Gerry Matatics is a well known “Catholic” apologist. I have to put that in quotes because, contrary to most Roman Catholic claims, Rome has many divisions and denominations and many Roman Catholics do not consider Mr. Matatics a Catholic. Here is one example of someone who thinks Gerry does not qualify as an authentic Roman Catholic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYv0zhdV3vo.
I am not interested in that debate. Although I disagree with Mr. Matatics extensively, I have much respect for his debating skills.
Gerry has a book that contradicts his own Catholic beliefs. I haven’t read the book. How do I know this then? The title itself. He contradicts Catholic teaching before the book even begins.
I wanted to write this because this example is a great representation of a problem most Catholics have.
Gerry has a book titled How the Bible Converted Me To Catholicism: One Protestant Minister’s Surprising Journey of Faith. However, according to Gerry’s own public statements and Catholic teaching itself, it is actually impossible for the Bible to convert someone to Roman Catholicism in any genuine way. In almost any debate with Protestants, Gerry follows classic Catholic Apologetic methods and jumps to an argument I call the “rank-pulling argument”. They pull-rank. Gerry will mention how Protestants are fallible humans, so they cannot know they are interpreting the Bible correctly. That is why we (allegedly) need Rome as an infallible Church in order to guarantee we know infallibly what the Bible is teaching. Gerry will use this argument even in debates that have nothing to do with Sola Scriptura. One example is during the cross-examination period of his debate with Dr. James White on Justification by Faith Alone. Dr. White asked Gerry how Gerry could affirm the peace guaranteed in Romans 5:1 when he believes he could be come an enemy of God at any moment in time. Gerry however, avoided the point and answered by telling Dr. White that he can’t have assurance he is interpreting the Bible correctly since Dr. White is fallible. This is an argument Gerry prefers.
There is a big problem with his book in light of this argument. If one cannot interpret the Bible with the Spirit alone and come to a true knowledge of it’s teachings, then the Bible can never convert anyone to anything certainly. Gerry’s current position is that the Bible cannot be assuredly interpreted correctly without Rome. How then, could the Bible convert someone to the Church that they needed to interpret the Bible in the first place? The Bible could not have converted Gerry to Rome because you need to assume Rome’s authority before you can know what the Bible means. Therefore, Gerry is stuck with two positions: Either he assumed Rome’s authority to “properly” interpret Scripture which confirmed Catholicism, and his book title is false, or Gerry cannot claim to know Rome to be the true Church because his fallible interpretations of the Bible lead him to that conclusion. However, if one can’t trust their own interpretations of Scripture, then they must assume Rome’s authority FIRST, before the Scripture can convince them of anything.
The book title contradicts another one of Gerry and Rome’s favorite arguments. The argument is that we can’t even know what the Bible is and whether it ought to be read without submitting to Rome’s authority! Therefore, Gerry had to assume Rome’s authority to know what the Bible is and that it’s inspired, and then he had to assume Rome’s authority in order to trust his interpretations of Scripture, which means Gerry was a Catholic long before he even read the Bible. If the Bible can convert someone to Rome, then the Catholic is forced to admit that the Bible can be interpreted correctly and assuredly without Rome. And he is obviously not able to believe that. His title refutes his own position.
This is a great representation of the problems with this common Roman Catholic apologetic claims. It’s a classic circular argument that Rome refuses to acknowledge. The idea that we must submit to Rome in order to know the Bible we have is from God and to have infallible assurance of it’s teachings has so many holes. First, Roman Catholics cannot have any more assurance about anything than any Protestant. They claim to have this because they appeal to an infallible authority (like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses). However, their choice to trust this authority was fallible. Therefore, they can have only fallible assurance of anything that Church declares. The same fallible process we use to determine the truth of Scripture is the same process they used to pick a church. They have no more assurance.
Another gaping hole is that Rome fails their own test because they still have to interpret the Church’s declarations and interpretations. They are forced to admit that the Bible which is infallible Divine Word cannot be interpreted privately, but somehow the Church and Tradition which are also infallible Divine Word CAN be interpreted correctly. They fail their own test. Those interpreting the Bible for the Catholic still need to be interpreted. Therefore they have only kicked the can further down the sidewalk.
Ultimately, this circular reasoning exposes that Rome does not in fact have three rules of faith (Scripture, Church & Tradition). Gerry made this claim in his debate with Dr. Greg Bahnsen on the John Ankerburg show and Catholic apologist Mitch Pacwa made this claim in a debate with James White in which he described it as a “three legged-stool”. However, if the Church is the one who gave us the Bible, and it’s the one who interprets the Bible, and it’s the one who gives us tradition and it’s the one who interprets tradition, then the Church is, of necessity, the HIGHEST rule of faith and the ultimate authority for the Catholic. Tradition and Scripture have no benefit, value or purpose unless they are read in light of the Church, which means that Rome is promoting Sola Ecclesia no matter how often they say they aren’t.