These pages are a response to Information [sic] for Catholics, "Written and Posted in Christian Love" by Dan Corner at the Evangelical Outreach website. As I shall demonstrate, Evangelical Outreach (EO) should have entitled its anti-Catholic pages DISinformation for Catholics (and Everybody Else). If you haven't seen Information [sic] for Catholics, please go and look at it now so you will understand better what I'm writing about here.
Misunderstandings are easy to fall into, but can be difficult to correct; distortions are easy to make, but can be difficult to rectify; and lies are easy to tell, but can be difficult to refute.
So, please be patient with me: sometimes, I must use many, many words to counter a brief accusation, or to correct a simple misunderstanding, or to refute a little lie.
These pages don't have colorful text. (Well, okay, maybe once or twice.)
And these pages WON'T SHOUT AT YOU! (Well, okay, maybe a little bit, here and there.)
And they won't make base charges, and they won't involve leaps off the precipice of logic, and they won't (God willing) abandon common courtesy. And these pages certainly will not reek of ill-disguised hatred decorated with little red hearts.
If you think all that makes for a boring read, then I suggest you go elsewhere. If not, then...
R E A D O N !!!!!!!!!
Oops: sorry about that. ;-)
I quote frequently here, and at length, from Cardinal Newman; all the quotations are from the lecture "Ignorance Concerning Catholics the Protection of the Protestant View" in the series Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England addressed to the Brothers of the Birmingham Oratory in 1851. Though written a century and a half ago, and delivered as lectures to an English audience, these quotations describe Evangelical Outreach's anti-Catholic propaganda with eery accuracy.
Protestants judge of the Apostles' doctrine by "texts" as they are commonly called, taken from Scripture, and nothing more; and they judge of our doctrine too by "texts" taken from our writings, and nothing more. Picked verses, bits torn from the context, half sentences, are the warrant of the Protestant Idea of what is Apostolic truth, on the one hand, and, on the other, of what is Catholic falsehood.... They do not ask themselves sincerely, as a matter of fact and history, "What did the Apostles teach then?" Nor do they ask sincerely, and as a matter of fact, "What do Catholics teach now?" They judge of the Apostles and they judge of us by scraps, and on these scraps they exercise their private judgment,that is, their Prejudice....
Evangelical Outreach thinks it has St. Peter's Primacy and Matthew 16:18 all figured out. Take a look first at what EO has to say, then take a look at what I've written:
Evangelical Outreach also thinks it can set you straight about the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and Indulgences; here is what EO had to say about it, then there's the straight scoop from me:
All the world knows that Catholics hold that the Apostles made over the Divine Revelation to the generation after them, not only in writing, but by word of mouth, and in the ritual of the Church. We consider that the New Testament is not the whole of what they left us: that they left us a number of doctrines, not in writing at all, but living in the minds and mouths of the faithful: Protestants deny this. They have a right to deny it: but they have no right to assume their denial to be true without proof, and to use it as self-evident, and to triumph over us as beaten, merely because we will not admit it. Yet this they actually do: can anything be more preposterous?
Evangelical Outreach thinks it can defend the removal of books from the Holy Bible. I explain why EO's "arguments" are wrong:
Evangelical Outreach points out, quite rightly, that the teachings of the Catholic Church haven't changed. I demonstrate just what that means:
Let it be observed, that the fallacy involved in the Protestant Rule of Faith is this,that its upholders fancy, most unnaturally, that the accidental and occasional writing of an Apostle convey to them of necessity his whole mind. It does not occur to them to ask themselves, whether, as he has in part committed his teaching to writing, so possibly, he may not have expressed it in part through other channels also.... Writing, of course, has special advantages, but it has its defects; and other methods of information compensate for them. It must be recollected, too, as regards the New Testament, that it is not a technical document, like an Act of Parliament, or a legal instrument, but is made up of various portions exhibiting, more or less, the free and flowing course of thought of their respective writers. It is not worded with the scientific precision of a formal treatise, a creed, or a last will and testament. Now, works written in this natural style are especially liable to receive an interpretation, and to make an impression, not in correspondence with the writer's intention, but according to the private principles and feelings of the reader.
Evangelical Outreach tries to tell you what the Catholic Church teaches about papal infallibility and salvation outside the Church; fortunately, I tell you the truth:
Evangelical Outreach tries to tell you that Jesus didn't mean what He said in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John; I show you why He did mean it:
How surprised we sometimes are by the sight of those of whom we have often heard speak, or whose writings we have often read! We cannot believe we have the living author before us. Hence it is common to hear it said in favour of intemperate partisans by their friends, "If you knew him, you really would like him; he is so different from his mode of writing or speaking"; others, on the other hand, meet with a person whom they have long admired through the medium of his works, and are quite mortified and annoyed that they like his conversation and his manners so little.... And thus Scripture, in like manner, though written under a supernatural guidance, is, from the nature of the case, from the defect of human language, and the infirmity of the recipient, unable by itself to convey the real mind of its writers to all who read it. Instead of its forcing its meaning upon the reader, the reader forces his own meaning upon it, colours it with his own thoughts and distorts it to his own purposes; so that something is evidently needed besides it, such as the teaching of the Church, to protect it from the false private judgment of the individual.
Here's what I think about Evangelical Outreach's continual advice:
The first Christians were a living body; they were thousands of zealous, energetic men, who preached, disputed, catechised, and conversed from year's end to year's end. They spoke by innumerable tongues, with one heart and one soul, all saying the same thing; all this multitudinous testimony about the truths of Revelation, Protestants narrow down into one or two meagre sentences, which at their own will and pleasure they select from St. Paul, and at their own will and pleasure they explain, and call the Gospel. They do just the same thing with us; Catholics, at least have a lively illustration and evidence of the absurdity of Protestant private judgment as exercised on the Apostolic writings in the visible fact of its absurdity as exercised on themselves. They [that is, Catholics], as their forefathers, the first Christians, are a living body; they, too, preach, dispute, catechise, converse with innumerable tongues, saying the same thing, as our adversaries confess, all over the earth. Well, then you would think the obvious way was, if they [that is, Protestants] would know what we really teach, to come and ask us, to talk with us, to try to enter into our views, and to attend to our teaching. Not at all; they do not dream of doing so; they take their "texts"; they have got their cut-and-dried specimens from our divines, which the Protestant Tradition hands down from generation to generation; and, as by the aid of their verses from Scripture, they think they understand the Gospel better than the first Christians, so by the help of these choice extracts from our works, they think they understand our doctrine better than we do ourselves. They will not allow us to explain our books. So sure are they of their knowledge, and so superior to us, that they have no difficulty in setting us right, and in accounting for our contradicting them.
Some more places on the 'Net where honest inquirers may look for accurate explanation and defense of genuine Catholic teachings:
Ven. John Henry Newman
"Saintliness the Standard of Christian Principle" (1849)
from Discourses Addressed to Mixed Congregations
in Cardinal Newman's Catholic Sermons, Volume I
(Fort Collins, CO: Roman Cathlic Books), page 103