AN OPEN LETTER TO ANTI-CATHOLICS

======== Romans 14:1,4,10-13,16,18-19; 15:1-2,5-6 ========

1. INTRODUCTION

Greetings in Christ (yes, I, too, worship Him, and am "in" Him!). I am a convert to Catholicism (I was formerly a committed Protestant evangelical and campus missionary). My story is included (along with ten others) in the Catholic bestseller Surprised by Truth (ed. Patrick Madrid, San Diego: Basilica Press, 1994), and I will soon have my own book published: A Biblical Defense of Catholicism. On my website, I defend Catholicism from the Bible (with multiple hundreds of biblical passages), Christian history, and reason, and I also critique Protestantism and Orthodoxy, and liberal and ultraconservative brands of Catholicism. Nevertheless, I greatly respect for all non-Catholic groups of Christians. I accept even anti-Catholics as brothers in Christ, though I deplore all their errors.

2. ANTI-CATHOLIC, ANTI-PROTESTANT, ANTI-CHRIST, ETC.

I use the term "anti-Catholic" in a very basic sense - one who is opposed to the Catholic Church (not its members per se) and does not consider it as Christian. He may or may not regard it as a consciously heinous Beast and Whore (the spectrum runs the gamut from Jack "Jesuits killed Lincoln" Chick to Dave "1 million Reformation martyrs" Hunt to clever and witty polemicists such as James White, who attempt to be scholarly and accurate). There is nothing improper or offensive in my usage of the description "anti-Catholic." It is the objective stating of a fact, such as the term "anti-abortion activist" (I accept that description of myself, though I much prefer "pro-life"). It's curious that you oftentimes reject a title which so accurately portrays what you are.

I contend that anti-Catholicism is almost (but not quite) essential for Protestants, in order to justify their own very existence. On the other hand, I am not an "anti-Protestant." I say that you are Christians; you say I'm not, therefore there is no logical symmetry here. I'm a seriously ecumenical Catholic who does, however, criticize Protestants as rebellious sons within the family, not enemies. You might call me a Catholic "polemicist" or "controversialist," but not an anti-Protestant, at least according to my objective definition of terms.

If merely disagreeing with Protestant positions makes me "anti-Protestant," then the denominations would have so many "anti-Lutherans," "anti-Arminians," "anti-pentecostals," etc. as to be utterly countless. With me, it's a family squabble and in-house fight, whereas you are taking on the foreign infidels, whose views are well-nigh worthless and contemptible. This leads to two entirely different attitudes, which may explain why you continually rip our character and motives, while we try to stick to the arguments, to the extent that your diatribes and jeremiads against us (and patience) allow.

Secondly, I would say that the "anti-Catholic" position, which maintains that Protestantism is Christian while Catholicism is not, is self-defeating, incoherent, and intellectually dishonest, if thought through properly (which is rarely the case). I never had this outlook as a Protestant for these very reasons. Among the many insuperable difficulties of anti-Catholicism:

If indeed Catholics are Christians, then your falsehoods about our beliefs violate several clear biblical injunctions, such as, "Thou shalt not bear false witness." Thus we are inexorably brought back to square one: What is a Christian?, Is sola fide the gospel?, Is sola Scriptura the eleventh commandment ("Thou shalt have no authority except Scripture")?, Is sacramentalism idolatrous and Pelagian?, etc. But, to stress once again, we Catholics - notwithstanding harsh Trent language - still officially regard Protestants as our "brothers in Christ," whereas so many of you tragically regard us as non-Christians.

3. "IGNORANT" CATHOLICS VS. "ON-FIRE" ANTI-CATHOLICS

You love to point out how ignorant Catholics are, and how we can't give answers to any of your biblical arguments, yet when one of us knows a few things, and is fully willing to debate and dialogue, you want nothing to do with him. I find this attitude to be a very telling one indeed. I have had this experience repeatedly, even with some of the most well-known anti-Catholics, who have ministries to try and convert us (e.g., James White, Dave Hunt, and Robert Morey).

You constantly insinuate that Catholics (with little or no qualification - so it includes me) are basically a bunch of biblically illiterate dolts and idiots (spiritually speaking) who can't even get to the "kindergarten" of Christianity. If our view is as anemic as you believe, demolishing even our best defenses should be short work for you, right? I would challenge anyone to compare my proofs with yours and decide who has the better, more biblical and rational worldview. I'm fully confident mine would prevail among any fair and open-minded inquirer.

4. A DIALOGUE, NOT A LECTURE

Since I never feared the Bible (and trusted God) and was willing to go wherever its teachings and Author might lead me, I could convert to Catholicism, as it alone took into account all of the Bible and all of Church History and, egads - even the dreaded Tradition which evangelicals so often fear and despise (though the Bible equates Tradition with the "Gospel" and "Word of God": cf. 1 Cor 11:2/2 Thess 2:15, 3:6 with 1 Cor 15:1/Gal 1:9/1 Thess 2:9 with Acts 8:14/1 Thess 2:13). So if you are willing to engage in a real, true, legitimate, mutually-respectful dialogue with me, I'd be deeply appreciative. If, on the other hand, you just want to preach condescendingly, in a superior-subordinate relationship, where my opinions and arguments have no validity whatsoever and can be ignored and derided, then I'm not interested, as this fails the test of even rudimentary courtesy, compassion, and love.

5. CATHOLICISM - THE MOST BIBLICAL FORM OF CHRISTIANITY

Yes, I am utterly and sincerely convinced that the Catholic Church's views are immeasurably more biblical, historical, and reasonable than that of the many strains of Protestantism. Isn't that amazing? Over and over you assert or imply that Catholicism is either "unbiblical" or anti-biblical. Yet my writings are filled with scriptural evidences from beginning to end. I'm just as "sure" that these proofs are compelling as you are with yours. A lot depends on presuppositions, and all parties are inevitably biased and (usually unknowingly) guilty of eisegesis, as I think you would concede. But in the end, my "certainty" is a result of the cumulative effect of hundreds upon hundreds of Bible texts, facts of Church history, logical, moral, and analogical reasoning, even spiritual experience - all leading to the conclusion that Catholicism is true. Imagine that!? I assure you this is what I believe with all my heart (I could always theoretically be dissuaded, of course).

6. CONVERTS - FROM AND TO CATHOLICISM

I think you would do well to seriously ponder (not just dismiss out of hand) the perspective of a convert like myself. I don't think you really do that very often at all. We Catholic converts deserve much more consideration than your generally trivialized portrayal of us, if I may be so blunt. We've been accused of having many "hidden" (or else downright trivial and silly) motives for converting. I would suggest that if any converts have a "hidden" motivation, it is the many backslidden Catholic priests who invariably (gee, I wonder why?) get married after they leave the Church. Why is it that scarcely any of them retain their celibacy, which was, of course, just as solemn a vow (and just as optional) as marriage vows? Forgive me if I question the sincerity and integrity of many of these "converts" who can't even honor their word to God.

It just so happens that the majority of Protestant "Reformers" exhibited this same curious tendency (Luther, Zwingli, Knox, Cranmer, Latimer, Oecolampadius). Zwingli later openly confessed ongoing, scandalous adultery as well, so even marriage didn't solve his problem. Henry VIII, of course, led a whole country away from Catholicism due primarily to his uncontrollable lust and desire to commit adultery - hardly a commendable or "spiritual" reason for starting a religious revolt!

One seldom finds this sort of moral laxity among converts to Catholicism. The overall moral and intellectual quality of our converts is clearly of an entirely different order. It's much more difficult - everything being equal - to give up contraception and observe periodic marital abstinence (as in my case) than to throw off one's solemn vows and engage in the pleasures of marital bliss. In other words, my motivation, whatever you think it was, clearly wasn't the indulgence of fleshly pleasure, at least. There is no purely human temptation to espouse a higher and stricter morality, other than the heartfelt spiritual belief that it is true and right. I think you get my point by now.

7. IGNORANCE IS BLISS

You anti-Catholics rarely understand Catholic positions - or else you could never classify us as non-Christian, which is a self-defeating position for any Protestant to take, based - among many other things - on your obvious derivation from us. A stream cannot rise above its source. I challenge you, on the other hand, to show me anywhere where I've misunderstood your position (or even that of the many Protestants who disagree with several of your anti-Catholic positions).

You simply don't deal with the best Catholic arguments (or even - in most cases - know what they are). You repeat all the predictable Protestant proof texts and platitudes ad infinitum (e.g., Jn 3:16, Eph 2:8-9, etc.) and imply in so many words, "how could anyone who isn't brain dead possibly deny all this overwhelming evidence?" Since you repeatedly state that Catholicism is so unbiblical and has no biblical basis, etc., and rarely give our side of things (yes, biblical proofs, believe it or not), rarely citing our works (or often citing dishonestly), what do you expect a theologically unsophisticated reader to conclude (or even the sophisticated, if unacquainted with Catholic reasoning and apologetics)? This is hardly fair, balanced, or reasonable.

G.K. Chesterton, the noted English writer and Catholic convert, commented on anti-Catholics and their tactics:

Sir Arnold Lunn, another convert, stated:

Lastly, Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said:

As verification of this lack of knowledge about my beliefs, I would ask any of you what books you have read by informed, orthodox Catholic apologists such as Karl Keating, Peter Kreeft, Scott Hahn, Thomas Howard, Alan Schreck, Steve Ray, Patrick Madrid, James Cardinal Gibbons, etc.? Or how about the new Catechism, Vatican II, or orthodox catechists such as Fr. John Hardon, with whom I studied? Or even Protestant apologists like Dr. Norman Geisler, who (by and large) represent our views fairly?

If your answer is "none," or "one or two," how can you reasonably expect me (or any informed Catholic) to be convinced by your arguments, when I have read over a hundred books on Catholicism and written thousands of pages in defense of it? If you blithely retort "we have the Bible and the truth," what good is that, since Protestants disagree on every major doctrine of the Christian faith? How am I to decide which Protestant is right? As one profound example: Martin Luther believed in baptismal regeneration (this would have been his definition of "born again"), the Real Presence in the Eucharist, the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, the recitation of the Rosary, and (are you sitting down?) even the Immaculate Conception (see my paper on his Marian beliefs)! Thus he himself is now out of the fold of true Christianity as most of you define it. I'd love to see your complete (doctrinal) criteria for who is and isn't a Christian, and on what grounds. James White was quite reluctant to furnish me with such a list when we engaged in a correspondence-debate. I wonder why?!

8. THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH HAS A HISTORY

Most non-sacramental, sola Scriptura (especially anti-Catholic) evangelicals neglect Church history and the Fathers almost entirely. You also say virtually nothing about the related concept of doctrinal development. It is absolutely necessary to understand this if one is ever to remotely comprehend the doctrinal growth of Catholicism (or even the mythical "proto-Protestantism" of c.313?-1500) through the centuries (a key to my own conversion, after reading John Henry Newman). This mentality is exemplified perfectly in Dave Hunt, who "debated" Karl Keating in the Detroit area on the historical proposition, "Was the Early Church Catholic?" without citing a single Church Father all night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When I pointed out the absurdity of this to him by mail, he retorted:

Such a view is embarrassing, to say the least (with great restraint) and is self-refuting. Articulate Protestants tell me that sola Scriptura does not cancel out Tradition or Church History, yet with statements like this and the nonexistence of any substantial recourse to the history of Christianity before 1517 in most of your analyses (the ubiquitous Inquisition is often mentioned, however!), I become that much more hostile to sola Scriptura. I see all around me the "fruit" it produces - Christians who can't see past their own nose and couldn't care less about even the most brilliant Fathers such as St. Augustine (who is often inexplicably claimed by the rare history-minded Protestant as one of their own), or even the heritage of their own forerunners, the "Reformers," quite often eschewing the very title "Protestant."

At least James White (the most intelligent and nuanced - albeit sophistical - anti-Catholic) recognizes the central role of the Fathers in the Catholic-Protestant debate. He simply claims them as Protestant, while I deny this just as vigorously - with abundant citations. I must say I've never understood or comprehended the a-historical mindset, and I never possessed it as a Protestant. Since, as Newman says, "to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant," I was destined to become a Catholic eventually.

Furthermore, where are the "true Christians" who have always believed in some mythical "Protestant Orthodoxy"? You will have one heaven of a time seeking to establish this through history, since it "just ain't so." Geisler and MacKenzie state that:

{Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1995, p. 502}

Likewise, cult researcher Kenneth Samples (following the views of Walter Martin), in an article on whether Catholicism is Christian, writes that if Catholicism and Orthodoxy are considered as "non-Christian," then:

I couldn't say it any better myself! This is your dilemma - finding the Protestant "church" throughout history. This has always been one of Protestantism's seven or eight "Achilles' Heels," and there has been a considerable amount of subterfuge, rationalization, equivocation, and inconsistency in desperately trying to avoid this embarrassing fact.

9. "BEAST" AND "WHORE OF BABYLON" OR BROTHERS IN CHRIST?

I am encouraged that a large majority of evangelical Protestant scholars and leaders are ecumenical and disagree with your incoherent (and sinful and uncharitable, since it is false) contention that Catholicism is not a Christian religion. I need not name them. You know who they are probably better than I do. You (e.g., John MacArthur) often even go so far as to deny that we love and worship the same Lord. Yet you contradict yourself when you admit that the two parties agree on many important areas (certainly including the nature of God - since you got your view lock, stock, and barrel from us - e.g., Athanasian Creed, Councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon!), but since we supposedly disagree on the most important element, the "gospel," Catholicism is thereby pagan and abominable.

We have the exact same beliefs on, for example, the nature of Jesus (that He is God Incarnate). We can both wrangle with the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses over that one. But to say, as MacArthur does, that Catholicism has a different Jesus is outrageous, slanderous and preposterous - even worse than your oft-stated maxim that Catholicism denies the "gospel" (i.e., as you wrongly define it - see below).

10. EVANGELICALS & CATHOLICS TOGETHER (ECT STATEMENT)

The ECT statement - contrary to Ankerberg and Weldon's alarmist rhetoric - neither says nor implies that Catholics and Protestants agree in any remotely comprehensive fashion. Obviously, it was a "mere Christianity" type of effort - an attempt to acknowledge the affinities that we have, in minimalist language. I think you greatly misunderstand the methods, function, goals and philosophy of theologically conservative ecumenists, since you are so violently opposed to the endeavor in the first place. I could have told you that Colson, Packer, Bright et al still believed in sola fide and sola Scriptura and all the other Protestant distinctives. Nothing in ECT implies otherwise. Did you really think they had changed their stripes? Do you have so little respect for your ecumenical evangelical comrades (perhaps less than I do myself), that you would accuse them with a straight face, of "betraying the gospel," as R.C. Sproul said on Ankerberg's TV show?

It's all so tragi-comic to an outside observer and former evangelical Protestant such as myself. Here someone is trying (God forbid!) to foster a little bit of unity without compromising distinctives, and people like Dave Hunt think the sky is falling down ("the most devastating blow against the gospel in at least 1,000 years"). What?! Even more than the Inquisition, Crusades, Trent, the Galileo affair, Irish Catholic immigration, the Jesuits (who Chick says killed Lincoln), the Kennedy Presidency, and the proclamations of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption? I'll grant Hunt his sincerity, but I think he is self-deluded and blinded by a searing prejudice against the "Beast." This severely cripples his reasoning abilities.

11. ARE SACRAMENTS UN-CHRISTIAN?

The problem here is your inconsistency and tunnel vision. Many of you often pretend all Protestants are Calvinist Baptists, Presbyterians, or Reformed. James White, in his letters to me, strongly implied that only Calvinists are the "real" Protestants: hence only 5-Point Calvinists are Christians (i.e., assuming a Christian is held accountable for any doctrinal belief beyond the pietistic "accepting Jesus into your heart")! As for the symbolic views of the Eucharist and baptism being a hallmark of Protestantism, and supposedly the only conceivable Christian and biblical view, I ask, "which Protestants are you talking about?" Anglicans and Lutherans believe in the Real Presence. So now Luther, Melanchthon, Bonhoeffer, Kierkegaard, C.S. Lewis and many of his friends are not Christians, according to your criteria of "orthodoxy"? As for baptism, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Churches of Christ and Disciples of Christ don't regard it as symbolic, and all believe in baptismal regeneration and in the necessity of baptism for salvation!

This means, then, according to your usual reasoning, that such groups (and persons such as John Wesley) must also be classed as teaching "works salvation," "another gospel," a denial of "faith alone," and that they are not "Christian," and have "abandoned Scripture." Surely the foolhardiness of this view is evident. Even Luther himself, the originator of sola fide, simultaneously believed in the Real Presence, baptismal regeneration, and most of the Catholic Marian doctrines, including the Immaculate Conception! This fact alone renders these contentions absolutely absurd. It might also surprise you to find out that Luther and Lutherans believed in both confession to a priest and priestly absolution (see Luther's Small Catechism and the Augsburg Confession of 1530, approved by Luther). Why? Because it's biblical, that's why (Matt 16:19, 18:17-18, Jn 20:23).

Even John Calvin (Institutes, IV, 14,1) defines a "sacrament" as, "a testimony of divine grace toward us," and cites St. Augustine in agreement: "a visible form of an invisible grace," which is, of course, the standard Catholic definition, known to any Catholic child with any catechetical instruction whatever. Luther agrees. In his Babylonian Captivity, a critique of Catholic sacramentalism, he still upholds the Catholic view for baptism and the Eucharist, and in this case is much closer to our view than yours. He regards baptism as a regenerative sacrament, in opposition to your typical Baptist anti-sacramental opinions:

For Luther, baptism not only does not "replace the grace of God," it imparts it sacramentally in a most real and profound way, even to an infant, and "washes away sins," as Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians (the last two in a somewhat lesser, symbolic, but still sacramental sense) believe. Luther also believed in - egads - adoration of the Eucharistic Host - see, e.g., Table Talk, ed. Hazlitt, no. 363, p.207). Thus, according to you, Luther must be both a "works-salvationist" and an idolater (even Calvin called him "half-papist" for this very reason).

Do anti-Catholics mention these beliefs of Luther when they extoll him, and leave the impression that he was opposed to the "Roman system" in toto? Of course not, because such straightforward honesty would be fatal to your case and would fail to rouse the anti-Catholic "ignorant armies of the night" (Luther is misused just as much as the Fathers are). For precisely this reason I was really shocked to learn about Luther's errors and considerable shortcomings as well as his many agreements with Catholicism. I had swallowed the myth, spoon-fed from Protestant legatees who in turn have taken in the fairy-tales with their mother's milk for 464 years (the Diet of Worms remains that to this day!). The truth is always more interesting, and particularly so in Luther's case.

12. WHY DON'T YOU BOOT OUT LUTHER, WESLEY, AND C.S.LEWIS?

Why don't you show the courage of your convictions and start booting sacramental groups and individuals, including Luther, your Founder, out of the Protestant faith? If sacramentalism is un-Christian, where are the books from Hunt, Morey, White, Webster, Bart Brewer, and Ankerberg and Weldon claiming that Luther and Lutherans, Methodists, etc. are not Christian? Aren't these people (by your logic) even worse than Catholics, since they pose as Protestants and should "know better"? Where is your righteous indignation over them? Is this not a fine illustration of the hypocrisy and double standards of anti-Catholic prejudice? Refer here also to my paper on The Perspicuity (Clearness) of Scripture which makes this argument in more depth, and shows how Protestants (contrary to their claims of agreement) disagree about all of the various theological aspects of salvation.

13. "THE ROSARY ISN'T IN THE BIBLE"

The Bible doesn't say a lot of things Protestants say (and do) now and accept as gospel truth. But I don't see you complaining about that, or writing tracts and booklets (such as Ankerberg and Weldon's Facts On . . . series) chronicling false Protestant accretions and traditions of men. Sola Scriptura doesn't require such an extreme "Bible-only" view, bordering on bibliolatry. Keith Green wrote a tract in 1981 in which he criticized elements that he thought were added to the gospel by Protestants, such as:

I could add many more, e.g.:

I could go on to defend the Rosary itself (both its content and propriety) but that's a whole 'nother subject. Luther accepted it, so again, it can't be all bad. Here I just want to show how absurd and hypocritical this "Bible-only" mentality is.

14. "PURGATORY ISN'T IN THE BIBLE"

This is typical of Protestant Johnny-come-lately arrogance. I'm asked to believe that all the great Christian theologians, saints, Fathers, Doctors, philosophers, etc. were all biblically-illiterate dolts for 1500 years until (and even after) Dr. Luther came on the scene?! Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Jerome, Ambrose, Athanasius, Leo the Great, Irenaeus, Cyprian, Chrysostom, St. Francis, Bonaventure, St. Francis de Sales, Bellarmine, Pascal, Descartes, Shakespeare, Dante, Chesterton, Newman . . . all these people were (in effect) idiots and ignoramuses who accepted an utterly unbiblical tradition; they couldn't arrive at the same apparent, "perspicuous" truth that someone with a mind like Dave Hunt can "know" in his third-grade Sunday school class. Yet C.S. Lewis (and many high-church Anglicans) could believe in it, and he was not overly-enamored with the Catholic Church. And he is loved by evangelicals who manage to ignore or overlook his non-evangelical views on many issues. In my papers on Penance and Purgatory I present 25 distinct scriptural arguments for purgatory and 17 for the related idea of penance, (even a couple for - are you sitting down? - indulgences!).

15. "THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS"

It's one thing to make blanket statements about another's position - yet another to refute it step-by-step with actual reasoning and exegetical analysis. I challenge you or any other Protestant to do that with any of my treatises in defense of Catholicism. If you can't, then it seems obvious to me that you shouldn't write books and pamphlets which insult and bear false witness about fellow Christians - yes, "brothers in Christ." This matter is of the greatest seriousness on your part. Again, if you're wrong, you'll have an awful lot to account for on the Day of Judgment. I'm trying to spare you from that misery, so you ought to give my material (and that of other Catholic apologists) the utmost consideration for your own sake and that of all the people whom you reach and teach (James 3:1).

16. "THE EARLY CHURCH WAS PROTESTANT"

Again, you're welcome to refute my papers and (soon) my book, which are filled with biblical arguments. For example, I came up with 50 New Testament Proofs for the Primacy of Peter alone. Most of these have probably never even occurred to you, yet, taken together, they provide overwhelming cumulative proof. Obviously, we feel that the Apostles did teach our doctrines (some in kernel form - according to the notion of development). The next "generation," the Fathers, were Catholic, too, and undeniably so, most noticably with regard to such doctrines as the Real Presence, sacramental baptism, bishops, and apostolic succession (which mitigates against sola Scriptura). If you disagree, then I think it is your Christian and intellectual duty to show us (me, anyway) how we are wrong, by dealing with our best biblical arguments (you can ignore history if you like, but you can't totally avoid reason and Scripture).

17. "PROTESTANTS ARE MORE HOLY THAN CATHOLICS"

Apart from all kinds of compromises with worldly, modernistic norms within evangelicalism, there is increasing sexual sin, such as a rising divorce rate and widespread fornication. I'm not the only one saying this. There is plenty of healthy self-examination going on right now within evangelicalism on this score (see my paper on "Protestant Errors"). For one compelling example: what about contraception? Without doubt, this was considered a grave sin by all Christians until 1930, when the Anglicans adopted it for "hard cases" (where have we heard that rhetoric before?). Luther and Calvin and all the "Reformers" condemned it unequivocally, even as murder.

So who upholds this previously unanimously-held Christian moral position today? Catholics. We're more in line with Luther and Calvin than you are on this score. If you want to adopt the same sort of progressive, relativistic morality as the humanists and liberals, go ahead. As for me and my house, we will follow unanimous Christian Tradition and continue to hold that contraception is a grave sin. It has a clear and unarguable philosophical and historical and sociological link to the rise of fornication and promiscuity and abortion. Evangelicals had to follow the lead of Catholics in the pro-life movement as well. One sin always leads to others. So much for the supposed moral superiority of evangelicals.

You often use the familiar illogical tactic of denigrating a teaching by pointing out the failure in practice of its supposed adherents. This will not do, and if you weren't so prejudiced against the "whore of Babylon" you would be able to see this clearly without me telling you. You can't mix apples and oranges. Protestants love to compare their "lofty" teachings with the behavior of lapsed and nominal Catholics. But this just ain't fair. You must compare teaching with teaching. This is why I concluded that Catholicism had the best moral theology. I couldn't care less at the time about how many Catholics were faithful to it or not, any more than God would deny His Commandments because few in Israel ever followed them. Christianity, like Judaism, is a religion of the "remnant." And Jesus, of course, talks about the "narrow way," which "few" find.

It never ceases to amaze me that those who think all men are sinners are themselves astonished to find a preponderance of sin in any given religious group. Catholics are sinners?! Wow! Do you think this comes as a shock, as if we never thought of that? As if Protestants somehow aren't as sinful as Catholics? I was a Protestant too, you know. You can't fool me with any thought that Protestants have a corner on sanctity. It just won't wash. I have too much first-hand experience. Even the non-Christian sees the lunacy of this when they observe Bakker, Swaggart, Oral Roberts with his asinine money-raising schemes, Bob Tilton and his closed-eyes charlatanism, Mike Warneke's fake autobiography, Sandi Patti's blatant adultery, and on and on. In the two churches I mostly attended as a Protestant, there occurred four cases of adultery: two of these men were pastors, and two were elders. From your perspective, such commonplace Protestant sinfulness is all the more scandalous since you are supposed to know so much more about God, the Bible, and spirituality than us (Lk 12:48).

I'm so sick and tired of anti-Catholic carping about low Catholic morals, among both laypeople and priests, while there is little indignation about corresponding Protestant immorality (only brief passing references here and there). To put it crudely and bluntly, what's worse: a priest (who, according to you is not saved, and is a Pelagian idolater) smoking and drinking and chewing gum and swearing at the Ouija board, or Jimmy Swaggart sneaking around in sunglasses, fondling prostitutes, confessing publicly (when forced to by events) with crocodile tears that he's forgiven and that it's "under the blood," leaving his denomination when they (leniently) discipline him, and then being caught twice again? Is this not worse than even the dreaded abuses of indulgences?

Or Jim Bakker stealing millions (indulgences?) from gullible, naive elderly people, teaching a false, "hyperfaith" gospel, living in ridiculous opulence with a pathetic, clown-like wife (1 Tim 2:9), trying to be some sort of pentecostal Johnny Carson (that's an oxymoron!), fornicating with a church secretary, then paying her to be silent? I spoke out about Bakker long before the scandal. Both Bakker and Swaggart claim to be born again and filled with the Spirit, too. Swaggart persists in public ministry, thereby bringing shame upon the gospel and God's name. Jim Bakker, to his great credit, has truly repented (I firmly believe) and has changed his lifestyle and emphasis entirely. Or, for that matter, Jim Jones in Guyana. He used to be an orthodox evangelical, you know, and, like so many Protestants, went off the rails and formed yet another sect.

What's worse? Why don't you save some of your righteous indignation for your hypocritical fellow Protestant sinners? There are plenty to go around. One's in the White House right now [Bill Clinton]. He, too, claims to be saved, and to be an evangelical (Southern Baptist). But today on the radio I heard his pastor in Washington (a Methodist) defend the rightness of homosexuality [and this paper was written long before the Lewinsky scandal]. Maybe you do criticize Protestant sins in your own circles, but there is little trace of it in your diatribes against us. I'm against sin wherever it is found (including in myself). But none of these moral lapses have any bearing on the truth or falsity of doctrines. Once you accept this, a good third of your arguments crumble to dust as - literally - nonsense, much ado about nothing.

18. CATHOLIC ATROCITIES VS. PROTESTANT ANGELIC SANCTITY

My treatise on Protestant "Intolerance and Persecution" will balance this score quite sufficiently, I think. Since no one ever hears about the myriad instances of Protestant atrocities and intolerance, what do you expect them to think? They believe (as I used to) in the flat-out untrue myth of Protestant tolerance, religious freedom, sweetness and light, superior righteousness, etc. (which you constantly perpetuate). But this isn't quite fair, is it? Once they see the other side of the story, their perspective changes greatly. For it's far worse for a group which claims to uphold individual freedom of conscience and of private judgment, to persecute not only Catholics, but their fellow upstart, cocksure revolutionaries.

Calvin's Geneva (the "city on a hill") and good old England were perhaps the worst places to be during the post-"Reformation" period, if you happened to disagree with Calvin or Henry VIII respectively. Nor was it very pleasant or safe to be a Jew, Anabaptist, or peasant (especially in 1525) in Luther's Germany, or a "witch" (whether alleged or real) in any Protestant country, or anything but an Anglican or Puritan in old Virginny and Massachusetts, or an Irishman anywhere in the British Isles (they killed almost every priest in Ireland), or St. Thomas More (who merely opposed divorce) anywhere within range of Henry VIII's henchmen. Selective indignation, whether political or religious, has always been severely irksome to me. If past persecution disqualifies a religious body from Christianity, then the only Christians left are the Mennonites, Quakers and the Amish. I neither defend nor admire the Inquisition or Crusades, but at the same time I point out little-known Protestant shortcomings. Truth is always stranger than fiction.

My treatises on Luther and the Reformation will wake up anyone who labors under the delusion that these so-called "reformers" were particularly holy men, or even primarily interested in "reform," as Protestant mythology would have it. Be prepared to be utterly shocked at their low morals and hypocrisy. I certainly was. Such facts were instrumental to my conversion. Like Belshazzar of old, the Protestant "kingdom" was weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Your crimes are greater and more inconsistent with your supposed "freedom of conscience" for all to follow God in whatever way is deemed best by the "individual with his Bible alone." Your theological fathers are Luther and Calvin, whether you acknowledge it or not. They are horribly stained with the blood of dissenters. Your Founders were guilty of abominable crimes, whereas no one in Catholicism (even popes) have a place as high and lofty as these Protestant Super-Popes, who started churches from scratch and dictated infallible revelations which had to be believed, sometimes under pain of death (yes, literally).

So, as almost always, what you think is a knockout punch to your detested "Romanism" rebounds back to you with much more force, for the reasons just recounted. What I call the "reverse Inquisition" argument stands accepted Protestant mythology on this topic on its head and shocks the daylight out of evangelicals who are invariably ignorant of the history of their own group (which is par for the course). The documentation for my contentions is so compelling as to be denied only by someone with his head in the sand. The "out" here is to simply deny that one is a "Protestant." "I'm not one of them," one often hears, "I'm a Bible Christian." But this will not do, as it is intellectually-dishonest to a nauseating degree in its a-historical delusion, which is a trademark of classic Protestantism. You love to claim you're "one" when it comes to denominationalism, but not when it comes to the skeletons in your closet.

19. THE SUPERIORITY OF CATHOLIC MORAL THEOLOGY

The real issue is who teaches the highest, most Christlike morals. Catholicism wins hands down. We have always been adamantly opposed to abortion, while Protestants of almost all stripes waffled. We oppose divorce, as did Christianity all through its history, until Luther and his cohorts lowered the view of marriage and women considerably. Abuses in annulments do not nullify (excuse the pun) the Catholic teaching on the sacredness and indissolubility of marriage. Any priest who abuses Catholic teaching on this will stand accountable before God for his sinful actions.

Catholics are against contraception and today's anti-child mentality. Who opposed that in Christian history? Everybody, until 1930. Catholics oppose sterilization techniques, as did all Christians until recently, on the grounds that it is self-mutilation, and a denigration of God's prerogatives. And we're firmly against homosexuality, while evangelicals like Tony Campolo waffle. Catholics have by far the most profound views on the nature and purpose of suffering, etc., etc. Now how could this be, if we aren't even Christians?

Somehow, the idolatrous, pagan, immoral, ignorant, "dead" Catholics manage to preserve both the Bible and correct doctrines of the Godhead, and these great moral teachings (most of which many of you agree with) for 2000 years. What sense does that make? Does that sound like the devil's plan? Meanwhile Protestants always have, and continue to, compromise on theological and moral issues, due to their flawed ecclesiology. Currently, divorce and feminism and female clergy are rapidly becoming fashionable in evangelical circles. Of course, contraception - a grave sin indeed - is well-nigh universal, with fornication following closely behind. Your own leaders are very alarmed over most of these developments.

20. "BORN AGAIN" - MORE THAN ONE DEFINITION

Catholics see the support of both Bible and Tradition for our views on what it means to be "born again." The traditional Catholic view is that regeneration takes place at baptism. This was the view of the early Church and the Fathers. No one thought differently until the Protestant Revolution, and even then the new sects disagreed among themselves. Luther (and Lutheranism) agreed with our view. Also Anglicans and Methodists (those who are true to Wesley) concur. Are all these groups therefore non-Christian? These are the sort of nonsensical propositions that anti-Catholicism finds itself constantly confronted with.

To support our view we cite Mk 16:16, Jn 3:5, Acts 2:38, 22:16, Rom 6:3-4, 1 Cor 6:11, and Titus 3:5. Peter preached in the Upper Room, in Acts 2:38, that we are to be "baptized . . . for the forgiveness of sins." This is clearly baptismal regeneration. If you say it's only symbolic, then you must inform me of the reason for adopting a symbolic interpretation. Peter also says this is when one receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. Doesn't that sound like your "born again" experience? Interesting, isn't it? Likewise, when Paul "gets saved" (and therefore, justified, in Protestant thinking), he immediately gets baptized in order to "wash away sins" (Acts 22:16). Why, if his sins were already "covered over" by God in a declaratory act? To top it off, Paul mentions being "washed" along with being justified and sanctified (1 Cor 6:11; cf. Titus 3:5-8).

So, then, I redefine the experience I had in 1977 as a decision to follow Christ and be His disciple, but not being "born again," as this would contradict the biblical testimony. I was indeed "filled with the Spirit" (more so after 1980) but this can happen several times in the Christian's life. When Paul says "be filled with the Spirit" in Ephesians 5:18, the Greek tense is "continually." Catholics re-dedicate themselves to God every time they go to confession, or even when they examine their conscience. Neither being filled with the Spirit nor being "saved" is a one-time event, as in evangelicalism. If Paul didn't teach a one-time salvation, of which the believer is assured (1 Cor 9:27, 10:12, Gal 5:1,4, Phil 2:12-13, 3:11-14, 1 Tim 4:1, 5:15; cf. Heb 3:12-14, 6:4-6, 2 Peter 2:15,20-21), I won't believe this, either, and will continue to "work out my own salvation with fear and trembling," as he did. "What's good enough for Paul is good enough for me."

21. INTRODUCING THE CHURCH - A BIBLICAL IDEA!

You often claim Christ never invited anyone to any Church, but only to Himself. This is untrue. He sets up His "Church" and puts Peter in charge of it (Matt 16:18-19). He gives Peter and the disciples the power to "bind and loose" and to "forgive sins" (see my 50 Petrine Proofs). In Acts we learn about the Council in Jerusalem, which is the visible, authoritative Church in action. Bishops are spoken of, and pastors, etc. We are instructed to be under the submission of spiritual leaders. It's ridiculous to have to defend the notion of the Church from Scripture! If you can't see this already, nothing I say will change your mind - the Bible is already so clear. Anti-Catholics typically attempt to construct a false dichotomy between Christ and His Church. But this is neither biblical, historical, nor logical. It is just a false dichotomy, like so many ideas in Protestantism (e.g., Bible vs. Tradition, Matter vs. Spirit, Faith vs. Works, Grace vs. Free Will, Faith vs. Reason, etc.).

Catholics have a time-tested method of determining doctrine authoritatively (Councils, Tradition, popes, dogmas, Bishops). We have dogmas "on the books," which can't be changed. Protestants have no such assurance, and are left to fend for themselves. You take Billy Graham for your infallible pope, and I'll take Chuck Swindoll. You choose Jerry Falwell, and I'll stick with Dr. Dobson. One follows Luther; another Calvin, or Wesley, or Zwingli, or C.S. Lewis, or A.W. Tozer, or Spurgeon, or Bonhoeffer, or Francis Schaeffer, or Moody (1 Cor 3:4). Thus, Protestantism is a man-centered religion, largely bound by the arbitrary fetters of the traditions of men. And so it goes with evangelicals.

If Protestantism isn't man-centered, why do congregations all too frequently have one heaven of a time coping when one man - the pastor - leaves? At three of the churches with which I had ties: a Lutheran, an Assembly of God, and a non-denominational church, there occurred severe "succession crises" - twice at the latter (I took no part whatsoever in any of these civil wars). Now, why would this be, unless they were man-centered? What's the big deal about one man moving out and another moving in?

All of these instances were typified by great animosity, lack of commitment among many members towards the church (with them leaving), and petty, backbiting politics. And you talk about us and our "sacerdotalism," etc. Also, the mentality of selecting a church based on ear-tickling doctrines (which is so easy to do in Protestantism - the spectrum runs the gamut) - is also man-centered. Pragmatism, experientialism, worldliness, antinomianism, "cheap grace," materialism, narcissism, public relations, church growth rather than individual growth in spiritual maturity - all these trends are strong. But what would you expect, though, from an outlook that made individualism supreme, even over against truth, when they conflict?

This is simply doctrinal relativism. I want truth, and I want true, biblical, apostolic, Christ-instituted authority. I don't want to spend my whole Christian life seeking after truth, only to find it on my death-bed. I want to know this now, so I can serve God and grow spiritually on the foundation of the certainty I already have. Revelation was completed 2000 years ago. We ought to have reached certainty on most doctrines in all that time!

The Catholic is not arrogant enough to assume that he is the arbiter and final judge of all truth given him from any source. We submit to a Tradition which includes all the great Christian minds who have reflected upon that Deposit of Faith, received from Jesus and the Apostles and developed as a result of battle with heretics for nearly 2000 years. I am very proud to do this, and not in the least ashamed. I accepted the authority of the Catholic Church because of clear superiority over the absurdity and historical implausibility of the Protestant a-historical, Docetic-like, "mystical" conception of the Church and its Tradition, and desperate reliance on sola Scriptura, an unbiblical, man-made, self-defeating, arbitrary tradition.

And while we're on the subject of real authority, "excommunication" does not mean "damned," but rather, literally, "out of communication" with the Church and being barred from the sacraments. The Church makes no judgment on anyone's salvation, not even Luther's, since this is God's prerogative only. You can't find such an official statement anywhere. And haven't you seen where Paul curses the backslider with an "anathema" (1 Cor 16:22), and where he delivers people by name "to Satan" (1 Tim 1:20) for the hope and purpose of their repentance and redemption? How is this any different from the Catholic Church making similar judgments on those it deems heretical (and for the exact same reason)? You may not like our rationale, but certainly you can't deny the concepts of excommunication and discipline, since they are so obviously biblical (see also Matt 18:17). Yet we hear this disdain of Catholic authority all the time. This is one of so many instances where the Catholic Church is far more biblical than its prejudiced detractors.

Liberal theologians like Hans Kung, Charles Curran, and Leonardo Boff (a liberation theologian) have been censured and told not to claim that they are teaching Catholic theology, since they in fact aren't. We can censure or excommunicate our liberals, whereas Protestantism as a whole has no similar mechanism for discipline and doctrinal rigor. If one denomination kicks someone out for heresy, he simply goes to another, which welcomes him with open arms. And so the false teaching is perpetuated. So Catholicism proves to be the superior system once again, in terms of ecclesiology and discipline and order, in the service of truth and orthodoxy.

22. REFORM IS NOT UNIQUE TO PROTESTANTISM

Anti-Catholic diatribes are filled with atrocious examples of "Catholics" and "Catholic practices" in Spain, Italy, Latin America, and elsewhere. Very well, then. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. I'll travel America in search of lousy Protestants, and then judge your "invisible church" accordingly. Do you think I'll find any? The remarkable thing, which you seem to overlook, is the fact that the Holy Spirit continues to revive the Catholic Church despite the human, sinful failures within it, and its moral and theological teachings are constant, never corrupted. How can this be? The devil ought to have triumphed long ago. I maintain that the only plausible explanation for this is the hand of God.

In the 4th century we got an Ambrose and an Augustine and a Jerome. In the 5th century came Pope Leo the Great, and in the 6th, Pope Gregory the Great. In the 13th century God sent St. Aquinas and St. Francis, and later, St. Bernard and St. Catherine, to reform the Church. In the 16th century we got St. Francis de Sales and St. Ignatius and St. Teresa of Avila, and Erasmus, and St. Robert Bellarmine, and St. John of the Cross, all reformers in one way or another. And so forth. But you think reform never happens in Catholicism. What poppycock! How untrue to history! Even now we see the beginnings of another revival, with John Paul II, and the current wave of conversions of some of the best "stock" in Protestantism, while evangelicalism, by its own admission (e.g., Colson, Henry, Schaeffer), is in rapid decline, after only about 50 years of its present ebullience.

23. IDOLS, IDLE THOUGHTS, AND IGNORAMUSES

The ubiquitous idolatry charge is without doubt the most wrongheaded and mindless in the anti-Catholic arsenal (sorry). One of you sent me a picture of Pope John Paul II kneeling before a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with the verse "Thou shalt not bow before a graven image." Of course, this completely begs the question, which is, "What is a graven image in the first place, and what does it mean to worship it?" Of course, the pope was merely asking Mary to intercede for some purpose or other. The biblical basis of this practice is fully explained in my Biblical Treatise on the Communion of Saints.

If some simpleton actually thinks that a plaster statue is more worthy of adoration than God, I've yet to see it. Mere images are not idolatry, any more than the photograph of my three boys in my wallet is (I adore it often - just joking!). This is just plain silliness and fatuous nonsense. Are you going to tell me that you have no pictures in your house, or if you do, that you are tempted to worship those in the pictures? Mary is indeed asked for favors, but this is only in a secondary sense, based on the premise "the prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (Jas 5:16). Haven't you ever - in your own framework of belief - asked a particularly godly person to pray for you, on grounds that their prayers are more efficacious? This is totally biblical, as I've just shown you.

Catholic statues, altars, stations of the cross, etc., are simply devotional aids, meant to focus the mind and soul in a spiritual direction. If someone abuses this, a question arises as to how to best correct this abuse, but the mere fact of an abuse has no bearing as to whether or not Catholic Marian doctrines are true or false. If you want to trade charges of abuse, what about the 24,000 sects which have been the result of Protestant sola Scriptura and private judgment, which include cults such as Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science, The Way, etc.?

Yet Protestants never seem to think about why these sects and cults have arisen, and who is to blame for them (Protestants are good at criticizing their bad behavior, but terrible at examining their first premises). The existence of these aberrational groups no more disproves the doctrines of legitimate, orthodox Protestantism, however, than Marian and devotional abuses disprove official Catholic teachings on those same subjects. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

24. MARY, MARY, QUITE CONTRARY

Mary did need a Savior, as you love to point out. Yes, she said so. But she was saved from sin before it ever had any dominion over her, by a special act of God's grace. This is the absolute opposite of Mary having any special intrinsic qualities (which might detract from God's granting of all graces). She was saved more by God's sheer grace, without any possible merit of her own, than any of us, since it occurred at her conception. We all fell into the pit of sin, before God pulled us out. Mary was prevented from ever coming to the pit. In both cases, God saved. Thus, Mary needed a Savior like us, even though she never committed an actual sin. She had to be saved from original sin.

But why should the notion of an immaculate, sinless person be considered so outrageous and unbiblical? We were all intended to be that way, and would have been, but for our foolish rebellion. Adam and Eve were both immaculate and sinless before the Fall. It is much more difficult to understand why God let all of us be born in sin, than to comprehend the fact of one sinless person. Why can't God choose one solitary creature to make perfect by His grace? All the more so should this be the case for the mother of God the Son. God can do whatever he wants. And yes, there is much biblical evidence in this area, too.

I've documented extensive arguments from the Bible for the perpetual virginity of Mary (as well as all the Marian doctrines), which is always a big bone of contention with you anti-Catholics. Suffice it to say here that all the major "Reformers" believed in Mary's perpetual virginity, on the basis of the Bible (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Bucer, even Wesley and many later Protestants, up to the present). So I am more in line with the Founders of Protestantism on this belief than you are.

25. A FEW WORDS ABOUT CALVINISM

Professional anti-Catholic Dr. James White claimed I never was a real Protestant, because I didn't believe in absolute double predestination and the Five Points (TULIP). But I replied to him that I was in very good company as an Arminian Protestant: Melanchthon (whom Luther hailed as the greatest theologian that ever lived, and his Loci as second only to the Bible) rejected Luther's denial of free will as early as 1527 in his Commentary on Colossians, and did not include this falsehood in the Augsburg Confession (1530), the authoritative Lutheran document approved by Dr. Luther himself. Strange, then, if he wasn't a Christian, as a consistent Calvinist might hold.

John Wesley is thought by most Christians to be among their number - at least as eligible as James White and anti-Catholic Calvinists, if I do say so. Likewise, Charles Finney, and C.S. Lewis, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Newman, Chesterton, Knox and Richard John Neuhaus before their conversions. I believe all of these men were Arminian. Whole denominations, such as Methodists, Lutherans, the majority of Anglicans, Free Will Baptists, most pentecostals and many non-denominationalists are also out of the fold, by the Calvinist definition of "orthodox," "Reformed" Christian.

Why, then, don't you Calvinist anti-Catholics write books about all these erring "Protestants-in-quotes," these compromised, nominal half-Pelagians, (who are non-Christian, by your flawed logic), since people will go to hell, according to you, by following their non-"Reformed" "Romish" doctrines just as us poor, ignorant papists supposedly will?

No reputable pastor or evangelist openly presents Five-Point Calvinism as the gospel. Billy Graham (whom I greatly respect) tells me I merely need to give my life over to Christ to be saved. It's ridiculous enough to present sola fide as the gospel (as Sproul, MacArthur and Ankerberg do), let alone TULIP, which excludes the great majority of Christians at all times through history. Sola Scriptura and sola fide are the two true (albeit weak) pillars of Protestantism, as illustrated in the very rallying-cries of Luther and other "Reformers." Who ever cried "Predestination to hell alone for the reprobate"?! I've always held that Calvinism was consistent, but I've always denied its premises. Both the Lutherans and (most) Anglicans came to their senses and rejected Calvinism early on.

But another insuperable difficulty remains with this intolerable position of Calvinism. Who are they to say who is a Christian or not? Are Calvinists the new Magisterium, replacing the Catholic one? Is John Calvin the new, infallible Super-pope (which, I argue, is pretty much true for every individual Protestant)? Why should I trust their word on this (and my eternal destiny) rather than that of Wesley, or C.S. Lewis, or the "great" Melanchthon, or a host of others, not to mention Augustine, Irenaeus, Athanasius, Ignatius, Aquinas and the massive structure of the Catholic Church, the Fathers, Christian Tradition, the Councils, etc.? Thus Calvin and his followers subtly set themselves up, for all intents and purposes, as the same sort of Infallible Guide for which we are constantly being lambasted.

I'd much sooner place my trust in Catholicism (in terms of human authority - not meant to exclude Christ!) in all its glory than in the foul-mouthed, emotionally-unstable and contradictory Luther and the calculating, self-righteous and ruthless Calvin, both of whose teachings are full of holes theologically, lacking precedent historically, and gravely deficient morally. Everyone trusts someone or something, whether it's Tradition or Protestant "Reformation mythology" ("Luther lit a candle in the darkness...") or Billy Graham or an infallible Bible (but which interpretation?) or Pastor Doe down the street or J. Vernon McGee, or whatever I feel the "Spirit" is telling me up in my attic, surrounded by the infallible, "perspicuous," and trustworthy guidance of the Bible and Calvin's (and James White's) infallible books.

26. SECTARIANISM AND DIVISION AND DENOMINATIONALISM

Then there is the matter of the indefensible existence of 23,000 denominations. You don't dare admit that this is a valid point against Protestantism (perhaps your "fatal flaw") because you would obviously then be in big trouble. Yet it certainly is without question (e.g., Jn 17:20-23, Rom 16:17, 1 Cor 1:10-13, Gal 5:19-21 and many other passages). Thus you are bound by the outrageous and scandalous situation of Protestant sectarianism, in clear opposition to Scripture. About all Protestants can do here is mutter incoherently about agreement on "central issues" (which falsehood I deal with in my paper on the "perspicuity" of Scripture).

27. ANTI-CATHOLIC "SAINTS": WYCLIFFE AND HUS

You constantly mention John Wycliffe and Jan Hus as purveyors of the "gospel," certainly the favorite "proto-Protestants" of the Middle Ages, second and third only to St. Augustine in this regard, who is Luther and Calvin's favorite "Protestant." As usual, there seems to be little effort to actually study the opinions of these fellow "anti-Catholics." They are seized upon because of their rebellious beliefs, according to the principle, "my enemy's enemy is my friend" (e.g., Dave Hunt even desperately resorts to claiming a kinship with the wildly immoral and non-Christian Albigensians of the Middle Ages).

Indeed, John Wycliffe comes about as close as you are likely to get before Luther's time, but according to the learned and fair Baptist historian Kenneth Scott Latourette in his A History of Christianity, vol. 1, (p.664), Wycliffe believed in a type of Real Presence (remanence) in the Eucharist (his view was similar to Luther's), seven sacraments (although he denied the necessity of confirmation), and purgatory. These views are more than enough to exclude him from "Christianity" and the "gospel," as defined by you, but no matter - you inconsistently cite him anyway because his legend is a revered Protestant tradition - all anti-Catholics must be canonized and venerated as saints in Protestantism.

You might say, "heck, nine out of ten correct beliefs ain't bad," but this misses the point. If even your best examples of "Protestants" in the B.L. so-called "dark ages" era of history ("Before Luther") fail to meet the "gospel" criterion, then what becomes of your overall case for non-Catholic Christian continuity for 1500 years? I don't think you're ready to espouse Eastern Orthodoxy as the answer to your dilemma! Your a-historical view clearly fails miserably, for extreme lack of evidence, which comes as no surprise to anyone acquainted with this period of history.

Jan Hus, too - generally regarded as less radical than Wycliffe - believed in sacramental baptism and Transubstantiation, and held, according to Protestant Roland Bainton (Christendom, vol. 1, p.239) that "the sacraments at the hands of the unworthy are nevertheless valid and efficacious" (Catholicism's ex opere operato), so he's outside "orthodoxy" as defined by . . . you. You keep cutting off the limb you're sitting on by your extreme judgments as to who is and isn't a Christian, making many of your own positions utterly contradictory, if not downright nonsensical.

28. ST. IGNATIUS: THE FIRST GENERATION AFTER THE APOSTLES

We will examine some of St. Ignatius' "unProtestant" and "Romish" views, since he lived in the first century, long before the Church supposedly went off the rails and changed itself into paganism and idolatry, according to the beloved anti-Catholic fairy-tale. The multiple "errors" in his beliefs which are evident below certainly renders him an infidel according to anti-Catholic "orthodoxy." It's just more anti-Catholic dishonesty and duplicity to rail against Catholics in the present, but pretend that great Catholics in the past were actually Protestants - thus ignoring a gargantuan mass of historical evidence to the contrary. This enterprise is patently absurd - so self-evident is it that the Fathers were Catholic. When will this ridiculous game of desperate Protestant pretense cease? I don't look at all kindly on historical revisionism, especially in the cause of schism. But Protestants claim the Church Fathers because they must in order to perpetuate their pipe-dream that the early Church was Protestant and not Catholic. This view is utterly unable to withstand the scrutiny of any detailed historical counter-argument.

St. Ignatius (d.c.110)

1) Denominationalism:

2) Bishops:

3) Real Presence:

4) Vicarious Atonement (A Species of Penance):

5) Justification:

6) Infallibility:

29. ST. AUGUSTINE WAS NEITHER CALVINIST, NOR PROTESTANT

{Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, 1954, pp.246-7}

So much for Calvinism in St. Augustine, the "proto-Protestant" par excellence, and the mistaken, intellectually-dishonest constant appeal to him in Calvin and Luther (the latter eventually refrained somewhat, realizing the futility of it). Or so it would appear to the unbiased eye, I think. When will you stop claiming the "best and brightest" Catholics as your own, when it is clear that they are not? Again, St. Augustine was a bishop, who believed in Ecumenical Councils and the authority of the pope, and, of course, the sacraments, and many other doctrines you find reprehensible and unChristian. Do you have a bishop? Or sacraments? Do you believe in Ecumenical Councils? How could St. Augustine possibly be a "Protestant?" To claim him as one of your own is sheer ludicrosity. And the same is true of all the other Fathers, if the truth be known (with the possible exception of Tertullian in his heretical Montanist period). You might better and more consistently embrace (at least partially) the Donatists, Montanists, Novationists, Nestorians, Marcionites and even the fully Christian Orthodox as your forerunners, if someone must be found to fill in the missing links of 1500 years.

Yours, In Christ & His Church, with Scripture & Tradition, Faith that Works, Grace & Sacraments, Mary & the Saints, Penance & Purgatory, Pope & Bishops, Truth, Love & Mercy,

Dave Armstrong

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Copyright 1995 by Dave Armstrong. All rights reserved.