Baptists at the Door!

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The other day, some really nice young men, Baptists, came to my front door, and we had a very interesting conversation. I wish I had been better prepared, but I did present to them some Bible verses that they had not thought about before. The rest of this article goes into some of these verses, and hopefully, when they come to your door, you will be better prepared to present to them the Catholic faith as outlined in Scripture. In doing so, you will be fulfilling Peter’s request in 1 Peter 3:15: “Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”

The King James Bible

The Baptists told me that they used the King James Version of the Bible.  I told them that it only had 66 books in it, and that I used the RSV-Catholic Edition, which has all 73 books in it. (Martin Luther removed 7 books which didn’t agree with his theology from the Bible during his Reformation.) And besides, I said, the King James Bible mentions “unicorns” 9 times, which proves that it isn’t a good translation, as there are no such animals. They then informed me that a “unicorn” was a “rhinoceros.” At this, I chuckled. The Catholic Bible uses “oxen” instead of “unicorns.”

Faith and Works

James 2:24-26: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.”

Colossians 1:10: “to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

Romans 2:6: “For he will render to every man according to his works…”

The Baptists kept agreeing with me that good works are great, and that they bring others to Christ, BUT, they declared, they are not really necessary for salvation. My counterpoint was that the above verses point out three things:

  • First, that if you have faith with no works, your faith is dead. And dead faith is no faith at all.
  • Second, good works are the fruit of our faith, and Jesus did say in Matthew 7:19 that we must bear good fruit or we will be thrown into the fire.
  • Third, that Jesus will judge us (render) based on our works done as a result of our faith in Him.

I kept making the point that the good thief on the cross didn’t have time after his conversion to do any good works, but the Divine Mercy of Christ saved him anyway. Conversely, we that do believe in Christ here and now do have the time to do good works, and so we must do them, per Christ’s command in the Sermon on the Mount. The workers in God’s vineyard must do work, not just believe in the vineyard! I also told them that good works are not Jewish works of the law (eating kosher foods, ritualistic hand-washing, not touching the dead, etc.) which Paul condemns, that are now moot with the fulfillment of the law of the Old Testament in Christ. Additionally, Matthew 25:31-46 says that if we don’t do good works then we don’t get into heaven. Faith and good works are like two sides of one coin, and they must go together as one entity. In a similar way, fire gives off both heat AND light, and so similarly, “faith and works” is a case of “both-and,” not “either-or.”

“Are You Saved?”

1 Corinthians 4:3-5: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God.”

1 Corinthians 9:27: “but I pummel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Matthew 24:13: “But he who endures to the end will be saved.”

Protestants ask this “Are you saved?”question a lot, as an opening into their evangelization. When I was asked this the other night, I told them that I hope to be saved in the end. The above verses, again, say three things:

  • First, only the Lord has the right to judge me–not even myself, and certainly not you–and only at the end of time. So asking this question is very anti-scriptural.
  • Second, even St. Paul wasn’t sure about his salvation. He even advocates self-mortification (pummeling his body) to assist in his salvation.
  • Third, Jesus says that we must endure to the end in order to be saved. This means that asking this question now is rather pointless, since “being saved” is a future event, not a past one. The state of our soul now may not be the same in 20 or 30 years, after all, so asking the question now is rather pointlesss. A better question would be “Do you love Christ and accept all of his teachings in your heart?”

Purgatory

Matthew 18:32-35: Then his lord summoned him and said to him, `You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Revelation 21:27: But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

1 Corinthians 3:12-15: “Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw; each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Nothing quite gets the blood pressure up of Protestants like the mention of purgatory does. No, the word “purgatory” is not in the Bible, just like the words “Christmas,” “Easter,” “Rapture,” and “Trinity” aren’t in the Bible either. The Baptists told me that when Jesus preached to the spirits in prison, in 1 Peter 3:19, he was preaching to the souls in hell. But I said that these spirits were in Sheol, or Hades, which was where souls went until Christ opened the doors to heaven following his death. After all, what possible good would it do to “preach to the spirits in hell?” None!

The above verses do allude to the following concerning purgatory:

  • There is an afterlife prison (in the age to come, after death) where sins are dealt with and our souls purified, and it is a jail where we won’t be released until we have paid the last penny for our sins here on earth.
  • Nothing unclean shall enter heaven, and none of us are perfect here on earth, thanks to sin and our unforgiving human nature, so purgatory is a blessing from God to clean us up after we die, so that we may finally enter heaven, with dazzingly white and purified souls.
  • Our God is a consuming fire. Being in purgatory is therefore being in the presence of God, but in a very imperfect and lonely way. Our time in purgatory is a time where we long to be with God in a perfect and unified way, and we must wait while His purifying fire cleanses us of our many impurities.

My conversation with the Baptists ended here, and we didn’t have time to get into Mary, the Eucharist, the Communion of Saints and intercessory prayer, statues, “once saved, always saved,” being “born again,” etc. Perhaps in a future column I will address these very biblical issues as well.

For more information, go here.

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22 thoughts on “Baptists at the Door!”

  1. Because the thief on the cross was not able to perform any good works before his conversion you say his faith saved him. Correct. But Catholic doctrine states you must be baptized to be saved. The thief wasn’t. Kind of blows catholic doctrine out of,the water. The catholic bible kept the 7’books that ML removed because in those uncanonical books Catholics can justify their many practices and superstitions I.e., purgatory…no such place.. The bible says you die and then Judgment? Hebrews 9:27.

    1. Dear Susan-Do you really think God Almighty let His Church get it wrong for about 1500 years until Martin Luther showed up? This contradicts Jesus saying-in part of the Bible that Martin decided to keep- that the Holy Spirit will be with the Church always. Interesting that no prophecy – in the books Martin self-validated-refer to Martin; no words anywhere in the Bible about a great apostasy beginning with the Ascension of Jesus up to the time of the elevation of Martin to sole determiner of what is and what is not the word of God. Thank God Martin Luther knew God’s words when no one else in all of history up to him had gotten them correct; too bad millions got it wrong and read the wrong stuff for a millenia and a half. And shame on God for letting it all happen in His Church. Guy McClung, San Antonio, Texas

  2. Frank W. Russell

    Regarding the use of “Unicorns” in the King James Bible; I checked Isaiah 34:7 in the Douay-Rheims and it uses “Unicorns”. I didn’t check any of the others that you cited; as one error on our part is enough to embarrass us. The Douay-Rheims is always been considered a very good Catholic Bible down thru the centuries and continues to be popular to this day. You need to be more thorough in your “fact checking”. There are a number of Catholic Bibles.

  3. I had an uncle who was a devout baptist. His name was John. It did not occur to me until after he died that all those years I could have been calling him John the Baptist.

  4. Great article! Thanks for a quick summation on what to say to Baptists or anyone else that comes knocking on one’s door. Maybe in Texas, they are more aggressive in this manner.

  5. Baptists at the door is a rather new thing. My late wife was Baptist and their attitude toward this sort of outreach was almost non-existent. The decline in membership in organized churches, Baptist and Catholic, has prompted a second look at forms of evangelization. I doubt that many will respond to visits at the door but an establishment of bible and faith instructional classes at church facilities as some have done might be more effective. Unfortunately, publicity to these efforts is still not very wide and I doubt attendance is high. Side note: Much of present church doctrine among Protestants has “evolved” far from the original dogma of the founder’s intention. Of course, there are some who say this diminution has already reached the Catholic Church.

  6. Hey Ray… I loved the article… I’ve been involved in those arguments and I’ve seen some ugliness because of it. But I love the words and passages and thoughts. Grace informed by charity (I believe itsounds cooler in Latin) is such a deep and powerful and mysterious wonder! Thank you so much.

  7. It seems to me that a very common response to the Catholic who quotes the Bible is for the Protestant to say “well, what about,” and then move on without reaching any conclusion (if you don’s insist on coming to one then and there). Since salvation by faith alone lies at the heart of Luther’s theory, it seems practical to cite a very simple passage from Matthew: “If you forgive others their transgressions, you heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions” (Mt 6:14-15). On that alone, Luther fails the Bible test, and any further discussion is a distraction from this fatal flaw. Tell them to go home and think about it and if they can come up with an answer, show them why that answer is also flawed — stick to the foundation of their belief in Luther’s theories especially salvation by faith alone which is also contradicted by many other quotes.

    1. Laurence Charles Ringo

      Hey,Dhaniele…have you ever heard the well-known theological maxim,”a text without context becomes a pretext”? Your wrenching Matthew 6:14-15 out of context is the very definition of eisegesis in its worse form, and the fact that you would attempt to posit your ill-use of this verse (again,wrenched out of its context) to defame Luther simply serves to show that whatever your chosen profession is, Scriptural Hermeneutics isn’t it. A first-year seminary student should be able to demonstrate that this particular verse isn’t pointing to any salvific paradigm, but refers to what is necessary to maintain the communal relationship between your fellow man,Christians included,and our Heavenly Father.Unconfessed sins severs the Communion and Fellowship between yourself,your fellow man,and Almighty God;the confessions of said sins restores it in that sense of forgiveness. Read the verse in its context, and it becomes plain what Our Savior meant. Give it a try,and I await your reply. PEACE IN CHRIST JESUS, ALWAYS! ???.

    2. Luther’s whole theory (not mine) is based on the erroneous notion that to maintain our relation (of being saved) with our heavenly Father we only need faith — your comment is a return to the holy catholic faith (not Luther’s theory).

  8. On the matter of faith and works, would it be fair to compare this with grace? Grace and faith are invisible until they produce an action – a visible sign. If I was given the grace to play the piano, there is nothing you can discern by examining me that I have received that grace unless I actually twinkle the ivories favorably.

  9. All these dueling Bible verse discussions are all fine and dandy but sooner or later it all comes down to Authority. When these types come to the door all I do is ask questions. By what authority do you get to tell me what that Bible verse means? The Holy Spirit? How many are there because I don’t think we would have to go far to find someone that will tell me the Holy Spirit told them something else. I then ask them did Jesus leave any instructions about what books should be in the Bible? Did He even tell us to go to the Bible when we have disagreements? What are we to do when we do have disagreements? Slowly leading them to the question of Authority with the answer of course being the Church that Jesus founded, the Catholic Church.

    Of course by this time they realized they knocked on the wrong door. lol But I have had fruitful discussions with this approach.

    Don’t get me wrong it is good and necessary that we be able to defend all the teachings of Jesus but in the end it all comes down to the Authority given to the Catholic Church by Christ so why not just start there.

    1. Great answers Johnny! This is also my approach after many years of Bible verse “fights” and trying to explain to them how things got to be the way they are. Mostly there is not enough time for a whole course in theology, Church history and the Bible whilst standing on the door step or the town square. Well done.

  10. Ray-You did good. I do two things: 1. I have some little pamphlets that look like Jehovah’s Witness pamphlets and I ask if those handing such out will agree to trade with me and read what I give them. Mine are ones which are 100% catholic in doctrines. Some folks at the door will not take mine; and 2. Ask them “When is the last time you ate the flesh of Jesus and drank His blood?” Either there is no response or there is some fancy verbal footwork – and then you get to ask them when they have told you about symbols, memorials, and multiple levels of meaning – (a) could you please show me that in the Bible and (b) why doesn’t that reasoning/rationalization about not taking the Bible literally apply to the ____________(unicorns, rhinos, faith alone, etc.). Guy McClung, San Antonio, Texas

    1. But those 7 books are in the Gutenberg bible, published in the century before Luther. So, he in fact, did…

    2. Adam, I’m skeptical of the accuracy and legitimacy of the website, and Anonymous, the group behind it, that you link to as evidence. I appears to be an anarchist, anti-establishment website, far outside of the mainstream, that uses the V for Vendetta inspired Guy Fawkes mask as a symbol of its purpose and intent:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_(group)

      They are considered activists and hacktivists, involved in “. . . the subversive use of computers and computer networks to promote a political agenda:”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacktivism

      The reliability of information they publish is therefore questionable, and at the very least, most likely not representative of the full story behind any given issue that they present. If this appeals to you, fine, but it is questionable to present them in a public forum as a reliable, unbiased, general source of information. They have a particular, anti-establishment agenda, most likely not fully accurate and reliable.

    3. Yeah, sorry, the Anonymous site is full of baloney. They should stick to what they know, whatever that is; the canon of scripture isn’t really their bailiwyck. That particular article was written by a guy who, I’m sure, is an expert at some other topic, but who, on the history of the Bible canon, is so ignorant he can’t find his butt-cheeks with both hands.

      Look at the history of the canonization. The Catholic Bibles had 73 books from the year 372 A.D. (in the Easter letter of Athanasius) straight through to Gutenberg, and onward to the present.

      Prior to the Synod of Rome in 380 A.D., where Pope Damasus I officially promulgated the same 73-book list used by Athanasius in his diocese, there was no officially promulgated canon at all, and as a result the canon of readings in one diocese might differ somewhat from another.

      For example, the Corinthian church read from the Letter of Clement to the Corinthians for most of the period from its writing until 372, and even once it was finally excluded from the canon, it was still recommended for devotional reading, alongside other books that didn’t quite make the cut, such as The Didache and The Shepherd and The Letters of Ignatius of Antioch.

      A lot of folks misunderstand this. “Oh, no! There wasn’t an official Bible, so Christians had no idea what to believe!” No, no, no. They believed what the Magisterium of the Church taught were the “traditions of the apostles.” Those of them who could read also meditated on whichever books of scripture they could get their hands on, which were often referred to as “the memoirs of the apostles.” They also meditated on works such as Hermas’ The Shepherd and stories of the lives and martyrdoms of various saints.

      It is not that private Bible-reading had no role in their lives; it is that it was a primarily devotional role and was intermixed with the use of other orthodox writings which didn’t, in the end, wind up in the canon.

      But for knowing what Christianity is, they consulted the Church.

      Why, then, produce a canon at all?

      For liturgical uniformity, that’s why.

      You see, the Jews had a “cycle of readings” in their synagogues, and the Christians adopted this practice. And in some early churches (e.g. Corinth) they would schedule readings from books which did ultimately wind up in the canon (e.g. the gospel of Mark) and from books which didn’t (e.g. the Letter of Pope Clement).

      But as time went by the Church became increasingly more picky and discerning about which books should be elevated to the high dignity of being read from immediately prior to the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

      So, increasingly, bishops limited the readings in their dioceses to only those books which came from an apostle’s hand, or from a scribe writing for an apostle, or which were transcribed by a companion of an apostle from many hearings of the apostle’s preaching.

      In the end, the 27 New Testament books we have today met that high bar, whereas the Letter of Clement didn’t. It isn’t that Clement’s letter is unorthodox; it’s entirely orthodox! It’s just that it doesn’t come from an apostle, so it doesn’t get the highest dignity of being included in the liturgy.

      Now what about the Anonymous site’s list of 80?

      Well, this is where they should stick to topics they aren’t clueless on: All those documents are long-known to Catholics. Some (73) of them are in the Catholic canon. Others aren’t and never were. Others are in the Catholic canon, not as stand-alone books, but as portions of existing books. “Daniel, Bel, and the Dragon” is part of the book of Daniel, for example.

      So most of the 14 that the Anonymous site claims were excluded, never were. They’re in there today and always were. That the author of that article is unaware of this shows how ignorant he is of the topic.

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