From reading my posts, some might think that all my communications with Catholics or former Catholics are hostile confrontations. Not so, as the following online exchange demonstrates. His words are in bold face.
I am always pleased to hear from former Catholics, and especially so when that person has worn the chains of Romanism for decades. You have identified a simple fact that all who deal with those submitted to the Catholic Church and her pope should be aware of. Indeed, there is no magic verse or passage that, when uttered to a committed Catholic, will cause him to jump up, disavow his relationship with that cult and instead begin to follow the Jesus Christ of Scripture. Proof text evangelism simply does not work—at least in my experience.
As you wrote, as often as not, the Catholic Church uses her particular interpretation of that same verse or passage to support some item of her doctrine. When I am examining a Catholic teaching or practice, I often provide exegesis of the Scripture Mother Church presents as support for the issue under study. I do not expect that the result of the study will turn on a light in the mind or heart of my Catholic antagonist, for that would, literally, require a miracle. Rather, it is my hope that I may plant a seed that the Holy Spirit will bring to life within the breast of the individual at some future time. We know from Romans 10 and 1 Corinthians 3 that such might be the case.
My own wife, along with almost all my relatives and in-laws, are Catholic, to one degree or another. I have devoted countless hours to discussing and teachings with them, with few observable results. Bear in mind that the Catholic Church plants its hooks into a child just weeks after birth and, through his parents and godparents, begins a process of conditioning that never lets up. For many, perhaps almost all, who are born into Catholicism, it must seem as though to turn aside from that cult and instead seek the Lord where He might be found would be tantamount to ending life as they know it. A similar reaction is seen in men and women who have spent many years in prison, where almost every decision and life choice is made for them. When they leave prison, they no longer know how to fend for themselves. If you have seen the movie Shawshank Redemption, recall the scene where Red is working in a supermarket following his release. He could not bring himself to go to the rest room without raising his hand and asking the "boss" for permission. After so many years as a prisoner, Red was a fish out of water in the free world. So, also, would be many Catholics, were they to move out from under the wing of the Romish cult.
Like you, I have been praying to God for the salvation of my loved ones. I believe this to be the very best thing one can do. A close second would be to live in such a way that your life is a Christian witness and that your loved ones might see Christ in you. As for other resources, I urge you to navigate around Mike Gendron's Proclaiming the Gospel site. Another site that might be helpful is What Every Catholic Should Know. Former Catholic priest Richard Bennett has a lot to say at his Berean Beacon site.
Naah, not anger. Just straight talk about serious issues. In this age in which it sometimes seems as though being politically correct were more important than being factually correct, many Americans appear to have become hypersensitive to anything other than Winnie-the-Pooh language. One of the often-overlooked aspects of political correctness is that there are few imperatives. Upon receiving a politically correct teaching, the recipient has the politically correct freedom to reject the teaching and instead choose some other politically correct course of action.
Souls are in the balance. What could be more serious than that? It is fine to be extra sensitive when watching an emotional movie or at a wedding, but when eternity is the issue, I say cast sensitivities aside and deal in hard facts and straight talk.
I have often been confronted by folks who find fault with my at times less-than-front-parlor language. That is their right and privilege. I am usually not bothered by these opinions. On the other hand, I frequently am saddened when they haul out the "God is Love" or "What Would Jesus Do" arguments, for this informs me that their relationship to the Lord may be founded on the shifting sands of good feelings and happy talk.
To folks such as these, I point out that God pulled no punches, as the Old Testament record clearly shows. The Canaanites had offended God, and so He sent Joshua and the Hebrew nation to wipe them out. He became so upset with the way the world was going that He called up a great flood to wipe out all of mankind, except for eight souls—Noah and his family. God has enemies, and He tells us in the Scriptures that He hates them. As you read the following passage, does this call to mind a God who is at all times gentle and loving?
I invite you to think on Jesus' ministry as recorded in the Gospels. He was a compassionate Man, and gentle. Yet there were times when He took off the velvet glove and called a spade a spade. Think of the straight talk in Matthew 23, when He slammed into the scribes and Pharisees. Think of His anger and physical action when He cleaned the Temple of moneychangers and animal sellers. Reflect on Jesus' emotional state as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus Christ was and is God, but He also lived among us as the perfect Man. That perfect man was quite willing to deal in straight talk during His ministry; should we shy away from doing so as we strive to walk in His footsteps?
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