Give Protestants True Charity: Convert Them
This is the beginning of a series designed to help Catholics refute Protestants in five minutes using the same Holy Scriptures which Protestants claim to follow. I live in the United States where most Christians are Protestants, and I have also spent most of my life as a Protestant and am sympathetic to them.
They are brothers because they are baptized in the Name of Blessed Trinity and call upon the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. But yet they are heretics, who deny Jesus Christ in His Body and His doctrine. Unless they repent of the sins of their fathers and return to the Body of Christ—the Roman Catholic Church—they have no sure hope to be saved.
As such it is an act of true charity to refute our heretic brethren and warn them of the dangers of eternal damnation. These are the spiritual works of mercy of “instructing the ignorant” and “admonishing the sinner.” But hear this: Catholics, you must have charity. If you cannot speak to your Protestant friends or family with charity, do not speak at all. As it is written, Whosever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire (Mt. v. 22) and again If any man say: I love God, and hateth his brother; he is a liar (I Jn. iv. 20) or again
Be ready always to give a defense to every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you—But with modesty and fear, (I Pt. iii. 15).
Be Sensitive to Their Attachments
From experience as a Protestant and knowing Protestants across the nation and the world, it is my estimation that among all their tens of thousands of sects, most of them boil down to one or both of these things: emotional or intellectual attachments. An attachment is something in your senses or soul which incline your intellect and will toward a certain created object. An attachment gives you a pleasure which addicts you and causes you to return again and again to get this pleasure.
These attachments are most easily seen in the Protestant worship services. They may consist of powerful sermons, songs or hymns which cause emotional highs in the worshipers (helping them satisfy their emotional attachments). Or perhaps long, intellectual sermons which fulfill an intellectual attachment. Or they may include both of these. Most Protestants that I’ve ever known measure the value of their worship based on its personal emotional or intellectual stimulation.
I hope this goes without saying, but first it must be noted that these attachments, though disordered, do call upon the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus it is impossible that they do not have some positive spiritual value to every soul (at least in pontency). As it is written: No man can say The Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost (I Cor. xii. 3).
Nevertheless properly ordered Christian worship is lifting the intellect and will to God in prayer. This does not mean getting an emotional high—although it can include this. And it does not mean gaining more intellectual knowledge—although it can include this as well. Lifting the intellect and will to God means growing in charity, which is union with God.
This is a subject for a much larger treatment but the point to seize upon here is that Protestants generally have these attachments. Thus it is crucial that the Catholic have charity for the Protestant, and take all possible care to be sensitive to these things. That means praying to the Holy Spirit to give you the gift of Counsel to speak words for this particular soul, not just to win an argument. Do all you can by God’s grace to speak with truth and charity, and trust not in yourself but in God, Whose instrument you are.
St. Thomas observes that we should not correct our brother if we know that correction will make him worse. If we insist on correcting him nonetheless, this is evidence of our own pride and lack of charity. Many Catholics just care about winning arguments, instead of the individual soul with whom you are speaking.
Instead, ask God for the grace to perceive where that soul is at spiritually. We have to realize that disordered attachments also serve to darken one’s intellect. Thus many Protestants will not understand you when you are speaking. If you find a Protestant who seems to have a sincere desire to understand, this soul is especially ready for you to focus on charity and truth. Give these souls as much of your time and energy as you can. But do not waste time speaking to obstinate, prideful Protestants—except to refute them for the benefit of others. Do not vainly hope to convert a fool, as it is written, Rebuke a fool, and he will hate you. Rebuke a wise man and he will love you (Prov. ix. 8).
Refute Them with the Holy Scripture
Once a man has true charity for the Protestant soul, it is very often helpful to ask questions. This allows the Protestant to come to his own conclusions and moreover, it is one of the favored methods of our Lord. It is also crucial that a Catholic use the Holy Scriptures to prove the Catholic faith, since the Protestants generally hold the Holy Bible to be authoritative.
All that is necessary is for Protestants is to read the Sacred Scripture entirely and in context and they will become Catholics. I will never forget my astonishment when I was a Protestant to learn about many verses I had never seen before. Most Protestants do not read with humility, nor do they consider the context, but we will deal with some of that below. The important thing to note is that many Protestants either ignore important texts from the Scriptures or else rely on incorrect translations. To this point, these refutation methods will each utilize a small amount of Scriptures, as well as the original languages. Note: these refutations will not convince all, but only those whom the Holy Spirit has prepared.
Refutation #1: The Truth
Thus the first question to ask a genuine Protestant Christian is this: what does the Holy Bible hold to be the pillar and foundation of truth itself?
Your average Protestant would answer that question with the assertion that their Sacred Scriptures (that is, only 66 books of their choosing) are the foundation of truth.
But what does the Holy Word itself say of this? From St. Paul’s first letter to St. Timothy:
But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth (I Tim. iii. 15).
Si autem tardavero, ut scias quomodo oporteat te in domo Dei conversari, quæ est ecclesia Dei vivi, columna et firmamentum veritatis. (Why consult Latin?)
ἐὰν δὲ βραδύνω, ἵναεἰδῇς πῶς δεῖ ἐν οἴκῳθεοῦ ἀναστρέφεσθαι,ἥτις ἐστὶν ἐκκλησίαθεοῦ ζῶντος, στῦλος καὶἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας.
Here we may point out a few things: the Church is here identified with two physical, architectural elements in relation to an abstract thing: truth. This metaphor would have immediately brought up a common sight to St. Timothy who grew up in Lystra in the Roman province of Galatia: the temple.
It is not difficult to for a modern man to see the foundation and the columns here. Temples of this sort were scattered all over the Roman Empire, but even the Second Temple at Jerusalem would have also included a foundation and columns as well.
Thus what can we draw out of the meaning that St. Paul is discussing here with St. Timothy. The truth stands or falls with the Church in the same way that a temple stands or falls with its columns and foundation. In other words, the truth is dependent on the Church. And this makes sense when you consider the chronology:
1. ~250-150 BC: Septuagint Old Testament is translated and used by Jews across the Roman Empire
2. 33 AD: The Church is founded. Uses the Septuagint as its Scripture and Apostles as authority (Acts xv)
3. ~33-100 AD: Church writes New Testament, quoting Septuagint as Scripture
4. ~90 AD: Pharisees and Rabbis who rejected our Lord Jesus create Rabbinic Judaism, start the Masoretic Old Testament (later Protestant Scripture)
There’s more to the story here that we will cover in the future. The point here is that the New Testament came after the Church. So it makes sense that the Church is the pillar of truth since we cannot have Christianity without truth. The Protestants assert that the foundation of truth is 66 books of their Bible. But Christianity was founded before this Bible existed. Thus the question becomes: how can the Church be the pillar of truth without the 66 book Bible? That will be covered in the next installment of Refute Protestants in Five Minutes. Stay tuned.
Read Part 2 here.
For further reading on this subject, I recommend the classic text The Catholic Controversy by St. Francis de Sales.
Timothy S. Flanders
 Bl. Pius IX condemned the error that “we can have a good hope that non-Catholics will be saved” (Syllabus of Errors) and Vatican II stated this: “Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, [this Council] teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved” (Lumen Gentium, 14). And this is also affirmed in the Creed of Pope St. Paul VI. An important distinction with this is Objective vs. Subjective.
 Every translation is an interpretation. This is crucial to understand because most words in every language have multiple meanings. A translator must then choose one of the multiple meanings and limit the meaning of the original text into the translated text. Thus the translator makes an interpretation by choosing the most important meaning to draw out. Latin is crucial because it shows us one of the earliest interpretations of the Scriptures from the Church. Latin shows us how the Church understood the Greek. Not only that, but Greek and Latin both were the main languages of the whole Roman Empire (though in different ways), thus Latin in particular shows us this interpretation better than any other translated language.