Debate Between Catholic Priest & Church of Christ Pastor

by John Stevens
http://www.churchesofchrist.com/Catholic_Debate.htmlAbout 11 years ago there was a debate in Houston between a Catholic priest and a pastor of the Church of Christ. The debates were held over 4 nights at the Klein High School Gymnasium. Approximately 2000 people attended each night. The Church of Christ spent $30,000 on radio advertizing for the event.

The Catholic priest was Fr. Daniel Callam who was Professor of Theology at St. Thomas University. Fr. Callam was sympathetic to Tradition and would offer the Traditional Indult Mass at Annunciation whenever he was allowed.

In my recollection of the debates I liken them to professional soccer where the scores are usually low and close. Scores like 0-0, 1-1, 2-1, 1-0 are typical. My evaluation of the debate was that Fr. Callam won the first night by a score of 4-0. I felt he won the second night 3-0. He got off to a bad start on night 3 and was losing. However, he came on very strong and I felt he won 3-2. On day 4 I felt that Fr. Callam won 50-0. Everyone felt sorry for the Church of Christ pastor on the last night. He was so totally out of his league that he didn’t know what to do.

On one side was the Church of Christ pastor. He had a power point presentation plus four men with computers to supply him with ready information during the debate. On the other side was Fr. Callam. He sat all alone at a table with a Bible and one other book. He was very humble, not arrogant at all. He just taught and won the debate hands down.

There is about 10-12 hours of debate here so it is a bit much to listen to in one setting. However, I believe it is truly worth listening to when you have the chance.  Just click on the link shown above.


About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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  1. revfrjpatrickserna says:

    I have many friends who are non Catholic Christians. Whenever they want to attack my Catholic beliefs, they are quick to mis-use or misinterpret Matthew 16:18-19. Whenever I make reference to James ch.2 (i.e. “faith without works is a dead faith”) or John ch. 20 (sacramental Confession handed down by Jesus to His ordained ministers) or one of the Last Supper (i.e. First Mass) accounts from the Holy Gospels, they simply try to ignore my challenge that only the Catholic Church takes these Bible verses seriously. I’ve found that, when trying to debate with a non Catholic brother, using the Bible, objective truth is often thrown under the bus and subjective interpretation reigns supreme. We must know our Bibles as Saint Jerome so forcefully admonished us to, and we must know our history. The rest is up to how we live and lead our lives… maybe then we will have real conversions.

    Fr. Patrick

  2. Curt Stoller says:

    Wow. I’ve only listened to a few so far, but am humbled by the masterful way Fr. Callam defends the Roman Catholic Church. I’ve had some private debates with Protestants and Protestant debaters can be considered analgous to chess masters. In our Archdiocese many Protestants are involved in aggressive campaigns to “convert” Catholics to their churches. They will go door to door. And I am sad to report that they are often very successful at “sheep stealing,” as they themselves call it. I really worry that Catechism teachers, filled with a false type of ecumenism are not preparing young people for a world in which many Protestant sects are aggressively targeting Catholics.

    There is one Evangelical church in my city whose congregation is almost entirely made up of former Catholics. This particular church has built an enormous non-denominational children’s “fun center” next door to their church. It is like a mini-Disney land. Catholic children are invited by their Evangelical friends to come to this place and play for free. From there they are invited to attend a Protestant service which is an entertainment extravaganza akin to Cirque du Soleil. The children come back and report that the Catholic Mass is “boring.” The pastor of this particular Protestant sect is an ex-Catholic priest which makes the whole situation more dangerous to those who are very impressionable. The young Catholic cannot be expected to be a Cardinal Newman or a Fr. Callam. And faith isn’t logic! But I think the Catholic Church should prepare the young Catholics for these new forms of aggressive Protestant ministries. I hope they do.

    I especially like Fr. Callam’s very strong insistence that religion is not logic. “The heart has its reasons . . .” said Pascal. And it is interesting that the greatest logicians in the Catholic Church were those who never idolized it. Cardinal Newman often spoke “of paper logic.” One interesting thing about aggressive Protestant debaters is that they teach the doctrine of sola gratia and yet in debating with them I often feel their true position is sola logica and that they are thoroughgoing rationalists. They say you become like the thing you fight. Well we cannot become gnostics in our effort to refute Protestant brothers and sisters. You know the old saying: “win the battle, lose the war?” Sometimes you can get in this position while debating a Protestant. I feel like I have become almost gnostic in some of my debates with Evangelicals. Faith is a grace.

    History is the great enemy of Protestantism. Bibliolatry is almost impossible without the invention of the printing press. And there is one Catholic Tradition that all Protestant’s accept: the tradition that says that this set of books is the Bible but not the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Pontius Pilate and so on.

    I once watched a theology student try to trip up my simple Italian grandmother and her simple Roman Catholic faith. He asked her: “what do you believe?” She said: “I believe everything the Catholic Church says I should believe.”

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