Bible-Disbelieving Christians

Bible-believing evangelicals don't believe the whole Word of God...
Yesterday I met an evangelical Christian pastor at Montpelier Baptist Church in Brighton and I have to say that, at the end of the day, it reminded me why I'd rather be in a room of activist homosexuals than in a room of born-again Baptists.

This is because you are even more likely to get a violent reaction against Catholicism among Baptists than homosexuals on the gay scene.

I'd only just sat down with some of the homeless chaps from the Soup Run to have a chat with some, as one of them had invited me to go on from the Soup Run on a Wednesday to the Baptist church on Montpelier, where they are plied with yet more tea, coffee and generosity. Of course, its a great thing that Montpelier Baptist Church have the homeless into their community centre on a Wednesday for tea, biscuits, warm food (the homeless do say you can never go hungry in Brighton which is a good thing) but I think the homeless find the whole 'Bible-study' thing a bit much. It seems to be a hallmark of Protestant thought that if you are going to feed the poor that you should ram the Lord Jesus Christ down their throats first. Just don't discuss His Blessed Mother!

Indeed, it was concerning His Blessed Mother and His Sovereign Pontiff that the pastor and I had a dispute. I didn't go in there looking for trouble, but once he found out that I was Catholic and that I go to St Mary Magdalen's Catholic Church he fixed his eyes on me and suddenly I was being interrogated. "Do you know Christ?" he asked, "Have you met Jesus?!" The way he asked "Have you met Jesus?" made it sound as if meeting Jesus is someone you meet every now and then in Waitrose or Sainsburys...

"Hi Jesus! O Lord, I haven't seen you for a while! How you been keeping?! What are you up to nowadays? Bread and wine, eh? Nice choice! Gotta dash!"

I always think its dangerous to say, 'I know Christ,' not in so much as we should ever deny Him, but just that the Lord says so many times in reference to the Last Judgement that He will turn to people, many who 'sang and danced' for Him and say, "Depart from Me, I never knew you." In answer to the question, "Have you met Jesus?" I tried to explain Holy Communion and that as Catholics we believe that we meet Our Lord when we receive Him in the Mass. I should also have explained that He is personally present in His Poor. Still, I don't think the pastor was satisfied with my answers.

The pastor then went on to denounce Catholic "worship of Mary" because he had "been to Mexico" and seen "so many Mexicans praying to her". I tried to explain that praying to someone, like Our Lady, was not the same as worshipping them since you are asking for their intercession before the Throne of God and that we venerate her as the Mother of God. He then went on to call "Mary" a "sinner" and authoritatively told me that Our Lord was one of "many children". Our Lady had more kids, because the Bible describes there were some who were Jesus's "brothers".

So, the pastor had managed to, in a miraculously short space of time, announce three heresies (perhaps more, but one ends up stopping counting) and I wasn't even on my second biscuit. The first heresy to was say that Our Lady was not a Virgin. The second was to say that Our Lady was a "sinner", like fallen humanity, and thirdly that Our Lady went on, after having given birth to the Son of God, to have loads more 'normal' not Son of God kids! He was angered at Catholics seeing her as a 'Co-Redemptrix', even though, without Our Lady's 'yes', without her 'co-'operation with God, Salvation is a non-starter. I wanted to mention Our Lady of Guadalupe and the story of St Juan Diego, but you have to remember the pastor was really coming at me!

Aside from the obvious scriptural quotes concerning Our Lord's passing down of authority to His Apostles ("He who hears you, hears Me") and His building of His Church on St Peter, against which the 'gates of Hell shall never prevail', I should have quoted Revelations, and asked him who he thought was the name of the woman referred to by St John, when he says...
'And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars,' 
Whoever she is she sounds awfully important! Powerful enough to defeat a gigantic red dragon! I should perhaps have asked him whether that woman might be rather essential in the fight against Evil and the triumph of God's goodness.  He then said that the Papacy started under Constantine and there should be no such thing anyway. I told him he could look up the chronological order of Popes since St Peter, but this didn't satisfy him either. No answer did. At some point in the following discussion I mentioned the word, "heretics", not addressing him personally, mind, and he became very offended, asking if I thought he was going to Hell for all eternity because he is a "heretic", something that I certainly never said. Anyway, the last words I said to him were, "The Bible won't save you!" which was a bit mean-spirited of me and he replied, "Neither will the Pope!" which, though quite a witty riposte, is a bit of a misunderstanding of the scriptural text referring to Peter's 'binding and loosening' power on Earth. Do you think he'll let me in next week? I don't like quarrels but remember...he started it. I left and the homeless went in after a fag to 'hear the word of the Lord'. Verbum Domini, indeed.


pelerin said…
Great comments with a light-hearted touch on a serious subject. 'And I wasn't even on my second biscuit!' - priceless! But it is hard work trying to explain the Faith to such people who are so convinced in their misleading views of Catholicism.

Incidentally I remember being told at school by the RE teacher that Jesus' brothers were in fact his cousins as the word used should have been brethren meaning relatives. And she was a member of the Church of Scotland (we got a lot on predestination which made me think there was no point in doing anything!) but said she taught us the views of the C of E. I sure was confused then!

Will be interested to know if you are let in next week!
Natasa said…
I think it's crazy how Bible-believing Christians insist on interpreting some things literarly but not others. Of course, Jesus didn't really mean it when he said we had to eat his his body and drink his blood. The fact that he repeats it to the suspicious guy just confirms that he was joking and really saying it was a symbolic thing. Surely. Or the whole thing about st.Peter and gates of hell not prevailing.
I just wonder how they decide what to interpret freely.
Richard Collins said…
Protestant Ministers dishing out religion with food has been going on for a long time. In China in the 19th Century, a ration of rice was handed out to those who attended Bible Classes, they were then known as 'Rice Christians'.

Natasa - are you on the right bus?
Keith Fowles said…
Hanging around a homeless shelter at a Methodist church arguing with a good-spirited charity worker to selfishly convince yourself that your errors are defensible. Sounds like you are ready to convert away from the fallen path of the RCC and toward the Truth of the Scriptures (or find a better way to spend your day)
Pachomius said…
Not to worry - we've all ended up in these slightly specious arguments. Invariably, they catch you off-guard, while you're minding your own business.

On Mary, the key passage is surely Luke 1: 26-56. Mary is "full of grace", and Elizabeth, filled with the Spirit, cries "blessed are you among women!". Proving the (direct) scriptural elements of the Hail Mary is always a good one to try on them.

Then to describe what prayer is to a Catholic, and to explain that praying to Mary is no different from asking a friend to pray for you.

John 19:26-27, and, as you mentioned, Revelation 12:1-5, are both also very useful on Our Blessed Mother.

Of course, one can also point out that in the Early Church, from the earliest times, Christians have venerated our Blessed Mother (the early date of the Sub Tuum Praesidium... can be useful here), and so on.

Of course, that's one sort of evangelical. You also get polite, middle class evangelicals who aren't sure whether to smile and welcome a fellow Christian, or reach for the wooden stake...
Natasa said…

I beg your pardon? I'm talking about how protestants pick and choose what to interpret in a literal way. What is so confusing about my post?
Pachomius said…
It may also be worth pointing out Luther's own veneration of the Blessed Virgin (whose perpetual virginity he asserted), even if Luther did not accept that the Theotokos could be a mediatrix.

Barth could also be useful to quote, although I imagine he's still fairly controversial.