Ecclesiasticus 4:28

"Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side."

Ora pro nobis,

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Dominic. Amen.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Catholicism: Letters to Daniel (Postscript)

Unfortunately, due to the way the conversation progressed at Facebook while I was on vacation, Daniel chose to leave the conversation and deleted all further replies to me and to anyone else. As such our conversation could not continue there. This is what Daniel sent me in an email on that matter:

Why.. Why is the Catholic Church so full of spiritual pride?

The main thing I learned from discussing in that group, (Which is part of the reason I left.) is that every one thinks that if you don't belong to the Catholic Church, you're wrong. I was talking to my Mother who grew up Catholic for quite a while, and she totally agreed that the Catholic Church is full of Spiritual Pride. You're the only one that seems reasonable enough to deal with.

By the way, what's up with the Hate of Martin Luther? Seriously, I applaud the man for separating from much of what is seemingly un-Biblical. I mean, almost none of the rituals and traditions which we were discussing are in the Bible except for Communion.
I replied:
Hey Daniel,
You left the conversation? I hadn't been back since my last post before I left for vacation. I'm not sure what happened there.

As for spiritual pride, I think that's an epithet that could be strewn about any number of denominations. I used to think that Pentecostals had the monopoly on that worst of sins (as a Pentecostal, my friends and I even dubbed our particular brand "Pentecostal Pride").

Ultimately, I think it's a very difficult thing for most people to really and truly believe that they are right, and therefore others are wrong, and at the same time not to come off as feeling superior to the others with whom they disagree. It's perhaps especially hard for Catholics who, as a matter of faith, believe that when their Church pronounces definitively on an issue of faith or morals, it cannot be wrong. Properly applied to life, it gives one a great assurance in the love and guidance of the Holy Spirit, protecting His Church from teaching error. But put into the hands of zealous, but immature would-be apologists, it becomes rather a club with which to batter others into submission.

Thank you for the compliment on my own reasonability. I have been specifically trying to follow the motto of many, many great saints--Hard on yourself, easy on others--as well as style my conversation after my favourite author and apologist, G.K. Chesterton (whose book, The Everlasting Man, was influential in the conversion of C.S. Lewis). Chesterton had several debates and discussions in his day with Christians and non-Christians of all stripes, including several with avowed atheist, George Bernard Shaw. While their ideas were fiercely opposed, their debates were always conducted with grace, humility, and gentleness, and in fact, Chesterton considered Shaw to be one of his best friends! We in the apologetics business might learn a lot from Chesterton's example--and I am trying to.

As for Luther, if "hate" is the right word, then I think it stems from the fact that what he ended up doing (whether he meant to or not is up for debate) was to sunder Christianity into thousands of little pieces, instead of the one cohesive whole it is meant to be. And the fact that his rejection of Catholicism was accompanied by a great amount of ire, which has filtered down to the present quite often in many Protestant groups (many of whom deny that Catholicism is, in fact, a Christian religion), it might be forgiven to the Catholics that you have encountered that they have a return antipathy towards him.

As for the rituals and traditions which we were discussing, and their place in the Bible, I confess to having forgotten the greater part of the discussion. I will have to read through it all again and sort it out. Furthermore, since Martin Luther himself was the first person that ever said that a ritual or tradition had to be clearly found in the Bible in order to be valid (AKA, Sola Scriptura), you may want to point out why it is that rejecting something simply because it isn't clearly found in Scripture is, in fact, a good thing. As a matter of fact, perhaps you could point out where in Scripture it says that a thing must be found in Scripture in order to be believed or practiced.

Anyway, that little teaser is an invitation to continue our discussion in this more private venue, free of the unfortunately more arrogant and less charitable Catholics which you have had the misfortune of enduring. You are gone, I believe you said, until the 11th, which should give me enough time to finish reading through the rest of the discussion since I left.

I really enjoyed our conversation, and I hope we will indeed continue.
God bless
Unfortunately, as I said, Daniel (or someone else) deleted his further replies in the discussion. Since that time, he has left Facebook altogether, and so I have lost touch with him. Thus this series has run to its rather sad conclusion--a cautionary tale against triumphalistic apologetics, if nothing else. If I ever hear from and continue dialoguing with Daniel in the future, I will continue posting more "Letters" here.

God bless,

(Category: The Church: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus--The Church and other Christian denominations)


Joni said...

I am saddened and disappointed that things have ended the way they have. I know there are many over-zealous individuals througout Christiandom that think they have to "win" a debate, but usually drive their "opponent" away, rather than draw them in. Very, very sad.

I agree with Daniel, though. You have handled his inquiries with grace. I can only pray he will continue to seek out the truth.

God bless.

Gregory said...

Thanks so much for your comments, Joni. They meant a lot to me right now.

I too hope Daniel keeps searching. Keep him in your prayers.