The biggest surprise of my YouTube ministry thus far has been getting pulled into the orbit of Catholic-Orthodox-Protestant dialogue. I did not expect that, and it has not previously been a particular area of emphasis for me. However, I’ve been amazed to discover (1) how much hunger there is on YouTube for such conversations, and (2) how relatively weak the Protestant side is on YouTube, particularly in relation Roman Catholic channels. For whatever reason, the volume of Catholic content and Catholic viewership on YouTube is absolutely massive. And lots of Protestants considering converting to Catholicism are taking to YouTube with their questions, and getting pulled toward Catholicism in the process. I get emails and messages nearly every day from people who are hearing the Catholic side of an issue on YouTube, but unfamiliar with Protestant responses, and needing help.
It’s been a interesting experience. For most of my life, Protestantism has been the context I’ve been surrounded in, and other traditions like Catholicism were strange lands into which I might occasionally fray. I rarely engaged Catholic theology growing up, and I believe I was in 10th grade before I even heard of Eastern Orthodoxy, and in seminary before I heard of other Eastern traditions like Oriental Orthodoxy, the Church of the East, etc. My life on YouTube is the exact opposite. Many of those commenting on my videos seem to be Catholics for whom Protestantism is at best a kind of strange oddity.
I have learned a great deal from this reversal, and it has challenged me in various ways. I’ve moved beyond some caricatures I’ve had of Catholicism, in particular. But I’m more committed to Protestantism through this process, and more committed to retrieving historic Protestant theology and liturgy to help contemporary Protestants find their way. I continue to feel that (1) we can learn from Catholics (and Orthodox Christians) and must engage them respectfully, and (2) Catholic theology is deeply flawed and the Reformation represented a genuine renewal of the gospel in the church. My position is not that Catholicism has lost the gospel, but I do believe Catholic theology obscures and adds on to the gospel.
So, without ceasing my focus on apologetics or other theological matters, I have decided to increase the emphasis and attention that Truth Unites is putting on these conversations. I’ve decided to limit myself primarily to Roman Catholicism, for starters, though I hope to engage Orthodoxy more down the road. I believe this is a real area of need. If you haven’t already had friends/acquaintances who have moved from evangelicalism to Catholicism, I bet you will in the next 5-10 years. The level of disillusionment among younger evangelicals is so high right now, and Catholicism has some particularly attractive qualities for the disillusioned (ancientness, rootedness, rigor, etc). And yet, though I see so many Catholic books and YouTube channels debunking evangelicals, I really don’t see as many evangelical Protestants offering careful, non-caricatured responses to Catholics.
There are some, of course, even on YouTube. Jordan Cooper, for example, has a good Lutheran channel. James White is a strong presence, though many find his style more abrasive. And there are other channels, but the overall picture is disproportionate. Many evangelicals tend to simply ignore Catholicism and Orthodoxy or regard them in terms of flagrant caricatures, and I think this contributes to the trend of conversions into these traditions. If all your life you’ve been told that Catholics worship Mary and don’t care about the Bible and are basically struck in dead traditionalism without any real relationship with Christ, and then you are suddenly immersed in a culture filled with intelligent Catholics who sincerely love Jesus, you are much more vulnerable to leave Protestantism altogether. So, I think we need careful, accurate, gracious yet firm, historically-informed engagement with Catholicism, and this is going to be a major area of focus for Truth Unites ahead. Here are some topics I’ve already addressed:
- Dialogues with Joe Heschmeyer on church history and the papacy.
- Discussions with the guys on Reason and Theology on the Marian dogmas.
- My own critiques of the papacy (here and here).
- My defense of sola Scriptura.
There are various other videos I’ve also done, but those are a good starting point. For those of you who support and share the videos, whether on my patreon account or on social media, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart! Truly, it means so much. I pray that my own journey of working through these issues will be a blessing to others on the same path!
I plan to continue to research in this area and produce various videos over the next 6-12 months, hoping eventually to pull the content together into a book, perhaps titled something like Rome Ain’t Home: 7 Things Protestants Should Consider Before Becoming Catholic. Here are the 7 topics I plan to address, in videos and then in the book (Lord willing):
- The church
- The papacy
- The Eucharist
- Scripture and tradition