November 25, 2020

Thoughts On A day of Catholic Radio

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MOD: Thank you to all who contributed comments on this post. Obviously we are not going to resolve all of our questions about church history, Roman Catholicism, the Reformation, and Eastern Orthodoxy in a single blog post about a day of listening to Catholic media. The journey will continue, but for now, comments on this post are closed. Peace.

Thanks for prayers for health. I am feeling God’s goodness and kindness each day. Still several days away from any kind of information I can share. Continue praying. I love you and count myself blessed a thousand times to be surrounded by so many who will pray for me.

I spent the entire day yesterday listening to Catholic radio. I took in EWTN and Ave Maria in about equal portions, along with a couple of archived hours of Catholic Answers. I thought it would be interesting to the IM audience today to hear some of my thoughts on the “Catholic radio” experience.

Let me say a couple of things. First, some good Catholic friends have told me not to do this. Not because it is counter-productive as much as simply a bit distorted in its picture of the Church. EWTN is one kind of American Catholic experience, but it’s very much its own culture and flavor. There is lots more going on, some not as conservative, some far deeper and richer in flavor. I hope I counted all of this as I reflected on what I was hearing.

Secondly, I’m very open to what Catholicism has to say. I’m about as soft a sell as you could find right now. My own evangelicalism has made its case to me and while I remain part of the evangelical community, I am not manning the ramparts with weapons. I’m opening windows and doors, actively inviting in the voices of non-evangelical Christians and their experience of Christ.

Third, it was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception yesterday, so I heard a lot of discussion of Mary.

So here are some of my reflections. No particular order or significance to placement.

1. The broadcast of the mass of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception from the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. was very impressive. With all the theological questions that come along with this emphasis, the beauty, majesty and antiquity of the Catholic faith comes across. Evangelicals these days, given an hour or so of similar time, would….what? Contemporary music with a celebrity sermon? We could, within our resources, present a wonderful and beautiful worship experience, but one wonders if it would ever get past the discussions of contemporary music. etc.

2. Likewise, there are some embarrassing and ignorant goof-balls who have managed to corner an hour of Catholic radio. If anyone thinks that evangelicals or fundamentalists have a corner on this market, you are quite wrong. They are waiting for you on the other side.

3. It doesn’t seem that a majority of the voices I heard on a day of Catholic radio have a sense of how the church itself, and the mysteries of Christ, the church and personal faith, are experienced differently in Roman Catholic spirituality as compared to Protestantism. The reformation isn’t just a historical and doctrinal event. There has developed a significantly different experience of the church, the Gospel and the Christian life in these two traditions. It’s not simply a multiple choice question, but two very different ways of living, trusting and being a Christian. Overlooking this is a real mistake. It isn’t easy to talk about, but I’m convinced that, at the end of the day, it has to be counted far more important than most make it.

4. Catholic Answers’ apologists answer a huge number of marriage related questions. It’s simply quite extraordinary. Sometimes half the questions offered to a Catholic Answers apologist are marriage related. Is there a better place to work these things out than the radio? The impression this leaves with a Protestant is poor.

5. Catholic Answers’ apologists, at least as I have heard them on this day and many others, vary widely in quality, and some of them are quite weak. Jimmy Akin is CA’s senior apologist. A caller asked him about Mary’s behavior toward Jesus in Mark 3. He was stumped. Speechless. He sounded as if he hadn’t read up on this passage in years. Eventually, after a couple of extended silences, he resorted to appealing to “nuances in translation,” a far too frequent apologetic hide out for the unprepared. I know this passage well from teaching Mark. I could have answered- in a Catholic friendly way- in a minute. Unimpressive and indicative that, as I’ve said, the wrong emphasis is often implied in this kind of Catholic argumentation.

6. Fr. Benedict Groeschel did an hour long presentation on the Immaculate Conception. He’s simple and quite excellent, and I say that counting in what scholarship has to say, what the early church fathers contribute and where the teaching authority of the church steps in to define dogma. Fr. Groeschel understands them all, gives them the proper emphasis and never- never!- tries to argue an evangelical into seeing that this doctrine is plainly taught in scripture. Even Luther and Calvin believed it by way of Augustine. When one meets a Catholic who deals with his/her own beliefs in the context of how the Catholic church actually holds the faith, everything works much better. The voices that act as if these things are simply matters of argument about scripture and that’s all are not helpful.

7. Scott Hahn may not be the scholarly heavyweight that the RCC in America make him out to be, but he really is a gift to the RCC. Few people in evangelicalism could do what he does with scripture, tradition and experience in such a winsome way. His evident joy in his journey goes along with his enthusiasm for the Bible in Catholicism and results in a very glad witness.

8. More than a few people at Catholic Answers/EWTN need to re-read the Vatican II documents on ecumenism and make up their minds whether they plan to present the church’s views accurately or not. At times, it seemed to me that some persons were ready to go to the rack rather than say “separated brethren.” Bizarre.

Your thoughts and responses to my impressions are welcome.

Comments

  1. I found our local Catholic radio station about a year ago, and find some of it quite interesting — much like evangelicals, it seems that only the most conservative ones make it onto the radio. And this is good and bad, I suppose, but as you say, EWTN and Ave Maria represent a particular strain of American, conservative Catholicism.

    But I often learn something when I listen to the Catholic station, as well as the podcast producer SQPN. And I like learning.

  2. A full day listening to Catholic radio? Michael, you’re taking the penitential aspect of Advent way too far!

    I’m nearly afraid to ask do you feel any better, or has this set your recovery back? 😉

    • We have no TV, my eyes won’t let me read much, and I’ve gone through all the decent movies. Desperate!

    • I’m with Martha. Wow, you are to be commended sir. There’s some good stuff on EWTN radio, but much of it is a boring snooze-fest.

      • I wish EWTN both radio and TV be a little less conservative and a little more Traditional.

        Some times I would say may be 20% of the time the presentation and people are too fluffy for my taste.

        Still I think that for the most part they do a great job.

      • BillyHW, it has got to be the long sermons in the Protestant tradition that toughened the iMonk up to the point of being able to handle a full day of religious broadcasting.

        By contrast, we weak, feeble Papists with our three to five-minute homilies are too soft and delicate to deal with that kind of punishment 🙂

    • Martha, thank you for bringing a chuckle to my morning. I absolutely love your sense of humor in these comments!

      • And thank you sir for your kind remark! It’s good to have someone laughing with me, rather than at me – or do I mean that the other way round, if I’m trying to get you to laugh at something? 🙂

  3. Yes, I would agree with your assesment.

    One of the things you have to understand is that both EWTN and Catholic Answers have pretty strict magisterium with the Magisterium. There are certain authors/writers/figures you will never hear on these stations because they are deemed insufficiently orthodox.

    If you’re *really* bored, do check out the SQPN podcasts, which present a really wide variety of Catholic voices. My favorite is the history-oriented “Catholic Under the Hood” –

    http://sqpn.com/category/educational/catholic-under-the-hood/

    • Listened to “Under the Hood” last week. Put me to sleep 🙂

      • Yeah, he puts me under too Michael. I enjoy Fr. Roderick’s Breakfast show. His take on games and the movies are often funny, although sometimes tedious. Other SQPN shows are like the TV and radio, a mixture of bad and good. Greg and Jennifer Willit’s program taped off their Sirius radio show entitled Catholics Next Door can be downright hilarious.
        Since I’ve discovered shows like the White Horse Inn and those like it, I listen much less to the Catholic shows.

  4. Michael, I tend to agree with you on your overall reaction to EWTN and their clones. I’ve watched and listened to EWTN for several years now. (I’m a committed Presbyterian and hold to the Reformed faith as best as I understand it.) There are a number of goofballs for sure. Some of the Catholic Answers hosts couldn’t talk their way out of a paper bag. Sister Ros. Moss being one of them. I’ve never seen anyone say “I don’t know” as much as she does. I’ve personally met the founder of Catholic Answers, Karl Keating. In person he is a warm genial guy whom I could really enjoy sitting and discussing theology with over a tall brew. He is knowledgable but comes across wooden over the air waves. Tim Staples is perhaps their best known apologist who sounds very knowledgeable but, I don’t think he has a handle on what the reformed faith teaches as much as he thinks. The rest of the bunch vary from great to forgettable. But on a whole, they present a pretty fair, though conservative, view of the Mother Church. Their This Rock magazine which you can read on their website is packed with great reading.
    EWTN has lots of programming that I find just down right boring. Some of the speakers use so much “inside” church language that it makes them totally incoherent to the non-Catholic. I’ve enjoyed the stories of converts to the faith on Marcus Grodi’s Journey Home Program. Marcus is an ex Presbyterian who has a large ministry to pastors coming into the church or thinking about it. His journal is interesting.
    I fell in love with the foundress of ETWN Mother Angelica only because she is such a cute Italian spitfire who was willing to spit in the faces of the Bishops to establish her empire. Fr. Mitch Paqwa is an interesting guy who seems to have inherited the mantel of leadership on EWTN for a lot of their outreach.
    I could go on and on. EWTN was largely responsible for resurrecting personal liturgical praying and devotion which has literally turned my life around and given me a profound love for God. However, their arguments against Protestantism and foundational doctrines have failed to convince me of the supremecy of Roman Catholicism. I find them to be quite wrong on Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide. And that is major with me. I reject the authority of the pope and magisterium as infallible. Only the scripures are the infallible foundation of truth. And to say that it’s not expressed in scripture is a circular argument which is a different subject altogether.
    Finally, if the fullness of truth is in the Catholic church, then 75 percent of Catholics who don’t attend mass are in deep doo doo. That doesn’t speak well for them.
    So, great folks, but flawed.
    Sorry for the extended response, but I’ve watched these guys for many years now and have come away unconvinced.

    • Richard,
      You state that only the Scriptures are the Infalliable Foundation of Truth, Ah but the rub comes in Who Do You Go To in Order To INTERPRET said Scriptures?? Your own interpretation? You set yourself up as your own Pope and Church Council. Your Pastor? You do the same for him. The Holy Spirit? Has the Spirit been guiding all these different churches in different directions for the last 500 years? Is Christ divided? God Forbid! I reject Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide because they go against both Faith and Reason. I Timothry 3:15 The Church is the Pillar and Foundation of the Truth.. Nowhere in Scripture does it state that Scripture is by itself the sole authority for faith and morals (II Timothy 3:16 can’t be used because when Paul wrote, the only Scriptures (canonically) had was the Old Testament, or the Hebrew Scriptures.)

      I am glad that your prayer and devotional life has turned your life around, Praise God, I ask for your prayers for me too.

      I am sorry that you reject the Church’s teaching, but that is your decision, follow God with all your heart, but remember, Jesus entrusted Peter with the Keys of the Kingdom, said that He would build his Church on him (whether you want to say it was Peter’s confession or not doesn’t matter, Peter still became the leader of the Church) and down through the ages we have had a growing living vibrant Church (not without controversy, sinners, in fighting), but still lead by the Spirit and has never waivered from teaching the Truth.

      God Bless you, truly.

    • Oh, BTW Richard, you are correct in your assesment of the 75% of Catholics who don’t go to Mass being in deep doo doo. Pray for them to come home and PRACTICE their faith.

    • Graham N. Smith says

      Richard,
      I’m not sure how accurate that 75% non-attendance figure is, and it’ll vary from place to place. However, it’s a pretty big figure in some places, and it’s a sign of a problem that’s not exclusive to Catholics. I saw a column a couple of years back in a national Catholic weekly paper on reason why Catholics leave their church, and the list was thought-provoking, What it left out, however, was even more interesting because it points out how big the problem is – a failure to evangelize. If failing to evangelize doesn’t even make the list, it’s because it’s “not on the radar” in a lot of places.

      In my experience, it’s not something I hear on Radio Maria often, and we don’t see much about it on EWTN. However, I don’t spend a lot of time with either, so it may be there a lot more than I recall.

      It’s a fundamental teaching in the RCC that the church exists to proclaim the gospel. Paul VI wrote passionately about this back in the 70’s and every pope since then has stressed the importance of that task.
      It is, after all, the “great commission.” Ask the average guy after Mass why the church exists and you’ll get a lot of answers (I’ve asked, and I’ve heard them), but rarely will you get that one.
      We have a lot of work to do on this in my church at the grassroots level. But then, we’re not alone.

      (Full disclosure here – I am a Catholic, evangelized by lay Catholic missionaries on furlough back in the mid-80’s. I spend a lot of time working in the charismatic renewal, trying to raise a unified vision of the need to evangelize.)

      IMonk, get well soon! All of us here are praying!

  5. I’ve listened to a few of the Catholic Answers programs such as Mark Shea’s “This Rock” and a couple of segments with Scott Hahn. I was impressed with both. I don’t know if I could do a whole day though.

    I would be interested to hear that explanation of passage in Mark 3 though.

    • The standard Catholic response is that Jesus is actually praising his mother here, for she did the will of God in her life, which, beyond just her motherhood of Christ, made her God’s child.

      Jimmy Akin is sharp and knows much more of the Faith than I do, so I am surprised this stumped him.

      • Akin can be very evasive. He’s bright, but there are times when he leaves me scratching my head. I’ ve found myself yelling at the radio with what I know to be the answer while he’s mumbling to find an answer.

      • “A caller asked him about Mary’s behavior toward Jesus in Mark 3.”

        Michael, did you mean Jesus’s behavior to Mary? If it was Mary’s behavior to Jesus I’d have been stumped too. 😉

        As far as his behavior towards Mary, I’ve heard both that he was praising her (because she did the word of God) and that he was opening up “close relations” with anyone who did the will of God.

        It’s also been pointed out to me that the scene ends immediately after this, which could indicate that he left shortly thereafter to be with his natural family.

    • Scott Hahn is prolific and an enjoyable guy to listen to and read. His Salvation History website is filled with his theology. You can see it at http://www.salvationhistory.com/. I don’t agree with him as I don’t think he really understood his own Presbyterian Reformed theology as well as he thinks. But he is a fun guy and I enjoy him.

      Mark Shea is a bit of a nut, but has some good stuff. His books are interesting and well researched.

    • I came to see another response to the Mark 3 passage. Here’s Jesus surrounded by people who want to know him, to learn from him, to be right next to him and soak up his presence. As he’s teaching them, his family arrives to claim a special right to his time and attention.

      Normally, family would take precedence over strangers. But Jesus is saying, “You ALL are in my inner circle. Of course my family is especially important to me, but so are you.”

      It’s as though Jesus were revealing that they all could have a special, close relationship with him. He wouldn’t exclude them to go with his family – they were now all family to him.

  6. i have found Fr. Benedict Groeschel to be one of the best christian speakers on television( though i don’t believe he has much competion out there). He gives great advise to people for spirtual growth, & you can see that he has lived a devout Christian life. he almost never comes across as trying to convert non-catholic Christians & spends alot of time showing what “separated brethren” (yes he does say the phrase) & catholics have in common. I have always felt better about the wider Christian Church when i have watched his show. by the way I’m a mennonite but I would watch EWTN over any evangelical, family, televangelist station or show out there. am I the only non-catholic who feels this way??? peace

    • I’m with you Brian. Evangelical radio and television have been hijacked by the kooky “blab it and grab it” gang. I’m so tired of the bleached blondes and blow dried hucksters on PTL and all their clones. At least with EWTN you get some good grounded guys like Fr. Groeschel, who has to be my favorite.

    • Brian, I am the same way. I am a somewhat conservative lutheran, (albeit soft on RCC) and I would take EWTN over anything on the evangelical stations.

    • I tend to think Father Corapi is the best of all EWTN has to offer.

      • I find his habit of raising his voice and getting all dramatic when he wants to make a point to be affected and annoying. It just sounds fake.

        On the other hand, there’s an Evangelical preacher (can’t remember his name) that repeats himself when he wants to make a point and I find that fake and affected too.

        Can’t people just preach a message without getting fake dramatic, repeating themselves or taking weird sidetrips through various anecdotes?

        Like maybe a factual reading of a passage of Scripture, then maybe an explanation of what it might have meant to people of that historical time period, maybe what some Great Christian thinkers have thought of it and finally a practical modern application of it.

        • Can’t people just preach a message without getting fake dramatic, repeating themselves or taking weird sidetrips through various anecdotes?

          this would make a fine T-shirt….a little wordy perhaps; I’ve thot the same thing about a zillion times. it’s like adding crackers to ground sirloin….what’s the point ?

          Greg R

  7. Fascinating report, iMonk. I don’t think I could spend more than about an hour listening to Roman Catholic radio. Heck, I don’t think I could last even an hour listening to evangelical talk radio!

    John Michael Talbot is one of the greatest evangelists for Roman Catholicism I know, since I was deep in the heart of fundamentalist evangelicalism when he showed me that there was more than I had known. Music is amazing that way.

  8. Glad to hear things are moving in a good direction, Michael. I’ve definitely been praying for you and will continue to do so – stuff sounds like no fun at all.

    All day Catholic radio – Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy – LORD have MERcy! Add factoid: I could handle that much better before I came back into the Catholic Church than I can now. Being wound up in it from the inside and hearing all that is an interesting animal.

    I was nodding my head at pretty much all of your assessments up there. My head turns crooked the most at many of those you hear who would have you think that anything other than the precise way they look at the Catholic faith is an outlandish and heretical scandal. Simply put – weird. And I’m not advocating some waaay out, crazy liberal dealio.

    Benedict Groeschel is the real deal if you ask me. He knows what he’s talking about and the Love of Christ shines through in his words, along with the deep Wisdom of the Holy Spirit. If only some of the converts could catch what he’s got – that would be a good thing.

    I think your #3 is very important as well. I’ve said this before and been jumped on because of it. I’ve seen this for many years – in the years I was inside and while I was outside the Catholic arena – that Catholics can generally be very insular. They know about themselves (as much as they do) – they know their culture and religious language. They generally know very little of other Christian experience. Take a poll – seriously. So, often, when Catholics speak of other Christians and they’re experience of the faith, of Christ, of being a Christian, it’s as if they’re speaking of some people-group in a far away land in the jungle, that they have never visited. It’s a bit different for some of the converts. Then, all too often, you get a perspective that is so triumphalist that everything in their former Christian experience is seen to be illegitimate and pitiful in comparison to what they’ve now found in Catholicism. While I understand some of the comparison, this is unfortunate. And not all of them do this, for the record. I’ve just heard it so often to make it notable. Groeschel is a great example of a Catholic teacher who doesn’t speak in this way.

    OK – enough from me on this blustery day. God’s healing power continue to work in you, Michael. Hope to hear good news soon. Peace.

    • Kenneth Jones says

      Your remark about Catholics knowing little about other Christian experience is by design, of course. We were not taught a course in comparative religion; we were taught Catholicism. We were not taught about various ways of worship; we were taught Catholicism. Looking back over the last five decades, that concept seems to have worked for us, but not perhaps so well for our ability to evangelize other communities in the Church. But the education was for the townsfolk so to speak, and not so much for the soldiers, who were indeed taught to know and to engage outside our belief.

      Thanks, everyone for the links mentioned here in the discussion; thanks as well for the generally civilized discourse I’ve enjoyed reading.

      As Patrick Coffin says,
      In our common Saviour,

      Ken

  9. As a Catholic who does listen to Catholic radio often, I find your points spot on. I consider myself rather orthodox when it comes to Church teaching and I believe that they try to keep their programs orthodox but have a tendency to fail due to the natural bias of the program.

    I think Catholic radio greatly depends on the personality. I think some personalities are really worth listening to and some are almost embarrasing to have on the airwaves. Personally, I do like listening to Fr. John Corapi. When he’s on, it’s always a treat. Groeschel is great. Scott Hahn is fascinating albeit a little deep and Catholic Answers is hit or miss (although usually Jimmy Akin is pretty good–perhaps he was having a bad day.)

    An honest assessment which can probably be said of Evangelicals as well is that SOMETIMES…it seems like the programming is more out of love of the Church (or in a Protestant’s case–love of Scripture) that it is love of Christ. To improve Catholic radio (and probably all religious programming) would be to remember that Christ is in the center of the broadcast. Not His word or His church.

    • I love Fr. Corapi. He kicks butt without apologies. He reminds me sometimes of the good old time Protestant evangelists. Only Fr. Corapi usually makes more sense. His personal testimony is a powerful testament of what can happen to a life given over to his Savior.

  10. (disclaimer: I work in Evangelical Radio)

    First off, I pray that the Lord will continue to bless you and your family during this time.

    Thanks for doing this! I listen to our local Catholic station at times as well and have some of the same thoughts — more to appreciate, more to disagree with.

    1) As for us, when we’re given an hour free this month we’ll be broadcasting college’s Christmas Concerts with orchestras and choirs. It’s not the same, to be sure, but it is a celebration nonetheless. They’re rather traditional, with Scripture readings and the narration of Luke 2.

    3) On of the things I’ve noticed about Evangelical Radio is that it seems to have similar faults: little history (save a few heroes), and little understanding of where they came from. Luther taught Justification by Faith, but what does that mean? With so many singers and preachers on the air from indy churches, you’d think that The Church started when they started their plant a few decades back.

    4) I think this is a common theme on all of Christian Radio, I’m guessing about half of our shows get into marriage/family issues as a main theme. We have at least one live national Marriage call-in show on daily. As a single person, this does get a little old.

    5) I will say this about the Evangelical apologists: They have their answers down. Some, like Ravi, can knock it out of the park. Others have an answer and it may be totally bananas. Like all good entertainers (and “Radio Host” certainly qualifies, TV/YouTube host doubly so) they probably can find a way out of tough spot when needed.

    Listening to our local Catholic station, I realize that there are things I like about it and they’re doing things I wish we would attempt. But I also realize the grass isn’t greener over there: they have their own celebrities doing sermons, own celebrity converts, own self-help shows, and own pet issues that overshadow the greater message.

  11. A whole day of Catholic radio? o_O
    5000 years off of Purgatory for you 😉

  12. I have much the same thoughts as you do on the subject, IM. No-one could be more staunchly committed to Reformed theology than I am, but I am, as you said, a “soft sell” on Catholicism, mainly because of the obvious depth revealed in the writings of Catholics through the ages and because of the richness and historical continuity in Catholic worship. It’s that worship richness that makes watching EWTN so enjoyable to me (and why, even apart from the goofball theology, I can’t watch the Protestant networks for more than a minute or two without being repulsed).

    I appreciate your observation that it’s helpful when Catholic apologists make clear they’re leaning on tradition. Many of the Scriptural “proofs” for specific Catholic ideas seem to me rather contrived—looking to fit Scripture to a preconceived idea rather than really reading what the plain sense of the text says. If there’s honesty about the ultimate source of an idea (tradition), it does make it easier to discuss. Just because it’s a tradition (rather than Scriptural) to me doesn’t automatically invalidate something, but it’s helpful to make the origin clear.

    One program on EWTN I enjoy is the Journey Home. Although I disagree with a lot of the thoughts and conclusions, I find there to be a good “Spirit” at work there and it’s interesting to hear the very good discussions that take place. I’ve never listened to Catholic radio.

  13. There’s a lot of cultural warfare stuff on EWTN radio. I can’t fault them; the Catholic church is really stepping up to defend life during the health care debates. But I wish there was more programming describing ancient or patristic perspectives on the faith.

    The Bishop Sheen recordings are great. So are the rebroadcasts of Mother Angelica. And yes, I listen to the afternoon reciting of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Rosary.

    They do need to think about how to reach the unreached, rather than just getting more evangelicals to jump the Tiber.

    • I could not agree more. They def need some more meat on that menu.

    • Bishop Sheen was a culture warrior in his time though. He hated Communism with a passion and didn’t like non-conformity at all.

    • Yes, too much of EWTN has fallen into the culture warrior approach. But, this also explains why they seem to be chastising their own hierarchy and their own theologians all too often. There is a bit of the “I am preserving really true Catholicism.” We have similar people in Orthodoxy as well.

      As well, they have seemed to almost be rejecting major parts of Vatican Council II at times.

      Nevertheless, as versus decades of evangelical radio and television, they were the first serious attempt at a Catholic network rather than just isolated programs.

    • I also heard a great broadcast hosted by Bishop Michael Sheridan. I don’t know if it was aired nationally.

  14. I listen to EWTN pretty much all day at work and while I could nod at a lot of what you wrote, some of it had me wondering if we were listening to the same station (marriage questions to apologists … yeah, I’ve certainly heard them, but the majority of what I’ve heard has to do with other issues altogether, e.g., indulgences, purgatory, etc.). Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

    Have you listened much to Patrick Madrid (on Thursdays at 3 PM ET) or Steve Wood (also on Thursdays at 2 PM ET)? Mr. Madrid in particular seems to have all his ducks in a row, and is a humble and gracious host to boot. Steve Wood is an ex-Presbyterian minister and is very meticulous and thorough in his understanding and research.

    Grace and peace to you!!

  15. As a former Catholic, I’m not enthusiastic about the church. They’re still in the Middle Ages as far as I’m concerned, and their meddling in govt – unlike JFK’s promise that he’d never allow the church to dictate policy to him – violates the very heart of the separation of church and state.

    • Patrick Lynch says

      ?

    • Patrick Lynch says

      ?

    • JoeA, as far as I’m concerned, we’re not mediaeval *enough*.

      Certain traditionalists seem to want to revert back to the presumed Golden Age of the 1950s; *I* want us to go back to the 1250s 🙂

      Well, a period stretching from around the 10th – 14th centuries, anyways.

      Speaking of which… you may have seen our guy wearing the Papal mozzeta (either the white Easter one, or the fur-trimmed red velvet winter one) and he particularly wears the camauro (the fur-trimmed red velvet hat, which some in the media called his “Santa Claus hat”) in cold weather, but unlike his predecessors from the 12th century up to the time of John XXIII he never seems to wear them together; the day he does, I can die happy 😉

  16. I have found that if you want to learn the Catholic faith, EWTN and Catholic Radio are not the best places. You simply cannot scratch the surface in the timeframe they have, even over a period of time. Three minutes on CA to try and explain some things is just not enough. If you really want to learn something you have to listen to things in depth. I have been listening to an 85 part radio program about the history of the Christian Church, and given that it’s 85 hours long, the equivalent of a couple of semesters, there’s some great insight there. The apologists at CA are great in longer format. Many priests, given a few hours and a topic, can give better understanding of the Catholic Church. The whole point of both EWTN and the more local entities is to get you interested, to whet your appetite. They are, in a word, a good start.

  17. I subscribe to one of those TV satellite services. They group all the religious stations together. Against all the wild folks on the non-Catholic stations, EWTN almost always comes across as tasteful and peaceful.

    I’ve been praying for you. A couple of years ago I was laid up in the hospital for two weeks with gall bladder related problems of pain and swelling. I finally stabilized and was sent home. Six weeks later they took the darn thing out; good ridance!

  18. Dan Allison says

    I’m a Presbyterian and I agree with most of the above comments. I’ve been a fan of Fr. Benedict Groeschel for years, he is one of the great teachers/spokesmen for Christianity. Thanks, Michael for encouraging both “sides” to learn from each other.

  19. I feel like I’ve stumbled into an Evangelicals Anonymous meeting–it’s so great to find that I am not the only Evangelical who listens and learns from EWTN. I enjoy Groeschel always and although I like Corapi a lot he tends to be a little too Marian for my tastes, but after all, I am having to overcome a virulent anti-Catholic upbringing.

    I’ve read that in the closing days of the Wild West, Indian tribes who were former enemies found themselves as allies. In a postmodern world, I think we evangelicals have better things to do than take potshots at our Catholic brethren. “He who is not against us is for us.”

    • Abouna Justin says

      Having spent a good deal of time studying Christianity in a Postmodern world, I am really thinking about your comment. Of course, I think that critics of Emerging/Emergent Church would say that this alliance among various churches is just an effect of a postmodern sense that everything is the same.

  20. My Pastor (former Catholic, now SBC) and I both listen to the local Catholic station – better and worse than the local “evangelical” station(s). My observation

    Catholic radio has a lot of people talking with people about their faith.

    Evangelical radio as a lot of people talking to (or at) others. Plenty of good shows (Haddon Robinson is one of my favs) – but tend to be telling us what to believe like a professor or pastor from the pulpit – no interaction.

  21. Catholic radio is a mixed bag. I regularly listen to it during my commute to and from work.

    On the whole, it has further convinced me NOT to become Catholic.

    There is often a bit too much of “The Pope/Catechism says it. I believe it. That settles it!”

    That, and some laughable apologetics and Scripture-twisting that would suffer the same fate at the hands of a knowledgeable person as Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel do at the hands of Internet Infidels.

    Scott Hahn is enjoyable and winsome, even when he’s wrong. But some of the others, not so much.

  22. While you’re laid up, if you have a PC nearby, you can listen to various podcast teachings from “the other lung” here:

    http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts

    Ancient Faith Radio also streams their programs; click on the link at the above page for “Radio.”

    • Yup, I like Ancient Faith too. Especially Michael Gallatin, Lawrence Farley, Dr. Jeannie Constantinou and Thomas Hopko among others. I think the Orthodox have better theology than their Latin Lung. But due to their autocephalus natures, they fight like cats and dogs and just can’t seem to get along with anyone.

  23. I enjoy the good speakers on EWTN, though as a Lutheran they sometimes dont ‘get it’, their view of Luther and the Lutheran church is often very simplistic if not wrong. Still there are some great Christian apologists like Father G. Their strong outspoken defense of life issue is appreciated also.

    I had fun one day in the car switching between EWTN and the local Evangelical station. EWTN had a preacher on Holy Poverty and the Evangelical Station had a Gospel of Wealth preacher – it was great going back and forth every minute or so to hear the exact opposite things being preached, nevertheless EWTN got it right the evangelical did not.

    Also, despite what imonk has found, the depth of the catholicity and understanding of tradition and history on the Roman Catholic stations beats circles around the Evangelical stuff I hear – except for two lone lights, The White Horse Inn and Issues Etc. I also appreciate the acknowledgement of the existence of Sacrament and Liturgy as opposed to contempo worship stuff.

    Hey imonk, try listing to ‘Christian Pirate Radio’ all day once and see what you think – its the conservative Lutheran online station.

  24. Christiane says

    I love Father Groeschel. He is a humble man. It’s not so much what he says (I agree with most of it), as his demeanor and his non-verbal Christianity on EWTN. He has a presence that is transcendently Christian, so he appeals to people of many denominations. You can’t fake that kind of presence, and it is not something easily explained or understood.

    Michael, we are praying for you.

    • Father Benedict Groeschel is probably one of the best demonstrations of a Christian taking up his cross (and not trying to take up Christ’s cross) and following Jesus. He’s also an excellent example of the Franciscan tradition of preaching the gospel always, and using words when necessary. Fr. Benedict is one of the founders of the C.F.R. (Community of Franciscans of the Renewal) which was a spin-off of the OFMCap (Capuchin Franciscans) which was a spin-off from the OFM (Order of Friars Minor aka Franciscan Friars). Was just on their site, and they have sever friaries in the greater NYC area, three of which are in the Bronx. They live amongst the poorest of the poor. I feel at a loss if/when I miss Fr’s talks on EWTN (radio or TV).

      As for the others, I have to cringe on occassion too, although I don’t agree with IMs friends that EWTN is the distorted picture of the church. Is EWTN conservative? Definitely. However, in Catholic terms, EWTN is, if anything, an orthodox organization, adhering to the Magisterium (teaching authority) of the Roman Church. IMHO, if you want a truly distorted picture of the church, you should read the National Catholic Reporter (known by the more orthodox Catholics as the “National Catholic Distorter.”)

  25. If ya’all get a chance please check out Christ in the City on EWTN with Father George Rutler. Hands down my favorite thing on EWTN with Journey Home being second.

    http://www.ewtn.com/series/ChristintheCity/index.htm

  26. A lot of these emails urge EWTN to be more sensitive to what it says and how it sounds, to reach out to other Christians. That’s probably a fine thought, but you have no idea how much value a thoroughly Catholic station, with all of its “in words” and “in phrases” means to a returning Catholic like I was.

    I needed to soak in Catholicism: Catholic culture, theology, literature, prayer, devotions, history and domestic practices, to re-examine everything I was taught as a child. EWTN was very useful, along with the Catholic blog world. I didn’t need anybody questioning whether the Rosary is relevant; I needed someone to tell me that it was scriptural and what its history was. I need to hear about Lepanto and the Dominicans and the miracles, to sort through them with my adult mind, not my childhood parochial school linear understanding. You might say that you don’t know from Lepanto; truly, I don’t care – we can both look it up and I did and if they hadn’t reminded me of it, I wouldn’t have had that extra color and life to add to my understanding.

    EWTN and Relevant Radio (Catholic radio in my area) have been terrific, even if certain hosts and hours are either snores, dated, or a little creepy.

  27. I actually prefer the local RC radio station to the local evangelical station. I don’t listen to either very often, but if I’m in the car at the right time of day I LOVE to catch Fr. Jon Ricardo doing RCIA lectures on Ava Maria. I’ve only disagreed with him twice. The first time I was on board until he picked on Martin Luther. I disagreed with his conclusion, of course. I don’t recall exactly what the other disagreement was but it was something not-too-important in the grand scheme of things. I had heard the same mini-subject taught differently just days before. I shrugged it off. You should try to catch him sometime. He’s wonderful. He makes me want to be Catholic… until I remember the Pope and the Marian doctrines and the lack of justification by faith…

    • Fr. John’s a friend of mine. He actually did my wedding and baptized my daughter. Great priest. It’s interesting to hear a Protestant opinion of him. FYI…He has a DVD that he did with a local minister called Common Ground.

      I haven’t seen it but it’s supposed to be a great video. Here’s the website: http://www.protestantcatholic.com

      • Thanks. I’ll check it out. He used to be the priest at my friend’s parent’s church. I guess he changed to a church on the other side of town. They miss him a lot. If he were mine, I’d miss him too. He’s a good and gentle teacher.

  28. Both you Catholics and Evangelicals are lucky to have radio for your religious needs. If I want to listen to Jewish radio, I’ve got a couple hours on Sunday morning on a station that’s so week, I need a loop antenna on my AM radio to get it!

    • Try Internet radio. There have to be some Jewish broadcasts and podcasts online.

    • With 30,000 different protestant denominations it’s getting difficult for us to get the programming we want too 😉

  29. Dan Crawford says

    Nearly two months ago when the Vatican announced the “ordinariates” for Anglicans, several very dear Catholic friends emailed me to ask when I was “coming back”. My honest response: every time I feel the urge to swim the Tiber, I watch EWTN for several hours and the impulse to journey to Rome is quelled. Their response to me: For heaven’s sake stop watching it.

    I share Michael’s positive views of Fr. Groeschel and Scott Hahn. (Father Groeschel’s graciousness and occasional crankiness are a delight, and I benefit much from the depth of his spiritual teaching.) Fr. Corapi can hold my attention for a while until his smiling at his own cleverness begins to be a bit tiresome. Occasionally, I appreciate the discussion on The Journey Home, but for the most part, EWTN depresses me. Their presentation of the Mass could stand some improvement, and their homilies need to find their inspiration more in the Scriptures than in Papal pronouncements.

  30. By removing my last comment does that mean that you are in agreement with the RCC?

  31. Seeing a number of you saying how great Fr. Benedict Groeschel is makes me want to listen to him too. (I see online that he has written a number of books too.)I checked online though and Maine doesn’t have any Catholic radio stations. (I see I can listen to some things on the internet) We do have EWTN on cable and I have that. I have stopped at the channel a few times and liked a couple things, but it seems the things I don’t have as much interest in are on during prime time when I would be apt to check them out. I did see Scott Hahn once and though I read two of his books and liked them just fine, his talking didn’t draw me in enough to stay on the channel. I saw The Journey Home once and that was kind of interesting. I would be interested in a show about church history, ancient Christianity. I don’t care to watch the rosary being said and don’t care about watching Mass. (I like ATTENDING Mass, though, when I can.)

    I have found that when I am listening to the radio and land on a Christian station, most of the time I can’t stand the voice of the guy talking and I leave right away.

    • I see one of the books that Fr. Benedict Groeschel wrote is After This Life: What Catholics Believe About What Happens Next which just came out in September of this year. I may read that one. But I think I would like to read MANY of his books! Do those of you who have read his books have a favorite to suggest?

      • Someone gave me “Arise from Darkness” after I lost my infant daughter. Many books didn’t do anything for me; that one was quietly helpful. Really some beautiful passages in it.

  32. I was convicted to become a Catholic, in a large part, by listening and reading the thoughts of the current Pope, Joseph Ratzinger. I would include Scott Hahn and Fr. Groeschel in the mix that helped, as well. Anyway, with Holy Week coming up, there’s going to be some quality Papal programming, so TiVo the Holy Father and see where it leads you. I find him to be amazing.

    During a portion of my “journey,” I’ve listened to a lot of evangelical radio, most of which I’m embarrased to even note. I did know, briefly, when I was young, the owner of a evangelical radio station in Texas. This was in the 80s when the concept was new. This guy was one of the most unpleasant jerks that I’ve ever run into = full of predestinarian cockiness and judgement that made most unbelievers prefer to stay unbelievers, and I don’t blame them. So, I’ve got some biases.

    • Trooper, I think this is why many of us are looking at the RCC right now = predestinarian cockiness.

  33. Having grown up in a Catholic part of NYC I was exposed to Catholic culture from early childhood. The little I’ve listened to RCC radio or to EWTN I would agree that it’s a mixed bag. But I will say that I am glad they don’t ever have the abomination of the prosperity “gospel” on their stations. That’s to their credit no matter what. Back home in Staten Island I typically found the best resources were always available at the local Catholic bookstore more than any Protestant ones around. I knew I’d always find a good J M Talbot album! And I’ve been immeasurably blessed by the writings of Henri Nouwen. He has enriched my Christian walk beyond words.

    • If you liked the writings of Henri Nouwen, you might like the work of Jean Vanier. They knew each other. When Father Nouen was becoming famous as a writer and as a teacher of theology in the Ivy Leaque Divinity Schools, he felt a need to put aside all the attention and to find a way to serve Christ in a ‘more meaningful setting’.

      Jean Vanier helped Father Nouen to come and care for the severely disabled in a Christian retreat. And there, in caring for the needs of a profoundly handicapped young man, Father Nouen received the fulfillment that all the applause of those at Harvard and Yale could not give him.

      • I love Henri Nouwen too. I have heard of Jean Vanier, but had not read things written or said by him. But I love what this quotation from him at http://www.silk.net/RelEd/ezinevanier.htm:

        “Love has a transforming power. It is first and foremost a revelation of a person’s essential, fundamental beauty and value. If nobody reveals to children their innate beauty and value, they will never know the importance and the meaning of their life. They will hide behind sulking, depression, violence, aggressive attitudes or will try to prove their brilliance. When they are listened to and loved they begin to discover what it means to be human. Little by little they become more trusting and want to live more fully. They realise they do not have to defend or prove themselves or always be at the centre of the stage; they have a place, they belong.”

        This is an important thing for parents, teachers, pastors to remember.

        • you probably already have it, but Nouwen’s “Bread for the Journey” is one of the best devotionals I’ve ever (almost) read. Well worth the money, the entries are short and ‘bunched’ thematically.

          Peace on earth
          Greg R

  34. I’m curious — Are there any truly diverse examples of Christian media out there, apart from this blogsite? The biggest part of Christian TV seems to be dominated by the prosperity gospel, and while watching EWTN can sometimes be interesting for a Prostestant (and less stomach-turning than watching some name-it-claim-it guru pronounce healing for an unnamed person in the viewing audience), I just don’t have the background to really relate to most of their programming.
    While I realize that the current media trend is to focus on a specific demographic and then cater to the views, preferences, and tastes of that demographic, I just think it would be cool to hear from a wider, more various cross section of global Christianity — and not just the Americanized versions. Is there anything like that out there on radio, TV, or internet?

  35. Protestants who go to Rome or Constantinople because of the perceived and real problems with Protestantism – doctrinal craziness, multitudinous denominations, deviant theologies (Prosperity Gospel, etc.) – are simply trading one set of theological and ecclesiastical and unscriptural problems for another. Whether their reasons are emotional (a la Scott and Kimberly Hahn – Rome Sweet Home can be described as an in-print Chick Flick) or personal or intellectual, there are reasons the Protestant Reformation took place, and trying to stuff those reasons under the Pope’s beanie or hide them under Patriarchal vestments or behind clouds of incense does not make them go away.

    • Yes, there are reasons, but so many of those reasons have been rendered moot since then. The PR didn’t just occur for theological reasons (or at least it didn’t have legs due to theological reasons), it occurred due to political control (not really an issue now) and the rise of the individual (Enlightenment).

      Among the Catholics, the Counter-Reformation and VII largely seems to have reconciled the Church with the Enlightenment.

      I’m really unqualified to speak about the Orthodox Christian Church, I know they are based on different cultures than the Latin West and therefore don’t base themselves as much on rationalism as the West does.

    • Hmm, you might want to do some checking on the history of the Reformation. There were both Calvinist and Lutheran delegations sent to the East by the Reformers trying to seek common ground (of course, none from the Radical Reformers). The Anglican liturgy brought back some “Orthodox” movements to the Western liturgy.

      They were not ultimately able to find common ground, but neither was there the strong rejection of Orthodoxy like there was of Roman Catholicism.

      • Yeah, but a part of the lack of common ground was precisely that certain aspects of the Reformation were equally unacceptable to the Orthodox as they were to the Tridentine Fathers (Patriarch Jerimias II referring to *at least* seven Mysteries, for one).

  36. I think that the lack of awareness of how Church, the Christian Life, relationship with Christ, is lived and experienced in other traditions is not a strictly Roman Catholic problem, but is true of most Evangelicals as well.

    I have noticed with a mixture of amusement and sadness the way people from different traditions use the term “Christian” in different countries. Here is how it’s in Austria:

    — When most Evangelicals speak of Christians, they mean Evangelicals.

    — When most Catholics and Lutherans speak of Christians they mean anyone baptized as an infant who hasn’t intentionally repudiated that event. Sometime they differentiate into “Catholic Christians”, “Protestant Christians” (meaning Lutheran/Presbyterian) and “Orthodox Christians”. They are rarely aware that there are others as well; if they are aware, they don’t know what the difference would be between Mormons, Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pentecostals, Adventists, Charismatics, etc.

    There is not much Christian Radio in German-speaking Europe (either Catholic or Evangelical); there is however a very interesting satellite TV station, “Bibel-TV”, which combines Catholic and Evangelical programming into an interesting mix. I won’t name names, because they are mostly in German and probably not known across the pond. But EWTN is producing a growing number of German programs, and there are some German Evangelical broadcasters as well.

  37. reading these posts make me wonder if more non-catholics watch EWTN than Catholics? It’s terrible that the catholic stations seems to help, inspire, & make people think they need to be catholic (not that there is anything wrong with that! )— but the evangelical stations seem to depress, upset & make people think this can’t be the way of life. I have seen one of these health & wealth preachers in a huge golden chair begging for money with a woman with big purple hair & I said to myself—if the reformation brought this maybe it should have never happen! of course, this is only a gut reaction not my true belief, but nothing would make a catholic believe he was in the one true church than to compare their station with evangelical stations. —just saying. peace

    • brian,

      Before this post, I had always thought only Catholics watched EWTN. I know a lot of Catholics who watch/have watched Mother Angelica or Fr. John Corapi. I’ll go in spurts where I’used to watch it all the time and then the local cable company moved it from channel 17 to like channel 492. Unfortunately, since the channel is so remote, I don’t ever get that far. I would venture to think there are more Catholics than Protestants watching.

  38. Christopher Lake says

    I am a Reformed Baptist who has been studying the writings of the early Church Fathers for a few months. In the last five years, I have known few people who have been more convinced of the Biblical truth of Reformed theology than I am– but that *may* be changing. This is potentially earthshaking for my life and more than a little frightening.

    My studies are leading me to the impression that at least certain beliefs of the early Christians (100-300 A.D.) appear to be much more “Catholic” than “Protestant” (the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, baptismal regeneration, justification being initially based on faith but *continued* through faith and works). Now, I could be wrong in these impressions. For many reasons, part of me hopes that I am. I’m still reading and researching from both sides of the Tiber. However, if many people in my church knew that I were even wrestling with these questions, I have no doubt that they would see me as being in a place of potentially “abandoning the Gospel”– and I would understand their concern, having emphatically shared that point of view myself for years. I haven’t made any decisions yet though– there is much more reading, thinking, and praying to be done. I may still “stay Reformed”– we shall see!

    About EWTN and Catholic Answers, I do agree that they have their flaws. I would love to see more of a combination of Biblical and historical scholarship and genuine Christian humility– kind of a cross between Scott Hahn and Father Groeschel (I’m reading Hahn’s Rome Sweet Home, and I’m actually finding it to be, yes, emotional in some places, but also quite thought-provoking– not at all an “in-print Chick Flick,” as another person here described it). I do not see EWTN as being “too conservative.” Maybe I am just missing certain shows or series that have bothered people, but on the whole, I see the programming as being neither more nor less conservative than the Pope himself.

    I do wish, though, that there were more of an emphasis (on both EWTN and Catholic Answers) on reaching those who have not yet heard the Gospel. Catholic Answers, in particular, seems to be much more oriented towards “helping Protestants find the fullness of the Faith” than about bringing the light of Christ to those who have not yet heard the Good News of the Gospel.

    • ISTM that if a person believes that:

      * the bread and wine do or must become the Real body and blood of Christ (i.e., there is a change in the bread and wine), and
      * an integral part of one’s salvation process is the regular preparation for and act of eating and drinking the flesh/body and blood of Deity, and
      * an apostolically-traceable ordained priesthood is a required component in authorizing and overseeing and effecting the salvific change in the bread and the wine, whether by the priest’s pronouncing the words of institution (RC Church) or by the priest’s calling upon the Holy Spirit to effect the change (EO Church),

      then s/he will have to be in either the RC Church or the EO Church, for s/he believes that s/he needs the above to be saved and to be in the Body of Christ. (Or if not the RC Church or the EO Church, one of the so-called “Oriental” Orthodox churches, if one accepts or doesn’t have a problem with their non-Chalcedonian Christology.)

      While I think it’s possible to believe in points 1. and 2. without believing in point 3., to be RC or EO one must also believe and accept and affirm point 3., for in these churches the mystery (sacrament) of the Eucharist is not separable from the mystery of the priesthood.

      Or so I think.

    • My studies are leading me to the impression that at least certain beliefs of the early Christians (100-300 A.D.) appear to be much more “Catholic” than “Protestant” (the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, baptismal regeneration, justification being initially based on faith but *continued* through faith and works). Now, I could be wrong in these impressions. For many reasons, part of me hopes that I am. I’m still reading and researching from both sides of the Tiber.

      Yes, you are entering strange but wonderful waters.

      But don’t read just from both sides of the Tiber. If you believe these things are integral to true, historic Christian faith, then you also owe it to yourself to read and research the Eastern Orthodox Church and the so-called “Oriental” Orthodox Churches, including the Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches, etc., before concluding that the Roman Catholic Church is and must be the one church founded by Christ. After all, Jaroslav Pelikan, who was the world’s foremost Lutheran authority on Martin Luther and his works, and wrote a classic series on the history of Christian tradition and doctrine, joined the Eastern Orthodox Church (OCA) in 1998 a few years before he died. Pelikan has said that he had known or felt for many years that he would become either Roman Catholic or Orthodox. That he chose against Rome does or should mean something.

      Also, don’t uncritically accept that what these churches and their apologists claim for themselves and the pedigree of their beliefs and practices was indeed in the early church believed everywhere, always, and by all (or by nearly all). Read some counter opinions by early church scholars like Paul F. Bradshaw, J.N.D. Kelly, and Everett Ferguson.

      Blessings to you!

      • Patrick Lynch says

        ” Pelikan has said that he had known or felt for many years that he would become either Roman Catholic or Orthodox. That he chose against Rome does or should mean something.”

        I don’t know that many Catholics would consider a conversion to Orthodoxy as a choice ‘against’ the Catholic faith. From Wikipedia, so salt to taste: “the official Catholic teaching is that the Orthodox are schismatic meaning that there is nothing heretical about their theology, only their unwillingness to accept the supremacy of the Pope which is presented in Catholic teaching as an ecclesiological issue, not a theological one.”

        Ecclesiastical orneriness (if you will) notwithstanding, the Eastern Orthodox are as ‘Catholic’ as the Romans are – in our opinion anyways.

        • Patrick Lynch says

          This consideration also goes to the heart of what separates the viewpoints of what the Catholics call churches vs. what the Catholics call ‘faith communities’ – we don’t fundamentally or subliminally think of one another as in competition. Catholics aren’t in a race with the Coptics to see how many people we can get to agree with the sublimity of our principles, and our parishes don’t campaign and feud amongst each other for the hearts and minds of wavering Christians the way American Protestant churches seem to. We’re not so individual-oriented, not so individualistic – despite, and in relief of the fact of the Roman Catholic church’s ancient self–regard as being the original church that Christ founded.

          Just something to think about.

        • Patrick:

          You will not get the same opinion from many Orthodox, though. Former Baptist and now EO Clark Carlton writes:

          “The similarities between a conservative Roman Catholic such as Hahn and a liberal Protestant such as Spong are more than superficial. In his classic introduction to Orthodoxy, Bishop Kallistos Ware quotes the nineteenth-century Russian theologian Alexis Khomiakov:

          All Protestants are Crypto-Papists. To use the concise language of algebra, all the West knows but one datum a; whether it be preceded by the positive sign +, as with the Romanists, or with the negative -, as with the Protestants, the a remains the same.

          “In other words, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are but two sides of the same coin. They may present different faces, but the underlying substance is the same.

          “This explains why many conservative Protestants are attracted to Rome. Allegiance to Rome allows them to overcome the inherent inconsistencies in Protestantism without having to abandon the basic presupposition of Protestantism, namely that Christianity is an ideology derived from a text.”

          Also, while the Roman Catholic Church will allow its members to participate in the Eucharist at an Orthodox Church out of necessity, and because it regards the Orthodox Eucharist as a valid sacrament, the reverse is not true. Orthodox Christians are NOT allowed to commune at a Roman Catholic Church, an Orthodox priest is NOT allowed to give the Eucharist to a Roman Catholic regardless of what the Catholic’s priest or bishop has permitted, and the Orthodox Church does NOT regard the Roman Catholic Eucharist as a valid sacrament; at best the EOC is agnostic about its validity.

          Some of the major differences in belief and praxis between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church include:

          Theological Differences
          Filioque
          The Papacy
          Purgatory
          Original Sin
          Atonement
          Indulgences
          Divorce, indissolubility of marriage
          Saints after 1054

          New Roman Dogmas
          Papal Infallibility
          Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary
          Assumption of the Virgin Mary

          Christian Practice
          Fasting
          Chrismation separated from Baptism becomes Confirmation
          Communion of infants
          Form of Baptism: immersion vs. pouring
          Leavened vs. unleavened bread for the Eucharist
          Communion in both the Body and Blood
          When does the transformation of the Bread and Wine take place?
          One Liturgy a day vs. several Masses
          Unction vs. Supreme Unction (I think the correct term is “Extreme Unction”)
          Married vs. celibate clergy
          Sign of the Cross
          Legalism
          Priestly misconduct
          Varied forms of piety
          Icons vs. Statues

          • eh, but some of those elements apply to the Eastern Catholics (like the Chaldeans, and Syro-Malabar among other sui generis Catholic churches).

          • Ahem:

            “To all intent and purposes, mutual recognition of each others Mysteries already exists between us. We do not have communion in the Mysteries, but we do recognize each others Mysteries”, declared Archbishop Hilarion (Alfeev) on the air during a broadcast of the program “The Church and the World” on the television channel “Russia”, on October 17th (video and text, http://vera.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=237432).

            “If a Roman Catholic priest converts to Orthodoxy, we receive him as a priest, and we do not re-ordain him. And that means that, de facto, we recognize the Mysteries of the Roman Catholic Church”, explained Archbishop Hilarion.

            Responding to the question of whether Roman Catholics can receive Communion from the Orthodox, or Orthodox Christians from the Roman Catholics, Archbishop Hilarion said that such giving of Communion should not take place, inasmuch as “eucharistic communion has been broken” between the Orthodox and Roman
            Catholics. But, at the same time, he made clear that in some cases such
            Communion is possible: “Exceptional cases occur, when, for example, a Roman Catholic is dying in some town where there is no Roman Catholic priest at all in the vicinity. So he asks an Orthodox priest to come. Then in such a case, I think, the Orthodox priest should go and give Communion to that person.”

            http://eirenikon.wordpress.com/2009/10/23/archbishop-hilarion-alfeev-on-catholic-sacraments/

            It’s not as black and white as all that.

      • Christopher Lake says

        EricW,

        I actually have been looking into Eastern Orthodoxy, as well as Catholicism, but I’m finding (and I mean this in all respect) that the reality behind the claims of “the Church of the early Christians, still holding to the ancient Faith” is much more complicated than it first appears. This is also true, to some degree, for the Catholic Church, but there seems to be more disagreement among the Orthodox about what even constitutes “official Church teaching and practice.”

        For example, to read the writings of adherents to the ROCOA (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia), the “true Othodox Faith” always has been, and is still, quite conservative. However, when I perused one Greek Orthodox Church of America website, the tone and content seemed to be much more theologically liberal (a stance of “Christian inclusivism,” when it comes to salvation, and allowance of contraception in certain situations).

        By contrast, while *individual Catholics* may be more theologically “conservative” or “liberal,” I can at least read the Catechism and get a definitive view of the official teaching of the Catholic Church. Such a definitive view is much more difficult to find (in my personal experience) within Orthodox Christianity.

        • Christopher:

          Re: The Orthodox Church – There’s Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky, and An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith by St John Damascene – both available to read online for free (Google to find them).

          Yes, the claims of all the Apostolic Churches are somewhat mitigated by studying beyond the apologetically-offered readings and excerpts.

          I am not defending or promoting Eastern Orthodoxy vis-a-vis Roman Catholicism, just reminding yourself and others that it makes similar claims to being Christ’s True and Apostolic Church, and appeals to many of the same sources in doing so; but because its presence in the U.S. is so tied to ethnicity, most Americans who aren’t born Greek or Russian or Romanian, etc., don’t even think of considering it, or wrongly assume that it’s just like the Catholic Church, only with icons and without the Pope.

          • In my neck of the woods, the Antiochians seem to be reaching out to the non-traditionally Orthodox ethnic groups. The Antiochians seem to be more open about evangelization perhaps than the other groups you mentioned.

    • Knight Hospitaller says

      Christopher,

      As a “reverted” Catholic, I can safely say that, aithough you may wish you were wrong about where your studies are leading, you aren’t. It’s a thrilling and frightening journey and you have my sincerest prayers and best wishes.

      As for the mission of these ministries, I’m selfishly glad that many are dedicated to addressing separate brethren, because of the gifts that they bring with them. Many “Catholics” need reevangelizing as much as the rest of the world needs evangelizing. Protestant converts to the Church, like Scott Hahn, have done a marvelous job of it (as well as helping practicing Catholics realize what they already have). As for bringing the light of Christ to others, maybe that will be your particular assigment. 🙂

      In Christ,

      David

    • Christopher, I have also been doing a lot of studying on the church fathers and early church history over the past few months — not so much to make a choice between Catholic or Reformed theology, but rather to try to figure out and account for many of the stark differences and contradictions I see between both the Catholic and Protestant traditions and what I read in the gospels and the writings of the apostles. Basically, I’ve been looking for the origins and the hows and whys of the changes that took place during those first few centuries of the church. And, though I hate to say it, I’ve found some of the most unbiased, eye-opening information from secular scholars in this field of study.
      One thing I’ve discovered is that, even in those first centuries, there was some seriously absurd religious nonsense going on in mainstream Christianity — stuff that rivals a lot of the junk you’ll find on Christian TV these days. Another thing that has made itself clear to me, is that the early church was in a state of constant argument with itself, and many of those arguments were over things Christianity is still arguing about to this day.
      I guess I’m cautioning against too romantic a view of the early church and the early church fathers. Just like us, they were struggling to work out how the gospel and the teachings of Christ and the apostles should be applied in everyday life and in the continuing life of the church. And in that mix, one can find situational adjustments, cults of personality, influences from the prevailing culture, the influence of government and economic realities, strange religious tangents, the gradual evolution of institutional structures and theological contructs, and that age-old tendency to move from invention to popular practice to sacred tradition — basically the same dynamics that are still taking place in Christendom today.
      Don’t get me wrong. I’m not promoting a purely cynical view of church history. I just think that what we’ve been given in the NT writings and in the gift of the Holy Spirit really are sufficient guides when it comes to following Christ, both individually and collectively as the church. When it comes to everything else in church history and tradition, I think those things should be examined closely through the lens of Christ’s teachings, His example, and His character.

  39. Fr Alvin Kimel says

    I prefer to read books and articles, rather than to listen to sermons and lectures; hence I tend to avoid religious talk radio and podcasts. But I strongly commend the podcasts of my good friend, Fr Stephen Freeman: http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/freeman.

    Recently, though, I have found myself listening to the music offered by Ancient Faith radio. Though the Byzantine chant often sounds harsh to my ears, I do very much enjoy and am edified by the Slavonic chant and hymns.

  40. One other name to throw into the mix that I’ve found very good in Catholic broadcasting is Fr. Robert Barron out of Chicago. He’s most easily accessed, I think, on the internet at http://www.wordonfire.org/. I listen to his podast regularly. He is easily accessed on You Tube as well.

    One other thing that bothers me a bit about some of what I’ve been reading. I can agree with many of the pro and con arguments for or against Catholicism or visa versa. What bothers me are some of the things we call each other. I have great respect for my Catholic brethern as well as my Reformationist friends. When you look at what is required to become a priest or, more so, a Bishop, you have to come away with a great deal of appreciation for their academic preparation. We Protestants may enter the ministry with little or no education to several years in seminary. Priests are studying a minimum of 8 years before they are let loose. Many study longer, especially if they have other disciplines to follow. I listen to Fr. Groeschel and marvel at his handle on theology, philosophy and psychology. The writings of many of the earlier Catholic writers show enormous intellectual understanding. Which is why I pay a lot of attention to what they say. Pope Benedict can’t be taken lightly. He’s a great theologian.
    My biggest beef with RC is they are lousy communicators of their faith. I suspect that may be a recent problem given the fact they once were leaders in education. That may be improving with the likes of Fr. Barron, but it’s coming slowly. But I will not call them disrespecful names. Even the term “papist” bothers me.
    As for false teaching? Well, for me the jury is out. I’m still asking myself whether the doctrine is more important than the person of Jesus. What does Jesus see when he sees a Catholic? My sense is that he sees more of his children than we see from our doctrinal lenses.

  41. Hey Michael, Looks like you made the big time…again. Patrick Madrid cruised by this blog of yours and mades some comments about you on his blog. http://patrickmadrid.blogspot.com/

  42. Well, this sure is an interesting read. I found you via Patrick Madrid’s blog just now. As the host of Catholic Answers Live (Channel 160 Sirius, catholic.com or ewtn.com at 6 PM EST) it’s a unique privilege to be able to check out what our Protestant and Orthodox listeners are thinking and saying — mainly to one another, which makes it all the more candid and fresh. Some of the comments made here made me wince, but partly because the truth sometimes makes me wince.

    Mostly, though, since I personally know almost all the Catholic figures critiqued here, I’m grateful to observe the honest feedback. It’s always interesting to see how people’s response to our show is invariably related to whether they catch snippets here and there, or listen to most of the program, say, by podcast. Either way, it’s a true education to read the comments.

    BTW, Mr. Madrid is appearing on the show at 7PM EST tonight for an hour of Q&A Open Forum action! So give us a call. Give your toughest question a chance at bat by calling toll free 888-318-7884.

    In our common Savior,

    Patrick Coffin
    San Diego, CA

  43. iMonk,

    Very intelligent and sincere reflections. I wholeheartedly agree with you that some ‘apologists’ have an unfortunate tendency to believe that everything in the Catholic faith can be deduced by referring to more or less obscure passages in the Bible. It can not. I suspect it is a tendency especially seen by converts from Protestantism who can’t quite let go of their former Bible-toting ways.

    The Catholic faith was certainly held by those who wrote the Bible, but they did not have the time nor the space to expound it in all its details, so in their writings they focused on the most pressing concerns of their own time. The rest would have to be left to future generations who continued in their mode of thinking.

  44. I don’t know that calling someone’s statement of faith as “total b.s” speaks well of whatever faith you are following, Not RC.

    • joel:

      Perhaps I exaggerated a bit, but it was not as much an exaggeration and distortion as the comment I was responding to.

      And to clarify: I was NOT criticizing the poster’s/commentor’s “statement of faith.” What they wrote was not a “statement of faith,” but a demonstrably false historical and theological claim.

  45. “you’ll get two different answers depending on whether you’re asking a Roman Catholic or an Eastern Orthodox Christian.”

    Sure, but the Eastern Orthodox are wrong – because it is Rome that has the primacy, always had and always will. This was widely accepted in the first Christian centuries, and it is still theoretically the teaching of the Eastern Orthodox, though there were, and are, very differing views as to what that means in practical terms. Both Western and Eastern Catholics believe it must necessarily mean that the Bishop of Rome holds the final say in matters of doctrine, which implies divine protection from serious error. And this is really the only way the word ‘primacy’ makes sense.

    Besides, Constantinople frequently lay in schism and even heresy with the rest of the Church and is really not a credible candidate for a champion of orthodox Christianity.

  46. If there is any kind of argument between Orthodox and RCC we will close the thread. Take it elsewhere.

  47. Imonk,
    I wanted to recommend a catholic site that I get my daily meditations from. It is the Word Among Us
    The website is http://www.wau.org
    It has been my companion for over 18 years now. I think you will see their writings are very enlightening, and spirit filled. They have a devotional I get mailed out to me.
    Lynne

  48. I just listened to Catholic Answers podcast that I believe iMonk referred to in the article, the one with Jimmy Akin answering the question on Mark 3:21ff, and I think Jimmy answered it quite well. To me, he didn’t seemed stumped or speechless, he only paused momentarily, which I took to mean he was just gathering his thoughts.

    Otherwise, I thought the article was very perceptive and had some good insights into Evangelical / Catholic relations. As a Catholic I found it very encouraging.

    I was also referred by Patrick Madrid’s blog and will return to this site more often.

  49. Not RC, dude, I could be wrong, but there seems to be a hurting in you, brother. And, not that I speak, in any way, for the Catholic Church, but I’m sorry for whatever brought you to this point.

  50. Out of all the postings on this blog, this one made me smile…”I feel like I’ve stumbled into an Evangelicals Anonymous meeting….”

    It is truly heart warming to hear such honest assesments of Protestants who are searching for the Truth. I pray that all of my separated brothers and sisters will be led to the Fullness of Truth in the Catholic Church.

    And remember… there is only one Truth. God can not be divided. Just the mere fact that the Catholic Church is the only church that has lasted from the days of the apostles and continues to last is a testament unto itself. And it will, because Jesus promised that it would.

    May God bless us all on our journeys.

    God Bless.

  51. Just the mere fact that the Catholic Church is the only church that has lasted from the days of the apostles and continues to last is a testament unto itself. And it will, because Jesus promised that it would.

    The total b.s. and outright falsity of this statement staggers the imagination. Tell the above to the Syrian Orthodox Church, for example.

    :rolleyes:

  52. Well – that was perhaps a slightly simplistic statement but there are surely better ways one could point that out.

    Certainly there are particular churches – such as those of Alexandria, Athens, Damascus – that are as old as the Church of Rome, but that is not the point here. If one considers that the Catholic Church is the universal Church founded by Christ and consisting of all the local churches founded by the Apostles (in many different places near-simultaneously) which have kept communion among themselves and the principal see of Rome to this day, and the other churches and denominations (such as the one you mention) have split from her by-and-by to go their own way, well then one can certainly say that the Catholic Church is the only church that has existed from the beginning.

  53. Knight Hospitaller says

    What a wonderfully charitable reply to a loving overture by Julie. Using the Orthdox Churches as a counter-example of continuity back to Christ simultaneously proves and misses her point, as does your screen name. As for who split from whom, I wonder how many Catholics identify themselves as “Not Prod” or “Not Greek” –roll eyes–

  54. There is nothing false about this statement. The Catholic Church was founded by Christ himself when he appointed Peter as the head of the church. From then until today there has been a continuous unbroken line of authority. That is what makes the church “One, holy, catholic (universal) and APOSTOLIC….” Every other denomination has broken AWAY from the Catholic church. But she, in all her beauty and authority, still stand. And she will until the end of time.

    Remember….The Truth is the Truth even if no one believes it, and a lie is still a lie even if everyone believes it.

    Peace Brother…

  55. Gideon:

    That’s a big and highly-qualified “If” you’ve got there. Take the “Who split from whom?” question, for example. I.e., you’ll get two different answers depending on whether you’re asking a Roman Catholic or an Eastern Orthodox Christian. 🙂

  56. “you’ll get two different answers depending on whether you’re asking a Roman Catholic or an Eastern Orthodox Christian.”

    Sure, but the Eastern Orthodox are wrong – because it is Rome that has the primacy, always had and always will. This was widely accepted in the first Christian centuries, and it is still theoretically the teaching of the Eastern Orthodox, though there were, and are, very differing views as to what that means in practical terms. Both Western and Eastern Catholics believe it must necessarily mean that the Bishop of Rome holds the final say in matters of doctrine, which implies divine protection from serious error. And this is really the only way the word ‘primacy’ makes sense.

    Besides, Constantinople frequently lay in schism and even heresy with the rest of the Church and is really not a credible candidate for a champion of orthodox Christianity.

  57. Again, you’ll get two different answers depending on whether you ask a Roman Catholic or an Eastern Orthodox Christian. You apparently give the Roman Catholic answer. The Eastern Orthodox would just as strongly and believably say that the Roman Catholics are wrong.

    What one says depends on what Kool-Aid one drinks.

  58. Sorry, I am truly not picking a fight. I am merely sharing what I believe.

    Not RC, the question is not what arguments you use but whether they’re internally consistent. The Eastern Orthodox admit that the Bishop of Rome originally held the primacy in the Church and that Constantinople was in error at various times. What they cannot explain is what changed so that all of a sudden they can disregard the authority of Rome and must instead follow the lead of Constantinople.

    Faith must be reasonable, because God is reasonable. Faith must be internally consistent because God, the Logos, is internally consistent. If you gave yourself time to seriously examine the claims of the Catholic Church, you would gradually realize not only the internal consistency, but also the beauty of its teaching. I know because this happened to me.

    In the teaching of the Catholic Church, the Logos that is from eternity to eternity reveals Himself just as He did in that night which we are about to celebrate in a couple of weeks’ time. But when you seek this revelation, take care to make yourself small and humble, for He only reveals Himself to simple shepherds.

  59. Been there, done that, bought the pyx, ate the cracker, yada yada yada.

  60. Knight Hospitaller says

    Now you’ve crossed the line. First you spit on the lady, now this. No gentleman you. You should think twice before descending into disrespect and blasphemy. You know well that we Catholics believe that God himself is present in that “cracker.” We believe that that the consecrated host is the body, blood, soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ under the ordinary appearance of bread and wine (quite a Biblical view — see St. John chapter 6, etc. — as informed by Tradition). Regardless of what you believe (or don’t, Mr. “NOT”), at the very least you owe your RC brethren an apology. Better yet, you’d get on your knees and ask God for mercy and forgiveness. If you don’t, be assured that I and others will handle that for you lest your outrage go unanswered before God.

  61. I suspect, the rudeness was in response to the overt proselytizing going on my some of the latter comments here. This is not a place for it normally.

    My view of Christian history is that prior to the Great Schism you had a unified Christianity with some smaller sects who had broken off earlier. After the Schism, you have the Catholic church (Roman as well as the Eastern rites) and Orthodox. The Pope is simply the patriarch of the West, just as there is a patriarch in Constantinople and Russia.

  62. Patrick Lynch says

    “If you don’t, be assured that I and others will handle that for you lest your outrage go unanswered before God.”

    What the heck does that mean, bro?

  63. Well said, Knight Hospitaller. This Orthodox Christian seconds the motion.

  64. Yes, it was uncalled for by me, regardless of the reason or the reason(s) suggested by others. My apologies to one and all, RC and otherwise.

    And to answer Patrick Lynch’s later question re: “what the heck” you mean in your final statements, I take them to mean that even if I didn’t ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness for myself, you would do so for me.

    Pax

  65. With all due respect, your view of Christian history is misguided. I would suggest that you read some of the writings of the Early Church Fathers. For instance, as early as the year 110, the word “Catholic” was used by St. Ignatius of Antioch to describe the Church. St. Ignatius was a disciple of St. John the Apostle. You can also look at the writings of St. Irenaeus who wrote about the Eucharist in the year 195. St. Cyril of Jerusalem also wrote at length about the Eucharist in the year 350. In the year 392, St. Augustine wrote about the authority of the Catholic Church. You will see that all throughout Christendom, there was unity in belief and doctrine. From east to west the Church was united under the primacy of Peter beginning in the Acts of the Apostles. In the early days, the church was being persecuted and the bishops and popes were being martyred. Heresy was springing up all over. It was the Catholic Church that preserved the teachings of Christ and the Apostles and in turn has handed the Truth down to every generation. In the age of information, there is no need to say, “my view of Christian history is….” History speaks for itself. And it’s available for all to know.

    God Bless. 🙂

  66. Very true, Julie, and it was this same early Church that decided which writings were inspired and should be added to the canon of Sacred Scripture–what we today call the New Testament. So, it would make sense that if one accepted this Church’s decision on Scriptures, one would also accept what this same Church had to say about all of the issues you just mentioned. Which Church today has continued to do that?

  67. From then until today there has been a continuous unbroken line of authority.

    Especially when there were 3 popes at the same time…. 🙂

  68. From then until today there has been a continuous unbroken line of authority.

    Especially when there were 3 popes at the same time…. 🙂

  69. Reply to “Not RC” @2009-12-11 10:57am:

    You refer to an occasion when “there were 3 popes at the same time”; are you raising that as a serious argument, or just a friendly “tweaking” of Catholics which you know gets their goat, but which you also know doesn’t constitute a serious objection?

    In case it’s the former, let me suggest that it’s better suited for delivery as the latter. (Especially since it’s fun, if a slightly guilty pleasure, to tweak apologists of any stripe, provided it’s in good humor and without malice.)

    Anyhow, the question of who occupies a particular office is necessarily a matter of the rules established beforehand for the filling of that office. I can claim I’m president of the U.S. and so could twenty other people. It could become a fad. Some of the claimants could achieve celebrity status; one or more of them could attract a cult following; the world might even observe that amongst the presidential wannabees there were some folk whose talents exceeded those of the actual president in various ways. And of course a pretender with a sufficiently large and sufficiently armed following could perhaps kick the real president (Obama) out of the White House and occupy the Oval Office and whatnot. But the real president would still be Obama, since he’s the one selected by the electoral college; the other various claimants weren’t. If the usurper killed him, the real president would not then be the usurper, but Joe Biden (ye gods).

    So my sense is that the various simultaneous claims to the bishopric of Rome are not, in-and-of-themselves, problems provided the correct forms were followed for obtaining the office. And as with Highlander, “there can only be one,” so if the selection and installment of a second or third or fourth guy followed the correct forms in every other way but took place when the office wasn’t vacant, then one of the correct forms (vacancy of the episcopate) wasn’t followed and it didn’t count.