the greatest miracles that has happened to me since my arrest in 1988 is that I have rediscovered my faith again.
When I was young, I dreamed of becoming a priest, but unfortunately did not feel as if I was worthy to become one. When a young man should make the right choices, many times he doesn't.
Since this situation that I have created myself, I have been discussing this with first my parish priest and secondly with the Catholic chaplain here. Both have encouraged me to pursue the religious life after my incarceration if this is what I desire. Therefore I have decided, if I am acceptable, to become a member of the Brothers of Bethany in Massachusetts, a Dominican order that allows ex-offenders to become a part of its ministerial society.
As you can see, there is a chance out there for anyone with faith and a conviction to pursue his faith, even if he has sunken to the depths. Praise our Lord Jesus Christ for your work; it is especially needed in an environment such as this.
Pentecostal Christianity is very widespread within this facility, and the evangelists are always ready to ply their trade against unsuspecting Catholics who are not well versed in their faith.
Thomas M. Loftus
Watertown, New York
Apologetics Is the Key
We have begun an evangelization movement in the parish, reaching out first to inactive Catholics. I have a distinct impression from the few people who have called asking about it that apologetics is going to be key with these people. (Some of the questions I've been asked have been real doozies.)
I know I can handle some of these toughies, but I doubt the laity involved with the process are equipped to effectively defend and explain Catholicism. There is a generation of uneducated Catholics out there who went through post-Vatican II CCD trash (I was one of them).
I haven't been exactly sure where to start or what to do or who to target first. Maybe the inactive Catholics are as good a place to start as any.
Rev. Christopher Heath
Newport Beach, California
The Shock of His Life
Regrettably, my godchild has left the Church to become a minister in the Assemblies of God. I was so grateful to have already read Catholicism and Fundamentalism because this past summer my godchild and I entered into a debate about the Church, and she was speechless in the arguments I was able to present.
Actually, I was shocked myself, too, in the ease I was able to recall facts from the book and in quoting passages from the Bible in defending the Catholic position.
Joseph G. Napoli, Jr.
Syracuse, New York
Mother Now Set to Grab Kids
As the mother of eight, I have seen three of my children turn to Fundamentalism, two to nothing, and one is a so-so Catholic. All but the youngest are very anti-Catholic. The two youngest are pre-teens, and I felt God gave me another chance with them. Your book helped me to understand what I was up against and showed me where to go as nothing else I have read. Thank you.