How to Answer Protestants Forum: Evangelization
Evangelization QUESTION from Julie Happe July 17, 2001 After doing some faith sharingthe other day, someone who asked me What gives you the right to say that your religion is the way to go?
My question is how do I respond to that?
ANSWER by Mr. Troy Martz on July 18, 2001 Dear Mrs. Happe:
Thank you for your question.
My first response is that anyone who can't say definitively that their faith is the way to go doesn't have a faith, they have warm fuzzies about nice ideas. This is not surprising in a world where many of those who are entrusted with teaching the faith spew platitudes of niceness rather than teach doctrine and truth.
The root of the question is modern man's denial of objective truth. There once was a time when Pilot's question What is truth? was scorned as the fickle weakness of a man without moral grounding. Today's society embraces this as a philosophy -- the utter denial of truth as something real that can be discovered and treasured. Descartes was dead wrong, we do not exist simply because we think, we exist because God wills it.
Also, we need to correct your friend's statement. You do not have the right, you have the obligation to proclaim the Truth of Jesus Christ. It is like knowing your friend was going to accidentally drink poison, you would be obligated to try to stop him. Only it is much worse, your friend has bought Satan's best lie -- the one that says that we can never know the truth and that God doesn't want us to know truth.
Now let's look at the foundation of our claim as Catholics to have the truth. Basically, the faith we have is handed down to us in an unbroken line of succession from our Bishops back through time to the Apostles. We are the Apostolic Church and this Apostolic Succession is where our Church gets the Authority to teach in Christ's name. It works like this: Jesus ordains the Apostles [see Matthew 16:13-19, 18:1-20, 26:20-29, & 28:16-20 to name a few], you will note that in each instance only the Apostles are present. Thus the authority given by Christ in these verses is given only to the Apostles, not to the general public. In Acts 9 Jesus extends this authority to St. Paul.
How is this carried on? The Apostles ordain Bishops [often translated as overseers in Protestant Bibles, but the word is the Greek word for episcopate] like Titus and Timothy to take over the earthly leadership of the Church. These Bishops ordained other Bishops who ordained other Bishops and continued down to today. These Bishops collectively exercise the Authority given to the whole of the Apostles in Matthew 18. The Bishop of Rome, as Successor to St. Peter, exercises the solitary Authority of Matthew 16 as the one who has the Keys to the Kingdom. All authority in the Church is exercised at the service of the local Bishop who is responsible to Christ for the transmitting and guarding of the Faith.
Try as you might, you will not find any other Divinely instituted authority to teach the Gospel and interpret Scripture. As a matter of fact, it was that same authority of the Bishop to bind and loose that defined the limits of Scripture (i.e. which writings where inspired by the Holy Spirit and which were not). Those who claim to not need an authority are calling Christ a fool for giving us something we don't need. Those who claim they have that authority to bind and loose without being part of Apostolic Succession are fooling themselves with the sin of pride and imitating Adam in trying to be like god and claiming to know good from evil.
Assuming your friend was a Protestant who believes in the Bible alone, ask him the following questions: 1. Where did the Bible come from, did it fall from the sky as a bound book? 2. How do they know the Bible is true? [Remember, the Koran and the Book of Mormon both claim to be inspired but I doubt many Christians would agree that they are.] 3. Where in the Scripture do we find the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (the Bible the sole rule of faith)? If the Bible doesn't claim to be the only rule of faith, how can Bible only people claim it is?
Hopefully, this should give your friend enough to keep him busy for a while. Remember that you may never know the long-term conversions that take place from your defending the faith. Also, do everything in the love of Christ so that your actions and attitudes will not undo your words and logic.
Pax Christi, Troy Martz
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