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Thursday, June 19, 2008



"...I also have a Masters in theological studies."

IMHO that alone should have told them it was time to pick up their ball and go home. You don't try using a slingshot against a man who packs an Uzi.


Well said, Subvet.

And well done, Carl. You did a lot better than I would have done. The apostasy angle is the real weak spot, I think, and it is common to LDS and Plymouth Brethren, and as you mentioned, to most fundamentalists. It is only in fixing the date that they differ.

A Mauldin

Thanks for the 'Trail of Blood' link, Carl. I grew up Southern Baptist and heard off and on the claims that Baptists weren't 'protestants' but had existed parallel with the Catholic church. I can't say that I found Dr. Carroll's history very compelling.


I really enjoyed this one. :) Those poor guys got more than they bargained for...


That was splendid.

I don't come out of this particular closet very often, but between fundamentalist and Catholic, I had a brief period as a Mormon. (Truly - "baptized", not just a flirtation.)

I was probably 40 before I ever heard the term "Church Fathers." So you did those kids a big favor. Maybe they'll figure that out.


When I was at college at Michigan State, I was often visited by two members of the LDS church, who were on their mission at my school. They regularly stopped by for discussions about the Book of Mormon, and we developed a dialogue over the course of a month-and-a-half.
I found that our discussions about the origin of our respective faiths helped to strengthen my understanding of my Catholic faith, and really inspired confidence in my ability to articulate the splendor of truth that is the Catholic Church. I remember asking them if they were born and raised in Michigan as opposed to Utah (where they were), would they be members of the LDS Church--they were surprised and said, 'we never thought of that before'. Who knows, maybe there are two more converts to Catholicism today because of the dialogue and explanation of the faith from fellow Catholics like Carl.

Mark Brumley

I wonder what Orson Scott Card would say about the whole exchange.

Paul H

I've lived in my current house for over two years, and we have never yet been visited by any Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons -- with the exception that we did once get a JW tract left outside our front door. (Maybe we weren't home when they came, or maybe they just left it and didn't knock.)

I had a discussion with some Jehovah's Witnesses on my front porch once several years ago, when we lived in a different city, and we also talked about the "great apostasy" and the church fathers. But I find that the difficult thing is that they always seem to come at the most unexpected, inconvenient times. :-)

Ed Peters

Nice job, C.

Jacqueline Y.

"But I find that the difficult thing is that they always seem to come at the most unexpected, inconvenient times." Isn't that the truth! Which is why I'm grateful to be reminded by this post to reinstate my habit of praying thus: "Lord, please send your Holy Spirit the next time I speak with a Jehovah's Witness or a Mormon." A good reminder to do this is when driving or walking by a Kingdom Hall or LDS ward. We can also pray for the JWs and Mormons we've encountered or will encounter. Where I live (southern California) most, but not all of the door-to-door missionaries are Witnesses. Whenever they show up, I always ask them if they were raised in the faith they're evangelizing for. It turns out that at least half of them (again, mostly JWs, but some LDS) were either baptized Catholic, or their parents were. We need to be gracious and friendly as well as firm, knowledgeable and joyful in our faith. We can plant seeds that someone else will water, or water those that someone else has planted. Carl, thank you for sharing this story with us!

Augustine II

Jacqueline, I too am in SoCal and only get JWs. Strange.


where i come from, the jehovah's witnesses make it a point to make their rounds on weekends and holidays, especially on good friday and on the feast of the immaculate conception (dec 8)--which are both official government holidays and so they know most people are home for most of the day. (just don't tell the americans united for separation of church and state about that official holiday part ;-)


"But I find that the difficult thing is that they always seem to come at the most unexpected, inconvenient times." You know, those young, fresh-faced Catholic missionaries.

Oh wait. Catholic youths don't go on missions. They aren't out there going door-to-door testifying to their faith.

But it sure is easy to criticize those that do.

(I'm not a Mormon, but I do respect them, their commitment to family, their general decency and their commitment to their faith. Wouldn't it be amazing if more Catholics lived -and acted - their faith in a similar manner?)

Carl E. Olson

But it sure is easy to criticize those that do.

True. I guess. But I don't really see anyone here criticizing them. Unless remarking that they come at inopportune times is a criticism; it seems like more of a basic observation.

Respect them? Sure. But that won't keep me from criticizing—-fairly and evenhandedly--the many flawed beliefs that the LDS believes and tries to peddle on folks who don't know much, if anything, about Church history, theology, and so forth.

At one point in the encounter described in my post, one of the young men said, in a rather defensive way, "Well, we believe we have a right to share what we believe"--as though my disagreement with him was somehow an infringement upon that right! What, exactly, are these kids being told? My response: "I completely support your right to share what you believe, just as I know I have a right to respond to your statements and, if necessary, disagree with them." This, it seems to me, is Basic Common Sense 101.

Paul H

"True. I guess. But I don't really see anyone here criticizing them. Unless remarking that they come at inopportune times is a criticism; it seems like more of a basic observation."

Exactly. My comment about them coming at inopportune times was not meant as a criticism, just an observation. They usually come on Saturdays, late in the morning, which would seem to be a good time to come, when people are likely to be home, but maybe not as busy as they would be during the week. Yet it always seems that I've just gotten out of the shower, or I'm in the middle of some mini-crisis with the kids, or I'm on the phone, or something like that, whenever they come. Not their fault -- just an observation.


You live what you write.

Those people will go back and report everything. A long trail you left that probably will go on and on. Wouldn't you just love to hear those conversations?

Augustine II

"Wouldn't it be amazing if more Catholics lived -and acted - their faith in a similar manner?"

I'm not so sure. In high school, I had a Mormon friend who went to some kind of Mormon training every day before school at 5 a.m., and did all the door-to-door stuff. He was forced to do it all by his Mom. Outside of these forced activities, he was a devout juvenile delinquent - smoking pot, dropping acid, getting drunk, stealing, and all the rest of it.


I don't think sending Catholic kids out to pester people is a good idea. I'm surprised more Mormon missionaries don't come to harm.


Jesus commanded us to go forth and preach -and live - the Gospel. Many martyrs and saints died doing just that. I wouldn't consider proclaiming the Word of God to be “pestering people.” Maybe if a few more Catholics were willing to take the risk, step forward and proclaim the truth the Church wouldn’t be suffering such declines. Maybe if Catholic parents imbued their children not only with the knowledge of their faith but with the expectation that their children would go out and proclaim that faith to the world the Church would be much healthier today.

It’s easy to theologically right – and I do believe the Catholic Church to be theologically correct, but to still be morally wrong. Mormon beliefs are, in my opinion theologically wrong, but the vast majority of Mormons live morally correct lives. Can the same be said for Catholics? (Compare, to use one simple example, the divorce rate between the two faiths before you answer that question.)

Winning theological battles is easy. Winning the moral battle is quite another. Perhaps more effort should be put on latter.

In Christ,

Sleeping Beastly

I don't think door-to-door proselytizing is a good long-term strategy for witnessing to the faith. As far as I can tell, heavy-handed preaching goes a long way towards harming the public perception of Christians, and doesn't lead to deep conversions.

Three things brought me into the Catholic Church:

First, the doors were always open, but no one was over-eager to usher me inside like some sort of used-car salesman intent on making a quick buck. I talked to a lot of different religious folks before I ever joined a church, and most of them had this air of desperation about them that didn't seem like it would accompany sincere, well-founded conviction.

Second, I saw a lot of peace and joy in the hearts of many Catholics, especially ordained priests, monks, and nuns.

Finally, Catholic reasoning never seemed to break down. On point after point, I had to keep conceding that the Church was right, even when I initially disagreed with her.

To my mind, it's most important for us laypeople to live the faith sincerely, remove the planks from our eyes, and be ready to witness when the right opportunities arise. For everything there is a season.

I think it is precisely pushy door-to-door proselytizing that Jesus spoke of when he counseled his disciples not to cast their pearls before swine. If someone is not ready to hear the good news, it will only anger him. Wait until he is ready, at which point he will generally ask you. At that point, give freely of what has been given freely to you.

You may counter that the early apostles went and preached in public squares, and that is true, but the situation was different then. For one thing, their preaching was in public places, meaning that they did not approach uninterested people in their private homes. For another, this was really the only way to make the gospel available at the time. Nowadays, if someone is interested, they can look up the nearest church in the phonebook, knock on the door, and ask the priest for catechesis. If this is too intimidating, the Bible is the most easily-accessed book in the world. In any case, modern Americans certainly don't need Catholics knocking on their doors to make them aware of the Church.


During my last two years of living in a small town in Germany, I was regularly visited by Mormon missionaries. (During a visit to the states, I agreed to allow someone to come talk to me after I returned to Germany, and sure enough, they followed up on it).

I have to admit that after their first visit, I thoroughly enjoyed their visits. They were wonderful and very dedicated young men, and they would also alternate, as some of them would return to the states and were replaced with other young men. Once in a while, an older man, one of the locals of that city, would come and see how things were going, especially if we had touched a difficult topic the previous week and the topic was brought up again and explained.

We had very interesting discussions where they would explain their beliefs to me in great detail, and then I would explain to them what our beliefs as Catholics were, and if I wasn't sure about something, then I would do my homework and be ready for them the next time that they came to talk. Since my computer was in our sitting area, very often, I would just look things up with them so that we could continue our discussions.

Obviously, they left me all their reading materials and movies, so I read and watched their information and then would read all the articles that I could find about where these beliefs came from and how they differed from our own beliefs. My question to them about the Great Apostasy was, of course, never satisfactorily answered; somehow after a few attempts, they would change the subject and would tell me that I had to read the Book of Mormon, and that I would have a change of heart if I did. Well, I could never do that, try as I might, so I never felt that burning in my heart that they said would be the proof that Mormonism was the true religion.

All in all, I would say that my encounters with these young men really helped me to get to know my own Catholic beliefs in much greater detail than I had before(one of these young men even made the comment that they had never visited anyone that was as knowledgeable about the Catholic religion as I was - and that's really sad because I'm no expert). I haven't stopped learning either (and don't want to) and do look forward to having a chance to talk with them again some day.

eamon doohan

re the comment on bad-living Catholics and good-living Mormons : they may be the ' Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ' but we were always the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day sinners ! How reassuring then that Our Lord said 'I have come to call sinners '.

Kenneth M. Fisher, Founder & Chairman, Concerned Roman Catholics of America, inc.,

Kevin and others, Some Catholic groups do go door to door, have any of you heard of the "Legion of Mary"? Oh by the way, when they do it, it is very effective, especially in bringing back lapse Catholics.

I find one effective apologetic tool with Mormons, is to ask them if they believe in the Bible, and when they answer yes, I then ask them then how can they believe in marriage in Heaven when Our Lord said, "neither, in heaven ye shall be as Angels".

God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
Kenneth M. Fisher, Founder & Chairman
Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc.


If a Christian has done just a small amount of homework in the Bible and Church history, it is not hard to get the young missionaries to depart from their arguments of Great Apostasy in the early years of Christianity. At that point, they will usually revert to the subjective "burning in the bosom" argument which affirms that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. Of course, if we are to base our religion on a purely subjective feeling, most religions can be made to sound valid.
One of the key things in dealing with the LDS missionaries is to not let them engage you in the "sales" dialogue where they start asking you questions to which the only reasonable answers fit their promotional script. These young men are trained better in sales techniques than they are in Bible, theology, and history.


ALL Catholics are commanded to share the Faith, to be missionaries. This does not necessarily mean door-to-door. The Legion of Mary was founded in Ireland by Frank Duff in the early part of the last century. He was a pioneer of sorts, and his ideas on evangelization were similar to what was taught at Vatican II. If you are an active Legion Member you can be more involved in the door-to-door evangelization, or helping to run a book barrow a few hours a week on a street in your city or town. In the process of going to meetings and reading, you will become a better informed Catholic. You will be helping to seek out the tens of millions of "lost" Catholics who often don't know what they are missing, and would welcome a chance to return. You will also be introducing the true Faith to many who get their information from the secular media and don't really know what the Church is about: a real personal relationship with the Trinity. You will enounter a few bitter ex-Catholics, but if you keep visiting, their hearts may be softened, or you will hear heart=wrenching stories of why they left the Faith, and be able to get your Parish Priest to visit them, or vice versa, to get some counseling and/or straighten out problems in their lives. If you can't be an active member you can easily be an Auxiliary; all it requires is one rosary a day and a few extra prayers. You are the troops behind the active troops, the active members. Remember St. Francis' advice: preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words. A reminder that we are evangelizing all our lives whether or not we realize it. Are we attracting others to our Faith or are we confirming prejudices about Catholics?

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