Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Understanding Roman Catholicism: Week 2 – Disagreements

April 12th, 2011, Promulgated by benanderson

This past Sunday was the 2nd week of Lakeshore Community Church’s 3-week series titled “Understanding Roman Catholicism”.  The first week dealt with agreements.  This 2nd week and the upcoming 3rd week deal with disagreements.


For brevity’s sake, I will be abbreviating Pastor Vince as PV. I’m sure he won’t mind since he abbreviates the V2 document Dei Verbum as DV.

Objective Presentation and letting you “make the call”

At the beginning of this week’s session he reiterates the fact that he’s going to present the debate objectively and let you “make the call”.  Again I’ll say that this presentation is not objective and you can’t make the call if you haven’t heard both sides of the story.  Imagine in the next presidential debate having President Obama represent both sides and then letting the American people make the call.  And who exactly is PV asking to make the call?  I would assume that the people who regularly attend LCC have already “made the call”.  With the corresponding brochure that was mailed out it’s obvious that Pastor Vince is expecting there to be Catholics in attendance who might be willing to leave their faith and begin attending his church.  Notice also the timing of this series.  Next week is Palm Sunday.  I would imagine that the next (and final week) there will be an invitation.  Something like, “If after hearing this objective presentation of Catholicism you would like to learn the Bible for yourself and let Jesus save you, please join us again next week for Easter.  Your decision has eternal consequences.”  Indeed it does.  Some people might be up in arms that this is sheep stealing.  Personally, I call it fair game.  Well, not quite.  He’s not playing the game fairly when he misrepresents our side, but the fact that he’s playing the game is fair.  I actually have no problem with his attempt to “steal sheep”.   He thinks he’s right.  He thinks people are more likely to get to heaven if they come to his church.  If that’s the case, then for him to really care about you and I is to try to bring us into his flock.  We should actually believe the same thing, but in reverse.  Do we?  Are we brave enough to step out of our comfort zone?  Do our diocesan leaders believe that their #1 mission is to get people to heaven?  Do our priests yearn to get their parishioners into heaven?  Do we go out and try to bring lost sheep into the fold?  If the answer is no to any of those questions, then it’s obvious we have a major problem on our hands.  Watered down Catholicism has no teeth.

Continuing on, I’ll follow the same template as my previous post and start with the main points and then follow with some additional commentary.


Obviously False Assertions by PV

PV makes a special note that he wants to be notified if he has misquoted anything.  I checked some of his quotes – they check out.  That’s not the issue, though.  The issue is taking quotes out of context and drawing false conclusions from them.  Accuracy of quotes does not nullify the fact that you might misuse quotes to present misleading arguments.

1) “Apocryphal” works were added by Trent
Actually the deuterocanonicals were widely considered scripture (mostly undisputed) since the earliest Christian age.  It was Martin Luther who wanted to get rid of certain doctrines, so he found a convenient way to do so by throwing the deuterocanonical books out of scripture.  He also tried to throw out other books like James because of it’s “not by faith alone” text.

2) the Catholic Church suppressed the Bible
PV includes quotes that when not given the full context are extremely misleading.  The reason the Church restricted reading and printing of certain Bibles was because they wanted to be sure of their accuracy.  One can legitimately disagree whether the Church handled this correctly or not, but you can’t dispute the fact that there were reasons for the Catholic Church’s stance.

I’d also note that the issue of common people owning Bibles was not the same issue in the 16th century that it is today.  The idea of a commoner owning a book was a totally new concept in the 16th century (and probably not a common reality even then).  The Protestant idea that equates being a Christian with owning a Bible doesn’t make sense historically.  If owning a Bible and interpreting it for yourself is such a crucial part of Christian living, then how do we consider commoners prior to the printing press?  No, I’m not saying that Christians today shouldn’t own and read Bibles.  They most certainly should.

3) PV claims that the Catholic church has a higher regard for Islam than Evangelical Protestantism
This is obviously a misreading of the documents.  V2 addresses Evangelical Christians and Muslims in separate documents.  The names of the documents are enough to disprove PV’s assertion.  Listen very closely, PV, “Evangelical Protestants are our brothers and sisters in Christ.”  Perhaps the DOR’s ecumenism office might want to take note that one of our brothers feels slighted and focus some of their efforts on conservative Evangelicals and prove PV wrong (instead of denying truths of the Faith).


The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect.
…It follows that the separated Churches(23) and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.


3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

He also uses a couple B16 quotes to prove that the Catholic Church holds Islam higher than Protestantism.  It’s not even worth my time to address that because his misinterpretation is just so obvious.

3b) PV claims that the Catholic Church teaches that Evangelicals can’t be saved.
Another misunderstanding.  Admittedly, it’s taken time to nail down what exactly “no salvation outside the Church means”, but V2 is pretty clear.  See above quote from Unitatis Redintegratio.

Legitimate differences between Evangelical Protestantism and Catholicism

1) Sola Scriptura
The following links provide much more substance than I can, but real quickly the obvious counter questions to Protestants are:  How do you know what books should be in the Bible?  What do you do when 2 people have 2 different interpretations of an essential doctrine?  Who decides what are the essentials and what are the non-essentials?  Where in the Bible is Sola Scriptura defined?

One other note on Sola Scriptura and perspicuity…  PV actually does a better job disproving the perspicuity of Scriptures (and the right of each individual to interpret scripture for themselves) than I could do.  If you listen, you’ll find yourself disagreeing with many of his interpretations about some pretty big issues.  If Scripture is so clear, then how come my interpretation of John 6 is so different than PV’s?  And if I’m entitled to my own interpretation, than how can I be wrong to say that Scripture clearly points to the Eucharist and the institution of the Church?

2) no such thing as the priesthood in the New Testament

Areas where PV differs from generally accepted protestant scholarship

Yes, that’s right.  I said protestant scholarship.  Intellectually honest protestants know where and how to pick their battles.  Most educated protestants will not argue the following points because they know they don’t have a leg to stand on.

1) call no man father

Most protestant scholars don’t see this passage as a refutation for calling priests father.

2) interpretation of Matthew 16:18 – petros/petra

Obviously no protestants find the modern day papacy in this passage, but most protestant scholars have given up the petros/petra distinction.

3) “the Bible says that the body is made up of many churches”
I’ve actually never heard this one before.  He’s using Paul’s body parts text to claim proof of the need to have many different churches.  I’m not even sure how exactly to dispute this because it’s just so whack.  I suppose Jesus’ dying wish is the most obvious refutation – John 17:21 “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me”

My guess at what he’s saving for week 3

1) Mariology

2) Faith+Works

3) Eucharist

So that’s the biggies.

having addressed the big issues, I’ll continue on with a minutes/second commentary…

3:10 – “Last week I when I mentioned holy living – it isn’t just that Catholics and Protestants tell their people to live moral lives – it isn’t just that. It’s that they expect society to act in a moral and holy way. That’s why I’m very thankful that in today’s climate, I am not bashing a homosexual when I say this, but I am very thankful that the Roman Catholic Church defends the sanctity of marriage – that marriage is between one man and one woman. Additionally, I’m thankful that the Catholic Church is staunch believes that the fact that life begins at conception. I’m proud that we agree on those matters.”

Thanks for saying that, PV.  I’m hoping that means you read my post last week (and will hopefully read this one as well).

4:30 – 95 thesis with which he disagreed with the Roman Catholic Church.

I haven’t read the actual 95 thesis myself, but from what I’ve read about them they aren’t totally out of line with Catholic teaching.  They’re mostly about the abuse of indulgences.  Luther later goes much further, but it’s worth noting what the 95 thesis were about (and not about).

He goes on to reiterate that Wycliffe, Huss, Savonarola were tortured for their beliefs.

“Their beliefs” is a more accurate way to put it.  It’s certainly more accurate than what he said last week – that they were killed because they wanted to share the Bible with ordinary folks.

4:45 – they were followed by Zwingli, Calvin…

this is misleading. I don’t know as much about Zwingli, but Calvin didn’t die for his beliefs. In fact, it’s the other way around. He killed those who disagreed with him.

3 areas of disagreement (between the Roman Catholic Church and the Bible)
1) Bible plus Tradition

10:35 – jerome wouldn’t translate it [deuterocanonicals]

I suppose that does bring it into question, however it’s not a clear cut argument against the deuterocanonicals.  Jerome is just one guy.  Anyone have more info on this?

NT authors didn’t quote it [deuterocanonicals]

but they quoted the septuagint which included the deuterocanonicals

13:00 – Tradition is the hardest thing to define for a RC. It’s not something you can read or lay your hands on.

I will admit that I also had a hard time with this as I began to investigate Catholicism.  He’s right that it’s hard to figure out what is explicitly defined (at least for someone coming in with an Evangelical mindset).  However, the CCC hits on it all.  To me, the biggest Traditions are the Sacraments, Church Authority, morality (eg contraception and divorce).

Let me also address the fear here. The fear is that a Catholic can’t possibly know what they’re signed up for. Another fear is that since not all Tradition is clearly defined as such from day one, that there could be radical changes at any time.  Taking a look at how doctrines have actually developed, though, puts this fear to rest.

15:00 That seems very subjective. How do you know what are true realities?

How does denying Tradition help you out with either of these questions?

how do you get scripture w/out tradition?

17:35 – venerate means worship.

not exactly. In older English worship was a more broad term than it is now. To say that venerate and worship mean the same thing in modern English is somewhat misleading.  It’s not a biggie here, but might be in the next session (assuming he’s gonna talk about Mary).

18:10 – Bible Alone – Sola Scriptura. 1 Peter 1:24-25 all men… how many men? all men.

He’s doing this again with the “all” stuff . Also, PV interjects the “word of the Lord” with “scripture alone”.  He’s placing his own interpretation right into scripture.  He’ll do this a few more times.

1 Peter 1:24-25 does not prove Sola Scriptura. Where is the part where he defines which books are included?

20:50 – matthew 15:6 “you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.”

This is a false dichotomy. It’s not consistent with what he’s said earlier. Apostolic Tradition is not of men and thus not what Jesus is referring to.

21:10 “it’s experience, human experience, and when you mesh experience with the Bible – what’s gonna happen is that experience will trump it.

I’m not exactly following this.

22:50 “the bible’s message is very clear.”

clearly asserting the Eucharist and the Church.

23:45 during the Reformation, the Catholic Church did not allow people to have Bibles.

not exactly (see links above)

26:10 – 2 tim 3:16 proves perspicuity. 2 tim 2:15 individuals should interpret for themselves.

Even Luther decried this mentality

27:15 – he again substitutes “your word” for “the Bible”

28:00 starts talking non-essentials and lists several different Protestant churches. They agree on essentials

2nd difference – the Church

30:00 a family member sent PV Scott Hahn’s “Rome Sweet Home”.

Kudos to that family member. PV, have you read it?

31:30 – he misinterprets v2 “whosoever therefore knowing that the Catholic Church… could not go to heaven. The people of LCC are not saved.

That’s a misinterpretation. That’s not what the Church teaches. His conclusion is not consistent with the quote. I hope these people don’t get duped that easily?

32:00 – he’s trying to claim that Muslims are ahead of Evangelical Christians according to V2

The “first” referred to here is outside of Christianity.  Again – this is a misinterpretation.

32:30 – he goes on and on about Muslims. A protestant would say a Muslim could not go to heaven.

Actually many protestants don’t agree with that.

33:00 – he goes on about how Protestants don’t believe in Church per se.

Again, many protestants (Lutherans, Anglicans, and several other “denominations”) would disagree.

34:15 “the Bible says that the body is made up of many churches. There is one body (collection of churches)… spirit baptism vs water baptism is non-essential”

How is this non-essential?  Says who?  It seems to me that the NT makes baptism pretty important, so I would think a proper understanding of it is also quite important.

35:15 “a Protestant could say that a Catholic can be saved, but a Catholic cannot say the same of the Protestant. Which is more restrictive?”

actually that’s backwards. He’s saying that a Catholic can only be saved in spite of their Catholic faith. In other words they can be saved if they are a protestant who happens to attend a Catholic church. The Catholic teaching is that protestants can be saved even if they (in ingorance) deny Catholic truths and believe Protestantism.  It’s actually the reverse of his claim

3rd difference – Pope is the vicar of Christ and priests forgive sin

40:30 – he goes into the petra/petros debate. “every reputable new testament scholar would say this”

hmmm – not so sure.  I’ve heard many modern Protestant scholarship accepts the Catholic understanding of this verse. They wouldn’t draw the conclusion that the modern papacy is what Jesus intended, but they would admit that this petros/petra argument is fallacious.  PV is putting himself out on a limb here by clinging to this old (incorrect) understanding. He mentions AT Robertson (and the fact that he studied Greek for 3 years).

42:45 “Peter’s authority was opposed by Paul (Acts 15) … popes can be wrong. Would you have the courage to oppose the Pope to his face? Would you call the pope a hypocric?”

Maybe he should hop on over to Becket Hall and read the National Catholic Fishwrap and see how they speak of their Holy Father.

45:45 he pits 2 B16 quotes to try to say that there’s a sore spot for protestants

This is a misinterpretation.  I struggle to see how he’s being intellectually honest here.

I’ll give this to PV in regards to confession. He’s teaching more about the Catholic’s need for confession more than many a DOR homilist.

48:30 “NT makes no mention of the office of the priest”

covered above.

49:00 “call no man father”

come on – typical anti-catholicism. Again modern protestant scholarship disagrees with PV on this.

50:45 “nothing specific in NT about confessing sins to a priest”

John 20:23 “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

51:00 universal priesthood

sure – we also believe in that.  That doesn’t rule out a ministerial priesthood

51:30 “NT 1) no such thing as a priest anymore”

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12 Responses to “Understanding Roman Catholicism: Week 2 – Disagreements”

  1. avatar Scott W. says:

    Yeah, the petros/petras arguments always struck me as really scraping the bottom of the barrel for decent objections. That is, we are always told that the Bible is clear enough that anyone can pick it up and understand it, but when we get to this passage all of sudden an army of pointy-headed scholars come out of the woodwoork writing reams of pages about not even a single word, but a part of a single word insisting that the Catholic interpretation isn’t even possible. Feh. The Sola Scriptura roulette wheel: round and round she goes, where she stops nobody knows.

  2. avatar annonymouse says:

    Don’t forget this:

    With regard to sola scriptura, what are we to make of the fact that there were NO writings for 20 or so years after the Resurrection, no gospels for 40-50 or so years, and no official canon of the bible for what, 300+ years? (canonized by a bunch of bishops, mind you!) What were those early Christians to believe without scripture? Oh, I know…they believed what their leaders taught them and the tradition that was handed down to them.

    Pastor Vince, if you look at all this honestly, you’ll see the truth in the Catholic Church. Come Home, PV!

  3. avatar RochChaCha says:


    Excellent work. Sounds like you have done a really thorough job in helping to clarify the points Pastor Vince is making and where he is incorrect in explaining the Catholic teaching. As you mentioned, he did say that if he ‘misquotes’ something that we should call it to his attention, but ‘misquoting’ something and taking something completely out of context are two different things. What is very disappointing is that Pastor Vince does not offer the opportunity for real dialogue. It would be great if there was a good dialogue or debate at a neutral location in which Pastor Vince could really allow for an exchange of views. What’s the likelihood of that?

  4. avatar Christopher says:

    annonymouse, do you have a source for your statement saying there was NO writings for 20 or so years after the resurrection? I would like to read more about the history of scripture.

    Also I assume you mean there was no writings accepted as scripture.

  5. avatar annonymouse says:

    I have a number of sources. It is not known for certain which of Paul’s letters was the first book of the New Testament to be written. It was probably 1 Thessalonians, around 51 (nearly 20 years after Jesus’ death). There are theories that Galatians may have been written first and a bit earlier. The Gospels were written later.

    Yes, I am talking about canonical books. It is clear that the early Christians lived expecting an imminent parousia (second coming); so why write things down?

  6. avatar Christopher says:

    Can you provide some of the sources here so I can educate myself. Thank you for your help.

  7. avatar snowshoes says:


    Thank you, an excellent analysis, and done thoughtfully and charitably, with all parties in mind. And Christopher, one event several theologians have considered is the first Sunday Mass after Pentecost. There you are, with the Twelve Apostles (the Pope and the Bishops), the Blessed Mother of God and Queen of Heaven and Earth, the Disciples, St. Mary Magdalene, Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and many of the several hundred of those baptized the Sunday prior. You have come back from the Temple, where the “Liturgy of the Word” (the OT Reading) was still celebrated, for the second part of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

    The concept of a little upper room no longer applies, we’re talking more than a thousand parishioners at Mass here. There had to immediately be order and formality, you were in the presence of the Apostles and the Blessed Mother, after all.

    When did the recitation of the sayings of Our Lord begin to be formally stated at Mass?

    Right then.

    When did they start to be written down? There is no definite answer to that question that I know of, but I’d bet on that Sunday, because remember, there were people from all over the world there in Jerusalem for the Passover, and many of them became Catholics that Pentecost (the first RCIA). And they had to have something to take home with them. These initial writings are not the Sacred Scripture of the New Testament, yet…

    One of those oft ignored and misunderstood sayings of Jesus has to do with what the Apostles could not bear at the time, but He promised He would send the Holy Spirit (at Pentecost) to lead them into all Truth. One of these fruits of the Holy Spirit, as it were, is the Canon of Sacred Scripture as pronounced by the Pope and Bishops in Council through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    Just a little imagining. I bet someone can refer us to a good popular (as opposed to academic) Catholic source on the development of the NT.

    Oh, and on the Deuterocanonical issue, the best and most personally satisfying answer, without getting into the explanation of the canon of the Greek OT as opposed to the Hebrew OT at the time, is that the OT with the Deuterocanonical books is the one Our Lord Jesus used! If it’s okay wit Him, it’s okay wit me.

  8. avatar Christopher says:

    heheh Anonymous, this might be one of the few websites that uses a black background. Try and print a page from it sometime if you really want to be frustrated…

  9. avatar annonymouse says:

    Snowshoes…with all due respect, on exactly what did they start to write down the sayings of the Lord on Pentacost Sunday? Did they whip out their notebooks and pens? Did they carry papyrus or sheep-skin parchment with them? I think not. How many could even read and write? 10%?, maybe 20% tops. Why exactly would folks have seen the need to write anything down? The Apostles had just witnessed Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and they weren’t about to forget. All expected Him to come again very soon. If was only after a number of years had passed and many of the first Christians were dying or dead that it became apparent that the sayings and stories of Jesus should be memorialized.

    To ignore any factual context from the times of Christ and the early Christians is to risk mis-understanding the writings that survive.

  10. avatar Mike says:

    “Apocryphal” works were added by Trent.

    Where does this guy get this nonsense? The first session of the Council of Trent convened in 1545. Martin Luther’s German Bible was first published 11 years earlier in 1534 and it included the “apocryphal” writings. Yes, he didn’t believe they belonged in the canon (and said so) but he still included them. Why? Because by that time the Catholic Church had been saying they were canonical for well over 1,000 years and simply throwing them away might have caused too much of a backlash.

  11. avatar Dr. K says:

    You know you have a weak case when most of your complaints pertain to events that may or may not have happened 500 years ago…

  12. avatar GADEL says:

    Pax in Christo.

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