So there I was, in a friendly but heated discussion of “The Truth” with a non-denominational fundamentalist, who I’ll call Bill (not his real name). We had talked on the phone before and it always seemed to end because it got too late and we both had to work in the morning.
The topic was on the Catholic’s belief in the Real Presence. I encouraged him to look closer at John 6 and how Jesus explained that He is the life-giving bread. We, as Catholics, do believe that we receive Him into our bodies when we take the bread and the wine into our mouths. It’s the source and summit of our faith…that we “eat His flesh and drink His blood”. My fundamentalist friend argued that Jesus was only referring to the bread as a symbol of His body and the wine as a symbol of His blood….not the actual thing. He did not believe in the real presence. As much as I could without getting angry, I restated that Jesus’ own disciples left Him because this teaching was too hard to take. “They took Him literally 2000 years ago, why don’t you take Him literally today?” I asked. Realizing that this was too direct and not willing to go in for a kill shot, I interjected an anecdote by saying to Bill that he probably would have been one of the ones to leave Jesus because of the difficult teaching. His response was a definite “maybe, maybe not.” I laughed to ease his discomfort with my comment.
The conversation then turned to salvation and whether faith is all that is needed or if works played any role in us getting to heaven. Of course, I claimed that faith without works is dead and that faith is our starting point. I also admitted that in no way can we work our way into heaven….it has to be “Both/And” not “Either/Or”. He argued that God so loved the world that sent His only Son and whosoever believes in Him will never die. So, he claimed, ALL we need to have is faith and believe that Jesus was the savior and we will be in heaven when we die, guaranteed. Then he asked me a very good question…”Why did Jesus tell the good thief on the cross next to Him that he would be with Him in paradise?” The thief was a sinner his whole life….how come he gets to go to heaven after a life of sin? Bill answered his own question with, “Because he simply believed that Jesus was the savior.” I said, “Amen! His life began at his physical death, because he was baptized by intention and the thief repented right there on his cross. What a merciful God we have!”
I countered with another question, “Why do you choose to believe in Jesus when He said to the thief that he would be with Him in Heaven but you choose not to believe in Jesus when said He is the Bread of life and whoever eats My flesh shall have everlasting life?” I mean, seriously…. I find this to be quite ironic and quite frustrating. The fundamentalists claim that the bible is all they need to believe in when it comes to matter of faith and morals (Sola Scriptura), but yet they pick and choose what they wish to believe.
He didn’t answer my question. It got too late. We’ll talk again, hopefully.
P.S. Just remember….We are not Catholic to FEEL good…we are Catholic to BE good. Too many false religions and sects out there have manipulated people to believe that they need to have a good time and wear Hawiian shirts at their service. Being Catholic is not easy. But we already know that. We know that we will have to enter through the narrow gate for wide is the path and easy is the way that leads to destruction. Please stay Catholic and please pray your Rosary. God Bless You.