I, Gregory, am a fairly recent convert to Catholicism from Pentecostal Protestantism (Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada). I converted in 2004 after more than 3 years of really digging in and researching the Catholic Faith (often to the neglect of my other studies). I had been brought up in the Pentecostal Church by two loving Christian people (my parents), who taught me to know and love Our Saviour, Jesus. When I converted to Catholicism, understandably they took it somewhat hard, though they have been loving and supportive of me all the same. The subject and reasons for my conversion are things that I am not overly free to discuss with them still, because of the emotional tension, and the respect and honour that I have for them.
However, recently, in their mailbox, my mom found a pamphlet or booklet titled "Be Careful of Protestant Teachings." It had no other identification--who sent it, or what organisation published it, except for its website, www.catholicquest.info, which, because of its name, caused my mom to believe that this was a Catholic publication. At first, I think that she thought that I had put it in the mailbox, and after I told her I hadn't, she criticised the methodology of an organisation that would evangelise with such a rude, frontal attack on a person's beliefs. Saying that I didn't think this technique sounded very "Catholic" from my experience of Catholics evangelising (Does that happen? ;-) ), I asked her to tell me about its contents. The segments that she read to me sounded very not Catholic at all, and in a few places contradicted Catholic teaching as well as Protestant teaching. I went to the website to try to contact these people, but there is no contact option anywhere. While I was there, however, I found out that the publication that my mom received was posted in its entirety on the site.
Seeing as I am unable to reply directly to the catholicquest.info people, and seeing that I have such an otherwise difficult time discussing my faith with my parents, I have decided with the advent of this new blog, to respond point-by-point to the publication, "Be Careful of Protestant Teachings."
Note, Catholicquest.info should not be confused with the reputably Catholic "catholicquest.org". However, the similarities do help obfuscate the true affiliation of the group at hand.
Their homepage states:
With turmoil, uncertainty, terror and moral decay being the order of the day, more and more sincere Catholics are turning to the Savior Jesus for answers. This website is designed for those seeking to re-discover the universal (catholic) teachings of Jesus about life, truth, and the way of peace and ultimate happiness.("www.catholicquest.info", Homepage)A few things to note are
May the intercessory prayer of Jesus Christ the Redeemer be fulfilled:"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17).
1. The statement "more and more sincere Catholics are turning to the Savior Jesus for answers." On the surface, this statement seems harmless enough. But beneath it is the assumption that, typically, Catholics don't seek Jesus.
2. It goes on to imply that the large-C Catholic needs to rediscover a different, small-c catholic teaching of Jesus, because the Catholic Church's teachings aren't quite up to par. Yet still, this opening is ambiguous at best. Are they Catholic or aren't they? The answer only truly becomes clear in their article about Protestant teachings (ironically).
Quickly, a breakdown of the 12 "chapters" of "Be Careful of Protestant Teachings":
1-Christ's InvitationIn this post, I will only and briefly deal with the first 2 chapters, since they are mostly uncontroversial. My main goal in responding to this publication is not the history of the Church but the beliefs taught by this group, and their identity.
2-Who are the Protestants
3-Eternal Burning Torment
4-Life After Death
5-The End Time Judgment
6-The Lord's Day
7-Christ Our Full Salvation
9-Christ, Our Example
11-The Man Jesus Christ
12-Acceptance and Assurance ("Be Careful of Protestant Teachings", Table of Contents)
Chapter 1: Christ's Invitation is a largely uncontroversial introduction exhorting through various appeals to Scripture to study and know our faith, so that we are not deceived by false teachings. It says nothing negative about either Protestants or Catholics, and still leaves us with the question of "who are these guys?"
Chapter 2: Who Are the Protestants proposes to give a very brief history of the Church, focussing mainly on the origins of Protestantism, and especially their name. It highlights the divisions that spread throughout Protestantism early and rapidly, but points out that the thing that they all have in common is the belief in "Sola Scriptura".
In other words they rejected church tradition as a basis of faith and practice and accepted the concept that "the Bible and the Bible alone is the foundation of faith and practice." Yet a study of the history of most Protestant churches demonstrates that they were much more likely to express this concept of "sola scriptura" rather than to follow it and most of them have fallen back to human tradition at least to a significant extent. ("Be Careful", chapter 2)Here finally we begin to catch a glimpse of what's really going on. The people at Catholicquest are criticising the Protestants, not for their belief in sola scriptura, which Catholics don't believe, but for not practicing sola scriptura, which means that this group seems to believe in sola scriptura, and it critiques Protestant teachings that they feel aren't based on that principle.
The very next paragraph seems to confirm that:
In this booklet our aim is to help Roman Catholics, as well as Protestants, examine some of the most prominent beliefs commonly held by a majority of Protestants around the world to help the reader understand these beliefs and to evaluate them from the perspective of the claim to "sola scriptura."(Ibid.)The goal of this site is to help both Catholics and Protestants decipher the truth of Protestant claims. This still can sort of sound as though the Catholics are being helped to defend themselves against these beliefs, but when we actually examine them in depth, we'll find, ironically, that this attack on Protestantism is an indirect appeal to Catholics to join the affiliation of the group publishing the piece.
This is ironic for two reasons. #1, they're trying to convert Catholics by telling them that Protestantism (which Catholics already don't believe) is wrong (thanks for the tip). #2, the organisation that publishes this caution never actually reveals what tradition, denomination, sect, or religion it is that they themselves belong to!
Over the next little while, I will comprehensively respond to each of the 10 topics that are brought up in "Be Careful of Protestant Teachings," chapters 3-12. We'll examine what they teach, what Catholicism believes, and what the Bible really says about it.
(Category: The Church: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus--The Church and other Christian denominations)