A Layman's Handbook for
Mary Ann Collins
|Because of the articles that I have written, I have received many e-mail letters from Catholic apologists (men and women who are trained and organized to defend the Catholic faith). I have also received many letters from people who have been confused and distressed by things that they have been told by Catholic apologists. The purpose of this paper is to demonstate some of the kinds of things that these apologists say, and some of the methods that they use.
Dr. Eric D. Svendsen wrote a book called "Upon This Slippery Rock: Countering Roman Catholic Claims to Authority". You can order it by phone from Calvary Press (800-789-8175). This book deals with some claims of authority that are made by the Catholic Church. It also demonstrates some tactics that are used by some Catholic apologists. The book is backed by impressive scholarship, and at times it is humorous.
The following information is quoted from Chapter 5, "A Layman's Handbook for Roman Catholic Apologetics". It is used with Dr. Svendsen's permission. These are long quotations. In order to make them more readable, I am not using quotation marks or indenting the quotations.
Following the quotations (in a separate section), I will describe some of the kinds of things that I have run into when corresponding with Catholic apologists.
Dr. Svendsen has a web site. So does Jason Engwer, a colleague who is quoted by Dr. Svendsen. Information about these web sites is given below.
New Testament Research Ministries (Dr. Eric D. Svendsen)
Christian Liberty (Jason Engwer)
QUOTATION FROM DR. SVENDSEN
[NOTE: In the guise of instructing Catholic apologists, Dr. Svendsen demonstrates some of the approaches that they use.]
WELCOME TO Catholic Responses 101, the final word on how to answer Protestant and anti-Catholic objections to the faith of the One True Church! When discussing issues of authority with a Protestant, keep in mind the following guidelines:
[This is followed by demonstrating what it would be like if Protestant apologists used the same techniques. For the sake of brevity, I have not quoted that material.]
How much easier our job as Evangelical apologists would be if we were simply to adopt the methodology of our Roman Catholic friends! Honesty, of course, compels us to move in other directions. This Roman Catholic apologetic methodology is perhaps at its worst in online Internet discussion forums. I have included below the comments of Jason Engwer, a colleague of mine and arguably one of the best online Evangelical apologists today. In his dealings with online Roman Catholic lay-apologists, he has made several humorous, yet insightful observations regarding the dubious methodology used to establish Rome's claim to authority over all of Christendom. Many of us who deal with Roman Catholic apologists on a regular basis regarding these issues can attest to the fact that what you are about to read is very real indeed! I leave you with Jason Engwer's list in its entirety:
This is what Dr. Svendsen and Jason Engwer say. I would like to add a few observations of my own.
I've had many Catholic apologists write to me. I've had them authoritatively tell me things which sounded impressive at first, but on closer examination they just didn't hold water. I'll give four examples.
(1) For centuries, the Catholic Church would not allow the Bible to be translated into English. It was only available in Latin. I was told that this was irrelevant because the common people were illiterate. They were unable to read and write. They would not have been able to read the Bible even if it had been available in English.
That sounded impressive, until I remembered that during Mass, the priests read passages from Scripture out loud. Even people who can't read are able to understand what they hear. If the Scripture passages had been read in English, then they would have understood them. I did some research and learned that when the Bible was finally translated into English, people packed the church where it was available. Men who were able to read took turns reading it out loud, from sunrise until sunset, while the crowds of people listened.
(2) John Henry Newman was an Anglican churchman who converted to Catholicism. He eventually became a cardinal. I was sent a quotation from Newman, who said that anybody who understands church history will be a Catholic.
The Anglican church was formed when King Henry VIII decided that he wanted to be the head of the Church of England instead of having the Pope be the head of it. The Anglican Church separated from the Catholic Church for political reasons, not doctrinal ones. So I can understand how Newman, who was an Anglican, came to his conclusion. However, C.S. Lewis, who was also an Anglican, did not agree with Newman. Lewis was a brilliant man who read Greek and Latin fluently, and he was an expert on history. He remained an Anglican, in spite of the attempts of his close friend J.R.R. Tolkien to convert him to Catholicism.
Newman's statement has absolutely no relevance to the Protestant Reformation. Luther was a monk. Calvin was studying for the priesthood. Zwingli, Knox and Tyndale were priests. These men all studied Scripture, and they realized that many Catholic doctrines and practices were contrary to Scripture. The leaders of the Protestant Reformation separated from the Catholic Church for doctrinal reasons.
(3) I was told that there are 25,000 different Protestant denominations. That's a staggering number, and it would indicate widespread disagreement among Protestants. So I decided to check it out. I looked in the "Yellow Pages" of my city under "churches". It listed Catholic churches, Orthodox churches, a few cults, and 73 varieties of Protestant churches. Of the Protestant varieties, many are obviously variations of the same thing. For example, it listed nine different kinds of Baptist churches. That is a far cry from 25,000 different Protestant denominations. (I've written about this in my paper, "False Credentials".)
(4) Catholic apologists have been trying to get me to deny my own personal history. When I was in the convent, at first I was a postulant, which is an outsider hoping to be allowed to get in. Then I was accepted into my religious order. I was given a religious habit and a new name. I was a novice, going through a period of training and preparation before making vows. I lived in a "mother house" with other novices (new sisters), juniors (sisters who had made temporary vows), and a few seniors (sisters who had made permanent vows). The seniors trained us and took care of us. I was there for a little over two years. During that time, nobody ever said or implied that I wasn't a nun. None of my training classes ever caused me to think that I might not be a nun. I always thought of myself as a nun while I was there. And I have thought of myself as a "former nun" ever since I left.
Catholic apologists have been trying to tell me that if I didn't actually make vows, then I wasn't a nun. However, according to the "Catholic Encyclopedia," a novice who is a member of a religious order is a "regular" in the broad sense of the word. (A "regular" is a technical term for a monk or a nun.) So a female novice is a nun in the broad sense of the word. (If you want more information about this, then look at my biography. It includes the address of the on-line article in the "Catholic Encyclopedia".)
It is true that most nuns have made final vows. But it is also true that most carpenters and plumbers and electricians are not apprentices. Whether in the construction trade or in religious life, proportionately you have a small number of apprentices who are in the process of being trained, as compared to the large number of people who have completed their training.
USE OF THIS ARTICLE
I encourage you to link to this article. Because this it contains extensive quotations from another author's published book, I cannot give you permission to copy it. For the same reason, I am not making this article available for downloading. I strongly encourage you to get Dr. Svendsen's book.