Being Freed from That Which Divides Us
This is the focus of Week 4 of the current
season of Renew 2000.
"Jesus saw, heard and responded to others
with openness and love. . . . Our Christian faith calls us to
love all people regardless of their beliefs. Faith differences
need to be respected."
The participants in Renew 2000 have been encouraged
to meet with and share their faith with people of other faiths.
This is something many participants find difficult to do. In
fact most Catholics seem to have difficulty sharing their faith
with other Catholics! There are probably many reasons Catholics
have difficulty sharing their faith. I believe one reason is
that many, perhaps most, adult Catholics are afraid they will
not be able to answer questions about their faith or defend their
religion against challenges made by others, especially ones who
are Fundamentalist or born-again Christians or Jehovah's Witnesses.
I think Catholics are intimidated by those who can quote the
Bible so easily to support their position. Bible familiarity
is not something Catholics are known for.
My first experience with a born-again Christian
occurred about nine years ago. My wife and I were at a weekend
get-together with some friends of hers from college and their
families. This was an annual affair that had been going on for
close to twenty years. However, Ellen and I had only started
attending the year before. Another woman, who had lost touch
with her college classmates, was there for the first time. She
had been Catholic but had left the Church years before. Her husband
was also there. He was a born-again Christian and member of an
Open Door Christian church in Sacramento.
We shared morning meals and evening meals
with the others. On Saturday night, after dinner and while the
dishes were being washed, the woman's husband came up to me and
started asking questions about what Catholics believe. At the
time, I was teaching eighth grade CCD at St. Anthony's. I answered
his questions. As he went on his questions turned into arguments
against Catholic beliefs. He started raising issues such as Petros vs. Petra and Sola Scriptura along with quotes from
the Bible. I had to admit I did not have answers to all of his
questions and challenges.
Over the course of the next year I read numerous
books on the Catholic faith. I wanted to be prepared for my meeting
with this man the next year. When the weekend for the get-together
finally arrived, I packed my Bible along with several select
books on the Catholic faith so I would be ready for anything
he threw at me. I was prepared for all eventualities but one.
He did not come.
I have never seen him since that first time.
At the time I felt cheated. I had taken all that time to prepare
to wage battle with this guy and he did not show up. Then I realized
how fortunate I was that God placed this man in my life when
He did. I do not think I would ever have spent so much time studying
my faith if he had not been there to challenge me that one Saturday
Now I have a challenge for you. Learn more
about your Catholic faith. Take some time to acquire an adult
understanding of your religion. Go beyond the simplistic understanding
provided by the Baltimore Catechism and other catechisms
like it. Pick up a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic
Church and review it. Read other books on the Catholic
faith. I can recommend two right now.
Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in
Christian Apologetics by Peter
Kreeft is a good source for understanding traditional Catholic
beliefs. Even non-Catholics can appreciate this book. Most of
the beliefs Kreeft discusses are shared by other Christian churches.
Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The
Attack on Romanism by Bible Christians by Karl Keating is a good source for answers to questions
and challenges offered by born-again and other Fundamentalist
Dust off the Bible sitting on the shelf and
read it. If you do not own a Bible, buy one. The most common
Catholic Bible today is the New American Bible. Other Catholic
Bibles are the New Jerusalem Bible, the Revised Standard Version:
Catholic Edition and the Douay-Rheims. If you are not sure whether
a Bible conforms to Catholic teaching you can find out by looking
in the front of the Bible, usually after the title page, for
the words "Nihil Obstat" and "Imprimatur".
is a Latin word that literally means "let it be printed".
All books of the Sacred Scripture, including translations, must
be approved for publication by the Holy See or the conference
is a Latin phrase that literally means "nothing obstructs".
It is the certification that what has been printed does not conflict
with Catholic doctrine.
Finally, share your faith with others. You
do not have to go out searching for others. Sometimes they come
to you. The next time a Jehovah's Witness comes to the door ask
him or her in and share your faith. Do not be afraid to say "I
don't know" when asked a question you do not have the answer
to. Offer to find out the answer and share it with them the next
time. At the same time pay attention to how similar our beliefs
are to those of other Christians. Focus on the areas of agreement.
Be willing to agree to disagree. And most importantly, "Be
I welcome your comments. Click
here to send me an email.