Karl Keating: “Defender of the Catholic church”

Karl Keating: “Defender of the Catholic church”

Karl Keating is a lawyer turned full-time catholic apologist for the diocese of Los Angeles, California, and is one of the brightest stars that the catholic church in America has at its disposal.

Keating, I am reliably informed, only agrees to debate selected speakers, on the condition that he opens and closes such meetings.

The information used to compose this article comes from a six-hour video debate, which took place in January 1987, at the Bayview Baptist Church, San Pedro, CA.

For this special one-off event, Karl Keating’s opponent was Dr. Peter Ruckman, a heavyweight of heavyweights.

As always, Ruckman pulls them in and gives the crowd an excellent show. His passion and dedication, ever clear to see, was somewhat lost, however, on the lacklustre and wooden Keating, and I suggest on most of the catholics too, which turned out to see the Peter and Karl show!

This smooth and well-polished lawyer would make an excellent spin-doctor for any of Britain’s major political parties, with Alastair Campbell or Andy Card both doing well to get his number, should he ever leave his beloved church. Yet what did the Apostle Paul say of his own ministry: “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in a demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4).

So spin he did, all of Rome’s unpleasant and horrible history over sixteen hundred years. For those that aren’t well read or solid Bible-believers, he might have easily led people away from Biblical Christianity over to ‘good old Rome, sweet home’, yet Ruckman was always on hand to refute his statements and give clear Biblical answers to some of his churches strange and heretical views.

This article lists the major points of the debate:

  • Keating doesn’t believe the Koran is inspired. Yet why then, did Pope John Paul II kiss this non-inspired book?
  • He stated that the Bible was a dry and unmoving book in many parts. He even said that it was a dead book.
  • Holds to the heresy that people can get to heaven without believing in Jesus.
  • Ruckman points out the term catholic (meaning universal) first appears in 113 AD by Ignatius.
  • Keating points out the word Trinity was first used in 181 AD.
  • Keating believed only the apostle John understood his writings to be inspired. Peter’s mention of Paul’s epistles as being Scripture had to be pointed out by Ruckman (2 Pet. 3:14-16).
  • Due to Keating querying what should be considered canonical and inspired, Ruckman correctly pointed out that 48 prophecies of Jesus Christ, written 4000 to 400 years before His birth, preserved in Scripture ahead of time, with 500 prophecies still to be fulfilled at the Second Coming, should have given the Bible more respect and dignity than Keating afforded it – it didn’t, he still wouldn’t accept the Bible as being inspired, without a catholic church council telling him so. And such a council at Carthage in the 4th century was cited as evidence by Ruckman that even when such a gathering of “noblemen” as this, they still erred dreadfully when they too taught that the OT Apocrypha and NT Apocrypha should be included as being inspired and therefore canonical.
  • Ruckman points out to the congregation that the Body of Christ had long agreed and understood what constituted the Canon of Scripture, hundreds of years before Carthage or any church council go together to decide this. 
  • He also mentions to the congregation that the council of Trent (to get around the ‘purgatory problem’) had to re-affirm the Apocrypha as being inspired, even though the Jews and Jesus Christ never acknowledged it was; for Luke 24:44 tells us what the Old Testament Canon was, long before any church ever showed up: the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. To this day, every Jewish Bible in the world have these three sections in their Tenach, as does the Protestant Old Testament! 
  • The question of the numerous denominations was mentioned, with Ruckman pointing out that in John 16:13, the Lord promised the Holy Spirit would lead the believer into all areas of righteousness, but if the saint refuses to allow Him to lead, then that is between God and the believer (Acts 15:39). 
  • Keating said something that I have heard priests say before, that their official catechism has been lousy in recent years; hence why so many have left their church and gone elsewhere. 
  • Jesus Christ is only Mediator between man and God. Keating says he accepts this, then turns around as says, Jesus delegated to others (no Scripture cited from him to prove this). All he gave was Paul seeking saints to pray for him and others, but they were alive, not dead. My own analogy of dealing with the folly of catholic intercession is this: if the Queen of England personally told an individual that whenever they wished to speak with her they could (24/7) and that she would always be available, no matter what. Why then would such an individual want/need to go through third parties to get to her? With God, intercession is always available, so why in the world would we need to pray to inferior sources?
  • A question was asked about what we did before we had the Bible. Ruckman quoted Romans 2:12 – man’s conscience having light from God and accountability at the Judgment, so man will be fully accountable to God for how he lived and what he did with the light God gave him.
  • Ruckman shocked after finding out that most of the catholics present didn’t have their Bibles with them, needed to be reminded of Peter’s commandment: “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2). 
  • Keating attacks professional anti-catholics who make their living writing about his church, but nothing was said about Keating also making a living attacking those that attack his church. (One wonders if either group ever give tracts out or witness to lost souls?) 
  • Keating offered the view that the New Testament was somehow written in Aramaic and later translated into Greek, but no evidence was offered to affirm this. He said that because we have no original Greek manuscripts (we do have over 5,000 copies, however) he didn’t need to have original Aramaic to prove his hypotheses, but what Keating didn’t say is that nobody has ever found any original, or copies of 1st or 2nd century Aramaic manuscripts. We must also appreciate that the world in the first century, outside of Israel, spoke Greek, and it was this language that God commissioned for the New Testament. Once again, catholics are putting their blind faith in tradition. 
  • The argument for Peter being the rock was debated, however many verses were cited to disprove this (1 Pet. 2:6). 
  • Ruckman tells us that the word Simon means shifting sand in Greek, and with Jesus calling him Satan, this rock of theirs isn’t the best foundation to build on (Matt. 7:26-28). 
  • Paul rebuking Peter was brought up and Paul uses the word Cephas (Jesus gave him this title) to rebuke him, in front of everybody. My own research into this dark period of Church history is something like this: Paul rebukes Peter while visiting Antioch. With Paul in Tarsus and away from Jerusalem and the larger community of saints, Peter starts to buckle under pressure from ‘outside influences.’ With Paul now in Antioch, he needs to take firm action against Peter’s backsliding, halt the false gospel that Peter is guilty of advocating, and re-affirm that Gentiles and Jews are one in Christ (Gal. 3:28); and that if anybody says otherwise, they are cursed by God (Gal. 1:6-9). 
  • Keating thinks that Jesus wanted people to identify Himself with a literal physical church building or institution. Calvinists, for example, will respond by saying that unsaved man has no desire for God nor will they seek after Him, therefore such a view is unfounded. 
  • Ruckman reminds the congregation that Luther dubbed the church fathers, “church babies,” for all the mistakes and heresies many were guilty of. 
  • Infallibility was discussed, with Keating explaining that each time a dead catholic is canonised (this means one can pray to them for intercession), the pope is infallible.
  • Priests forgiving sins was dealt with, but Ruckman made it quite clear that the commission given to Peter (Matt. 16:18), was given to others too (Matt. 18:18; John 20:22-23). Paul, who was saved after this commission was given, demonstrated in 2 Cor. 2:6, that he and all saints could forgive people and their sins. What wasn’t mentioned what that God has already granted forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31;13:38) to those who respond to the Gospel (John 1:12).
  • For the catholic understanding of the Eucharist to be so (a literal presence of Christ), Keating seemed to build his hypothesis once again on the NT originating in Aramaic, which as already noted, never did.
  • It is interesting that this part of the Scripture (John 6) they claim to take literally, but other parts of the Bible (like Matt. 5), are taken figuratively.
  • Ruckman points out the many curses that the Council of Trent declared on people, are still applicable today: “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” (Canon 9).
  • “If anyone denies that in the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist are contained truly, really and substantially the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ, but says that He is in it only as in a sign, or figure or force, let him be anathema” (Canon 1).
  • Keating tells us that this only means excommunication to those that have left the catholic church. But a curse, dear boy, is still a curse – not even Ron Hubbard or Sun Moon put curses on people.
  • The following quote came from Ruckman: “Catholics leaving the Church are to be arrested, imprisoned or where necessary, executed by the secular civil authority” (Catholic Encyclopaedia, Vol. VIII, pg. 261).
  • Keating made clear his churches view on the heresy of baptismal regeneration. Ruckman mentioned that most of the Nazis were baptised and practicing catholics!
  • Ruckman correctly pointed out, that in all of pope John Paul II’s foreign trips, not once did the Vicar of Christ ever mention Jesus’ Second Coming.
  • The 2nd Commandment is missing from the Catholic Bible.
  • Hebrews 10:12-14 is missing from their Codex Vaticanus manuscript.
  • Keating’s legal brain was unable to exegete Eph. 4:30.
  • Keating then goes on to misquote Scripture in another passage. As a lawyer, he should know better, for he does a terrible disservice to the word of God.
  • Ruckman points out that the verses which suggest a Christian can be saved and then go to Hell, need to be re-read again, for Christians are sheep in the Bible, and the dog returning to its vomit, is not a Christian but a goat who was never saved to begin with.
  • Keating quotes more Bible verses when he argues for Mary’s “perpetual virginity,” than any other subject that day. At the end of the debate, it was interesting to note that Karl wasn’t praying, even though the whole congregation were praying, especially for him.


My overall opinion of Keating was that he gave the Bible mere lip service, something that is so widespread in most denominations today. I also came to the conclusion that Rome still wishes to be the final authority and interpreter of the Bible. This is nothing new of course, even with the ecumenical movement booming, they still like to take the reigns and do so publicly.

Keating also made a weak statement that Rome couldn’t have been wrong for so long, without people noticing such errors. This is not true. Many catholics have spoken out, only to be excommunicated for their troubles! And only in the last few hundred years or so, has the average layman been able to read and write, and certainly not Latin or Greek. Others do not even bother to check their Bibles, so the level of ignorance and indifference have always been a problem. For those that are educated, such learned catholics have been pre-conditioned and are biased to their churches teachings anyway, so the plain meaning of Scripture would probably have little or no concern to them anyway.

Also because many catholics are self-righteous, they don’t like the idea of a saved person being forever saved without the aid of the catholic system. The good works that many catholics perform, tragically give them a false righteousness. Nor do catholics really understand what sin and forgiveness are. Their good works, church attendence, the mass, and Mary, simply cannot save them. And the apostle Paul penned this very fact, when he wrote about Israel’s rejection of her Messiah, and subsequent desire to be saved another way:

“For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:2-3).

Finally, Ruckman presented the imputed righteousness that every sinner gets (and should be trusting in, not a wafer) when they believe on the Lord Jesus:

“Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Rom. 4:8).

For most of the catholics present that day, what they heard may have been earth shattering and I thank God for that. Because if my father and I hadn’t heard the true gospel, we would have remained in a false church, trusting them to be correct, with our souls at stake! And what a terrible thought!



Psalm Sunday, 2006

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