by Steve Ray on May 14, 2017

I posted this letter by Karl Keating of Catholic Answers about 10 years ago but it’s worth reading again.…


Before she became a Catholic, staff apologist Rosalind Moss used to be a member of John MacArthur’s congregation, Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. He runs a ministry called Grace to You. Its motto is “Unleashing God’s Truth One Verse at a Time.” The unleashing is done chiefly through a widely-syndicated radio program.

In a June letter to his ministry’s supporters, MacArthur wrote about John Paul II and the “amazing release of emotion” that accompanied his death. “From politicians and media pundits to Hollywood celebrities and everyday citizens, everyone had praise for John Paul II, his gentle ways and his social and political achievements as a world leader and statesman. I can understand that.

“What I cannot understand,” continued MacArthur, “is the response of some Evangelicals to what matters most about the pope: his beliefs about God and the gospel. … Influential leaders embraced the deceased pope as a brother in Christ and the Catholic church as just another Christian denomination. …

“During the Reformation, countless men and women died rather than deny the biblical truths of salvation. Countless others today are giving their lives as missionaries to people lost in the darkness and guilt of Catholicism.”

MacArthur goes on to write about the “damning error” that is Catholicism and notes that he has released a new 90-minute lecture called “Unmasking the Pope and the Catholic System.” He says that “the church I pastor is loaded with people who were saved out of the Catholic church. … A longtime Grace to You board member and dear friend of mine is a former Catholic. He speaks with great emotion about the bondage he and his wife lived under.”

How many times have we heard these claims before? “The Catholic Church is not really Christian.” “Catholics believe you ‘earn’ your salvation through good works.” “Catholicism is based on guilt, not truth.” “People are in ‘bondage’ to Catholicism–and we need to save them.”

Each Sunday 7,000 people attend MacArthur’s church. This is what he tells them about an institution that was around for nineteen centuries before he was born and that is now headed by a man who shows not a hint of MacArthur’s arrogance.

It is MacArthur who claims a divine commission: “I do have a mandate from God to compare what others teach to the gospel of the Bible.” He says, “‘Does the pope teach the gospel?’ is a valid question.”

Rosalind Moss left John MacArthur’s church because she realized that, yes, the pope really does teach the gospel–and that John MacArthur does not.

The Grace to You ministry’s letterhead has this slogan at the bottom: “The Bible Teaching of John MacArthur.” Benedict XVI is more modest in his claims. His letterhead does not have at the bottom “The Bible Teaching of Benedict XVI” because the Pope is not trying to push his own agenda.

Instead, he is the custodian of what has been passed down through the centuries. His job is not to refashion the Bible in his own image but to convey to us what each of his predecessors conveyed to the people of their time.

Grace to You is built around one man. It may have many employees, but when John MacArthur dies, his ministry will die. His flock will scatter, taking with them the silly prejudices he has imbued them with.

When Benedict XVI dies there will be another pope to succeed him, and another, and another, until the end of time. Each of them will demonstrate to those with open minds and hearts that, yes, the pope does teach the gospel.

Karl Keating E-Letter, August 23, 2005. To subscribe to Karl’s E-Letter, click here.

(Steve once wrote a letter to MacArthur challenging him for his anti-catholic attititude. The letter was addressed to John Ankerburg because of a book he wrote and I sent it to MacArthur as well since he wrote a foreword for the book.)

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Daniel April 24, 2009 at 10:46 AM

I came across your article here regarding John’s sermon series against the Papacy. I don’t know which series you are referencing because he has a few, but nevertheless we’re thinking of the same man and of the same substance. I just finished listening to them myself and i found them very dead on historically. I love history, i study it almost daily, i love looking at the lives of men and women who have come before us and have left a spiritual legacy for us to emulate and some who have left a devastating legacy, not worth emulating.

I believe that before you dismiss John on the basis of your emotional attachments with a system you need to be able to ‘destroy’ his arguments.You can’t simply dismiss him and his arguments based on such weak statements of observation mingled with emotions. I’m not trying to pick a fight with you at all but i love debates and digging for the truth so please keep that in mind.

What you cannot deny is the facts that he has presented, regarding Mary veneration, relics, works-faith salvation system, an ‘illegitimate’ priesthood and the whole doctrine on Transubstantiation. He presents very solid and convincing arguments against such teachings, using Scriptures. It would be a good use of your time to see whether what the Bible states regarding these issues is in tune with what the RCC has and is teaching.

Based on the fact and real realization that the RCC is in direct contradiction with certain Biblical teachings, it is your responsibility to get to the bottom of why they are so. John has quoted Bible verses galore. You simply cannot dismiss them without further investigation.

STEVE RAY HERE: Just read your comments on my blog which I don’t have time right now to respond to in detail. However, I know John quite well and know his theology even better because I used to be one of him — an anti-Catholic Evangelist who spent time trying to convert Catholics. But, alas, I studied too much :-) I am now a Catholic. It has nothing to do with emotional attachment since my only emotion toward Catholicism was disdain! Over time, after listening to the anti-Catholic bigotry of men like John, I read my way into the Catholic Church with little or no emotion. It was the Bible and history that convinced me. You may want to read my book Crossing the Tiber which documents some of my findings and my reasoning. I dare say you wouldn’t be quite so quick to write and criticize if you read this book and my others.

In Rome now teaching an intensive week-long course on Apologetics at the Regina Apostolorum University.

ssj March 11, 2014 at 1:35 AM

Once upon a time John Mcaurthur said the “Blood” of Christ counts for nothing, but it is the death of Christ that all but matters. before you put so much faith in the Gospel according to JMA, know the facts; the actual facts. Having once spent Many years as an evangelical I am happy to saythe Lord led me into His one True and Apostolic Church!

ssj March 11, 2014 at 1:38 AM

Oh .. PS I too was once extremely anticatholic … mayGod forgive me … (as with Saul / Paul) .. we should be very careful of that which we fight against .. it just may be God!

Vinny Zee June 2, 2016 at 7:27 PM

It was emotionalism that led me out of the Catholic church and into evangelical Protestantism. It was emotionalism that led me into Pentecostalism for a while. It was emotionalism that led me to the lights and glitz of a Hillsong style church for many years. It was careful study, as a good “bible believing Christian” that led me to start to question what was happening in all these denominations. Something you will never hear from the anti-Catholic crowd that espouses their church “believes and teaches the bible” is that they have no historical context for their belief to draw on. They may talk about the bible, but they cannot point to where Evangelical Protestants were for the first 1500 years of Christianity. Sure they may say their church today was the church of Acts. However, they can never show a clear line from Acts to their church through history. As I continued to study and study, the only thing that happened (of my own free will) was that a true analysis of the historical church, historical documents, the ecumenical councils and ultimately Holy Scripture led me out of Protestant Evangelicalism and back home to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. If Irenaeus, Athanasius or Ignatius came back today, whose church would they attend? Joel Olsteen’s Church, John MacArthur’s church or one of the Orthodox/Catholic churches? Not even Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, or Edwards would recognize the churches that have descended from the denominations from whence they came!

STEVE RAY HERE: brilliant! Thanks for sharing the story and how true it is. There are so many going out and then coming back after years later discovering what they left before they really knew what it was. Thanks for sharing!

Connie June 7, 2017 at 1:24 AM

Hi Steve
Love hearing your podcasts. I too attend bible study of one of the new mega churches only because of my partner. But I listen to people like you and so am able to casts doubts in their minds. I hope that I am a catholic trojan horse!!! I love the catholic church too much and would not go to the homegroups as they do not have much substance in them. I think Catholics should only go to those bible study groups if they are standing on a very very strong foundation.

Greg July 26, 2018 at 6:52 AM

Hi Steve I have listened to your material and others as well on the Catholic Faith , my mom is a baptist and my dads family was Catholic -I am Catholic and Love my faith , sometimes I get asked or even told what my faith is coming from a Protestant view and I feel they just don,t get it , they always go to the Eucharist, Mary and the pope I know how to defend this some but for example -at my Dads funeral the priest knew we had a lot of protestants and even at that he invited ALL up for communion , even my uncle who is a baptist minister and his wife approached the alter , so some said to me later ….see it’s just bread it’s not the canabalistic view I said it was -problem is ,I know I am correct in the Catholic teaching and I know or at least I think the priest was in error in doing what he did – I understand in a sense why he did it but now they are under the impression that if it’s ok once it’s ok all the time so if they attend Catholic wedding or funeral – the Eucharist or as they say – the bread / celebration or the “remembrance” is ok for non Catholics to receive …….wow what a situation – I don’t see my baptist side of the family a lot ( not sure if that’s a blessing or not ?

Mark January 7, 2019 at 4:46 PM

Reading all of this is so depressing. My tribe versus your tribe. The Church Universal and Triumphant is Christs. He purchased it with his blood and Satan has been trying to corrupt it from the very beginning. If we don't recognize this and go to what we can without doubt know to be the true faith presented by the one true living God we will all simply be inventing a god that fits our needs and desires. Christ himself warned of false teachers. If we do not study scripture daily as did the Bereans (Acts 17:11) we will fall far short (2 Timothy 2:15). In the beginning was the Word . . . and the Word was God, (John 1:1) and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Knowing the Word is to know Jesus. We are a chosen people a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) such that it is our duty to search these things out. (Proverbs 25:2). Tribalism and exclusionary claims add nothing to the finished works of Christ and we should all remember that.

STEVE RAY COMMENT: There is an assumption and that comment above that the Catholic Church is somehow not a Bible Church. Also, the tribe against tribe is because people don’t read the Bible and study it. However, it’s the very fact that people have studied the Bible on their own that is brought all of this confusion when they interpret it in their own ways.The way that you stay right and avoid divisions is by studying the Bible for yourself. I find this curious because it’s the very fact that when people started studying the Bible for themselves and coming up with their own theologies in church government ideas, that’s when all the divisions began. We had one church up until then. The confusion of modern day “Bible only” people is astounding.

SCOTT F. CARSON March 18, 2019 at 3:56 PM


Micah April 26, 2019 at 12:14 PM

You are dead wrong about John MacArthur! I grew up Catholic and thank God He opened my eyes to the truth and I will never go back to that religion again. Half of the things they preach and believe are not even taught in the bible. Sorry I go by what God's word says not what their man made rules and man pretending to be God in Rome over the church. One day God will separate the goats and the sheep and sorry but Catholics will not be the sheep. God opened my heart and eyes to the truth and I am so grateful for that.

STEVE RAY HERE: Micah, I have met a lot of people like you who left the Catholic Church before you really understood what it was you were leaving. You took some anti-Catholic’s bigotry and became jaded. Too bad. I was raised with guys like MacArthur as my heroes. But I read history and a lot of other things (see my book Crossing the Tiber) and read my way into the Catholic Church! You really ought to take some time off to be objective and read a bit more. Reading the Bible in it’s historical and linguistic context will help too.

There is an old saying which is very true, “To be deep in history is to cease being a Protestant.”

One of my dear friends used to be a minister with MacArthur but after a decade converted to the Catholic Church.

DBB September 12, 2019 at 2:44 PM

Excuse the poor typing in my post. Doing this from a phone on a train.

DBB: I did not allow your post on my blog, not because of poor typing, but because of the hysterical and abusive tone of your comment. Sorry. Try acting like a Christian and practice a little civility and maybe I will consider allowing another attempt on your part.

Gerald Repash November 14, 2019 at 3:23 PM

I listened to John Macarthur’s attack on the Papacy, and rather than bringing in scripture, he basically attacked the office by quoting Martin Luther (who was condemned by the Pope and has a good reason to insult the Pope because the Pope refuted his beliefs) John Calvin (who thought of himself as the new Magisterial teacher and condemned all who disagreed with his theology) and Charles Spurgeon (a Baptist preacher whom I admire in some areas, but alas had no formal training or understanding of Church History) who also repeats the things he heard from anti Catholic sources about the Pope and the Church. Macarthur proved nothing except that some reformers and preachers in past centuries didn’t like the Papacy and refused to submit to it.

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