Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Understanding Roman Catholicism: Disagreements part 2 (lies, misconceptions, and deceit)

April 25th, 2011, Promulgated by b a

The 3rd and final week of Pastor Vince’s series “Understanding Roman Catholicism” was this past Palm Sunday.  I debated whether or not to even write anything up about it because his claims are just so outrageous.  He’s already proven in the first 2 weeks (week 1 hereweek 2 here) that he is more inclined to anti-intellectual, anti-Catholic rhetoric than he is to actually investigating and pursuing true differences between Catholicism and Protestantism.  If you’re wondering if such an investigation is even possible to do in a gentlemanly fashion, the answer is yes; quite so.  A while back, I wrote about the group Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) and posted links to their documents.  Pastor Vince (PV from here on out) would do well to read up on some actual Protestant scholarship.  This critique of PV’s “sermon” will be much more brief as I’m thinking it not worthwhile to do a point-by-point of each and every error.  There are just too many to even count.  Instead I’ll just respond to a few points I scribbled down as I listened.

PV set up his unmentioned conclusion in earlier weeks.  Catholics don’t know the Bible.  If only they did, they’d realize just how easily their doctrines are disproved.  To that, I’d simply respond that the Church doctors, teachers, theologians, and great Saints who advanced and deepened Catholic theology over the years knew the Bible better than most of us could ever dream.  Before just writing them off, one would be wise to at least read what a Catholic intellectual would have to say.  To all of his biblical quotes where he supposedly disproves Catholicism, the Catholic response is, “yeah – so what.  That doesn’t prove the point you’re trying to make.”  The Bible has led more people into the Church than out of it.

Since I’m not going to address each and every issue, let me just say that if a protestant who stumbles across this series of posts truly wishes to delve deeper, feel free to contact me.  There are responses to each issue.  I’ve shown in the previous weeks that PV’s claims are not credible.  I’ve shown that Catholicism is credible.  To validate that claim – go back and read those posts (links above).

I’ll transcribe PV’s quotes in blue (these quotes are not exact – I scribbled down some notes on my commute; red lights only – not while driving) followed by my responses.

PV: The Roman Catholic Church has condemned me to hell and condemned every member of LCC to hell.

youch!  That’s quite the claim.  This is perhaps the most important message to get across to PV and his flock, “the Church condemns no one to hell”.  That would be grossly overstepping her bounds.  In fact, we affirm that Evangelicals are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

and another:


I’m sure LCC’s staff are incredible people.  I’d love to talk with any of you (including PV).  However, this presentation by PV is anything but objective.  It’s pretty clear also that it is intellectually dishonest.

PV: anathema is the equivalent of damning someone to hell.

PV: Roman Catholicism is a cancer

Nice – real nice 🙂

PV: popery started with Gregory

PV: the Protestant response is…

PV says this multiple times throughout this session.  #1 there is no one protestant response.  #2 if you were to weld together all of the various protestant responses into one, it would sound much different that PV’s response.

PV: Catholics “need” Mary

hmmm – not really anymore than protestants would.  How exactly did Jesus get here?

PV: If there’s one chapter in one book I’d like to destroy it’s 2 Maccabees 15 because there’s so much damnable content

Father, forgive him for he knows not what he says.

PV: He uses a pretty nasty voice when quoting a Catholic who said “there’s only one Cathechism”

I thought he wasn’t going to do any Catholic bashing.  Sure, whoever said that was wrong.  So what?  We all make errors.  And supposing this person was a jerk to him – that’s just one person.  I know of at least a few people (myself included) who have sent very polite emails and received no response.  But he choose to caricature us Catholics as whiny dimwits.  Thanks, PV!

PV: merit means earned

He’s leaving out a major distinction between condign merit and congruent merit.  From wikipedia:

Condign merit (meritum de condigno) is an aspect of Roman Catholic theology signifying a goodness that has bestowed because of the actions of that person. In opposition is congruent merit, a goodness bestowed on a person because of someone else, typically God.

PV: earn what Christ has earned – very complex idea

Actually it’s not that complex.  I’ll be honest in that I find the justification debate somewhat lame.  The only issue I had w/ it when becoming Catholic was that I didn’t want it to be true.  I had no issue believing intellectually that works are necessary.  I didn’t want to believe it because that meant I had to change some things in my life.  The best explanation I’ve heard is that both faith and works are responses to God’s grace.  Neither are our own doing.  Both kinds of faith and works required for salvation require God’s graces.  The tired Protestant expression that “Catholics work their way to heaven” is just flat wrong.  Catholics believe that man is required to respond to God’s grace by allowing Him to change our lives and turn away from sin is a much better way to put it.

PV: Catholics have no idea if a baby who dies w/out baptism goes to heaven.  That child is at the mercy of God.

I didn’t hear PV say what was wrong about this.  He must believe 1) the child is damned, 2) the child is saved, or 3) we don’t know if the child is saved or damned.  I don’t believe he stated his position or if he gave any reason for his position.

PV: The rosary is 10 prayers to Mary for every one to God.

hmmm – he totally skips the most important part of the Rosary – the meditations on the life of Christ.  Perhaps others understand it differently, but I’ll share my experience having gone from having never prayed the rosary to trying to pray it frequently.  To me, rote pray (saying “Hail Mary, full of grace…” over and over again) is not an end, but a means to meditation.  All the externals of Catholicism are meant to effect our constant interior conversion to Christ.  If the externals are not doing that, then I’ll grant PV that they are all for naught.  However, as someone who was mostly turned off by such externals most of my life (even after my initial conversion to Catholicism), I have become more and more astonished by the kind of effect these externals have on my interior life.  This was especially surprising to me after my first few TLM experiences.  The TLM was somewhat repulsive, yet so enticing.  Afterwards, I felt like I understood the mysteries of Christ much more than I did before.

PV: Catholics believe that they can be saved by someone else

No – ultimately our salvation is up to us.  Everyone either chooses heaven or chooses hell.  Certainly other people help us make that choice; in some ways direct and other ways indirect.  I’m sure PV wouldn’t disagree w/ that.  He’s using bad logic.  How would PV even know about Jesus Christ unless someone told him?  Would his salvation not be dependent on that other person?  Is that person not in some sense his savior?

PV: Catholic soteriology is based on obeying the law

Yes, there is legitimate disagreement among Catholics and Protestants about the involvement of good works in regard to our salvation.  However, Catholic theology has never excluded the fact that God wants our hearts.  He desires an intimate relationship with us.  In fact, he knows us better than we know ourselves.  We get to heaven by responding to his grace.  PV’s description of the Catholic understanding of salvation is completely lacking in this dimension.  This is another case of the Catholic both-and (as opposed to either-or; either faith or works in this case).

PV: Mary had brothers

PV: Mary w/out sin means she had no need of a savior

PV once again misrepresents the Catholic position.  Mary needed Jesus for her salvation just like everyone else.  What’s different is that Jesus saved her earlier in that she was able to lead a sinless life.  I don’t remember where I head this analogy, but I’ll retell it the best I remember:

Human sin is like a tar pit which we can’t free ourselves from.  We require a savior to reach down and pull us out of it.  In Mary’s case, this savior kept her from falling into the pit in the first place.  Without the assistance of the savior, she would’ve have fallen in just like everyone else.

PV: purgatory

The best response to a protestant I can mount about the existence of purgatory is, “CS Lewis believed in it”.

I heard a scholar talking about Lewis (one of my favorite authors) on a radio program once.  The host prodded with a question like, “do you think if Lewis had lived another 10 years he would’ve eventually become a Catholic?”  The response was something like, “yes, but I don’t believe that was in God’s plan.  I believe God purposely kept Lewis outside the Church.  If he had entered, then he wouldn’t have become the giant of Protestant thought that he is today.  They would write him off as one of those Catholic writers (much like Newman).  Instead, by remaining an Anglican, he serves as a splendid bridge legitimizing so many Catholic beliefs into the Protestant mind.”


3 books that probably had the most profound effect on my eventual conversion:

Catholicism and Fundamentalism

The Salvation Controversy

Rome Sweet Home

And as always – be sure to recommend 1460 AM to one and all.

If you happen to encounter anyone with such anti-Catholic beliefs, be sure to be gentle.  If they’re really open to hearing the Catholic point of view, there are plenty of resources that you can give them.  If they aren’t open, then nothing you can say will convert them.  Ultimately it’s all up to the Holy Spirit (but that doesn’t get us off the hook of doing our part).

The whole session is here:



This is just bad logic.


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6 Responses to “Understanding Roman Catholicism: Disagreements part 2 (lies, misconceptions, and deceit)”

  1. Hopefull says:

    Above all he sounds like a man trying to convince himself. Even if he isn’t aware of it, I suspect at some deep level he is bothered, maybe even haunted, by what he’s walked away from. He needs what he says to be true, to justify himself. Each time his voice sounds more agitated is a point, I believe, where the Holy Spirit is not letting him rest. Someone secure in his own faith just doesn’t do all this. Listening to him is like being a voyeur to his internal struggles. Pray for him. He might really shock his flock one of these days. Meanwhile, I agree he can do damage to weak Catholics. Let’s pray for them too.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ben, excellent work with this part and with the series as a whole. Hopefully people will read this and comment and discuss it even though it isn’t as sensational as a passion mime article. There is a lot to be digested here in your article and something tells me this won’t be the last pastor we hear from. May God bless you for this effort. I hope this strengthens existing Catholics (in the effected parishes especially) resolve to help educate themselves and others they know at their respective churches. After all, we are all in sales here when it comes to preaching the truth of the Gospel. We are not only called to help someone come to the fullness of Christ’s church but also to turn them into disciples as well to go out and do the same for others. Please continue to offer up prayers to our Christian brothers and sisters. Pray that we may also show them every ounce of charity and humility we can in sharing the faith.

    The more it seems I study apologetics, the more I realize how little I know about scripture, tradition, philosophy, history, etc. The more you study, the more you see how deep and wonderful our faith is. The more you study, the more prepared you will be to have an answer for the hope that is within you (1 Pet 3:15).

    I commend the individual pastors that are taking measures to help educate their respective parishioners. For instance, I was at Mother of Sorrows for Easter and there was a “Top 10 questions Catholics are asked” (Dave Armstrong’s brochure) in the church newsletter which would be given out to parishioners who don’t know or care how to use google and the internet to study like Ben has exhibited above. There is only so much a pastor can do in an 8 minute homily so it is up to us to dedicate some meaningful time on “new apologetics” (see article below).

    While protestantism is the case presented here in particular. The even more prevalent and important consideration in today’s society is secularism and new atheism. Having a good off the cuff basic response to the following two questions can have a most profound impact on a drifting soul:

    1) Why do you think a good God exists in this painful world of suffering?
    2) Why do you think Catholicism is the one true religion over others?

    These are probably the two most common starting discussion points I’ve encountered based on my own limited experience.

    Staples DVD offers a basic overview of some of these questions (if you can get past his southern twang):

    There’s other free talks available such as this one too:

  3. annonymouse says:

    Hopefull – amen and well said. PV is simply trying to convince himself. If he were honest and true to himself, he would see the truth in all of what the Catholic Church believes and teaches.

    He would then come home to the Church founded by Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Pastor Vince, I am praying for you.

  4. Ben Anderson says:

    interesting observation, Hopefull. Perhaps you are right.

    thanks for the kind words, late night anon.

    The even more prevalent and important consideration in today’s society is secularism and new atheism.

    Personally, I don’t find the new atheism to be all that much of a problem. Certainly Christians should have answers to the issues raised, but I don’t believe the questions raised are all that difficult to answer and I don’t think all that many people are atheists. My favorite rebuttal comes from Lewis (surprise, surprise) in his book “Miracles”. He tackles one aspect of the atheistic issue by discussing determinism and human reason.

    Secularism/Relativism/Moralistic Therapeutic Deism/New Ageism/Indifferentism – whatever you want to call… is, I believe, the major poison in our society (and our Church).

    one interesting article that I find compelling in that regard is by Robert W. Jensen:

  5. Scott W. says:

    Mary w/out sin means she had no need of a savior

    Man these are tired objections and that one takes the cake. It’s been responded to a number of times and even a lackadaisical google search would have turned up a number of them.

  6. Thinkling says:

    I tend to agree with all those who point out how vapid the logic seems to be, as if PV was trying to convince himself of something he really did not have a lot of faith in.

    Indeed I have seen this often in various Protestant circles. I can understand having differing faith positions in e.g., justification where there is quite a bit of subtlety involved (at least to my peabrain). But to propagate whoppers like those here, wow.

    I don’t know about PV, but I suspect many times there is an attachment with one’s own faith tradition, perhaps because it was acquired from family, which makes one want to defend it solely because they want it to be right, rather than they want to know what is right. Pride 101.

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