Apologetics for the Masses #215 - The Slick Gospel (cont'd)

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General Comments

Hey folks, I want to invite all of you to EWTN's 2013 Family Celebration on Aug. 17-18 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex here in Birmingham, Alabama!  There will be a number of hosts of EWTN programs (Marcus Grodi, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, etc.) who will be giving talks; there will be a live taping of Johnette Benkovic and "Women of Grace;" a roundtable on religious liberty; and a lot of other happenings as well.  And, yours truly will be there, although not in any official capacity.  If you are an EWTN fan, this weekend is made to order for you.  I hope you can join us here in Birmingham that weekend.  For more information on all aspects of the weekend go to: http://www.ewtn.com/familycelebration/.  And, if you are planning on being here, let me know and we can arrange to meet one another during the weekend.  Come on down and bide a wee...


Okay, this is a continuation of my analysis/rebuttal/rebuke of Matt Slick's article entitled, "The Gospel for Roman Catholics."  In the last two newsletters, I took on the first part of his article, which he described as  explaining and documenting the Roman Catholic Church's position on justification.  In actuality, it was a butchering of Catholic teaching that would be right at home in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."  Mr. Slick  substituted a gross caricature of Catholic teaching for authentic Catholic teaching.  He gave his readers the teachings of the Catholic Church according to Matt Slick, rather than the teachings of the Catholic Church according to the Catholic Church. 

In this newsletter, I am going to analyze/rebut/rebuke the 2nd part of Mr. Slick's article.  In the second part of his article, Mr. Slick purports to: "Present the true gospel in contrast to the Catholic Church's position."  What he is actually doing is presenting the The Slick Interpretation of the Bible vs. the Slick Interpretation of Catholic Teaching.  I intend to show that his interpretation of both, leaves a lot to be desired.

I will first present the 2nd part of his article in its entirety, and then take it apart piece-by-unholy-piece.  I will present my response as if I was corresponding with him personally, which I have not been.  And, no, in response to some questions I have received, he has not responded to me and I have no idea if he is aware of my doing this.  Although, I know he receives these newsletters because his email address is in our database.  And, yes, please feel free to let him know this is happening if you are so inclined. 


Matt Slick

The Gospel for Roman Catholics

The Gospel for Roman Catholics is the same as for anyone else and it is obtained by grace through faith in believing and trusting in Jesus alone, who is God in flesh, for the forgiveness of sins.  Salvation is not found in a true church.  Salvation is not found in being good.   Salvation is not found in good works.  Salvation is not found in a sincere heart.  Salvation is not found in making up for past sins by efforts of restoration, or penance, or indulgences.  You can never do enough to please God.

Because God is so infinitely holy and righteous, and because we are sinners, we are incapable of pleasing God by anything that we do.  In fact, our righteous deeds are considered filthy rags before God (Isa. 64:6).  You can do nothing to earn forgiveness or keep forgiveness.  Salvation before God is not administered to us through an earthly priest in the Catholic church by the sprinkling of water, or giving of penance, or recitation of formula prayers.  Salvation for the Christian is not kept through the effort of the person who hopes and tries and worries about being good enough to stay saved.

Such error can only lead to despair and hopelessness and a desperate and unwarranted dependence on the Roman Catholic Church as the only means by which salvation can be distributed and maintained.  In this error, people far too often seek to work their way to heaven by being good, by doing what the Catholic church teaches them to do, by prayers to Mary, by indulgences, by the Rosary, and by a host of other man-made works.  Remember, in the RCC, salvation is through the Church and its sacraments, not through Jesus alone, by faith alone.  This is exactly how the cults of Mormonism and the Jehovah's Witnesses work who both teach that true salvation is found only in their church membership and in following the revelation and authority of their church teachers and traditions.

Are you tired of the works requirement?

In great contrast to the position of the Roman Catholic Church, if you want to be forgiven of your sins, once and for all, then you need to come to Christ (Matt. 11:28).  You need to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior (John 1:12; Rom. 10:13).  You need to ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins (John 14:14), and trust in Him alone and in nothing that you can do.  Remember, your good deeds have no merit before God (Isa. 64:6).  Furthermore, if you have faith, it is because that faith is the work of God (John 6:28-29).  If you believe, it is because God has granted that you believe (Phil. 1:29).  It is not because you were baptized, or have been good, or have been sincere.  It is all of God.  The Lord must receive all the glory for salvation because it completely and totally rests in Him.  Salvation rests in Christ alone and it is received by faith apart from works.

Please read the following scriptures carefully.

        "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Rom. 3:23).
        "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord," (Rom. 6:23).
        "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed," (1 Pet. 2:24).
        "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him," (2 Cor. 5:21).
        "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it," (John 14:14).
        "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29"Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls," (Matt. 11:28-29).
        "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name," (John 1:12).
        "I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly," (Gal. 2:21).
        "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law," (Rom. 3:28).
        "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness," (Rom. 4:3).
        "But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness," (Rom. 4:5).
        "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life," (1 John 5:13).

A suggested prayer

This suggested prayer is not a formula, but a representation of biblical principles by which you might better understand the true gospel and receive Christ as your Lord and Savior.  It is not a formula derived from Sacred Tradition or Stamped with the seal of the Roman Catholic Church's approval.  Its principles are derived from scripture:  we are sinners; God is Holy; we cannot earn salvation; salvation is a free gift; prayer to Christ; Jesus is the only way; receiving Christ; faith; etc.

    "Lord Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner and that I have offended you by breaking your Holy Law.  I confess my sins to you Lord and ask forgiveness from you and do not ask anyone else to be forgiven of my sins against you.  I acknowledge who you are, God in flesh, creator, humble Lord, who bore my sins in Your body on the cross and I come to you alone and trust you alone, by faith, that you will forgive me completely of my sins so that I will have eternal life.  I ask you Lord to come into my heart, to be my Lord, to forgive me of my sins.  Lord I trust in you alone, in the work of the cross alone and not in any church, not in any saint, not in Mary, not in any priest, but in you alone.  Lord, Jesus, I receive you, and come to you, and ask you to forgive me and justify me by faith as I trust in you alone.     Thank you.

If you are a Roman Catholic and have trusted in Christ alone for the forgiveness of your sins, then welcome to the body of Christ.  Welcome to salvation and the free gift of forgiveness in Jesus.

Next, I strongly recommend that you read the Bible regularly, talk to Jesus daily in prayer, and seek to find a church that teaches and focuses on Jesus as Lord, Jesus as Savior, and sticks to the Bible alone.


Mr. Slick

The Gospel for Roman Catholics

The Gospel for Roman Catholics is the same as for anyone else and it is obtained by grace through faith in believing and trusting in Jesus alone, who is God in flesh, for the forgiveness of sins.  Salvation is not found in a true church.  Salvation is not found in being good.   Salvation is not found in good works.  Salvation is not found in a sincere heart.  Salvation is not found in making up for past sins by efforts of restoration, or penance, or indulgences.  You can never do enough to please God.

My Response

Mr. Slick, you have 7 sentences in the above paragraph.  Let's take them one at a time:

Sentence #1: "The Gospel for Roman Catholics..."  I can generally agree with this sentence.  After all, Scripture tells us, "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved," (Acts 4:12).

Sentence #2: "Salvation is not found in a true church."  Got a problem with this one.  Mr. Slick, could you give me the book, chapter, and verse for this statement?  I ask because, what you are saying is that salvation is not found in the Church established by Jesus Christ, which is the only "true church."  I find that a rather odd statement to make.  If such is the case, then why did Jesus found a church?  Furthermore, what you are also saying is that salvation is not found in the Body of Christ.  For what does Scripture tell us about the "true church," except that it is the Body of Christ: "...and He has put all things under His feet and has made Him the head over all things for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all."  So, Mr. Slick, could you please explain how it is that salvation is not found in the Body of Christ? 

Sentence #3: Salvation is not found in being good.   Same question: Book, chapter, and verse?  I ask because the Bible doesn't seem to agree with you: "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?  Do not even tax collectors do the same?  And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others?  Do not even Gentiles do the same?  You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect," (Matt 5:46-48).  "His master said to him, 'Well done, GOOD and faithful servant...enter into the joy of your master," (Matt 25:21).  Why do the "good" servants receive salvation and the un-good servant doesn't, if salvation is not found in being good? 

Sentence #4: Salvation is not found in good works. Same question, same reason.  "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of  judgment," (John 5:28-29).  "For He will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing [good works] seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life," (Rom 2:6-7).  Why does the Word of God say that those who have done good will receive salvation, when you say "salvation is not found in good works?"  And, why does the Word of God say that those who do good works will receive eternal life from God, when you say, "salvation is not found in good works?"  Eternal life and salvation are the same thing, aren't they?

Sentence #5: Salvation is not found in a sincere heart.  Well, again, it seems you and Scripture just don't agree on a whole lot: "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God," Matt 5:8.  Isn't seeing God the same as being saved?  I mean, you can't see God if you aren't saved, right? 

Sentence #6: Salvation is not found in making up for past sins by efforts of restoration, or penance, or indulgences "And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt.  So also my heavenly Father will do to everyone of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart," (Matt 18:34-35).  Hmmm...the Lord delivered him to his jailers till he "should pay all his debt."  What on earth could that mean, Mr. Slick? 

Restoration: "And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, 'Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I RESTORE it fourfold.'  And Jesus said to him, 'Today, salvation has come to this house..." (Luke 19:8-9).  I'm confused, Matt, since you state that restoration and salvation have nothing to do with one another...could you explain, please?

Penance: From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we see that "interior penance" is "a conversion to God with all our heart," (CCC #1431).  So, is it your claim that salvation is not found in a conversion to God with all of our heart?  Furthermore, the Catechism states that this "interior penance" finds its expression in three forms: fasting, prayer, and almsgiving (CCC #1434).  And what does Scripture say about these three exterior forms of penance?  "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father Who is in Heaven.  Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you...so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret will REWARD you...And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites...and your Father who sees in secret will REWARD you...And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites...and your Father Who sees in secret will REWARD you," (Matt 6:1-6, 16-18).  Scripture says God will reward us if we do penance - fasting, praying, almsgiving - under the right conditions; yet, you say penance and salvation have nothing to do with one another.  We also see, from the Catechism, that penance - the satisfaction we make for our sins - "...is not so much ours as though it were not done through Jesus Christ.  We who can do nothing oursleves, as if just by ourselves, can do all things with the cooperation of 'him who strentgthens' us.  Thus man has nothing of which to boast, but all our boasting in in Christ...These fruits [of penance] have their efficacy from Him, by Him they are offered to the Father, and through Him they are accepted by the Father," (CCC #1460).  Can you really say we're wrong when all we do is from, by, and through Him? 

Indulgences: "Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins," (1 Peter 4:8).  Covering a multitude of sins is basically what an indulgence does.  So, the concept is clearly found in Scripture.  We see it again in James 5:20, "Let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins."  Now, an indulgence does not constitute forgiveness of sin, but it constitutes being freed, in Christ Jesus, of the reparation due to sin.  So, in that sense, an indulgence "covers a multitude of sins."  And all indulgences flow from love - our love for God, our love for our neighbor, and - most importantly - God's love for us.  So do love and salvation have anything to do with one another or not?  And, what does "covering a multitude of sins" mean in your theological system?

Sentence #7: You can never do enough to please God.  Actually, you can.  Now, you can never do enough to "deserve" God being pleased with you, or to "deserve" God's mercy and grace; however, we can indeed do enough to please God.  Just look at Matthew 7:21, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in Heaven."  In other words, Matt, doing the will of the Lord is pleasing to the Father in Heaven.  If it wasn't, why would He let those who do His will into His Kingdom?  So, we can indeed do enough to please Him, by obeying Him and doing His will. 

The thing is, all of these things here mentioned - being good, doing good, having a sincere heart, offering reparations for past sins - all of these things are able to be done only by the grace of God, through faith.  Now, they must be done to the best of our abilities - in accord with the grace that God gives to each one of us (as Scripture clearly teaches us) - but they must be done.  To one servant the master gave 5 talents, to another 2, and to another 1, in accord with their abilities.  The first two servants did the most they could with what their master had given them, and they both entered into their master's rest, even though the amounts they returned to their master were not equal.  The 1st servant had more.  The third servant did nothing with what his master gave him, and what happened?  Did he, too, enter into his master's rest?  Absolutely not.  He was tossed into the outer darkness.  So, even though the Master gives freely, He still requires from us a response to do something with what we have been given.  Did faith alone in his master save the 3rd servant?  Nope.

Your problem, Mr. Slick, is that you take a verse of Scripture here, and a verse there, and you forget about a whole lot of verses over there and there, and then you, on your own, with no authority whatsoever, devise an out-of-context, fallible, man-made, interpretation of God's Word that fits your pre-set beliefs...and thus you have: "The Gospel According to Slick."  Compounding your problem, as it relates to the teaching of the Church, is that you simply do not understand what the Catholic Church teaches and why it teaches it.  You take a snippet of Catholic teaching here, and a snippet there, and you put it together in your head, according to your own imagination...and thus you have: "The Catechism of the Catholic Church According to Slick."  And then you take your twisted Scriptures and put them side-by-side with your twisted Catechism, and say, "See, the Catholic Church teaches things contrary to Scripture."


Respond to his false claims by: 1) Giving him Scripture that throws a monkey wrench into his interpretations; 2) Ask him to explain those Scriptures I've given in light of his twisted interpretation of the Scriptures he cited; and 3) Give him the proper understanding of Catholic teaching (citing the official teaching of the Church - the Catechism).  Always, always, asking questions.  Keep asking questions.  Respond to questions with questions.

Folks, most all of these people who attack the Catholic Church do so out of ignorance - whether it be willful ignorance (sometimes with a bit of malice thrown in) as in the case of some, or just plain ol' ignorance as is the case of many - but ignorance nonetheless.  And, they are not just ignorant of Catholic teaching, they are, first and foremost, ignorant of the Scriptures, regardless of how many verses they can quote.  Our duty is to plant the seeds of truth with them, by trying to get them to examine Scripture in a new light, to examine Catholic teaching in a new light, and, to examine their own beliefs in a new light.  And the latter step is actually many times the first step needed to get them to do the other two.  So many times the non-Catholics we talk to about God have examined their own beliefs only a little more than they have examined our beliefs, which isn't much.  By learning to ask them questions, you will put the onus on them to explain what they believe and why they believe it.  And, when they have to start answering questions about what they believe, it will hopefully cause them to ask themselves questions that they have never asked before.  It will hopefully get them to examine what they believe, deeply, for maybe the very first time.  Then, they might be open to looking at Scripture and Catholic teaching in a new way.  If you have someone who believes 2+2=5, you have to first get them to understand that 2+2 does not = 5, before you can help them to see that 2+2 actually = 4.   


Well, responding to that one paragraph actually took a whole lot longer than I thought it would, and I have to get out of town.  So, I will leave the rest to the next issue (or issues).  I hope all of you have a great week!


Apologetics for the Masses