I’ve been listening to this CD set called “The Bible Answer Man Debate”. It is a debate that took place between Jimmy Akin, a Catholic apologist, and James White, a protestant theologian. After finishing the CDs I came to one conclusion – both sides are capable of defending their position very well. For those of us who are not church scholars and theologians I’m not sure how we could ever come to any consensus. Now, of course, I thought that Jimmy Akin got the best of the debate, but I am not exactly an impartial observer. I have chips in the game, I’m a Catholic. I’m sure that all protestants that heard the debate felt that James White came out victorious.
Both men are capable of citing scripture, Vatican documents, writings of church fathers, and using these things to prove their point. In fact, many times they use the exact same passage to prove completely opposite points! If you are completely unbiased, how can you possibly choose between the two theologies? For most christians, they either were raised Catholic or protestant (Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, the Non-Denominational Denomination, and so on, and so on….) and they stay that way. Some, on the other hand leave one denomination for another. The reason, however, rarely has anything to do with doctrine. Usually the reason is much deeper, like “I like the pastor better at this church”, or “The music is better over here”, or “They have more activities for kids”. You know, really profound reasons for abandoning your faith.
As far as people leaving the Catholic Church, there are are few reasons that I hear over and over again:
- They asked for money for a Church addition so my parents left.
- My (insert evil relative’s name here) was Catholic and he/she used to (insert evil, sinful act here).
- I wasn’t being fed
Again, little to do with doctrine, more to do with actions of men. Now, I can go on and on about all three of the reasons above (and maybe I will yet this week) but most of how we feel comes more from bias than facts. I relate it to sports, I relate lots of stuff to sports. In the NHL in 1996 the Detroit Red Wings were playing the Colorado Avalanche in the Conference Finals – the winner goes on to play for the Stanley Cup. During the game Kris Draper of the Red Wings was hit from behind by Claude Lemieux of the Avalanche and fell forward smashing his face into the boards. Draper broke his jaw, lost teeth, and looked like someone hit him in the face with a baseball bat. Players and fans in Detroit were outraged by what was obviously a cheap shot with intent to injure by Lemieux. Players and fans in Colorado said it was not a cheap shot, the only thing that made it bad was the way Draper fell into the boards. Both sides saw the exact same thing, both had completely different opinions. Their opinions are buried in their bias, but one of them is correct and one is wrong. Only Lemieux knows, and he may never tell, but he knows if he meant to injure Draper or not. Everyone else is just speculating.
Now, in the protestant/Catholic debate the same holds true. We have the same book, or pretty close minus seven books the protestants threw out, to give us our rules, with very differing opinions. Someone is right and someone is wrong. It’s that simple. How to decide who’s right and who’s wrong is not that simple. Tomorrow (or soon) I’ll get into how I made my decision.