The more I studied anti-Catholic literature, the more Catholic I became!
By Leonard Alt
Yes, this is true, the more anti-Catholic literature I read and researched over time the more Catholic I became. I began to study the history of the Catholic Church and the Bible through the eyes of those who opposed the Church. I read books and articles, and listened to people speak against the Catholic Church. Researching this information contrasting it with the Bible, history and Church teaching. In the process, I found myself becoming even more Catholic.
I saw the same three things happening over and over again. There were misrepresentations of Church history, taking the Bible out of context and misrepresenting Catholic teaching. These are the three major areas that were being misrepresented hundreds and even thousands of times.
I thought if you have to misrepresent the Church in order to prove it wrong then it must be in fact the Church that Jesus founded.
- Misrepresentation of Catholic history
- Taking the Bible out of context
- Misrepresenting Church teaching
Misrepresentation of Catholic history:
On social media there are many adversarial groups speaking against the Catholic Church. One Evangelical posed this historical question. “I would ask our Romanist visitors to name, please, a single bishop at the Council of Nicaea who believed as the Pope believes on each of these topics: Marian dogmas (Perpetual Virginity, Immaculate Conception, Bodily Assumption), Papal Authority (infallibility), Purgatory, transubstantiation?”
His question is worthy of an answer. As far as the topics that he mentioned, they were not dealt with at the Council of Nicaea. They were dealing with the nature of God, the Arian heresy, the day we celebrate Easter and other related topics.
I also asked him a question using some of his own language. “I would ask our Evangelical visitors to name please, a single Baptist minister at the council of Nicaea who believed in such topics such as Jesus alone, faith alone or Bible alone?” He had no answer because these topics were not discussed. Furthermore, at the Council of Nicaea the attendees were not Evangelical ministers, but Catholic Bishops.
What he didn’t seem to realize is that in asking his question in this way, he was unwittingly testifying to the fact that the Church of history is Catholic. The council of Nicaea was not a Baptist council of Evangelical ministers; it was a Catholic council with Catholic Bishops. Evidently, he didn’t like it that I pointed this out and his response was to kick me out of his group discussion.
These types of groups would among other things use history to criticize the Catholic Church and even if all the negative statements that they were saying about the Church were true, never-the-less, they were still unwittingly testifying to the fact that the Church of history is Catholic. They can criticize my Church for its historical Church councils, because the Catholic Church existed at that time. However, I can’t criticize Protestant councils since they did not exist for many centuries later.
The great Anglican historian, John Henry Newman in his research of the history of the Church came to this conclusion. “To be deep in History is to cease to be Protestant.” Newman did cease to be Protestant and became Catholic. One of the major reasons why Protestant ministers today become Catholic is because they ultimately discover that Christian history is in fact Catholic history.
Taking the Bible out of context: Everyone is coming from some place. Our faith is handed on to us by others who have gone before us. This is what we call tradition. For example, Pentecostals have a Pentecostal tradition, Baptists have a Baptist tradition, Catholics have a Catholic tradition and Lutherans have a Lutheran tradition. We all read from the same Bible and yet we believe different things about this same Bible. Why, because we are coming from different traditions.
Many years ago, I was present when a Protestant minister was speaking about the history of Christianity beginning with Adam and Eve. He then brought up the New Testament, the story of Jesus in the Gospels and then went on to speak of Fr. Martin Luther and some of the other Protestant reformers to the present. I remember looking around at the audience and thinking to myself, am I the only one who sees what this minister has done?
He made no reference to Christianity from the death of the last Apostle till the time of Luther. It is not unusual for many Protestants to shy away from history because Christian history is in fact Catholic. This is one of the major reasons why very educated thoughtful non-Catholics, including Protestant ministers become Catholic.
There is an understanding among Catholics and non-Catholics alike that the Bible properly understood in context does not contradict. To understand the Bible, we must take it in context. It is necessary to notice clarifying words, what comes before and after a Bible verse and what similar Bible passages say in other parts of the Bible. Usually, non-Catholics will accept the Bible as their only source of revelation. At the same time Catholics accept both the Bible and the teaching Tradition of the Church.
This is one of the major sources of division between Catholics and Protestants today. Non-Catholics object when Catholics cite tradition. They cite the words Jesus in order to prove that Jesus spoke against tradition. One very anti-Catholic publication quotes Mark 7:7-13.
“The worship they offer me is worthless, the doctrines they teach are only human–regulations. You put aside the commandment of God to cling to HUMAN TRADITIONS . . . In this way you make God’s word null and void for the sake of your TRADITION which you have handed down” (MK. 7:7, 8, 13, J.B.V.).
For them it is an open and shut case. Jesus spoke against human tradition. The Catholic Church speaks in favor of Tradition and so the Church to them is in clear violation of the Bible and Catholics should leave that non-Biblical Catholic Church and join a so-called Bible believing church.
This sounds pretty persuasive until you notice the three dots where they leave out verses 9 through 12, the context. This shows that Jesus was not speaking against all tradition, but corrupt tradition. In the bold type below, you will see the verses of Scripture that were left out in order to hide the context and prove that the Catholic Church is wrong.
Jesus said, “The worship they offer me is worthless, the doctrines they teach are only human–regulations. You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions, but you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is Corban’ (that is, given to God) then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition which you hand on. And many such things you do. In this way you make God’s word null and void for the sake of your TRADITION which you have handed down” (MK. 7:7, 8, 13, J.B.V.).
There is a commandment of God that has been put aside, and rejected for the sake of their tradition. Verse 10 gives us this commandment ‘Honor your father and your mother’ (Lk 7:10), the 4th commandment. REWORK THIS AND GIVE OLD TESTAMENT COMMANDMENT
Then in verses 11-12 we have the tradition which is in violation of the 4th commandment, but you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is Corban’ (that is, given to God) then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition which you hand on. And many such things you do” (Mk 7:12-13).
In other words, if the money that they would have had to take care of their parents is (given to God), specifically the temple, then they no longer have to take care of their parents in their old age which is in violation of the 4th commandment. This is why in verse 13, Jesus said that they were thus making void the word of God through your tradition which you hand on. And many such things you do. Jesus was not speaking against all tradition, but a corrupt tradition which is in violation of the 4th commandment.
And so, this begs the question; why did the author of this booklet leave out verses 9 through 12? The reason is obvious; these verses contain context. Once you realize the context is corrupt tradition and not all tradition, the argument against the Catholic Church’s acceptance of tradition fails. This is the single most blatant violation of Biblical context that I have ever seen. The author is hoping the person who reads his publication will not see the three dots and notice that the context, verses 9-12, has been left out. Intellectual honesty fails and as a result there is a crisis in Evangelical Christianity with many choosing to leave.