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Ask Father

My question concerns some claims by prominent protestants like Dave Hunt and J. MacAuthor. These men in their writings claim that the Roman Catholic church is an apostate church and Catholics such as my mother who practice and believe the tenants of the Church are headed for eternal hell. Dave Hunt has written extensively in his newsletter,"The Berean Call" and hismany books that the Catholic church is a carryover from ancient and Roman practices and beliefs. He also claims that a true Christian Roman Catholic. John MacAuthur has stated in print that faithful Roman Catholics are not saved. Please answer my question for this has troubled my soul for quite some time.

Dear Sheila,

You report your dismay at attacks upon our Catholic religion by "prominent Protestants like Dave Hunt and John MacArthur". You mention their claims that: 1) the Catholic Church is an apostate church; 2) Catholic doctrine and practice are carryovers from ancient pagan practices and beliefs (Babylonian, Roman, et al.); 3) faithful Catholics who follow the tenets of the Church are not saved and are going to hell.

In response, I want to divide my messages into three parts. First, let us expend some effort to discern where our opponents are coming from. Secondly, let us look at some answers to these accusations you have heard or read. Thirdly, I have some suggestions about books to read and tapes to listen to. (Our opponents often seem to have done considerable homework. We Catholics cannot handle these attacks unless we do our homework too.)

First, where are our vitriolic opponents coming from? In the midst of the firestorm of their assaults, we should back off mentally and psychologically so as to view their attacks with some perspective. If you hear them on their tapes or shows, or even if you only read their words, TRY TO LISTEN TO THEIR VOICES, the timbre and pacing of their delivery. Often, it is clear, they speak and write in ANGER and HATRED. In fact, their utterances are vibrant with these two lethal emotions.

In every context, displays of anger and hatred usually mask deep insecurity and fear. These virulently anti-Catholic preachers and writers are perhaps not comfortable in their own religious doctrines. The Holy Spirit, over the course of years, surely sometimes hints to them at the short comings of fundamentalism -- the sandy foundations of some of their beliefs and theological presuppositions (Matt. 7:26-27). They seek to compensate, then for their insecurity by attacking the Church, whose solid and enduring Christian witness is the major threat to their uneasy peace.

More serious for them as individuals are the poisonous effects of their anger and hatred on their own souls. By indulging these vicious tendencies, they endanger their eternal salvation. Holy Scripture warns us to be "slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does ot accomplish the righteousness of God" (James 1:19-20). Hatred in man is directly opposed to the very nature of God, because "God is love" (1st John 4:8).

Through anger and hatred, anti-Catholics are in danger of distancing themselves from God. And this distance leads them to disobey Christ's most solemn prohibition: "Judge not, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged" (Matt. 7:1-2). And St. Paul in Romans adds: "You are without excuse, everyone of you who passes judgement. For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the very same things" (Romans 2:1).

In spite of these clear scriptural warnings, these men presume to judge us Catholics, and they confidently assert that we are all going to Hell. Yet God the Father has given all judgement to his Son (John 5:22). Our attackers seem to be telling Our Lord to move over -- they will sit on the throne of judgment in His place. But we have to tell them: "It's not going to work -- and you are without excuse. As you judge, so will you be judged" (Romans 2:1; 14, passim; Matt. 7:1-2).

We Catholics must not be shaken at their menaces. Our Lord foretold that his true followers would be attacked and slandered as He himself was slandered. "The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said (of Jesus), `He is possessed by Beelzebul. By the prince of demons he drives out demons. He has an unclean spirit'" (Mark 6:22,30). So Jesus told his disciples, "If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household" (Matt. 10:25). We are the household of God, the Church of the living God (1st Tim. 3:15), members of one another and of Christ our Head (Rom. 12:5). So we shall be accused and afflicted as Jesus was, and those who do so will think they are offering worship to God. And they do this because they have not known either the Father or the Son (John 16:2-3).

But we are glad to endure the dishonor of their false accusations for the sake of Christ's Name (Acts 5:41). We pray, "Lord take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness" (Acts 4:29).

In another message, we shall notice some anti-Catholic accusations, and then list some reading suggestions for you.

Sincerely in Christ, Father Mateo

Dear Sheila,

Because I'll be mentioning some books you can read and tapes you can listen to, I'll be quite brief in this treatment of certain specific accusations made against us.

First, is the Catholic Church an apostate church? The Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses tell us ALL Christian churches are apostate, so you see Dave Hunt and his ilk are really pretty conservative. If they would become Witnesses, they could send everybody off to hell. But kidding aside, let's look at some Scripture.

Our Lord intended to found a church (Matt. 16:18). Announcing his intention, he promised that the gates of Hell would never overcome his Church (ibid.) He fulfilled his promise of founding the Church, because it shows up again and again in the New Testament from Acts to Revelation. It is often called "the Church of God" (Acts 20:28; 1st Cor. 15:9; Gal. 1:13; 1st Tim. 3:15).

Christ is the Head of the Church (Eph. 5:23), and the Church is His Body (Col. 1:18, 24). He bought this Church for himself at enormous cost, his own life's blood (Acts 20:28). So dear is the Church, the whole people, to him that Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church is his Bride. Of this Bridegroom and his Bride, St. Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit writes: "The two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery - I speak of Christ and the Church" (Eph. 5:31-32).

The union of Christ with his Church is thus unbreakable. He has promised us, "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you" (John 14:18). "Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20). His presence with us assures of the presence and activity of his Holy Spirit. This Spirit is with the Church always, remaining in us as the Spirit of Truth, who will guide us to all truth and remind us of all Christ has told us (John 14:16-18, 26; 16:13).

We believe in Jesus Christ, in his power and his promises. If the Church has gone apostate, then Jesus Christ is not the Truth that he said he was. But if he is powerful to keep his promises, then the Church remains what he founded it to be. Hunt, MacArthur and others who attack the Catholic Church should know that we are aware of certain biblical warnings that put us on our guard against them: "Savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth TO DRAW THE DISCIPLES AWAY AFTER THEM. So, be vigilant" (Acts 20:29-31. Cf. also 2nd Tim. 3:5-9).

Secondly, are faithful Catholic "unsaved", and are we going to Hell? Well, Romans 10:9 ff. says: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved...No one who believes in him will be put to shame...For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." By this test of salvation, Catholics qualify -- provided we give due weight to all the rest of the teachings of Christ, which we can do by hearing the teachings of his Church. For she is --- and let no one ever forget this --- "the pillar and foundation of truth" (1st Tim 3:15).

Whether our religion is a carryover from pre-Christian paganism is a really broad topic. Therefore, I leave it to you, Shiela, and other readers to investigate using some of the following resources.

1) Karl Keating. Catholicism and Fundamentalism 2) Father Mateo. Refuting the Attack on Mary 3) Robert Fox. Protestant Fundamentalism & the Born Again Catholic 4) James Drummey Catholic Replies 5) Catechism of the Catholic Church 6) THIS ROCK, the stellar magazine of apologetics, put out by Catholic Answers. Catholic Answers Tracts & Newsletter

Sincerely in Christ, Father Mateo

 

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