Here’s my latest article published in National Catholic Register. It’s about Bob Jones University, racism and anti-Catholicism.
Bob Jones and the Catholic Church
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It’s not about politics, it’s not about polemics, it’s about souls. Beautiful…
Thanks for the lead Father. I’m from a fairly strict Lutheran fundamentalist background, also coming to the realization in my 50s that I had nothing more to protest and thus joined up at St Patrick’s Co-Cathedral about 10 years ago. My only comment on your well-written piece: it seems to me that not only did I have to admit I was wrong but that if one is not anti-Catholic then one has a very precarious if not actually untenable outside the Catholic Church. In other words to be really anti-Catholic you pretty much cannot be pro-Lutheran. Or can you?
My wife is currently converting from the Methodist denomination, going to RCIA every week. Come Easter she’ll be a full-fledged mackerel snapper.What really gripes her about the RCIA classes is the blatant anti-Protestant theme that runs through so much of the lessons. As her sponsor, I’ve also attended these sessions and have to agree with her. Too much time is spent bashing nonCatholic Christians and not enough in informing her on Church teaching. She’s currently in the process of writing a long, detailed letter to the RCIA Director and the parish priest.My point here is that we Catholics have a sizable beam in our own eyes regarding this problem. As effective apologists we have to NOT start bashing those outside the Church. Father Longenecker, you’ve already made that point much better than I in the closing lines of your article. Thanks for a very informative piece.
subvet, please get a copy of my book More Christianity for your wife and then share a copy with your RCIA leader. The concept is: what non Catholic Christians have is good, but there is more. The whole tone is positive and upbeat toward Evangelicals.
I once considered applying to BJU in the 70’s since their communicatins school is excellent. My parents were more than a little dismayed. However, when I thought how difficult my life would be, I quickly decided Northwestern would be better. But, from a personal standpoint, I have noticed that the students of BJU are far more tolerant than one would think. The owners of Salem Broadcasting are BJU grads and are not anti-Catholic in the least. When Pope John Paul II died and a broadcaster in Pittsburgh announced he couldn’t say for sure if the pope went to Heaven because of his beliefs, Salem yanked him off the air quickly and unceremoniously. My question has always been, why, with so much intentional antagonism, do so many students come out of the school very well educated, exceedingly literate, and so very tolerant. You would think that they would come out rabidly anti-Catholic. I am sure some do, but from what I have seen, so much more so in the other direction. I can tell you, BJU is no slouch school, and the students, if they chose to take on the Church, would be formidable foes. Perhaps the answer lies with God having a steady hand over His Church. May God be praised! A great and thought provoking article.
Subvet ~ I’m so sorry that has been your RCIA experience, and you’re right to write a letter. Or just speak to the Pastor about it. I used to teach RCIA, and even today when dealing with non-Catholic parents in the church where I now work, I’m very careful to be respectful of their beliefs. I’ve never run into an anti-Protestant RCIA myself as instructors everywhere hold the opinion Father Longnecker stated; what they have is good, but the Church has more. We let them use their foundation and built upon that to reveal the truths of the Catholic faith. And I must say this; there was one man in the class I helped to prepare who was pretty skeptical to start out. But in the end, he received the Sacraments and became Catholic. He told me that he was happy when I had answers to his questions, and that when I didn’t I told him I didn’t know. But the ONE thing that aided in his conversion; he saw that we all loved Christ and weren’t afraid to share that. When it comes down to it, that’s the reason to choose the Church; because Christ is present. And if those people who are teaching your class are missing that point, and don’t seem to love Christ, maybe you can find another RCIA. Quite honestly, one cannot proclaim to love God and then go around slamming others. Love of God and love of neighbor cannot be separated. God bless you and your wife, and I wish you the best!
"Not only does he have to accept that his interpretation of the Bible was wrong, but also that his authority to interpret the Bible correctly was also faulty."Pithy.Subvet, my wife & used to teach RCIA. About once a month we'd have to say that RCIA is not for beating up Protestantism, or Islam, or SDAs, etc., but to learn about Catholicism. Depending on who-all is in the class, that isn't always an easy thing to manage.
Fr. Longenecker, Adoro & kkollwitz, thanks for the feed back. Father, I will be purchasing your book asap and look forward to reading it.One thing I hadn't mentioned was that while my wife is firmly committed to joining the Church some of her family are also curious as to what she might be learning. This includes her Southern Baptist father & stepmother. So anything she perceives in the way of new knowledge OR ATTITUDE on the part of the RCIA instructors gets passed on to numerous other folk.I once read someone who said we should act like we're the only copy of the Catechism many nonbelievers will come across. It's beginning to make sense.
subvet. More Christianity is about to be re published, but in the meantime you will need to obtain your copy through my website.
fun article. i love how you describe life in the body as “joyful, holy, and Spirit-filled.” that perfectly echoes paul from Romans 14. on another note, i sort of responded to your SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY article. it’s on my blog. i don’t think any of it’s too mean or wrong or anything. let me know. i love our dialogues. shalom, brother.
Father, when you were a student at Bob Jones, did any students ever try to bring about change in the college’s policies on race? Perhaps someone, for instance, started a petition, or asked to meet with administrators to address this issue? I’d like to imagine that someone (perhaps you or some of your classmates) saw the racism for what it was and made an effort to raise this issue.
Padre, have you read Simpson’s book ‘Burning to Read’? It resonates with your point on biblical absolutism and authority to read, fear of being in error et cetera. Of course, it is writing about Henry VIII and the eventual english civil war, so the stakes were a bit higher than apologizing for being wrong or realizing that you’re arguing about who gets to be the trunk of the body of Christ.