In this article, we are going debunk and refute some claims of RC Sproul and John MacArthur, who are two of the biggest Protestant scholars and theologians. We are going to see how they can’t even get basic Catholic doctrines correct and they misrepresent and slender the Catholic Church. These are high ranking Protestants in the world. One has written and edited over 150 books and is internationally known on television and radio. As for RC Sproul, he has been described as probably the greatest influence of reformed Protestant theology in the last century. So, these are high ranking people who misrepresent and get Catholicism wrong. We are going to show that by quoting what Catholics actually believe as opposed to what they think and say we believe, it becomes clear that these are two completely different things!
For this article, we will be going over some clips from RC Sproul and John MacArthur talking, to report what they say about the Catholic Church and then we are going to answer their charges one at a time.
- RC Sproul: The Catholic Church worships Mary. It is gross idolatry to be praying to Mary and the Saints
Now I have a question. How is it gross idolatry? If RC Sproul says it’s idolatry, does that mean it is? He gives no evidence. He gives no facts. He just throws this general statement and expects us to take his word for it. Now, for someone who’s a notable speaker, a ministry leader, and someone who’s a high up in the Protestant world, you think he would be a little bit more intellectual than that? I mean, it’s very disappointing, as you can notice throughout his talk, that he just throws out these statements without any facts to back himself up whatsoever.
But listen to what the Catholic Church actually teaches. The Catechism says: “The first commandment forbids honoring God’s other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to us. To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and savior, the Lord, and the master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful love. You shall love the Lord your God and only him shall you serve.” So, the Catholic Church clearly teaches that we are only to worship God and God alone is God. Mary is not God. The saints are not God and RC Sproul is saying that just by praying to them, you’re treating them as God.
- Rome has categorically and consistently denied the gospel. There was anathematizing of the Gospel following the council of Trent and this has been reaffirmed recently as the Catholic Catechism. This disqualifies Rome as a valid church.
Again, what does this mean? He gives no information on it whatsoever. He just makes these sweeping statements that we’re just supposed to accept and believe him on his word. Very unscholarly! He says that Rome categorically rejects the gospel and has always rejected the gospel, when I think he means that Rome has rejected his personal novel and fallible interpretation of the gospel. And in fact, Protestants can’t even agree on what that gospel is, and they disagree with each other, which we’ll come back to in a second.
But RC Sproul is teaching a new gospel, one that was never heard of in the history of Christianity. Go back and look at what RC Sproul believes and try to find it in the year 1000, in the year 700, in the year 300. You won’t find it because it’s a newly invented teaching. And isn’t that the Protestant way? When they see something in another denomination they would conclude: “Well you don’t go by the Bible. We go by the Bible… Oh, well you’re a Calvinist, we’re reformed Calvinist… You’re Baptist, we are Southern Baptist… or second Baptist… or 50th Baptist. We really got the truth. You guys don’t have the true gospel.” That is Protestantism in a nutshell. They can’t even agree on the basics. I mean, some Protestants believe that you have to be baptismally regenerated. They agree with Catholics on that, and they say that you can’t get into heaven without being born again which refers to baptism. Other Protestants will totally and completely disagree with that. Some protestants say you are once saved, always saved, where other Protestants disagree with that. Some Protestants say you have to be baptized in the name of the Trinity, others say it’s in the name of Jesus, while still others say it’s in the name of the Trinity, not in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, but you actually have to use the word Trinity. Others say the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit and the name of Jesus, just to be safe and cover all pieces! etc. Some believe in the Lord’s Supper; some believe it’s completely unnecessary.
So, what is it? Which is the true gospel? Which is the real Protestant denomination giving the true gospel. Now, if you’re talking about believing in the basics, that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven and that’s the gospel. That we are sinners and that we cannot get to heaven on our own, and Christ came to save us. Then we agree that is this the core, the basics of the gospel, and that’s what the Catholic Church has taught for 2000 years. So, what’s the problem?
The Catholic Church has taught and does teach and has always taught officially that Jesus is the only way to heaven, that we can’t work our way to heaven. We can’t be good enough to get there, that God came to bring us back and to reconcile us to himself. There was an immeasurable gap between us and God caused by sin, that we couldn’t cross because of sin. A huge chasm. But Jesus came and through his cross, by his body and blood, purchased for us our salvation. He forgave us our sins, and therefore, faith in him is the only way to heaven. And of course, we have to follow him and obey his commandments. That is the gospel and that’s what the Catholic Church has taught for 2000 years.
And if you don’t believe me, listen to what the church teaches: “God alone can forgive sins and it is God who, in Jesus, his eternal son made man, will save people from their sins. It is the divine name of Jesus that alone brings salvation and henceforth all can invoke his name for Jesus united himself to all men through his incarnation, so that there is no other name by which men can be saved except through Jesus.” The text also quotes Acts 4:12 from the Bible saying that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven and you must believe in him. He’s the only Savior, the only Lord. I mean, this is what the Catholic Church teaches. This is official Catholic teaching. Listen to what else it says in the official catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 51: “Believing in Jesus Christ and in the one whom he sent for our salvation is necessary to obtain salvation.” And there are many more that we could quote from the Catholic Church to prove this, including the Council of Trent, which will quote in a little while.
- Attributing to the mother of Jesus and to the Saints the power of intercession is wrong because this power belongs alone to the mediator, to Christ himself.
Yet again, disappointingly RC Sproul fails to deliver. He fails to give any evidence. He fails to give any facts. He just wants us to take his word for it. That is a sad, shallow intellectualism, that’s really based on slander, especially since he says he’s a student of the theology of Trent, but he gets Trent very wrong. He doesn’t even understand its basic core doctrines, tenants, and beliefs. He says that this is what one gets when they say they believe in Jesus, but they actually pray to his mother. And he sets up this false dichotomy about Catholics believing in Jesus, but not praying to Jesus. They pray to Mary to go to Jesus for them. He says, we are attributing powers to Mary, by praying to her, that belong to God alone. We attribute powers to Mary and the saints that belong to God alone, just by asking for their intercession, because Jesus is the only mediator who can intercede for us. Actually, Catholics sort of agree with that. We agree that Jesus, according to 1Timothy 2:5, is the only mediator between God and man, but nowhere in the Bible does it say he’s the only one who can intercede for us. And in fact, RC Sproul leaves out the four verses before 1Timothy 2:5. In 1Timothy 2:1-4, St. Paul calls us to pray for and intercede for other people and to intercede for kings and powers and different people on earth. So, he’s actually calling us to intercede. So, by that same illogical logic, he’s saying that we are attributing to other humans, the powers of God just by asking them to intercede, which makes no sense. None of this makes sense and I would love to discuss this in a deeper debate with him.
But even if he means the angels, the Saints and Mary can’t hear our prayers because that is something that only God can do and therefore by praying to them in heaven, you’re assuming that they can hear you and you are giving them attributes that belong to God alone. But this is really shallow. I mean, there are many things that human beings can’t do, except by God alone, but it doesn’t mean we’re attributing to ourselves the power of God without God: It’s all God’s power. The angels and saints, they hear us by God’s power. The angels and saints are able to answer our prayers only by God’s power, only by God’s grace, only by what God allows them to do. Just as we can only help others and preach the gospel to others in as much as God’s grace is working in us. It is 100% impossible for us to cure the sick, to heal the blind, to raise the dead. And yet we can do that. Why? Because the power of God is in us. It’s his power working in us. It’s not our power.
So how are we somehow attributing ourselves to be God? Just because we can do things that aren’t humanly capable? It’s because of the Holy Spirit working in us. And it’s the same thing for those in heaven. The Bible says in Corinthians that when you die and go to heaven, you will be like God. So, there are going to be many things that we can do in heaven that we can’t even remotely even comprehend or do right now. And everything that the angels and saints are able to do in heaven, is because they’re perfected in Christ and it’s all by God’s power. So, it has nothing to do with adoring them or worshiping them. We’re just asking them to pray for us to Jesus the same way we ask our friends and family to pray for us to Jesus. We’re asking Mary and the saints to pray for us, to Jesus, who’s the perfect mediator, who then takes all the prayers, whether in heaven or on earth, and perfectly brings them before the father because he is the one perfect mediator.
Since RC Sproul loves the Council of Trent, I guess he should know that in the fifth decree it says that Jesus is: “The one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ, who has reconciled us to God by his own blood and made unto us justice sanctification and redemption.” So, Jesus is the only Savior who’s able, so Jesus is the only Savior able to justify us, able to sanctify us, able to bring about redemption, and he’s the only mediator.
That is what the Catholic Church actually says. I mean, how can you get around this? Most people haven’t read what the Catholic Church actually believes, and they’re just unfortunately relying on other people who haven’t read what the Catholic Church believes, and by that they’re perpetuating a cycle of poor intellectualism.
Listen to what Vatican II, which is the latest authoritative council in the Catholic Church, says: “Christ is the eternal and only mediator[…] They proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ […] In the words of the Apostles, there is only one mediator for, there is one mediator between man and God and that is the man, Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a redemption of all.” Obviously, Christ is up here, Mary Way down here, not even close. If Mary’s interfering with Christ because she intercedes for us, then we are interfering with Christ by interceding and praying for others. But that makes no sense.
- Being a student of the Catholic theology could not possibly participate in a mass. The Church teaches that there is a real sacrifice of Christ at the mass, Unbloody sure, but it is still a sacrifice. How can we believe in the once and all atonement of Christ and participate in a celebration of him being sacrificed again?
This is truly remarkably sad. He says that he’s a student of Trent and he studies Catholic theology, and yet he can’t even get the basics of Catholic theology correct. He falls for the classic protestant anti-Catholic blunder, which says that Jesus is re-sacrificed every mass for us. And he says, why would I be part of a system that re-sacrifices Jesus when Jesus’s sacrifice was done once and for all? This is a huge disservice and a huge slander because the Catholic Church has never said one thing, and I would challenge you RC Sproul right now to your face or any Protestant out there, to find me one verse, just one quote in any official Catholic source teaching that says that Christ is re-sacrificed over and over again at every mass, and we have to re-sacrifice him because somehow his sacrifice on Calvary wasn’t good enough and if it wasn’t good enough on Calvary, how’s it going to be good enough re-sacrificing him at the mass. But of course, the Catholic Church says just the opposite. It has reiterated over and over and over again that Christ does not die again. He can’t die again. The Bible specifically says that he died once and for all. That’s it. So once has been done, he can’t die again. So, we don’t actually believe that he’s re-sacrificed. What we do believe is that the sacrifice done once and for all is represented to us at the mass in a special way through the Eucharist. And that his sacrifice, which is perpetually being made before the Father in heaven on our behalf, the merits of that, and what we receive from that, is given to us in and through the mass in a special way through the Eucharist. The once has been done for all. Jesus will never die again. But his sacrifice is given freely for all mankind, for all ages, and all mankind and all ages have not come yet. Many people still have yet to be born and that sacrifice is for them as well. So, it can be given to anyone, anywhere, at any time, and it’s for everyone. So, what we’re saying is that, that perfect sacrifice done on the cross once and for all, is represented to us at every mass. The special graces of Calvary, the special victory and merits of Calvary, his body and blood are given to us in a special way, represented to us in a special way at the mass, because Jesus is constantly making intercession for us and constantly being our victim in heaven and presenting himself to the Father on our behalf, for our sins, for our salvation, and we receive the merits of that at the mass, not that Jesus has actually killed over and over again. That would make absolutely no sense.
I’m going to quote to you first the catechism paragraphs 1330, 1353, 13362: “The Mass makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Savior […] the power of the words and the action of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit make sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine, Christ’s body and blood. That sacrifice, which was offered on the cross once and for all, the Eucharist, is a memorial of Christ’s Passover, the making present in the sacramental offering of his unique sacrifice.” So, notice that we don’t sacrifice Christ. It says that it’s by the power of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, that he is able to give us the fruits of his cross 2000 years ago, his body and his blood, and make those graces known to us today.
It also says that the Council of Trent, since RC Sproul, seems to love Trent and studded Trent: “The bloody sacrifice, which was accomplished once on the cross [so that it] might be re-presented to us and the memory of it remains even unto the end of the world. The fruits indeed of this oblation of the bloody sacrifice are received most plentifully through the unbloody one, so far as this latter one derogating in any way from the former oblation.” So, I could quote a thousand things, but this specifically says that the once and for all sacrifice of Christ is re-presented, not re-killed. We don’t kill him. It doesn’t even make sense to kill Jesus. He can’t be killed. He’s God. He gave up his life once and for all but besides the nonsensical nature of that, it specifically says that it is all re-presented to us and the memory of it remains in the Eucharist until the end of time. So, we can still receive the effects of it, and we can still receive the benefits of it, and it’s presented to us by the power of the Holy Spirit from God, and we can receive that one holy sacrifice, even today, in a special way through the Eucharist.
At this point, John MacArthur chimes in with just a little bit to finish up this video with the next claim.
- Praying to the Saints and Mary strikes a blow against the gracious character of God in Christ. The idea of all of that is that God is very tough and wrathful and somehow transcendent rather than imminent, which flies in the face of what scriptures say, that God is good, slow to anger, compassionate, shows mercy to thousands. You do not really want to go directly to God because he is preoccupied and indifferent and you do not want to come directly to Jesus because he is pretty tough as well. Jesus cannot resist Mary and she can soften Jesus up and Jesus can take it to God
Everything he said is pretty much wrong. God is love. We agree with. God is loving. We agree with. God wants to know us, love us. He has a heart for us. He cries for us. We agree with. That’s what the Catholic Church teaches, and this is the whole ridiculousness of it, is the fact that he doesn’t think the Catholic Church teaches this and we have to go to Mary to soften Jesus up. Jesus is too mean so we have to go to Mary and Mary will calm him down and she will get us what we want because we can’t approach Jesus. We see God as angry and mean. He’s not a God of love. But I’m going to quote these last quotes just to show you that what the Catholic Church teaches is literally the express opposite of what these men are claiming we believe. Here is what the church says in paragraph 51 of the catechism of the Catholic Church: “It pleased God in his goodness and wisdom to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will. His will was that men should have access to the Father through Jesus Christ. The word made flesh in the Holy Spirit and thus become sharers in the divine nature. God wants to adopt them as his own sons in his only begotten son. By revealing, by revealing himself, God wishes to make them capable of responding to him, and of knowing him, and of loving him far beyond their own natural capacity.” So here the Catholic Church says that God wanted to reveal himself to us because he loves us and he wants us to respond in love to him in return, to know him, to love him, and to serve him, to have a relationship with him. This is what the Catholic Church teaches.
In paragraph 221 of the catechism of the Catholic Church: “God’s love is everlasting for the mountains may depart and the hills may be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you. Through Jeremiah, God declares to his people, I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. But St. John goes even further when he affirms that God is love. God’s very being is love. By sending his only son and the spirit of love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret, namely that God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and he is destined for us to share in that exchange.”
The whole core of the Catholic Church teaching is that God is love and that he wants to share in that love with us and that we are called to have a deep and intimate relationship with him, far beyond anything we can ever imagine. Notice that nothing there was said that you have to go through Mary, or that God’s mean, or that God’s angry, or that God doesn’t like you, or Mary needs to soften him up. Where in an official Catholic teaching can John MacArthur find what he’s propagating against the Catholic Church? This is what’s sad. Can you see how protestants and anti-Catholics say one thing, but what the Catholic Church actually teaches is literally completely different, the opposite most times.
So don’t believe what people say about the Catholic Church, check it out for yourself. Read the documents of the church. They’re beautiful. Read the catechism of the Catholic Church or pick up some books about what Catholicism actually believes, and we have a few recommendations for you if you need them. So, there’s no reason why you can’t get what Catholics believe, and you can’t even get the basic doctrines of Catholicism right.
RC Sproul and John MacArthur, you guys are misrepresenting and slandering the Catholic Church. You are deceiving millions of people of what the Catholic Church actually believes, and you are spreading and purporting lies, and God is a God of truth. And so, we would ask you guys to reconsider what you are saying and to get your truth correct.
But that is what we are here for a Catholic truth. We are here to teach and preach the Catholic faith, the real Catholic faith to know exactly. Anyone can know from anywhere at any time exactly what the Catholic Church teaches and we’re not giving our own opinions here. And if we do, we’ll tell you. What we teach here is what Catholicism has taught and does teach for the last 2000 years. It’s the truth and you can come here to find out what that truth is.