Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. This week, the Catholic apologist introduces his final section, which is devoted to topics involving “Catholic Life and Practice.” He begins with this chapter defending two of the RCC’s “disciplines” that Protestants describe as “Doctrines of Demons.”
Broussard points out that “Catholicism is well-known for its celibate clergy (see CCC 1599)…and for mandating periods of fasting and abstinence from certain foods at different times of the year” (see CCC 2043).
Protestants assert that Scripture specifically identifies these two “disciplines” as “doctrines of demons”:
“1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” – 1 Timothy 4:1-3 (NKJV)
Broussard attempts to rebut Protestant objections with three arguments:
(1) Broussard argues that Paul was not opposed to celibacy in an absolute sense because elsewhere in his epistles he recommends celibacy. See 1 Timothy 5:9-11, 2 Timothy 2:4, 1 Corinthians 7:8,32-38. Broussard then cites Matthew 19:11-12 to show that Jesus Himself approved of celibacy for some.
(2) Broussard cites 1 Corinthians 8:7-13 to show that Paul likewise was not absolutely opposed to fasting and abstinence.
(3) Broussard posits that 1 Timothy 4:1-3 only condemns the disallowance of marriage in general and the perpetual forbiddance of certain foods. He suggests Paul is possibly referring to the practices of the heretical Gnostics or to an unorthodox Jewish sect such as the Essenes. Broussard concludes that because the RCC doesn’t forbid marriage or certain foods in an absolute sense, Paul’s condemnation in 1 Timothy 4:1-3 doesn’t apply to its disciplines.
Let’s now respond to Broussard.
(1) Yup, evangelicals certainly recognize Scripture teaches that some believers are gifted to serve the Lord as unmarried celibates.
(2) Yup, evangelicals certainly recognize Scripture does encourage fasting and also abstaining from foods sacrificed to idols if eating them would offend an overly scrupulous brother or sister.
(3) Broussard attempts to excuse the RCC from the condemnations of 1 Timothy 4:1-3 because it prohibits marriage only in a particular sense, affecting only priests and nuns, rather than in a general, absolutist sense. But is that a valid qualification? Scripture contradicts Rome’s particular prohibition of marriage for its clergy in its listings of qualifications for pastoral candidates: “the husband of one wife” – 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. Paul also noted that he had a right to be married as were Peter and the other apostles:
“Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? – 1 Corinthians 9:5
It’s revealing that Broussard omits the above Scripture passages which contradict Rome’s mandated clerical celibacy. Nor does Broussard comment on the absolute failure of Rome’s mandated clerical celibacy as demonstrated by revelation upon revelation of sexual abuse of children by celibate priests. By withholding this contradictory and unfavorable information from his readers, Broussard is guilty of underhanded duplicity.
With regards to the mandatory abstention of certain foods, Broussard plays the same particular vs. absolute card. Noting that Rome prohibits certain foods under threat of mortal sin only at particular times (e.g., meat on Lenten Fridays), he argues that it escapes the condemnation of 1 Timothy 4:1-3. But his qualification is painfully arbitrary and also defies supporting Scriptures, which state that the eating of certain foods is not sinful.
“It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” – Matthew 15:11
It’s important that we address Rome’s errors regarding mandatory clerical celibacy and compulsory abstention of certain foods, but Rome’s most egregious error is its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.
Does the Bible teach the celibacy of priests?
Why can’t Catholics eat meat on Fridays during Lent?
Next up: “Call No Man Father”