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Denis McCarthy wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • What can you tell me about Luke Timothy Johnson, a former Benedictine monk,
    now a Theology professor at Emory University in Atlanta?

His influence and teachings are being introduced into our Catholic Church as one of the "biblical scholars of today" and I'd like to know if he's in good standing with the Catholic Church.

Thank You.


  { What can you tell me about Luke Timothy Johnson, a former Benedictine monk? }

Mike replied:

Dear Denis,

Thank-you for the question.

Based on a few criticisms we, or to be exact I, have received on commenting on people inside and outside the Church, I'm going to encourage my team not to answer questions that ask for
"an opinion" of a specific person. Personally, I haven't even heard of Professor Johnson.

The only person or group of people we can prudently comment on are those that the Church has formally encouraged or warned the faithful about.

  • Why?

Here are the issues involved:

Harry, the Heretic, I knew from ten years ago, may now be Samuel, the Saint, without my knowledge. We are all on various faith journeys, and are hopefully being open to the Holy Spirit along the way. The person, I may think is a schismatic, may now, through the grace of God, be in full Communion with the Catholic Church, without me being aware of it.

The answer to your question changes when someone dies in our earthly life and passes to their eternal judgment. At that point, their good or bad deeds cannot be added to or taken away.

For that reason, if someone has passed on to their particular judgment but left the faithful with heretical ideas, the Church and our team have a responsibility to warn the faithful about such erroneous teachings.

In the same way, if someone has passed on to their particular judgment and left suggests, ideas, and visions that help the Church to grow in holiness and its call to evangelize all men, the Church and our team should make people aware of these people or groups. Bringing new members into the Church is so important because:

  • it's what Jesus calls us to do in the Gospels, and
  • for each new member who joins, there is a new acceptance of the invitation to the wedding feast we will all share, if we persevere, to the very end.

What we can do is encourage you to ask these questions to discern the faithfulness of each new person you meet in life:

  • Is this person or group faithful to the Magisterium or Teaching Authority of the Church?
  • Does this person or group believe in the line of [Papal|Apostolic] Succession going back to St. Peter?
  • Does this person or group believe in the validity of both:
    • the Novus Ordo Mass or Ordinary Form of the Mass, and
    • the Latin Mass or Extraordinary Form of the Mass?
  • Does this person or group believe all the teachings in the Catechism of the Catholic Church?
  • Does this person or group believe in all the Catholic Councils from Nicaea to Vatican II?
  • Does this person or group belong to any groups that the Church has forbidden us to associate with:
    • Hemlock Society, now called Compassion and Choices
    • Planned Parenthood
    • Call to Action
    • Catholics for a Free Choice
    • Freemasonry or the Masons, or
    • the Society of St. Pius X, SSPX
  • Does this person or group promote a false theology like:
    • Liberation Theology?
    • or theologies based on a man-made or Protestant denominations, if they are claiming to be Catholic.
  • How does this person or group view the Early Church Fathers or Doctors of the Church?

I hope you understand and hope this helps,


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The Early Church Fathers Church Fathers on the Primacy of Peter. The Early Church Fathers on the Catholic Church and the term Catholic. The Early Church Fathers on the importance of the Roman Catholic Church centered in Rome.