Thursday, February 10, 2011

Matt Slick Part 1

This is going to be the first of Matt Slick’s articles that I comment on and refute.  The article itself is written in 2 parts, so I’ll start with part 1 and in the coming days move on to part 2.  I’m going to write my comments under the paragraph I am speaking about in a different font.  Hopefully it makes sense as I write it, and if it doesn’t, please let me know so I can try a different way. 

The Gospel for Roman Catholics
This paper is written in two parts.  The first explains and documents the Roman Catholic Church's position on justification.  The second part presents the true gospel in contrast to the Catholic Church's position.  If you want to go straight to the gospel presentation for Catholics, simply scroll down the page.
Because of the great emphasis on Sacred Tradition within the Catholic Church and because so many Roman Catholics appeal to the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, the Word of God is often placed after the Catholic Church itself in relation to authority.

Right here Matt starts off with something that is contrary to Catholic teaching.  The Catholic Church holds in highest esteem Sacred Scripture, but it is not by Scripture alone.  Nowhere in Scripture does it say that Scripture alone is what is needed so that means there has to be someone or something to appeal to when Scripture isn’t clear.  But let’s look at what Scripture does say to do when there are disagreements:
Matt 18:15 "If your brother 12 sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. 16 If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that 'every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.'
17 If he refuses to listen to them, TELL THE CHURCH. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

 That’s Jesus’ own words.  He’s saying the Church has final authority in matters of disagreement, not Scripture.  I’m not downplaying Scripture, either, I’m just not assigning it authority that it does not have.
 Because of this, many Catholics appeal to their works, in combination with the sacrifice of Christ as a means of being justified before God.  The Council of Trent expresses this plainly:
"If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema." (Canon 14).

Let’s look at what else the Council of Trent says:

“We are, therefore, said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things which precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace itself of justification; for, ‘if it is a grace, it is not now by reason of works”

That plainly says there is something that precedes faith and works and that is GRACE.  He states here that Catholics appeal to their works along with the sacrifice of Christ as a means of justification and that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Here’s what the catechism says regarding justification:

1987 The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us "the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ" and through Baptism

I don’t see anything in that statement about works.  Now, Catholics to believe that works play a great part in our salvation.  James 2:24 states plain as day “See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone?”  One does need the faith along with the works.  Matt tends to overlook all the verses in the Bible where one is told to do things to achieve everlasting life, and that’s OK, it’s an easy tactic to make something look like something it’s not.  That’s why I’m here.

Justification is the legal declaration by God upon the sinner where God declares the sinner righteous in His sight.  This justification is based completely and solely on the work of Christ on the cross.  We cannot earn justification or merit justification in any way. 

And no half knowledgeable Catholic would argue with this.  He states this below, and I’ll get a little more into it with context but scripture says “by Grace are you saved through faith.”  Nothing could be more right, but when that verse is looked at along with the others it goes with, one sees that works play a large part in the salvation equation.

If we could, then Christ died needlessly.  "I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly," (Gal. 2:21).  Because righteousness cannot come through the Law (through our efforts of merit), the Bible declares that we are justified before God by faith:
  • "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law," (Rom. 3:28).
What Matt misses about this particular verse is that Paul is referring to Mosaic law that Jews used to adhere to.  Jesus was the fulfillment of the law, so it was unnecessary for all the ritual washings and dietary law and circumcision.  Actually at the end of that chapter, Paul says:

31 Are we then annulling the law by this faith? Of course not! On the contrary, we are supporting the law.”
  • "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).
  • "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Rom. 5:1).
For these three I’ll answer with Romans 2:5-10:

5 By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, 6 who will repay everyone according to his works: 7 eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, 8 but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness. 9 Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek. 10 But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek.

Does that mean the bible contradicts itself?  Absolutely not.  It means Matt is cherry picking verses to help his cause. 
  • "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God," (Eph. 2:8).
Here’s one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible.  I love what it says, because it emcompasses all that God has done for us.  Through God’s grace we are saved through faith.  It’s His gift to us.  One would think this is Matt’s slam dunk and if taken alone, it kinda is.  But here’s the next two verses conveniently left out Ephesians 2:9-10:

9 it is not from works, so no one may boast. 10 For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.

It says we are created for good works!  If God created us for something and we flat out refuse to do it, what do you think that’s going to get us?  A first class ticket to an eternity with the enemy.
However, in Roman Catholicism, justification by faith is denied.

I’ll rewrite the above statement to make it more accurate:

However, in Roman Catholicism, justification by faith alone is denied

"If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ's sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified ... let him be accursed," (Canon 12, Council of Trent).

Which are we to believe?  The Roman Catholic Church or God's word?  Furthermore, the RCC states that justification is received not by faith, but by baptism.   The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in paragraph, 1992, that "...justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith."   This means that faith is not the instrument of obtaining justification; instead, it is an ordinance performed by a priest in the Roman Catholic Church.

I like Matt’s use of the ellipsis at the beginning of that quote from the Catechism.  Let’s look at what paragraph 1992 says in its entirety:

1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life:40

Justification is conferred in baptism, yes, but it was MERITED for us by the Passion of Christ.  And look at what baptism does.  “It conforms us to the righteousness of God who makes us inwardly just by the power of His mercy.  Its purpose is the glory of God and Christ, and the gift of eternal life.”  Again Matt uses one little piece of information to make his case when the information around it completely contradicts what he’s trying to say.

Furthermore, baptism is only the initial grace along the road of justification.  The Roman Catholic is to then maintain his position before God by his efforts.
"No one can MERIT the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can MERIT for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods," (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), par. 2027).
The problem here is that the RCC is teaching us to "merit for ourselves and for others all the graces need to attain eternal life."  You cannot merit grace.  Grace is unmerited favor.  Merit is, according to the CCC, par. 2006, "...the recompense owed by a community or a society for the action of one of its members, experienced either as beneficial or harmful, deserving reward or punishment..." CCC 2006.  This means that merit is something owed.  By contrast, grace is something not owed.  Therefore, the RCC is teaching contrary to God's word regarding grace and justification.

Let’s again read a little bit ahead of Matt to show where he makes his error. 

2007 With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator.

2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man's free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man's merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

 The first sentence of paragraph 2007 destroys Matt’s premise his last paragraph.  It says there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man.  We don’t get it just because we’re man.  The clincher, though is in paragraph 2008 where it says “the merit of good works is to be attributed to the grace of God.”  Let me repeat that because it makes me smile.  “...the merit of good works is to be attributed to the grace of God.”  Sorry, Matt, it seems the Catholic Church’s teaching is right in line with God’s grace, you just didn’t read far enough ahead to catch it.

The sad result is that in Roman Catholicism, justification before God is a process that is maintained by the effort and works of the Roman Catholic.  This is a very unfortunate teaching since it puts the unbearable burden of works righteousness upon the shoulders of the sinner.  By contrast, the Bible teaches that justification/salvation is by faith.
  • "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).
  • "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Rom. 5:1).
  • "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God," (Eph. 2:8).
What the bible doesn’t teach is that justification/salvation is by faith alone, and I challenge anyone to show me that it is.  I promise you won’t find it there.  I’ll be back with part 2 soon.  Thanks!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Links and Apps

First off, I'm sorry that it's been a while since my last post.  I got busy with some things and was unable to get back here.  I'm back now and the looking and refuting the work of Matt Slick will be ongoing, but first I want to turn your attention to the links I have posted. 

The first one is a link to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Specifically that link will send you to an online version of the Bible and there are links there to the Catechism there as well.  I feel that these are two major tools that anyone who espouses Catholicism should be familiar with, which is why I linked to it.  The second link is to the Bible Christian Society.  This site is an apostolate run by John Martignoni.  He uses the Bible to make cases against those who are against the One True Church.  Of all the sites I have read, this one is the best.  I thoroughly suggest everyone sign up for his newsletter, it contains tons of info and arguments for the Catholic Church.  The next link is to  This site pretty much has anything and everything one could need for defending the faith.  It's your one stop shop for all things Catholic.

The next two links are of personal interest.  Strange City Heroes is a webcomic produced and maintained by my close friend Kevin P. Johnson.  The comic is a bit silly and that's what makes it great.  Kevin clearly defines who the good guys and bad guys are, and does it all with and endless desire for tacos.  If you get the chance, take a few minutes to indulge yourself in some comic goodness, you'll be happy you did.  The last link is to the New Orleans Saints.  I am a part of the Who Dat Nation and proudly wear my black and gold colors on my sleeve. 

Finally, I was told that I needed to write about one of the newest apps for the iPhone.  The Confession app has been approved by the Catholic Church and I, for one, hope it takes off.  First off, let's talk about what this app is not.  It's not a way to get out of going to Confession to a priest.  No, you still have to go to a church and tell a priest what you done did and then tell God that you're sorry for it.  What it is, though, is an examination of conscience.  From what I read about it, it contains a list of questions specific to different types of sins and really makes you think about what you have done.  It is also said to contain 7 different Acts of Contrition, which is great because while I have been Catholic my entire life, the Act of Contrition is the one prayer I can never seem to remember.  It also keeps track of when you go to confession as well, so there's no more: "Forgive me Father, my last confession waaaaaaassssss..........well, it's been a while."

Unfortunately, I won't get to use this app because I have a BlackBerry, and not an iPhone, so here's hoping they get one for BB too.  It seems like a great idea, and like I said, hopefully it will catch on.  My prayer is that it will get more people involved in taking advantage of the wonderful sacrament of reconciliation.

Hopefully, I'll be back soon with a rebuttal to some of CARM's claims.

P.S.- Pitchers and catchers report in 5 days. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Let's get it on!

Part of what I like to do is read information that is anti-Catholic in nature.  I do this because I like to see what the arguments are against Catholicism, and what the best ways are to defeat those arguments.  In my searches, I have come across a number of websites that have some pretty outrageous claims about Catholicism, anywhere from we're just a little misguided to we're going to hell, and thanks to Fred Phelps that God just hates us, but none have the attempt at scholarship as does CARM, the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.  CARM, which can be found at, tries to hide its anti-Catholic agenda by saying on its homepage that " CARM analyzes religions such as...Roman Catholicism...etc., and compares them to the Bible."  Normally I would have no problem with that if it were done in a somewhat scholarly manner, but looking a bit closer one can see the agenda of CARM's founder Matt Slick. 

Upon clicking the Roman Catholicism link, one is directed to a list of articles written by Matt against Catholicism.  Topics range from the usual non-Catholic topics such as the Eucharist and Mary to the absurd talking about the Stigmata and sorcery in the Catholic Church.  I will admit I haven't read all his articles, but the ones I have read were so full of errors that reading them all would be a waste of time.  Another point of interest at CARM is their discussion boards.  There are numerous topics to chose from when going to the forums but the one that gets the most "love" is the Roman Catholicism.  As of this writing, there are 2131 threads in the Roman Catholicism forum compared to the 1,876 threads in all the other listed religions under the "Churches-Orthodox/Heterodox" heading.  I have had the pleasure of discussing my faith with some of the posters on the Roman Catholicism board, and even with Matt Slick himself.  I have found that while some non-Catholics there are well versed in their faith and openly love the Lord, most are very content to spread lies and half-truths about Catholicism.  It's laughable to see how venomous some of the regular posters can be. 

I decided to make this my first real post because I feel that this website does a severe disservice to anyone out there who is genuinely seeking the Lord by presenting information that is ignorant at best and blatantly wrong deceitful at its worst.  I'll be reading Matt Slick's articles and refuting their claims here. 

Thanks and God Bless

Monday, January 24, 2011

Starting Off!

So now I'm a blogger.  I've considered creating one for quite some time, but have finally gotten the guts to go ahead and dive in.  I plan on writing a good bit about theological things, and hope to be able to bring some people to the Lord through this.  I'm also going to write on other topics though, such as music and movies and sports.  The title of my blog is a quote from a friend of mine whom I recently found on Facebook.  He's in his novitiate year at St. Joseph's Abbey and said that's how he's living his life, Present in the Presence.  As I see it, that's a great way to live, and a great name for a blog that hopes to do just that, be present in the Presence. 

Being Catholic, I will definitely have a sharp Catholic edge to what I write.  I believe that in Catholicism the fullness of truth is found, and while other denominations have some form of truth, they are lacking in one aspect or another.  I hope to make those who read this think about what I'm saying and use it as a means to reaching the Lord.  I also hope to clear up misconceptions about the Church and what we as Catholics believe.  I hope that many will come and read, and discuss what I say, whether it be about theology, or music, or sports or anything else that happens to spew from my brain.

So in the words of The Joker..."Here...We.......GO"