Witnessing to Roman Catholics - Part 2

A Method of Presenting the Truth to Seeking Catholics

Presented by Richard Bennett, Former Dominican Missionary Priest of 21 Years


I.     Dealing With Various Situations


A.            Remember to present the Roman Catholic with the dilemma of our sin in the sight of the all Holy God.


1.      Use questions to get them thinking, like:


a.   “How can we sinners stand before the all Holy God?”

b.   “How can you and I have eternal life?”

c.   “What does it mean to be born again?”

d.   “Why did the sinless Son of God die such a horrible death on the cross?”


2.      Declare confidently what the Scriptures say about this dilemma according to their understanding. To do this, you must get them to accept the Scriptures as truth, and authoritative - without the need of running to philosophy and private interpretations (2 Peter 1:20)


B.            Dealing with the Trained Catholic - They will usually use the following verses and suppositions:


1.      The need for Tradition (2 Thessalonians 2:15).  Present Acts 2:42 and 2 Timothy 2:2. And then take them to Revelation 22:18,19

2.      The special powers of Peter (Matthew 16:18,19).  Take them to Matthew 16:21-23 for the issue of Peter’s supremacy, and to Matthew 18:18-20 to show that ALL the disciples had access to answered prayer, not “special powers.” Peter was only a fellow elder and apostle. He is never mentioned as having been in Rome by Paul  in the book of Romans. Even if he had been in Rome, it was only as an apostle, and not as an elder or pastor.

3.      More special powers of the Church (Matthew 18:18).  Show them that in context Jesus is dealing with praying for God to “bind” Satan’s work, and with praying for God to open people’s hearts.

4.      The literalness of the Eucharist (John 6:53-56).  Take them over to John 6:63 and 7:37-39, and John 10:7-9.


C.            Dealing with the Indifferent Catholic - They just don’t care about eternity


1.      Use the death of Christ on the cross as the means of getting them to realise that someone died innocently as a substitute for sin. And could it have been for their sin?

2.   Be very careful not to lord your own knowledge over them because you will put them into a defensive stance that will only work against you. Get them to battle with Christ, not with you!

3.      Use questions. Be slow to give the answers, sometimes not even giving your answer at all. Allow the other person the time to think about the seriousness of the questions you are asking.

4.      Use the Sword of the Spirit to CUT, rather than just “nick” the heart of the indifferent. Ask, “What does the Bible mean when it says, ‘The wages of sin is death’?” (Romans 6:23).

5.   As they respond, direct them to the all Holy God of the Bible showing them all of us are sinners in His sight - use Romans 3:10-ff. Show them also Isaiah 64:6!


D.            Dealing with the Self-Satisfied Catholic - “I’m doing just fine.”


1.      Show them John 14:23 where Jesus says, “If a man love me, he will keep my words...” Ask him or her how can we keep His words? Show the person Matthew 7:24-29 where Jesus compares it to building a house upon a rock, or upon sand based on obedience.

2.      Forget talking about your church verses their church.

3.   Be careful to only use Biblical words, and make sure that he or she understands the terms. Don’t use the phrase, “have you received Christ?” They think that they literally do every time they attend Mass.

4.      Show them that no matter how good they may be, they can never be good enough (Romans 3:23), and that God had to send His Son in every person’s place (John 3:16).


E.            Dealing with the Seeking or Interested Catholic - “I am no saint!”


1.      Show them Christ crucified and ask them if He died for them, and their sins specifically (not for the sins of the world generically).

2.      Show them their inability to save themselves (Ephesians 2:1)

3.      Take them to Ephesians 2:8,9 and show them that salvation is a free gift because of Christ as Romans 6:23 says.


F.            Dealing with Confusion. The Catholic mind-set is one of ingrained ideas handed down from generation to generation, e.g., prayers to Mary, infant baptism, what about all the heathen, etc. They all can be, and must be demolished by the Sword of the Spirit.


1.      “We Catholics have an optimistic view of Creation. We believe that God sees everything He made as very good - not evil like you people do.” Show them Romans 5:12, and Jeremiah 17:9, and Mark 7:20-23, and Romans 3:10 and 3:23. Ask him or her what God thinks of His creation now that sin dominates!

2.   “As Catholics, we don’t have blind faith. Our faith rather is based upon reason. We have always had a profound respect for reason, and we promote understanding. St. Augustine tried to understand all of history from the perspective of Catholic faith. St. Thomas Aquinas used the best of medieval science found in Aristotle. We Catholics are open to all human knowledge - unlike some fundamentalists who close their minds against the evidence for evolution, for example.” Take them to Colossians 2:8, and Proverbs 30:6, and 1 Corinthians 1:18-23.

      Note: Remember, let the word do the work. Don’t force people to agree who don’t want to. They must respond to the “pricking” of the word of God, not to you!

3.      The Catholics will claim continuous progress, using words such as “journey theology.” They may speak of Thomas Merton’s book, Seven Story mountain, or the stages in the castle of Theresa of Avila. They will tell you that they grow in holiness in the many things that they do. Mother Teresa of Calcutta just radiates grace, they say, as did Francis of Assissi and pope John XXIII. They will be horrified to think that anyone could dare think that these are not dear saints of God. A typical statement is, “We cooperate with grace; we do not claim a one-moment salvation, as do the fundamentalists.”

      The underlying thought behind all the above is that people add to the good merits of Christ by our own good works, thus advancing little by little. Your response can be from Romans 11:6, and Galatians 2:21, and Philippians 3:3!

4.      Show the graciousness of grace (Romans 3:24), and that salvation is only by Christ alone (Hebrews 1:3; 10:10,18).



II.     Conclusion


A.           Always major on the Bible as the basis of truth, and that salvation is only by the graciousness of God’s grace. If we are trying to merit (earn) salvation, then we are only invalidating God’s way!

B.           Always use only the exact words of Scripture.

C.           Always pray - pray without ceasing - for wisdom, and for help as you go!