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How Can I Recommend the Catholic Faith When My Fellow Catholics Censor Scripture?

APOLOGETICS OR APOLOGIES?

By Mark P. Shea | July/August 1995
Mark P. Shea is the author of This Is My Body: An Evangelical Discovers the Real Presence.

I am a “completed Evangelical.” That is, I am a Catholic who sees my faith as the crown, glory, and consummation of everything I was taught to love about the Gospel when I was first nurtured in the Christian life as an Evangelical.

Whenever I can, I try to do apologetics for the Catholic Faith, and, since I love both my Evangelical and Catholic friends, I feet it incumbent upon me to create understanding between them by helping each to really see what it is the other loves and cares about.

Happily, I have seen some fruit in these attempts. My Catholic friends are coming to see what it is that makes Evangelicals tick and to love their purity of devotion. My Evangelical friends and I have, in turn, worked through many misunderstandings about the Church (everything from “works salvation” to the fear of idolatry). They have learned what I myself have learned: that the Church does not fear Scripture or seek to subvert it with “traditions of men.” They have come to respect the Catholic view of Scripture.

Or at any rate, the Magisterium’s view of Scripture.

But sadly, I (and many of my fellow apologists) find our efforts to speak out for the Catholic Faith frequently embarrassed by the disheartening lack of knowledge and respect for the Faith at the parish level, especially among the very ministers given to us laypeople to teach and encourage us. As a Protestant friend told me, “The problem many Protestants have is not necessarily with the teachings of the Church but with the complete lack of understanding among Catholics of those teachings.” And I can scarcely gainsay him. Indeed, for many of us laypeople who are attempting to obey and defend Catholic teaching, there are many parishes in America where we orthodox Catholics are not only unsupported and dreadfully uncatechized, but are actively opposed by clergy and religious who want to make us feel somehow quaint or backward. How then, given such soft-pedaling and shamefacedness concerning the Faith among my own clergy and religious, am I to give my Evangelical friends apologetics and not apologies?

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