Pastor Chuck Smith and Don Stewart give bad advice to a Catholic on the radio

by Matt Slick

On April 4, 2012 Pastor Chuck Smith, the founder of Calvary Chapel, was on the radio show "Pastors Perspective" with Don Stewart, which airs on the radio station KWVE in Southern California.  Following is the transcript of a conversation they had with a Roman Catholic woman.  It occurred at 32:10 minutes into the show.  What Pastor Chuck and Don Stewart said to the Catholic woman was very problematic, but before I explain what the problem is let me say that I am not trying to bring any disrespect upon Pastor Chuck Smith or Don Stewart.  Nevertheless, I listened to the show and the following transcript is accurate.  I have underlined important points and numbered the statements for easy reference.

  1. Female Caller--I'm Catholic, I'm a Catholic Christian, and I want to find out - I feel that I'm saved, but I want to know, am I saved? Because I do not recognize the born again view. I was baptized, I have had communion and I've also been confirmed. So, am I saved?
  2. Don--Well, when you say Claudia, let me ask you something, you don't recognize the born again view. You know the born again view comes from John, chapter 3, when Jesus said unless you're born again you can't enter the kingdom of heaven so that's not our view, it's Jesus' view.
  3. Caller--I understand that, but how can we as Catholics understand that better?
  4. Don--OK, well that's a fair question. OK Chuck? Help Claudia out here.
  5. Chuck--Well I'm thinking of you know of the fact that the Bible sorta gives a definition, you might say, of what it is to be born again or what it is to be saved. And, if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord. Claudia, is Jesus the Lord of your life?
  6. Caller--He is.
  7. Don & Chuck--OK.
  8. Chuck--And believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead?
  9. Caller--Yes
  10. Chuck--OK--then the Bible says then thou shalt be saved. And so that's the requirements and yes we would say, yes Claudia you are saved.
  11. Don--Yeah.
  12. Chuck-- . . . because you confessed with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, you believe that he rose from the dead, and that's what the Bible says is the requirement for salvation . . . 
  13. Don--Uh-huh.
  14. Chuck--and so we would say, yes from a biblical definition you are saved. And uh we would just say from a biblical definition you are also born again.
  15. Don--Exactly!
  16. Chuck--That is you have a new life. You're not living as the world and you're not living as uh the people who don't believe that Jesus lived.  But you're seeking to live a life that pleases him.  You're wanting to learn more about him.  You're wanting to pray and to seek his guidance and his will for your life--and that's what salvation is all about.
  17. Don--Mmmm
  18. Caller--Amen. Thank you, pastors.

The Roman Catholic woman said she didn't recognize a born-again view which is, of course, a problem as Don Stewart rightly points out in line 2 of the transcript.  But notice that what the Catholic woman appeals to in order to show them she is a Christian is not her faith in Christ, but that she was baptized, has had communion, and has been confirmed.  This is essentially an appeal to works since these three things are ceremonies.  Both Pastor Chuck and Don Stewart should have recognized this problem right away and gently, patiently pointed it out to her, presenting the biblical teaching of justification by faith alone (Rom. 4:1-5; 5:1).  Roman Catholicism absolutely, unequivocally denies justification by grace through faith alone in Christ alone.  Consider the following quotes from official Roman Catholic sources:

  • Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 9, "If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema".
  • Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 14"If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema."
  • CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church), paragraph 2010, " . . . Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life."
  • CCC 2068, " . . . so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments."

There are many more such quotes from official Roman Catholic theology that demonstrate a denial of biblical doctrine of salvation by faith alone.  See the articles "Are we saved by faith alone, or do we need works, too?" and "Summary of process of salvation in Roman Catholicism" for more information and verification.  Both Chuck Smith and Don Stewart should have been aware of this problem and should have lovingly pointed this out to the caller.  By not doing so they have left her with a false sense of security.

In line 5 of the transcript pastor Chuck says, "if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord."  This is a quote from Rom. 10:9 which says, "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved."  This is true, but we have to understand that Mormons can say Jesus is Lord, as can the Jehovah's Witnesses, and neither of those groups are Christian.  Unfortunately today non-Christian groups will use Christian words and phrases, but they redefine them.  This is why it is necessary to go further into biblical truths in order to properly deal with the issue of this Roman Catholic woman.

While it is true that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord you'll be saved, it is also true that we cannot add any works to salvation because we are justified (made right before God according to the law) by faith and not by any works.  Please consider the following verses:

  1. Rom. 3:28, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
  2. Rom. 4:5, "But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness,"
  3. Rom. 11:6, "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace."
  4. Gal. 2:16, "nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified."
  5. Gal. 2:21, I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.
  6. Gal.3:5-6, "Does He then, who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 6Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness."
  7. Phil. 3:9, "and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith."

The Bible clearly teaches something contrary to Roman Catholicism which has, over the centuries, become apostate.  It advocates praying to Mary, that the bread and wine in communion are the actual, literal body and blood of Christ, that we can make reparation for our sins, that penance helps regain grace, that purgatory is where we suffer for our sins, and it approves of the apocrypha which is not scripture.  These are serious issues of which Pastor Chuck Smith and Don Stewart should be aware of.

Back to the issue at hand

Both Pastor Chuck Smith and Don Stewart failed to sufficiently address the real issue of the problem of salvation in Catholicism.  Essentially, they left this woman with a false sense of security.  They both did her a serious disservice.  It pains me to point out their mistake, but it is necessary.  Roman Catholicism is full of problems and its doctrine of salvation puts it outside biblical orthodoxy.  A Christian pastor like Chuck Smith and an apologist like Don Stewart should know this and address it properly.  They failed to do so and this is a serious problem.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.