Anathema – Jimmy Akin Gets It Wrong In Debate With James White
May 31, 2024
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0:00 Introduction
0:40 Akin Scandalously Says That Martin Luther & Protestant Sects Have The True Gospel
2:50 Akin’s False Claims About The Meaning Of Anathema In Catholic Documents
6:29 Magisterial Documents Refute Akin’s False Claims About Anathema
12:29 Pope Stephen III Refutes Akin On Anathema Meaning Condemned/Damned By God
13:05 Akin Denies The Substance Of Catholic Teaching
15:14 Akin Promotes The Joint Declaration With Lutherans On Justification
15:28 Vatican II So-Called Catholicism Is Counterfeit
15:42 Akin Promotes The Heresy That Non-Catholics May Receive Communion
16:10 “Catholic Answers” Teaches The Heresy That Non-Catholics Are In The Body Of Christ
16:39 Akin Denies The Dogma “Outside The Church There Is No Salvation”
17:26 Summary & Conclusion

Bro. Peter Dimond

On April 25, 2024, anti-Catholic Protestant James White and Vatican II Sect member Jimmy Akin debated justification and salvation.  Obviously, since he’s a Protestant, James White is heretical on justification and salvation.  We refute his false position in our videos called Protestantism’s Big Justification Lie; What Millions Get Wrong About Ephesians, and Born Again Refutes Faith Alone.  This video will not analyze all the arguments made in the debate.  Rather, it’s intended to correct a few of the serious misrepresentations of Catholic teaching made by Jimmy Akin during the discussion.  Akin claims to be a Catholic, but sadly he’s not.  Some of the things Jimmy Akin said in the debate were quite scandalous and contrary to Catholic teaching.  One of Akin’s main arguments in the debate was to attempt to convince Protestants that Catholicism is not a false gospel because it’s supposedly so close to Protestantism.  Akin also described the teaching of Martin Luther and various Protestant sects as the true Gospel.

Jimmy Akin vs. James White, Debate: How Does One Find Peace With God?, April 25, 2024: “… and, correctly understood, Catholics can affirm faith alone.  That’s why the Annex to the Joint Declaration says justification takes place ‘by grace alone, by faith alone apart from works.’  That leads us to the state of the Catholic Church with regard to justification.  There has been a lot of dialogue in recent years.  And I mentioned the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, which was signed by the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999.  It was joined by the World Methodist Council in 2006.  It was approved by the Anglican Consultative Council in 2016, and it was signed by the World Communion of Reformed Churches in 2017.  And it was concluded that, even though we use different language, we shouldn’t quarrel about words because we’re actually agreed on substance when it comes to the Gospel.  And if it’s people who think you can lose your salvation, then Martin Luther, Lutherans, Methodists, Anglicans, Pentecostals, General Baptists and Freewill Baptists would all be teaching a false gospel.  Well, I don’t think those groups are teaching a false gospel, and so I don’t think the Catholic Church is either.”

Instead of trying to convince Protestants that Catholicism is not false because it’s supposedly so similar to Protestantism, Akin should have told the non-Catholics, in charity, that they don’t have the true Gospel, and that they won’t be saved unless they embrace the Catholic faith, which alone is true Christianity.  But Akin doesn’t believe that.  He sadly doesn’t have the Catholic faith.  Rather, he accepts the false ecumenical theology of the Vatican II religion (which holds that Protestants are in the Church of Christ, can be saved, etc.).  Thus, one of Jimmy Akin’s goals was to ensure the Protestant audience that they are not condemned for believing in Protestantism.  It was a diabolical and fruitless endeavor.

In his opening statement Akin argued that Protestants are not anathematized for denying the teaching of ecumenical councils.  His statements on this matter include a number of serious errors.

Jimmy Akin vs. James White, Debate: How Does One Find Peace With God?, April 25, 2024: “And that’s led to some confusion about anathemas because later Christians picked up this term from Paul, but they didn’t always use it the same way Paul did.  For example, in various Church councils they had canons, which were short statements that often took the form: if anyone says this (some false theological statement), if anyone says this, let him be anathema.  And that led some people to think that the Catholic Church is saying these people are damned or they’re cursed by God or things like that.  For example, in his book The Roman Catholic Controversy, James [White] summarizes the teaching of the Council of Trent on the Mass by saying: Anyone who denies the truthfulness of any of these proclamations is under the anathema of God.  So, this understanding envisions anathema as a penalty imposed by God.  It’s commonly thought to involve being damned by God.  It envisions anathemas applying to any human being, and it envisions anathemas taking effect automatically: as soon as you deny the proposition, you’re under anathema.  Therefore, it’s thought that this applies to Protestants.  You’ll hear a lot of apologists, particularly on the Protestant side, saying that Protestants are anathema because they disagree with various things said by ecumenical councils.  Well, it turns out: all those things are false.  So I’m going to tell you what an anathema actually is.  It’s changed in meaning over time.  In the New Testament, as BDAG (the most famous Greek lexicon) says, the word anathema meant ‘a votive offering, curse, accursed, or a curse.’  But later in Church history it came to mean an excommunication performed by the local bishop with a special ceremony, and to document that you can look at the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which says: excommunication is a censure by which one is excluded from the communion of the faithful.  Moreover, it is called anathema especially when it is inflicted with the formalities that are described in the Roman Pontifical [Canon 2257], the Roman Pontifical being a book of ceremonies that bishops use.  So what this means is that in Church documents anathemas do not mean damned by God.  Anathemas did not take effect automatically.  They were a judicial sentence that was imposed and the bishop had to do a special ceremony.  Anathemas did not apply to non-Catholics, for two reasons: one reason is bishops had better things to do with their time than endless ceremonies for endless non-Catholics who disagree.  And secondly, you can’t be excommunicated from the Catholic Church if you’re not a member of the Catholic Church.  So anathemas only applied to Catholics.  And, some more good news, anathemas no longer exist.  They were abolished with the 1983 Code of Canon Law.  And so anathemas do not apply to anyone today.  And therefore, in the eyes of the Catholic Church, they don’t apply to anybody here.  So, let’s hear it for everybody, not having to be under an anathema [he claps].”   

Akin argues that Protestants are not anathematized or condemned for rejecting Catholic dogmatic canons because, according to him, the term anathema only refers to a ceremonial excommunication pronounced by a bishop.  That’s wrong.  He also claims that anathemas don’t take effect automatically.  That is also wrong.  Akin also claims that anathemas are no longer in effect, which is also wrong.  Akin bases his argument almost totally on a citation from the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which doesn’t prove his claim.  He cites canon 2257 of the 1917 Code, which says that excommunication is also called anathema especially when it is inflicted by a bishop with all the ceremonies.  But it doesn’t say that anathema only refers to such formal ceremonies.  That’s because anathema also refers to an automatic penalty or condemnation that falls upon someone who denies a dogmatic teaching of the Church.  In fact, that’s how the term is most frequently used in magisterial documents.  Indeed, there are multiple passages in the Council of Trent itself that destroy Akin’s false claims about the meaning of anathema.  For example, this is from Sess. 25 of the Council of Trent on Indulgences.

Council of Trent, Decree On Indulgences, Sess. 25: “… it [the Council] condemns with anathema (eosque anathemate damnat) those who assert that [indulgences] are useless or deny that there is in the Church the power of granting them…”

As we can see, those who deny the Church’s teaching on indulgences are condemned with an anathema.  Here the term anathema describes an automatic condemnation, not something reserved to the bishop.  That refutes Akin’s claim.  In Sess. 24, the Council uses the term anathema to say the following about the validity of certain marriages:

Council of Trent, Sess. 24, Tametsi, Chap. 1: “Although it is not to be doubted that clandestine marriages made with the free consent of the contracting parties, are valid and true marriages, so long as the Church has not declared them invalid; and consequently that they are justly to be condemned, as the holy Synod condemns those with anathema (eos sancta synodus anathemate damnat), who deny that they are true and valid, and those also who falsely affirm that marriages contracted by minors without the consent of parents are invalid, and that parents can make them sanctioned or void, nevertheless the holy Church of God for very just reasons has always detested and forbidden them.”

Again, here the Council of Trent used the term anathema to refer to an automatic condemnation that applied to those who denied its teaching, not to a solemn ceremony reserved to the bishop.  Another passage is found in Sess. 24 of Trent.  This statement is particularly interesting because it comes just before the dogmatic canons on the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Council of Trent, Sess. 24, Nov. 11, 1563: “… this holy and general Synod wishing to block their temerity has decided, lest their pernicious contagion attract more, that the more prominent heresies and errors of the aforesaid schismatics are to be destroyed, decreeing these anathemas against the heretics themselves and their errors (hos in ipsos haereticos eorumque errores decernens anathematismos).” (Denz. 970)

One could hardly ask for a better refutation of Akin’s false claim about the meaning of anathema.  Trent declares that its canons on marriage (which end with “let him be anathema”) decree “anathemas against the heretics themselves” who deny those teachings.  Hence, the anathemas are automatic penalties that fall upon all heretics who contradict the Church’s dogmatic statements.  Thus, when the Church adds “let him be anathema” to a dogmatic canon, it indeed means that people who choose to embrace the condemned position and deny the Church’s teaching automatically incur an anathema.

In this passage Trent even uses the intensive pronoun “ipsos”, when it says “in ipsos haereticos”, which means “against the heretics themselves”.  Hence, the anathema is a penalty or condemnation that automatically strikes Protestants and others who deny the Church’s teaching.  With these facts Akin’s claim has been thoroughly refuted from the words of Trent itself.  Akin also claims that anathemas don’t apply to non-Catholics.  That’s also wrong, as we’ve shown.  The Church teaches that all the baptized, including non-Catholics, are subject to the Church’s power and bound to the observance of Christian law by virtue of the baptismal character.  See, for example, the Council of Trent’s canons on Baptism.  Therefore, the anathemas that the Church promulgates against all who deny her teaching apply to all the baptized Protestants and other baptized individuals who dissent.

Indeed, in the Bull Cantate Domino, the Council of Florence uses the verb anathematize to state:

Latin: “Quoscumque ergo adversa et contraria sentientes damnat, reprobat et anathematizat et a Christi corpore, quod est ecclesia, alienos esse denuntiat.”

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Bull Cantate Domino, 1441: “It [the Holy Roman Church] condemns, rejects and anathematizes all who think opposed and contrary things, and declares them to be aliens from the Body of Christ, which is the Church.”

Once again, we see that anathemas are automatically inflicted upon all who deny her teaching, completely refuting Akin’s false claim.  Akin also claims that anathemas don’t apply today.  That’s false.  While anathemas are essentially dismissed by the counterfeit Vatican II religion and its antipopes, they still exist in God’s sight and in the teaching of the Catholic Church.  Anathemas are attached to a rejection of the Church’s dogmatic teaching.  As just one example of a 20th century reference, in his 1930 encyclical Casti Connubii, Pope Pius XI states:

Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii (#61), Dec. 31, 1930: “This truth of Christian Faith is expressed by the teaching of the Council of Trent. ‘Let no one be so rash as to assert that which the Fathers of the Council have placed under anathema, namely, that there are precepts of God impossible for the just to observe.’”

Pius XI cites Trent to affirm that anathemas apply automatically to those who embrace that condemned heresy.  Akin also claims that anathemas do not mean damned by God.  But that is also false.  Being under an anathema does not mean that a person cannot possibly repent and convert, but such a person who is anathematized is condemned by God and will be ultimately damned unless he or she converts.  Indeed, here’s an interesting quote from Pope Stephen III who correctly teaches that anathema means that a person will be damned by God (unless he or she repents).

Pope Stephen III, To Charles and Carloman (Codex Epistolaris Carolinus 45), AD c. 769: “If anyone, contrary to our wishes, presumes to act against this our solemn and earnest exhortation, may he know that by the authority of my master the blessed Peter prince of the apostles he is bound with the bond of an anathema, excluded from the kingdom of God, and consigned to eternal fire together with the devil and his cruel pomps and all the impious.” (Codex Epistolaris Carolinus, Liverpool Univ. Press, 2021, p. 287)

Thus, we’ve proven that Jimmy Akin was wrong on almost everything he said in regard to the meaning of anathema.  The truth is that Akin himself is under anathema for having denied Catholic teaching in various ways.  It’s also ironic that, in this debate, Akin stressed that (following the advice of St. Paul) he didn’t want to quarrel over words.    

Jimmy Akin vs. James White, Debate: How Does One Find Peace With God?, April 25, 2024: “But I’m not here to quarrel about words, as long we agree on substance.”

Jimmy Akin vs. James White, Debate: How Does One Find Peace With God?, April 25, 2024: “Even though we use different language, we shouldn’t quarrel about words because we’re actually agreed on substance when it comes to the Gospel.” 

Akin claimed that he didn’t want to quarrel over words, but instead focus on substance.  But what he actually did was make an argument about the meaning of a word (anathema) – getting the meaning wrong in the process – with the result that he violated the substance of Catholic teaching when he told the Protestants and other non-Catholics that they aren’t condemned for denying Catholic teaching.  For what was the substance of Akin’s point in focusing on the meaning of anathema?  His point was, of course, to tell the non-Catholics: don’t worry, you are not condemned; you are fine where you are.  That false message substantively violates Catholic teaching.  Akin also didn’t quote this passage from the Council of Trent, which states:

Council of Trent, Decree On Justification, Sess. 6, Chap. 16: “After this Catholic doctrine on justification, which whosoever does not faithfully and firmly accept cannot be justified, it seemed good to the holy council to add these canons, that all may know not only what they must hold and follow, but also what to avoid and shun.”

The passage condemns Akin’s false message.  Akin didn’t tell them what the Council of Trent does, namely, that anyone who dissents from Trent’s decree cannot be justified.  Akin didn’t deliver that message because he rejects it.  Instead, he accepts the heresies of Vatican II, according to which Protestants and others who reject Catholic dogmas are in the Church of Christ, can be saved, can be saints, etc.  Besides denying Catholic teaching, Akin failed in his obligation of charity toward the Protestants, which is to tell them the truth they need to know to come out of their heresies and be saved. 

In this debate Akin also promoted the appalling and heretical Joint Declaration With The Lutherans On Justification, which teaches the heresy of faith alone and that other Protestant heresies are not condemned by Trent.  See our article on that heretical agreement.  Akin’s statements in this debate are a prime example of how Vatican II so-called Catholicism is counterfeit, fake Catholicism.  Although what Akin said is directly contrary to true Catholic teaching, it is consistent with heretical Vatican II teaching.  In fact, here’s a clip in which Akin teaches that Protestants and other non-Catholics may lawfully receive Holy Communion.

Jimmy Akin: “There are limited circumstances in which Protestant brothers and sisters are able to receive Communion in the Catholic Church.” 

Jimmy Akin: “There are situations in which, as far as the Catholic Church is concerned, Orthodox Christians may receive confession, Communion, and Anointing of the Sick in a Catholic church.”

That’s blatantly heretical and condemned by the Catholic Church.  Here are other heretics from ‘Catholic Answers’ teaching the heretical position that all the baptized are in the Church of Christ (which is directly contrary to Catholic dogma).

Trent Horn: “Non-Catholic Christians are a part of the Body of Christ in virtue of their valid baptism.”

Tim Staples: “Ruth, if you’re non-Catholic friend is baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in water, then he is part of the Body of Christ.”

Akin completely denies the Church’s teaching that there is no salvation outside the Church.  He even teaches that Protestants who reject the papacy can be saved, which is a denial of the Church’s teaching that those who reject the Papacy, or are divided from Catholics in government, cannot be in the church of Christ or be saved. 

Jimmy Akin, The Justification 2x2 DEBATE (Horn/Akin vs. Nesan/Boyce), May 15, 2024: “If the Roman Catholic says it’s absolutely necessary for salvation that every creature submit to the Roman Pontiff, what happens to the justification of a Christian who willingly refuses to submit? [Akin] The Catholic Church’s understanding is that God only holds people accountable for what they know to be true.  And so, if someone doesn’t realize they need to be Catholic, God will only hold them accountable for the truth and light that they have in their lives.”

We’ve shown that Akin was completely wrong on the meaning of anathema, which resulted in his rejection of the substance of Catholic teaching on the obligation to adhere to its dogmatic canons.  We’ve also shown that Akin, the senior apologist for ‘Catholic Answers’, among his other heresies, promotes faith alone, that Protestants are not heretics, and that Martin Luther and many Protestant sects had (and have) the true Gospel.  Akin’s statements demonstrate once again that the Vatican II religion is not Catholic, and that the defenders of the Vatican II Sect are not Catholic.  To be a true Christian and be saved, one must be a traditional Catholic, as our material explains.

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