GUEST POST: A Baptist Pastor asks for thoughts

I received this, which I bring to the readership’s attention:

Greetings Father Z,

I am a Baptist Pastor and a fan of your blog. Recently, I read the following thread on a Christianity forum. I asked the original poster if he’d mind if I had a Catholic priest read his post and respond. He replied he would.
Here is the forum: HERE
Here is the post:

All Call to Catholics to be a little bit more Elitist In America we as Catholics are a small minority. This is a protestant country. Fine. But the history of how this country became a protestant country is not the history of religious freedom. It’s the history of Europe kicking out all the weird cults that emerged at the time and sent them to America. For better or for worse we live in a country of mainline protestants and a bunch of Christian Cults. We’ve given these Christian Cults a politically correct name Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, Televangelists . But let’s call a spade a spade, they are Christian Cults.

While it’s in our nature as Catholics to want to accept everyone, which is a good thing. My only suggestion is to other Catholics is to be a little bit Elitist with these people. I for one don’t ever want them and their strange views within Catholicism. I would never want to convert them for the sake of preserving the Church teachings. So, I don’t proselytize to them. Instead, my tactic is to always show them how they have no theology.



Father Z, I work closely with the Catholic Church with our hot lunch-dinner program, the homeless shelter, the food bank, etc.. I have never encountered an elitist attitude among any of the Catholic brethren. I view statements like these to be a very real threat to unity.

In Christ,

Pastor [REMOVED]


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. ARKloster says:

    We are always called to conversion— of ourselves and others. I find it profoundly disrespectful as a Catholic that someone would intentionally avoid the conversion of someone in error. I certainly understand the worry that a “false ecumenism” will dilute the remnant, so to speak, but doesn’t that just mean that we need rigor in catechesis? If we maintain orthodoxy at each step of the way, we have our Lord’s promise that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church. Presuming that a flood of converts will lead to Hell prevailing against the Church is in that sense rather despairing.

    Ironically, the same impulse that calls for non-proselytizing is the same sort of banal liberalism that separates church and state, or cordons off areas of life for “religion” and for all else. In other words, the guy seems perfectly willing to be involved in quotidian commercial activities with Protestants, but not to engage them in theological discussion. This bifurcation of the soul is the heart of the Enlightenment, the heart of the modern West, and the heart of Protestantism. In that respect I wonder if his instincts are less Catholic than that of the Baptist, at least on this front.

    If you reinterpret the guy’s call for “elitism” as a call for perpetual vigilance against error in recent converts— I would agree with it. But I would also call for perpetual vigilance against error in cradle Catholics.

  2. MarylandBill says:

    Well, to start with Catholics (at least those who identify Catholic, if not actively practicing Catholics, but that is a problem with all denominations) are not a small minority, we make up roughly 1/4th of the population of the United States. In addition, the poster’s history of Christianity in America seems to be somewhat skewed. Most of the “weird” cults that were kicked out of Europe became respectable mainline Protestant Churches (or even ultimately post-christian like the Unitarian Universalists). The Evangelical and Fundamentalist lines tended to be homegrown versions of Christianity.

    Further, this seems to be written by someone who views the Catholic Church as a social club. While I am not a proponent of Biblical Fundamentalism, their belief in and attempts to adhere to Biblical teaching are, I think, admirable in a world that all too readily rejects objective truth. Likewise, the willingness of Evangelicals to witness the faith is a practice that is all too often absent from most Catholics. We could do far worse than to convert people from those faith traditions.

  3. ChrisJ says:

    Pastor, I’m sorry you ran into this individual. The Catholic Church is a very big place so, statistically speaking, there are more fringe elements than in a smaller group. Please don’t take this person to heart. The majority of Catholics are delighted to work with other Christians and especially to welcome evangelical converts, doing so in the spirit of 1 Peter 3:15-16. I can attest to this because I’m a convert myself.

  4. This alleged Catholic can’t be living his faith. He must not believe that the measure he measures out to others will be measured back to him. He must also not set much store by the Catholic faith himself, since he doesn’t consider it worth sharing. He evidently does not take seriously that the entire business of our lives is, first, to save our own souls, and second, to help others to save theirs, and that this is accomplished by means of the Catholic faith. He must think that Christ did not also die for those who hold strange ideas. We obviously can’t bludgeon people into accepting the Catholic faith; but they deserve to have the option of knowingly accepting or rejecting it, and we have no business withholding it from them. What this guy is really saying is that he doesn’t care whether his fellow rational creatures go to heaven or to hell when they die. I can’t decide what’s worse: that, or affirmatively to wish for their eternal damnation.

    How horrible this is.

  5. DeltaEchoBravo says:

    I find this sort of talk upsetting. To set about the task of showing that someone has no theology, or to label them as cult, is a sure way to avoid any possibility of meaningful discussion. The same is true in any discussion where differing views are held. First and foremost we are talking to people. They have different experiences and view points, and if we are willing we can always learn from them. Learning from people with different beliefs or finding common ground as a basis for discussion does not mean manufacturing views or giving up on beliefs, and it is the foundation on which real connections are built.

    Condescension is rarely productive. While it is acceptable and, indeed, correct to show faith in and strength of one’s convictions, I think that using those convictions to see oneself as superior to another is a very dangerous play. We are all sinners dependent upon God’s mercy. We should delight in sharing what answers we have with those seeking truth.

    “And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. “

  6. LarryW2LJ says:

    There is no “elite” in Catholicism – anywhere. It was Jesus Himself who told us to be humble servants.

    “So when he had washed their feet [and] put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger* greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.”

  7. St. Rafael says:

    It has always been the mission of the Church to convert everyone. Every single person in the world should be Catholic. God wills the salvation of every single person. The Catholic faith is a gift for the entire world. We also have these two doctrines about Christ the King and Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. Christ is the king of the universe and there is no salvation outside the Church.

    Acts 10:34-35
    “And Peter opening his mouth, said: In very deed I perceive, that God is not a respecter of persons. But in every nation, he that feareth him, and worketh justice, is acceptable to him.”

  8. benedetta says:

    Never heard anything like it before. Wrong on so many levels, hard to know where to even begin. Not at all a grounded Catholic sort of view.

    Does sound to me a little bit trollish but without knowing more it’s hard to tell.

    I would say that this Pastor’s efforts with respect to these works of mercy he is involved in among different traditions side by side are an excellent practical way to go beyond any temptations towards such attitudes.

  9. FrDulli says:

    The original poster is going on generalizations, and Evangelical communities are thriving specifically because they intentionally resist denominations and other generalizations.

    I don’t think that Catholic elitism is appropriate. We are not going to foster any interest in theology if people do not think we care. Most ordinary people are not starting with theology but go where they are led by the relationships in their lives.

    Sometimes I find it frustrating when trying to speak theologically to someone who believes earnestly in faith alone. It is frustrating when you can tell that someone really believes that any catholic line of thinking is invalid because it does not fit with faith alone. It is worse when this becomes suspicion, fear, and finally full-blown anti-catholicism.

    Sometimes there is no opportunity to crack through the sola fide blockade and one has to withdraw. I still believe that in most cases being kind to neighbors is an irresistable rebuke to sola fide. How can sola fide be true when love is so profoundly powerful and effective?

  10. benedetta says:

    If we in the Catholic Church believe that we have the fullness of the truth, then, it is not for us to lord it over others who have not for whatever reason given a free assent, rather, our rightful place would be, to serve, with humility. And, one would hope, on a good day, with cheerfulness.

  11. FrJohn says:

    Consider, for further thought, John 15 where Jesus says: “… I call you friend…” by implication if you and I are His friends, then some others are not His friends thus there is a sort of elitism among those of us who are His friends, no? Who among us may legitimatly be called His friends? Who are not? Our Blessed Lord also said: “to those to whom much has been given, much will be expected.” Who has been given much if not we Catholics? Much is indeed expected of us, and we must be Christ-like in attempting to fulfill those expectations placed upon us. One does not deny a difficult truth just because it is difficult for some, yet, all things in charity, no?

  12. robtbrown says:

    The first sentence (“All Call to Catholics”) is indecipherable. Maybe it’s written in some kind of code to keep the NSA from knowing what’s being said. I know I don’t.

  13. Joe in Canada says:

    It’s a bit difficult to make sense of, which contributes to the “trollishness” of it. And if the original poster did reply he “would mind” to having the post reposted somewhere else, the Baptist pastor could have taken that as a bit of a warning sign.

    Behind the unhelpful and somewhat confusing language of the original post, is I think an important point. Catholicism in North America is heavily influenced by popular ideas of “Christianity”, which are often seen in various media, but also by wedding and funeral directors, Catholic goods catelogues, etc. We Catholics do not have to apologize for fundamentalism, literalism, creationism, etc. We should not adopt Protestant practices which are based on nonliturgical theology, etc, let alone allow commercialized aspects of Protestantism (those planners) influence our liturgy. Elements such as spontaneous prayer, faith-sharing, etc, are fine in their place, but are not liturgical.

    We don’t need to be elitist, but we need to be firmly and confidently Catholic.

  14. Titus says:

    That’s something of an over-generalization and misrepresentation of early American history, for starters.

    Second, obviously all persons are called to membership in the Church of Christ. It’s manifestly and profoundly uncharitable to cordon someone off as undeserving or unsuitable for conversion.

    Third, to give the troll his due, evangelical Protestantism is, frankly, largely an intellectual Potemkin Village. You have a pretty narrow fringe of folks—the Wheaton and Hillsdale types—who really do try to engage intellectually with theology and philosophy. But a lot of American Protestantism is intellectually vapid, even without engaging in baseline criticisms of Lutheran and Calvinist thought.

  15. Titus says:

    P.S. re: the term “cult”: there are elements of evangelical Protestantism within the U.S. that probably qualify as “cults” in the sense that word is used in modern English. But it doesn’t fairly describe the vast swathe of evangelicalism per se. There’s a lot wrong there, but being a silly iconoclast who doesn’t know history isn’t the same thing as being in a cult.

  16. Priam1184 says:

    That guy, whoever posted that, has a bad attitude. Our Lord never called us to be elitists. That said, many who are called Christians do have very odd, and largely unrecognizable to me, theologies. For a lot of them their entire existence seems to revolve around something called the ‘rapture’ which I can find nowhere in either the Scriptures of in any part of the Church’s Teaching at any point in its history. Many of them are anti-Trinitarian and a good portion of these don’t even practice baptism, which is the foundation of any kind of Christian life. I don’t know what these people believe in ultimately, or where they think their authority comes from which makes it impossible to ‘dialogue’ with them. We don’t have to be jerks, but we do have to be honest.

  17. Cantor says:

    The thread has been closed on the original posting site for badgering other religions. It was evidently the work of a troll as reg suggests.

    Seems to me that we are called to be as Christ-like as we are able. And He sure talked with and invited followers from a lot of different groups. That seems to be the proper path to follow, even here and now!

  18. Doug R says:

    Umm. Errr. Ahh. Hmm.

    Have to agree that it sounds like troll-bait, or it may be that the original poster just didn’t have a clue about his faith (assuming he is, in fact, Catholic). Although it may be a combination of the two.

  19. Kathleen10 says:

    Hm. If my experiences online are anything resembling reality, I would say the far greater experience, far greater, are Protestants who talk about Catholics, or to Catholics, as if we are already judged, damned, and going straight to Hell for the practice of our faith. Go to any combox where the Pope or Catholicism is discussed, i.e. online news organizations, etc., and you will find the large majority of Protestant comments are going to be critical of Catholicism and self-righteous about matters of faith. Some of it is subtle, much of it is overt. Almost all of it is annoying, to me anyway. So if this person is sincere, that’s sweet, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I know I’ve never heard anyone say anything like this at all.
    If “elitism” means we love our Catholic faith and do not want to see it watered down into Protestantism, then, personally, I’m an elitist.

  20. Toan says:

    That person’s comments are loaded with errors, some grammatical, others philosophical/theological, which many have pointed out. He clearly misunderstands what it means to be Catholic, and seems more interested in cutting people down than building them up. I’ll point out one more.

    He says, “I for one don’t ever want them and their strange views within Catholicism. I would never want to convert them for the sake of preserving the Church teachings.” If someone converts to the Catholic faith, it would mean that they come to believe Church teaching. Their strange views would not go with them if they actually convert. One can’t convert to the Catholic faith and believe in sola scriptura, for example. Withholding truth for the sake of preserving truth is lunacy.

    Most importantly, how can anyone claim that Catholic teaching is true, good, and beautiful without wanting to share it with everyone? How can anyone receive superabundant graces from the sacraments without wanting to share it with everyone? It would be utter selfishness to refuse to share it with any group of people.

  21. Ed the Roman says:

    My experience with reading things written by priests is that even if their English is bad, it isn’t bad in that way. This reads like the comments of an impassioned blog or Facebook poster whose university education was interrupted or non-existent, and who has assuredly not written a homily a week for even a few years.

  22. The Cobbler says:

    I almost wonder if it was intended to be satirical. You know how it is with satire — if it’s bad, nobody can tell whether the author is for or against the obviously awful arguments presented, and if it’s good, then nobody can tell whether the author is for or against the subtly awful arguments presented. The theory that people who actually believe awful things will suddenly recognise their awfulness if you exaggerate loudly enough has never panned out when tested, but it’s popular enough that people keep trying.

  23. Elizabeth D says:

    The “All Call to Catholics” thing is uncharitable in multiple ways and doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me. It is kind of hard to respond to because it doesn’t make sense. It’s not immediately clear to me that the writer is actually a Catholic… though digging deeper I think he may be.

    I did a little searching and while sometimes this forum user Artifice32 does comment on Catholicism, he also seems involved in Buddhism, and for instance comments in a post on the Buddhism forum of the same site “I like the Dhammapada suggestion. However, I would also like to recommend the Diamond Sutra, The Vimalakirtri Sutra, the Lotus Sutra. This is all Mahayana Buddhism. Personally I would stay away from Zen Buddhism although I know it is popular here in the states for some reason.” In another post he links to his dating site profile [He is 33 and lives in CA] in which he states that “[I spend a lot of time thinking about] The meaning of life which I have come to the conclusion is just having fun and developing the spirit to get into Heaven. ” Doesn’t mention Catholicism, and profile says “Doesn’t have kids, and doesn’t want any.” Which says he wants a girlfriend but not to actually marry as a Catholic. Also in the thread where he posted about his dating profile he says “I spent most of my youth reading the classics of literature, theology and philosophy i.e. the Decameron (which is the original Canterbury Tales) Homer, The Bhagavad Gita, The Upanishads, The Buddhist Sutras, Plato, Socrates, Hegel, Kant, Dickens, Lowe, Elliot, Cather, Woolf…I’ve read it all.” Not my intent to pry, but this was posted by the same user on the same public board.

    My interpretation is that he looks to be a nominal Catholic who is a good reader, interested in religion and assumes he is rather more educated in his faith than actually he is. There are so many Catholics who need solid Catholic friends in their life, which would also bring more happiness. I think this person would benefit from that, and being introduced to great classic Catholic writings, like St Augustine and various other Saints who were great writers and thinkers, since he is clearly a reader who avidly likes classics and could sink his teeth into that. I wish very much I had been introduced to great Catholic writers from a young age, but even though I was a big reader who loved classics I never encountered those kinds of things, I wasn’t exposed to it and didn’t know that existed. When I did encounter that, it was hugely compelling and taught me so much, it was a huge factor in my return to the Church.

  24. jge313 says:

    I would question the validity of the post. Was he/she even Catholic. I do believe the one true faith is the Catholic faith founded by Christ. I would never presume to be above anyone in a sincere search for truth. I hope that you do not take offense by what this person posted. I know all types of Catholics; from catholics to Catholics; from Charismatic to SSPX, and none that I know would ever not welcome a person who is sincerely seeking God.

  25. Bea says:

    “It’s the history of Europe kicking out all the weird cults that emerged at the time and sent them to America. ”
    I don’t know what history books this person has been reading. I’ve always understood that America was populated by those fleeing persecution or looking for a better way of life. “Kicking out?” come now!

    “I would never want to convert them for the sake of preserving the Church teachings.”
    This is backwards. How can one preserve Church Teachings by converting others? Church Teachings stand alone on their own ground. The ground that it is what Christ taught. Period. It is the Church’s (Christ’s) Teachings that convert others not the other way around.

    This is way off base and not worth replying to someone who is so mixed up. I’d just loosen the sand from my sandal and walk away. Elitist? Not so. One doesn’t compromise Truth for the sake of converting someone. I agree with various posters above. He/She is just a troll hoping for “entrapment” on our Faith.

    Besides we’re not such a small minority. A POTUS could never get elected without the Catholic vote.
    We’re just a silent (or uneducated properly in our Faith) majority.

  26. Legisperitus says:

    The writer seems confused about the difference between a cult (in the narrow, pejorative sense) and a sect.

  27. Bea says:

    On second thought, I think it was meant as a satire.

  28. Unwilling says:

    elite < L. eligo < G. ἐκλέγομαι
    "chosen", "selected", "drawn out from among others", "elect"
    Matt 20:16 Many are called, but few are chosen (ἐκλεκτοί).
    1 Cor. 1:27 God has chosen (ἐξελέξατο) the stupidities of the world, so as to mock the wise…
    John 15:16 I chose (ἐξελεξάμην) you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…

    The writer is no scholar and disregards the duty of decorum. But, charitably interpreted, in speaking of a holy elitism, he is pointing to the high dignity of the Christian commitment. And with regard to his refusal to convert others, it seems he got tongue-tied, meaning by those words either that he would not waste his time throwing pearls or that he would not offer theological accommodations to get misguided converts.

    Indeed, his remarks bear the literal character of the μωρὰ that are sent to embarrass us learned folk. I'd cut him some slack.

  29. JacobWall says:

    I would say this is un-Catholic; we are called to hope that all come to the fullness of the faith, and act accordingly. The person who wrote the post is confused in the sense that he believes that we only have two choices – attacking others’ faith or proselytizing them. True evangelization has little (if anything) to do with either.

    I do not consider all branches of Christianity to be on equal footing; there is certainly a hierarchy, and it is the Catholic Church that holds the Christian faith in its fullness. Yet, at the same time, the various branches of Christianity have maintained a good deal of the faith. Although full communion is lacking, other Christians are our brothers in Christ.

    There are also some instances where in practice other Christians have maintained what we are holding on to barely by a thread. For example, in person, I know about 2 Catholics (not counting priests) who actually believe that child-bearing, when possible, is an essential and indispensable part of marriage. On the other hand, among the Old Colony Mennonites (the denomination in which I was born) I would say that a good 90% of the several hundred I know not only know this but put it into full practice. If any Catholic is proud these days, he should let this fact humble him.

    Yes, my hope is that they would come to the fullness of the faith, but I do not proselytize. When I share things Catholic with them, I share it as a brother, and in a way that I hope will edify.

    Elitism and pride are not a Catholic way of viewing the world. One of the hallmarks of Catholicism, one that struck me profoundly when I joined, was the humility – “Lord, I am not worthy …” not “Lord, I’m glad I am more worthy than these others.” (That does not mean there is no room for elitist or proud Catholics, but it does mean that those concepts are not fit to define the faith itself.)

    Those belonging to Christian denominations are our brothers in Christ. I have a surprisingly large number of friends who are pastors in Evangelical, Baptist or similar denominations. I have close relatives who are ministers in the church of my people. I consider these friendships to be a special blessing for that reason. They are not leaders of “Christian Cults” and they share many of the basics of the faith with us. Along with many other friends from these denominations, I feel closer to them and feel the bond Christian brotherhood more with them then I do with dissenting or extremely “liberal” Catholics.

    I don’t know if this is theologically correct, but I do believe that they have a greater blessing for holding to what faith they have than Catholics who distort, mock or reject the fullness of the faith they’ve received. In the case of many of them, if they were to join the Catholic Church, contrary to what the commenter referred to here implies, they would bring many good things with them.

    So, if the pastor who wrote this gets this far in my unnecessarily long post, I wish you many blessings in your ministry, and I hope you are not discouraged by one unreasonable character who crawled out of some hole in an online forum.

  30. Dear Pastor, pray for the person in question, especially if he is Catholic and not a troll. Either way, the person could use some prayers. Oh God, please clean up the mess!

  31. Lavrans says:

    So how should we go about pointing out error, since that is what Christ did and what the Church has always done. I get it…with love. But telling a protestant that he or she has been misled will not sound like love to them.

  32. Matt R says:

    His initial impulse is one I agree with. Chesterton said, “In America, they have a feast to celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims. In England, we should have a feast to celebrate their departure.” There was only so much deviation from orthodox Christianity (by which I mean Catholicism, and then from Anglicanism, Lutheranism, and the Reformed position in the Protestant view) that was tolerable, hence they were persecuted. As to MarylandBill’s comment, it was the evolution into Methodism and Pietism (the Great Awakening) that brought us a more home-grown form of Calvinism, and it affects us to this day. It’s a Calvinist-laden theology of the Cross that I barely recognize.
    That all being said, the rest is ridiculous, and Anita Moore stated it well.

  33. Lavrans says:

    I’m of the opinion that there will be no unity until Christ comes again. The diabolic is too strong in this world and we will not overcome differences in this present life.

  34. Johnno says:

    Mr. Pastor Sir,

    The Baptists are a Protestant sect who are not in union with the only true Church Christ established. The Catholic Church. It is certainly not in the best condition lately, but it remains the only Ark you need to board in order to be saved. It remains the only Kingdom on Earth that is Christ’s and within which you can obey the Lord’s command to eat His Body and drink His Blood in order to have everlasting life. The longer you stand away from her, the more imperilled shall be your soul.

    As disciples of Christ within His Church, idiots though we may occasionally be, we have an obligation to convert you and the entire world. Every. Single. One. Of. You. It doesn’t matter whether you are a nice person or not, or whether you and I shall get along or not. Of course not one of us can actually convert you by ourselves. Our part is to share with you the authentic Gospel and have an answer for every one of your queries. The rest is up to the Holy Spirit to enlighten you and un-harden your heart. So conversion is a team-effort, not because God couldn’t just do it Himself, but because for various reasons, he prefers it this way, in order to perfect us. If I claim to love God, as an actual real person right in front of me, then how can I ignore you, who are one of his children and continue to allow you to keep straying into harm by being outside of the safety of Christ’s one holy and apostolic Church?

    Certainly Catholics and Protestants can work together on many things, just as well as a Christian can work together with a non-Christian to some common end. But make no mistake: I do not do so because I’m okay with you remaining in error. You don’t have a ‘right’ to follow a false religion, nor belong to any subset of Christianity that is not in full accord with our Lord’s commands and distorts His Word. The Catholic Church is not simply ‘elitist’, it is simply factually correct in matters of the faith with regards to your salvation. This makes it truthful, and it makes your faith either untruthful, or at best an unintentional distortion of truth.

    You need to come home sir, you, your loved ones, even the elitist amongst you who think yourselves better and of no need of Jesus Christ’s one and only Church and the Sacraments He gave her. I don’t think my fellow Catholics should behave as elitists, I just think they should be more honest and up-front in their dealings with you and other Protestants. Any Catholic who tells you that your erroneous faith is perfectly okay and that you do not need to convert is mistaken and deceives you out of misguided friendliness. He probably doesn’t know any better. That is a failing that belongs to all of us Catholics who haven’t taken up the grave responsibility of informing ourselves and our fellow members. No different than in the days of Israel prior to the exile. But despite that Israel’s people degraded themselves into confusion and sin, Israel remained God’s chosen people. So too, despite Catholics degrading themselves into confusion and sin, the Catholic Church remains God’s chosen bride. And God is faithful, monogamous and he does not divorce to remarry another, no matter how much younger or hip she is.

    You are in my prayers, sincerely –

    One of them Catholics.

  35. i’ve been battling a horrible bout of vertigo all day and probably should just lay down but i HAD to stop by the good padre’s blog. There’s no way on earth i’m passing it up for anything. Let’s see if we can gather some thoughts without rambling too much.
    First of all agree w/ many comments by ppl who question if this person is even Catholic.Course it’s possible.The laity is not infallible or perfect. I was also writing on a forum tonight lamenting how we have lost our Catholic culture in this country-there was a time i think we had more influence on our communities.Our values seemed to have more influence. That said,sounds like this person considers it the Catholic Club and not the Catholic faith. The United States was vastly more Protestant in its foundation than Catholic-Calvinist i believe. I think we came here to escape persecution and except for the Quakers in Penn’s Woods we again faced persecution. We’ve come a long ways since then but you still run into a lot of anti Catholicism. I am so thankful to run into people like this Baptist pastor or my own friend in Florida who is an evangelical.We agree more often than not and when we disagree we still totally respect each other.Will there be unity? God has a plan.The diabolic IS strong in this world but let’s not give him too much credit or think he has more power than he actually does.
    Yep,agree that the Catholic Church IS the one true Church of Christ. Why would we even BE Catholic if we didn’t believe that? I would be grateful to have been baptized into a Catholic family or to have converted at some point. Grateful not elitist. I would also say there is nothing wrong with being proud to be Catholic. In the culture we live in that may not be a bad thing. We’re not supposed to hide it under a rock. Qualifier: be GRATEFUL and proud. Recognize God’s grace in other people such as the Baptist pastor. Think of the witness it would be to the world if we were one but we don’t get there by proclaiming we’re better than you.There are enough examples of some Catholics where that probably ISN’T the case. Nuff said.Apologies to the good pastor and take heart. Either this person wasn’t Catholic and is trying to start something.Or is Catholic and has some problems of his own.In either case just better to ignore and keep on.

  36. jflare says:

    Hmm. An interesting batch of thoughts, I must say. The passage is a little difficult for me to follow, so it’s a little difficult to know precisely what to address, but here’s a few thoughts:

    – Two denominations that have influenced history in this nation no longer exist for practical purposes. Let’s remember that Puritans and Quakers still have adherents about, but in numbers small enough as to be negligible from a statistical viewpoint.

    – Methodists and Presbyterians weren’t precisely “kicked out” of Europe, but they didn’t precisely get along with Lutherans or each other either. Methodism more or less derived from John Wesley’s disputes against Calvin, while Calvin essentially developed Presbyterian ideas. Both differed greatly from Luther, who still felt that the Eucharist contained the Real Presence of Christ, even if his spiritual descendants didn’t.

    – Baptists descend from Anabaptists, who disagreed with Luther, Calvin, and Wesley. (I think) Among other concerns, I think the original anabaptists began the whole effort of choosing their own pastors.

    – Other faiths are “weird cults”. Well, given my own Catholic background, I’m inclined to think of anyone who doesn’t answer to Rome as being “weird”, but that doesn’t mean they’ve wholly abandoned any idea of faith. As to being a “cult’, the only time I’ve come across a useful definition of that was when Catholic Answers did an article on the subject a few years ago. In this age, being a “cult” could mean any number of things.

    – A Protestant nation? Well, we certainly aren’t based on Catholic principles, so we’re inherently not Catholic as a nation. I’m not sure what that means in terms in terms of Church/State separation or other concerns though. If I don’t care for every Protestant view, I care even less for secular ones, so it’d be best to allow a Protestant to make a case rather than not.

    – Catholics are inclined to be accepting? …Since when? It may be that we’re challenged by faith to accept the human dignity of all persons, but I must comment that I find I’m forced into being “exclusive” or “elitist” when Protestants don’t wish to consider Catholic ideals.

    – Doesn’t want “weird ideas” in Catholicism. Tough to know how to interpret that one. Because Catholicism is based on a VERY “weird” premise, ie. Christ rising from the dead, we’re tough to beat on being weird. On the other hand, that probably means that the author doesn’t wish to see Catholic teaching being diluted to satisfy Protestant attitudes. I’m inclined to agree; I think if a Protestant wishes to hold fast to a principle that undermines the Church’s teaching or even contradicts it, I’m not interested in challenging that Protestant to convert either.

    On the whole, a most perplexing posting, I must say.

  37. Navarricano says:

    The mind boggles at this kind of narrow, wrongheaded stupidity. I am sorry, Pastor, that you encountered this kind of bigotry, and you must know that it represents not at all the mind of a Catholic who genuinely believes what the Church teaches. I will only add two more things in response:

    1) I am a convert to the Catholic Faith, specifically, from a Southern Baptist congregation. I thank God I never encountered an individual with this kind of attitude when I first began to explore the Catholic Faith. Had that happened, I would almost certainly have been turned off by the Catholic Faith, but as it was, the priests and laity I encountered were all very kind to me, generous with their time, and well-formed in the Faith that they shared so patiently with me.

    2) Having said that, bigotry is not the exclusive domain of either Catholics or Protestants. My own investigation into the Catholic Faith was sparked as the result of attending a “revival” at the Baptist church that I had joined when I was 13 years old, in my father’s southern hometown . Something similar occurred there: the visiting preacher railed against Catholicism, the doctrine of purgatory and the practice of praying for the dead, among other things. His sermon condemning Catholics as idolaters destined for Hell actually had the opposite of the desired effect on 15-year-old me, and caused me to start asking questions of some very close friends from a Catholic family I knew. There were (and still are) plenty of devout Baptists all across the rural U.S. who regard Catholics as not being Christians, who refer to the Church as an anti-Christian cult, and the “whore of Babylon”; who believe the pope to be the anti-Christ, and who actively target Catholics in their proselytizing. In this last point, at least, they differ from the Catholic bigot cited above, in that they consider us worthy of evangelization.

    We all clearly have a long way to go in healing the wounds that we have inflicted on Christ’s Body, the Church.

  38. Imrahil says:

    Raises some interesting points.

    First, I second what the dear Titus said.

    Then, taking the words as they stand, there seems to be a little more behind them:
    So, I don’t proselytize to them. Instead, my tactic is to always show them how they have no theology.
    So, he does proselytize to them.

    I do not usually use the word “proselytize” because I have not yet seen a clear definition, and of course we have to wish to convert every and each person not Catholic yet. Still, it may make some sense to, so to speak, distribute one’s energy rationally. I might understand a Catholic who says, “I want all to become Catholic, but as for actual efforts other than prayer, I find it more effective not to purposely direct them to practicing homosexuals”.

    The writer of the piece does not do things of that sort, though. He seems concerned that they might subscribe to orthodoxy but bring their own practices, insofar as they are orthodox, into the Catholic fold – practices which, to him, seems cultlike. Maybe, for instance – I’m just thinking aloud now and recycling the issue of liturgical music – he dislikes the atmosphere usually present at worship&praise events (is it too much to assume that so does some of the commentatorship here). And, he has a right to his tastes. Also, he might think, for instance, that Gregorian chant is objectively better for the Catholic expression of religion (where he would be even objectively right). If he, now, says “let’s be more elitist”, he might mean that we shouldn’t let them be Catholic unless they quite worship&praise music. After all, can’t we expect them to sacrifice for belonging to the true Church?

    He’s wrong there.

    For us, all that is not forbidden is allowed, and nothing is sacred except the sacred. The Catholic social atmosphere remaining as it is, undisturbed by converted people bringing their own with them, is – unless necessary for the Faith – not among those sacred things.

    Unfortunately this attitude is somewhat frequent. For instance, I don’t think that the tone of rejection which the SSPX faces from some German theologians is entirely about present subscription to doctrine and past illegal actions. I don’t want to accuse anybody of anything, but isn’t there a “may Rome make it hard for them! we don’t want that sort of Catholicism accepted in the Church” behind?

  39. Imrahil says:

    Excuse the spelling errors, please, and the inverting mess. I only wanted to invert “entirely”.

  40. CrimsonCatholic says:

    It’s clearly a troll from my perspective.

    On the subject of bigotry, I was raised in Alabama in the heart of the bible belt. I attended a large public school, and on at least one occasion at said school I was put on a “prayer list” by a school prayer group that I might not burn in hell. The protestants here truly hate Catholics here , this has generally been my experience as Kathleen stated. Most of the hate comes from ignorance and the lack knowledge of what Catholics actually believe. However, I have known plenty of good, knowledgeable protestants so this isn’t a sweeping generalization of all.

  41. The Masked Chicken says:

    To begin with, I suspect that this person is not skilled in written communication. It is clear that his first sentence:

    All Call to Catholics

    was meant to be:

    A Call to Catholics:

    The letter was meant to be a call to arms not to dilute the Faith, but it is badly expressed. In the face of rampant, wrongly understood, ecumenism (the document on Ecumenism from Vatican II makes the correct understanding clear), the writer is trying, poorly, to ask people not to be co-opted by a creeping Protestanization of the Church. His central argument is that Protestantism, both mainstream (which I think he considers Baptists, Methodists, etc.) and cult-of-personality types, like televangelists, have invaded society to the point where the correct and superior (in the sense of truth) claims of the Catholic Church (what he means by elitism – a correct use of the term, as Unwilling points out, above) has all but been swallowed up in a race-to-the bottom for a bland, “nice,” Christianity.

    When he says he doesn’t want to convert them for the sake of preserving the Church, what he means is that he doesn’t want to keep the name, Catholic, but let their doctrine in as a type of impurity.

    Clearly and indisputably, he has a right to be concerned, because, in many subtle ways, this corruption has happened. Contraception: does one, really, need to say anything, more? Pope Pius XI wrote the encyclical, Casti Connubii, specifically to refute the early Protestant (Church of England) caving in to contraception at the Lambeth conference in 1930 and, yet, here we are with more than 50% (or higher?) of Catholic couples contracepting.

    He is not even wrong about some of the early Protestant settlers being kicked out of Europe. They escaped for religious freedom, to be sure, but it is a little like asking if finding Jesus in the Temple is a joyful mystery (Dominican rosary) or if losing Jesus is a sorrowful mystery (Servite chaplet).

    In fine, the writer was not meaning to be uncharitable. He could stand to take several classes in writing and rhetoric. He came off sounding uncharitable because he was wielding his pen (keyboard) like a mallet. If the Baptist pastor had had more experience in correcting high school English papers, he might not have read anything uncharitable into the letter and would have understood that the central purpose of the letter, so mangled and badly put, is there are legitimate differences between people who believe in the Resurrection of Christ and these differences cannot be allowed to coalesce into Lewis’s, “Mere Christianity”.

    As for true Ecumenism, there is room for joint sharing in charitable deed, but mark, well, what Vatican II had to say on the subject (DECREE ON ECUMENISM, UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO):

    ” 11. The way and method in which the Catholic faith is expressed should never become an obstacle to dialogue with our brethren. It is, of course, essential that the doctrine should be clearly presented in its entirety. Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism, in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers loss and its genuine and certain meaning is clouded.

    At the same time, the Catholic faith must be explained more profoundly and precisely, in such a way and in such terms as our separated brethren can also really understand.”

    “[19.] It must however be admitted that in these Churches and ecclesial Communities there exist important differences from the Catholic Church, not only of a historical, sociological, psychological and cultural character, but especially in the interpretation of revealed truth. To make easier the ecumenical dialogue in spite of these differences, we wish to set down some considerations which can, and indeed should, serve as a basis and encouragement for such dialogue.”

    “12. Before the whole world let all Christians confess their faith in the triune God, one and three in the incarnate Son of God, our Redeemer and Lord. United in their efforts, and with mutual respect, let them bear witness to our common hope which does not play us false. In these days when cooperation in social matters is so widespread, all men without exception are called to work together, with much greater reason all those who believe in God, but most of all, all Christians in that they bear the name of Christ. Cooperation among Christians vividly expresses the relationship which in fact already unites them, and it sets in clearer relief the features of Christ the Servant. This cooperation, which has already begun in many countries, should be developed more and more, particularly in regions where a social and technical evolution is taking place be it in a just evaluation of the dignity of the human person, the establishment of the blessings of peace, the application of Gospel principles to social life, the advancement of the arts and sciences in a truly Christian spirit, or also in the use of various remedies to relieve the afflictions of our times such as famine and natural disasters, illiteracy and poverty, housing shortage and the unequal distribution of wealth. All believers in Christ can, through this cooperation, be led to acquire a better knowledge and appreciation of one another, and so pave the way to Christian unity.”

    So, although badly expressed and badly misunderstood, the writer is not wrong. He does not imply that Catholics and Protestants cannot work together in certain actions of mutual charity, such as feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, but he is suggesting that one must recognize doctrinal differences for what they are and to recognize that these differences have significances.

    Thus, I find this to be a tempest in a teapot. I am sorry that the Baptist pastor was upset, but, may I suggest that he might have misread or misunderstood the writer’s intentions. Charity extends to the written text, no less than to the food table, and should always begin by charitably asking, with no preconceptions: what does this writer really mean?

    The Chicken

  42. AVL says:

    To the good Pastor:
    Catholicism was never elitist… from the start it was meant for the humble, the poor, the outcasts, the undesirables. Jesus came to call sinners – from all the nations. Please pray for the individual who posted that they may see their error. Not wanting to convert “cult Christians” shows a hardness of heart and doesn’t reflect the truth Jesus shares with us in the Gospel. All praise and honor and glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ!

  43. acricketchirps says:

    All I read in the comments were knee jerk reactions (not counting Johnno’s, in a class of its own), until… (well to be honest I started just skimming) until I got to Chicken’s comment, which is both precise and accurate.

  44. Cosmos says:

    The guy sounds like a snob/crank, but the Church seems to have generally gone too far in the other direction: being so humble about the Truth that we think it better not to share it than APPEAR elitist.

  45. Stephen D says:

    Bea quotes and then says: “It’s the history of Europe kicking out all the weird cults that emerged at the time and sent them to America. ”
    I don’t know what history books this person has been reading. I’ve always understood that America was populated by those fleeing persecution or looking for a better way of life. “Kicking out?” come now!

    The Puritans didn’t leave England to flee persecution (they weren’t being persecuted), they left because they were in a minority and so unable to enforce their views on society. So they went to create a society which they could direct, including the persecution of those who disagreed with them.

  46. Stephen D says:

    Bea quotes and then says: “It’s the history of Europe kicking out all the weird cults that emerged at the time and sent them to America. ”
    I don’t know what history books this person has been reading. I’ve always understood that America was populated by those fleeing persecution or looking for a better way of life. “Kicking out?” come now!

    The Puritans didn’t leave England to flee persecution (they weren’t being persecuted), they left because they were in a minority and so unable to enforce their views on society. So they went to create a society which they could direct, including the persecution of those who disagreed with them.

  47. The Masked Chicken says:

    This is not really relevant to the discussion, but just a note: if you have an iphone/pad/touch, be very careful upgrading to the latest iOS (7.1.1). It seems to be massively bricking the hardware. I just upgraded, thinking that this was the upgrade that was supposed to fix that (I lost track of the upgrade cycle), but, instead, it is the evil upgrade. Lost everything. Fortunately, my research data is backed up, but everything else, is gone. This is just a public service announcement. We, now, return you to the regularly scheduled comment box.

    The Chicken

  48. Priam1184 says:

    Just for the record: way back in my comment up and several places before the Chicken’s long but well written missive when I stated that it is impossible to ‘dialogue’ with these people I was speaking in terms of communities. It is impossible to speak to them as groups since they tend to be inherently unstable amoebas who constantly change shape and disappear and reappear under different guises. However when one encounters an individual who is trapped in these false beliefs then we must do what we can to help them come to the Truth.

  49. Cosmos wrote:
    “The guy sounds like a snob/crank, but the Church seems to have generally gone too far in the other direction: being so humble about the Truth that we think it better not to share it than APPEAR elitist.”
    on the mark :)

  50. Matt R says:

    Stephen D, the English probably wished, in the past at least, that all of the Puritans had left considering the experience of the Civil War (and OK, that meant the reaction that got to James II as well, but oh well…)
    Chicken, nicely stated.

  51. RJHighland says:

    How about we go over to any Baptist blog and see what they are saying about Catholic and ask this guy to respond to every dispareging remark made by Baptists about Catholics? Seriously. This is one individual who obviously is showing some backbone, misguided but at least showing some passion for his faith. Sounds like most people think this guy needs some estrogen injections, like most of the priests in our beloved Church act like they are on. Nothing wrong with defending your faith when confronted by heretics/separated bretheren. It is best to do it with charity. Most of the denominational and non-denomination Churches in my neck of the woods are filled with poorly catechized Catholics that fell for false accusations against the Catholic faith. I was raised Baptist I know how they talk about Catholics. Elitist is definitly a poor word choice but hey I like the passion. When you have Pope’s and leaders of the Church asking forgiveness for all the wrongs the Catholic Church has done for 2000 years and not standing up for the fact that it is the only Church that contains the fullness of the Truth handed down from our Lord to the Apostles, oh wait are we still allowed to believe that or is it the truth subsists in the Church, they probably need to apologize for that too. I feel another testosterone serge coming I better go get an estrogen boost cause I feel like whippen some folks and flippen some tables.

  52. iPadre says:

    I’m sure there are some elitists in the Church. However, the elitists I have encountered are liberals (some, not all), who will not give a “conservative” or “traditionalist” (I don’t like the labels, but use them for the point) the time of day. I find Catholics (not all, but most) from all spectrums very open an loving toward all people, regardless of creed or lack of.

  53. Justin_Kolodziej says:

    Eh. If they are going to believe what the Catholic Church believes and anathemize what she anathemizes, then let them in not matter how “weird” they seem on the outside. Otherwise forget it.

  54. we’ve all heard it at one time or another.Most of us have the Church is the whore,the pope the anti christ,how Catholics are going to hell,worship statues(idolatry)and everything under the sun(probably as in IHS stands for, you know). You have to wonder why these people go to such lengths? If i weren’t Catholic and heard all this or i was poorly catechized to begin with I’d be scared to death of the Catholic Church too.There must be a reason? Maybe some people truly believe all that and are sincere or maybe some people want others to really believe all that to keep them away for fear if they knew what the Catholic Church really was they would swim the Tiber. I am NOT saying this is cause to do the same back…just stating what i know to be true.On the other hand i was very encouraged with the strides we are making with the Orthodox. Maybe we will be one again. With the way Christians are being persecuted world wide i don’t think the Orthodox and Catholic can afford to stay apart much longer. Maybe we will unite out of necessity soon? Hope so. Not a great deal that keeps us apart.

  55. The Masked Chicken says:

    I got my iPad to work. Yea!

    What does the statement, “I view statements like these to be a very real threat to unity,” reveal about the pastor’s understanding of unity? There cannot be unity without truth. In fact, there is no unity between Catholic’s and Baptists in several key areas. That the pastor should take offense that a Catholic pointed this out is disturbing. The word, “elitist,” while a proper word, may not have been the most prudent word to express what the writer meant. This is one of the flaws with drive-by posting in blogs on the Internet: it is difficult to obtain clarification or realize that one has been unclear. Did the pastor post a comment for clarification from the original writer? This strikes me as a better move towards unity than sending a note to Fr. Z asking for opinions, second-hand.

    I cannot view the original post nor the forum (which is not identified), so I do not know what, if any, interaction happened subsequent to the original comment by the writer. If no attempt to ask for clarification were made or if one could not pull back in the original writer to clarify his remarks, then the writer’s comments do not have a high enough information content to warrant an extended discussion of them. Not to be uncharitable, but this is a weak form of Internet proof-texting. At best, one might get an idea of what the writer meant (although his poor writing does not help), but, should one even stop to think that this is a proper reflection of what the Church teaches? The writer is making a statement in isolation, but even though one may take an isolated statement of St. Paul (as some feminists do) to try to prove that he is a misogynist, one must, ultimately, form a fair judgment of his beliefs based on the totality of his writing. The pastor does not have access to anything but this one statement by the writer and is relying on a limited sample, which may or may not happen to coincide with the teachings of the Church.

    In other words, in forming an equitable judgment about this writer’s comment, the pastor should have done his own homework and Googled, Ecumenism. He would have, quickly, found a link to, Unitatis Redintegratio, from which I cited, above. Then, with a red pen, he could have corrected the writing of the writer to make sense, as a high school English teacher might, then compare the Church’s view with the writer’s view. Armed with that knowledge, the pastor could have done tremendous good on the original forum by referring the readers to the documents and asking the original writer (if he were still hanging around) some clarifying questions to see how the writer understands the Church’s teaching.

    One could only hope for such considerations on most blogs!

    Fortunately, because of the registration process and vetting that goes on at this blog, there are no drive-by posters and one can really start to get a sense (for good or ill) of community. Yes, we disagree, sometimes passionately, but the degree of clarity and charity on this blog is very high.

    I hope I have not sounded harsh about this situation. The pastor, almost certainly, has graduate seminary training, so I have treated him as a graduate level. I would make my students do the work to answer their own questions until they go in over their heads. The original writer sounds like English is his native tongue, but that he has not had to do much writing in his profession. The writer must understand that in any Internet forum thousands of people might be reading and you, sometimes, only get one chance to say what you have to say. It does no good to shoot your message in the leg by writing a comment that takes a Ph.d in English to decipher. If there is any doubt about clarity, it always helps to get a second pair of eyes on the comment before hitting, “post.” Even using the Preview button can help. In any case, I hope both the pastor and the writer will be able to laugh about their little dust-up, together, in Heaven.

    The Chicken

  56. benwizzin2 says:

    First of all, don’t apologize, correct the comment if there truely was something against Catholic teaching. Vatican II popes apologize, our president apologizes. We do not know the entire story here so it is probably preemptive to comment too harshly. However, there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church. That much I do know. If that is elitist, than I’m an elitist. I would rather offend someone’s pride than try to shade the Truth as Christ gave it to us through revelation. Charity sometimes means telling somebody the harsh truth. You cannot separate God’s mercy from His justice. Has every priest spoken so nicely about your sins in the confessional? No! Personally speaking, some things that have been said to me hurt me gravely because I knew them to be true! As a result of that spiritual “medicine,” I’m healing. That “medicine” was given to me in harsh, but loving words. The term elitist appears to be a bad choice of a word, but I see a different message; you must be Catholic to attain salvation.

  57. Sonshine135 says:

    This reads of satire. Were I to write a letter to the faithful, I would be more inclined to write something positive and a bit more appealing to a simpleton such as myself. Something like this:
    “Let your work evangelize to Protestants.”(Something not Sola Fide, but it gives positive imagery as of one were laboring in the vineyard)
    Elitism is almost diametrically opposite of humility. If this person was being serious, something was lost in translation.

  58. Unwilling says:

    @Sonshine, we need GKC to bring out the paradox whose two sides make up a whole truth. Yesterday I should have posted more words from the quotation of John 15:16
    You did not choose (G.ἐξελέξασθε L. elegistis) me, but I chose (G.ἐξελεξάμην L. elegi) you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…
    The humility for grace relates to the first part of this verse. The sense of election [elitism] relates to the second. Humility and being of the elite are not opposed. We must be humble, because we are [undeservedly] of the elite

  59. Tantum Ergo says:

    OK fine, we Catholics have the fullness of the Faith. Doesn’t this poor fellow realize that this is a GIFT? Does he think he’s cornered the real estate market in Heaven for Catholics only? What he fails to realize is that God works powerfully in the lives of ALL Christians, and we are empoverished if we look with disdain on our seperated brethren. My son is Protestant, and shares Jesus’ love in a prison ministry. I keep cajoling my son to come back to the fullness of the truth, but that will only happen on God’s timetable. My son shares amazing experiences, and again, I would be missing a great deal had I not heard the accounts of miricle conversions there.

  60. Priam1184 says:

    @The Chicken: to your last sentence yes! yes! yes!

  61. De Maria says:

    Hi, if I may address the good Pastors letter point by point –

    Greetings Father Z,

    I am a Baptist Pastor and a fan of your blog. Recently, I read the following thread on a Christianity forum. I asked the original poster if he’d mind if I had a Catholic priest read his post and respond. He replied he would.
    Here is the forum: HERE
    Here is the post:

    Hi Pastor, I’m reading this on Father Z’s blog. I’m a devout Catholic. I believe you are seeking the opinion of others like myself.

    All Call to Catholics to be a little bit more Elitist In America we as Catholics are a small minority.

    I’m not understanding that sentence. Is someone calling Catholics to become elitists? If that is so, its sort of the opposite of Christ’s call for us to be humble, isn’t it?

    This is a protestant country. Fine. But the history of how this country became a protestant country is not the history of religious freedom. It’s the history of Europe kicking out all the weird cults that emerged at the time and sent them to America. For better or for worse we live in a country of mainline protestants and a bunch of Christian Cults. We’ve given these Christian Cults a politically correct name Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, Televangelists . But let’s call a spade a spade, they are Christian Cults.

    The word “cult” shouldn’t have the same negative connotation for informed Catholics that it does for the rest of the world. After all, we still have the cult of the Eucharist, the cult of Mary, etc. etc. Look up the word “cult” in the Catechism.

    So, I think what this fellow means to say is that Protestants are unorthodox Christians. In fact, the Catholic Church agrees. That is why we call them “separated brethren”:

    838 “The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter.”322 Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.”323 With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound “that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist.”324

    In fact, although this fellow considers them Christian, many of them refuse to consider that Catholics are Christian. Isn’t this true, Pastor?

    While it’s in our nature as Catholics to want to accept everyone, which is a good thing. My only suggestion is to other Catholics is to be a little bit Elitist with these people.

    I’ve met many Protestants who object that we are elitist because we claim to have the “fullness of truth” and because we claim that the Church is “infallible.” But I don’t consider that being elitist. That is simply Gospel Truth. Jesus Christ established an infallible Church and commanded that Church to teach the fullness of the Truth. It is with all humility that we take up that clarion call.

    I for one don’t ever want them and their strange views within Catholicism. I would never want to convert them for the sake of preserving the Church teachings.

    I think most of us know we are called to “… be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). That includes Protestants. But it is God who converts. We just plant and water, “God (gives) the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6).

    So, I don’t proselytize to them. Instead, my tactic is to always show them how they have no theology.

    I would rephrase that and simply say that I show them where their theology is wrong.


    Those are my thoughts Pastor. I don’t know if you wanted a wholesale condemnation of the letter. But I think the fellow who wrote this probably didn’t phrase things as he intended. And perhaps might be a bit too passionate about the faith. He may also be lashing back a bit. Because Protestants do have many hurtful beliefs and teachings against the Catholic Church.

    But I’m glad to hear that you are listening to both sides of the argument and that you like Father Z’s blog.


    De Maria

  62. Ben Kenobi says:

    I’ve been all three. My argument at the time I converted is that I felt that Catholics and Evangelicals were on the same side of many issues in which our mainline brothers have lost the plot. I still believe that today. I find that I have more in common with my evangelical friends than I do with the nuns on the bus variety of Catholicism lite this peculiar post exemplifies. One thing this evangelical pastor needs to understand is that the Catholic church is very big, even if it’s a minority, it’s larger than each of the individual protestant groups. This means that you’re likely to encounter a wider range of views from Catholics than you will, Southern Baptist for example.

  63. The Cobbler says:

    On reflection, I think the Masked Chicken has a sound analysis of what the writer *probably* intended, and that the Chicken’s comments are a very good explanation of the matter in itself… but I do think the writer ended up not merely being unclear, but saying something else in regard to, shall we say, being exclusive.

    Unrelated to that specifically, and while it’s one of the less important points… I’m familiar with four or five, maybe six (I guess depending on how you split them up) possible meanings of “cult”; here they are for what it’s worth.
    1) The original (now largely unused) meaning, that of (typically religious) devotion, especially imitative; where there would, for instance, be a fine line if any at all between the disciples of St. Benedict and devotees of the “cult of St. Benedict” (in either case, people who follow St. Benedict’s way of life so as to benefit spiritually). Related to “inculteration” and “culture”.
    2) A sect or movement the person using the term thinks is very strange or deserving of dislike.
    3) Short for “cult of personality”, which is probably a technical term in some field but in common usage is just a more negative name for fanboyism.
    4) A modern, psychological/sociological concept (and, oddly, the only particularly useful meaning besides the original) of an abusive social structure/movement. A “cult” in this socio-psychological sense, if my understanding is correct (and if anyone particularly familiar with psychology or this concept specifically wants to correct or add anything, or give a more precise definition, I’d welcome it), is a movement, system or social structure that emotionally or psychologically manipulates people in order to get them to serve its ends — including the work of manipulating more people, essentially teaching them to do whatever the manipulative system is. It’s worth noting, in regard to this concept, that emotional and psychological manipulation doesn’t usually mean stuff like brainwashing so much as exploiting all the normal sociological instincts most people have. (E.g. “Do you trust me? Then don’t listen to these critics, they just have it in for us. What do you mean you don’t think it’s that simple — don’t you care about me?”) There’s a fine line between a “cult” in this sense and a dysfunctional/abusive personality or family; the difference is that a “cult” uses such techniques to spread itself beyond the immediate circle of influence of its instigator. Either way it’s important to recognise that such manipulation can and does target perfectly ordinary people who mean well for their own part.

    Now, obviously, I don’t think the writer of the original post quoted by Fr. had either the first or the last of these in mind — the first has more to do with Saints than most Protestants would be willing to stomach, and the last is a relatively sophisticated idea compared to the level of logic/expression in the post #and, more importantly, nothing in the post beyond the word itself points toward that meaning#. That leaves us with the other two, a sect he doesn’t like or a following of a person. Obviously it can be inferred from everything else said that Protestantism in general meets the former definition in this fellow’s view. Whether he meant the latter in addition, in reference to the likes of televangelists, is harder to be sure of but quite possible, perhaps even probable.

  64. The Cobbler says:

    (Those # around a clause near the end were supposed to be parentheses… my browser seems to have gotten a little confused when I previewed; I thought I fixed most of them, but I must’ve missed that one.)

  65. KM Edwards says:

    3 key thoughts to offer the dear Baptist individual:

    1. The author of the post you shared is not very well written, to say the least. He is also in need of some proselytization himself when he says ‘I don’t proselytize’ – Jesus Christ commanded His followers to “Go into All Nations, baptizing them ..” We just celebrated Ascension Thursday yesterday!

    2. Albeit poorly written, if we take the author at his written word, his desire to have Catholics be ‘elitist’ is directly linked with not wanting the teachings of non-Catholic sects “included in Catholicism”. This sense of ‘elitism’ is frankly MOST Catholic, as the following clearly attest:
    – The Athanasian Creed declares “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith, which Faith, except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlasting …This is the Catholic Faith, which, except a man believe Faithfully, he cannot be saved.”
    – Matthew 10:14 “And whosoever shall not receive you, NOR HEAR YOUR WORDS, going forth out of that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet …”
    – Matthew 18:17 “And if he will not hear them, tell the Church. And if he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.”
    – Romans 16:17 “Now, I beseech you, brethren, to mark them who cause dissensions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and to avoid them”
    -Galatians 1:6 ” if anyone preach to you a Gospel besides that which ye have received, let him be accursed”
    – Titus 3:10 “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid” [Tit. 3: 10]
    – And no, these teachings do not stop applying to the Church in modern times “My words shall not pass away” [Mark 13:31]

    Final and 3rd Thought:
    I commend you for wanting to do good works with concerned Catholics. The fact that you are open to working with them is a very commendable sign. I also appreciate your love of the Scriptures and the sense that compels you to want to help the poor. Keep that up. Regarding your concern for unity, examine closely what the Lord said: “And they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.” [John 10: 16]. He is here speaking of those who were not then joined in communion with His Apostles and other disciples, and He calls them at that time “His sheep;” but to show there was no salvation for them in the state in which they then were, and unless they were united to the fold, He says, “them also I must bring”, which shows that, according to the disposition of the Divine decrees, it was absolutely necessary that all who belong to Jesus Christ, all whom He acknowledges for His sheep, should be brought to, and united in communion with, that one fold, which is His Church. As such, I implore you to take to heart your concern for unity in the Church by joining the Catholic Church under one Shepherd today and not delaying any further!

    What you do need to understand – as you can readily derive from the Scriptures yourself – is that having the sentiment and these virtues alone are not sufficient for your eternal salvation. You can please God only by having Faith, the One Faith that the Apostles preached without addition or deletion of a single iota. “One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism.” [Eph. 4: 5], “. . . without Faith it is impossible to please God. . . .” [Heb. 11: 6], “…as many as were ordained to everlasting life believed.” [Acts 13: 48].

    Moreover, this One and Only saving Faith, is only the door to salvation. You can only be saved by grace *through* faith. The One Faith opens the door to the Graces you need to save your soul.

    Two notable saving graces are: The true forgiveness of your sins (Jesus gave His Apostles and their successors alone the power to forgive sin on earth – Matt 18:18, John 20:23, Matt 16:19), and the spiritual food you need without which Christ said you would spiritually die (“Except you eat of the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you shall not have life in you” – John 6:54).

    Why delay any further in coming over to that Faith which alone offers you an Apostolic Successor who can hear your confession and absolve you of your sins, and feed you the True Corporal Body and Blood of Jesus Christ to give you eternal life? Since you value Fr Z, why not approach him today to say your confession and commit yourself to coming into the Catholic Church?

    If you need help to make that leap of Faith, do what the Israelites did of Old. When going into battle they would confidently march in with the Ark of the Covenant, knowing that with God and His Ark, they would never be defeated. The Apostles of Christ preached Mary, Mother of Jesus, to be the Ark of the New and Everlasting Covenant of Jesus Christ – She is equated as such in St John’s Revelation (read Rev 11:19 and Rev 12:1 together without the artificial separation of scribes, to see that the Heavenly Ark is equated to the Great Sign of the Woman Clothed with the Sun) and compare the wording of Exodus 40:34 to Luke 1:35, and again Samuel 6:9 to Luke 1:43, and Samuel 6:14-15 to Luke 1:42-44, and Samue 6:11 to Luke 1:56-57 to understand that Evangelist St Luke had every intention of equating Mary the Mother of Jesus to the Ark of the Covenant.

    Knowing Her to be such, confidently ask Her to be a Mother to you and guide you to full faith in the Catholic Church. And rest assured of this layman’s prayers for you as well.

    Sincerely in Christ and His Ark.

  66. Uxixu says:

    The Chicken knocked it out of the park. The worst part about modern ecumenism is the idea that we must compromise our core dogma in reaching out.

    I think the fine distinction is that the idea of fundamental unity of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church can be appreciated while we debate the nuances of the faith beyond the Creed (which is the bare minimum standard of orthodox Christianity, of course) with charity. As with our Eastern brethren, the goal is not to impose the dogma and traditions of the Roman Church on the unwilling, though we should certainly still defend what the Latin Fathers handed down them when subject to attack.

    For the Baptists, their rejection of the Sacraments and the authority of the Apostolic Churches are deal breakers so it’s difficult to see what ecumenism can accomplish without apostasy on those heresies. A vernacular Mass would be perfectly appropriate as would hymns in place of Chant, for example… IOW, the Novus Ordo as it is right now seems clearly aimed at Protestants who don’t share the cultural background to appreciate Latin traditions. The mistake was the converse: trying to impose that on those who love the traditions of the Latin Fathers and the situation of those that resisted, most especially Archbishop Lefebvre.

  67. lelnet says:

    If the folks we bring into the Church come in with erroneous notions, with which they contaminate Church practice, that is OUR fault, not theirs.

    And if, in our desire to keep ourselves “pure” (look at a typical Catholic Mass at any point in the past four decades…it is to laugh!) we neglect to teach them the Truth and welcome them in to the fullness of God’s Grace…well, I will in charity hope that He forgives them their ignorance when it comes time for them to die and face judgment, but I doubt he will be so forgiving to us, who are supposed to know better.

    The same argument could have been (and indeed was) made in apostolic times, against teaching Christianity to the Gentiles. It had more logic to it then. But Jesus said “go forth and teach all nations”. He didn’t actually give very many direct and unambiguous commands to the entirety of His Church…it’s always a real shame when we start ignoring them.

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