In the 24-minute video below, evangelical apologist, James R. White examines the spiritually deadly errors of Roman Catholicism and picks apart the foggy-bottom “Mere Christianity” ecumenical paradigm that permeates evangelicalism and is peddled in this video by Norman Geisler disciple, Frank Turek.
This is excellent, folks. In this era of rampant ecumenical compromise, few apologists are willing to step out and “tell it like it is” regarding Roman Catholicism. God bless James R. White!
The name of this blog is “excatholic4christ.” Yes, I was a Roman Catholic for 27 years, but I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior by faith alone in 1983 and came out of the Catholic church with its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. Isn’t it okay to “worship” God as a Catholic or whatever way strikes your fancy as long as you’re “sincere”? Nope. Although pluralism, tolerance, and relativism are the world’s current standards, the Bible is God’s standard and it contradicts most Catholic doctrines, including how a person is saved.
I started this blog in 2015 with the aim of Gospel outreach to Roman Catholics and warning evangelicals of ecumenism with Rome. Over the last six years, I’ve addressed many of Rome’s anti-Biblical doctrines. A couple of times, I selected a particular book by a Catholic apologist and systematically answered their claims from a Biblical perspective via a lengthy series.
The first series addressed “The Catholic Verses: 95 Bible Passages That Confound Protestants” (2004) by Catholic apologist, Dave Armstrong. That series ran from August 2018 to April 2019 with 34 weekly installments (see the complete index here). Bottom line: We weren’t confounded.
The next series addressed “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019) by Catholic apologist, Karl Broussard. That series ran from December 2019 to November 2020 with 50 weekly installments (see the complete index here).
These apologetics series require a lot of prayerful work and research and I wasn’t in a hurry to begin another one, especially after returning to work in January and commencing to assist one of my sisters around the same time. Those situations have calmed down a bit, so the Lord has put it in my heart to start another series addressing a Catholic apologist. Catholics need this information and so do evangelicals who are increasingly hearing pro-ecumenical messages from their pastors.
I was strolling through Amazon a few months ago and stumbled across “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018) by Peter Kreeft. Kreeft is a Catholic philosopher and apologist. He is particularly notable for me because the ecumenically-minded young pastor of the Southern Baptist Convention church we attended for one year (2014-2015) praised Kreeft from the pulpit as his favorite philosopher. This book looks like a good vehicle for another apologetics series. It’s only 132 pages long and, obviously, from the title, is divided into forty chapters, meaning the chapters average only 3.3 pages in length. At quick glance, the book appears to be addressed to a non-academic, general audience. Kreeft evidently believes he has forty good reasons for why he is a Catholic, while I know I have forty (and many more) very good reasons for why I am no longer a Roman Catholic. Who is right?
Please pull out your Bibles and join me on Friday, July 30th as we begin a forty-week series examining and answering “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic.”
I was perusing through Amazon the other day and stumbled across an upcoming book about Roman Catholicism. “40 Questions About Roman Catholicism” by evangelical theologian, Gregg Allison, is due to be published by Kregal Academic Publishing on September 28, 2021 as an offering in their “40 Questions” series. Allison has already given us the scholarly “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” (see my review here), one of the best (although challenging to read) examinations of Catholic theology.
The summary blurb posted at Amazon for this new book is below:
Straightforward answers about Roman Catholicism for a Protestant audience.
The Roman Catholic faith is one of the world’s most widespread religious traditions, yet the unique aspects of Roman Catholicism elicit perennial questions from adherents and outsiders alike. Such questions tend to fall into three major categories: historical backgrounds, theological matters, and personal relationships. Using Catholic Church documents and the writings of Catholic scholars, Baptist systematic theologian Gregg Allison distills the teachings of Catholicism around forty common questions about Catholic foundations, beliefs, and practices. The accessible question-and-answer format guides readers to the issues that concern them, including:
Where do Roman Catholic and Protestant beliefs differ?
What happens during a Roman Catholic Mass?
How does Roman Catholicism understand the biblical teaching about Mary?
Who are the saints and what is their role?
How can my Roman Catholic loved ones and I talk about the gospel?
40 Questions About Roman Catholicism explores theology and practice, doctrine and liturgy, sacraments and Mariology, contributions and scandals, and many other things, clarifying both real and perceived differences and similarities with other Christian traditions.
I’m very pleased to see this new and important book from Gregg Allison, which, unlike his previous book, is aimed at a non-academic audience. Pre-order from Amazon here.
I noticed yet another new book about Roman Catholicism by Gregg Allison at Amazon. “Essentials of Catholic Theology: Student’s Guide” was published this past May.
The summary at Amazon states…
This course takes a systemic approach to explain the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and gives a comparative assessment to evangelical theology in the areas of salvation, Jesus, the church, eucharist, baptism and Mariology. The quotes that Dr. Allison is reading are from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, an official catechism approved by the Roman Catholic Church. This Student’s Guide was created by BiblicalTraining.org to be used in conjunction with this class.
The course that’s referred to is a free, 7-part “Essentials of Catholic Theology” online course that can be accessed at BiblicalTraining.org here. The student guide can be ordered at Amazon here. I ordered and received the guide. It’s definitely not a stand-alone resource. Strictly complementary. Yes, my friends, I will be taking the course and providing reviews down the road. Praise God that Dr. Allison and other faithful evangelical theologians continue to point out the irreconcilable differences between Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity.
A View of Rome: A Guide to Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Roman Catholics By John H. Armstrong Moody Press, 1995, 144 pp.
Chuck Colson (1931-2012) was infamous for being President Richard Nixon’s “hit man” and was sent to prison in 1974 for his efforts to cover-up the Watergate break-in. Prior to his imprisonment, Colson had read C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” (see my unfavorable review here) and professed to have trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior. After his release, Colson became involved in several “ministries,” including leading an effort to forge an ecumenical evangelical-Roman Catholic initiative. Colson’s wife was a Roman Catholic and Colson regularly attended mass with her. In the early-1990s, Colson partnered with Catholic priest, Richard John Neuhaus in creating the Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) ecumenical initiative that fully embraced Roman Catholicism as a Christian entity. Many prominent evangelicals signed ECT’s first declaration in 1994. However, many other evangelical leaders, including John Armstrong, objected to ECT, citing the irreconcilable doctrinal differences between Gospel Christianity and the RCC.
In this short book published one year after the launch of ECT, former-pastor and professor, Armstrong, delves into church history and deconstructs the rise of Roman Catholicism and its subversion of the Gospel of grace. Armstrong cites the Reformation as a Holy Spirit-led movement to recover the genuine Gospel. The author examines the doctrinal differences between Gospel Christianity and Catholicism, including the prime difference; the opposing views on justification. Roman Catholics believe they are justified by sacramental grace and merit while evangelicals believe they are justified solely by the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to them at the moment they accepted Christ as Savior by faith alone. Armstrong clearly demonstrates that Colson’s and Lewis’ “mere (c)hristianity” ecumenism leapfrogs doctrinal and spiritual realities that cannot be reconciled.
This book is a good primer for evangelicals and Catholics who desire to understand what divides them. However, I do have a qualifier. Armstrong’s approach is irenic in tone, even too irenic in my estimation. Armstrong encourages “dialogue” between Catholics and evangelicals in the quest for “better understanding” and sanctions “co-belligerency” in the culture battles against rising secularism. Such accommodation is a slippery slope that dangerously leads to the type of compromise and betrayal of the Gospel that is at the core of Chuck Colson’s ECT.
The Holy Catholic Church
The Dark Ages
The Great Evangelical Recovery
A Fallen Church
The Central Mystery of the Christian Faith?
Who Really Speaks for God?
Spiritual Life and Devotion
Death and Life to Come
The Present Hour
Is “Evangelical” Really Enough?
Recovering True Evangelicalism
Postscript: I take no pleasure in saying I told you so in this case, but Armstrong’s slippery slope clearly led to a fall off the cliff. His website states that “in the fall of 2018 (Armstrong’s) ACTS3 Network became The Initiative, an intentional missional and ecumenical community designed for assisting in the healing of the North American church. The Initiative is made up of pastors and lay members from all three major Christian traditions: Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox.” There are many other appeals to full-blown ecumenism with Rome scattered throughout the website. Armstrong became the Colson Judas he warned against. Open the door to false gospels, even just a crack, and the wolves will devour you.
In this era of widespread ecumenical accommodation and compromise of the Gospel, it’s extremely rare that you’ll hear a sermon/lecture on Roman Catholicism’s false gospel at an evangelical church. That’s why I was very pleased when I recently stumbled across an excellent 53-minute sermon/lecture audio, “Catholicism & Protestantism: The Differences, Why They Matter, & What’s At Stake” (link below), presented by Elder Charles Hedman at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. on February 17, 2019. There are MANY irreconcilable doctrines dividing Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity, but Hedman focuses on the two most important; 1) authority and 2) salvation.
What Every Catholic Should Know By A.J. Gary WestBow Press, 2015, 136 pp.
In the introduction to “What Every Catholic Should Know,” author A.J. Gary explains that she was raised as a Roman Catholic, but accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior by faith alone through the outreach ministry of a nearby evangelical church. She then witnessed to her family and some also professed to have trusted in Christ, including her mother. However, Gary’s mother was determined to remain in the Roman Catholic church. But how can a reborn child of God remain in a religious institution that unabashedly teaches works-righteousness and many other anti-Biblical doctrines? Gary states that she wrote this self-published book with her mother in mind and therein examines the irreconcilable doctrinal differences between Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity.
Gary hits upon the main doctrinal differences (see chapter headings below), including the prime doctrine of justification; how a sinner is justified/made righteous in their standing before Holy God. Catholics believe justification is a lifelong process whereby a person must avail themselves of their church’s sacraments in order to receive graces, which are alleged to enable them to become intrinsically, subjectively sanctified/holier in their thoughts and actions in order to hopefully merit salvation at the moment of their death. In contrast, Gospel Christians believe they are justified at the moment they accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone and received His imputed perfect righteousness. Christians then follow the Lord in obedience as the fruit/evidence of their spiritual re-birth, albeit imperfectly.
It’s apparent that Ms. Gary does not have any formal theological training. Her arguments are quite basic. However, by comparing official Catholic teaching with Scripture, she more than adequately makes her points and draws her valid conclusions. Gary’s basic approach would actually be an asset for anyone looking for an easy-to-understand primer on the doctrinal differences between the RCC and Gospel Christianity while avoiding heavy theological jargon. One criticism I have is the brevity of her chapter on justification. It’s the shortest chapter in the book at only three pages, whereas the all-important topic deserves the lengthiest exposition. That aside, I do recommend “What Every Catholic Should Know.” Well done, sister A.J.!
You can order “What Every Catholic Should Know” at Amazon here. The price of the Kindle version is very reasonable at $3.99.
Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on April 11, 2016 and has been revised.
Catholics often boast that theirs is the UNCHANGING, “one true church,” but even a casual student of church history knows that is not the case. And now we have another example.
In the past, any Catholic who divorced and remarried without obtaining an annulment was said to be living in a state of mortal sin and was officially barred from receiving the eucharist Jesus wafer. But in his new “apostolic exhortation,” Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), released last week, pope Francis tacitly suggests via an obscure footnote that it’s now up to the local parish priest to evaluate the circumstances of each remarried divorcee parishioner and decide if they are able to receive the sacraments (see article below). With so many Catholics divorcing these days, Francis was compelled to change the policy in an effort to keep the church viable.
But this ex-Catholic saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone has a couple of important questions regarding this new policy. First, what about all the divorced Catholics who remarried and died in a state of mortal sin prior to this change? Do they all now receive a “Get Out of Hell, Free” card or is the declaration not retroactive? Also, how could such an important doctrine affecting faith and morals that was upheld by all previous infallible popes now be so conveniently discarded? Catholics would rather not confront such questions.
I’m so grateful to the Lord for leading me out of Catholic legalism, ritualism, and man-made traditions. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and then ask the Lord to direct you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches God’s Word without compromise.
Note from April 2021: I couldn’t have possibly known when I wrote the above post in April 2016, that pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia encyclical would have MAJOR repercussions within the Roman Catholic church. Conservative Catholic prelates, priests, and laity did in fact note the doctrinal incongruity of Francis’ lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees and reacted with zealous indignation. Formal protests were submitted and ignored by the pope. Cautious conservative prelates and priests advised their followers to ignore Francis’ doctrinal novelty while a few went so far as to openly call Francis a heretic. Amoris Laetita was the start and Francis has continued to roil conservatives with his progressive reforms.
I had originally planned to present the following thoughts in a much shorter version as part of a weekend roundup, but the idea developed into a full-blown post.
“For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” – 2 Corinthians 11:4
Most of us are aware that recent investigations into the Ravi Zacharias scandal confirmed not only many “improprieties” at the two day spas that the popular evangelical apologist co-owned in Atlanta, but also that Zacharias preyed upon women in foreign cities, primarily in Asia, as he traveled on behalf of his ministry. Zacharias led a double life and some are legitimately questioning whether he was genuinely born-again.
Many Christians were devoted fans of Ravi and their faith has been shaken by these revelations.* Some are reacting by wisely tossing his books into the garbage can. In the article far below, we learn that publisher, HarperCollins, has decided to pull all sixteen of its books authored by Ravi. In the same article, evangelical apologist, Lee Strobel, indignantly states that he is going to revise future editions of his popular book, The Case for Faith, by excising a chapter devoted to Ravi (Zacharias and Strobel were fellow disciples of influential ecumenical theologian, Norman Geisler). Hmm. Keep that thought in mind.
Careful investigations have revealed that Ravi Zacharias was a sexual predator who systematically preyed upon many women. Disgusting. Reprehensible. But that wasn’t Ravi’s only failure. As long-time readers of this blog know, Ravi was favorable towards ecumenism with Roman Catholicism and regularly cited Catholics as exemplary Christians in his talks. Mentioned by Ravi that I’m personally aware of were Malcolm Muggeridge, Mother Teresa, G.K. Chesterton, St. Francis, and Henri Nouwen. Ravi also participated in the Together 2016 ecumenical “happening” featuring a video address by pope Francis. As bad as Ravi’s sexual abuses were, and they were horrific, also serious and consequential was his embracement of Roman Catholicism with its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit as a legitimate Christian institution.
Let’s now get back to apologist, Lee Strobel, and his plan to excise a chapter extolling Ravi from future editions of The Case for Faith. I personally read Strobel’s The Case for Faith in 2014 and I was dumbstruck to see Roman Catholics, Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, G. K. Chesterton, and Teresa of Avila lauded as exemplary Christians. Strobel even devoted an entire chapter praising contemporary Catholic philosopher and apologist, Peter Kreeft (see below), who has written MANY books promoting and defending Rome’s false gospel. Speaking of John Paul II, a recent Vatican investigation concluded that the former-pope enabled ex-cardinal and serial-abuser, Ted McCarrick. So when Strobel excises the chapter praising Zacharias from The Case for Faith, is he also going to excise his remarks extolling abuse-enabler, John Paul II, and works-religionists Mother Teresa, G.K. Chesterton, Teresa of Avila, and Peter Kreeft? Methinks not.
Do you see where I’m going with this? Yes, Christians are rightly indignant over Zacharias’ systematic and long-term predatory behavior. Yes, I sincerely sympathize with Ravi’s hundreds of victims and I’m not trying to dismiss them. However, while temporally-minded believers become rightly indignant over sexual abuse, they overlook the even-more damaging and spiritually deadlier effects of accommodation with and embracement of false gospels. Ravi was a soft-ecumenist while Lee Strobel is quite forthright in his dalliance with Rome. Ravi was more discreet in his accommodations of Romanism while Strobel is boldly unapologetic. Many won’t like this question, but I have to ask it: Who did/does more damage in the larger spiritual picture, serial sexual predator, Ravi Zacharias, or hardcore, serial ecumenist and spiritual adulterer, Lee Strobel?
In the 11-minute video below, Todd Friel weighs in on the Ravi Zacharias scandal and points out that there were serious problems with Ravi’s “ministry” that SHOULD HAVE raised questions and objections, including his inoffensive, milquetoast address at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City in 2004, his low-key acceptance of Roman Catholicism as a legitimate Christian entity, and his no-comment approach to the LGBT crusade. Friel’s point is that the proverbial “somebody” should have been raising a stink about Ravi’s ministerial shortcomings and compromises long before these scandals broke. That’s true. So, Todd, why didn’t YOU and other discernment ministry commentators raise a stink about Ravi years ago, and about Lee Strobel, et al, now?
*I experienced a spiritual crisis myself after attending an independent fundamental Baptist church from 1983 to 1991 and realizing that I and the rest of the membership had been spiritually manipulated by the megalomaniacal pastor. I subsequently walked away from the Lord for twenty-three years. I don’t put men on pedestals anymore.
Roman Catholicism: Evangelical Protestants Analyze What Divides and Unites Us John Armstrong, General Editor Moody Bible Institute, 1994, 345 pp.
In 1994, with American society increasingly heading towards secularization, influential evangelical para-church leader, Chuck Colson, and Roman Catholic priest, Richard John Neuhaus, founded Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT), an ecumenical initiative meant to bridge/overlook/minimize theological differences and unite both groups against the perceived common threat. The effort elicited a wide range of responses within evangelicalism. Faithful pastors and theologians countered that the differences between Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity were far too wide and even irreconcilable. Others were increasingly open to Catholic overtures, which began thirty-years earlier at the Second Vatican Council when the RCC radically altered its approach to Protestants, from militant confrontation to conciliatory rapprochement.
This book from Moody Press was published shortly after the release of the first ECT accord. Thirteen evangelical scholars examine the doctrines that continue to divide Catholics and evangelical Protestants. There are a myriad of un-Biblical Catholic doctrines that Gospel Christians could not submit to (e.g., papal authority, sacred tradition, baptismal regeneration, sacerdotalism, transubstantiation, Mariology, purgatory, etc.), but the opposing views on justification stands as the prime difference. Martin Luther famously argued that justification is the doctrine on which the church stands or falls.
Gospel Christians believe a person is justified/made righteous before God only by trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone and thereby receiving the imputed (alien, extrinsic, objective, forensic) perfect righteousness of Christ. Catholicism, in contrast, teaches that its sacraments infuse saving graces into an individual’s soul. By then “cooperating with grace” (i.e., obeying the Ten Commandments, performing acts of piety and charity) a person can become increasingly sanctified (personal, intrinsic, subjective) and can hope to “possibly” merit* salvation at the time of their death. Okay, let’s forget the theological terminology. Evangelicals believe they are saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Catholics hope to be saved by sacramental grace and obedience to the Ten Commandments (impossible!). The two views are diametrically opposed and cannot be reconciled.
Several of the writers acknowledge that Roman Catholicism’s doctrine of justification is NOT the Gospel, yet still conclude that the RCC is a Christian institution and that Catholics are “brothers and sisters” in the Lord. This is a dichotomous accommodation that defies rationality and theology. In his article, Alistair McGrath goes to great lengths in an attempt to prove that the contrasting “approaches” to justification are two sides to the same coin. To his credit, McGrath also points out that in contrast to ecumenical “dialogues,” where Catholic representatives readily assent to theoretical “salvation by grace through faith,” Catholicism continues to teach such things as purgatory, indulgences, and masses and prayers for the dead, which reveal the RCC continues as a works-righteousness religious system.
The articles by S. Lewis Johnson, Kim Riddlebarger, Michael Horton, William Webster and John Armstrong are faithful to the Gospel of grace and do not make accommodations to Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. This book is a mixed bag, but valuable for revealing evangelicals’ increasingly accommodating attitudes towards Rome twenty-six years ago. There’s no doubt that ecumenical compromise and betrayal of the Gospel has made further inroads since then.
One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church – Thomas J. Nettles
How Did the Church in Rome Become Roman Catholicism – D. Clair Davis
What Really Caused the Great Divide? – W. Robert Godfrey
Roman Catholic Theology Today – Robert B. Strimple
Mary, the Saints, and Sacerdotalism – S. Lewis Johnson
Is Spirituality Enough? Differing Models for Living – Donald G. Bloesch
Unhelpful Antagonism and Unhealthy Courtesy – Harold O.J. Brown
Evangelical and Catholic Cooperation in the Public Arena – Ronald Nash
What Shall We Make of Ecumenism? – Alister E. McGrath
No Place Like Rome? Why Are Evangelicals Joining the Catholic Church? – Kim Riddlebarger
What Still Keeps Us Apart? – Michael S. Horton
Did I Really Leave the Holy Catholic Church? The Journey into Evangelical Faith and Church Experience – William Webster
The Evangelical Movement? – John H. Armstrong
*Back in the 1960s, when I was a young Catholic, the Roman church had no reservations about using the term, “merit,” in association with attaining salvation. Since then, the term has fallen out of favor (partly as a concession to evangelical proselytization) and Catholics will insist that they absolutely are not attempting to merit their salvation. However, the church’s catechism reveals merit is still the bottom line of Catholicism’s salvation system:
“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 (i.e., baptism). 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.” – CCC 2010
Below is the complete index to our year-long series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Catholic apologist, Karlo Broussard. My sincere thanks to everyone who supported and encouraged this project. May Catholics prayerfully compare the doctrines of their church with God’s Word and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone and come out of the Roman Catholic church.