Readers Who Do Not Read

We are told, by people who ought to know, that there are some one billion souls bound to the Roman Catholic Church. A few of those lost souls find their way to this forum, where they may read some of the posts that expose the dirty linen of the RCC.

Not every visitor is pleased with what he reads here. This comes as no surprise. After all, most of what is available here is not at all complementary to the cult to which he is bound by faith and fear. Hopefully, he will be moved to investigate more thoroughly the issues raised here. Hopefully, he will come to a realization that much of what the Roman Catholic Church does and teaches is in conflict with what God Himself has told us in the Scriptures.

A few, upset by what they read, are moved to defend Catholicism, some in this forum and others by email. Most of the email articles generate has nothing to do with errors or oversights. My Catholic correspondents, for the greater part, appear more interested in discussing my character than in addressing what they read. Some appear to have written in the heat of passion, perhaps immediately after reading something that shined the light of truth into the dark corners of their Catholic beliefs. Generally, they appear either not to have read carefully or to have read meanings that my words were not meant to convey.

I respond to most of the email I receive, though not to those that contain only invective and insults. In just about every response, I inform the recipient that unsupported opinion gives me no reason to examine and, perhaps, modify what I have written. I ask for sound arguments based on facts, not opinions or feelings. Moreover, I urge them to document their arguments from reliable sources, in order that I might check them for myself. I do this in my writing, I expect it from those who dispute some issue with me. In that I am not Roman Catholic and bound to assent to the teachings of the RCC, I make it clear that arguments supported solely by appeals to the Magisterium or Tradition are valueless as far as I am concerned. Similarly, calling up the opinions of early church fathers is a waste of time -- I likely can point to another church father who held an opposing opinion. Rome claims to consider the Bible authoritative, and so do I (less the Apocrypha). Therefore, in our exchanges, the Bible will be the final authority on matters of doctrine as far as I am concerned.

Once I have made this clear, the exchange usually closes. Now and then, a correspondent will continue to press his case, providing no support other than his opinions. Some, however, take another tack, as the following example shows.

In my article Mary the Mediatrix, I drew heavily from a Marian devotional/fantasy published by The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary – clearly a group devoted to Mary. Among the quotes taken from the devotional was:

"The charity of this Mother of Love excels in perfection that of all the saints in Heaven...We must make use of her as our Mediatrix with her Divine Son, if we wish to obtain the Holy Ghost. True, we could go direct to God and ask Him for His grace without the Blessed Virgin…but God has not so willed it. -- Francis de Sales, quoted by The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in The Mother of God, St. Benedict Center (1957), p. 113)"

Notice that I declared the above to be a quotation and identified where I had gotten it, right down to the page number. Following the quoted words of Saint Francis de Sales, I added some thoughts of my own:

As has been often repeated on this board, the movement to make Mary Mediatrix of God's grace has been around for some time. Did you notice in de Sales' words the implication that one cannot receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit without going through Mary? This is new to me.

I have seen any number of attempts to arrogate the work of Jesus to Mary, but this is the first time I have seen her portrayed as controlling the Holy Spirit. I suppose it makes sense to some, especially those who would redefine the Godhead to include Father, Mother, Son and Holy Spirit. I find nothing in the Scriptures that even hints at the need to go through Mary to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. In fact, biblical accounts do not mention her having anything to do with God's salvific program, other than her role in the incarnation of the Word. The Holy Spirit is God. He needs no one to open the door for Him.

Apparently, something in these words caused a knee-jerk response in at least one person. This individual scolded me, taking a rather unusual (in my experience) approach for a Catholic pseudo-apologist. He charged me with editing the words of de Sales in order to make them suit my purpose.

Naughty boy Ron, what have you done with this quote from St Francis De Sales? Where is the missing section following the word Virgin? Cunning Ron, and again dishonest. You changed the meaning of the saints words by deleting a section and then joining it with other words from the same discourse. Oh, beware the unwary! Is this your version of apologetics? Ron, you are totally transparent. Fancy that Ron, doctoring the words of a doctor of the Church. Shame!"

There is no way to know whether he failed to notice that I had mentioned having taken those words from a Catholic source or if he simply chose to ignore that fact. Clearly, he did not trouble himself to go to the source document to see for himself whether I indeed had changed anything (I had not.). Rather, he took a swing at me, impugning my character.

Interesting that he should find fault with me for editing a quotation (which I did not do) to make it fit my purpose. I believe it is common practice for writers to cite quotations taken from larger works of other writers. Certainly, it would be impractical to quote entire documents in order to make a point. It is enough to quote pertinent portions, identifying the source so that those interested might search out and read it.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is salted with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of brief citations from Scripture, from church fathers, from Catholic theologians and from popes and bishops in council – many of which not only were selected out of context, but were given meanings clearly different from what the source originally intended. I wonder how many times my antagonist has written to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to complain and to accuse them of having intentionally altered the meaning of quotations used in the CCC? Probably not once?

This is often the way Catholic pseudo-apologists I have encountered deal with truth that makes them uncomfortable. They seem not to be interested in addressing the issue itself – perhaps they lack the ability – preferring instead to deal in ad hominems. Personal attacks do nothing to change what has been written, nor do they influence me to take a critical look at my words. If I am to make any changes in something I wrote, I must be shown, with conclusive evidence, that I was wrong. I am teachable, but not naïve. Show me why I was wrong, or save us both bandwidth.

I believe that no man is perfect, and and no product of man's ingenuity can be perfect. Therefore, seeking perfect truth in the product of man, any man, seems a search that cannot succeed. God, on the other hand IS perfect, and perfect truth is to be found in His Revelation to man – the Sacred Scriptures. Seek it trruth in your Bible, not the dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church.

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