Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 5/25/19

Promise Keepers got its start in 1990 as a ministry to, among other things, assist men in becoming better husbands and fathers. Unfortunately, Promise Keepers’ “gospel” message was so watered down that both evangelical and works-righteousness Catholic men could gather at stadiums and sing macho versions of “Kumbaya” together. Promise Keepers was a tool of ecumenism. Catholic men don’t need to stand around singing with a bunch of accommodators and compromisers who tell them they’re just fine spiritually. They need to hear the undiluted Gospel! See more on the problems with Promise Keepers here.

Speaking of ecumenism, pope Francis is encouraging Catholics to join in the “Thy Kingdom Come” international prayer campaign, May 30-June 9. I myself will be praying that week, as I do every week, that Roman Catholics here in the U.S. and throughout the world will hear the genuine Gospel of grace, repent of their sin, accept Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, and leave the apostate RCC.

Our state senator and aspiring POTUS, Kirsten Gillibrand, has her opinions as to what makes one view “Christian” over another, but I can assure you, her opinions have absolutely no basis in Scripture. Sixty-million infants have been murdered in the U.S. alone since the inception of the abortion genocide here in 1973. There appears to be some battles looming ahead in the SCOTUS over the abortion issue. However, souls were never born-again or hearts changed via legislation or by a court ruling.

This “news” should not be a revelation to anyone. Back in the day when Catholic prelates were political power brokers in this country, local police agencies conspired with Catholic dioceses to keep cases of abusive priests out of the headlines. I imagine newspapers and other media sources were also willing partners in the “gentleman’s agreement.”

This police raid on the Dallas Catholic diocesan offices is just one more sickening detail in the year-long pedophile priests and cover-up scandal tsunami. Many Catholics no longer have any faith in their priests or their church. They need to hear there is a better Way; Jesus Christ and the Gospel of grace.

The PBS “educational” cartoon, “Arthur,” which is aimed at the 4-8 years-old age group, recently featured an episode in which a teacher character marries his same-sex “partner.” Young children are being indoctrinated into the LGBTQ agenda at school and via television.

To accusations from conservative Catholics that he is subverting foundational doctrines and creating confusion, pope Francis just keeps his head down and continues to cunningly mold the Roman church into a more “progressive” version. In the meantime, conservative Catholics continue to search for the courage of their convictions.

Sozo prayer? Argh. So much bad stuff comes from Bethel Redding church and the New Apostolic Reformation movement.

I appreciate a little humor from the Babylon Bee after another roundup of serious news. I’m not a fan of believers being pushed to identify their spiritual gifts, as I wrote about here.

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Gospel Outreach Ministries to Roman Catholics

Did the title of this post, “Gospel Outreach Ministries to Roman Catholics,” catch your attention? Some of you may be thinking, “Why do we need to reach out to Roman Catholics with the Gospel? Aren’t they Christians, too?” In our current era of plurality, tolerance, and inclusiveness, it’s seen by many as uncharitable to speak the truth about Roman Catholicism. After all, many say that “Catholics love Jesus, too.” But the truth is that the Roman Catholic church teaches many doctrines that are quite different from Biblical Christianity. Most importantly, Catholics are taught that salvation comes through sacramental grace and merit rather than by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Catholics need to hear the genuine Gospel rather than the false gospel they are taught in their churches.

Below, I’ve provided links to the websites of some of the most effective ministries that specifically reach out to Catholics with the Gospel. All of these ministries provide abundant resources for Catholics who are curious about the Biblical Gospel or for Bible Christians who desire to witness more effectively in their encounters with Catholics.

Berean Beacon – Director, ex-Catholic priest, Richard Bennett
Website link here.

Reformanda Initiative – Director, Leonardo De Chirico
Website link here.

Proclaiming the Gospel – Director, ex-Catholic, Mike Gendron
Website link here.

Just for Catholics – Director, ex-Catholic, Joe Mizzi
Website link here.

Christian Resources – Director, William Webster
Website link here

A Christian Witness to Roman Catholicism – Director, ex-Catholic, Rob Zins
Website link here.

In addition to the six ministries listed above, there are many other organizations that offer excellent resources regarding Roman Catholicism. Refer to my Links page here. I hope these resources are a blessing to you!

Throwback Thursday: Next time you drive past a Catholic church on Sunday morning…

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re going to revisit a slightly re-edited post that was first published back on August 28th, 2015.

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Many evangelicals pass a Catholic church on Sunday morning and probably think to themselves, “Sure, Catholics worship God a little differently than we do, but we’re all worshiping the same God, that’s the important thing.” But let’s examine that thought. At an evangelical worship service there’s typically some announcements and singing of hymns and songs of praise for about a half an hour followed by an hour of preaching from God’s Word by the minister. The Gospel is presented and the unsaved are invited to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.

The Catholic “mass” is quite different. At the mass, there are also announcements, singing, a couple of very short readings from the Bible and a short seven or eight-minute “homily” (sermon). But the main focus of the mass is the lengthy ritual whereby the priest allegedly changes bread wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus. Jesus spoke about being the “bread of life,” but Catholics interpret those passages in a literalist sense that defies sound exegesis and a spiritual understanding of God’s Word. The priest then offers up Jesus the “host” (i.e., “victim”) to God the Father as a sacrifice for the sins of all the participants and any others who are mentioned. The mass attendees then line up to take the Jesus wafer and Jesus wine from the priest and consume them, believing grace is imparted that will wash away “venial” sins and supposedly help them avoid committing “mortal” sins in the future in order to hopefully merit their salvation at the moment of their death.

Catholicism is really an extension of the Old Testament Levitical sacrificial system with the priest serving as a mediator between God and the people. The priest is essential to the Catholic sacramental and works-righteousness system. Without his ordained “powers” and role as mediator, the people are doomed and the Catholic hierarchy has always desired to keep it that way.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” – 1 Timothy 2:5.

However, Jesus completely did away with the Old Testament sacrificial system when He was crucified and breathed His last breath with the words, “It is finished,” and the veil to the Holy of Holies of Jerusalem’s temple was torn in two, giving all people direct access to God through Jesus Christ the Savior. God’s Word says Jesus is currently seated at the right hand of the Father, NOT on Catholic altars as a broken victim, being sacrificed again and again, thousands of times daily all over the world.

“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” – Hebrews 10:11-12.

Here’s a passage from a Catholic source that should put the Catholic priesthood and the mass in stark perspective for all evangelicals:

“When the priest pronounces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the victim for the sins of man…The priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal victim for the sins of man – not once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo, Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priest’s commands.” – from “The Faith of Millions” by Father John O’Brien, Nihil obstat; Rev. Lawrence Gollner, Censor Librorum Imprimatur: Leo A. Pursley, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend; March 16, 1974.

What anti-Biblical BLASPHEMY!

So when you drive by that Catholic church next Sunday morning, remember they’re NOT worshiping God the Son inside, rather they believe they’re sacrificing Him on their altars as part of a process to merit their salvation. Rather than trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone for their salvation, they’re relying on priests, sacraments, “good” works, and “obeying” the Ten Commandments (impossible!)

The Usual Double Talk

The Usual Suspects: Answering Anti-Catholic Fundamentalists
By Karl Keating
Ignatius Press, 2000, 195 pages

1 Star

In 1979, a young Roman Catholic lawyer, Karl Keating, became angered when members of a local Bible Christian church left tracts on car windshields during mass at his Catholic parish. In retaliation, he created tracts of his own and distributed them at said Bible church. Thus was born the Catholics apologetics organization, Catholic Answers. Then as now, many Catholics were hearing the Gospel from friends, neighbors, and co-workers, repenting of sin, accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior, forsaking the Roman church with its false gospel, and attending Gospel-preaching churches. Keating and Catholic Answers sought to “stem the tide.” Keating’s first book, “Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on “Romanism” by “Bible Christians” (Ignatius Press, 1988) was fairly popular among Catholics who had “lost” family members and friends to “Christian fundamentalism.” In his attack on “fundamentalists,” Keating mixed together credible ministries with disreputable extremists (Chick Publications, Tony Alamo). Keating’s brief explanations of various Catholic doctrines rivaled the sophistry of any Jesuit.

“The Usual Suspects” is Keating’s fourth book and picks up where “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” left off. The credible evangelicals/fundamentalists targeted this time include Bart Brewer, Frank Eberhardt, Dave Hunt, and Bill Jackson, all four now deceased, and John Ankerberg, John MacArthur, and James McCarthy. Mixed in are several bad apples including Jack Chick and Bob Jones, III.

Keating’s approach is the same as before: short explanations of Catholic doctrine expressed with obsfucation masquerading as certitude, but lacking Biblical substance. Two examples will suffice:

  • Bible Christians criticize the continual sacrifice at Catholic masses as a fraudulent repetition of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Calvary, since the Bible clearly says Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was offered once for all time (Hebrews 10:12). Keating confidently responds that Catholics certainly don’t “repeat” Jesus’ sacrifice, they “re-present” the very same once-offered sacrifice. Ach. Please.
  • Bible Christians criticize Catholics for worshiping Mary. Well, of course Catholics don’t “worship” Mary, objects Keating. They rightly offer her “hyper-dulia veneration,” which is her due. Hyper what? Ninety-five out of one-hundred Catholics could not define “hyper-dulia veneration,” but most do attribute deific powers to Mary, adore her, and pray to her for their salvation. Call it whatever you’d like, but THAT’S worship.

Each short chapter is filled with similar equivocations. Keating accuses his opponents of lacking charity and sophisticated nuance in their arguments, yet turns around and commits those offenses himself, labeling all Bible Christians as “fundamentalists,” “Bible-thumpers,” and “tract-pushers.” Recommended only to those involved in Gospel outreach to Roman Catholics.

Postscript: This book was written in 2000, way before the current papal crisis, with Catholic conservatives now accusing pope Francis of sowing doctrinal confusion and some even accusing him of being a heretic. Conservatives like Keating and his successors at Catholic Answers are no longer boasting that their pope is incapable of leading the Roman church into error. Should Catholics follow pope Francis and his doctrine-bending reforms or the conservative Catholicism of Keating and cardinal Burke? Neither camp teaches salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

CSN&Y: Squabbling Troubadors II: The Whole Enchilada

Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young: The Wild, Definitive Saga of Rock’s Greatest Supergroup
By David Browne
Da Capo Press, 2019, 465 pages

5 Stars

What? Another book about CSN&Y? This year is the 50th anniversary of the formation of the seminal singer-songwriter “supergroup,” Crosby, Stills, and Nash (and sometimes Young). To commemorate the milestone, two excellent biographies were recently published. Fortunately for my wallet, our local library system has both books on its shelves. Three weeks ago, I reviewed Peter Doggett’s book, which focused mainly on the band’s first five years, 1969 to 1974 (see here). In contrast, David Browne’s book spans the entire life of the band, the whole messy enchilada, from 1969 to 2015, discontinuous and painful as it was.

Following the releases of their highly-successful eponymous debut album in 1969 and “Déjà Vu” the following year, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young was arguably the most popular rock and roll band on the planet (made possible only by the official break-up of the Beatles in April 1970). However, the reasons for the band’s great success also precipitated it’s downfall. The old saying about “too many chefs in the kitchen” certainly applied to CSN&Y; a volatile combination of four very talented and very strong-willed performers with contrasting temperaments. Copious drug use added to the constant disharmony. Unable to perform as a unit, CS&N put their energies into solo projects, although Crosby and Nash remained on friendly terms and recorded several albums together. Young, a prolific songwriter, was able to achieve an unusual degree of success on his own and increasingly distanced himself from CS&N.

Crosby, Stills and Nash were able to occasionally put animosities aside and unite briefly for various projects, but Crosby’s spiraling heroin addiction was a major impediment. After having spent five months in prison in 1986 on drugs and weapons convictions, Crosby was released and (somewhat) sober, but CS&N found that their style of music was increasingly out of favor with the MTV generation. From 1988 to 1999, the trio released multiple joint and solo projects of uneven quality to a declining audience. I had already stopped listening to CS&N back in 1977 because the political rants began to grate on me. By the early 00s/aughts, CS&N had largely devolved into a touring oldies band.

After their phenomenal initial success, CS&N began their very long and sometimes tortuous decline. Browne devotes 303 of the book’s 418 pages of text to that post-1970 decline. Being the nerdy, former-fan that I am, I found that information very interesting. Most readers wouldn’t.

It’s revealing that Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young won’t be reuniting this year to celebrate their 50th anniversary because of the bitter acrimony between the ex-members. It’s easy to sing about peace and love, but “the heart [of man] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”

Hunting the “Christ-killers” in Catholic Poland

We’ve seen several instances of murderous anti-Semitism here in America in the last eight months. Anti-Semitism has a very long legacy and, sadly, was perpetuated by institutional (c)hristianity for sixteen-hundred years. Also, sad to say, we see contemporary examples of people claiming to be born-again believers spewing anti-Jewish hatred. For this post, I’m going to focus on just one example of historical anti-Semitism.

Recently, brother Wally has been posting a series of devotions based on the Book of Esther. Good stuff. See here for just one example. Anyway, the series got me to thinking back about something I stumbled upon many years ago. Not to beat a dead horse, but when I become frustrated with “churchianity” back in the 90s and walked away from the Lord for a long “season,” I had to fill my spiritual vacuum with something, so I poured myself into studying Polish history and culture (I’m 50% Polish) and eventually concentrated on the controversial history of Polish-Jewish relations, which might be better referred to as Polish-Jewish “non-relations.”

We’re going to get to the Esther connection, but first, some background. Back in the Middle Ages, Jews were having a very rough time in Western Europe. They were routinely persecuted (pogroms, forced baptisms, ghetto quarantines, etc.) and even driven out of Catholic kingdoms whenever the intolerance peaked. Whereas other kingdoms had a developing merchant/burgher class, Polish society largely consisted of the nobility and the peasantry. Consequently, Polish monarchs began welcoming Jews to Poland beginning in the 13th century because of the expertise of some in the financial/merchant spheres. Bolesław the Pious issued the Statute of Kalisz in 1264 which granted unprecedented liberties to Jews, resulting in Jews from all over Europe flocking to Poland. Subsequent monarchs continued the relatively magnanimous treatment of Jews (it should be noted that at the beginning of World War II, half of Europe’s six-million Jews resided in Poland, making up ten percent of that nation’s population).

However, the influx of Jews into Poland was not without problems. The Polish nobility often appointed Jews as their financial middlemen (i.e., landlords, innkeepers, moneylenders, commercial agents, etc.) and the Polish peasantry increasingly resented these “foreigners” lording it over them. Stoking the resentment were the priests and prelates of the Polish Catholic church, who regularly railed against the Jewish “outsiders” as the “Christ killers.” Myths of Jews abducting Catholic children and using their blood in the manufacture of Matzah bread (aka “blood libel,” see here) were widespread and accepted as factual.

Okay, with that tense historical background in mind, we’ll cut to our Book of Esther connection. The Jewish communities in Poland regularly celebrated “Purim” (Hebrew, meaning: “lots” as in “casting lots”), a festival occurring in early-March, which commemorated the saving of the Jewish people from Haman as recorded in the Book of Esther. As part of the celebration, some Jews would reenact the story of Esther with an effigy of Haman being hung at the conclusion. The Polish Catholic clergy and peasantry did not take kindly to this reenactment. They interpreted the hanging of the Haman figure as a provocation against Gentiles and the Catholic church. In retaliation, as part of the annual Easter ritual, Poles across the kingdom would fashion a figurine with stereotypical Jewish physical features and clothing and hang it in the town square and subsequently burn it. The figure was meant to represent Judas, the betrayer of Christ, but on a broader scale, it also symbolized the hated Jewish “Christ killers.” The excitement rarely failed to whip Polish crowds into a frenzy of hatred and they would scour Jewish neighborhoods looking for victims. Polish Jews barricaded their doors and windows during the Easter celebration.

In the future, we’ll take a look at several other examples of Polish anti-Semitism, but without the lengthy historical introduction featured in this post. Below are some recent news headlines that underscore the continuing popularity of anti-Semitism in Poland, even though almost all of Poland’s Jews were killed in the Holocaust:

Polish Town Celebrates Easter with Anti-Semitic Effigy
https://www.newsweek.com/anti-semitic-judas-effigy-satans-blamed-idiotic-pseudo-religious-chutzpah-1403445

Polish Bishop Delivers Thinly-veiled anti-Semitic Sermon
https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/polish-bishop-insinuates-jews-attempted-to-divide-and-slander-the-catholic-church-1.7195027

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 5/18/19

Over the last twenty years, the Roman Catholic hierarchy has largely ignored its pedophile priests and cover-up “problem” despite the reoccurring negative headlines and lawsuits. There were two primary issues at the root of that laissez-faire attitude: 1) Catholicism’s rule of clerical celibacy ensured its institutions continued to attract, indoctrinate, and promote sexual deviants and 2) the foxes were running the henhouse. After last year’s scandal tsunami, polls showed that 37% of U.S. Catholics are considering leaving the church. The U.S. Catholic bishops are now stirring from their slumber and rolling out the big guns with the publication of this book, “Letter to a Suffering Church,” from the church’s media darling, bishop Robert Barron (photo above), which is being given away for only the price of handling and shipping. The purpose of this 122-page book is to try to convince members to stay despite the toxic scandal. I will review this book as soon as it’s published, but I can already guarantee the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, will not be found on any of its pages.

At the Vatican sexual abuse summit this past February, pope Francis promised “concrete action,” yet the bishop of nearby Buffalo, N.Y., Richard Malone, retains his position. Malone was exposed as a serial abuse-enabler in a “60 Minutes” episode last October.

I see Louis Farrakhan was invited to propagate his anti-Semitic hatred at a Catholic church in Chicago. Priest pastor, Michael Pfleger, referred to Farrakhan as a “friend” and a “brother.” Pfleger’s pro-Francis bishop has egg on his face and has been profusely apologizing for his subordinate. Catholic apologists boast of their church’s monolithic unity, but beliefs and attitudes within the church run the gamut from one extreme to the other, but with no genuine Gospel.

Speaking of sensitivity to the Jewish community, Jewish leaders have asked pope Francis to stop referring to his conservative and traditionalist enemies within the church as legalistic “Pharisees.” They feel the pejorative reinforces anti-Jewish attitudes.

There’s been hundreds if not thousands of alleged Marian apparitions all over the world, but the Catholic church officially recognizes only twelve. Pope Francis is giving the green light to church-sanctioned pilgrimages to the alleged apparition site at Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina even though official recognition has not been granted to the apparitions there. Why? Because one-million credulous pilgrims visit there every year without approval, meaning there’s plenty of unrealized money that could be going into the church’s coffers. Medjugorje won’t be officially approved anytime soon because 1) the alleged appearances, which supposedly began in 1981, still continue on a daily basis and 2) some of the sayings attributed to Mary by the six “visionaries” include information that is at odds with official church teaching to some degree. In addition, some of the sayings have also contradicted the local bishop and he’s not happy about it. See one of the Medjugorje “visionaries,” Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo, allegedly interact with the apparition in a recent Catholic-produced short video here. She is either a religious hysteric or under demonic control. Everyone in the crowd is worshiping Mary. No Good News in sight!

According to French investigative journalist, Frédéric Martel, the Vatican and the entire Catholic church hierarchy is a bee hive of homosexuality. See my review here of Martel’s book, “In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy.”

Poland is the last bastion of pre-conciliar, militant Catholicism in Europe. But the revelations about pedophile priests and the cover-up by the hierarchy are making an impact even there.

The LGBTQ militants and their fellow travelers are steadily breaking down barriers within Catholicism.

Oy vey! Yet another Babylon Bee satire about me! 🙂

 

 

A memorable Legion tale in more ways than one

It’s hard to believe that it’s already time once again to climb into our fictional time machine and travel to the 30th-Century for another adventure from DC Comics’ Silver Age with the Legion of Super-Heroes in…

“School for Super-Villains!”
Adventure Comics #372, September, 1968
Writer and layouts: Jim Shooter, Penciller: Curt Swan, Inker: Jack Abel, Cover: Neal Adams

5 Stars

Plot

A couple of weeks ago, we witnessed Colossal Boy being expelled from the Legion in disgrace for stealing classified training material. Unbeknownst to the Legion, he had been blackmailed by mysterious criminals who were holding his parents captive.

As the action picks up, Colossal Boy dejectedly walks the streets of Metropolis deciding on his next step when he is accosted by Science Police. He escapes, but accidentaly drops his mother’s “life jewel” in the tussle. The criminals subsequently reconnect with the fugitive ex-Legionnaire and offer him a new deal.

In the meantime, Brainiac 5 deduces the recovered “life jewel” can guide the team to Colossal Boy’s mother for some answers. Shrinking Violet diminishes to sub-molecular size and follows the beams connecting the life jewel with its owner across the galaxy. The beams lead her to a distant planet and a training center for the newly-created Legion of Super-Villains run by Tarik the Mute, with Colossal Boy as the reluctant trainer. Violet returns to Earth and informs the Legion of her findings, including the real reason why Colossal Boy turned traitor. Brainiac 5 devises a plan in which Superboy and Chameleon Boy and candidates, Chemical King and Timber Wolf, infiltrate and subdue the collection of super-criminals and free Colossal Boy’s parents.

With Superboy and Chameleon Boy in disguise, the quartet stage a phony battle with the Science Police on Mars in hopes of attracting the attention of Tarik’s recruiter. The ruse works and the four are transported to the super-villains’ training center. The heroes observe several disgruntled Legion-rejects from the past including Nemesis Kid, Spider Girl, Radiation Roy, Ronn Kar, and Lightning Lord; Legionnaire Lightning Lad’s brother. However, Colossal Boy recognizes Superboy, and, out of fear for his parents’ safety, sounds the alarm. A battle ensues and the super-villains overcome the super-heroes. Tarik condemns the four to death, but as they await their execution the following day, Superboy conceives of a plan. But will it work?

At dawn, Tarik orders Colossal Boy to use a ray gun to turn the Boy of Steel into glass, just like his parents. When the teen titan hesitates, Tarik pulls the trigger and an executioner immediately shatters Superboy into a million pieces with a sledge hammer (see cover photo). Enraged by Superboy’s death, Colossal Boy snaps and joins the three remaining heroes in battling the villains. In the melee, Timber Wolf radios Legion Headquarters for reinforcements and Duo Damsel, Phantom Girl, Starboy, and Ultra Boy quickly come to the rescue like a 30th century cavalry. Just as Tarik prepares to smash Colossal Boy’s crystallized parents, Superboy KOs him with a steely left hook. Huh? Superboy? Turns out Chameleon Boy and Superboy had disguised themselves as each other prior to the dawn execution and CB had dodged the ray gun, changed himself to glass, and then into broken glass at the appropriate times.

The criminals are taken into custody, Colossal Boy’s parents are restored to normal, and he’s voted back into the Legion along with new members, Chemical King and Timber Wolf.

Commentary

This was an entertaining story, especially since it includes the origin of the Legion of Super-Villains and the introduction of Chemical King and Timber Wolf as Legion members. The abrupt and overly-simple ending was admittedly a bit lame, but quite par for the course for the Silver Age era. This issue is significant for a couple of more reasons. It was Curt Swan’s last outing as the Legion’s penciller. His drawings would be judged as stark and too simple today, but his classic lines put him at the very top of the DC’s pencillers of that era. This was also my last Legion comic book at that time. I began following the Legion in November, 1966 in Adventure Comics #350 and would continue for twenty-two issues, but I reluctantly quit comics after that because I was entering into seventh-grade and reading comics was definitely “not cool” as it would become a couple of decades later (and comic book plots would become so convoluted, no seventh-grader could possibly follow them). But don’t worry, we still have eight more Legion installments to review before DC ended the franchise’s tenure in Adventure Comics with the May, 1969 issue.

Throwback Thursday: Behind Catholicism’s “Purple Curtain” in Latin America

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re going to take a look back at this slightly revised post that was first published on August 29, 2015.

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Behind the Purple Curtain
By Walter Manuel Montaño
Cowman Publications, 1950, 327 pages

5 Stars

Americans in the 1950s Cold War-era were accustomed to hearing about the poor souls trapped behind the Soviet Union’s “Iron Curtain” and Communist China’s “Bamboo Curtain.” In “Behind the Purple Curtain,” ex-Dominican monk and evangelical missionary, Walter Montaño, examines the intolerance of Roman Catholicism in regions where it enjoyed a religious majority and received the strong support of the local and national governments.

In 1950s Europe, the Catholic church was closely allied with the fascist regimes in Spain and Portugal and there were still disturbingly vivid memories of Catholicism’s strong ties to Mussolini’s National Fascist Party in Italy, Pavelic’s Ustase in Croatia, the post-Pilsudski Sanacja and Dmowski’s Endecja in Poland, and to Petain’s Vichy France. But Montaño’s focus is mainly on Latin America where the Catholic church held sway for 400 years.

The rule of the Spanish conquistadors and their successors eventually gave way to unstable, quasi-democracies and military-backed dictatorships throughout Latin America, but the Catholic church maintained its death grip on the enormous peasant population through its falangist political organizations and alliances with civil governments. Montaño gives many examples of the church’s often-lethal intolerance of Protestants within Latin America and cautions North American Protestants to maintain their vigilance otherwise they would face similar circumstances. Montaño’s warnings may come across as quaintly paranoid and sensationalistic to the contemporary reader accustomed to today’s prevailing spirit of tolerance and ecumenism, but the reality for believers in many parts of world in the 20th-century was that Catholic hegemony often meant harassment, persecution, and even death.

Sixty-nine years after “Behind the Purple Curtain” was written we find that the Catholic church no longer enjoys anywhere near the political prestige and influence it once did. American evangelicals no longer need worry about the pope manipulating Washington politics from his Vatican throne. These days, pope Francis can’t even get his American membership to attend obligatory mass on Sundays. The real danger to contemporary Christian witness began several decades ago when some evangelicals began embracing Catholics as co-belligerents in social causes, which transitioned into compromising the Gospel of Jesus Christ and embracing works-righteousness Catholics as fellow Christians (see Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, Rick Warren, etc.). But Catholicism still teaches the same fundamental doctrines as those taught at the time of the Reformation. Most importantly, Catholics teach salvation by sacramental grace and merit while evangelicals proclaim salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. For most Catholics, the “gospel” is receiving the church-administered sacraments, trying to live a “good” life, and hoping their “good” outweighs their “bad” at the end. They’re relying on their works-religion and their own righteousness, not Jesus Christ, for their salvation. So why are some evangelicals so eager to embrace Roman Catholics as “brothers in Christ”? Montaño saw the coming evangelical compromise and betrayal of the Gospel even as far back as 1950 when the leading figure of American Protestantism at the time, Dr. John R. Mott, was already embracing Rome and discouraging mission work to Latin America.

In addition to his many other Gospel ministries, Walter Montaño was executive director of Christ’s Mission, a mission to Roman Catholics based in New York City, from 1951 to 1960.

Very recent reprints of this book are available from Amazon.com. See here. Also see my Books tab here for a long list of books which critically examine Roman Catholicism.

To read my review of the biography of Walter Montaño, see here.

A Few Catholic Conundrums – Part 2: The Case of the Misplaced Stigmata

Yesterday, we began this short, two-part series with a look at how some Catholics get wrapped around the axle over such things as the proper handling of “soiled” altar cloths. See here. Today, we’ll examine another Catholic conundrum, which I’ll call “The Case of the Misplaced Stigmata.”

We’ll begin with a brief examination of the Catholic stigmata. Down through the centuries, a number of Catholics claimed to have received the “stigmata” (from the Latin “stigma”: a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person; in (c)hristian tradition, marks corresponding to those left on Jesus’ body by the crucifixion). During the Middle Ages, penitential self-harm practices (self-mortification) were encouraged in monastaries and convents as part of extreme asceticism and mysticism. In this environment, some mystics claimed to have “received” the five marks of Jesus’ crucifixion; wounds on the hands and feet and a wound on the side. The first to claim the “gift” of stigmata was St. Francis of Assisi in 1224. Many others followed including, most famously, Catherine of Siena and Padre Pio (photo right). A Catholic source (see here) cites at least 321 stigmatics over the centuries. It should be noted that all of these stigmatics had wounds on the palms of their hands.

Okay, now let’s get to our conundrum. In a recent episode of the Catholic “Called to Communion” talk radio show, an interesting question came up via an email:

Called to Communion – EWTN Radio
Moderator: Thom Price, Host: David Anders
Podcast 4/24/19 – 2:24 mark

Thom Price: Katy from Illinois wants to know, “Why are stigmata wounds on the hands of the saints if Christ was actually nailed to the cross through his wrists, as the Shroud of Turin shows?”

Hmm. An interesting and very valid question. Historians and scientists hypothesize that the victims of Roman crucifixion were most probably nailed to wooden crosses through their wrists, otherwise the nails would have easily ripped through the soft tissue of the hands. The victims usually hung on a cross for several days before finally dying of asphyxiation. John 20:25 states the risen Jesus had wounds on His “hands,” but the Greek text uses the word, “cheir,” which can refer to either hands or wrists. Fanciful Medieval religious art portrayed Jesus exclusively with wounds through the palms of His hands and that was the model used by the stigmatics.

Host, David Anders, knows the listener has identified a conundrum and answers the question gingerly. He posits that, yes, nails through the palms would have been very unlikely, but since “that’s the way it has appeared in the moral imagination of the Latin church, it stands to reason, in my thinking, that if God were to grant the stigmata to an individual, that he would do it in the way that would be most recognizable to that person and perhaps to his contemporaries.”

Anders’ response is sheer sophistry and equivocation. The reality is the stigmatics guessed wrong and created wounds in the palms of their hands according to the widely-held misconception about the crucifixion. How did the mystic/ascetic religious celebrities create their wounds? A number of ways. It’s been documented that one of the most recent stigmatists, Padre Pio (photo right) aka Francesco Forgion (d. 1968), used carbolic acid.

Padre Pio ‘faked his stigmata with acid’
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/padre-pio-faked-his-stigmata-with-acid-397811.html