There are a number of Catholics who have come across fans of Mike Gendron who seem to "know" all about the Catholic Church, and are bold in seeking out Catholics to correct them of “false” beliefs. It’s easy to understand why well-meaning Christians would want to bring their Catholic brethren (if they consider Catholics brethren at all) to the truth of the Gospel. We are ALL called to bring the Gospel to everyone in whatever ways we can. But both Catholics AND other Christians need to understand what Catholics actually believe before taking on such a venture. Otherwise, you get nowhere and even run the risk of bearing false witness, especially if you are relying on folks like Gendron to be your source for information. Here’s what I mean. Below are several examples from Gendron’s latest newsletter (June 2014) where he misrepresents Catholics, the Church, the Pope, etc., in order to make the Church look sinister or evil...even un-Christian. You’ll notice from the link that he mostly focuses on denigrating the Catholic Church (7 out of 11 articles in this newsletter are dedicated to Catholicism and paint the Church in a bad light).
Gendron's June 2014 Newsletter
“Those who are deceived may never know it unless they are confronted with the truth. Many go to their grave misled about life's most important issues concerning God and eternity. Since we are eternal beings, we will either spend eternity with our God and Creator in heaven or in the unquenchable fires of hell. Tragically, many people look to unreliable sources for truth in order to prepare for eternity. The only source that will always protect us from the schemes and lies of the master deceiver is divine truth revealed in God's Word. The Scriptures must become our supreme authority in all areas of faith and practice. We must look to Jesus who is the truth (John 14:6), whose Word is truth (John 17:17), and who came to testify to the truth (John 18:37). Why would anyone look anywhere else?”
To that, I say, “AMEN”, except, as a Catholic, I don’t un-Biblically limit God’s Word and Truth to what has been written. Catholics believe that Christ, Who is the Word of God (Jn 1:1-14) is so big that He can’t be fully contained in the written pages, which plainly tells us don’t contain all of God’s Word (Jn 21:25, Mk 13:31, 2Thess 2:15, etc…). Other than that, I absolutely agree with this, as does the Catholic Church.
I do have one question, though. Mike asks, "Why would anyone look anywhere else?” Does he mean to ask, "why would anyone look anywhere other than Christ for Truth?" Well, Christ told us to look to the Church for Truth. Catholics believe that when we look to the Church He founded, we *are* looking to Christ, as I'll explain more below. But here's my question to Mike, and to anyone reading this: If Christ gave us a Church to give us His Gospel and teach us His Truth (Mk 16:15, Eph 4:11, Lk 10:16, and a host of others that will be mentioned in short order), why would I or anyone else decry someone for going to the Church for Truth?
More importantly, though, I believe that Gendron shoots himself in the foot with this point because, with a brief look into actual Catholic doctrine, it is very easy to see where Mike has been an “unreliable source for truth” who has misled many people about the Catholic Church. Here’s a link to a blog where many of Gendron’s articles have been thoroughly investigated and were found to be full misinformation and misrepresentations of Catholic doctrine:
Here you will find articles such as:
- Refutation: Mike Gendron's "Why Can't Born Again Christians Remain in the Catholic Church?"
- Response to Hard Questions to Ask Good Catholics (By Mike Gendron)
- Refuting anti-Catholic tract: "Rome vs The Bible" by Mike Gendron
- Refuting Mike Gendron’s ‘Another Jesus?”
- Refuting: "Is a Catholic Christian an Oxymoron?"
- Refuting Mike Gendron's tract "Are You Being Deceived?"
- Refuting: Mike Gendron's "Who Holds the Keys?"
Now let's look at this recent newsletter and see where Gendron proves to be an “unreliable source for truth”.
“Catholics put their trust in the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church to accurately teach the Bible. This can be a fatal mistake because anyone who relies solely on the subjective teachings of men leave themselves open to deception.”
That first sentence is mostly true, but carries some misconception within it, especially in light of the next sentence. Catholics put their trust in CHRIST, and we believe 100% what Christ taught us, including the fact that the Pope is Christ's vicar. We believe that Christ really did give Peter the keys of the kingdom (Mt 16:19), making Peter His steward/vicar on earth (cf. Is 22:20-22). We believe Christ really did command Peter to be the shepherd of Christ’s flock (Jn 21:15-17) and to be the strength of his brother Apostles (Lk 22:32) and that Christ really did build Christ’s Church on Simon (now "Rock" or "Peter") (Mt 16:18), whose confession led to the changing of his name…something uncommon and special and very significant in Scripture (cff. Gen 17:3-6, 15-16, 32:28, 35:10). We take Christ 100% at His Word and we trust that He will not mislead us. We believe that the Church Christ established is One (Mt 16:18, Jn 10:16, 1Cor 1:10, Jn 17:17-23, etc.), and does not err because it is guided by the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26, 16:13) and speaks with the voice of Christ and the Holy Spirit (Lk 10:16, Acts 15:28) and that the Church is the pillar and bulwark of truth (1Tim 3:15), just like the Word of God says. And since Christ’s Church speaks with the Voice of Christ, we do not believe our faith is merely a “subjective teaching of men”, but the teachings of Christ. We believe Christ’s Church was given the authority, by Christ, to bind and loose “whatever” (Mt 28:18-20, Jn 20:23, cff. 1Cor 11:23-24, Lk 10:16, Mt 18:7-18, Mt 16:19) and we do not reject that authority, because it comes from Christ Himself, Who is our God.
In reality, isn't it non-Catholics, Mike Gendron among them, who put their trust in their own interpretations of Scripture, subjecting themselves to their own subjective interpretations of the Word, who renounce any authority of Christ’s Church (how ever they choose to understand “Church”) to tell them whether they are right or wrong?
Non-Catholics, wouldn’t you agree that this is a logical conclusion? After all, don’t ALL the Christians in the world, who have opposing views of Scripture, claim the guidance of the Holy Spirit? And wouldn’t you say that there is no Christian and no church which has the authority to tell you, with absolute certainty, which understanding of the Word is right or wrong? Doesn’t it really boil down to “I have *my* interpretation/understanding of Scripture” vs. the Catholic’s “I want *God’s* interpretation/understanding of Scripture, even when it conflicts with my own”? Or do you believe that you could possibly be wrong in coming to the true meaning of Scripture, wrongly understanding or not truly heeding the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and therefor need a sure guide to teach you, just like people in the Bible did (Acts 8:26-31, 1John 4:6, Mk 4:34, Lk 24:25-27, cff. Acts 17:11, Acts 18:26, Acts 28:23, James 3:1, Eph 4:11, etc.)?
“The objective truth of God's Word must be the standard by which all the teachings of men are tested for veracity (Acts 17:11).”
Catholics give a heart-felt “AMEN” to this as well, even though Gendron is saying that we reject God’s Word as the standard of truth. The difference between us and *most* non-Catholics is that we obey the Scriptural command to accept both the written AND the oral Word of God (2Thess 2:15, 2Tim 1:13, 2Tim 2:2, Rom 10:17, 1Cor 15:1-2, Mk 16:15, Mt 23:2-3), and we do not presume, un-Biblically, that the oral Word has somehow vanished or ceased being passed down. Now, Gendron might disagree with the Catholic understanding of many Scriptural passages, but that doesn’t mean Catholics renounce God's Word as the authority, as he paints us as doing. It means we reject *Gendron* as our authority and we don’t believe that *Gendron* has any authority to teach us the Scriptures that we, ourselves, don’t also have. And when our understanding differs from his, we don’t believe that he is automatically right and that we are automatically wrong, or vice versa. Instead, we look to the Church, with the authority that Christ gave it, to settle the matter, just like Scripture says (Mt 18:17, 1Tim 3:15).
And since Gendron explicitly mentions testing the teachings of men against God’s Word, where in God’s Word does it say men are saved by faith ALONE? Where in God’s Word does it say that the Bible is the SOLE authority? Where in God’s Word does it say that the oral traditions of the Apostles, which we are commanded to adhere to in Scripture, have somehow vanished, disappeared, ceased to be passed down, or have ALL been written down? Where in God’s Word does it say that we can all be interpreters of Scripture for ourselves? And for a couple of things I actually like, but that are not in God’s Word: where in God’s Word are “altar calls” or “the sinner’s prayer”? Chapter and verse, please, for each one of these explicit teachings of men. You won’t find them because they don’t exist, and in pointing out this need to test the teachings of men against God’s Word (which Catholics actually believe in the fullest sense of "Word"), Gendron again proves himself to be an “unreliable source for truth”.
He goes on to say that, “Catholics do not test the "infallible" teachings of popes through the lens of Scripture.”
Infallible, "infallible", impeccable, teaching, opinion, doctrine, tradition...there is so much more to be said here that it would take up several articles. If words come out of a Pope's mouth, are they "infallible", and are they "teachings"? What is a teaching? What does "infallible" mean? What message is Mike trying to push across here?
But to this charge, the short version is that we acknowledge that if it were not for an infallible authority, no Christian would know which ancient texts are/are not God’s Inspired Word. If the Church that assembled/defined the Canon of Scripture was fallible, no Christian can ever claim to know for sure whether he is reading God’s Word or not, or whether parts of God’s Word were omitted.
The short version of another point is that we DO look to Scripture. The difference is that the Catholic interpretation of Scripture is often not the same as the non-Catholic interpretation of Scripture. Since we ALL claim the guidance of the Holy Spirit in coming to that understanding of the Word, the question becomes, “who is right and who has the authority to say someone else is wrong?” The Bible says, “the Church” (Mt 18:17, 1Tim 3:15) and Catholics believe God’s Word.
In another section of his newsletter, Mike references an article about Jesus with us in the Eucharist. I am providing it in its entirety in the comments below because it is worth reading. Mike comments on this article:
“According to this article, the pope is unaware that the physical appearance of Christ on the earth will not take place until after the tribulation (Mat. 24:27-30; Acts 1:11).”
According to Mike’s comment here, he is either intentionally misleading his readers, or he doesn’t actually know that these verses are about Christ’s Second Coming, or he doesn’t actually know what the Church teaches about the Eucharist, yet he is still willing to misrepresent it to his readers. Again, Mike proves himself to be an “unreliable source for the truth”.
In short, Catholics take Christ at His Word when He says He is with us always (Mt 28:19-20) and that “this” [bread which He took, blessed, broke, and gave] “is” His Body…just like He said (Lk 22:17ff, Mk 14:22ff, Mt 26:26ff, Jn 6:35-71, 1Cor 10:16, 11:23-29, cff. Ex 12:8, 46, Jn 1:29, Mal 1:11, 1Cor 5:7, etc.). We also obey Christ’s command to “do this in commemoration of” Him and we don’t set a limit on how often we obey that command. We believe and trust Christ, and so we believe and trust in His Word here.
If Gendron were going to correctly represent the Church here, he might say,"Catholics believe in a literal interpretation of John 6 and take Christ at His Word, while I [Gendron] disagree with their interpretation of Scripture”. But he doesn’t say anything like that. Instead, he makes a blanket implication about Catholics rejecting God’s Word, which is absolutely false.
And in case you want to know what the Church actually teaches about the Eucharist, without snippets here and there, so that you can see it in full context:
CCC 1322-1419, primarily, but do the WORD SEARCH for even more.
Mike says, “According to the infallible Word of God, it is overtly clear that Catholics are worshipping a false Christ.”.
Actually, if we just take the plain meaning of the Word, it is overtly clear that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, and that Catholics are worshiping Christ the way that God wants us to worship Him. In fact, according to the Word of God, in Malachi 1:11, Catholics have very little company in worshiping God the way He said we would. How many Christians believe their church fulfills God’s prophecy in Mal 1:11? (There are only 4 groups that I know of who would answer a strong “yes” to this, including Catholics.)
The Prophecy of Malachi 1:11
In Letters from Around the World, Gendron takes time to respond to a Catholic reader who is upset about his misrepresentations of the faith. He quotes the reader as saying:
“Sir, I am a Protestant convert to the Catholic Faith who now teaches the Catechism. You are a disgruntled, poorly catechized ex-Catholic who essentially perpetuates lies about the teachings of the Catholic Church. An apology to Catholics is in order. I found your radio interview very offensive on Crosstalk regarding the canonization of the popes. You should contact Scott Hahn and Father Mitch Pacwa who truly know the Catechism. The only place I find sound and consistent teaching is in the Catholic Church. I do not know why you left the Church, but, I know I am home, and glad to be Catholic. Sincerely, Linda K.”
Instead of simply addressing the concerns of the reader, Gendron starts out of the gate by pre-disposing his readers to an opinion against Linda. This is a logical fallacy known as “poisoning the well”, a type of ad hominem where a debate opponent is shown in a perceived bad light which then discredits everything they say. First and foremost he paints her as less-than-Christian to his readers by pointing out “… you never mentioned Jesus, the Name above all names” as though that has anything to do with the fact that he misrepresented the Church, or that it excuses him for doing so, “and…you wrote about your religion and the Catechism while never mentioning the Bible or a relationship with Jesus” as though this somehow nullifies her concerns about him misrepresenting her faith.
Gendron then continues to misrepresent the Church as he explains to her his own words. He correctly points out that the Church looks for two miracles associated with a person prior to being named a “Saint”, yet he fails to acknowledge, and pass along to his readers, that Catholics do not recognize as “saints” ONLY those who have been named “Saints”. He glances past the fact that Catholics believe in the Communion of Saints just as Scripture teaches (Col 1:18, 1Cor 6:15, 12:20-27, Eph 5:30, Rom 12:4-5) and just as nearly ALL Christians profess (and ironically, not all Christians regularly profess their belief in the Communion of Saints like Catholic do at every single Mass). He either speaks out of ignorance, or intentionally misrepresents the Church. Either way, he proves himself, yet again, to be an “unreliable source for truth”.
In another section, Gendron says that the "Pope Rejects Christ's Instructions on Prayer" because he prays the Rosary, which Gendron considers to be meaningless repetition.
“The Lord Jesus clearly taught His followers how to pray and how not to pray.” And Catholics will say, “AMEN” to that as well and point out that we pray the Lord’s prayer at every single Mass and incorporate it into just about every form of prayer, novena, etc. that we know of.
Gendron points out, “He said, "do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words" (Mat. 6:7).” And again, Catholics will resound with a hearty “AMEN” and point out that repeating our petitions is not “meaningless”, unless Gendron thinks that most of the Psalms are meaningless because of their constant repetition? Of course he doesn’t believe this. And neither do we. But that doesn’t stop Mike from portraying the Church as practicing “meaningless repetition” in our prayers.
We believe the Scriptural example of repeating meaningful prayers is worthy of imitating, and so we do exactly that. We believe that when Mary said “all generations shall call me blessed” (Lk 1:48) that God didn’t put a limit on how many times a person can call her “blessed”, and that he didn’t put a limit on how many times we can meditate on Scripture as we recite meaningful prayers (which is what we do while saying the Rosary) and that the Angel’s words to Mary are worth repeating because they are part of Scripture.
Why Do Catholics Pray the Hail Mary?
Catholics also believe, just as the “pillars of the reformation” did*, that Mary is an important person in regards to Christ, and because *of* Christ, because she gave birth to Him, Who hand-selected His own mother. And because God gave her an important role in bringing us Christ, she is important to us, because Christ is important to us as our Savior.
*The Reformers and Their Catholic Beliefs
Gendron goes on to report, as fact, on a claim (spurious as may turn out to be) by a person that allegedly said that the Pope “reportedly said” that a divorcee living in sin with another person can receive Communion, after her Priest told her she can’t. Fortunately, Gendron provides a link to the spurious sounding claim which, while promoting it as fact, quotes the words that the Pope “reportedly said” which are not at all what the author tries to make them to be. Gendron’s willingness to report this story as actual fact is yet another reason why he is an “unreliable source for truth”.
These example can be, and have been, multiplied over and over. Gendron has consistently misrepresented the Catholic Church for as long as he has been charging people money to listen to him do it. If you want to know what Catholics believe, go straight to the source, the Church. Find a Catholic friend who actually knows the teachings. Or, better yet, grab a Catechism off a shelf at a library or used-book store, or find a friend willing to give you a free copy, and use it. Read Scripture with the acknowledgement that you are a fallible interpreter and can potentially misunderstand what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you through God’s Word. Any time you have a question about what the Church teaches, and why, and where it came from, etc…, get the facts. Do not rely on a person who has proved, time and again, that he is either willing to intentionally misrepresent the Church, or is willing to make false statements about the Church in ignorance. If you want to disagree with Catholic Christianity, fine. But disagree with what we ACTUALLY teach and believe, instead of a misconception of what we believe.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net.