Common Objections to the Catholic Faith

Last Sunday, I told you that I am here to provide you with resources in order to help you be prophets: those who speak the truth and proclaim the Good News. I’ve done this before with some common questions that you might hear at Christmas parties. We should respond if we’re prophets, right? Here are some more from “St. Paul’s Street Evangelization” with whom we work regarding evangelization.

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

Common Objections to the Catholic Faith

“Why are there so many scandals in the church?”

The Catholic Church has always been burdened with scandal, starting with Judas’ betrayal and the other disciples’ abandonment of Jesus Christ during His passion and death. From (relatively few) bad popes to lay members committing evil acts, members of the Church have been engaging in scandalous behavior for her entire 2000-year history. Scripture refers to some of this scandalous behavior. Some of the Thessalonians refused to work, were living idle lives, and were overly concerned with other people’s business. The scandalous behavior of individuals in the Church extends down to today’s priest sex scandal. This is a tragic chapter in the history of the Church, but does this prove that the Church is not the Church founded by and upon Jesus Christ? Of course not!

The Church has been full of sinners and saints from the beginning and Jesus never promised to protect the Church from sinners. In fact, He prepared us for it with the parable of the weeds and the wheat (Mt 13:24–30). This showed us that in the Church (the Kingdom of God), the devil would sow evil seeds that would grow with the wheat until the end of time. Then the weeds will be separated from the wheat and thrown into the fire. It had to be done this way, because the sinners of today are the saints of tomorrow and only God knows who will end up where.

God gave each of us free will because He desires our true love. In order for true love to exist one has to choose it freely. This has to be a choice for rational creatures, with the option to choose either way, and to make wrong choices. God could have made us into obedient biological robots, as brute animals are, but this would not be love.

We need not despair. The Church has great sinners and great saints in it and always will, but Christ will preserve her from error, for she is His bride. She will never fail to bring us Christ, even if we fail to receive Him.

“Why don’t Catholics believe that the Bible alone is the sole authority for Christians?”

In the early Church, the only written Scriptures were the Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures. The New Testament had not yet been written, so the early Church relied on apostolic oral tradition: the predominant way that authoritative teaching was passed on in that time, since few people could read or write. After a number of years had passed, some of this deposit was written down, in what became the first books of the New Testament.

By the time John wrote his Gospel (around the year 100), the Church had already spread throughout many parts of the Roman Empire. The final twenty-seven books of the New Testament were not put together into one canon (list of books) until around the year 400.

What does the Bible say about it being the sole authority for Christians? While 2 Timothy 3:16–17 is most often cited, this passage says only that Scripture is profitable, not that it is the sole authority. As Catholics, we believe that all Scripture is inspired by God, but we also hold that the apostolic oral tradition can convey the Word of God as well. As alluded to above, this tradition was handed down from the apostles to their successors. We see this in Scripture: “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thess 2:15).

What is our authority, then? Scripture teaches us that authority is a three-legged stool of Bible–Church–Tradition. One example is, “… the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark [or, ‘foundation’] of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). It was the Church that made binding, conciliar decrees (Acts 15:6–29; 16: