Tuesday, July 8, 2014

When Everyone Knows and Everyone Knows that Everyone Knows

July 4th, we were at Thomas Jefferson's scenic, historic vacation home, nicknamed by our third president: Poplar Forest.

Celebrators were assembled listening to a Virginia politician, in 17th-century garb, dramatically reading the Declaration of Independence. As his voice shot past all the strollers and little children holding small US flags, across all the moms in floppy straw hats and dads in cargo pants to the thick green foliage edging the back lawn, the moment was electrical. And it made me start to think. 

I had just read the Declaration of Independence a few weeks prior while doing some research. This was vastly different from my personal reading. 

Public vs. Private Reading

I realized that there was a critical dynamic that had changed inside me at the hearing of the public words in comparison to those I read comfortably at home. And it was the same about everything I read alone versus something I heard in public. Something happens when truth is read to a listening crowd. Something more than when it is read alone. It is mystical, like a birth.

As we silently read, vulnerable and infant concepts inside our brain-womb, are protected from sight. Insulated, hidden facts and their interpretations shape and reshape first inside our heads. Then, even though the facts are in black against the white page, we are unsure who, if anyone else, knows about this information. And those who do know them, do they care? The insecure doubts press us to keep quiet about what we read. Mostly the information remains pliable inside our head.

But when said aloud in public, those ideas are thrust from their isolation into reality and born into the world. When reading-infused thoughts are voiced publicly something fascinating happens.  

When we can see the whites of the eyes of a crowd, an idea morphs into something solid. It become immovable, not because the thoughts are of themselves brilliant and immovable, but because they quit being our own, locked secretly inside our brains but are now out there....unable to be withdrawn back into silence. What was before between the reader and the piece of paper moves from the subjective realm to the objective realm. The most shocking of all is:

The thought is now known. We now all know.

Not only that but we all know that we all know. 

The information is now vulnerable, exposed and unable to hide from judgment. And since we look around and the information is out and everyone knows that everyone knows, we now share the responsibility for the information. 

Examples of the Dynamics:

Someone suspected of smoking marijuana reads in a local newspaper that the city is going to crack down on pot users. He may react with irritation, but knows now to be more careful. But if a city council member unexpectedly announces it a big high school sporting event where the user is with a crowd of his family and friends, he may feel exposed and uncomfortable. He may wonder if everyone is looking at him. 

What if there is an undercurrent of sexual promiscuity in your church's youth? Compare the reaction of a worried parent who leaves a book on chastity for their teenager to privately or if his parent were to read it aloud to the whole youth department. This isn't about the embarrassment of the teenagers (although there would be a roomful of that) but the dynamic of the group to the information that is now so real. 

Or what about a terrorist threat? The information is far more concrete when a mayor announces it at a city gathering rather than a citizen reading on the internet.

Our perceptions of information fundamentally change when everyone knows and everyone knows that everyone else knows. There is no more sheltering of fact. They are no longer shadowy wonderings and the realization of their realness can be terrifying. 

God Desires Everyone to Know that Everyone Knows

I bet you didn't expect this twist---but this post is about God and His desire for words to come to realization through community readings. 

Yes, God isn't concerned about anyone's feelings of embarrassment when it comes to the public exposure of what is truth. He knows that Truth is going to hurt some people, but His ways demand that we not only have private understandings of what we read, but there should always, first and foremost, be a public reading of His Truth in the assembling of His people. It is important to God that everyone knows the truth, but it is also vital that everyone knows that everyone knows. Truth must be utterly public. This cleanses us of deception, excuses and makes us each responsible. For it takes truth from the private isolation of our imagination and makes it concrete to the group. 

We can prove this in the history of God's people. 

Israel didn't have personal scrolls of the Torah or Writings. They didn't sit by themselves at night reading by firelight. The Torah was kept in the tabernacle and read liturgically by a lector to a congregation during a Temple or synagogue service. This continued with the early church. 

The first passages of Revelation tell us that he (singular) who reads (lector) the words of the prophecy and those who hear (congregation) are blessed. The context is public reading, not private.

American's Need for Everyone Not to Know that Everyone Knows 

This is America's nightmare. We value our privacy so much that we have made a right of it. Our motto is, "Stick your nose out of my

business." But this attitude bleeds over into our spirituality. We read our Bible independently, personally and conclude that our private interpretation of God's words and sins are no one's business but our own. It's between "Jesus and me". Don't judge. This is part of the American need for control. 

God wrenches that control from us with communal hearing and the dynamics of understanding that God's Word is not private, nor to be privately interpreted. Truth is not to be trapped inside your head, never to be born into reality. Truth cannot ever mature if it is only inside your imagination and subject to your personal judgement.

A huge difference between the Protestant worldview and Catholic is that, although we encourage individual reading of Bible, we put an emphasis on the liturgical reading of scripture in mass. Truth is communal so that everyone knows that everyone knows. That is a call for action on everyone's part. No one can excuse themselves for not knowing. For everyone knows that you know. You cannot hide.

Good and Evil are Known

Isolated individual have small world views.   Knowledge, education, and various levels of spiritual maturity influence the reading of scripture. Interpreting spirituality inside our heads continually causes us to search out affirmation outside of it. We tend to congregate with people who see things like we do. And our group springs from the source of truth inside our individual heads rather than the group springing from the truth outside of us that we accept into our heads.  

Personal consciousness need to develop through community consciousness. Our interpretation of truth needs to be ripped of its vulnerability by exposure. For that is how we move from an imaginary God to a God outside our manipulation, a God stripped of the embarrassing sins we excuse and assume He approves of, stripped of our own design and making, stripped of our control and put outside of ourselves. A God whose commandments are not secret, whose people are not invisible, laws are not ephemeral or vaporous, whose truths are inflexible, absolute and not relative to the thoughts of the individual. 

God wants everyone to know His Truth, and know that everyone knows that everyone knows.  

Friday, June 27, 2014

Five Days Prostrate

 I was researching the writings of first-century Jewish historian, Josephus, and came upon this story:

Now Pilate, who was sent as procurator into Judea by Tiberius, sent by night those images of Caesar that are called ensigns into Jerusalem. This excited a very among great tumult among the Jews when it was day; for those that were near them were astonished at the sight of them, as indications that their laws were trodden under foot; for those laws do not permit any sort of image to be brought into the city.

Nay, besides the indignation which the citizens had themselves at this procedure, a vast number of people came running out of the country. These came zealously to Pilate to Cesarea, and besought him to carry those ensigns out of Jerusalem, and to preserve them their ancient laws inviolable; but upon Pilate's denial of their request, they fell downprostrate upon the ground, and continued immovable in that posture for five days and as many nights.

From The Wars of the Jews by Flavius Josephus Book II section 169

Even though nothing is told of this story in the gospels, the incident took place sometime after Christ's 26th birthday. Most probably Christ was not a part of it, as he was in Galilee, but we cannot know for certain. 

What struck me is the zealousness of the common Jew for the law of God. At the time of Christ, Christians assume that the Jews were lukewarm and the leaders were white-washed tombs of hypocrisy. This story shows the opposite. The Jews were in no way passive. Many were martyred for defending Jerusalem against setting up an image inside its walls. 

As a Catholic, this story makes me a bit ashamed. Where are the tens of millions of Catholics and Christians outside of the US Supreme Court camping out night and day against abortion? Where are we when our modern-day Pilates on both the federal, state and local level enact laws that place the state above God or that go against the very laws of nature? 

Where is our passion for Christ and our passion for righteousness? 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Many Protestants only knew Catholicism through the camera lens of Hollywood in movies like Boy's Town, The Bells of St. Mary, The Sound of Music or San Francisco. We assumed Father Spencer Tracy typified the priest: stubbornly involved in each parishoner's life with gentle wit and inexhaustible wisdom. And that every country pastor flowed with the strength of a Victor Hugo novel:

We admired the movie priest, even if we didn't admire Mary-worshipping, works-righteousness Catholicism. 

Then when our Protestant theology collapsed, when our monotone daguerreotype spirituality became a confusing cyclone and God plopped us down in the technicolored Kingdom of God, we felt a bit like Dorothy opening the door into Oz.

From that first child-like, wide-eyed step in, we believed we had discovered the perfect kingdom over the rainbow. Jesus' church. We were home. Home sweet home. That is the idealism most Protestants find themselves in after they have discovered the Catholic Church. 

We tend to be drawn to the ancient rites and rituals. We are the veil wearers, those who kneel to partake of the Eucharist on the tongue. (Or at least want to.) The Gregorian chants fill us with awe and we rarely want anything that reminds us of our Protestant church services. We don't just want something different, we want something that binds us to our mysterious, Jewishy and bishop-obeying, ancient Christian Church. 

And no matter how much our head warned us that the Catholic Church wasn't perfect, our hearts were sorely disappointed when the priest snapped at us for innocently bringing up the name of Michael Voris or when the media told us the pope was a radical Marxist liberal bringing change to the church on everything from not wearing red Prada's to gay marriage.

Everyone seems to be applauding the change except converts. We came into the church because it wasn't supposed to change. We wanted Father Flannigan and habit-wearing Sister Mary Benedicta in a incense-filled, reverent and Latin singing holy church. What we didn't realize is that we were like Jerusalem pagans converting to Judaism in AD 67. Things don't look so good. The flock seems to be wandering aimlessly with absentee bishops and bedraggled priests. 

The problem is that our expectations were from Hollywood and not scripture. Real life spiritual fathers are no different from real life family fathers. They are imperfect.
And how many of us would look at our fathers and demand that since they were not perfect that God put us in an untrue family and we should convert to another true family. We don't often argue that our biological fathers aren't really who God wanted as our fathers and perhaps the whole system of fatherhood should be tossed out because he was rotten. There was some mix up and we are supposed to leave our family because it isn't as good as the family across the street looks. 

If God appointed our often immature, biological father to be our authority, we have to give our spiritual fathers the same benefit. A perfect church, in fact, wouldn't be the Church Christ started because He compared His church to a net with bad and good fish, a flock of goats and sheep that would be separated, a field of wheat sewn by the enemy with tares. There will be seeds that are weak and seeds that produce fruit of thirty, sixty and a hundred. 

Bad leaders with bad fruit, even wolves and yes, even the antichrist are found within the true church in positions that can be as high as the pope. 

God didn't say follow a perfect church, no He said follow His church. Look for His true, not the perfect. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Remarks of Robert P. George National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

Ashamed of the Gospel?

Remarks of Robert P. George National Catholic Prayer Breakfast May 13, 2014

[Dr. Robert George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, where he lectures on constitutional interpretationcivil liberties and philosophy of law. He also serves as the director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. George has been called America's "most influential conservative Christian thinker." He is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, and the Herbert W. Vaughan senior fellow of the Witherspoon Institute. He is also a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School. (From wikipedia)]

The days of socially acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. It is no longer easy to be a faithful Christian, a good Catholic, an authentic witness to the truths of the Gospel. A price is demanded and must be paid. There are costs of discipleship—heavy costs, costs that are burdensome and painful to bear.
Of course, one can still safely identify oneself as a “Catholic,” and even be seen going to mass. That is because the guardians of those norms of cultural orthodoxy that we have come to call “political correctness” do not assume that identifying as “Catholic” or going to mass necessarily means that one actually believes what the Church teaches on issues
such as marriage and sexual morality and the sanctity of human life. 1
And if one in fact does not believe what the Church teaches, or, for now at least, even if one does believe those teachings but is prepared to be completely silent about them, one is safe—one can still be a comfortable Catholic. In other words, a tame Catholic, a Catholic who is ashamed of the Gospel—or who is willing to act publicly as if he or she were ashamed—is still socially acceptable. But a Catholic who makes it clear that he or she is not ashamed is in for a rough go—he or she must be prepared to take risks and make sacrifices. “If,” Jesus said, “anyone wants to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.” We American Catholics, having become comfortable, had forgotten, or ignored, that timeless Gospel truth. There will be no ignoring it now.
The question each of us today must face is this: Am I ashamed of the Gospel? And that question opens others: Am I prepared to pay the price that will be demanded if I refuse to be ashamed, if, in other
words, I am prepared to give public witness to the massively politically 2
incorrect truths of the Gospel, truths that the mandarins of an elite culture shaped by the dogmas of expressive individualism and me- generation liberalism do not wish to hear spoken? Or, put more simply, am I willing, or am I, in the end, unwilling, to take up my cross and follow Christ?
Powerful forces and currents in our society press us to be ashamed of the Gospel—ashamed of the good, ashamed of our faith’s teachings on the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions, ashamed of our faith’s teachings on marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. These forces insist that the Church’s teachings are out of date, retrograde, insensitive, uncompassionate, illiberal, bigoted—even hateful. These currents bring pressure on all of us—and on young Catholics in particular—to yield to this insistence. They threaten us with consequences if we refuse to call what is good evil, and what is evil good. They command us to conform our thinking to their orthodoxy, or
else say nothing at all. 3
Do you believe, as I believe, that every member of the human family, irrespective of age or size or stage of development or condition of dependency, is the bearer of inherent dignity and an equal right to life? Do you hold that the precious child in the womb, as a creature made in the very image and likeness of God, deserves respect and protection? Then, powerful people and institutions say, you are a misogynist—a hater of women, someone who poses a threat to people’s privacy, an enemy of women’s “reproductive freedom.” You ought to be ashamed!
Do you believe, as I believe, that the core social function of marriage is to unite a man and woman as husband and wife to be mother and father to children born of their union? Do you hold, as I hold, that the norms that shape marriage as a truly conjugal partnership are grounded in its procreative nature—its singular aptness for the project of child-rearing? Do you understand marriage as the uniquely
comprehensive type of bond—comprehensive in that it unites spouses 4
in a bodily way and not merely at the level of hearts and minds—that is oriented to and would naturally be fulfilled by their conceiving and rearing children together? Then these same forces say you are a homophobe, a bigot, someone who doesn’t believe in equality. You even represent a threat to people’s safety. You ought to be ashamed!
But, of course, what you believe, if you believe these things, is a crucial part of the Gospel. You believe the truth—in its fullness—about the dignity of the human person and the nature of marriage and sexual morality as proclaimed by the Church—our only secure source of understanding the Gospel message. So when you are invited to distance yourself from these teachings or go silent about them, when you are threatened with opprobrium or the loss of professional opportunities or social standing if you do not, you are being pressured to be ashamed of the Gospel—which means to give up faith in the Lordship of Christ and hope in the triumph of goodness, righteousness,
and love in and through Him. 5
To be a witness to the Gospel today is to make oneself a marked man or woman. It is to expose oneself to scorn and reproach. To unashamedly proclaim the Gospel in its fullness is to place in jeopardy one’s security, one’s personal aspirations and ambitions, the peace and tranquility one enjoys, one’s standing in polite society. One may in consequence of one’s public witness be discriminated against and denied educational opportunities and the prestigious credentials they may offer; one may lose valuable opportunities for employment and professional advancement; one may be excluded from worldly recognition and honors of various sorts; one’s witness may even cost one treasured friendships. It may produce familial discord and even alienation from family members. Yes, there are costs of discipleship— heavy costs.
There was a time, not long ago, when things were quite different. Of
course, there have always been anti-Catholic currents in sectors of 6
American society. And at certain times and in certain circumstances and places one paid a price for being a Catholic. But as the nation progressed, anti-Catholicism in many sectors dissipated and one could be a true and faithful Catholic without suffering significantly in terms of lost opportunities or standing in the community. Biblical and natural law beliefs about morality were culturally normative; they were not challenges to cultural norms. But those days are gone. What was once normative is now regarded as heretical—the moral and cultural equivalent of treason. And so, here we are.
You see, for us, as for our faithful Evangelical friends, it is now Good Friday. The memory of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem has faded. Yes, he had been greeted—and not long ago—by throngs of people waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David.” He rode into the Jerusalem of Europe and the Jerusalem of the Americas and was proclaimed Lord and King. But all that is now in the
past. Friday has come. The love affair with Jesus and his Gospel and his 7
Church is over. Elite sectors of the cultures of Europe and North America no longer welcome his message. “Away with him,” they shout. “Give us Barabbas!”
So for us there is no avoiding the question: Am I ashamed of the Gospel? Am I unwilling to stand with Christ by proclaiming His truths? Oh, things were easy on Palm Sunday. Standing with Jesus and His truths was the in thing to do. Everybody was shouting “Hosanna.” But now it’s Friday, and the days of acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. Jesus is before Pilate. The crowds are shouting “crucify him.” The Lord is being led to Calvary. Jesus is being nailed to the cross.
And where are we? Where are you and I? Are we afraid to be known as his disciples? Are we ashamed of the Gospel?
Will we muster the strength, the courage, the faith to be like Mary the Mother of Jesus, and like John, the apostle whom Jesus loved, and stand faithfully at the foot of the cross? Or will we, like all the other disciples, flee in terror? Fearing to place in jeopardy the wealth we have piled up, the businesses we have built, the professional and social standing we have earned, the security and tranquility we enjoy, the opportunities for worldly advancement we cherish, the connections we have cultivated, the relationships we treasure, will we silently acquiesce to the destruction of innocent human lives or the demolition of marriage? Will we seek to “fit in,” to be accepted, to live comfortably in the new Babylon? If so, our silence will speak. Its words will be the words of Peter, warming himself by the fire: “Jesus the Nazorean? I tell you, I do not know the man.”
Perhaps I should make explicit what you have no doubt perceived as
implicit in my remarks. The saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
includes, integrally, the teachings of His church on the profound and 9
inherent dignity of the human person and the nature of marriage as a conjugal bond—a one-flesh union. The question of faith and fidelity that is put to us today is not in the form it was put to Peter—“surely you are you this man’s disciple”—it is, rather, do you stand for the sanctity of human life and the dignity of marriage as the union of husband and wife? These teachings are not the whole Gospel— Christianity requires much more than their affirmation. But they are integral to the Gospel—they are not optional or dispensable. To be an authentic witness to the Gospel is to proclaim these truths among the rest. The Gospel is, as St. John Paul the Great said, a Gospel of Life. And it is a Gospel of family life, too. And it is these integral dimensions of the Gospel that powerful cultural forces and currents today demand that we deny or suppress.
These forces tell us that our defeat in the causes of marriage and
human life are inevitable. They warn us that we are on the “wrong side
of history.” They insist that we will be judged by future generations the 10
way we today judge those who championed racial injustice in the Jim Crow south. But history does not have sides. It is an impersonal and contingent sequence of events, events that are determined in decisive ways by human deliberation, judgment, choice, and action. The future of marriage and of countless human lives can and will be determined by our judgments and choices—our willingness or unwillingness to bear faithful witness, our acts of courage or cowardice. Nor is history, or future generations, a judge invested with god-like powers to decide, much less dictate, who was right and who was wrong. The idea of a “judgment of history” is secularism’s vain, meaningless, hopeless, and pathetic attempt to devise a substitute for what the great Abrahamic traditions of faith know is the final judgment of Almighty God. History is not God. God is God. History is not our judge. God is our judge.
One day we will give an account of all we have done and failed to do.
Let no one suppose that we will make this accounting to some
impersonal sequence of events possessing no more power to judge 11
than a golden calf or a carved and painted totem pole. It is before God—the God of truth, the Lord of history—that we will stand. And as we tremble in His presence it will be no use for any of us to claim that we did everything in our power to put ourselves on “the right side of history.”
One thing alone will matter: Was I a faithful witness to the Gospel? Did I do everything in my power to place myself on the side of truth? The one whose only begotten Son tells us that he, and he alone, is “the way, the truth, and the life” will want to know from each of us whether we sought the truth with a pure and sincere heart, whether we sought to live by the truth authentically and with integrity, and—let me say this with maximum clarity—whether we stood up for the truth, speaking it out loud and in public, bearing the costs of discipleship that are inevitably imposed on faithful witnesses to truth by cultures that turn away from God and his law. Or were we ashamed of the Gospel?
The Gospel is true. The whole Gospel is true. Its teachings about life and marriage are true—even its hardest sayings, such as Christ’s clear teaching about the indissolubility of what God has united and about the adulterous nature of any sexual relation outside that bond.
If we deny truths of the Gospel, we really are like Peter, avowing that “I do not know the man.” If we go silent about them, we really are like the other apostles, fleeing in fear. But when we proclaim the truths of the Gospel, we really do stand at the foot of the cross with Mary the Mother of Jesus and John the disciple whom Jesus loved. We show by our faithfulness that we are not ashamed of the Gospel. We prove that we are truly Jesus’s disciples, willing to take up his cross and follow him—even to Calvary.
And we bear witness by our fidelity to the greatest truth of all, namely,
that the story does not end at Golgotha. Evil and death do not triumph.
Yes, it is Good Friday, but the one who became like us in all things but 13
sin conquers death to redeem us from our transgressions and give us a full share in eternal life—the divine life of the most blessed Trinity. The cross cannot defeat him. The sepulcher cannot hold him. His heavenly Father will not abandon him. The psalm that begins in despair, Eloi, Eloi lama sabachtani, ends in hope and joy. Easter is coming. The crucified Christ will be raised from the dead. The chains of sin will be broken. “Oh death, where is thy victory? Oh death, where is thy sting?”
I grew up as a Catholic in a Protestant culture. The Protestants of my boyhood were what we today call Evangelicals. In those days, the religious differences between us seemed vast, though today the personal and spiritual bonds we have formed in bearing common witness to marriage and the sanctity of human life have relativized, though, of course, not eliminated, those differences. We now know that Evangelical Protestants are truly our brothers and sisters in Christ—separated from us in certain ways, to be sure, but bound
together with us nevertheless in spiritual fellowship. Growing up, I 14
admired the strength of their faith, and their willingness openly to profess it. And I loved their hymns. One of the most familiar ones contains a vital message for us Catholics today. You will recognize the first verse:
On a hill faraway, stood an old rugged cross, The emblem of suffering and shame;
I love that old cross, where the dearest and best, For a world of lost sinners was slain.
And the chorus goes:
I will cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down.
I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it someday for a crown.
Yes, there’s the story. Christ must endure the sufferings of Good Friday to fulfill his salvific mission. But Easter is coming. And we, who cherish his cross, and are willing to bear his suffering and shame, will share in his glorious resurrection. We who cling to that old rugged cross will exchange it someday for a crown.
And then comes the next verse, and how perfectly it captures the attitude we must adopt, the stance we must take, the witness we must give, in these times of trial if we are to be true disciples of Jesus:
To the old rugged cross, I will ever be true,
Its shame and reproach gladly bear,
Till he calls me someday, to my home far away, Where forever his glory I’ll share.
And I’ll cherish that old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down.
I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it someday for a crown.
Yes, for us Catholics and all who seek to be faithful, it’s Good Friday. We are no longer acceptable. We can no longer be comfortable. It is for us a time of trial, a time of testing by adversity. But lest we fail the test, as perhaps many will do, let us remember that Easter is coming. Jesus will vanquish sin and death. We will experience fear, just as the apostles did—that is inevitable. Like Jesus himself in Gethsemane, we would prefer not to drink this cup. We would much rather be acceptable Christians, comfortable Catholics. But our trust in him, our hope in his resurrection, our faith in the sovereignty of his heavenly Father can conquer fear. By the grace of Almighty God, Easter is indeed coming. Do not be ashamed of the Gospel. Never be ashamed of the


Friday, May 2, 2014

How to Convince a Catholic that Catholicism is Wrong

How to Convince a Catholic that Catholicism is Wrong

or How to Destroy the Catholic Church 
by Teresa Beem

When people desires to show a Catholic the errors of Catholicism they will inevitably choose a doctrine such as purgatory or the perpetual virginity of Mary and insist that it is unbiblical. They might point out a Bible text that seems to disagree with the doctrine. To the person’s surprise, the Catholic might give their church’s interpretation, which will then be disputed as twisting the scripture or taking it out of context. 

This proselytizing technique of showing a Catholic where he is wrong using certain scripture is based on the assumption that Catholics do not know nor understand scripture. The myth is that Catholics ignore or even reject God’s Word and the only real challenge is to simply show them what it says in the Bible. (After all, the mean ol' church tries to keep it away from them, right? So it is just a matter of ignorance.)

But, dueling with Bible interpretations won’t work with a Catholic who understands their faith because Catholics work on a separate system than other believers. We have differing world views, ecclesiology, soteriology and epistemology--we are "ologies" away from other Christians.  

For any profitable discussion, it is important to recognize that Catholics don’t believe the Bible is self-interpreting, nor do they believe individual Christians have God’s authority to interpret scripture where it disagrees with what Christ taught His Apostles. Catholics believe Christ gave them an authoritative Church to guide Christians in understanding the meaning of Christ’s words.

In fact, Catholics make a convincing argument that scriptures themselves back up their position. God’s written Word does not teach that it is self-interpreting, nor do scriptures teach sola scritpura, nor sola fide for that matter. We Catholics consider those ideas the doctrines of men. So it really doesn't matter how one personally interprets a text. You won't convince a Catholic the Church's interpretation is wrong. That is what makes them Catholic.

If you want to convince a devout and studied Catholic that his faith is wrong, you will have to do it one of two ways:

1) Dismantle and deconstruct history.
2) Dismantle and deconstruct scripture. 

Destroy History

An effective way of toppling the faith of a Catholic is to factually prove to them Jesus wasn’t an historical person but a myth. If Christ is a myth, then Catholicism is a worldwide faith of 1.2 billion who are living in crazy-land worshipping a myth god.

Or you could convince them that Jesus wasn’t the Son of God. But that too would be destroying Christianity itself. And it would take some serious indisputable evidence that Christ was not who He claimed to be. If there was that type of solid evidence, it would have already been used against Christianity. 

A Protestant who is wanting a Catholic to convert to one of the differing Protestant divisions would not use that strategy against a Catholic. So they, then, might choose another battlefield--destroying the belief that Jesus started the Catholic Church. For truly that is cutting the tree down at its roots. The Catholic Church’s claim is that its founder is Christ. If the Catholic Church doesn’t literally, historically, organizationally go back to St. Peter upon whom the Lord made the rock, then its claims are false. That is where the entire Church stands or falls.
The Protestant would have to lay together a convincing historical set of proofs that would disconnect the Catholic/Orthodox Church from St. Peter and his successors. He or she would have to show that the Roman Catholic Church of today is verifiably unrelated to the physical organized church of the first three centuries and, in reality, began at a later date.  

The Protestant would have to come up with a momentous piece of information that no other Reformer or Protestant or scholar to date has brought forth. It would again, have to be irrefutable evidence (such as authentic documents) that the Catholic Church of today is organizationally unrelated to the early church fathers, the early synods, councils and creeds. 

If Christ didn't start the Catholic Church, it is destroyed.

Destroy Scripture

A much preferred route to destroy
Catholicism admits that there is a connection between Christ’s Apostles, their successors and the Catholic Church. The argument is that yes, Christ started the Catholic Church but that at a later date His authority was removed. God withdrew the Holy Spirit from the church because of their corruption of doctrines such as purgatory, papal primacy, the sacrifice of the mass, baptismal regeneration, communion of the saints and the real presence in the Eucharist.

This is a common tactic. However, usually those people who bring up such doctrines do not realize that they were taught by the church as early as the first and second centuries of Christianity. That would place the corruption of the church almost immediately after Christ’s death.

Consider the implications of a church teaching false or evil doctrines so early after its birth. If God abandoned His church within the first couple of centuries, that would effectively destroy the Bible itself.  

For, if a 4th and 5th century council of corrupted Catholics were the ones weeding through all the gospels and letters deciding which ones would be in the New Testament and which were not, then we cannot guarantee that they listened to the Holy Spirit in their decision. For there were many false gospels and epistles at the time claiming to have been written by the Apostles. (Some of the churches at the time believed they were and taught out of them).

And to add to this, if the first and second centuries were already corrupted, then the traditions of who wrote the books we include in the New Testament are questionable. Because the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as well as the other letters had to be authenticated by tracing back through the earlier century traditions. There were certainly many false letters circulating that had St. Paul or St. Peter’s names on it. Therefore the first through third century church fathers, bishops and leaders who preserved and copied these authentic letters and who passed down the traditions had to be trusted for they recorded which of the gospels were written by the Apostles.

In order to teach and believe we have an inerrant, infallible Word of God, we are placed in the position of trusting that these church leaders and their writings were protected by the Holy Spirit from corruption. If not, the Bible itself is untrustworthy. 

To reiterate, if the early tradition is corrupted, we can’t trust the early church teachings and the gospels could be myth.

If the early councils were corrupted, we can’t trust the Bible and the gospel could be myth.

We would also have to question the doctrine of the Trinity and the full Divinity of Christ with his nature and will, for it was in these councils that these doctrines were decided. 

If the church became corrupted within the first few centuries, Catholicism falls. But so does Christianity and the Word of God.

It is really that simple.

If a person were to successfully destroy history and the scriptures, a Catholic could then become Jewish or Moslem and still be a monotheist. But one thing they could never become is Protestant. For if we cannot trust the early tradition that gave us scripture, then we certainly cannot trust a group of people who came along sixteen hundred years later and decided they understood better what Christ's words meant in scripture. For scripture itself would then not be trustworthy. 

That is my advice to those who wish to prove the Catholic faith untrue: destroy history and/or destroy scripture.