The Catholic Defender Responds To The Challenge Of A Confident Protestant
It was the Spring of 93 while I was assigned to the HHC 3/187 Infantry at Ft Campbell Ky, we had just returned from a 30 day Battalion field operation in the "back 40" on the post. We had raced to come in from the field for the Easter celebration. So everyone was quickly washing down our vehicles at the wash rack and ensuring the vehicles were all topped off with fuel and all the log books turned in.
Cleaning our weapons and ensuring 100% accountability for all our sensitive items is always a major part of coming in from the field. Our personal gear also needed to be cleaned up, that would come later when inspections were scheduled.
When ever the Rakassans go to the field to train, there seemed to always be rain and mud. If it is not raining, it isn't training. This was a deployment at Ft. Campbell so thankfully, there was no rail-head to worry about.
The next few days was dedicated to ensure all the clean up of tents, cammo nets, all equipment were completed and and everything was ready for the next deployment. All shortages were to be identified and ordered. This is what ordinarily happens that takes place so it seems that we are always coming or going.
In the mean time we have the rear missions we are responsible for the post. Weapons qualification always taking place, Air Assault School, all the normal "back int the rear" business.
I was sitting in my office area when one of my Soldiers brought me a copy of a local Clarksville TN newspaper which covered a story of an individual placing challenges to the local Catholic priest in the Newspaper. He wanted to debate Father at Mass in front of the congregation on the issue of works. Father was never going to do that but this guy was keeping up his challenge. This had been going on while we were in the field.
I called the newspaper in Clarksville wanting the name of the individual making such challenges! Since this was in the public domain they readily gave it to me. I called the man identifying who I was and made my challenges to him to debate at a local college or some place of his choosing. I did tell him of my nick name, the "Catholic Defender" but he was not willing to debate me in public. I thought that was interesting as he wanted to debate a priest at the Church?
We did agree to place a debate at his home, I was well familiar to debate at away games, that didn't bother me at all. So, a date and time was set and so I went. I arrived to his home wearing my 1993 Black tea-shirt with praying hands with a Rosary prominent on my chest/right shoulder, wearing bluejeans, and my faithful white converse tennis shoes. I had with me my faithful ole NAB with me as my only weapon of choice. I new that debating a Protestant, that was the only language he understands.
When I pulled into the drive way, I found this guy was rich, his home was a mansion! I was about to learn how rich in spirit he was? I knocked on the door when a lady answered the door expecting me. She slowly opened the door and invited me in. She instructed me to follow her as I noticed the lights were lightly dimmed, she led me through a long dark corridor that ultimately brought me into a kitchen area.
I walked in finding my opponent sitting at his table which I noticed had several books, magazines, pamphlets with yellow sticky notes all over the place. He invited me to sit across from him at his table where I took a seat and placed my bible on the table facing him.
My opponent began his argument trying to twist what the Catholic Church taught based on works. He wanted to compare the Catholic Church with Mormons saying we were a "gospel of works"? I responded back what the Catholic recognized Grace and Faith as free gifts, but we are responsible for those gifts. I shared that every place in the New Testament where it speaks of Judgement, we are warned that we will be accountable to our deeds, what we have done in following the Gospel.
I've had Protestants many times point to Ephesians 2:8-9 challenging me of their importance, what they do not see is that as Catholics we hold that as important too. But they always drop off verse 10? Grace, faith, and works I compare to a rope that when they are together it is strong. When you unravel it issues develop. I took all his posted notes and literally disarmed him simply using scripture. He couldn't stand being defeated by a Catholic, so he reduced the debate as many have done in the past? He began hitting me with the dreaded "scatter-gun technique" challenging me on Mary, the Saints, the Sacraments (which he thought were products of works), Purgatory and on and on it went. We debated for about 6 hours.
Finally, he had enough as I had shown him point after point the biblical understanding behind the doctrines he was challenging. He had never realized how biblical the Catholic Church really is. As a result of that evening of debate, no more did he go after the Catholic Church in the newspapers, I was more that happy to respond should attempt to do so again. Father was thankful not to be challenged in the local newspaper anymore.
The battle was won but the war is not over until he converts fully to Christ and His Holy Catholic Church.
1 John 1;2-3, "What was from the beginning,what we have heard,what we have seen with our eyes,what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life—for the life was made visible;we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you,so that you too may have fellowship with us;for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ"