Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Understanding Roman Catholicism: Week 1 – Agreements

April 4th, 2011, Promulgated by benanderson

Today was the first session of Pastor Vince’s “Understanding Roman Catholicism” series at Lakeshore Community Church (as reported previously by Mike).  Like most people, I was willing to give this effort the benefit of the doubt, although I was somewhat skeptical of the strategy.  LCC releases their podcasts of the messages very quickly, so I was already able to listen to the first sermon in this series.  The series is 3 weeks (the 1st week about agreements and the 2nd and 3rd about disagreements).  I’ve included a link (and embedded player) of the mp3 so you can listen.  I’ve also transcribed some of it, although I did so hastily, so please let me know if you find errors.  I’m going to start out with what I believe easily discredits Pastor Vince’s claim to be simply objective and then continue on with some random notes on the rest of it.  Pastor Vince also doesn’t stick to agreements during this first week.  Here’s the full audio if  you want to follow along (after the initial wow factor, the rest will be chronological if you wish to listen along with my notes).  I will also be sending a link to this article onto LCC.

1:45 Our approach is the most absolutely objective way I possibly could employ.  And it’s simple.  I’m going to use quotes of the Bible, quotes of the Popes, quotes of Roman Catholic councils… Roman Catholic Catechisms… so that’ll allow you to see everything just straight up, so you can decide for yourself.  Let me say that last phrase again… so you can decide for yourself.

36:17 “these are all historical facts.  You can’t question any of what I’m about to say.  It’s verifiable and historical.  In 1374, John Wycliffe denounced the sale of indulgences and denounced the pope.  He also was denounced for his translation of the Bible into English.  The very first translation of the Bible into English accomplished by John Wycliffe.  The Roman Catholic Church who wanted to control distribution of the Bible… opposed him putting it into the language of the common people and Wycliffe was denounced and excommunicated from the Church.

Jan Hus … followed Wycliffe and started preaching in English (based on Wycliffe’s translation).  He was also branded a heretic and excommunicated… Ever hear of “burned at the stake?”  This is what happened to Jan Huss.  Why?  For teaching the Bible to ordinary people.  Girolamo Savonarola… tortured… tortured… tortured…  These are absolutely historical facts.

Historical facts, eh?  More like historical falsehoods.  So where did he error? (it’s late and I’m tired, so I’m gonna resort to wikipedia for references.  I hope to get better ones in the future.)

  1. Wycliffe’s translation was not the first translation into English.  (English_translations_of_the_Bible).  While we’re discussing it, everyone should also know that Luther wasn’t the first to translate the Bible into German.
  2. Wycliffe was not denounced simply for translating the Bible into English. (John_Wycliffe)
  3. Jan Hus was not burned at the stake for teaching the Bible to ordinary people.  (Jan_Hus)
  4. This one isn’t quite as clear cut because we’d agree w/ Pastor Vince’s exact wording, “the Catholic Church wanted to control distribution of the Bible.”  His implication, though, is that the Church didn’t want people to read it because they were scared of what they’d find out.  This is obviously false.  The Church wanted to control distribution because many “translators” wrote into the words of Scripture, their own theological interpretations.  Or, perhaps, they just weren’t qualified and might make significant errors.  The Church still does this to this day with the use of imprimaturs and nihil obstats.

That is classic anti-Catholicism.  I had hoped that LCC’s efforts would’ve been better than this.  So Pastor Vince claims this series is going to be an objective view into Roman Catholicism?  Looks like the answer to that is:

Pastor Vince also builds the drama by dwelling on the cruelty of their deaths as if it were unique to the Catholic Church.  Protestants ended up doing the exact same things (even worse).  It’s just how things were done then.  It was a different time.  We can all agree now that burning people isn’t the best way to handle conflict.  But pointing out that Catholics burned Protestants (or their predecessors) doesn’t validate your point.  Sure – there was corruption in the Church, but if you want to compare stories (good and bad), the Catholic Church will wallop any other religious organization or secular institution.  For one such hero story – check out Edmund_Campion.  For a less than glorious look at one of the fathers of the Reformation, John Calvin, see this article.

Alright, so that’s the big shocker.  I think that gives us a good idea of the tactics Pastor Vince will be using in the next 2 weeks.  If that’s enough for you, now is the time to stop reading.  If you’d like more commentary on Pastor Vince’s sermon, let’s continue.  Here’s the 8 points that Pastor Vince works through during his talk that he claims unite us

  1. Bible
  2. Trinity
  3. Holiness of God
  4. The Fall of Man
  5. Lord’s Prayer / Apostle’s Creed
  6. Christ’s Death
  7. Christ’s Resurrection
  8. Holy Living / Moral Standard

Those are all fine, but I wish he would’ve included a few more.

  1. something on justification.  Obviously we don’t believe exactly the same thing on justification.  However, there is much common ground that could be affirmed.  For example a few years ago, the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation released a document titled JOINT DECLARATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION.  Obviously Pastor Vince didn’t have time to go into that much detail, but a cursory overview of our similarities on justification would’ve done the discussion justice.  The fact that he avoided it makes me wonder whether he considers Catholics Christians.
  2. Stances against the evils of our modern world.  Abortion, Same-Sex-Marriage, Euthanasia, etc.  Standing together on these issues is perhaps one of the best reasons to come together and unite on what we can.
  3. Reverence for the writings of the early Church Fathers.  Obviously these writings aren’t inspired like scripture, but they give us a good idea of how the early Church interpreted the scriptures.  I wish he’d have agreed to the fact that these writings are critical to understanding how the early Church.

“Bible believing, protestant, evangelical”

He has a hard time naming his belief system.  He seems most comfortable with the term “Bible Believing”.  I’ve never liked anyone who claims that name, though, because we all claim that.  I am a Catholic – a Bible believing Christian.  Past Vince acknowledges as much in his first point of agreement.  This is why I love the name of John Martignoni’s organization – the Bible Christian Society.  I read lots of books when I converted, but no other book convinced me more of Catholicism than the Bible itself.  If all you need is the Bible, then why couldn’t Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin resolve their differences by merely going to scripture?

With that said, let’s do a chronological response (quotes w/out minutes:seconds means I forgot exactly where they fit in and might be out of order)

3:02″objective and no need to coerce…”

How can you make this claim w/out letting the other side speak for themselves?  I hereby challenge Pastor Vince to a public debate (with the understanding that I can pick someone smarter than me to represent the Catholic side).  How bout it, Pastor Vince?  You have to admit that a one-sided presentation of a topic can’t possible be objective, don’t you?

He mentions some negative feedback he’s gotten from Catholics – as if that paints the whole picture.  Does this border on Catholic bashing?  He didn’t mention any of the polite emails he got (like the one I sent):

To whom it may concern,
I see you’re doing a series on Roman Catholicism…  I’m a former Presbyterian (Calvinist) who became convinced of Catholicism and 4 years ago crossed the Tiber.  If, by chance, you’d like to have a Catholic provide their own perspective, I’d be more than happy to provide that.  Or if you’d just like a Catholic to review the presentation to make sure you’re accurately representing Catholic teaching – I’d be happy to help out with that as well.
God Bless,
Ben Anderson

I received no response.

He lists his credentials to cover this topic (honestly I don’t really need his credentials, but since he brought it up).

  1. 23 years as a faithful Catholic.  I’m curious how fervent he was in his Catholic faith.  He later claims that the Apostles Creed is said at every mass.  The fact that he’s wrong on that doesn’t invalidate the point he was making.  But it does make one wonder if he really was a fervent Catholic, wouldn’t he know that it’s not the Apostles Creed said at mass, but the Nicene Creed?
  2. Masters Degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.  This is a protestant seminary, so I’m not sure why that qualifies him.

6:41 my best man converted from Evangelicalism to Catholicism and that it doesn’t happen as much.

I don’t know if it doesn’t happen as much, but this short NCRegister article sheds a little light on the issue.  I’d also like to point to a site I discovered recently that is very interesting –  Many of the authors are from the denomination I was raised in (PCA – Presbyterian Church in America).

in the creed “Catholic” means merely universal, not a single, visible, communion separate from others

hmmm – I’m not convinced of that.  Here’s 2 articles disputing that point. (What_Catholic_Means and What Does Catholic Mean?)

12:20 the Philadephia Confession of Faith.

I’m not positive, but I think he’s referring to this which states:

26.4. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner; neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ.

continuing on…

20:44  All have fallen short

I’ll let Dave Armstrong ( tackle that.

27:00 “we don’t celebrate a mass here, though some of you have congratulated me on delivering a nice homily at the mass.”

This gives a pretty good idea as to the understanding level of many of the “former Catholics” who now attend LCC.

27:40 “1 Peter 3:18 ‘for Christ died for sins once for all’.  I had you remember ‘all have sinned’. I hope you remember ‘once for all’ because that’s gonna play out in the next two weeks…. Christ died how many times? four? He died once for all. All have sinned. These are going to be important phrases.”

You can see what he’s doing here.  It’s pretty obvious.  An honest inquirer wouldn’t focus so clearly on the shallowness of this debate.  Obviously we believe in the same Scriptures.  You don’t need to repeat it for effect and act like Catholics don’t have an answer.

I enjoyed this next clip so much that I want you to hear it.

AMEN!   (and I love the voice!)  We have the same problem with “liberal” Catholics.

30:55 “by the way, where did Paul receive that from?  Peter?  nope – Jesus Christ himself.”

ummm – is he trying to imply that Catholics believe otherwise?  It seems like he’s falsely setting up the Catholic side of the debate so he can more easily knock it down.

31:05 he explains that the Catholic church he group up in replaced a cruficix with a risen Lord cross.

I don’t have time to look that up, but I thought that was illicit.

35:30 he defines a heretic.

I could be wrong, but I think he has heretic mixed up with apostate.

Here’s another article from Dave Armstrong on Luther:

Alright, that’s all for now – I’m up much too late.  I’m not sure if I’ll have the energy to respond to the next 2 sessions (or if they’re even going to be worth responding to).  I hope our diocese can organize some sort of counter program to not only try to keep Catholics from leaving, but try to bring back those who have already left (LCC is made up of 50% “former Catholics”).  And while we’re at it, why not also make a serious effort to bring in those who have never been in a Catholic Church?  You’re probably getting sick of hearing me harp on this – but we need to emphasize the importance of teaching the faith.

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22 Responses to “Understanding Roman Catholicism: Week 1 – Agreements”

  1. avatar Abaccio says:

    Oh goody, Straw-Man Catholicism! My Favourite! I suppose I shouldn’t go to this to argue with him…I’d just keep yelling things out like “logical fallacy!” Then again, Christ is not present in the same way within their church, so…I suppose it wouldn’t be disrespectful to call him out. Perhaps it’d be a good work…hmm

  2. avatar Christopher says:

    Everyone, I know I don’t need to say this, but please be respectful in your comments. LCC members may be lead to this article via a google search.

    Ben, thank you for taking the time to respond to this. I think your assessment was fair and honest and I wish all Catholics had your tenacity.

    As you know, I have talked to some priests locally regarding this. All of have said we should not respond so as to not give credibility to the debate and let the Holy Spirit guide them back to the Catholic church. To their point, most of these people could care less what or why we believe what we believe and are not actively concerned with seeking the truth. A public response may or may not do much in the way of bringing people back home. Interrupting him during his sermon yelling “logical fallacy” may LCC members to our churches yelling things during the mass.

    I am not taking a stance as to what should be done as I haven’t really thought it out, I’m only reporting what has been said.

    I do think this is a great opportunity to run a diocese wide apologetics class dealing not only with Protestantism, but more importantly secular atheism which is much more prevalent today.

    To add to this, the pastors of the local clusters affected put the following in the pews/newsletters this past weekend.


    Recently a number of parishioners have contacted us about a
    mailing that was sent to area residents from a local church of another
    faith tradition. The mailing announced a three session program
    on “Understanding Roman Catholicism.”

    Because faith is at the root of our beliefs, there is no way a person
    who does not believe in the Roman Catholic Church can give a fair view
    of our faith. Therefore, we would urge that you encourage anyone who
    has a desire to have a deeper understanding of the Roman Catholic
    Faith to contact a Catholic Church.

    All they need to do is call us and explain that they would like to
    come to a better understanding of the teachings of the Catholic Church.

    The Eastern Greece/Charlotte web site shows all the contact
    information on our area parishes. The web address is:

    Our own parish contact information is on the bulletin cover.

    Thank you again Ben for your efforts.

  3. avatar Christopher says:

    In addition, here is a link to “The Protestant Inquisition: “Reformation” Intolerance and Persecution”….

  4. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Thanks, Christopher, for the encouragement and for the links and info. I agree – please keep the comments nice. I just sent LCC a link to this article.

    All of have said we should not respond so as to not give credibility to the debate and let the Holy Spirit guide them back to the Catholic church.

    I suppose in one sense I can buy this. If the cards are stacked against you, you might not actually be heard. However, if that were the case, I think most people could see through attempts to warp a debate. Sometimes, I wonder, though, if we’re overly concerned with “looking bad”. This is one of the reasons of love the Litany of Humility
    From the fear of being humiliated … Deliver me, Jesus
    From the fear of being despised…
    From the fear of suffering rebukes …
    From the fear of being calumniated …
    From the fear of being forgotten …
    From the fear of being ridiculed …
    From the fear of being wronged …

    most of these people could care less what or why we believe what we believe and are not actively concerned with seeking the truth.

    perhaps most, but not all

    Luke 15
    “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

  5. avatar Dr. K says:

    The pastors of the Greece churches should get together and organize their own Understanding Roman Catholicism event. If people are hungry for the truth, then who better to explain it than those charged to preach the truth. Sitting idly and letting a Protestant community mislead people with the purpose of drawing the confused into their church is not a wise choice. We have been sitting on our hands for too long. If we care about the salvation of souls, we need to get out there and reach out to the lost sheep before someone else does.

  6. avatar Dr. K says:

    “He later claims that the Apostles Creed is said at every mass.”

    Did he go to St. Mary downtown?

  7. avatar Abaccio says:

    or Canada, DrK

  8. avatar Nerina says:

    All of have said we should not respond so as to not give credibility to the debate and let the Holy Spirit guide them back to the Catholic church.

    I understand the intent behind this suggestion, but I have to disagree with it (the suggestion, not the intent). Our churches are hemorrhaging parishioners and many of them are going to churches like the LCC. It doesn’t matter if we give the debate credibility by responding because the people listening to it are giving it credibility. And those same people are then leaving the lecture and telling their family, friends, and neighbors, “you wouldn’t believe what I heard about the Catholic church!”

    I know this happens from my own experience. My old neighbor in North Carolina left the Catholic church for a small evangelical church. One day she made this comment, “did you know that Catholics believe the Eucharist is the body and blood of Jesus?” Now she was presenting an accurate teaching of the Church and I, in my complete ignorance and malformation of faith countered, “No, it doesn’t.” Fortunately, my first stop on the fateful day was to go to the internet and type in: Honestly, I didn’t know what I would find, but thankfully I found Catholic Answers! There I learned that my neighbor was right and that I knew nothing about the faith. That day began a long journey of learning and conversion. While her pastor accurately presented the teaching (it appears that Pastor Vince is not), he also convinced my neighbor that the teaching was faulty. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit directed my heart and mind and I was able to learn and accept the Truth otherwise I think I could have been convinced otherwise.

    The priests in Greece are missing an opportunity if they let this go unaddressed. I think the bulletin announcement was a good start, but I think their collective presence at one of Pastor Vince’s talks would really make a statement. Isn’t instructing the ignorant a spiritual work of mercy? If there really are many former Catholics at these talks, wouldn’t shepherds be anxious to “find their lost sheep?”

    I fear that some priests are intimidated by this type of venue and many are not comfortable with apologetics. They don’t call the Church on earth the “church militant” for nothing.

    Everyone, I know I don’t need to say this, but please be respectful in your comments. LCC members may be lead to this article via a google search.

    Christopher, you say you don’t need to say this, but then you go and say it anyway. If any LCC member does get to this post one of the first things he or she will read is an admonishment. Imagine what his or her first thought might be – “oh, apparently people will write nasty things.” Already, you’ve set us up as disrespectful. Your counsel, while good and correct, comes across as condescending to regular readers of this blog who consistently offer charitable and well-reasoned responses. Are we perfect? Nope. But we don’t need a “Miss Manners” reminder in every thread.

  9. avatar Scott W. says:

    Your counsel, while good and correct, comes across as condescending to regular readers of this blog who consistently offer charitable and well-reasoned responses. Are we perfect? Nope. But we don’t need a “Miss Manners” reminder in every thread.

    Respectfully seconded.

  10. avatar MissManners says:

    The priests in Greece are missing an opportunity if they let this go unaddressed. I think the bulletin announcement was a good start, but I think their collective presence at one of Pastor Vince’s talks would really make a statement. Isn’t instructing the ignorant a spiritual work of mercy? If there really are many former Catholics at these talks, wouldn’t shepherds be anxious to “find their lost sheep?”.

    I would encourage you to email or call the pastors who made this decision and perhaps understand why they are taking this position. I did not challenge the priests I talked to with your comment on instructing the ignorant so I’d be curious to know what they would say. This would make for a good story on CF as it is an interesting discussion over what should be done and how. Has the Catholic church historically ever responded to individual protestant, mormon, etc. faith based organizations publically? What were the results?

    Regarding your “Miss Manners” comment. First, I’m a guy so it might be Mr. Manners. 🙂

    Second, the comment was charitably directed at “everyone”, including LCC parishioners, Catholics, and even myself. As we know, when inherit theological differences exist, what we say and how we say it may carry with it unintended implications.

    For example, an LCC parishioner might make the implication that your “lost sheep” comment refers to Luke 15:3-7 and that they (evangelicals) are “lost sheep” in the same sense of which the parable uses the word “lost”. This would be an incorrect assumption (as we all know we do not have the illumination or authority to make such determination) and might lead to an uncharitable response.

    In the same sense, do you think the comment by Abaccio, “Christ is not present in the same way within their church” could be mis-construed as condescending by those from LCC?

    Obviously this probably is over-thinking it but anything Pastor Vinny can use to divide us he might just use. I have been in theological discussions with people where word twisting is half the battle.

    As Ben scrutinized Pastor Vince’s careful use of words, I am only suggesting that we might be a little more scrutinizing/sensitive to what we write. If I’m wrong in doing so then I apologize.

    I recently posted 2 other comments with regards to anonymous posters posting things which were rather negative in tone (one of which was removed by a moderator shortly after my comment) without adding much substance to the dialog. And I believe both comments came from the same anonymous poster (as they were similar in time stamp and tone). If you have an issue with me doing this then you have the authority to silence me or make me a moderator so I can silence those posts which may or may not be “out of line” based on the eye of the beholder. While you may find my approach condescending (and perhaps it is), my intentions are good and charitable towards helping you not have to moderate as much.

    Fr. Longenecker recently posted some combox rules on his blog. I didn’t find him condescending at all or suggestive that all of his posters are rude, unintelligent, etc.

    Finally, I apologize if I came across as condescending to you or anyone else on this blog. I didn’t mean to suggest that the comments on this blog are all negative or disrespectful as they most certainly are not.

  11. avatar Dr. K says:

    one of which was removed by a moderator shortly after my comment

    Not sure which comment that was. Only two posts have been removed in the past 60 days. We got one the other day suggesting that a certain priest in this diocese might be a sexual deviant because he preaches about sexual morality. If that was the post, there is no way I am going to allow that to be printed here. I don’t remember what the other post was about.

  12. avatar Scott W. says:

    If I’m wrong in doing so then I apologize.

    Apology accepted.

  13. avatar Abaccio says:


    Does LCC believe that Jesus Christ is truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity within their church? No. Do we? Yes. Thus, it is without trepidation that I say that “Christ is not present in the same way within their church.” Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

  14. avatar jim roy says:

    if you noticed at all he totally avoided 108 in the catechism. and i quote “still, the christian faith is not a religion of the book. christianity is the religion of the word of god, a word which is not a written and mute word, but the word which is incarnate and living.” hmmmmmmm i wonder vince if maybe you avoided that because it does not fit into your idea of sola scriptura? is anyone else seeing his way of “not” being objective? i wonder if he has even read 2 peter 3:15-17 or maybe 2 peter 1:20-21? i love how this guy keeps saying that we should all be “wide” open.

  15. avatar Faithful says:

    As I have said before—-I find that people like this “minister” want to perpetuate lies, even if they believe them. They are not interested in learning the Truth, otherwise they would talk to Catholics who can respond to their concerns.

    It is a shame I don’t live closer to this area as I would attend this talk and challange this guy to a formal debate. If he declines, one would have to wonder why.

  16. avatar Mike says:

    I noted Pastor Vince’s emphasis on Romans 3:23, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and his statement that he will be coming back to that verse later.

    Based on the apologetics books I have read and tapes I have listened to, I suspect he will be using that verse to “prove” that our doctrine of Mary’s sinlessness runs directly against scripture. After all, if “all” have sinned, all would have to include Mary.

    One thing I expect he will not do is trot out verses like Mark 4:5,

    John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

    If he did someone might ask if the “all” here really means every last soul in Judea and Jerusalem, including the all the Pharisees, all the Saducees, all the Roman soldiers and all the Roman officials. That could be a pretty awkward question.

  17. avatar Scott W. says:

    Scott W, the peanut gallery color commentary is unneeded. Prove Nerina right when she says that regulars “offer…well-reasoned responses”.

    I don’t have to because it is common courtesy to assume that until proven otherwise. The burden of proof is on the naysayers.

  18. avatar Abaccio says:

    Anon 6:21. I really enjoy seeing such humility and charity coming from someone who can’t even create a handle online. Well done, good and faithful servant. ::eyeroll:: As you don’t have anything to do with the blog, if you don’t like a commenter’s comment, you can feel free to keep it to yourself.

  19. avatar Christopher says:

    I plan on attending this weekend’s sermon on differences. If anyone else is going and would like to sit together, let me know…bring a rosary for stress relief I figure during the talk….

  20. Pastor Vince is not Fr. Vincent Panepinto, is he? I am not familiar with who this Pastor Vince is alluded to.

  21. avatar Dr. K says:

    Pastor Vince is a Protestant minister in charge of Lakeshore Community church in Greece.

  22. Thank you Dr. K for clearing that up.

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