Who Will Defend James G. McCarthy's Anti-Catholic Book?


" Do not think that by staying in the Roman Catholic Church you can change it. Though every errorThe Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition to the Word of God by James G. McCarthy (Harvest House, 1995) cataloged in this book has been pointed out by others long ago, the Church refuses to listen. It has never acknowledged a single doctrinal error. Indeed, it cannot, lest people realize that the Church's claim to infallibility is a charade. Far from admitting error, the Roman Catholic Church has shamelessly opposed its critics, staining its hands with their blood down through the centuries....Who is behind this great deception? According to the Bible...the lie can be traced to Satan himself, the deceiver of old, 'the father of lies' [John 8:44; 1 Tim 4:1]. This is not to say that the Pope, bishops, and priests of the Roman Catholic Church are consciously aware that they are serving Satan's purposes. Many are undoubtedly sincere...Nevertheless, they are responsible before God, for they have failed to take heed to God's Word. Having believed a false gospel, they remain in their sins. Consequently, but for a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in these last days, the vast majority of Roman Catholics alive on earth today, clergy and laity alike, will die in their sins." (James G. McCarthy, The Gospel According to Rome, page 312, 314-315)

As I watch CNN with George W. Bush and John McCain debating anti-Catholicism, and Bob Jones III of the Fundamentalist Bob Jones University explain on "Larry King Live" why he believes the Catholic Church is a "satanic cult" whose doctrines are opposed to the Bible, in surfing the web I noticed a couple new reviews of James McCarthy's The Gospel According to Rome (Harvest House, 1995) on Amazon.Com. McCarthy's is one of the more recent books today representing the typical Fundamentalist arguments against the Church from the Bible. I and a couple Catholics wrote some short negative reviews of the book on Amazon, while some Fundamentalists responded.

The following is my Email exchange with one of the more feisty positive reviewers of the book who challenged any Catholic to a debate (he left his Email address) and to show him why he is wrong. His name has been changed to "James McCarthy Acolyte." James McCarthy Acolyte's words are JMA>. I first quote JMA's review as it appears on Amazon.Com, then our Email exchange where he declined to defend the book, and my brief reviews of both McCarthy and the more fair work Roman Catholics and Evangelicals by Geisler/MacKenzie from Amazon.Com -- A couple of related links are the following:

Refutation of McCarthy's Gospel According to Rome by P

Answer to McCarthy on Co-Redemptrix by P

Catholic Answers

James G. McCarthy's "Good News for Catholics" (site is defunct)

Bob Jones University old-fashioned Protestant Fundamentalism from South Carolina


From: Amazon.Com, Title Search: The Gospel According to Rome

Did the negative reviewers read the book?

Reviewer: James McCarthy Acolyte  January 14, 2000

JMA>> After reading the reviews by the Catholics here, which is an assumption on my part because of the negative reviews, I have to ask the question: Did they read the book? I have serious doubts because I have read the book. I also have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which is the offical teachings of the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II says of the Catechism "A sure norm for teaching the Faith". So don't take my word on it, the Catechism is the offical doctine of Catholicism. That being said, I still have to ask the question again. Did the Catholic reviewers read the book, The Gospel According to Rome? Because if they did, they will see that McCarthy backs up all of his conclusions with references to the Catechism and the Bible (comparing the two). I have checked his sources with the offical Catechism, and he quotes truely. And upon examining the quotes FROM THE CATECHISM, I must state that Christianity and Catholicism have very little in common and that Roman Catholicism is a cult that rivals the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. Biblical Christianity does not teach most of the Catholic dotrine (I will agree that Catholics have some of it right but...). I challenge any Catholic with the guts to do so to e-mail me, point out the errors in McCarthy's work, and tell me what the truth of the matter is according to Roman Catholicism. My e-mail is xxxxxxxxxxxxx and I welcome the challenge. Please, if Catholicism is true, convince me. If it is false, then turn from your evil ways, confess your sins to the Lord Jesus (not Mary), trust in Him as the Source of your salvation (and your ONLY source), and follow Him with the honor, praise, and glory that is His forever and forever. I apologize if I have offended anyone or came across as being too harsh and unloving but I am not going to idlely sit by and let heresy againest my Lord and Savior Jesus to be preached because there are being searching for truth and they need the facts before they can make a decision. E-mail me and help me correct my wrongs if I am indeed wrong.


Subj: Your Review on Amazon.Com
Date: 3/2/00
From: P
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

JMA>> Did the negative reviewers read the book? Reviewer: James McCarthy Acolyte January 14, 2000 >>

Hello, James McCarthy Acolyte. I read your recent positive review of James McCarthy's The Gospel According to Rome (Harvest House, 1995) on Amazon.Com and would like to challenge you to a scholarly and hopefully friendly Email debate on the supposed merits of the book, and the biblical, historical, and logical arguments McCarthy uses against the Catholic Church and her doctrines and beliefs. I will subsequently post our discussion on my site, and both sides (yours and mine) will be posted in full. My site contains many articles relevant to the Catholic vs. Evangelical/Fundamentalist debate and I've wanted something on there regarding McCarthy's book. This should be a nice addition to my collection of articles and links. My site is located at the following:

http://www.biblicalcatholic.com/apologetics

I was intending to write a full review of McCarthy's book for my site and hopefully this discussion will force me to gather some of the information and documentation I will need for a full review and rebuttal.

In answer to your question: Yes, I have the book and have read it carefully many times (at least 10 times through) and purchased the book back in late 1995 when it was first published by Harvest House. I also have the much better and more fair book (in my opinion) authored by Norm Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences (Baker Books, 1995).

If you have a web site, feel free to post our entire discussion there as well. We need to decide on a topic for debate first. I can suggest a couple we can discuss that would include quotations from the McCarthy book as a thesis statement or basis for discussion.

Meanwhile, as I listen to Bush and McCain debate anti-Catholicism on CNN, coincidentally I read your review of McCarthy's book on Amazon.com where you said:

JMA>> After reading the reviews by the Catholics here, which is an assumption on my part because of the negative reviews, I have to ask the question: Did they read the book? I have serious doubts because I have read the book. I also have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which is the offical teachings of the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II says of the Catechism "A sure norm for teaching the Faith". So don't take my word on it, the Catechism is the offical doctine of Catholicism. That being said, I still have to ask the question again. Did the Catholic reviewers read the book, The Gospel According to Rome? >>

Yes, I have the book and have read it carefully at least 10 times through. As I said in my review on Amazon.Com of the book (posted Dec 1998) McCarthy misunderstands Catholic doctrine throughout the book (particularly in his "Biblical Response" sections), even while he does attempt to quote from Catholic sources (like the new Catechism of the Catholic Church). We can debate the "fine points" of his book at length and get into some of his misunderstandings of Catholic doctrine. I would suggest folks interested in learning what the Catholic Church really teaches, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church carefully first. I'm sure you can agree?

JMA>> Because if they did, they will see that McCarthy backs up all of his conclusions with references to the Catechism and the Bible (comparing the two). I have checked his sources with the offical Catechism, and he quotes truely. And upon examining the quotes FROM THE CATECHISM, I must state that Christianity and Catholicism have very little in common and that Roman Catholicism is a cult that rivals the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. Biblical Christianity does not teach most of the Catholic doctrine (I will agree that Catholics have some of it right but...) >>

Strongly disagree with much of what you write here. First, McCarthy "backs up all of his conclusions" based on a 20th century Fundamentalist reading and interpretation of the Bible, an interpretation that didn't exist for at least 1,500 years. That is an historical fact that is shown clearly in Church history, from the early Christians and Bishops, to the early Fathers and Doctors of the first 1,500 years of Christianity. Who represented true Christianity in those 1,500 years? This is a point I made in my review (that his "version" of Christianity didn't exist for at least 1,500 years) and I will make this point again in our formal discussion.

If you are going to tell me this is irrelevant, I would ask you to show me exactly how this is irrelevant and ask you to explain such texts as "the gates of hell shall not prevail" on Christ's Church (Matt 16:18f), that Jesus promised to be with His Church to the end of time (Matt 28:18-20), and that Jesus promises the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth would be with His Church forever (John chapters 14-16), etc. How do we explain these promises of Jesus for His Church if McCarthy's book represents true Christianity? What happened to the Church Jesus founded? Where was it hiding for 1,500 years or more if McCarthy is right? These are very relevant questions, and in my opinion cannot be answered. Attempts have been made of course, by smarter anti-Catholic folks like James White or William Webster (if you are familiar with them).

Second, when you make a statement like "Christianity and Catholicism have very little in common" I would like to know how you can even define what "Christianity" is from the Bible alone. We know what Catholicism is. We have the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I do not know what you mean by "Christianity." If the Bible is your only doctrinal source of authority, where does the Bible tell us

(1) what "true Christianity" is

(2) what "Christians" are to believe

(3) what doctrines are "essential doctrines" that must be believed

(4) what doctrines can be rejected because they are "non-essential" or unimportant

Where is any of this defined for us in the Bible? What do you do when other Protestant Christians disagree with your interpretation of the Bible? Are we left to ourselves and our own interpretation of various Biblical texts? How do we know who is teaching the truth?

And where is "true Christianity" to be found today? Which churches are teaching true Christianity today? How do I know? Do I take your word for it and accept your interpretation of the Bible? Why?

If you say the Catholic Church is a big cult, we are again at the problem of definitions. How do we define what a cult is? Where do you get your definitions from?

My main disagreement with decidely anti-Catholic books such as McCarthy's is of course the issue of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) and the right to private interpretation, an issue which McCarthy unfortunately relegates to an appendix in the back of his book. I believe Sola Scriptura (the Bible only via private interpretation) to be the main flaw in his whole approach to Christianity. In my opinion, he should have established Sola Scriptura clearly first rather than assuming it from the start. Instead, he addresses it as a "side issue" in an appendix. That is something we can debate in detail if you desire.

JMA>> I challenge any Catholic with the guts to do so to e-mail me, point out the errors in McCarthy's work, and tell me what the truth of the matter is according to Roman Catholicism. My e-mail is xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx and I welcome the challenge. >>

All right, I accept your challenge. I certainly have the guts. I've been doing this for about 10 years, about 5 of them online. I've seen the best and worst of the more anti-Catholic Fundamentalists and Evangelicals. I've read the best books from their side. I have the books of James White, William Webster, James McCarthy, Dave Hunt, Loraine Boettner, Alex Hislop, etc. Got them all, read them all many times over.

I will gladly and carefully point out many errors in McCarthy's book, not only errors in his understanding of Catholic doctrine, but more importantly errors in his conclusions based on his 20th century Fundamentalist interpretation of Scripture. Sure, he gets some Catholic doctrine right, but none of his conclusions are valid against Catholic doctrine. I will show you why in our discussion.

JMA>> Please, if Catholicism is true, convince me.

Sure I'll at least try to convince you. First suggestion: read ALL the articles on my AOL site. Go through them slowly and carefully so you know my arguments and know what you are up against.

If you wish to engage in a scholarly and detailed discussion with me on the merits, biblical, historical, and logical arguments of James McCarthy's book The Gospel According to Rome, please respond.

I hope we can keep this on a friendly level. I'll post our discussion on my site.

P


Subj: Re: Your Review on Amazon.Com
Date: 3/3/00 10:31:31 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
To:
P

Phil,

Sorry but I've been there, done that. I have discussed the Catholic vs. Protestant views with two Catholics (one male and one female) and I don't desire to get into another discussion. I hope and pray that you are a sincere Christian just as I am and that you learn that any practice that doesn't put Jesus Christ first and foremost is Idolatry (and this does include Mary, the mother of Jesus. Sorry, but that's the truth). Have a Jesus filled day.

JMA


So James McCarthy Acolyte declines to discuss the merits of the book, even after issuing a challenge to debate. Is there a Fundamentalist or Evangelical Christian out there who will defend McCarthy's book and his supposed biblical, historical, and logical arguments against the Catholic Church? Please Email me if there is such a person:

The following are my brief reviews from Amazon.Com on McCarthy's The Gospel According to Rome and the more fair book by Evangelical scholars Norm Geisler/Ralph MacKenzie Roman Catholics and Evangelicals (Baker Books, 1995).

The Gospel According to McCarthy

Reviewer: P from St. Petersburg, FL December 23, 1998

For layout and presentation I give the book The Gospel According to Rome by James McCarthy a 5 star rating. For the biblical and logical arguments used against the Catholic Church I give the book 1 star (the lowest rating). That produces an average of about 2 stars which is what I rate this book overall.

I am a Catholic and appreciate the author's sincerity in his attempt to show the "unbiblical" nature of the Catholic Church which he left, but the major problem with all the supposed Biblical arguments in the book is the same as with any of the over 20,000 denominations of Protestantism:

Why should we accept the author's interpretation of the Bible on any of the many doctrines he discusses?

It is the perennial problem of authority and the author assumes the Protestant principle of Sola Scriptura from the start. He does not address the authority question in the book (except briefly in an appendix [correction: there is a section on the Scripture and Tradition issue, chapter 12]) but simply advances what he thinks are probable arguments (in his "Biblical Response" sections) for the many verses of Scripture he seeks to interpret (which he interprets from a modern Evangelical "baptistic" perspective).

He ignores the obvious Catholic rebuttal to his whole book that the "Christianity" he advances as true Christianity was unknown for at least 1,500 years. That is a simple historical fact demonstrated by the writings of the Church Fathers, the Saints and Doctors of the early Church up to the 16th century Protestant Reformation. But given the publisher is Harvest House this is not surprising (which is mainly Fundamentalist/Dispensationalist and publishes similar works by anti-Catholic critics like Dave Hunt).

There are also a number of misconceptions or misunderstandings of Catholic teaching in the book which can easily be discovered (and refuted) by reading Catholic sources (found on many excellent sites on the web). Although I acknowledge the author does quote from some Catholic sources in his book, generally the arguments advanced against Catholic doctrine are quite weak given the differences in Protestant belief on the very subjects discussed (e.g. Baptism, Eucharist, nature of Church government, and even Justification/Salvation).

What we are given primarily in the book is the Gospel According to James McCarthy. For the Gospel According to Rome please find the Catechism of the Catholic Church (which is indeed cited by McCarthy) for the whole truth about the Catholic Church.

A much better critique of Catholic teaching from an Evangelical perspective is the more fair work by Norm Geisler/Ralph Mackenzie Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences published by Baker Books the same year as the McCarthy book (1995).

For a Catholic response the two books by Robert Sungenis (Not By Scripture Alone and Not By Faith Alone, both Queenship Publishing, 1997) are also available from Amazon.Com

P

=====================================

Agrees with the Agreements, Differs over the Differences

Reviewer: P from St. Petersburg, FL December 23, 1998

A recent balanced treatment of the Roman Catholic and Evangelical-Protestant debate from an Evangelical (and "baptistic") perspective, the book Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences (Baker Books, 1995) by Norm Geisler/Ralph MacKenzie should retire older (and recent) sensationalist anti-Catholic works (as noted by Catholic apologist James Akin on the back cover) but it may take a few years given the vastness of the Internet and the many misunderstandings of Catholicism in Protestant thinking (especially among the more anti-Catholic Fundamentalists/Evangelicals).

The book is divided into two major sections: (1) Agreements that Catholics and Evangelicals have with each other; and (2) the Differences that (some) Evangelical Protestants have with the Catholic Church.

I generally agree with the Agreements section and appreciate the authors fairness in the book. The use of terms can be confusing or perhaps even in error (e.g. the term "Augustinian" as a synonym for salvation by grace: Evangelicals will be shocked just how "Roman Catholic" St. Augustine really was once they study his actual writings). The topics in the Agreements section on the historic Catholic and Christian creeds, the Trinity and Christology, the Bible, salvation, and other doctrinal issues are well done. We Catholics and Evangelicals do have a lot in common.

I have differences over the Differences section but that is to be expected given I am a Catholic reader but have been a big Catholic fan of Norm Geisler's work for many years. Some of his arguments against Catholic teaching in this second section are quite complex and I can't hope to respond to them all in this short review but I can recommend recent books that address the major Evangelical objections to Catholic teaching found in the Differences section.

Generally the book is fair with its presentation of Catholic teaching but perhaps relies too heavily on one primary Catholic source: Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott. The authors could have found more comprehensive books of Catholic apologetics to which to respond. Ott is very compact and does not present the strongest arguments that could be made for Catholic doctrine, although it is a classic text for showing the precise teaching of the Catholic Church and the development of dogma.

One major weakness in the book is its failure to deal with the early Fathers of the Church in any detail. It is a simple fact that the authors would disagree with those Fathers, Saints, and Doctors of Christianity for the first 1,500 years whether we are talking Baptism, Eucharist, a sacramental worldview, Church government and apostolic succession, and other quite clear Catholic teachings of the early Church.

Catholics acknowledge the development of doctrine (whether the Trinity, the canon of the Bible, the Sacraments, the Papacy) but for one to suggest the authors' interpretation of the Biblical texts represent original and true Christianity is simply begging the question. On what basis should we take the authors' doctrines as true?

I would recommend this book for any Catholic or Evangelical who wishes to investigate some of the better arguments against Catholicism and the areas of doctrinal agreement and common moral cause in this increasingly secular world.

For a complete biblical and historical response to the major issues in the Differences section, I would recommend two books edited by Robert Sungenis: Not By Scripture Alone and Not By Faith Alone (both Queenship Publishing, 1997) also available from Amazon.Com

P


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