A Great Frustration of Being Christian

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“There are not over a 100 people in the U.S. that hate the Catholic Church, there are millions however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church, which is, of course, quite a different thing.” – Archbishop Fulton Sheen

I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve entered into where this quote applies. Quite literally 95% of the opposition to the Catholic Church I’ve encountered can be attributed to misinformation or a misconception of what the Catholic Church actually teaches.

And this isn’t just in conversations with the average person. In fact, I find it even more often in conversations with those who have supposedly “done their homework.” And this includes pastors of different denominations, seminarians, and theologians.

It’s interesting how many websites I could pull up in about 10 seconds telling me why the Catholic Church is wrong in one way or another. And I’m not talking about shady blogs or hate sites. I’m talking about reputable, noteworthy websites by well-known people. And 95% of them will be refuting what they wrongly believe the Catholic Church to teach.

This is sad on multiple levels.

First, it’s embarrassing for the person writing it. Here they are relishing in triumph as they knock down straw men arguments of their own making – winning imaginary battles against some imaginary foe they label as the Catholic Church.

Second, in the process they lead many other Christians even further astray and away from the Truth. This, of course, is the greater tragedy.

I’m sure most of them have good intentions. But, unfortunately, somewhere along the line, they’ve been told some very wrong information about the Catholic Church. And they believe it because they heard it from their pastors, professors, popular books, or the most reliable source of all – the internet.

Many of them will even make an honest attempt at reading some Catholic sources themselves, but they either misinterpret it, take it out of context or just plain don’t understand it. Then they draw their own wrong conclusions based on wrong information and share it with as many people as they can.

The result is a lot of Christians (including some very badly catechized Catholics) spreading a lot of errors about what the Catholic Church truly teaches.

That is why it is important for us to always be ready to explain and defend our faith (1 Peter 3:15). Once we can correct these errors for people (and explain the true teachings) it’s amazing how much people end up loving the Catholic Church.

Then we can deal with the other 5% of pertinent questions people may have about some seemingly strange thing that the Church truly does teach.

Those are the questions that bring us closer to the Truth. And I guarantee such questions will be met by surprisingly thoughtful and beautiful answers offered by the Church. That is…if they are open to hearing them.

Like a lot of things that divide us in this life, if we can just get past what we think somebody said or intended or believes and get down to what the truth is on the matter and why, we find less and less reasons to disagree, hate, and divide.

This is a great frustration of being a Christian today. We have the answers. We have the Church that Jesus gave us. We just need to clear away all the garbage, deceit, and misunderstandings so we can present the Catholic Church as what it truly is. Then it’s easy.

14 comments Add comment

Stephen January 1, 2009 at 9:41 pm

I doubt that even 5% of Christians, Catholics included, have actually read the Bible, in any translation. This is a statistic that should go up with age. But ignorance seems to be of biblical proportions. So what happens when, for example, a Jehovah’s Witness goes up to a random person and hits them over the head with verses out of context, getting the gross meaning completely wrong? Generally, no correction.

It’s not just ignorance of what the Catholics are attempting to teach. It’s ignorance in general.

Doug Eller January 1, 2009 at 10:10 pm

As a former protestant who was taught to rail against Catholicism and to believe that the Pope was the Anti-Christ, I can understand both your frustration and that of those who “hate” the Catholic Church. Both feel that they know the truth and if only the other would take the blinders off and believe, all would be well.

For me it was a matter of getting in touch with history. When I started questioning my protestant roots, the questions I asked myself were “How could God have allowed the Church His Son established to be so wrong for 1500 years? And why did His plan require that Luther, Calvin, Huss (etc.) come along to set it right?”

The answer, of course, was that He didn’t allow it to be rubbish for 1500 years. It had, in fact, been right all along. However, it was a partially human institution and prone to error. Some of which errors Luther rightly pointed out. Unfortunately Luther and the other “reformers” didn’t reform. They left. A horrific error for which the Christian world is still paying.

The Church is not the “Catholic” Church. It’s the Church. Period. The question protestants need to answer is the same I had to answer. “Did God allow a false church for 1500 years and only introduce truth in the mid-sixteenth century”? OR, has the Church been there all along?

Jason January 1, 2009 at 11:17 pm

It is concerning that there is so much misinformation about Catholic teaching and beliefs. But keep in mind, God will reveal the truth to those who sincerely seek it.

It was that misinformation that led me to the Catholic Church. I went to an Evangelical web forum to help me rebut Catholic teaching. I took up the challenge of investigating the claims about the Catholic Church and quickly found that this forum was not accurate in its claims. That led me to seriously consider Catholic teachings on their own merit.

Yes, be prepared with a defense, but remember what Jesus said, his sheep know him and hear his voice.

Joseph Olson January 1, 2009 at 11:32 pm

I couldn’t agree more! It really is shame how ignorant people are. Good think the Lord gives us the tools to inform these people (one of many: the Holy Spirit to give us the words to turn these people)

I’m praying for you, please do the same for me.

Andy January 2, 2009 at 11:16 am

Very good points by all. Just as in other matters, news or political, people tend to believe what they hear or read without questioning. More than ever, we live in an age of deception where even so-called “mainstream” sources are mis-leading us. Doug, Jason, and Joseph make similar points. Our Faith is between us and God. We should be responsible and honest in trying to understand the Church’s true teachings. We should take the time to go back to the original sources in church history, the Bible, and where necessary, get clarification of the Bible directly from the Vatican or their associates (ie. priests, scholars, etc.) without any media input. TMMI (Too much Mis-Information) out there! If we go thru this process with honesty, resolve, reflection and prayer, the Truth will become self-evident !

Joe January 2, 2009 at 11:33 am

Matthew, That was a great article and the comments were right on as well. If people would only read and listen, really listen instead of just absorb the misinformation from their well meaning friends, relatives, co-workers and most of all the media.

Meg January 2, 2009 at 2:28 pm

I just ran across your blog and really like what you are doing here! Thanks for your service to evangelization and the Church.

That quote from Sheen is one of my favorites. And so relevant to the times. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I am trying to evangelize in similar ways on my own blog http://www.logosandveritas.blogspot.com. Please check it out and pass it along! God Bless

Rob January 3, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Matthew, I’m glad to have discovered your blog through Twitter! I definitely agree with you on the many misunderstandings about Catholicism. I also agree, in a cultural perspective, with your proposed “therapy.” Yet, from a faith point of view, I couldn’t agree more with what one of your readers said: remember what Jesus said, his sheep know him and hear his voice.
All the best
Rob

memoriadei January 5, 2009 at 12:03 am

“they are relishing in triumph as they knock down straw men arguments of their own making – winning imaginary battles against some imaginary foe they label as the Catholic Church.”

Exactly…an imaginary battle. I am not a cradle Catholic but I wasn’t taught to hate or disbelieve. For me, it was incredibly easy to ‘wrap my head around’ all the doctrine. We don’t constantly attack anyone and yet are continuously attacked. What’s really up with that? Seriously. It’s really sad at best.

Grace January 5, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Hi Matthew! Thank you so much for following me on Twitter (kaesmom). I’m glad to have “bumped” into you here on the internet. This blog is awesome! There are so many misconceptions about our faith that it saddens and upsets me at the same time. Sheen’s quote sums it all up perfectly.

Keep up the wonderful work!

Have a blessed day!

Mark January 5, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Hi Matt,

Thanks for following me on Twitter. Your posting is very refreshing. Too often we Catholics ourselves are not the most knowledgeable ourselves about our faith. To the credit of protestants, they follow the bible more while Catholics have placed traditionally more value in the sacraments. I must admit myself being not as knowledgeable as I should regarding Catholicism.

Catholic debating pro-life April 26, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Amen to this. I was just debating with somebody about homosexuality (I told them to check out two of your excellent articles, BTW), and they declared, as if it were a verifiable fact, that the Church was not just against homosexual marriage, they were against homosexual rights. Furthermore, they declared that if the Church was so against the destruction of the family, then why didn’t they try and get divorce made illegal?

Obviously, this is wrong on an incredible number of levels. First I pointed them to an article from Catholic.com officially sanctioned by the Church where it very clearly stated that the Church is NOT against rights for homosexuals and that they should in fact be against anybody who is advocating the unequal treatment of homosexuals. I then posted links to your articles (“definition of a word” and “the intolerant beached whale”) to show them the REAL reason Catholics were against homosexual marriage. Then I pointed out that the Church is not NECESSARILY against CIVIL divorce in EVERY circumstance so long as neither spouse gets remarried until one of them dies, so that’s why the Catholic Church doesn’t want to make divorce illegal. They hold that as long as neither spouse pursues a relationship with anybody else then the sacramental marriage is still valid and that the civil divorce is really just a recognition that they’re no longer living together.

Honestly, before people make straw man arguements against the Church they really need to go to reputable Catholic sources to see what the Church ACTUALLY teaches.

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