In this article, we debunk John MacArthur, a widely renowned and influential Protestant figure who despises that Catholic Church. Despite his global popularity, he is also notable for being one of the most hateful and vicious anti-Catholics on the planet. So much of what he attacks the Catholic Church for is either straight up erroneous, only partially true, or just misunderstood. His speeches consistently have a tangible sense of hatred and disdain towards Catholicism, and he thinks that the Church is from the devil himself.

However, as we will be evident, he lacks a genuine understanding of Catholicism and hasn’t bother to study the subject honestly. Thus, in this article, we will delve into his statements about Catholicism. We will show without the shadow of a doubt, that what he says about Catholicism, and the reality, are two different things.

Point #1: Roman Catholicism is a heretical system. It has always been rejected by the “true Church.”

A good conspiracy theory is always intriguing, isn’t it? That’s why Dan Brown’s, The Da Vinci Code, was so popular. MacArthur is just about as credible as the Da Vinci Code with the same lack of research. He does not know what he is talking about with Church history, he makes these general statements without any substantial facts or limited evidence to support them. And he says constantly that true Christians opposed Catholicism from the 4th century, the 7th century, the 10th century, and throughout the Middle Ages. He creates the impression that all Christians through the ages opposed Catholicism. But there were no any other Christians down through the ages. During the fourth century, Catholicism was the sole Christian denomination. There were no other Christian churches during that time. If he claims the existence of another Christian church, he actually needs to prove that. He should specify which church he refers to. Was it Calvinist, as he believes? Or perhaps Lutheran, which disagrees with Calvinism? Could it be a Baptist church, disagreeing with both? Or was it Pentecostal in nature? In the vast landscape of Protestant denominations, which one does he mean? The truth is, he cannot name any leaders of this supposed early church in the 10th century, the 7th century, or the 4th century.

He cannot name any of the Christians because there were no Christians other than Catholicism. And people who say: “Oh, there were other Christians always.” just say that, but they cannot actually name any. And that is a huge problem.

It is a common assertion that true Christians oppose the Catholic Church, except that they jump to the Reformation, or just before it. Figures like Wycliffe, or Luther are presented, yet these events occurred approximately 1500 years later. This skips over the 4th,7th, and the 10th centuries, leaving a significant gap in the argument.

They often leap to the Reformation when their history starts, or shortly before. They might name a couple of other groups. The first one that he mentions, I believe, is in the 13th century. So, I am not sure which ones he is talking about in the 10th, 7th, or 4th centuries. It is crucial to recognize that the Catholic Church existed long before the 4th century.

I mean, all he has to do is go back and read about the earliest Christians. There were over 30 popes before the 4th century. There were over 30 popes before Constantine. And if he goes back and reads about the earliest Christians, which I am about to do for you right now, it becomes evident that Catholicism started long before the 4th century.

And I could give many examples but let me share one for now. This quote is from a Catholic bishop, Cyprian of Carthage, dated in the year 250 AD, well before the century when Catholicism was supposedly created. Now, you tell me: “Does this sound like a Catholic, or does this sound like a Christian, a Protestant?” Cyprian of Carthage says:

“The Lord says to Peter, I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you, I will give the keys to the kingdom of heaven. And whatever things you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever things you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. So on him, Peter, he builds the church. And to Him, he gives the command to feed the sheep (John 21, 17). And although he assigns a similar power to all the apostles, he found it in a single chair, and he established by his own authority a source of intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were also what Peter was: An apostle.

But primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one church and one chair. So, all the apostles are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in a single-minded accord. But if someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he should desert the chair of Peter, upon whom the church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the church? The people joined the priests, and the flock clung to their shepherd in the church. You ought to know, then, that the bishop is in the church, and the church is in the bishops. And if someone is not with the bishop, he is not in the church. They vainly flatter themselves who creep up, not having peace with the priests of God, believing that they are secretly in communion with certain individuals. Because the Church, which is one and Catholic, is not split or divided, but is indeed united and joined by the cement of priests who adhere to one another.”

I think this is quite clear, and there are other quotes as well where he discusses the Catholic Church, the unity of the Church, and the authority of the Church. It is evident that Catholic Bishop Cyprian, who lived at least 50 years before the 4th century, was indeed a Catholic.

If the Catholic Church was supposedly started in the 4th century, then people like Cyprian could not exist. He spoke about the Catholic Church, the authority and primacy of Peter, and emphasized the importance of the priesthood and bishops. According to Cyprian, without bishops, you do not even have the church. This statement is undeniably in line with Catholic teachings. John MacArthur would unlikely endorse this perspective. This comes from a Catholic bishop before the 4th century, dispelling the notion that the church originated in the 4th century and challenging John MacArthur’s inaccuracies.

Additionally, he does not provide direct quotes from individuals. Instead, he generalizes about groups opposing Catholicism, mentioning the Waldensians from the 14th century, and the other two groups from the 16th century. This lack of specificity weakens his argument and raises questions about the historical accuracy of his claims.

That is the Protestants! So how does that prove his case? How does that prove that Christians have always opposed Catholicism? Even though we can only quote Protestants that came after the Reformation and one group before the Reformation, one group that he would not even think are Christians, if he actually looked into their beliefs, if he actually looked into what the Waldensians believed.

He is trying to canonize them and hold them up as Christians, but they were Catholics. And yes, they disagreed with some teachings in the church. Mostly they objected to the wealth in the church and wanted to reform some of the priesthood who became corrupt or too wealthy.

Peter Waldo wanted to reform those, but they were Catholics. They believed in Catholic doctrines that John MacArthur would find repugnant, evil and satanic in his mind. Yet he is holding them up as Christians because he has not done his research. He has not delved into their actual beliefs and is relying on heresay.

The Waldensians, whom he considers to be true Christians opposing the Catholic Church, were actually Catholics themselves. They actually believed in the sacraments, which MacArthur would not believe. They believe in the true presence of the Eucharist. They believe in baptismal regeneration. They believe in a hierarchy of the church: priests, and bishops. They adhered to the notion that without these elements, one could not be considered part of the church, similar to the stance of Cyprian.

I mean, seriously, does that sound like anything that John MacArthur would endorse? Of course not, because he is simply trying to find groups that might have a beef with the church and then claiming: “Oh, these are true Christians. Oh, they had an issue with the church. Oh, they are true Christians.”. He has not conducted thorough research.

I hope people can take things seriously from the other side. I hope people can see that just because someone is an influential leader does not necessarily mean they know what they are talking about. It does not mean they have done their due diligence. And this man is promoting these individuals as Christians, true Christians, he calls them.

True Christians who believe in baptismal regeneration, which he rejects. True Christians who believe in the true presence of the Eucharist, like Catholics do today, which he rejects. True Christians who believe in a hierarchical structure within the church, consisting of priests, deacons, and bishops, much like the Catholic Church today.

How can they be true Christians when he rejects all of that? And he would think that true Christians reject all of that?

Honestly, just by saying this, he is contradicting himself and proving his own point incorrect.

The Anabaptists, for example, rejected infant baptism, whereas the Waldensians accepted it. Does John MacArthur accept it? No, he does not. Therefore, he would not see these people as true Christians, despite labeling them as such. He is literally contradicting himself.

What Mr. MacArthur is doing is taking any heresy that has been present in the church or any group that has disagreed with the church, and he is putting a stamp of approval on them because they oppose the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, they must be good. This is indeed the most superficial of arguments for someone who wields such influence and has a significant impact on millions of people. He should undertake more comprehensive research on these matters before presenting them.

I mean, it is really sad, but I hope to be able to demonstrate to people that he truly does not know what he is talking about, even though he comes across so confidently. Beware people. Just because someone acts confident, talks confidently, or condemns others does not mean they know what they are talking about. And as we will soon see, he does not present a lot of facts.

It is just a lot of gripes against the church from his own personal opinion, and I guess, we are just supposed to take his word for it. But here, at Catholic Truth, we like to go by facts and not people’s opinions.

He says that the Catholics were always going after Huguenots, Waldensians, Anabaptists, and those who took issue with the system. First of all, all of these groups contradicted each other theologically and doctrinally. How then, could they be true Christians? They were three separate heretical groups that all contradicted each other.

They would not have agreed with each other or recognized each other as true Christians. And sometimes they even condemned one another, especially when you look at Protestantism. The early Reformers denounced each other fiercely as antichrist, a point we will revisit shortly.

But let us just start with the Anabaptists. Luther vented his fury, as did Zwingli and others, against the Anabaptists, whom he is calling true Christians, by the way. The early Reformers viewed the Anabaptists as heretics, lacking true doctrine, and did not consider them true Christians.

MacArthur somehow regards them as true Christians because they came into opposition with the Catholic Church and with every other Protestant and Christian group in the world, but that is irrelevant to Mr. MacArthur, sadly!

If it seems to fit his narrative, then they are true Christians, but that is sad!

Secondly, it is like suggesting that Jesus just went after the Pharisees and Sadducees and people who disagreed with his system. In reality, Jesus preached the truth in the gospel, and these people disagreed with this truth, so Christ went after them, challenged them exposed their errors.

That is like saying: “Oh, well, Paul called out errors, and he was just going after people in the church who disagreed with his teachings, who opposed the Christian gospel.” Yes, that is exactly what Christianity has done from day one. I mean, Jesus is literally the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

There is no other name under heaven by which a person could be saved except through Jesus (Acts 4:12). And Jesus is the truth, and he gave the truth—the fullness of truth- to us. So, if anyone departs from that truth, of course, Jesus is going to call them out on it. Similarly, Paul will call them out on it.

Of course, Christianity and Catholicism are going to call them out on it because we believe that Jesus started the Catholic Church, the same church that Paul was in, and the apostles belonged to. It is the same church where Peter had the keys, and the apostles served as the foundation and leaders.

Yes, that church has been denouncing errors since the first century. Of course, we are calling out errors. When people depart from the truth Christ gave, we speak against it. We are just going to do that. That is what we have done from the beginning.

However, I have noticed that so many Protestants resort to crazy and unfounded conspiracy theories and literature, like the Da Vinci Code, as exemplified by John MacArthur. They just throw out all these things like: The Catholic Church just murdered everyone who did not agree with them”, and claim that Protestants were hunted from the Vatican, even though the Vatican did not even exist at the time.

There was no Vatican during that time, yet they say constantly that the Vatican persecuted Protestants. Never happened. They also talk about the Inquisition and the Crusades and things they have never studied and do not know anything about. Particularly the most anti-Catholics, will say things like:” Oh, the Catholic Church killed 50 million people, you know, in Europe!”.

But to kill 50 million, 30 million, or even 20 million, literally, you would have to kill every man, woman, and child in Europe and then import millions more just to kill them all, again, because there were not even that many people on the continent in those days, and yet they are making these just outlandish, nonsense claims.

And these have come from the earliest days of Protestants who have slandered the church because they did not like it.

It is really sad that people give their own version of history rather than actual history! This is why platforms like “Catholic Truth” exist, to provide accurate information.

Point #2: Catholics worship Mary more than Jesus and even more than God himself

He says: “Catholics worship Mary—not only worship her but worship her more than Jesus and even more than God himself.” This is crazy! I mean, I do not even know what to say except that hatred makes you irrational, and it makes you say irrational things. To us, this is hilarious, or at least it would not be hilarious if it was not so sad—so downright sad –that he actually believes this.

Now, it is like Christopher Hitchens, who was a hateful atheist. He hated Christianity and Mother Teresa. He generally was a smart and a witty guy. But once he came to religion, it just short-circuited things up there. And he started saying the most irrational things against Christianity, especially against Mother Teresa.

And he would just fudge facts and make things up just to get his point across if it proved him correct. He was just so miserable! When you look at Christians who debated him, they are just so happy and joyful! In contrast, he appears like death on feet and death in shoes.

You can see the difference between the light and the darkness. The same thing happens with MacArthur. When you see people who are joyful and happy about the faith, they talk about it, and then you see MacArthur, who is always miserable, like Christopher Hitchens, and with his anti-Catholicism arguments, he is just miserable!

He looks miserable! I mean, for a Christian, I am just saying that he becomes very irrational and says things like this that are not even true. Does he have a single quote to back him up? No. Does he have a single source to verify what he is saying? No. Does he give us anything that would add to or lend credibility to this extreme statement? No.

But we do. We can give you tons of quotes, but I am just going to give you a few, to show what the Catholic Church teaches about who is the Savior, who is the Lord, who is the only redeemer, and the only way to heaven, and that is Jesus Christ. That is what we have taught for 2000 years.

Listen to what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Christ’s death is both the paschal sacrifice that accomplishes the definitive redemption of men and the sacrifice of the new covenant, which restores man to communion with God by reconciling him to God through the blood of the covenant.” (Paragraph 613). That is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In fact, there is nothing about “Mary saving us.” There is nothing about “Mary being higher”. I mean, Jesus is the Lord, and if you still disagree, wait to read more!

Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end of everything. He is the only teacher from whom we must learn. The only Lord on whom we should depend. The only head to whom we should be united and the only model that we should imitate. He is the only physician that we have who can heal us.

He is the only shepherd who can feed us. The only way that can lead us. The only truth that we can believe, the only life that can animate us. He alone is everything to us, and he alone can satisfy all of our desires. And that comes from the Vatican document called “Jesus is our only savior.” Did you notice the word “Only” used?

Throughout that entire paragraph and the whole document, titled “Jesus is our only Savior,” it is emphasized that Jesus is the only head, the only Lord, the only physician, the only shepherd, the only way, truth, and life; the only way to salvation is Jesus. This is an official Catholic document, and it is our official teaching.

The name “Jesus “signifies the presence of God in the person of his Son, who became incarnate for the universal and definitive redemption of sins. It is the divine name alone that brings salvation. And henceforth, all can invoke his name. Jesus united himself with all men through his incarnation, so that there is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved.

“There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4, 12). The name “Jesus” means “God saved”. And that comes from the official Catechism of the Catholic Church. Notice nothing about “Mary redeeming us.” There is nothing about “Mary forgiving our sins.”

There is no mention of Mary as a savior, and the term “Redemptrix” is not an official title bestowed by the Catholic Church. Even if some individuals use this term, it is crucial to note that it is not part of the official doctrine. The term “co-redemptrix” is sometimes used colloquially, but it does not imply that Mary is a co-redeemer in the same sense as Christ. It is essential to approach such concepts with clarity and an understanding of the official teachings of the Catholic Church, which does not attribute a role of co-redeemer or savior to Mary.

That is not even close to what that means. The only reason Mary participates at all, is because God chose her from all eternity to bring salvation into the world. He chose her to be the mother of Christ, believing that Christ would come through her into this world. That is how she participates with us.

She is not a co-redeemer. She is not redeeming alongside Christ. She is not next to Christ doing his work for him. No! The Catholic Church does not teach that. And any quote on Mary needs to be taken in this context.

Certainly, feel free to share the quote from St. Louis de Montfort, who has a very strong devotion to Mary. He starts out the book with proper theology. People will just take out quotes from his book and claim: “Look, he worships Mary.” But they do not actually read the book, and they miss quotes like this, which is the foundational context for the rest of the beliefs, shaping the entirety of his thoughts on the matter.

St. Louis de Montfort says, with the whole Catholic Church: “I acknowledge that Mary, being a mere creature fashioned by the hands of God, is, compared to his infinite majesty, less than an atom, or rather, is simply nothing, since he alone can say that I am who he is”. Consequently, this great lord, who is ever independent and self-sufficient, never had, and does not now, any absolute need for the Blessed Virgin for the accomplishment of his will and the manifestation of his glory. To do all things, he only has to will them. Wow!

He says what all Catholics believe and what the church teaches that compared to God, that compared to Jesus Christ, the infinite Lord and master of all, that she is less than an atom. She is nothing at all. She is a speck of dust compared to God. Okay? And when I share this with Protestants, they might say: “Oh! Wow! That is good that you believe that. We agree.”

This is what we have taught for 2,000 years, and I could name more quotes if necessary: No creature can compare to God, and the Catholic Church officially teaches that no mere creature, including Mary, compares to God in any way, shape, or form, in anything she has, or anything she is, or anything we have or are.

Our gifts come from God. It is grace from God. It is all his grace. So, the Catholic Church does not teach Mary’s worship. Even if some Catholics did go too far and worship Mary, this is their problem. And they are going against their own church, the Bible, and God. That is not what the Catholic Church teaches. And I hope people can see that distinction in the Catholic Church. It has been taught for 2000 years, that Jesus alone is a Savior, redeemer, king, lord of all, Alpha, Omega, everything. And Mary is nothing without him. Everything she has, all the beauty and grace she has, are a gift from him.

Make sure to check out Part 2 of this series where we argue against more statements from John MacArthur on Catholicism.