Bnonn Tennant (the B is silent)

Where a recovering ex-atheist skewers things with a sharp two-edged sword

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The wolves are guarding the sheep pen

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3 minutes to read Roman Catholicism is not a Christian denomination, and Protestant apologists of all people should be conversant with the reasons why.

Today I was kicked out of a Christian apologetics group on Facebook…for doing apologetics.

The reason: I posted an article arguing that praying to saints turns Christianity into pagan polytheism—and when this was deleted I wanted to discuss why.

The admin told me the group was not “focusing on denominational apologetics”.

This puzzled me, since Roman Catholicism is not a denomination of Christianity any more than Mormonism or the Jehovah’s Witnesses. To be a Christian denomination you must at least preach the gospel, if nothing else—but Catholicism does not. I wouldn’t have thought there was any need to argue this case to other evangelicals—even those who haven’t studied church history would know what the Reformation was basically about. It wasn’t like the Reformers were just in the mood for a break from indulgences and working off their salvation on the sacramental treadmill.

Unfortunately I was given no reasons for why members of the group were not allowed to share ways to interact with Catholic claims and refute them. Rather, I was told that if I disagreed, I could leave (with a heart emoticon, because you know how sarcastic nods to love totally make harboring a false gospel okay?)

As someone who had endorsed the group at its inception, and contributed to it many times, I didn’t want to leave; I wanted to resolve the obviously broken policy, or at least discover the reason behind it.

However, further efforts to engage the admin were utterly fruitless. When I asked if my conclusion that Catholicism is a form of polytheism was false—and if not, why she was defending it—I received only the statement that if I continued to discuss it I would be removed from the group.

Well, I explained to her how disrespectful and offensive her attitude was, and got removed as promised.

Now, what do you call a Christian apologetics group that evicts someone for employing apologetics against a false religion?

An oxymoron.

From what I’ve personally seen, these oxymorons are not uncommon. If you’ve heard of the Christian Apologetics Alliance, which is almost certainly the biggest group on Facebook, you have heard of an oxymoron. (This was not the group I was evicted from today, but I have had the same reaction from the CAA.)

How much trust can we put in Christian apologists who can’t spot false gospels, but shun those who refute them?

Why are the shepherds kicking the sheep out of the pen for pointing out the wolves?


John Bugay

Hey Bnonn — I kind of agree with your main premise (that Roman Catholicism is not a Christian denomination — but I think it needs to be nuanced a bit, because, way deep down, going way back, there is some Christianity in there), and I certainly agree with the second part — that Protestant apologists should be more than conversant with all of the reasons why.

I say “kind of” because Roman Catholics do “name the name of Christ”, and they do have understandings of Trinity and Christology that are largely correct. The problem, as I see it, is two-fold. They have forgotten what some other essenials are (i.e., they substituted Greek philosophical ideas for the largely Hebrew/OT ideas that are conveyed by the New Testament; and then they wholesale adopted ancient Roman culture — they would say they “baptized” it and assimilated it — that’s one major part that needs to be thrown out. (And the papacy came wholesale with that). Then, afterward, you have the Medieval speculations, and Trent’s anathemization of the Gospel.

So I would agree with you, absolutely, that large portions of Roman Catholicism do not deserve to be called Christian. But there is some Christianity in there, somewhere.


Perhaps because they’re hired hands themselves rather than true shepherds?

Dominic Bnonn Tennant

The problem with that response is that hired hands are still shepherds. Now, admittedly this is not a church, so the analogy is flexible at best, but a Christian should not be “hiring himself out” to a shepherd who protects wolves at the expense of the sheep. If that hired hand didn’t do his due diligence, then it’s incumbent on him to quit or revolt once he discovers what’s going on.

Btw, I don’t mean to come across as bitter. I’m not. But I am frustrated and annoyed.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant

John, thanks for your comment. Wouldn’t you agree that there are at least two necessary conditions for a sect to be considered Christian?

  1. They preach the gospel of salvation by faith in the work of Jesus.
  2. They preach that Jesus is fully God and fully man.

Maybe there are additional requirements on top of that, but I can’t see how a sect can rise to the status of Christian without at least these minimal conditions.

Roman Catholicism is not as bad as the JWs or Mormons because it at least gets (2) right. But they deny the gospel of grace. So while Romanism certainly developed out of Christianity, surely it can’t be considered a Christian denomination, any more than a Unitarian church that teaches salvation by grace through faith, but denies the divinity of Jesus?


The article is an eye opener, I came across your page through a friend’s Facebook.

It is sad to say that “some Christian ” dim the message of salvation to suite others.
God bless you

John Bugay

Bnonn, I don’t disagree with you that Rome is bad; I just think it is so big and amorphous that it defies the straightforward categorization that you’ve given it here. As you said above, “the analogy is flexible at best”.

True, wolves have been guarding sheep. But they are generations of wolves, who are writing laws which, first of all, were semper eadem, and then they were “reformulated” so as to appropriate huge swaths first of all, of Roman popular religion, and then its own medieval speculations, and now, popular liberal culture.

The Roman Catholic Church is huge and menacing, though to call it a “sect”, I think, doesn’t capture it. It is a Hydra; it is its own category. Calling it a “sect” or even a “denomination” doesn’t capture all the various things that go wrong, in all the various directions. But in there, somewhere, as you said in your title, are some sheep, who believe (and even preach) the gospel of salvation by faith in the work of Jesus, and who believe (and even preach) that Jesus is fully God and fully man.

The problem is the syncretism, the “both/and” methodology. It claims virtually to “baptize” anything, to assimilate anything. In that sense, it is like the Borg.

Bret R

Bnonn – John Calvin, Martin Luther and many others were not shy about calling out the heresies of their day. You were right to have taken the stand you did and you suffered the consequences. (Matthew 5:10)