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

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on December 9, 2015 and has been revised.


Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences
By Norman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie
Baker Academic, 1995, 538 pp.

1 Star

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, Mariolatry, sacerdotalism, purgatory, etc. On the other hand, Geisler insinuates that Catholicism is a Christian entity; 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 is attained through its clergy-administered sacraments and by obedience to the Ten Commandments. Yet Geisler argues, even quite adamantly, for the true Gospel message of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. So which is it, Professor Geisler? Grace or works? It cannot 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 the Roman church, Catholic-friendly evangelicals like Geisler, Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, Richard Land, Bill Bright, Os Guinness, Mark Noll, J. I. Packer, Harold O. J. Brown, Max Lucado, and Timothy George are all simply delusional (Note: Geisler, Graham, Colson, Bright, and Brown are now deceased).

How is it that Catholic apologists are never shy about proclaiming theirs is the “one true church” with the “fullness of the gospel” while accommodating and compromising evangelical apologists and pastors meekly tiptoe around the all-important justification “issue” that irreconcilably separates Catholicism from the genuine Gospel of grace?

Addendum: My original posting of this book review on back in 2014 led to the infamous “Willis Weatherford Caper.” See here.

40 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Trying to force a square peg (Catholicism) through a round hole (the Gospel)

    1. Thanks, Crissy! I was away from the Lord for many years during my dumb prodigal “season” and after I returned to the Lord and started the blog I was SERIOUSLY GRIEVED to see so many evangelical leaders had betrayed the Gospel by embracing Rome. I remember wanting to scream after reading that book!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Error is one thing, Christians can be in error regarding the timing of the rapture for example, but heresy is totally unacceptable.
        Thank you Tom for contending for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, sister! That’s right, secondary and tertiary doctrines are one thing, but false teaching on justification should never be accommodated. I thought Billy Graham had been the first big-name evangelical to embrace Catholicism, but I was reading the other day that evangelist Billy Sunday (1862-1935) had likewise sent Catholics who came forward at his rallies back to Catholic “workers.” That was very surprising.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I was surprised to read that about Sunday. His Wiki article states:
        “Sunday was not a separationist as were many Protestants of his era. He went out of his way to avoid criticizing the Roman Catholic Church and even met with Cardinal Gibbons during his 1916 Baltimore campaign. Also, cards filled out by “trail hitters” were faithfully returned to the church or denomination that the writers had indicated as their choice, including Catholic and Unitarian.”


      4. I have wondered the same. In his early years as an evangelist, Billy Graham openly acknowledged that the RCC preached a false gospel. But somehow in his mind he was able to do a 180 reversal. How does that happen? The RCC is completely upfront regarding their teaching that a person must merit their salvation. I have seen evangelical theologians acknowledge that fact and yet STILL embrace the pope and his bishops as “brothers in Christ.” It’s demonic.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Many solid evangelicals, including John R. Rice, pleaded with Billy Graham personally not to go the ecumenical route, but he was “somehow” able to justify it in his mind.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, sister! I remember being absolutely LIVID after reading that book, which was greatly admired by Chuck Colson and other ecumenically-minded evangelicals. Such an incomprehensible betrayal of the Gospel, like someone stating 2+2=5 and many nodding their heads in agreement.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Excellent post Tom. We need more believers to speak about the rampant ecumenism in our day. It amazes me how very few pastors say a word. (What is that!) Know that your labor is not in vain…

    My husband just said we need more people to scream 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cathy! Yes, it’s considered such “bad form” these days to say anything “negative” about the RCC, let alone the fact that it unabashedly teaches salvation by merit (along with a bit of sacramental “grace”). Geisler trained all today’s most popular apologists and they all ape his ecumenism.

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  2. Dropping by with a hi, glad to hear about your weather being nice! I’m about to go on second walk to read as part of my sermon prep for tonight; earlier all day has been dealing with the thing I emailed you about. Thanks for praying for me

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I remember being absolutely flabbergasted when I read this book. Geisler spent the first 400 pages detailing the MANY important differences between Gospel Christianity and Catholicism, including the opposing views on justification. But in the last section of the book, he makes an abrupt turn and embraces the RCC as Christian DESPITE the justification issue and everything else. My jaw dropped to the floor. It was totally irrational.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Geisler once commented that many “fundamentalist types” disparagingly referred to him as “Roman” rather than “Norman.” I’m guessing his enamorment with Aquinas is what led him into betrayal.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You would be shocked by how Geisler does a 180 degree at the end without any rationale. Geisler’s book came out shortly after Chuck Colson’s ECT was launched and the combination of the two “persuaded” many to abandon their opposition to Catholicism’s false gospel. Colson was thrilled by the book. His quotes on the book’s cover are quite gushing. Tremendous damage was done by those two.

      Liked by 2 people

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