Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #30: “All Have Sinned”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter and the four that follow, the Catholic apologist defends Catholicism’s “veneration” of Mary. In the first installment, Broussard attempts to counter evangelical Protestants’ insistence that Mary was not sinless with their argument from Scripture that “All Have Sinned.”

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Broussard begins the chapter by reiterating the Catholic teaching that “not only was Mary conceived without original sin, but she also remained free from personal sin throughout her life” (p. 168). He notes that evangelicals object to this doctrine by citing such proof texts as Romans 3:23:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

How could Mary have been sinless when God’s Word clearly declares that all have sinned? Broussard presents three arguments:

(1) Broussard contends that while the Greek word, pas, translated as “all” in Romans 3:23 can mean “every single one without exception,” it can also be used in a non-absolute, hyperbolic sense, i.e., “intentional exaggeration to make a point.” Broussard then presents several examples in Scripture where “all” is used in a hyperbolic sense, including Matthew 2:3 and Matthew 3:5-6. But what about Romans 3:10-12 that also speaks of the sinfulness of all:

“As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’”

This passage precludes all possible exceptions with the clarifiers, “no, not one” and “not even one.” Broussard points out that the apostle Paul was quoting Psalm 14:2-3, in this passage, yet in v.5 that follows, David refers to the “generation of the righteous.” Broussard concludes, therefore, that the writers of Romans 3:23, 3:1-12, and Psalm 14:2-3 were employing non-absolute, hyperbolic speech.

(2) Broussard then presents two exceptions to an absolute interpretation of “all have sinned” that he claims Protestants are bound to agree with: (1) unborn babies and young children who have not yet reached the age of accountability and (2) Jesus Christ.

(3) In his final rejoinder, Broussard notes that Romans 3:23 is part of Paul’s larger argument involving all of Romans chapter 3, that salvation is obtained apart from the Law of Moses. Broussard asserts that Paul’s statement, “all have sinned,” in its proper context, refers not to individuals, but rather to sin being characteristic of both Jews and Gentiles.

Let’s now respond to Mr. Broussard.

(1) There’s no argument that pas/”all” in Romans 3:10 and also ouk/”none” and “no one” in Romans 3:10-12 can be used either as adjectives signifying absoluteness or as non-absolute hyperbole. However, Romans 3:10-12 includes the significant clarifiers; “no, not one” and “not even one.” Broussard attempts to dismiss these phrases, which clearly signify absoluteness, as hyperbolic speech with his appeal to Psalm 14:5, but evangelicals are not fooled. The Old Testament saints were “righteous” NOT because they were sinless, but because their hope for salvation was in God their Savior. In Romans 4, Paul writes that Abraham was righteous not because he was sinless, he surely wasn’t, but because of his faith/trust in God for salvation.

(2) Evangelicals believe, as the Bible teaches, that all people are born with a sin nature, but that God won’t hold children responsible for their sins until the age of accountability (see article far below). Jesus Christ on the other hand was/is the sinless God Man. He is the Exception to Romans 3:10 and 3:10-12 by His very nature. Can Broussard claim an advantage in his argument for Mary by presenting these two exceptions? He actually fails to mention another exception. Evangelicals are also hopeful that God will pardon the mentally disabled as mercifully as He will children who die before the age of accountability. However, the Mary we read of in the New Testament was neither a young child, mentally disabled, or Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God. In fact, Mary openly acknowledged she was a sinner in need of the Savior in Luke 1:47, “…and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” More on that specific topic next week.

(3) In Romans chapter 3, Paul certainly writes about the sinfulness of both Gentiles and Jews in general and their shared need of salvation in Jesus Christ by faith alone. However, the clarifiers “no, not one” and “not even one” in vv.10-12 clearly refer to individuals, not to groups.

In the chapters that follow, we’ll discuss why the false doctrine of Mary’s sinlessness is so vitally important to Roman Catholics.

Where do I find the age of accountability in the Bible?
https://www.gotquestions.org/age-of-accountability.html

Next week: “Mary Needed a Savior”

60 thoughts on “Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #30: “All Have Sinned”

    1. Thank you, sister! These Catholic apologists are slippery eels. I’m making an effort to be less wordy with these apologetics posts, so the installments will start getting a little shorter beginning next week.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Thank you for addressing this, Tom! Broussard’s spin reminded me of paid trolls and gov’t spokespersons in my country. It is clear that all have sinned and I’m curious on next week’s topic why this false doctrine is so salient for RCs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Kent! Catholic apologists are very adept at twisting and rationalizing Scripture to meet their ends. For centuries, the Jesuits were infamous for their casuistry.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Like any other cults out there, Tom, they protect their long held beliefs, not changing even if the evidence/proof is obvious in the Bible. That is why there are stories that priest left and joined Biblical Christianity. No other enforcer that the top group. GOD bless you and your wife! Next week!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Kent. British historian, Geoffrey Ashe, wrote a fascinating book on Roman Catholicism’s gradual adoption of pagan mother goddess worship called “The Virgin: Mary’s Cult and the Re-emergence of the Goddess.” God bless you and yours as well!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey, Papa Tom! I do think Evangelicals can downplay the significance of Mary, largely due to the false worship of the RCC; however, again this false worship and deification of Mary is sinful, idolatrous and would horrify her if she knew what was happening! God Himself does not need a sinless human to create something sacred. He creates the sacred from the profane. I do not understand why protecting Mary’s virtue/purity/virginity/sinlessness is so crucial to the RCC and will look forward to learning this next week!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Mandy! I agree that in our zeal to counter Catholicism’s Mariolatry, we believers neglect Mary as an example of faithfulness and obedience. Scripture isn’t clear on the subject, but I imagine Mary suffered great scorn from her family and the people of Nazareth because of her early pregnancy. Yes, Mary would be so grieved by the worship that’s accorded to her. Thank you, Mandy, for your encouragement and support for this series.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks, Jackie. Most evangelicals aren’t aware that a very large portion of Catholic “worship” is devoted to Mary. Of course all Catholic “worship” is spurious because it’s merit-based. Yes, Catholics prefer praying to Mary rather than God because they perceive her to be a lovingly sympathetic mother and God as a stern unapproachable father. Mary does not hear their prayers.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank you Tom,
        The Protestant church has taken over false
        doctrines of the RCC. Like burning candles when someone dies, or for the dead, “Mary is the mother of God”
        Catholics worship and are praying to Mary, that means they are rejecting Lord Jesus. Rejecting Lord Jesus Who paid with His Blood for our sin and with His death the Saviour re-gained the power over the grave.
        Slowly but surely the catholic doctrine is taking over the Protestant church. And most evangelicals fall for it.
        Looking forward to you next post about Mary.

        This is what the Bible tells me about Mary.
        https://myflorals.wordpress.com/2019/12/17/ten-falsehoods-about-mary/

        I know what the eucharist is. Catholics claim there is supposed to be a Bible verse that refers to the eucharist. Do you happen to know what verse that is?
        Do you perhaps have a post on that topic?
        No rush.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I agree that Mary would have suffered on a whole host of levels. I also think you could add sacrifice to the list of examples. Part of me has thought about buying this book so I can better understand your Friday writings!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. RE: buying Catholic apologetics book

        I would really welcome your weekly thoughts about the claims of this book (i.e., Catholic theology) and how they compare with Scripture if that’s what you decide to do.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Re: Queen of Heaven.

        The title “Queen of Heaven” is found in only two chapters of the Bible, Jer 7 and Jer 44, both in the context of Israelites engaging in idolatory and worshipping a pagan goddess.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Thanks, SB. Yes, Roman Catholicism borrowed the concept of the Queen of Heaven and mother goddess worship from paganism. Historian Geoffrey Ashe expertly examines the pagan roots of Mariolatry in “The Virgin: Mary’s Cult and the Re-emergence of the Goddess.”

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  3. I really have to LOL at Broussard’s casuistry. Let’s see what some of the early fathers tells us:

    Augustine (354-430): This being the case, ever since the time when by one man sin thus entered into this world and death by sin, and so it passed through to all men, up to the end of this carnal generation and perishing world, the children of which beget and are begotten, there never has existed, nor ever will exist, a human being of whom, placed in this life of ours, it could be said that he had no sin at all, with the exception of the one Mediator, who reconciles us to our Maker through the forgiveness of sins. NPNF1: Vol. V, On the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins, and on the Baptism of Infants, Book II, Chapter 47.

    Augustine (354-430 AD) : Moreover, when expounding the Gospel according to Luke, he [i.e. Ambrose] says: “It was no cohabitation with a husband which opened the secrets of the Virgin’s womb; rather was it the Holy Ghost which infused immaculate seed into her unviolated womb. For the Lord Jesus alone of those who are born of woman is holy, inasmuch as He experienced not the contact of earthly corruption, by reason of the novelty of His immaculate birth; nay, He repelled it by His heavenly majesty.” NPNF1: Vol. V, Augustin’s Anti-Pelagian Works, The Grace of Christ And on Original Sin, Book II On Original Sin, Chapter 47-Sentences from Ambrose in favor of Original Sin.

    Ambrose (c. 339-97): No Conception is without iniquity, since there are no parents who have not fallen. I. D. E. Thomas, The Golden Treasury of Patristic Quotations (Oklahoma City: Hearthstone Publishing, 1996), p. 258.

    Fulgentius, bishop of Ruspe (c. 467-532) : For the flesh of Mary, which had been conceived in iniquities in the usual manner, was the flesh of sin which begot the Son of God in the likeness of the flesh of sin…For translation, see I. D. E. Thomas, The Golden Treasury of Patristic Quotations (Oklahoma City: Hearthstone Publishing, 1996), pp. 180-181.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent rebuttal. I think that you should take on some claims made by Catholic apologist Trent Horn. He’s been making a lot of noise lately and needs a quirk put in his mouth 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jesse! I have about five more months of dealing with Mr. Broussard’s fallacies and then I’ll be looking for another Catholic apologetics book to rebut.

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      1. I see your point and I entirely see what led you to that conclusion. If every human being did sin, obviously Mary did. However, as was pointed out, Our Lord is an exception (I will get to why that matters in a moment) We might similarly say that all men have two arms, but technically, many do not, either by mutations or by loss later in life. There are many examples of people do not have two arms, but only two, according to Catholic doctrine, who have not sinned (aside from babies). You pointed that out in your post, but I failed to see where in that particular passage it says “except Jesus Christ”. It does say that in other passages but not here, meaning that there must indeed be at least one exception to the rule. In that case, this is indeed a generalization. The two exceptions, with which Protestants would agree, which this Catholic apologist whom you named presents do not necessarily rule out more. I recognize your second point and I have my own reasons for thinking that Luke 1:47 does not refer to personal sin. My point is (and I mean this as mildly as possible) that your second point contradicts the first. There are clearly exceptions to Romans 3:10-12. The only question is whether Mary counts as one of them.

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      2. Romans 3:23 states that “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus Christ is God so to try to use Christ’s exceptionality as wiggle room for the exceptionality of Mary is baseless.

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      3. I think I see what you mean now. What I do not quite understand is how you grant that infants have not committed personal sin, but still hold that this verse applies to everyone without exception. I understand that they were born in a sinful nature, but I think Romans 3:23 seems to pretty clearly refer to personal sin.

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      4. Everyone inherits the sin nature and we see that sin nature exhibited in the temper tantrum of a toddler. We hold that children will not be held accountable for their sin until they reach the age of accountability. Theologians debate the details while we trust in the Lord Who said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.”

        I think it’s interesting that some Catholics such as yourself still zealously try to defend and propagate their religion when your pope and prelates proclaim that Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, etc., are also “God’s children” and are also capable of meriting their salvation via their religion. Pope Francis has said even atheists can merit salvation by following their conscience. You energetically debate details, but miss the Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Alright. I think I understand the argument now, although I still do not quite understand how it is a sin if they are not held accountable for their sin. I am a little confused about fetuses and very young babies who do not exactly throw tantrums.
        Currently, I am asking questions, not defending my faith. Otherwise, I would have given my responses to all your arguments.
        Again, Catholics do not believe they can merit salvation. They see religion like a relationship, perhaps, in one sense, to a greater degree than most Evangelicals do. In other words, Catholics see mortal sin as a rejection of God, similar, I think, to how Evangelicals generally see apostasy. In spite of popular belief, Catholics actually do believe that they are saved by Jesus Christ through grace. It is all a matter of whether they align themselves to God’s grace.
        As for Pope Francis, I have already criticized him multiple times on my blog and even defended why I can do so… A number of Protestant denominations have now approved of abortion and even homosexuality. Methodism is about to have a schism over the latter. However, Pope Stephen VI, John XII, Benedict IX, Urban VI, and a couple others were pretty corrupt so in one sense I think Francis is just the next one down the line. The fact that he himself is not the best pope ever does not mean that what he ought to be teaching is false. This isn’t something that just happened. Plenty of bishops have been heretics in the past. Arius, founder of the Arian heresy, is a fine example. Catholics also hold Judas Iscariot to have been a bishop. I think I see why you are wondering that. No one wants to have a pope preaching heresy. I probably would leave the Catholic faith, if I did not believe it were founded by Jesus Christ and he had promised that it would never let it drown.

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      6. You won’t see it unless the Holy Spirit reveals it to you. Catholics believe they are sinners if they sin. Gospel Christians on the other hand know we sin because we are sinners. We are depraved sinners without one single plea except for the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ that was imputed to us the moment we accepted Him as Savior by faith alone. You Catholics believe you must actually become intrinsically, subjectively holy enough to merit Heaven. That’s impossible! Only Jesus Christ obeyed the Law. You don’t have a chance. You deny you’re obligated to merit your salvation, but your CCC is quite clear about that, albeit with the alleged assistance of the sacraments. You indicate that you do not agree with the modern popes and prelates that all religionists and even atheists are also able to merit their salvation. You have declared yourself to be in schism with the “Vicar of Christ” and are leading your own Catholic of Honor” denomination. Do yourself a favor and read “The Gospel According to Rome” by James G. McCarthy.

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      7. Where does it say in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that salvation itself must be merited? I am not aware of any such passage.
        On the contrary, however, certain bishops are leading their own “Ecumenist/Cafeteria Catholic Church”. I defended this in this post: https://thecatholicofhonor.wordpress.com/2020/06/24/why-criticize-the-pope/ Of course becoming perfect is impossible with men. It is possible with God, because of the grace which Our Lord purchased for us on the Cross by His blood.
        In the meanwhile, what does this have to do with all having sinned? Again, I am not arguing, as I have responses to your arguments which I did not give. I have heard about that book. Perhaps I will read it. I am slightly acquainted with Gary Michuta who wrote: “The Gospel According to James McCarthy”.

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      8. You’re about the tenth Catholic who has written me denying your church teaches merited salvation. Why must I, an evangelical, school you Catholics in your own legalistic religion?
        CCC 2010 – Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.

        https://carm.org/catholic/ccc-2010-2027-2068

        Gary Michuta? Is he loyal to the “Vicar of Christ” or is he also a pope-defying schismatic?

        Liked by 1 person

      9. I do not mean to be rude here, but I feel like it would be somewhat like libel if you do not approve my latest comment. I would rather you delete all of them. You were the one who claimed Catholics believe they can merit salvation originally when I was examining your claims about this verse in Romans. As you refuse to approve my comment here, you create the appearance that you understand the Catholic faith more than I. I do not ask you necessarily to answer that comment, but you did just take the quote out of context.

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      10. RE: libel
        I’m under no obligation to publish unsolicited comments. As I explained to you before, I will not be drawn into endless debates with people who are not open to the Gospel. I have only so many hours per day and I must be a good steward of my time.

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      11. Too funny!. I had a certain Catholic named Ethan that I banned rather quickly from my blog in 2018 because he just wanted to argue. He tried sending a apologist to argue in his place in 2019 but I instantaneously banned him too because I saw how messy the discussion could get and also suspected that the formerly banned individual had sent him.

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      12. I have already recommended to you “The Gospel According to Rome” by James G. McCarthy. If you’re seriously open to the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, then buy and read the book instead of engaging in virtual jousting.

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