I have to give credit where it’s due: Catholics are pretty good at what they do. Here are some ways in which Catholics leave Evangelicals in the dust:
1. When it comes to the afterlife, Catholics put their money where their mouth is
“It’s all nonsense,” says Elfrida in E. Nesbit’s The House of Arden, “—I mean, it’s only history.” And that’s how most Protestants experience the communion of believers in the Church. We experience the Church in our time as a point in a linear progression of the Body of Christ, a Church made up only of those who are currently alive. Sure, we believe that the dead are in Heaven, but in practice we’re cut off from them, unable to communicate and interact. Without a way to live them out, our beliefs get rusty. Heaven gets fuzzy. Peter and Paul and Mary Magdalene are superheroes from history, but they aren’t part of our family right here and right now.
When a Protestant is having troubles, she calls up the people at her church and says, “Will you pray for me?” When a Catholic is having troubles, she calls up the people at her church—living and dead—and says, “Will you pray for me?” That’s asking for intercession from all the saints. You can ask your next-door neighbor, your favorite Apostle, or your dear dead great-grandmother to pray for you. Catholics remind everybody else that Great-Grandma hasn’t faded into nothingness or gotten stashed away in one of God’s safe deposit boxes. Catholics remind everybody else that the Church doesn’t work like Elfrida’s history: our past is real and our communion is unbroken.
2. Ditto for believing that death has lost its power
Catholics don’t just ask the dead to pray for them; they also pray for the dead. That’s not because Catholics believe that God’s grace isn’t powerful enough to save people before they die. It’s because they believe that God’s grace is so powerful that it can save people after they’re dead.
3. Less brattiness when debating theology
Catholics have a precedent of arguing doctrine using logic, historical example, and a knowledge of diverse interpretations of Scripture, instead of saying “Because the Bible says so!” and expecting you to cave instantly
That’s not to say that their doctrines are naturally going to be superior to all conflicting doctrines. It just means that you’re much less likely to find yourself on the receiving end of the Christian version of “Because—because you’re just wrong, booger-head!”
Note: if you are engaged in a debate with a Catholic and he says “Because the Holy Father says so!”, just give up. It’s the same thing as the Bible line.
4. The hats