Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #25

Thanks for joining me today as we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018).

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Claim #25: I am a Catholic because Catholics, like their saints, are a little crazy

In this chapter, Kreeft posits that the two ideals of the human heart, truth and goodness, can either be contradictory or complementary. He argues that as a person draws closer to God, the more the polar opposite ideals merge and the more radical and “crazy” the person appears to the unbelieving world. Kreeft presents the Catholic canonized “saints” as exemplars of this “craziness.” As a person moves farther away from God, argues Kreeft, the more they follow only truth, leading to pragmatism, cynicism, and selfishness. Kreeft presents Hitler and Machiavelli as examples of souls focused exclusively on truth/materialism/pragmatism.

Response

This is probably Kreeft’s most philosophical and esoteric chapter to this point. I had to reread it multiple times to be able to decipher his main drift and compose the summary above. Innate in Kreeft’s argument is the Catholic teaching that a person becomes intrinsically holy/sanctified/righteous by availing themselves of the church’s sacraments, obeying the Ten Commandments and church precepts, and performing works of charity. Scripture contradicts the Catholic church’s salvation system and Kreeft’s esoteric philosophizing. The Bible declares there is none righteous, no not one, and that all of our impure “good deeds” are like filthy rags before perfectly holy God. All of us, “canonized saints” to the most heinous dictator, are sinners deserving of eternal punishment. But, God the Son, Jesus Christ, came to Earth and died for our sins. He rose from the grave, defeating sin and death, and offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all those who accept Him as Savior by faith alone.

The Catholic “saints” appear as “crazy” to the world with their hyper-pious religious strivings, but beneath the hagiographical veneer are sinners attempting to merit their salvation according to the dictates of the Roman Catholic church. In our review of chapter 21 (see here), we examined how many of the Catholic saints of yesteryear were involved in the violent suppression of genuine believers and non-conformists or were mentally-ill ascetics who practiced self-harm. If rigorous religious piety were the measure of genuine spirituality, I imagine many Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist clerics “outdid” Catholic saints in their “craziness.”

Accept Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. Religious über piety/craziness doesn’t save.

Next week: Claim #26: I am a Catholic because I know I should treat other people as if they were Christ

Throwback Thursday: Evangelical Exodus?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on July 6, 2016 and has been revised.

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Evangelical Exodus: Evangelical Seminarians and Their Paths To Rome
Edited by Douglas Beaumont
Ignatius Press, 2016, 286 pages

1 Star

I returned to the Lord in 2014 after a two-decade prodigal “hiatus.” One of my first priorities was to find an evangelical, Gospel-preaching fellowship, but I wanted to avoid the kind of legalism we encountered at the independent fundamental Baptist church we had attended way back in the 1980s. I found a Southern Baptist church in our area that we liked a lot initially. It was a small church and the members were warm and welcoming. Our first Sunday was also the first Sunday for the new pastor; a young guy in his early-thirties, fresh out of seminary. His sermons were more about God’s grace and mercy than about shame, guilt, and accusations of not measuring up to God’s Holiness, which was what I had been used to. It was a balm to my soul.

But there was also a troubling aspect to this pastor. He wasn’t just “interested” in Roman Catholic writers and theologians, he was completely enamored with them. Over the course of the year we heard about his admiration for such Catholic figures as Thomas Aquinas, Blaise Pascal, G. K. Chesterton, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Peter Kreeft. I pointed out to him that all of those people supported a religious system which taught salvation was through the Catholic sacraments and obedience to the Ten Commandments and church rules. He off-handedly dismissed my objections as one would who has been steeped in institutional education and must condescend to the level of the “unlearned.” Because of that issue and a few others we decided to leave the church in June 2015.

I was eager to read “Evangelical Exodus” after my experiences with that young pastor. What exactly are they teaching in evangelical seminaries these days? Editor Doug Beaumont recounts his story and the stories of eight other young men who attended Southern Evangelical Seminary in Matthews, North Carolina. The seminarians allegedly all began as “evangelicals,” but ended up as members of the Roman Catholic church. How does that work? The founder of the seminary, evangelical theologian, Norman Geisler (d. 2019), is an unabashed admirer of Thomas Aquinas. Because of Geisler and his like-minded professors, the curriculum at SES was heavy on Thomist philosophy and theology. Some students naturally conjectured, “If Aquinas is so commendable for his non-Catholic-specific teachings, let’s check out his Catholic-specific teaching as well.” And one thing led to another. As I pointed out earlier in a review of one his books (see here), Geisler defies rationality. On the one hand, he fully supports the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, and also acknowledges that Catholicism teaches a skewed gospel of salvation by sacramental pseudo-grace and merit. Yet he also dichotomously embraces Catholicism as a Christian, albeit misguided, entity. It’s clear from “Evangelical Exodus” that Geisler’s schizophrenic infatuation with Aquinas has led many astray.

What about the nine ex-seminarians who contributed to this book? They all claim to have been blood-bought, born-again believers prior to converting to Catholicism, but how could a sinner saved by grace and a child of God take upon themselves the chains of spiritual slavery and try to once again earn their own salvation through the “beggarly elements”? It’s clear that the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone had only been intellectual head knowledge for these nine men. There was no genuine saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

“But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” – Galatians 4:9

Each ex-seminarian presents the Roman Catholic church’s long (and checkered) history, sacraments and liturgies, and claims to apostolic authority as arguments in favor of Catholicism. All of these points have been critiqued by knowledgeable evangelicals and shown to be deficient. See my list of books here which compare Catholicism with God’s Word. The ex-seminarians liberally quote the “church fathers” to support their viewpoint, but honest Catholic scholars will admit that the “fathers” present as many challenges to current Catholic dogma as they do affirmations.

Our former, Aquinas-loving pastor studied at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Southern Baptist), which is located in Wake Forest, North Carolina, just three hours from SES. I surmise Geisler’s obsession with Thomism also made its way up Route 85 to SEBTS.

Doug Beaumont and Ignatius Press demonstrate a lot of wishful thinking by titling this book, “Evangelical Exodus,” but as thousands of near-empty Catholic churches attest, the overwhelming exodus between Catholics and evangelicals has been the journey of millions of ex-Catholics out of religious legalism and ritualism to the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

This book was extremely hard for me to read. My heart breaks for Roman Catholics who are attempting the impossible task of trying to merit their way to Heaven. The Catholic church proclaims Christ is the “Savior,” but then teaches its members that they must merit their salvation by participating in the sacraments and obeying the Ten Commandments perfectly (impossible!). I couldn’t obey the Ten Commandments for a single day and neither can anyone else. A Catholic can never say they are “saved” (that would be the “sin of presumption”) because their salvation depends on if they can remain obedient and faithful to their church’s teachings right up until the moment of their death.

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” – Galatians 2:21

Catholic friend, accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches the genuine Gospel without compromise. Find your salvation and rest from religious strivings in Jesus Christ.

http://www.gotquestions.org/sinners-prayer.html

Note from 2021: Many evangelicals misguidedly view Roman Catholics as “brothers in Christ” and view outreach to Catholics and debates with Catholic apologists as unnecessary and “divisive.” Yet, as exemplified by this book, Catholic apologists have no problem denigrating evangelicalism and the genuine Gospel.

An ex-Catholic invites Roman Catholics to accept Jesus Christ as Savior

Don’t Miss the Celebration in Heaven
By Philip J. Gentlesk
Xulon Press, 2021, 124 pp.

4 Stars

In this independently published book, the author, an ex-Catholic evangelical layman, examines many of the irreconcilable differences between Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity. He remarks on such anti-Biblical Catholic doctrines as papal authority and infallibility, purgatory, prayers for the dead, indulgences, veneration/worship of Mary, confession of sins to a priest, praying to saints, the sacrifice of the mass and transubstantiation, and reliance on sacramentals (scapular, holy water, rosary). Most importantly, Gentlesk cites the difference between Rome’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental faux-grace and merit and the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

I give the author an “A” for effort, but there are several drawbacks to this book that I must mention. Some older, polemical Protestant works are referenced such as Hislop’s “The Two Babylons” and Boettner’s “Roman Catholicism.” Critical examinations of Catholicism have come a long way since those days (see Gregg R. Allison, Leonardo De Cherico, and James R. White to name a few). Also, in an attempt to appear as even-handed, Gentlesk grants that many Catholics will be in Heaven. “I know many fine Catholics who have surrendered their lives to Jesus and will be spending eternity in Heaven with Him – beyond any doubt” (p. 80). Fine Catholics? There are certainly some individual Catholics who have responded to a Gospel message from outside of their false religion and who genuinely trusted in Christ as Savior, but the Holy Spirit is drawing them out of Catholicism. It’s impossible to reconcile the Gospel of grace with Rome’s false gospel of works. Gentlesk is comfortable in pointing out the Roman Catholic church’s many heterodoxies, but draws back from condemning it as a totally apostate church.

I commend Gentlesk for his effort, but there are many other critical examinations of Roman Catholicism that present the evangelical view from a much more theologically knowledgeable (and forthright) basis.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 1/15/22

The top article provides a good summary on how the RCC is gradually shifting towards full embracement of practicing LGBTers. The second article examines a recent detail of that ongoing shift.

Within the RCC, the chasm is widening between conservatives/traditionalists and liberals/progressives.

Poland is the most Catholic country in the world. To be Polish is to be Catholic. But the younger generation is increasingly turning away from the Polish Catholic church with its strong ties to the conservative government.

We’ve been periodically checking on the Synodal Path (German: Synodaler Weg), a reform movement by the progressive German Catholic church. The SP began in December 2019 and will end in 2023. Demands expected from the SP include the ordination of women, married clergy, the full acceptance of practicing LGBT members, including the blessing of gay weddings, and Catholic-Protestant intercommunion. The demands may be “too much, too soon” even for the progressive pope Francis.

It’s ironic that progressive pope Francis condemns the current “cancel culture” because over the course of his papacy he has removed from prominent Vatican positions several conservative cardinals (Müller, Burke, Sarah) who opposed him. It’s also ironic because for 1500 years of its history, the RCC “cancelled” all non-conformists via sword-bearing armies and magistrates.

Progressive pope Francis correctly views the Latin mass as a bastion of his militant, anti-Vatican II, conservative and traditionalist opposition and there is zero chance that he will reconsider his decision to eliminate it.

There was a lot said in the media a couple of weeks ago regarding the one-year anniversary of the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. Few remember that the “Jericho March” held a few weeks earlier on December 12, 2020 set the stage for the Jan. 6 events. The “Jericho March” was the name for multiple ecumenical marches and gatherings of politically conservative-minded evangelicals and Catholics held on December 12th in Washington, D.C. to show support for then-president, Donald Trump, and to protest the alleged fraudulent election of Joe Biden. See my relevant weekend roundup report on the Jericho March here. At the march’s “Let The Church ROAR” concluding rally, emcee, Eric Metaxas, shamelessly deferred to his Catholic co-marchers. It was regrettable that genuinely born-again Christians participated in those ecumenical and temporal-focused events. Scripture tells us that we are to be ambassadors and emissaries of the Lord and His Kingdom rather than passionately-invested, temporal citizens, yoked together with the unsaved.

Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #24

Thanks for joining me today as we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018).

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Claim #24: I am a Catholic because I am greedy

Kreeft opens this chapter by writing, “When I find a good thing, I want more of it. I used to be a Protestant. I still believe, love, and enjoy everything I believed as a Protestant and more. In fact, I am more Protestant – more evangelical, more charismatic, more biblical, and more Christocentric – as a Catholic than I ever was as a Protestant” (p.81). Kreeft goes on to write that not just Protestants, but Jews and secular humanists who convert to Catholicism become better/more complete Jews and humans.

Kreeft concludes that Catholicism is VERY BIG, “among other religions (just) as Jesus is among human beings: either the baddest or the best; either subhuman or superhuman; either an arrogant, egotistic, lying, blasphemous false prophet or the one true church; either the Devil’s or God’s chosen vessel” (p. 82).

Response

Although Kreeft claims to have once been a “Protestant” (he “converted” to RC-ism as a college student), it’s clear from this and the twenty-three preceding chapters that he never truly believed in the genuine Gospel and the 5 Solas of the Protestant Reformation: Sola Scriptura (according to Scripture alone), Sola Gratia (salvation by God’s grace alone…), Sola Fide (..through faith alone…), Solus Christus (…in Jesus Christ alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (…to the glory of God alone). ALL of the Roman Catholic doctrines Kreeft cherishes, defends, and propagates contradict the 5 Solas in some form or fashion.

In his last two paragraphs, Kreeft presses the reader for a decision. He presents Roman Catholicism as a “BIG” and unavoidable “either/or” proposition.*

  • The Roman church’s claims to authority and exceptionalism are either true or deadly fraudulent.
  • The RCC is either the Devil’s vessel or God’s vessel.

We’ve examined many of the Roman Catholic church’s doctrines in the first 82 pages of this book and we’ve seen that all of them are anti-Biblical. Most dangerous is Rome’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental faux-grace and merit. Is Roman Catholicism really a “good thing,” Mr. Kreeft? Is trying to merit salvation a good thing? Not on your eternal life! Scaling Mt. Everest with a 200-lb. weight on your back would be far easier than attempting to merit Heaven by obeying the Ten Commandments as the RCC teaches. Can’t be done.

“Yet 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

Yes, Mr. Kreeft, the Roman Catholic pseudo-church with its false gospel is the Devil’s chosen vessel.

*Kreeft presents a false dilemma to the reader in contradiction of his own church’s teachings. The RCC declares that all religions and even atheism are legitimate pathways to God.

Next week: Claim #25: I am a Catholic because Catholics, like their saints, are a little crazy

Throwback Thursday: “Top ten misconceptions that Catholics have about Catholicism”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on July 12, 2016 and has been revised.

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This morning, I listened to the 6/3/16 and 6/10/16 podcasts of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show on the Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, out of Buffalo, NY, with host, Mike Denz, and Catholic priest, Dave Baker, taking questions from the listeners.

Over the course of the two shows, priest Baker responded to Denz’s personal list of the “Top Ten Misconceptions That Catholics Have About Catholicism.” I’ve listed the items below along with my own comments.

1) “Jesus is the Son of God, but He is not God.”

The Catholic church has a lot of unscriptural beliefs, but at least it teaches that Jesus is God (with the caveat that Catholicism’s Christology is erroneous in several respects, including its faux Jesus wafer). However, the average Catholic in the pew is woefully ignorant regarding spiritual matters. They attend the Catholic rituals and they have certain prayers memorized, but they only skim the surface when it comes to RC doctrine. I had a very “devout” Catholic friend who said the rosary every night with his family, but during one of our discussions he passionately argued that Jesus wasn’t God.

2) “The eucharist is a symbol.”

The Catholic church teaches that their priests change bread wafers and wine into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ at every mass. This belief, the core of Roman Catholicism, stems from a serious misinterpretation of John 6 and the Last Supper passages in the Gospels. Research shows that 70% of Catholics don’t believe the communion elements are literally changed into Jesus by the priest. Baker blamed some of this “confusion” on Protestant influence. Genuine evangelical Christians receive Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith alone, NOT by physically eating Him!

3) “Purgatory is no longer believed by the church.”

Baker blamed Catholics’ dismissal of purgatory on wishful thinking. At Catholic funerals, friends and relatives commonly refer to the deceased as being in Heaven while the reality, according to Catholic teaching, is the person is probably in purgatory if not Hell. Contrary to Catholic doctrine, there is no mention of purgatory in the Bible.

4) “Most of the Bible is symbolic.”

The majority of Catholics either haven’t read the Bible or have only read a very small portion. Their church never encouraged them to read the Bible. It’s a closed book to them, full of stories and parables (some would say myths and legends) they cannot understand. “Better just to stick with what the priest tells me to do,” is the rule for most. Catholicism declares the Bible is God’s Word, but then pushes it aside for its own traditions. Where the Bible contradicts Catholic tradition, tradition wins. Many Catholic prelates, priests, and theologians believe various events described in the Old Testament are myths and fables.

5) “Anyone can get an annulment if they have enough money.”

Baker countered by saying there is now no charge for annulments. But is there really any doubt that wealthy Catholic families in the past were able to procure an annulment via a generous gift to the church? But let’s be honest, annulments are just a slippery and unethical way of getting around divorce.

6) “No one believes in angels anymore.”

Baker replied by saying people are less-inclined to believe in spiritual things in general these days.

7) “Everyone sins and God loves everyone so there is no one who should not be able to receive communion.”

Catholicism teaches only Catholics can receive the consecrated Jesus wafer and only those Catholics with supposedly no mortal sin on their soul. Many of the Catholics who still bother to attend church on Sunday come forward to receive communion, but most of them have not obeyed other mandatory church rules (e.g., only 26% of Catholics participate in the sacrament of reconciliation/confession at least once a year as mandated).

8) “There are many contradictions in the Bible so we don’t really know what to believe.”

See my response to #4.

9) “If the words of the mass can change and eating meat on Fridays can change then things like women priests and use of articles of conception [sic – contraception] can change too.”

Baker said some teachings can never be changed, but some can change with the times. Who decides which is which? It used to be taught that Catholics committed mortal sin if they ate meat on non-Lenten Fridays, but that changed in 1966 in the USA. Were Catholics who ate meat on a non-Lenten Friday prior to 1966 and didn’t confess it and went to hell given a pardon?

10) “We should not judge people’s sins because God loves everyone.”

Baker responded that Catholics “are not permitted to judge a person’s character, ever,” but they should judge a person’s actions.  Unfortunately, Catholics see themselves as “good” people who obey the Ten Commandments for the most part and don’t see themselves as sinners in need of the Savior.


Catholics are generally ignorant of their church’s doctrines, but all Catholics will agree that attaining Heaven involves “being good” and “doing your best.” The Roman Catholic church teaches that other religionists such as Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and even atheists may also merit Heaven if they’re sincere in their beliefs and “good,” so there’s little motivation for members of the RCC to learn the particulars of Roman Catholic theology that Denz stresses over. In none of Denz’s and Baker’s long discussion did I hear the genuine Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 1/8/22

Christmas holiday decorations inside and outside of government buildings was the unquestioned “that’s just the way it’s always been done” status quo, but tax-funded government buildings are no place for religious symbolism. If Christmas creches are allowed, baby Baphomets must also be allowed. Let the church be the church and let the government be the government. By the way, nothing is more Satanic than this Catholic bishop’s counterfeit false gospel of salvation by sacramental pseudo-grace and merit.

Roman Catholics are required to attend mass every Sunday under threat of eternal damnation. Catholics are also required to attend mass on designated “holy days of obligation” such as Christmas. So two weekends ago, Catholics were required to attend mass both Saturday AND Sunday. How many actually complied? Pre-COVID, only 39% of American Catholics obeyed the weekly Sunday mass mandate.

As in theological matters, Catholic prelates and priests disagree with each other on COVID-19 vaccination protocols.

Canada’s Quebec Province used to be one of the most Catholic regions on the planet, but it’s become radically secularized in response to RCC scandals. Bill 21, passed in June 2019, forbids the wearing of religious symbols by certain public sector employees, including teachers.

Pope Francis canonized his modern-era predecessors, popes John XXIII and John Paul II in April, 2014 and Paul VI in 2018. Bergoglio now proposes to also canonize John Paul I who was pope for only 33 days! Efforts to canonize Pius XII are on permanent hold because of the pope’s controversial neutral position with regards to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Saint-making is calculated business.

The year-long “wafer wars” controversy over whether to allow abortion supporter, Joe Biden, to receive communion has brought into focus the lack of knowledge among the Catholic laity regarding the alleged “transubstantiation” of bread wafers into Jesus wafers and the worthiness of supplicants. According to a 2019 Pew survey, a whopping 70% of Catholics believe, contrary to their church’s teaching, that the communion elements are merely symbolic. Many supplicants receive the Jesus wafer even though they have not been to confession in the last twelve months as required. Biden and the 56% of Catholics who are pro-abortion are somehow able to harmonize the genocide of unborn infants with “Thou shalt not kill.”

Angry secularists are not happy with religion in general, but are targeting Catholic churches because of RC-ism’s clerical sex abuse scandals, historical ties to imperialism, and an intolerant view (for now) of LGBT-ism.

Liberal Baptists in pursuit of ecumenism with RC-ism must purposely overlook apostate Rome’s many un-Biblical and anti-Biblical doctrines, including salvation by sacramental pseudo-grace and merit, baptismal regeneration, and paedobaptism.

Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #23

Thanks for joining me today as we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018).

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Claim #23: I am a Catholic for the reason Walker Percy gave: “What else is there?”

In this very short chapter, Kreeft references American writer, Walker Percy (1916-1990), who was a “devout” Roman Catholic. Kreeft describes a conversation* in which Percy was asked the reason he was Catholic, to which the writer responded rhetorically, “What else is there?” The other party supposedly answered with a long list of alternative ideologies (Kreeft presents 36, including fundamentalism, Modernism, left-wing liberalism, right-wing conservatism, materialism, and spiritualism), to which Percy replied with something to the effect of, “I rest my case.” The reader is meant to understand from Percy’s smug reply that Catholicism is self-evidently superior to all other world-views, religious and secular. Kreeft then equates Percy’s answer to Peter’s reply on behalf of the other apostles (John 6:67-68), that they would remain with Jesus Christ after many other disciples had abandoned Him following the Bread of Life discourse of John 6.

Response

Leading Kreeft’s list of “less-than-desirable” alternatives to Roman Catholicism is Gospel Christianity (under the label of “fundamentalism”). Gospel Christianity is not an “alternative world view,” but is genuine Christianity based on the New Testament Scriptures, that declares the genuine Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. All other religious ideologies are false, including pseudo-Christian Roman Catholicism and its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

The question, “What else is there?,” is dichotomous coming from Percy, Kreeft, or any other Catholic. The Roman Catholic church officially teaches that all religionists – Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists – and even atheists can merit Heaven if they are sincere in their beliefs and are “good.” See Nostra aetate (“In Our Time”), Second Vatican Council, October 28, 1965. The incongruence is compounded by Kreeft’s reference to John 6 and Rome’s gross misinterpretation of the Bread of Life discourse. Rome takes a hyper-literalist approach to John 6 (“Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” – John 6:54), teaching that only those who consume RC-ism’s consecrated Jesus wafer will attain Heaven, while dichotomously granting that non-Catholic religionists and atheists, most of whom have never even seen a Catholic Jesus wafer, are also able to merit Heaven.

What else is there, Mr. Kreeft? Why, every ideology on the planet according to your own church’s Vatican II declaration! Your own Roman Catholic church rebuts Walker Percy’s and your rhetorical question with its religious inclusivity/plurality.

But, seriously Mr. Kreeft, what else is there? Why, there is the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone!

*See “Why Are You Catholic?” by Walker Percy

Next week: Claim #24: I am a Catholic because I am greedy

Throwback Thursday: Showing proper respect to the Jesus wafer

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on July 13, 2016 and has been revised.

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Evangelicals go to church to worship the Lord with fellow believers through prayer, song, and instruction in the Word. The Lord is present with us spiritually as we worship Him together.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” – Matthew 18:20

Roman Catholics go to their churches on Sunday for a quite a different reason. Catholics are taught by their church that priests change bread wafers and wine into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. The priest then offers up the Jesus wafers to God the Father as a sacrifice for sins. Catholics then line up to receive and consume the Jesus wafer. They are taught that after they take the wafer into their mouth and swallow it, that Jesus is physically inside of them for 15 minutes until the stomach acids completely break down the bread wafer. During those fifteen minutes, the Jesus wafer allegedly imparts graces to the individual so that they are better able to avoid committing mortal sins. Catholics are taught they must perfectly obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) in order to merit Heaven. Minor venial sins will sidetrack them to Purgatory for an indefinite period. After all the supplicants have received their Jesus wafer, the priest places the “leftover” Jesuses in a locked box called the tabernacle, situated on or near church altars.

Today, I was listening to the 6/9/16 podcast of  the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show on the Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, out of Buffalo, NY, with host, Steve Quebral, and Catholic priest, Rick Poblocki, taking questions from the listeners. Steve started off the show by complaining that Catholics often don’t show proper respect to the Jesus wafer while they’re in church and he asked Rick to review the rules of proper Jesus wafer etiquette.

Priest Rick broke it down into three basic steps:

  1. Catholic must enter the church quietly, respectfully, and reverently. Rick remarked that the Jesus wafer is “resting” in the tabernacle and Catholics must acknowledge “his” presence with the proper respect.
  2. Before entering their pew, a Catholic must look at the tabernacle and genuflect, bending the right knee (according to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal) to the ground, in homage to the Jesus wafer.
  3. While they are sitting, kneeling, and standing in the pew during the mass, the Catholic should focus their attention on the Jesus wafers in the tabernacle and the Jesus wafers newly consecrated by the priest.

Those are the basics. For more detailed instructions on proper Jesus wafer and mass etiquette see the pdf below:

Click to access Catholic%20Mass%20Etiquette,%20I,II,III.pdf

Catholic friend, Jesus is not a bread wafer and He’s not locked away in a little box. The Bible says He’s currently seated at the right hand of God the Father making intercession for all who accept Him as Savior by faith alone. Man-made religious rituals and long religious laundry lists don’t save. God made His Good News of salvation so simple that even a ten-year-old child can understand it. There is no distinction between “mortal” sin and “venial” sin. Sin is sin and we’re all sinners – sinners deserve eternal punishment – Jesus Christ, God the Son, paid the penalty for our sins on the cross – Jesus rose from the grave, defeating sin and death and offers the gift of eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who repent of their sinful rebellion against God and receive Him as Savior by faith alone. We don’t need priests, altars, and daily sacrifices anymore. Jesus did it all! Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior today and ask Him to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise.

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” – Matthew 24:23-27

Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #22

Thanks for joining me today as we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018).

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Claim #22: I am a Catholic because only the Catholic Church is marked out by the four marks*

In opening this chapter, Kreeft states, “The Nicene Creed identifies the Church of Christ by four marks: she is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Only (the Catholic church) fits that description” (p. 75). Kreeft then expounds on RC-ism’s claims to these four marks:

  • One – The Roman Catholic church was established by Christ and has existed without interruption to the present day. All other churches have broken away from the RCC, never vice versa. The RCC has taught the same theological and moral dogmas since it was established.
  • Holy – Although the RC church has included many scandalously notorious sinners, including “a couple” of popes, the church is the source of holiness via its sacraments. As in the previous chapter, Kreeft again cites Thomas More, referencing More’s fictitious dialogue in the theatrical production, A Man for All Seasons, as an example of personal holiness attained through the holy RC church.
  • Catholic/Universal – “Catholic” means Universal and only the RCC can claim to be Universal in multiple senses: “for all men, for all the world, for all times, for all cultures, and teaching all that Christ and the apostles taught” (p. 76).
  • Apostolic – Only the RCC can trace its lineage directly back to St. Peter via apostolic succession.

Since only the RC church has these four marks of authenticity according to Kreeft, he exhorts the reader to go to Christ via His Body that he instituted, the Roman Catholic church. Because other Christian churches are deficient to a great degree, Kreeft asks the Protestant reader, “Why settle for a little lifeboat when you can have the whole (RC) ark?” (p. 78).

Response

The Nicene Creed (325 AD) is not God-breathed Scripture, but let’s see if the RCC is distinguished by the creed’s four marks of authenticity:

One – After Christianity was legalized and then adopted as the official religion of the Roman Empire, the early church became increasingly institutionalized according to the Roman imperial model. Religion was imposed rather than a choice. The church was “one” according to imperial and magisterial fiat. The genuine church, in contrast, is composed of all those who have freely accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone as taught by the New Testament church and God’s Word. In that sense, the true church of genuine believers is one. In historical contradiction to Kreeft’s assertions, the institutional pseudo-church had a major divide with the East-West Schism of 1054 and the Roman church specifically experienced the Western Schism of 1378-1417, with its three competing popes. The RCC has changed its theological and moral dogmas regularly as we previously examined in chapter 5 (see here). Many conservative Catholics consider pope Francis a heretic for his doctrine-bending “reforms.” The notion of Roman Catholicism as a united monolith is a fraudulent mirage.

Holy – The RCC is unholy because it teaches a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. The genuine church composed of all born-again believers is “holy” (Greek: ἅγιος/hágios), separated unto Christ. Kreeft concedes that “a couple” of popes were scoundrels, but even Catholic historians will admit there were MANY examples of papal and episcopal corruption. Kreeft once again presents Thomas More as an example of saintly holiness when history records that in his role as Lord High Chancellor of England he oversaw the bloody persecution of Protestant believers.

Catholic/Universal – For a millennia, Roman Catholicism gained “converts” throughout the world via the tip of sword and spear aka forced baptisms. Jesus Christ did not teach compulsory “faith.” Genuine believers are located throughout the world as a result of the sowing of the genuine Gospel. The term, “Roman Catholic” is actually a dichotomy, i.e., location specific, yet Universal. Does not compute.

Apostolic – There is no Scriptural evidence for the papacy, for Peter as the first pope, or for Peter ever being in Rome. Neither do we find in Scripture any support for apostolic succession. Jesus specifically warned against the type of church hierarchy created by Roman Catholicism:

“But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” – Matthew 20: 25-28.

The genuine church of Christ is apostolic in that it proclaims the same Gospel and doctrines as taught by the apostles according to the New Testament. The apostate Roman church supplants Scripture with its specious “sacred traditions” that were never taught by Jesus Christ or His apostles.

The Nicene Creed is not Scripture, but we do see that the Roman church actually does NOT have the four marks specified by the creed, while the Body of genuine evangelical believers does. Once again, Kreeft closes a chapter by disparaging Gospel Christianity. Why do so many evangelicals view critical examinations of Roman Catholicism and its false gospel as distasteful, unseemly, and repugnant when Catholic apologists are always quite willing to disparage Gospel Christianity?

*The fallacy of the claim is obviously key, but any editor worth his/her salt would have changed this to “I am a Catholic because only the Catholic Church is distinguished by the four marks.”

Next week: Claim #23: I am a Catholic for the reason Walker Percy gave: “What else is there?”