Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

“Understanding” Roman Catholicism

March 24th, 2011, Promulgated by Mike

A large postcard from the Lakeshore Community Church (LCC) showed up in yesterday’s mail.  On the front is a photo that appears to have been taken inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, along with the phrase “Understanding Roman Catholicism,” with the latter two words much larger than the first and in a font that seems to have been chosen to evoke feelings of shabbiness, disorder or decay.

On the back is a large banner that asks …

So You Want To Understand Roman Catholicism?

… and beneath the banner is this message from LCC …

If you have ever wanted to understand Roman Catholic teaching in light of the Bible, you’re not alone. Many people wrestle with what it all means and how much it applies to their life today.

At Lakeshore, we’re taking a careful look at Roman Catholic teaching from history, councils, quotes of leaders, and official catechisms and will compare them to the appropriate verses in the Bible. We think you’ll be intrigued by the comparison and learn more about both in the process.

Our promise? No Catholic bashing because we believe people matter to God. Our request? Check us out with an open mind and then reach your own informed conclusions.

On nothing more than a whim I googled the phrase “Understanding Roman Catholicism” (with the quotes) and a very interesting resource popped up.  It is a book by that name written some 16 years ago by Rick Jones.  According to,

Rick was born and raised a Roman Catholic which laid the foundation for his third book, “Understanding Roman Catholicism”. Being saved out of Catholicism caused him to experience the dramatic difference between the emptiness of religion and a fulfilling personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In addition, in 1987 God led Rick to Chick Publications, where he has worked for the last twenty years. It was there that he began an extensive study of official Catholic beliefs and learned the stark differences between Catholicism and the Bible. Not wanting a single Catholic to miss heaven, this book was written to offer Catholics true Biblical salvation, which they will never find in their religion.

Chick Publications has conveniently posted a version of this book online so it is possible to get some idea of what Jones means by “the stark difference Catholicism and the Bible.” I am not,however, going to spend any time critiquing Jones’ arguments as they are really quite sophomoric. You can check them out for yourself or take a quick look at this thread from Catholic Answers Forums where several people say essentially the same thing.

While Jones’ book contains elements drawn from “history, councils, quotes of leaders, and official catechisms” and bears the same name as LCC’s series of talks, I don’t know for sure that LCC plans to base its presentations on this particular resource.  Even if it doesn’t, though, I expect LCC will rely on something similar.

I doubt that LCC will pick up any new members from among those Catholics who actually know their faith.  The problem is that, in this diocese anyway, there are thousands who don’t – both practicing and non-practicing.

As one of the members of the Catholic Answers Forum wrote,

The problem is that as practicing Catholics, we know to avoid Chick publications – Protestants and non-practicing Catholics don’t. We know how to knock down his arguments – non-practicing Catholics don’t.

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28 Responses to ““Understanding” Roman Catholicism”

  1. Louis E. says:

    I’m reminded of a book that came unsolicited in the mail about “Jews who thought for themselves”…each subject’s “thinking for themselves” involving apostasizing from Judaism…I guess this is the Catholic version.

  2. Faithful says:

    I can’t believe anyone even takes Chick publications seriously. Even the better Protestant apologists shake their head at Chick and are embarrased by him.

    However it seems (and this is exactely my issue with them) Catholic Answers wants to direct the majority of it’s resources refuting Jack Chick, when anyone with as little as a fifth grade Catholic religious upbringing can run circles around his materials. Catholic Answers needs to lay off Chick- as he just isn’t worth it. Anyone who falls for his stupid arguments has no brain, and therefore belong with him. (Sorry to be blunt)

    Catholic Answers should direct their resources to the more serious Protestant apologists who do mount a bit of an intellectual challange to the Catholic Faith such as James White, or R.C Sproul, or William Webster, or Keith Maddison, etc. This is exactely what I meant when I said they should be more scholarly and academic and stop wasting time with people like Chick. White, Maddison, Sproul, and the like are busy actually making intelligent and coherent defenses of the Reformation and Catholic Answers is busy sticking their heads in the sand pretending that the best Protestants can offer is Jack Chick and busily congradulating themselves on how smart they are becasue they can refute Jack Chick. In short- they should pick on apologists their own size and stop bullying idiots.

  3. Christina says:

    So you’re going right? 😉

    RE Faithful, while Catholic Answers offers more basic arguments, they are often the ones most likely to be presented to the average lay catholic. Because they are able to offer reasoned answers many people stay in the church (I know I did). So they have a niche reaching out to the uneducated catholic as opposed to the educated, who has the entire library of the church at his disposal.

  4. I once interviewed for a job with a company whose representatives spent most of their time bashing a large competitor. To a man, they all claimed to have this other company in its sights. I remember thinking, “If they’re so fixated on this company, it’s got to be worth checking out.” Last December was my eleventh anniversary with the competitor.

  5. Christopher says:

    I would consider attending this presentation but am I to understand it is to be held during the Sunday worship service times? If so I’m not sure I will attend since there will be no opportunity for dialog in the form of question and answer.

    If we think there will be an opportunity to talk then I may attend.

    If anyone who is somewhat skilled in apologetics and more importantly knows how to be charitable in a defense would like to join me I would appreciate it. Please email me at asap if you are interested. It would be a good Lenten exercise. If anyone else has anymore links or knowledge on the Chick book please email me as well.

  6. Christopher says:

    Also, one other question, just because the title of the talk is “Understanding Roman Catholism” doesn’t necessarily believe they are pulling their knowledge from the book you suggest right? There is nothing else on the brochure or envelope which suggests where they glean their knowledge?

  7. Ben Anderson says:

    I just emailed LCC offering my services 🙂 . I might be up for joining you, Christopher.

  8. Ben Anderson says:

    Jimmy Akin takes on at least one aspect of White here. Search youtube for White debates – I’ve enjoyed watching a few. Jimmy Akin is one of the best apologists there is. If you don’t like CA, then don’t read, listen, or watch it. They are providing a great service. They’re a major reason I’m Catholic now. Yes, I used plenty of other resources to drill deeper (one of which is JA’s Salvation Controversy and Keating’s Catholicism and Fundamentalism). Their success speaks for itself.

  9. Mike says:


    That’s correct. I do NOT know which publicly available resources LCC will be using, if any.

    That said, I can easily see how Jones’ book – or one like it – could easily be used as the basis for three 20-30 minute talks.

  10. Christopher says:

    Mike, how do you think you got on the mailing list? Was it postmarked to your name or just dropped in your box by hand?

  11. Faithful says:


    It is not that I don’t “like” Catholic Answers or that I “dislike” Catholic Answers. To be sure they do a noble apostolate, and perhaps many people are still in the Church because of them.

    I just happen to think they can be better. I want them to be better—becasue they defend the Faith I love. We who are into apologetics (like myself) owe it to ourselves to be the best we can be. We owe it to ourselves to know the positions of our opponents so well that we can take that position and debate it as well as or better then our opponent. Only then are we ready for apologetics. One cannot effectively debate if they do not know their opponent, or the position they are espousing, or if they are not familier with their opponents works. I find that Catholic Answers tends to lump Protestant Apologists into the Jack Chick type catagory and therefore egregiously underestimate many of their opponents.

    I do agree that Jimmy Akin is a good apologist.

  12. Dr. K says:

    It would appear that this postcard was sent throughout the town of Greece. A reader who lives in that town also sent us a copy of the card.

    I hope that you and whoever chooses to go will be successful in defending the Catholic Church against any lies and exaggerations that might be made against her. There are going to be a number of people there in need of the truth. Souls are at stake.

  13. Christopher says:

    Faithful. Just out of curiosity, which website does a good job with apologetics by your standards. I’m always willing to examine more resources.

  14. Gretchen G says:

    Mike, I’m so glad you posted this. We got this postcard in the mail, too, and I was going to scan it and send it to you guys in hopes that maybe some of you would want to take a little ride… To whomever goes, maybe take with you the Catechism? (It would be interesting to see what they use to provide evidence of what Catholic beliefs are.)

  15. Faithful says:


    Catholic Answers is the main Catholic Apologetic organization on the internet that I am aware of. Most of the other apologetic organizations that deal in Catholic apologetics seems to be Catholic Answersesque in their own apologetics—that is to say a lot of the material comes from Catholic Answers and is based on it.

    There is one Catholic Apologist I am aware of who is slightly more scholarly and high powered then Catholic Answers and that is Robert Sungenis. As I said, I think Jimmy Akin is not a bad apologist. Another one is a blog/website called “Called to Communion.” Called to Communion seems to me more academic and scholarly.

  16. Christina says:

    Unfortunately I’m a bit far away or I would join you. I’ll offer a holy hour tomorrow for this intention. Hopefully hearts will be open to the truth.

    Even if it’s at a Sunday service, there might be an opportunity to correct errors afterward. A local church invited us to a goat roast that beforehand had a service. I disagreed with some of the things the pastor said (not anti-Catholic, just theological quibbles), but of course was unable to say anything. However, at the gathering afterward my friend and I sat down and the pastor sat down right beside me.

    Well, of course I asked and he explained. I countered and he asked if I was Catholic. Funny, because the topic wasn’t an expected difference between Catholics and Protestants. From there we discussed other things Catholics got wrong. This gave an opportunity for the pastor (and those sitting nearby) to hear the truth.

    The only sad part is the Lord is still teaching me tact, restraint, and to not become like a bulldog (You can’t leave until you see the logic and CONVERT! GRRRR…) We have to remember we don’t convert them, God does and only with their permission.

  17. Christopher says:

    Faithful, I know Sungenis well. The problem with him is that he’s a conspiracy theorist (see his audio tape on the Fatima coverup) and believes in Geocentrism which hurts his credibility a bit as a Catholic apologist. I would agree though, he knows his Catholic apologetics.

    Here’s some dialog with Sungenis and Dave Armstrong over Geocentrism as well:

  18. Nerina says:

    Just a note that Robert Sungenis (a revert to the Catholic faith at the age of 37 after having been a Protestant for 18 years) has been accused of being anti-Semitic. I don’t know enough about his writings to judge that claim, but it is out there and he was censored by his Bishop in 2007 regarding his writings about the Jewish people. It should also be noted that he complied with his Bishop’s directions and removed the writings from his CAI website.

    While I agree with “Faithful” that there are very respectable Protestant apologists out there, the average “Joe Catholic” wouldn’t know James White if he was standing in front of him. I think Catholic Answers does a great job at reaching the average Catholic who may be hearing the typical arguments of protestants at work or at their door. I know CA was the first stop for me in educating myself when the evangelicals and Mormons came knocking at my door in North Carolina. I think saying CA focuses almost exclusively on Jack Chick is a gross exaggeration. At the same time, I would not underestimate the influence of Jack Chick and his propaganda and am thankful that someone is refuting him. Jack Chick is particularly influential in evangelical circles.

  19. Mike says:

    Christopher, Dr. K., Gretchen G., et alia,

    I was at events at Holy Cross both Wednesday evening and last night. Many parishioners mentioned receiving the postcard (and some were quite upset about it!). I knew where some of them lived and asked a couple of others.

    It appears this mailing was targeted to at least 3 zip codes: 14612, 14616 and 14626. I don’t know about further west or south of our immediate area, but I do know that one person from 14617 (Irondequoit) did NOT receive it.

  20. Mark S says:

    I received the postcard, and was both offended and curious. I am currently in RCIA after being a youth leader, Sunday school teacher, Chairman of the Trustees and active member of my current protestant church for 22 years, and a practicing Christian for 45. I watched the “message from the pastor” ( and am very concerned at the way this will be presented. I also note that I do not recall any previous invitations to attend a sermon series there (but I may have gotten them and tossed themout), and also note that there will be 1 session/sermoin on the similarities and 2 on the differences. Makes the whole thing very suspect to me. I doubt I can go to be there in person, as I will be in my RCIA class or Mass, but I will listen to the MP3s when they are available.

    Pray for those that will give and hear these messages!

  21. j.g. says:

    I recieved this postcard as well,I called the place..spoke to a secretary & asked if there would be a Catholic represetative there to answer or refute any claim or misunderstanding of our faith…guess what that answer was…

  22. Dr. K says:

    Can pretty much guess that the pastor will touch upon:
    -That priests are called “Father”
    -The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the literalness of “this is my Body/Blood”
    -Idolatry re: statues, paintings
    -Our respect for and devotion to the Blessed Mother
    -Justification (faith and works)
    -The Sacraments; particularly criticizing Confession

  23. Christopher says:

    Wow, here is a good background on what he’s going to talk about and a little on his background…

    He sent the flyer to 62,000 people in Greece, Spencerport, Hilton and Brockport. He said over half of his congregation is ex-Catholics.

    His strategy will be to present quotes from Church father’s, popes and bishops, then present text from the Bible which contradicts it. He will most likely explain the “what” but not the “why”. Ben and I were talking that we should record the sessions and present a response on a blog somewhere and hand out flyers with links to the blog.

    If this is something you can help us set up or if there are those among you who can listen to the sermons and help us put together the content on a website (from the comfort of your own home), please contact Ben or myself.

  24. Cindy says:

    “His strategy will be to present quotes from Church father’s, popes and bishops, then present text from the Bible which contradicts it.”

    So, he plans to take things out of context, then present them as fact. Lovely.

  25. Roman Catholicism, being the largest denomination, could very well be around 50% Catholics at his service. Funny, the guy I know who attends this church doesn’t consider himself an ex-catholic. (Maybe an exile from the DoR policies?)

    Independent churches, having expanded to almost every suburb and store front, need new members to survive. Lakeshore doesn’t have the numbers they use to have. Thus their appeal for new members.

  26. MarkS says:

    Christopher, et al.,
    I think that they ppost the sermons as MP3 files or podcasts, so I plan to grab those and listen. I am in for helping you and Ben!

  27. MarkS says:

    I could not help but notice that the pastor’s one video looks like there is a shrine to some saints. Only problem it is the New Orleans Saints NFL team 🙂

  28. MarkS says:

    Oh – he makes a comment about that at the end of the video that he hopes to be able to show who the real saints, Christians, are.

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