In John MacArthur's Scandal of the Catholic Preisthood, Catholicism is not portrayed as the zenith of Christianity.


Is this

  1. a John MacArthur only view, not held by the majority of reformed theologists or

  2. a view held by reformed theology -- i.e. there are fundamental beliefs that:

    A. Catholicism hold but reformed theology and

    B. reformed theology require which Catholicism deny

If your choose (1); please cite sources on how Reformed Theology + Catholic Theology agree. If you choose (B); please cite examples of (A) and (B)

  • 1
    Calvin wrote at length about his views on what he called "the Papal Church" (i.e. the Roman Catholic Church) in book four of his Institutes. And Luther was not bashful about calling the Pope the "antichrist" and the "man of lawlessness" that was described in the NT epistles. Aug 13, 2012 at 11:17
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    Just as a note - the MacArthur's article is full of strawman arguments and lies. It doesn't cite any sources of these 'dogmas'.
    – zefciu
    Aug 13, 2012 at 12:34
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    I'm just going to say it, this question is a rather slippery slope. I will be watching it carefully and will not hesitate to close it if it veers even the slightest bit off course.
    – wax eagle
    Aug 13, 2012 at 12:49
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    It's mostly the content. You've constructed it in such a way that it's barely constructive, with the potential to be not constructive if the answers stray too far.
    – wax eagle
    Aug 13, 2012 at 13:02
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    Heh, well, according to Catholic theology, all Christians are Catholic! :)
    – Peter Turner
    Aug 13, 2012 at 14:39

1 Answer 1


I'm going to attempt to answer this in a way that is truthful, and accurate, but maybe not exactly what you're looking for.

Please be very mindful of where I say "assuming this definition, then..." On those statements, I am intentionally using that assumption as a logical starting point for assumptions. I am not saying I hold those views, or that I condone or deny them. I am trying very hard to avoid the mines in this minefield

MacArthur's views are not uncommon. The Catholic Church still teaches doctrines that many Evangelical denominations hold to be un-Scriptural, in error, or even according to some views, outright blasphemy. (Note I didn't say "the Catholic Church teaches wrong things" I said "some denominations teach...)

However, it is one thing to say that the Catholic Church teaches things that are "wrong", and quite another to make a blanket statement that Catholics aren't Christians.

Even if you accept the Reformed/evangelical statement that a Christian is defined as someone who has repented of their sins and put their faith in Christ for salvation, and has this been "born again", you still couldn't make the statement that Catholics are not Christians.

According to reformed theology, salvation is an individual thing. Denomination makes no difference. Again assuming the MacAurthur definition of "Christian", the most you can say is "due to the fact that the Church teaches erroneous statements about what it takes to be saved, it's less likely for a Catholic to be saved."

  • Well said. This post makes it seem Luther had a view similar to this. christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/7385/…
    – Mike
    Aug 14, 2012 at 3:16
  • Citations would be useful, I think. For example, what are "erroneous statements about what it takes to be saved"? Aug 14, 2012 at 10:16
  • @AndrewLeach - I may do that, but it will have to wait until I return from work and taken care of the kids. I'll have to think about it, though, because I am concerned that doing so will inspire debate. If I include a link that shows that denomination A teaches that Doctrine X is wrong, and the Catholics believe in Doctrine X, that could be problematic. Experience tells me that there will be a flurry of debate over doctrine X in comments. I specifically wanted to avoid that - it's one of the mines I wanted to sidestep. However, if I can think of a good way to add citations, I will. Aug 14, 2012 at 12:40
  • Per the above comment, I could not think of a way to include specific citations without potentially opening the question up to debating or polling. I played devil's advocate all day, and for every example I could think of, I thought of how adherents to particular views might react, and even in my own head, there was endless debate over finer points. I think that adding specific examples is a sure way to get this closed as "Not Constructive" so I'm not going to do it. Others, feel free to do so, but on this one I'm sticking within the sites rules. Aug 15, 2012 at 12:37
  • I'm sorry, as one acquainted with monastic life (albeit not as a participant), and who is privileged to know exemplary people who have chosen that life, I have hard time accepting a text like the one cited as a starting point for the sort of discussion this forum values: Example: "Then they started wearing all these black things, the same stuff they’ve been wearing since the Middle Ages. Every time you see these guys parading around in these silly things, they’re wearing Middle-Ages garb that’s supposed to impress us with the fact that they have literally risen above the hoi polloi." Aug 17, 2016 at 13:32

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