When I started fervently and regularly writing on this blog, I knew I’d enjoy it. I love writing. I love getting my thoughts out. If I didn’t, sometimes I think I’d burst. But what I didn’t know I’d enjoy was reading the posts on so many other blogs. I’ve gotten to interact with people as far-flung as Ireland and Austria. I’ve been able to “converse” with artists, evangelists, fellow Catholics, musicians, and people just writing about their daily lives, and I’m fascinated. I really am. It’s like getting to sit down at a table with a few people, strike up a conversation, and see where things lead.
But one table, lately, has been kind of bothering me. It’s the “anti-Catholic” table. It’s full of people who wonder aloud how Catholics can be so foolish as to not realize their religion is from the pit of Hell and completely contradicts the “clear teaching of the Bible.” They seem to think that obviously we Catholics must not read our Bibles, hence we worship Mary, bow down to idols, and try to work our way to Heaven. Lord help us. Oh sure, there are Catholics who might get to Heaven, but that’s only cause they’re not really Catholic. They don’t actually believe what the Catholic church teaches.
I can empathize with this mindset entirely because I was one of those anti-Catholic Christians for a long time. And I know the motivation is not simply bald prejudice. If I read Scripture the same way I did ten years ago and had the same assumptions about Christianity, I’d probably be blogging right along with them.
Still, it’s been bothering me. It’s not the fact that they disagree with Catholicism, per se. I disagree with all sorts of people. But it seems to be their mission to take it down. Some of them thunder like veritable Protestant Popes from their lofty heights of theological reflection, perhaps seated upon mounds of systematic theologies by Calvin, Grudem, and Luther. Again, I empathize. But the problem is that the church they are hurling insults against and trying to paint as the Whore of Babylon is my Mother. And I can only see my Mother insulted and maligned for so long until I feel the need to write a post about it.
So here I am, entering a fray I kind of want to enter and kind of don’t want to. There is a bit of a thrill in pulling out the old apologetics books and websites and perhaps getting into it with a few separated brethren. But there is also the sick feeling I know I’ll get after having the show-down: the feeling that I’m fighting the wrong person, the feeling that the most tragic thing isn’t that one person is wrong, but that there is disunity among people who ought to be united in worship together.
Because to me, that’s the real scandal and tragedy of the Reformation – which will be celebrated on it’s 500 year anniversary this year. It was needed, to be sure. The Catholic Church needed to change in a number of ways. But it left this enormous scar that the rest of the world can see clear as day. And they scoff at all of us for it.
I realize I can’t ask people to just agree with me when they don’t. It’s understandable that some people can’t stomach the Catholic Church. So from the outset, let me say that these posts will not be to convince anyone. I’ve gotten into too many arguments to think they will accomplish that. I just want whoever decides to reject (or accept) the Catholic Church to do it with their eyes wide open. I was shocked, as I began to study Catholicism, of how many straw-men I had been presented with over the years in my Protestant upbringing. I wasn’t just wrong, I was woefully wrong about so many things the Catholic Church taught. And I heard arguments from informed, intelligent Catholics that I had never heard before. If all I do is bring about a little more clarity with these posts, I will consider that a success. And if I grow in clarity about the views of those I disagree with, I will consider that a win as well.
Whatever the case, God bless all of us, and may the schism not just between Catholics and Protestants, but between Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox as well be healed soon.
If you find apologetics extremely boring, I promise, I won’t spend every post talking about this stuff.
(Pic: Tatjana Splichal/Shutterstock.com)