Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – Pausing to note a paradox

Since early-August, we’ve been examining the 95 Bible verses presented by Catholic apologist, Dave Armstrong, in his book, “The Catholic Verses,” that allegedly validate Catholicism and “confound Protestants.” This week, I thought we’d take a break from the 95 verses and examine a bit of a paradox regarding the author that came to my attention a couple of weeks ago.

In his defense of the Catholic doctrine of penitential suffering, Armstrong criticized some Protestant Pentecostals and charismatics who propagate the health and wealth, name it and claim it, prosperity gospel (see here) and who blatantly ignore Bible passages that contradict guaranteed temporal health and wealth for the believer. Our sister at Biblical Beginnings commented that Armstrong’s criticism of the prosperity gospelers was inconsistent because of the popularity of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) movement, which boasts over 160 million followers. I responded that while Catholic charismatics do share many of the beliefs and practices of Pentecostals and charismatics regarding glossolalia, prophecy, and healings, they generally don’t focus on accumulating wealth and still value suffering as expiatory and penitential. However, Armstrong’s criticism of the prosperity gospel brought to focus an apparent contradiction based upon some of his other articles.

Many/most conservative Catholic apologists dismiss Pentecostalism’s gifts of the spirit as a Protestant novelty. For instance, apologist, David Anders, regularly dismisses Pentecostalism as an innovation begun by Charles Parham in 1900. Pentecostalism began its infiltration into the Catholic church at Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh in 1967 and blossomed into the CCR. While Anders is careful not to condemn the practices of Catholic charismatics because popes and prelates have tolerated the CCR and looked upon it as a valuable tool for ecumenism, he views the movement as a departure from Catholic tradition with roots in Protestantism and with the very real potential for heterodoxy.

Unlike most of his fellow conservative Catholic apologists, Dave Armstrong, the author of “The Catholic Verses” is quite at home with the CCR. He admits to attending charismatic and healing Masses occasionally.* I did a little research and discovered that Armstrong was a member of a Pentecostal church before he converted to Roman Catholicism.**

The interesting paradox is that Armstrong views Reformers such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Huldrych Zwingli as rebellious and dangerous heretics, yet is very comfortable with the non-Catholic innovations of Charles Parham and William J. Seymour, the pioneers of Pentecostalism! Does not compute my friends. It is contradictory for Armstrong to attack the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, and yet embrace the experiential practices that originated with Parham and Seymour in the early-20th-century outside of Catholicism.

Sources:

*Catholic Charismatic Renewal: A Defense
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/08/catholic-charismatic-renewal-a-defense.html

**Is Catholicism Christian? My Debate With James White (Dave Armstrong vs. James White from 1995)
http://www.biblicalcatholic.com/apologetics/DebatingJamesWhite.htm

Full disclosure: I’m a cessationist regarding the apostolic gifts of the Spirit. I believe the “showy” gifts were given to verify the authority of the apostles and ended after the apostolic era.

35 thoughts on “Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – Pausing to note a paradox

    1. It was a tough weekend, Wally! Starting Saturday afternoon, we’ve accumulated about 18″ of snow so far. Spent a couple of hours snowblowing Sunday and with my jalopy snowblower that’s hard work. Drove into work this morning with 0 degrees showing on the car thermometer. When I get home I’ll have to snowblow some more. Should have stayed home today and worked from home because my boss and many others didn’t bother to come in.

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      1. Thanks, brother. I’m always very wary of these Bible shows produced by History Channel or CNN. Note two of the interviewees, Joel Osteen and Michael Curry. These shows, take a modernistic approach to Jesus and the Bible. My wife is more of a glass-half-full kind of person and says any show about Jesus is a good thing, but I don’t believe that’s true. These kinds of shows indirectly attack faith by portraying Jesus only as some kind of religious zealot.

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      2. Your welcome I agree the History Channel hates Jesus I mean come on Joel Osteen consulting on it with two Catholics making it i mean in the first Bible show they made no mention of sin at all ok if they are not going to mention sin my question for the Catholics who made it would be then why did Jesus Come the first time if it wasn’t for because we humans sinned is that a fair question?

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      3. It’s amazing how Catholics acknowledge Jesus’ death on the cross, but it actually means very little to Catholics personally. They are taught that Jesus opened up Heavens doors by His death, but it is still up to each Catholic to merit their way through the doors (with the help of the sacraments of course).

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      4. Nope and if I remember right I think they have said Catholics are Christians I think I heard that at Christmas I just have to pretend to agree.

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      5. Interesting I don’t think I ever heard that before. I was scrolling through tv the other day and EWTN had on a show called Scripture and Tradition I did not watch it at all.

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      6. What’s get’s me is when Catholics say they don’t pray to Mary but ask her for what is that if not prayer or they say they are Christians.

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  1. What an odd contradiction. I suppose we’ve seen his ability to pick and choose Scripture over the past few months, what’s a little picking and choosing of doctrines as well? Still, I can’t imagine why some write books like this. It gives such a clear opportunity for ministries like your blog to help RC’s see the errors in their theology. Especially now when so many are frustrated and hurt by the scandals.
    After reading yours and Wally’s comments I’m going to pray you get home safely! We’ve been sitting near or just above zero these past couple days in ND. We wanted to experience one northern winter, usually we travel south for the cold months and north for the hot months. I think this will be the last time we stay this late into the year this far north! Wind chills at -34? No thanks!

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    1. Thanks for the good observations, sister! Armstrong’s book was published in 2004 and it’s definitely out of place in general Catholic circles. Most Catholics (and Protestants) are tending toward ecumenism rather than polemical works like “The Catholic Verses.” Yeah, these days with all the scandals, a good portion of Catholics are contemplating dropping away from Catholicism rather than thinking about trying to entice Protestants to convert. There’s really no motivation in Catholicism to convert anyone except for these hardcore apologists like Armstrong because the pope and prelates teach that even atheists can merit Heaven if they are “good.”
      We had a mild December and first-half of January so I can’t complain about the current circumstances. Thanks for the prayers! I’m going to drive home very cautiously. Stay warm and safe up there in ND. All I can picture about ND is snow and wind whipping across the plains with no breaks.

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  2. Man the inconsistency is incredible on the part of Dave Armstrong! I think the more I read your blog and what you discover the more I’m blown away at the self-contradictions that is Catholicism along with her apologists…

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    1. Thanks, Jimmy! Yeah, Armstrong’s acceptance of the CCR is inconsistent and contradictory. I listen to apologist David Anders almost daily and he would like to condemn the CCR altogether but he can’t because of the hierarchy’s limited approval.

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      1. It would be VERY interesting to read an objective treatise on the hierarchy’s view of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal over time. The “Duquesne Weekend” happened during pope Paul VI’s reign when the church was demoralized from the aftermath of Vatican II and the progressive and liberal clerics faced very little organized opposition.

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