Evangelical scholars examine Roman Catholicism with spotty results

Roman Catholicism: Evangelical Protestants Analyze What Divides and Unites Us
John Armstrong, General Editor
Moody Bible Institute, 1994, 345 pp.

3 Stars

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.


  1. One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church – Thomas J. Nettles
  2. How Did the Church in Rome Become Roman Catholicism – D. Clair Davis
  3. What Really Caused the Great Divide? – W. Robert Godfrey
  4. Roman Catholic Theology Today – Robert B. Strimple
  5. Mary, the Saints, and Sacerdotalism – S. Lewis Johnson
  6. Is Spirituality Enough? Differing Models for Living – Donald G. Bloesch
  7. Unhelpful Antagonism and Unhealthy Courtesy – Harold O.J. Brown
  8. Evangelical and Catholic Cooperation in the Public Arena – Ronald Nash
  9. What Shall We Make of Ecumenism? – Alister E. McGrath
  10. No Place Like Rome? Why Are Evangelicals Joining the Catholic Church? – Kim Riddlebarger
  11. What Still Keeps Us Apart? – Michael S. Horton
  12. Did I Really Leave the Holy Catholic Church? The Journey into Evangelical Faith and Church Experience – William Webster
  13. 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

Answering the Rebuttals of a Catholic Apologist – Complete Index

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.

Church Hierarchy & Authority

#1: “James Led the Council”

#2: “No Other Foundation but Jesus”

#3: “Paul Rebuked Peter”

#4: “Where Two or Three Are Gathered”

#5: “All Are One in Christ”

#6: “The Anointing Teaches Us”

Scripture & Tradition

#7: “Traditions Nullify God’s Word”

#8: “Scripture Makes the Man of God Complete”

#9: “The Noble Bereans”

#10: “Don’t Go Beyond What is Written”

#11: “Don’t Add to God’s Word”


#12: “We Are Justified All At Once”

#13: “Not Because of Works”

#14: “Justified by Faith, Not Works”

#15: “We Know That We Have Eternal Life”

#16: “No One Can Snatch Us”

#17: “Sanctified For All Time”


#18: “Up Out of the Water”

#19: “Believer’s Baptism”

#20: “Cornelius Received the Spirit First”

#21: “Not to Baptize but to Preach”

#22: “God Will Cut Off the Person Who Eats Blood”

#23: “Do This in Remembrance”

#24: “Once and For All”

#25: “The Fruit of the Vine”

#26: “God Alone Can Forgive Sins”

#27: “We Confess Our Sins Directly to God”

#28: “We’re All Priests”

#29: “Except for Unchastity”


#30: “All Have Sinned”

#31: “Mary Needed a Savior”

#32: “The Lord’s Brothers”

#33: “He Knew Her Not…Until”

#34: “‘Queen of Heaven’ Condemned”


#35: “One Mediator”

#36: “Invoking the Dead Is an Abomination”

#37: “The Dead Know Nothing”

#38: “God Alone Knows Our Hearts”

#39: “We Are the Saints”

The Last Things

#40: “Today You Will Be with Me”

#41: “At Home with the Lord”

#42: “Caught Up with the Lord in the Air”

#43: “A Thousand-Year Reign”

Catholic Life and Practice

#44: “Doctrines of Demons”

#45: “Call No Man Father”

#46: “It Is Finished”

#47: “Yoke of Slavery”

#48: “Vain Repetitions”

#49: “Wine Is a Mocker”

#50: “No Graven Images”

Throwback Thursday: Well, of course Catholics are Christians! Aren’t they?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on March 29, 2016 and has been revised.


Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism
By R.C. Sproul
Reformation Trust Publishing, 2012, 130 pages

Are Catholics Christians? “Well, that’s an ignorant question right out of the 1950s,” some “open-minded” evangelicals would annoyingly respond. “Of course they’re Christians! They also believe in God, the depravity of man, and Jesus Christ,” they would argue. Especially in our post-modern era of tolerance, inclusiveness, relativism, ecumenism, and doctrinal carelessness and indifference, it’s seen by some as unacceptable, impolite, and overtly sectarian to exclude anyone who names the name of Jesus Christ. Yes, Roman Catholicism also teaches about God, Jesus, sin, “faith,” and “grace,” but upon closer examination we find that the gospel taught by the Roman Catholic church is NOT the same Gospel taught in the New Testament and preached by evangelicals. For faithful Catholics, the gospel equates to participating in their church’s sacraments administered by their priests, followed by “cooperating with (sacramental) grace” by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules in the hopes of meriting salvation. All of that is in contrast to the genuine Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. That is not a minor, picayune difference. It’s actually the difference between being saved or not. Now, there’s probably some Roman Catholics who have genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and are trusting in Him by faith alone, but in doing so they are defying their church’s standard theology.

“None of us can say …I am already saved.” – Pope Francis, Saint Peter’s Square, December 6, 2015

Over the years, Reformed pastor and theologian, R.C. Sproul,* has been vigilant in clarifying the irreconcilable differences between Catholic teaching and the genuine Gospel of grace. Sproul previously wrote “Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification” (1995) and “Getting the Gospel Right: The Tie That Binds Evangelicals Together” (1999) in response to the ecumenical efforts of Chuck Colson and several other misguided evangelicals to disingenuously “bridge the gap” between evangelical Christians and Catholics, especially in regards to the primary issue of justification/salvation.

In “Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism,” Sproul continues his defense of the Gospel of grace, providing a concise analysis of the major differences between the teachings of Roman Catholicism and Biblical Christianity. Chapters examine the opposing views on Scripture, justification, the role of the church, sacraments, the papacy, and Mary. In the past, some evangelical and fundamentalist Protestant critiques of Catholicism were unnecessarily belligerent in tone and did not always accurately present official Catholic teaching. Sproul’s tone is charitable throughout (almost to a fault for this ex-Catholic) and he carefully cites Catholic doctrine as it’s officially defined by Rome. Readers won’t find any “straw man” arguments in this book.

If you’re a Catholic who sincerely seeks to understand the differences between your church’s teaching and the Gospel of grace or if you’re an evangelical who suspects today’s popular view, “We all just love Jesus and that overcomes all differences,” may not honor the truths of the Gospel or be helpful to the religious lost, this short book would be an excellent starting point. It’s readily available from Amazon.com. See here.

Postcript: R.C. Sproul went home to the Lord in 2017.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #50: “No Graven Images”

Today, we have the final installment in our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. This week, the Catholic apologist concludes his last section of the book, “Catholic Life and Practice,” with this chapter, in which he attempts to defend the Roman church’s use of religious statues and paintings when the Bible says we should have “No Graven Images.”


Multiple statues and/or paintings of Jesus Christ, Mary, and the saints are present in every Roman Catholic church and many Catholics also have these icons in their homes. Catholics bow down and pray before these images. Yet, as Protestants point out, the Bible strictly forbids the use of graven images in worship:

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” – Exodus 20:4-6

Broussard responds with two arguments:

(1) Broussard argues that “God can’t be condemning religious statues and images because elsewhere he explicitly commands making them” (p. 271). He cites such examples as the angelic cherubim statues placed over the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:18-20), the large cherubim statues placed in the holy of holies inner sanctum of the Jerusalem temple built by Solomon (1 Kings 6:23-28), and the crafted bronze serpent used in the healing of Israelites who had been bitten by venomous snakes (Numbers 21:6-9).

(2) Broussard states that what Exodus 20:4-6 expressly forbids is the creation of physical idols for worship. He writes, “Catholics don’t treat statues or the people whom the statues represent as gods. As such the Biblical prohibition of idolatry doesn’t apply” (p. 272).

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

(1) It’s obviously true that God authorized the creation of the angelic statuary for the ark of the covenant and for the holy of holies of the Jerusalem temple and the creation of the bronze serpent recorded in Numbers 21. However, these objects were NOT created for worship. In both cases of the graven cherubim, only the high priest and his assistants were allowed to view them.

(2) Broussard insists that Catholics do not “worship” their graven images of Jesus, Mary, and the saints, but, of course, that is precisely what they do. They prostrate themselves before the icons and offer their prayers to them. Catholics insist they are not worshiping the icons, but rather “venerating” the persons that the icons represent. This is Catholic sophistry. Bowing and praying are certainly acts of worship. The pagans of antiquity worshiped their statues of false gods in the same way that Catholics worship statues of Mary and the saints, believing that the graven icons were conduits to deity. Nowhere in the Old or New Testament is there an example of genuine believers prostrating themselves before or praying to an icon in worship.

We’ve already discussed at great length Catholicism’ egregious error of worshiping Mary and the saints in our previous examinations of chapters 30 through 39 so there’s no need to repeat the arguments here. Suffice to say that Catholicism’s claim that it doesn’t worship Mary and the saints is based upon a circular reasoning fallacy, i.e., “We don’t worship Mary and the saints (despite the clear evidence to the contrary) because we say we don’t.”

What is a graven image?


My deep thanks to everyone who supported this “Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist” weekly series, which began all the way back on December 6, 2019. I thank the Lord for leading me out of the spiritually deadly errors of Roman Catholicism to the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Please remember to witness to Catholics and pray for them, that many will accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone and come out of the Roman false church.

Next Friday, I will publish a comprehensive index to the 50 posts included in this series.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #49: “Wine Is a Mocker”

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-to-last installment, the Catholic apologist continues his section on “Catholic Life and Practice” as he responds to the criticism of (some) Protestants that the Roman Catholic church permits the drinking of alcoholic beverages when the Bible says “Wine Is a Mocker.”


Protestants who believe in complete abstinence from alcoholic beverages cite Proverbs 20:1 among other passages:

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”

Broussard responds with three arguments:

(1) Broussard argues that the consumption of alcoholic beverages is not forbidden by the Bible in an absolute sense because the following verses and others seem to allow it: Deuteronomy 14:22-26, Genesis 14:18, Ecclesiastes 10:19, Psalm 104:15, 1 Timothy 5:23. Some evangelicals claim that the Israelites’/Jews’ standard table wine was diluted with so much water that it was nonintoxicating, but if that were the case, Broussard argues, there would not be so many admonitions against drunkenness in the Bible.

(2) Broussard then argues that Jesus was not absolutely opposed to fermented wine in His earthly ministry and presents the following proof texts: “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking…,” Luke 7:34, and “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now…,” John 2:1-11. Broussard forgets to include Jesus’s analogy of the wine skins and fermented wine in Mark 2:22.

(3) Broussard offers Isaiah 5:11 to argue that the Bible doesn’t forbid drinking alcoholic beverages, but only warns against overindulgence.

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

I’m one of those evangelicals who believes that the Bible doesn’t teach absolute abstinence when it comes to the consumption of alcoholic beverages, but that it warns against overindulgence and drunkenness. I wrote a post on this controversial topic way back in 2016 with supporting references (see here). Suffice to say that each believer must follow his/her own understanding and convictions regarding this matter and also must strive to not be a stumbling block to believers who hold to a different conviction.

Let’s not get sidetracked. The permissibility of consuming alcoholic beverages is a tertiary issue. The primary issue is Roman Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Next up: “No Graven Images”

Ecumenist Norman Geisler Strikes Again

Is Rome the True Church?: A Consideration of the Roman Catholic Claim
By Norman Geisler and Joshua Betancourt
Crossway, 2008, 235 pp.

2 Stars

One of the strangest books I ever read in my entire life was “Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences” (1995) by Norman Geisler (d. 2019) in which the evangelical theologian clearly defined the irreconcilable doctrinal differences between Gospel Christianity and Roman Catholicism, including the opposing views on justification, and yet still concluded the RCC was a Christian entity! See my associated post here.

In this book, published thirteen years later, Geisler specifically focuses on Catholicism’s claim to be the “one true church” based upon the notions of Petrine primacy, apostolic succession, and papal infallibility. Geisler examines Scripture, the writings of the church “fathers,” and to a lesser degree, church history, to make a very substantial case against Rome’s false claims. Adopting the Roman-Caesarian imperial model, the bishops of Rome sought to secure and consolidate their advantages and privileges.

The reader will repeatedly have a sense of déjà vu while reading this book as Geisler often uses the same references to counter different claims. But his arguments are substantive and convincing. As with his previous book, Geisler once again strangely concludes that the Roman Catholic church is a Christian entity despite the fact that it teaches a subjective, intrinsic view on justification and a salvation system based upon sacramental grace and merit. All ecumenical evangelicals must “leap frog” over this irreconcilable incongruity. Sadly, Geisler mentored a bevy of ecumenically-minded, pop-apologists (i.e., McDowell, Craig, Zacharias, Strobel, Turek).


  1. The Roman Claim to Be the True Church
  2. The Historical Development of the Roman Primacy Structure
  3. The Roman Argument for the Primacy of Peter: Stated and Evaluated
  4. The Roman Argument for the Infallibility of Peter: Stated
  5. The Roman Argument for the Infallibility of Peter: Evaluated
  6. The Roman Argument for Apostolic Succession
  7. Is Rome the True Church?
  8. Why Some Protestants Convert to Rome


  1. Irenaeus on the Alleged Authority of the Church
  2. A Chronological List of Popes and Antipopes
  3. The Relation of Tradition to Scripture
  4. Sola Scriptura
  5. Irenaeus on Scripture and Tradition

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #48: “Vain Repetitions”

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 installment, the Catholic apologist continues his section on matters of “Catholic Life and Practice” as he responds to Protestant accusations that Catholics utilize “Vain Repetitions” of prayer, especially as it applies to the Catholic rosary.


The Roman Catholic church encourages its members to regularly “pray the rosary.” The rosary (Latin: rosarium, “crown of roses”) prayer-string consists of 60 beads and a crucifix. In praying the rosary, a Catholic starts with the crucifix at the end of the dangling string by saying the Apostles’ Creed, followed by saying one Our Father, followed by three Hail Marys, and then one Glory Be/Our Father followed by a Hail, Holy Queen. The Catholic then prays the loop of five sets of ten Hail Marys interspersed by four Glory Be/Our Fathers. Total: 60 beads and 61 prayers. It takes a Catholic around twenty-minutes to “pray the rosary” if they don’t rush through it. Besides the rosary, there are many other examples of repetitive rote prayer used in Catholic “devotions” and liturgies.

Evangelical Protestants are critical of Catholic repetitive rote prayer and cite Matthew 6:7:

“And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

Broussard responds to Protestant objections with three arguments:

(1) Broussard states that Jesus’ injunction is not necessarily against repetition of prayers per se, but rather against “mindless” repetition and “the idea that simply multiplying words makes prayers efficacious” (p. 263).

(2) Broussard argues that praying the rosary helps the supplicant to meditate on the mysteries of Christ’s life so that they can have a deeper knowledge of, and a deeper communion with Christ, and that repetition serves that meditation.

(3) Broussard offers the following Biblical passages as proof texts affirming repetitious prayer:

  • Jesus said, “Pray then like this…” (Matthew 6:9-13)
  • Jesus prayed the same prayer several times in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:32-42).
  • Scripture records of the angels in Heaven, “day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’” (Revelation 4:8).

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

Point One: To begin with, Roman Catholics have not been taught the genuine Gospel and generally have not trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. Does God even hear the prayers of unbelievers? John 9:31 God is omniscient and knows the thoughts of everyone, but is not obligated to respond to the petitions of those who do not accept His Son as Savior by faith alone.

Point Two: Regarding the repetition of the same words and phrases in prayer, God knows the heart and He certainly would accept repeated words and phrases said in sincerity. But the Catholic practice of rote recitation of formulaic, memorized prayers is exactly the type of “mindless” vain repetition that Jesus was referring to. Employing a rosary to successfully “get through” 61 rote prayers reveals the formality and insincerity of the process. From my 27 years in the RCC, I believe it would be fair to say the vast majority of Catholics are uncomfortable praying extemporaneously from the heart; most resort to formulaic prayers like the Hail Mary and the Our Father.

Point Three: The rosary includes 53 Hail Marys, 1 Hail, Holy Queen, and 6 Our Fathers, a good example of how Catholicism focuses so much its piety on Mary.

Hail Mary Prayer

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

The first sentence of the prayer incorporates two Bible passages, Luke 1:28 and Luke 1:42. The second sentence propagates the RC false teachings of Mary as Mediator and of merited salvation. As we’ve discussed previously, nowhere in the Bible is there an example of a genuine believer praying to anyone other than God.

Conclusion: The rosary is EXACTLY the type of vain, repetitious prayer condemned by Jesus AND a flagrant example of idolatrous Mary worship AND an example of the Roman church’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

What does it mean to use vain repetitions in prayer?

Next up: “Wine Is a Mocker”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #47: “Yoke of Slavery”

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. This week, the Catholic apologist continues his final section of the book, “Catholic Life and Practice,” with a chapter in which he attempts to defend the Roman church against Protestant charges that it imposes a “Yoke of Slavery.”


Roman Catholicism is widely known for its numerous rules and regulations. In addition to the Ten Commandments, the RCC has 1752 canon laws, 2865 numbered paragraphs in its catechism, and thick manuals (called missals) detailing the complex rubrics for its numerous liturgies. By receiving the sacraments and obeying all of their church’s rules, Catholics hope to be able to merit salvation at the moment of their death.

In contrast, evangelicals point to the simple but sublime Good News Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. In comparing the Gospel of grace to Catholic works-righteousness and legalism, Gospel Christians often cite Galatians 5:1:

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Broussard responds with four arguments:

(1) Broussard posits that the “yoke of slavery” Paul is specifically referring to in this verse is the Mosaic Law, not laws in general. The Catholic apologist cites passages before the text (Galatians 4:28-31) and after the text (Galatians 5:2-6) to establish the context of Paul’s statement. The Roman church, argues Broussard, does not prescribe the 603 commandments of the Mosaic Law, involving such things as circumcision, animal sacrifice, and ceremonial cleansing, and is therefore not included in Paul’s “yoke of slavery.”

(2) Broussard argues that nations, communities, and families all need rules in order to function effectively. He mentions that Protestant churches also have a number of rules and procedures to maintain order.

(3) Broussard then cites seventeen New Testament passages to prove “rules were a part of the Christian life in the early church” (p. 258), e.g., pertaining to baptism (Matthew 28:19), the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19), righteousness (Matthew 5:20), etc., etc., etc.

(4) Broussard then presents his closing argument: (A) Since Protestants must concur that rules are necessary for secular and spiritual life, and (B) since the rules of the RC church are not relatively burdensome (Broussard compares the 500 pages of Catholicism’s Code of Canon Law with the 45,000 pages of United States Code), therefore (C) Catholicism’s rules and laws are not a “yoke of slavery.”

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

We’ve already thoroughly covered the topic of works-righteousness vs. justification by faith in Christ alone in the “Salvation” section of this series (chapters 12-17), so it’s strange that Broussard returns to the topic again in this “Yoke of Slavery” chapter. Perhaps he was determined to accumulate fifty chapters. Nevertheless, we will proceed.

(1) In the Book of Galatians, Paul warns the members of that church not to heed the “Judaizers” faction, who insisted that circumcision and other elements of the Mosaic Law were requirements for salvation. While Paul was specifically addressing the Mosaic Law in this case, he also made it clear that any and every “gospel” that substituted works-righteousness for faith in Jesus Christ alone was to be rejected.

“We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” – Galatians 2:16

“As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” – Galatians 1:9

(2)(3)(4) Evangelical Protestants certainly recognize that rules, regulations, procedures, and laws are required for nations, communities, and families to operate and function effectively. We also recognize that God gave commands regarding morality and the church. The point is that neither the Mosaic Law or any church laws can be used as a means to justification before God and for salvation. This was the crux, the critical issue of the Reformation. Roman Catholicism teaches a person must avail themselves of sacramental grace in order to be able to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church laws in order to hopefully merit salvation at the moment of their death. Gospel Christianity teaches that we are all sinners who continuously break God’s laws and are saved ONLY by turning from our rebellion against God (repentance) and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone and receiving His imputed perfect righteousness. After we are born-again in Jesus Christ, we then follow the Lord in obedience, albeit imperfectly.

The entire Book of Galatians is an indictment of Roman Catholicism and all aberrant forms of (c)hristianity that add works and law obedience, a “yoke of slavery,” as a requirement for salvation.

Next up: “Vain Repetitions”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #46: “It Is Finished”

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 installment, the Catholic apologist continues his section on “Catholic Life and Practice” as he responds to Protestants’ objections to Catholicism’s notion of performing penance for sins, when Jesus said on the cross, “It Is Finished.”


Not only does the Roman Catholic church teach its members that they must regularly confess their mortal/major sins to a priest to obtain absolution, it also teaches they must then make amends for their sins by doing one of the three forms of penance – prayers, fasting, or almsgiving.

“Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must ‘make satisfaction for’ or ‘expiate’ his sins. This satisfaction is also called ‘penance.'” – CCC 1459

In contrast, born-again Christians believe, as the Bible states, that Jesus Christ’s salvific work on the cross was complete and sufficient and nothing more can or need be added for those who place their trust in Him as their Savior. Protestants often cite John 19:30 and Jesus’s last words on the cross as their support:

“It is finished.” – John 19:30

Broussard responds with three arguments:

(1) Broussard suggests the possibility that by saying, “It is finished,” Jesus simply meant that His earthly ministry was complete, which would not preclude the obligation of performing penance. A second possibility, according to Broussard, is that Jesus meant “the human race is reunited back to God” by His completed sacrifice and that “saving grace is made available for all humanity” (p. 249). In the confessional, the priest, as alter Christus, “another Christ,” absolves the sinner, thereby remitting the eternal consequences of sin, but penance must still be done to atone for the temporal consequences of sin.

(2) Broussard offers three passages as proof-texts that “the New Testament reveals that penance is a part of Christian life”:

  • Hebrews 12:6,10 (…he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness…)
  • Luke 12:47-48 (…that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating…)
  • Matthew 6:16-18 (…when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites…)

(3) Broussard then presents six passages that he alleges involve penance and sanctification.

First regarding penance:

  • Matthew 6:16-18 (…when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites…)
  • Proverbs 16:6 (By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for.)
  • 1 Peter 4:8 (…love covers a multitude of sins.)

Then regarding sanctification:

  • 2 Corinthians 7:1 (…let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit…),
  • James 1:2-4 (…let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete…)
  • Philippians 2:12 (…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.)

Broussard concludes by arguing that (A) since continuing sanctification is necessary for salvation “after being initially saved by the completed work of Christ on the cross,” and (B) since “penance is one of the ways by which we can be sanctified,” therefore (C) “penance doesn’t undermine the sufficiency of Jesus’ death on the cross.”

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

Because this lengthy (7 pages) chapter deals largely with the penance associated with the sacrament of reconciliation/confession, Broussard would have helped his readers by grouping it with the preceding chapter #26 and chapter #27 that dealt with that topic.

I observe that Broussard covers a lot of Catholic theological territory in this chapter by defending both post-confessional penance and by defending sanctification as a requirement for salvation. The average reader is undoubtedly thoroughly confused by Broussard’s arguments and his accompanying proof texts, so I will attempt to cut to the chase as briefly as possible.

Yes, evangelical Protestants believe that by saying, “It is finished,” Jesus Christ was declaring the completeness of His salvific work on the cross. A supporting passage in Matthew 27:51 states that immediately after Jesus uttered those words and died, the veil of the inner sanctuary of the Jerusalem temple was miraculously torn in two, from top to bottom, indicating mankind now had direct access to God and His salvation through the mediation of Jesus Christ. Jesus had accomplished His earthly mission and His perfect and complete saving sacrifice could not be added to.

Let’s touch upon the two major themes presented by Broussard in this convoluted chapter:

Penance: The RCC teaches that while eternal punishment for mortal/major sin is remitted by the priest in the confessional, the temporal punishment remains and must be atoned for by the supplicant via acts of penance in this life or expiated via the fires of Purgatory in the next. We have already thoroughly examined Catholicism’s false teachings regarding the confession of sins to a priest and Purgatory and there is no need to backtrack. The average Catholic could not explain this notion of temporal punishment and its atonement via penance.

Sanctification: In chapters 12 through 17 of this series we thoroughly examined the irreconcilable differences between Gospel Christianity and Roman Catholicism regarding the roles of justification and sanctification in connection with salvation. Gospel Christians believe, as the Bible teaches, that we are justified and made righteous only by Christ’s perfect righteousness that He imputes to us when we accept Him as our Savior by faith alone. After we are saved, we follow the Lord in obedience (albeit imperfectly) as we become increasingly sanctified in our thoughts and deeds. Ephesians 2:8-10 states the correct relationship between faith and works:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

We are justified only through our faith in Jesus Christ and His imputed perfect righteousness. Our subsequent good works attest to our salvation in Christ, they are not the basis of our salvation.

Roman Catholicism puts the cart before the horse by teaching that sanctification merits salvation. The RCC teaches a person must become subjectively, intrinsically holy enough to merit their salvation. Broussard states the Catholic position, that sanctification, including penance, leads to justification and salvation, but, of course, Gospel Christians disagree. We cannot merit our salvation in any form or fashion. Jesus paid the entire debt for our sin on the cross.

Our bottom line to this convoluted chapter: The RCC’s doctrine of penance, as well as most of its other doctrines, certainly do undermine the sufficiency of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

86 Bible Verses about Jesus Sacrifice Being Sufficient

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #45: “Call No Man Father”

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 installment, the Catholic apologist continues his section on matters of “Catholic Life and Practice” as he responds to the Biblical injunction to “Call No Man Father.”


Roman Catholics are directed to address their priests as “father.” The head of the RC church is, of course, the pope, which means “father” in Latin (Papa). The most frequently used title for the pope is “Holy Father” (Sancta Papa). Protestants object to these titles and cite the injunction of Jesus Christ in Matthew 23:9:

“And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.”

Broussard replies to Protestants’ objection with three arguments:

(1) Broussard argues that the Bible elsewhere approvingly uses the word “father” for individuals other than God. Among many other examples, he cites Ephesians 6:2, where Paul quotes the Fifth Commandment (Catholics number it as their fourth commandment), to “Honor your father and mother.” Clearly, the Bible approves of using the title, “father,” in referring to biological fathers. Paul also applies the term, “father,” to himself in the sense of a spiritual father/mentor:

“For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” – 1 Corinthians 4:15

Broussard presents many other examples where Paul referred to believers as his “child” or “children” (e.g., 1 Timothy 1:2).

Broussard argues that (A) since the Bible elsewhere favorably approves of using “father” to refer to biological dads and to spiritual leaders, then (B) “there must be something else going on” with Jesus’s injunction in Matthew 23:9.

(2) Broussard notes that along with His injunction against using “father,” within the wider context of Matthew 23:1-12 Jesus also instructed his disciples not to take the titles of rabbi/teacher or instructor/master. However, as with “father,” Broussard notes that Scripture favorably uses those terms in other applications (e.g., 1 Timothy 2:7)

(3) Broussard suggests that in Matthew 23, Jesus was not forbidding the use of “father” or those other terms in an absolute sense, but was “using hyperbole to indict the scribes and Pharisees for their pride” and misuse of authority (p. 245). Those men had elevated their traditions and authority above the authority of God and His Word and proudly reveled in their positions of leadership [the irony of Broussard’s argument here is palpable – more on that below]. Read all of Matthew 23 for Jesus’s blistering condemnation of the scribes’ and Pharisees’ religious hypocrisy.

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

I absolutely agree with Broussard’s first two arguments. Jesus was not forbidding the use of “father” and “teacher” in an absolute sense. However, in regards to Broussard’s third argument, he’s so spiritually blind that he doesn’t recognize that the attitudes and behaviors of the scribes and Pharisees condemned by Jesus in Matthew 23 foreshadowed the attitudes and behaviors of Catholic priests and prelates who elevate themselves over Jesus Christ as mediators of salvation – priests as “Alter Christus” and the pope as the “Vicar of Christ.” Holy Father? Such a title is sheer blasphemy. Matthew 23 is a damning indictment of the Roman Catholic clergy, but Broussard is absolutely oblivious. He criticizes the scribes and Pharisees for the exact same practices and attitudes of his beloved Catholic clergy. Catholic clerics weigh souls down with the impossible burden of meriting their salvation. They love the privileges, perquisites, and veneration accorded to them. They love the place of honor at religious ceremonies and public gatherings and the reverential greetings in the marketplaces and being called “Father” (priests) or “Your Excellency” (bishops) or “Your Holiness” (pope). Every born-again, ex-Catholic who reads Matthew 23 is reminded of the Roman Catholic clergy. However, as evil and hypocritical as the scribes and Pharisees were, even they would have been revolted by the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s quest for power, control, and wealth through the centuries.

Did Jesus mean that we should never refer to our earthly father as “father” (Matthew 23:9)?

Next: “It Is Finished”