Refuting: "Is a Catholic Christian an Oxymoron?"

Originally Posted by A Catholic at CAF
I'm sure I'm not the first Catholic to have come across this horribly inaccurate and misleading tract by "evangelist" Mike Gendron. (see it here: http://www.ankerberg.com/Articles/ro...m/RC1299W2.htm )

I'm in the process of debunking it myself, and I'd love some help. I think in particular the part about the anathemas and merit might be tricky ones that I could use more experienced apologists' aid.

Also, does anyone know if an apologist has already done this?

Thanks, and God bless,
Ankerberg is just another a-C and Gendron makes his living off his a-C propaganda. I refuted one of his articles on my blog and will be happy to help dismantle this one as well. He's really not very good.
Others, who know the official teachings of the Catholic Church contradict the essentials of the Gospel, would say "yes." We propose that a Catholic Christian is indeed an oxymoron for two reasons: 1) we are what we believe, and 2) it is impossible for anyone to believe two opposing views simultaneously. I recognize that there may be some Christians attending the Catholic Church but if they have believed the Gospel they are no longer Catholics. Let us consider some of the contradictory beliefs between Catholics and Christians.
This is just his typical rhetorical jive talk.

Since Catholics do not hold two different positions..he's inferring something that is untrue. It's called making a specious argument and it's dishonest of any professing believer to use it.

A Christian believes Scripture has authority over church. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). By setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience (2 Cor. 4:2).

A Catholic believes the Church has authority over Scriptures. The manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred commission, and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God (CCC, para. 119).
Here, he's correct about what we believe, but he is wrong as to what Christians believe. Firstly, that position is unique to only some of the professing communities, and even then there is much disagreement as to what they mean by the terms they use. Sola Scriptura means different things to different people that one encounters.Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers explains it this way.

MANY Protestants, including James White, have difficulty understanding the Catholic distinction between the material and the formal sufficiency of Scripture. For Scripture to be materially sufficient, it would have to contain or imply all that is needed for salvation. For it to be formally sufficient, it would not only have to contain all of this data, but it would have to be so clear that it does not need any outside information to interpret it.

Protestants call the idea that Scripture is clear the perspicuity of Scripture. Their doctrine of sola scriptura combines the perspicuity of Scripture with the claim that Scripture contains all the theological data we need.

It is important to make these distinctions because, while a Catholic cannot assert the formal sufficiency (perspicuity) of Scripture, he can assert its material sufficiency, as has been done by such well-known Catholic theologians as John Henry Newman, Walter Gaspar, George Tarvard, Henri de Lubac, Matthias Scheeben, Michael Schmaus, and Joseph Ratzinger.

French theologian Yves Congar states, "[W]e can admit sola scriptura in the sense of a material sufficiency of canonical Scripture. This means that Scripture contains, in one way or another, all truths necessary for salvation. This position can claim the support of many Fathers and early theologians. It has been, and still is, held by many modern theologians." . . . [At Trent] it was widely . . . admitted that all the truths necessary to salvation are at least outlined in Scripture. . . . [W]e find fully verified the formula of men like Newman and Kuhn: Totum in Scriptura, totum in Traditione, `All is in Scripture, all is in Tradition.' .. `Written' and `unwritten' indicate not so much two material domains as two modes or states of knowledge" (Tradition and Traditions [New York: Macmillian, 1967], 410-414).

This is important for a discussion of sola scriptura because many Protestants attempt to prove their doctrine by asserting the material sufficiency of Scripture. That is a move which does no good because a Catholic can agree with material sufficiency. In order to prove sola scriptura a Protestant must prove the different and much stronger claim that Scripture is so clear that no outside information or authority is needed in order to interpret it. In the debate James White apparently failed to grasp this point and was unable to come up with answers to the charge that his arguments were geared only toward proving material sufficiency.

Furthermore, as has been show many times, the first passage that eh cites does not support the scripture as sole and final authority, it concerns the inspiration of the scriptures and their usefulness in many areas, but that is all, as any objective reader will see. His second passage is circular reasoning and a prime example of why we should reject SS. In construing it with this passage he has made every individual with a Bible in hand an authority unto themselves, which why SS is so pernicious. This allows for (and has resulted in) the cascading myriad of errant teachings that are prevalent with nearly all the modern post reformation step children today. An excellent example of its bad fruit.


A Christian is justified once by faith because justification is a permanent declaration by God (Romans 8:30). However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness (Romans 4:5).

A Catholic is justified repeatedly by sacraments and works because he loses the grace of justification each time a mortal sin is committed. The sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification (1446).
Here he actually misrepresents the Catholic teaching very badly. This ties into the error of OSAS/Eternal Security of the Believer and actually flies in the face of very specific New Testament teaching like Matthew 7:22 and Luke 13:24 (see context in all references please).

A Christian believes he is regenerated at baptism of the Spirit. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body (1 Cor. 12:13). God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth (2 Thes. 2:13).

A Catholic believes baptism of water imparts divine life, the water of Baptism truly signifies our birth into the divine life (694).
Here again he is in serious error. I have a couple of blog articles that probably deal with this as well as is needed. Here are the links. Who REALLY Preaches "A Different Gospel" and Baptism~ Necessary or Not?.

Here again, Gendron's error is in fundamental Christian doctrine, and not in what the Church teaches, which is one reason that Catholics and n-Cs disagree on these matters to begin with.

A Christian is saved by God’s unmerited grace. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-9).

A Catholic is saved by meriting the graces needed for salvation. We can merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for the attainment of eternal life (2010).
Here I'll take his statements apart separately because there are so many errors. In checking I find that the best refutation of this is found in the context of the very CCC reference that he cites. Here it is. As is typical of Gendron, he uses a reference and makes allegations that taken at a cursory glance might deceive his readers This is why it is important to check every source.
A Christian is saved for good works. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10).

A Catholic is saved by good works. The sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation (1129).
Here again he oversimplifies his attack in a specious way. Most of us have had this argument with various n-Cs/a-Cs and know it as the "Catholics save themselves by their works" bit. We also know that that is definitely not what we believe nor what the Church has ever taught, though Gendron would like to deceive his readers into believing it. As with every such misstatement it is wrapped around a kernel of truth, the problem for Gendron is that here again, his problem is not with Catholicism but with the fundamental teachings of the New Testament that the Christian Church has always taught. I think John Martignoni's excellent MP3 Bible study on Sola Fide is the best response to this. Here's the link. Sola Fide - Salvation By Faith Alone? and his notes are here.
A Christian is saved for all eternity. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. (Eph. 1:13-14).

A Catholic is saved until a mortal sin is committed. Those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell (1035).
Here again the problem is not with Catholic teaching but fundamental New Testament Christian teachings that the modern post reformation step children like Gendron have departed from. Once more, I will turn to another of John Martignoni's fine MP3 Bible studies in which he refutes this serious error. Once Saved, Always Saved?, and again, his notes are here.
A Christian believes salvation is offered to those outside the church. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us (2 Cor. 5:20).

A Catholic believes salvation is offered through the Church. Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation. Anyone refusing to enter it or remain in it cannot be saved (846).
This one again is one that most of us who do any apologetics have dealt with many times, and of course Gendron speciously cites the CCC and fails to offer context. Instead, he should have been honest and cited CCC 830 - 848 which my link here will correctly explain.
A Christian is purified by the blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus...purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

A Catholic is purified by the fires of Purgatory. They undergo purification in Purgatory, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven (1030-31).
Here again, he's speciously misrepresenting Catholic teaching so as to intentionally deceive his reader. Most knowledgeable and faithful will recognize this as the complete lie that it really is, and that the church has not ever, does not now, and will not ever, teach something like this. There are a couple of sources that i will use to refute him here. One is the following article from my blog. Biblical and Jewish Traditional Beliefs About Purgatory and the following from CA's own library.


The Roots of Purgatory (Fathers*)

Saints and Priests

A Christian becomes a saint when the Spirit baptizes him into the body of Christ. And He gave some...for the equipping of the saints...the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-12).

A Catholic becomes a saint only if the Pope canonizes them. This occurs when he solemnly proclaims that they practiced a heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace (828).
Here again he totally misleads his readers as to what we believe. He chooses to ignore the preceding context of the Catechism, but in refuting him on this I certainly won't.
A Christian is a priest. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God (1 Peter 2:9).

A Catholic needs a priest. Catholic priests are said to be apostolic successors and guarantee that Christ is acting in the sacraments to dispense divine life (1120-1131).
He grossly misinterprets all of this, (Hey, beginning to see a pattern here my friends? ) He can only make this specious case of his by deflecting his readers from the context of his citations, (one wonders if any bother to check them) he should have included CCC 1119 which says, "1119 Forming "as it were, one mystical person" with Christ the head, the Church acts in the sacraments as "an organically structured priestly community."36 Through Baptism and Confirmation the priestly people is enabled to celebrate the liturgy, while those of the faithful "who have received Holy Orders, are appointed to nourish the Church with the word and grace of God in the name of Christ."37" and 1132, which reads (and refutes his allegation) "1119 Forming "as it were, one mystical person" with Christ the head, the Church acts in the sacraments as "an organically structured priestly community."36 Through Baptism and Confirmation the priestly people is enabled to celebrate the liturgy, while those of the faithful "who have received Holy Orders, are appointed to nourish the Church with the word and grace of God in the name of Christ."37"
The Lord’s Supper

A Christian believes the Lord’s Supper is a memorial. Do this in remembrance of me (1 Cor. 11:24-25).

A Catholic believes the Lord’s Supper is a sacrifice. The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice...the same Christ who offered Himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and offered in an unbloody manner (1367).

A Christian receives Jesus once, spiritually, in the heart. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12). God... put his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee (2 Cor. 1:22).

A Catholic believes he receives Jesus physically, frequently, in the stomach. The body, blood...soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ...is truly, really and substantially contained in the Eucharist (1374-78).
Here again...he shows that his problem is not with just the Catholic Church but with the New Testament as well as the clear writings of the early church on the Eucharist. I deal with this in the very first article on my blog.
The Eucharist IS Scriptural. Simply stated, Gendron is dead wrong about both what Christians have believed for 2,000 years as well as his opposition to it.

A Christian is condemned by the Roman Catholic Church. Over 100 anathemas have been pronounced against Christians by the Roman Catholic Councils of Trent and Vatican II. These condemnations are still in effect today and can only be lifted if a Christian returns in submission to the authority of the pope.
Again, with the specious arguments. The Christian Church has leveled anathemas against every heresy to come down the pike in all of its 2,000 year history beginning in the New Testament and they were right to do so. The Church has done righteously in condemning the heresies that Gendron preaches and has displayed here in this tract. He was supposedly a Catholic prior to entering into his new career as an anti-Catholic evangelist who now sells himself as an expert on our most holy faith and gets paid for doing so. That's a real shame IMO. I think the New Testament speaks about this kind of person somewhere...
A Catholic is condemned by the Word of God. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day (John 12:48). If we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! (Gal. 1:8; cf. Context of verses 6-9).
Yet what did Our Lord tell His apostles? Luke 10: [16] "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." , and I've already shown in a post above who Galatians 1:8 actually applies to.
These thirteen teachings and traditions of Roman Catholicism demonstrate that a Catholic Christian is indeed an oxymoron. They also affirm how manmade traditions nullify the Word of God (Mark 7:7-13).
But as you have just seen, is Gendron telling the truth about either Christian doctrine or the Catholic Church?
There are many Evangelicals and Roman Catholics who are unaware of how diametrically opposed Catholic dogmas are to the Word of God.
No...in fact there are many people who are not aware of the fact that they are being deceived into terrible error by men like Mike Gendron and John Ankerberg who put forth erroneous teachings of men and label them as Christian doctrine.

Look again at the refutation of this online tract of Gendron's. Has he told the truth? Has he misrepresented the Catholic Church's teachings? Has he asserted as Christian doctrines things which the Bible and the Catholic Church do not teach or agree with and that the Church has labeled as heresies?
The truth must be told. Catholics who presume they are Christians must be lovingly confronted with the truth.
Yeah.. right...

The rest is just polemics. I think he's done enough damage to his position.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.