The Usual Suspects: Answering Anti-Catholic Fundamentalists
By Karl Keating
Ignatius Press, 2000, 195 pages
In 1979, a young Roman Catholic lawyer, Karl Keating, became angered when members of a local Bible Christian church left tracts on car windshields during mass at his Catholic parish. In retaliation, he created tracts of his own and distributed them at said Bible church. Thus was born the Catholics apologetics organization, Catholic Answers. Then as now, many Catholics were hearing the Gospel from friends, neighbors, and co-workers, repenting of sin, accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior, forsaking the Roman church with its false gospel, and attending Gospel-preaching churches. Keating and Catholic Answers sought to “stem the tide.” Keating’s first book, “Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on “Romanism” by “Bible Christians” (Ignatius Press, 1988) was fairly popular among Catholics who had “lost” family members and friends to “Christian fundamentalism.” In his attack on “fundamentalists,” Keating mixed together credible ministries with disreputable extremists (Chick Publications, Tony Alamo). Keating’s brief explanations of various Catholic doctrines rivaled the sophistry of any Jesuit.
“The Usual Suspects” is Keating’s fourth book and picks up where “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” left off. The credible evangelicals/fundamentalists targeted this time include Bart Brewer, Frank Eberhardt, Dave Hunt, and Bill Jackson, all four now deceased, and John Ankerberg, John MacArthur, and James McCarthy. Mixed in are several bad apples including Jack Chick and Bob Jones, III.
Keating’s approach is the same as before: short explanations of Catholic doctrine expressed with obsfucation masquerading as certitude, but lacking Biblical substance. Two examples will suffice:
- Bible Christians criticize the continual Catholic mass as a fraudulent repetition of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Calvary, since the Bible clearly says Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was offered once for all time (Hebrews 10:12). Keating confidently responds that Catholics certainly don’t “repeat” Jesus’ sacrifice, they “re-present” the very same once-offered sacrifice. Ach. Please.
- Bible Christians criticize Catholics for worshiping Mary. Well, of course Catholics don’t “worship” Mary, objects Keating. They rightly offer her “hyper-dulia veneration,” which is her due. Hyper what? Ninety-five out of one-hundred Catholics could not define “hyper-dulia veneration,” but most do attribute deific powers to Mary, adore her, and pray to her for their salvation. Call it whatever you’d like, but THAT’S worship.
Each short chapter is filled with similar equivocations. Keating accuses his opponents of lacking charity and sophisticated nuance in their arguments, yet turns around and commits those offenses himself, labeling all Bible Christians as “fundamentalists,” “Bible-thumpers,” and “tract-pushers.” Recommended only to those involved in Gospel outreach to Roman Catholics.
Postscript: This book was written in 2000, way before the current papal crisis, with Catholic conservatives accusing pope Francis of sowing doctrinal confusion and some even accusing him of being a heretic. Conservatives like Keating and his successors at Catholic Answers are no longer boasting that their pope is incapable of leading the Roman church into error. Should Catholics follow pope Francis and his doctrine-bending reforms or the conservative Catholicism of Keating and cardinal Burke? Neither camp teaches salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.