Trying to force a square peg (Catholicism) through a round hole (the Gospel)

Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and DifferencesRoman

By Norman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie

Baker Academic, 1995, 538 pages

This is a strange book. I mean, REALLY strange. On the one hand Evangelical scholar, Norman Geisler, cites many areas in which Roman Catholicism is not in accord with the New Testament Gospel: justification by works, sacramentalism, Mariolatry, sacerdotalism, purgatory, etc. Then from the other side of his mouth Geisler insinuates that Catholicism is Christian; e.g. “(the Jesuits’) original mission concerned preaching Christ to the unconverted in the world. They became great missionaries, winning many to Christ in Africa, Asia, and the New World. Many were martyred for their faith” – p.444. Really, Professor Geisler? Did the Jesuits preach Christ or did they preach a works-based religion masquerading as “Christianity”? How exactly is teaching people they must merit their salvation “winning” souls to Christ?

The “gospel” preached by the Catholic church claims salvation comes through its clergy-administered sacraments and by obedience to the Law. But Geisler argues, even quite adamantly, for the true Gospel message of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. So which is it, Professor Geisler? Grace or works? It can’t be both.

“And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” – Romans 11:6.

Geisler, a passionate devotee of Catholic priest and theologian, Thomas Aquinas, struggles schizophrenically to cut Catholicism as much slack as possible while also upholding the Gospel of the Reformers. When it comes to Rome, Catholic-friendly Evangelicals like Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, Richard Land, Bill Bright, Os Guinness, Mark Noll, J. I. Packer, Harold O. J. Brown, Max Lucado, Timothy George, and Roman Geisler are all simply delusional (Colson, Bright, and Brown are now deceased).

How is it that Catholic apologists are never shy about claiming theirs is the “one true church” with the fullness of the gospel while many accommodating Evangelical apologists and pastors meekly tiptoe around the all-important justification “issue” that separates Catholicism from the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone?

4 thoughts on “Trying to force a square peg (Catholicism) through a round hole (the Gospel)

  1. Thanks for this review. I can’t believe the back and forth. It’s like Geisler doesn’t want to follow the implication of what the heresies of RC means…Schizophrenic if you asked me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, schizophrenic is the word! Geisler does an excellent job in the book of pointing out all the differences between Biblical Christianity and Catholicism – even regarding justification – but then abruptly concludes Catholicism has enough foundational truth to qualify as Christian. It caught me completely off guard. It’s totally unsatisfying. He doesn’t explain at all how he’s able to make this logic defying leap. He provides no justification. I believe he’s blinded by his Thomist infatuation. He’s like a prosecutor presenting a water-tight case against a criminal and then suddenly and inexplicably asking that the charges be dropped right before the judgment.


      1. Good analogy with the prosecuting attorney. I do think Thomism is much more dangerous than most people think. It involves a speculative metaphysic but ultimately it’s driven by something else than a worldview of Sola Scriptura

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Jim. I have only a very basic understanding of Thomism but I know it’s heavy on Aristotle and natural law. I’ll take the simple Gospel any day!

        Liked by 1 person

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