Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 6/19/21

When Catholics refer to “Christian unity” what they mean is Protestants’ eventual disavowal of the Reformation and the genuine Gospel and their recognition and acceptance of papal authority and works-righteousness Catholic doctrine.

The U.S. Catholic bishops met this past week and defied pope Francis by voting to formalize guidelines that would deny the Jesus wafer to Catholic politicians who publicly support pro-abortion legislation, like President Joe Biden and House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

Perhaps some of the reluctance of pope Francis to apologize for the sufferings and deaths of hundreds of children at Catholic-run residential schools in Canada is that apologies connote culpability and lead to monetary payouts to victims and/or their families.

Surprise! There actually are a few conservative and traditionalist Catholics in Germany and they decry the direction of the current “Synodal Path” progressive initiative.

Throughout his tenure, pope Francis has regularly chided his conservative and traditionalist opponents with statements critical of “rigid priests” and “clericalism.”

Jesuit James Martin has been fighting for full acceptance of practicing LGBTers within the RCC. He has the unofficial backing of pope Francis.

I have not heard anything about this Lifewise Academy that’s mentioned in this article. I don’t know their theology, but I suspect they avoid doctrinal distinctives in order to circumvent negative reaction and controversy, i.e., Roman Catholic students can attend their courses without being presented with the genuine Gospel (rejection of works-righteousness religion and salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone).

American evangelicals were outraged by the Supreme Court’s ban on compulsory prayer in public schools in 1962 and have been calling for a return to the practice ever since. I’m not a fan of government-sponsored collective compulsory prayer or even shared “moments of silence,” when the unsaved of every religious stripe jointly contemplate an acceptable-to-all, nebulous “supreme being.”

The tug-of-war within the SBC involves two fronts; the fight over political involvement including “cultural relevancy” issues AND the fight over theology. It just so happens that those who espouse fidelity to doctrinal orthodoxy also largely propagate church-government integralism. What a mess. Expect an SBC split in the near future.

Throwback Thursday: Okay! Okay! Alright already!

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on May 23, 2016 and has been slightly revised.

capture30

When I read/watch a media interview of an older person, there’s often a question at the end asking if the individual has any regrets in their life. I have more than a few things in my own life that I’m regretful about.

Our pastor is currently doing a series on Sundays on proper parenting in the Lord. Ouch! That’s a very tough topic for me. My wife and I married very young and began having children right away. We were basically kids raising kids. My model for fathering was my own Dad. He didn’t have to spank too often because he was pretty strict right from the get-go. We didn’t have much of a relationship. My Dad was a VERY formal and private person and found it difficult to get down to a child’s level. I found out many years later that his own father had been very strict and tough on him.

When I accepted the Lord I was 26 and our boys were 8 and 5. I was joyful and enthusiastic about my relationship with the Lord , but for some reason I didn’t do a good job of communicating that joy and knowledge to our boys. We all packed into our minivan and went to church on Sunday mornings and Sunday nights and on Wednesday evenings. I thought that was more than enough. We didn’t read the Bible together as a family. We didn’t pray together. When I counseled them about anything, mention of the Lord rarely entered into it. I guess I was thinking that they were getting enough about God at church and that I didn’t need to bring Him up at home, too. Ach! What a dummy!

I was also very firm with my boys just as my Dad had been with me. The older they got, the more rebellious they became, and the more of a tyrant I became. I was trying to control their behaviors, but I had done very little sowing and working in their hearts along the way. My boys and I had a lot of fun together playing outside, watching sports, etc., things my father couldn’t do, but I could also turn into a disapproving and critical drill sergeant on a dime.

I had become exasperated with our independent fundamental Baptist church and we stopped attending when my boys were 16 and 13. I didn’t mention the Lord at all after that. After some VERY difficult teenage years, both our boys went into the Air Force. My wife and I actually divorced after our youngest son went into the service as our circumstances were changing so quickly and the Lord was not our foundation.

Praise the Lord, my wife and I got back together the following year, and we remarried! The Lord kept working on my heart and I finally returned to Him in 2014. Our sons are now 46 and 42 and they’ve done “okay” as the world might define it, but neither one knows the Lord and they both have very messy domestic situations. I’ve apologized to both of them for being such an inept father and they’ve both been more gracious than I deserve.

So hearing about the proper way to raise children every Sunday is very hard for me, especially when my wife turns to me occasionally during the sermons with that “look” on her face. Thanks, Dear. The Lord wants us to realize our sins and mistakes and to learn from them, but He doesn’t want us to dwell on them either. Great is His mercy and forgiveness! If the apostle Paul had dwelt on his earlier persecutions of the church, he would have been no use to the Lord whatsoever.

So if you’ve wronged someone; children, spouse, family, friends, acquaintances, seek the Lord’s forgiveness, seek their forgiveness, and then move forward with the Lord in your heart. Satan wants to keep you defeated. The Lord wants to use you for His glory! We have children and grandchildren we need to reach for the Lord! Young parents, make Christ the center of your household and everything you do with your children.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” – Psalm 37:23-24

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3

“Thoroughly wash me, inside and out, of all my crooked deeds. Cleanse me from my sins. For I am fully aware of all I have done wrong, and my guilt is there, staring me in the face. It was against You, only You, that I sinned, for I have done what You say is wrong, right before Your eyes. So when You speak, You are in the right. When You judge, Your judgments are pure and true.” – Psalm 51:2-4

“Whoever tries to hide his sins will not succeed, but the one who confesses his sins and leaves them behind will find mercy. Happy is the one who always fears the Lord, but the person who hardens his heart to God falls into misfortune.” – Proverbs 28:13-14

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series, #88

It’s Two-fer-Tuesday, my friends, which normally means two new sermons from the brethren down in Arkansas. However, because of a week long revival at Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City, we “just” have Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching from Luke 9:57-62 on “Wanna Be Disciples.”

This sermon was delivered on Sunday, May 30th.

Pastor Roger Copeland – Wanna Be Disciples

Mental illness impacts a family

Life got a lot busier for me in 2021. After being unemployed for 15 months, I started a new “career” in January at the young age of 64.5. At the same time, I began regularly helping out my 71-year-old, unmarried sister, Sue.

We all have our personality quirks, but my sister Sue had some particularly unusual ones. Sue is an ardent animal lover and purposely attracted wild critters (squirrels, chipmunks, rats) into her modest house (photo above) by leaving a trail of nuts to her open back door and into her kitchen. It’s obvious that that behavior wasn’t so much a personality quirk as a mental health problem and a precursor of things to come.

A couple of years ago, my wife and I began to notice that Sue was also starting to have memory issues. Most noticeably, she would get lost driving to or from our house. Medical tests revealed she had onset dementia. Sue kept driving until she had a fender-bender in January and her doctor barred her from the road. I then became her official chauffeur, taking her to medical appointments and grocery shopping.

Along with the dementia, Sue was a hoarder. The conditions inside her house were halfway to the horrors you see on the “Hoarders” cable TV show. The harsh odor (mainly a combination of cat urine ammonia, cat feces, and rotting cat food) that permeated her house was staggering. The hoarding and unclean conditions didn’t happen overnight. We noticed Sue started to become careless about her housekeeping habits ten to twelve years ago. It gradually reached a point where her neighbor friends would no longer venture inside her house because of the mess and the smell. Sue was incredulous when she was told about the nauseating stench. She freely admitted her house was “a little messy,” but was totally oblivious to the overpowering odor.

Given the progression of her dementia and her living conditions, the family needed to intervene. I have three other sisters who live in a house together in Florida. A plan gradually evolved for Sue to move into a senior living facility in the same Florida city. She would start out in an independent living unit (she’s already far past that capability in my opinion), but will transition to assisted living and then to memory care as the dementia progresses. Sue strongly resisted the plan at first, but gradually and reluctantly conceded that she was no longer able to continue living in her home.

The departure day was swiftly approaching and one of the other sisters flew up to Rochester to help Sue pack. On the day of their flight to Florida, we scrambled to catch one of Sue’s two cats and put it in a carrier. In the frenzy, I discovered another large, dead cat under the bed where Sue slept every night. After it inflicted some scratches and bites*, we caught the frightened, fugitive kitty and they all got on the plane to Florida.

Since then, I’ve been working with a realtor to get Sue’s house ready for sale. The realtor utilizes a crew of college students to clear out houses and over the course of two weeks they filled four large roll-off dumpsters with Sue’s furnishings and belongings. Extensive work will be needed on the interior; getting it cleaned, painted, and fixed-up before putting it on the market. Most of that work will be hired out. I’ve been very busy working on Sue’s finances and getting them in order. She had reached a point where she was not writing checks for critical monthly bills. Sue has Social Security, a modest pension, and had managed to squirrel away a decent amount to an IRA account, but the monthly bill for an apartment in the memory care unit will be very expensive and the funds will flow out quickly. The additional responsibilities of helping Sue have been a strain and a source of tension in our marriage. I’m just being honest. My three sisters in Florida (one in particular) have picked up even bigger responsibilities by overseeing Sue’s care from here on out.

Most everyone has a tale to tell about someone in their extended network of family and friends who is dealing with some type of mental challenge. I’m glad mental health is becoming more “out in the open” and freely discussed. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s many years before she died in 2014. My doting father ascribed it to “just a little forgetfulness” until the disease was full-blown and could no longer be denied. I have a fifth, married sister, who still resides here in Rochester who is only 66, but is already severely limited by Alzheimer’s.

I discussed the Gospel with Sue over the years, but she was not receptive. She was a school teacher for forty years and taught exclusively at Catholic grammar schools, but doesn’t believe in God. She thinks the Bible is “fairy tales,” but, of course, she never read it.

*After she arrived in Florida, Sue spent several days in a hospital due to a severe infection caused by the cat scratches and bites on her arm and hand.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 6/12/21

U.S. Catholic bishops are meeting June 16-18th and will decide whether to defy pope Francis and formalize sanctions against Catholic politicians who support pro-abortion legislation, including denial of communion and the other “sacraments.” As mentioned in the second article, the ongoing “wafer wars” also bring to light the lack of interest and “knowledge” regarding the Jesus wafer, the alleged “source and summit of Catholic spirituality,” among the general Catholic population. A 2019 Pew Research survey revealed only 30% of U.S. Catholics believe that their priests convert bread wafers and wine into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ as the RCC teaches.

The LGBT steamroller is making significant inroads into the Roman Catholic church, which is not surprising. Credible researchers, including ex-priest and sociologist, Richard Sipe, suggest homosexuals comprise 30-40 percent of the Catholic priest population.

Abuse was rampant at Catholic-run boarding schools throughout the Western world. The startling revelations of widespread abuse at Catholic-run residential schools in Ireland directly contributed to the rapid secularization of that once solidly-Catholic country.

I’m at the point now that I read the Bible almost exclusively via the ESV app on my iPhone. What about you?

The Rochester Catholic diocese filed for bankruptcy back in September 2019 in order to protect its assets from abuse survivors. Those survivors continue to press their claims for compensation in Rochester bankruptcy court. Twenty-six U.S. Catholic dioceses have filed for bankruptcy to date in response to claims against abusive priests and their bishop enablers.

Conservative and traditionalist Catholics are reacting to the substantiated rumor that pope Francis is moving to restrict their beloved Latin mass. Whether the mass is said in English or Latin, it’s anti-Biblical blasphemy that purports that Catholic priests summon Jesus from Heaven, transform Him into a bread wafer, and re-sacrifice Him for sins as the perpetual host (victim).

Is it improper to say, “Good riddance” in this case? As one of the prime architects of the Warren-Drucker-Hybels seeker-sensitive, church-growth model and as an enthusiastic promoter of ecumenism with Roman Catholicism, Rick Warren has compromised the Gospel like few others.

Throwback Thursday: Catholic religious calculus: No double-dipping!

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on May 24, 2016 and has been revised.

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Today, I was listening to the 2/11/16 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show on The Station of the Cross (101.7 FM in Buffalo, N.Y.) featuring Catholic priest, Rick Poblocki, taking questions from callers. Rick began the show by humbly correcting some advice he had previously given.

A couple of days before, a Catholic woman had called into the show and asked Rick if it was okay to pray the Stations of the Cross at her church at the same time she was at the church for eucharistic adoration. Catholics are granted “indulgences” in order to mitigate future sufferings in purgatory by practicing either activity, and the woman wanted to know if she could essentially get two for the price of one. Let’s briefly look at the two practices.

The Stations of the Cross

For my evangelical friends, Catholic churches have 14 plaques stationed around the sanctuary, which depict various events in the trial, suffering, and crucifixion of Jesus. Five of the 14 events; Jesus meeting His mother Mary (IV), Jesus having His face wiped by “saint” Veronica (VI), and Jesus falling three times (III, VII, IX) as He pressed on to Calvary are apocryphal and are not mentioned in the Gospels. Pope John Paul II came up with a different series of 14 events – the Biblically-accurate “Scriptural Form” – which some parishes have adopted.

Catholics walk from station to station and pray the assigned rote prayers. This practice is especially popular during Lent. Praying the Stations of the Cross is classified officially as a “devotion.” Catholics are taught a “plenary” (full) indulgence can be earned by following the Stations of the Cross.  This means that all of the temporal punishment for confessed sins not yet fully expiated up to that point in a person’s life are “remitted” (canceled). Catholics believe they could spend hundreds and even thousands of years in purgatory receiving the temporal punishment that remains after they die, so receiving a plenary indulgence is a big deal, although probably 90% of today’s Catholics would have no clue what a “plenary indulgence” was if you asked them. The vast majority of Catholics these days can’t even be bothered with attending obligatory mass on Sundays let alone coming to church during the week and praying the Stations of the Cross.

Question from an ex-Catholic evangelical: If someone begins the Stations of the Cross, but has to stop after Station XIII because of a family emergency, do they still earn a plenary indulgence or is the indulgence benefit pro rated?

Eucharistic Adoration

As for eucharistic adoration, Catholics believe their priests change bread wafers into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ during the mass. Sometimes a large eucharist wafer is placed inside an ornate gold display piece called a “monstrance.” The monstrance has a glass window so the wafer is visible. Catholics come to church at designated times to worship and adore the eucharist wafer, which they believe to be Jesus Christ. Catholics are taught they receive a partial indulgence (of indeterminate time) if they visit with the eucharistic Jesus wafer for less than thirty minutes and receive a plenary indulgence if they visit for more than thirty minutes. Anybody got a stopwatch? Who decided on thirty minutes? Why not twenty-five? Why not thirty-five? Can 29:30 minutes be rounded-up or is 30:00 minutes a precise non-negotiable? Eucharistic adoration is officially classified as a “benediction.”

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/indulgw.php

Catholicism’s dizzying religious calculus vs. the simple Gospel

So, back to our caller’s question. Initially, it was clear from the tone of his voice that Rick wasn’t thrilled about the caller’s proposition of praying the stations AND adoring the eucharist Jesus wafer at the same time, but he concluded by saying it was “probably” okay. However, when Rick came back on the air on February 11 he had some egg on his face, saying he had checked the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops web site (see below) and discovered that Catholics cannot double-dip. A “devotion” like the Stations of the Cross and a “benediction” like the eucharistic adoration cannot be mixed. It’s either one or the other. Catholics aren’t allowed to do both at the same time.

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/adoration/devotions-and-eucharistic-adoration.cfm

So, is it a mortal sin if a Catholic tries to double dip by participating in both activities at the same time or is it only a venial sin? Or is it that they just don’t get ANY indulgences?

Are you all still with me? I wouldn’t be surprised if many readers dropped away several paragraphs ago. The Roman Catholic church’s rituals and rubrics are so complicated that even a veteran priest like Rick can’t keep them all straight. But the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone is so simple even a child can understand it. Accept Jesus as your Savior. Religious ritual doesn’t save. Only Jesus saves. Accept Christ as your Savior by faith alone and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise.

“Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” – Mark 7:13

“They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” – Matthew 23:4

http://www.gotquestions.org/sinners-prayer.html

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series, #87

It’s Two-fer-Tuesday, my friends, which means two new sermons from the brethren down in Arkansas.

First, we have James Taylor of Front Range Missions preaching at Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana from Matthew 9:35-38 on “See People.”

Next, we have evangelist Brian Caldwell preaching at Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City from Luke 16:27-31 on “Don’t Wait.”

Both of these sermons were delivered on Sunday, May 23.

James Taylor – See People

Brian Caldwell – Don’t Wait

Billy Graham, the disappointing enigma

Billy Graham: Prayer, Politics, Power
Directed by Sara Colt and written by Keven Mcalester
American Experience Series, PBS, 2021, 1:51:41

4 Stars

Billy Graham (1918-2018) is widely revered and beloved as the “greatest” Christian evangelist of the 20th Century. Any criticism of Graham is considered blasphemy by most evangelicals, but I’m definitely NOT a fan for several reasons that will be detailed below.

“Billy Graham: Prayer, Politics, Power” first aired on PBS on May 17th. This biographical documentary spans Graham’s entire life. In 1944, Graham began his career as an evangelist affiliated with Youth for Christ. He eventually branched out on his own and his 1949 Los Angeles tent crusade received a tremendous boost from Roman Catholic media mogul, William Randolph Hearst, who ordered his newspaper editors to “Puff Graham.” Graham alienated his fundamentalist supporters when he ignominiously accepted the backing of liberal clergymen in organizing his 1957 New York City crusade, part of a calculated strategy by Graham and allies, Carl Henry and Harold Ockenga, to create a more ecumenical “New Evangelicalism” movement. Graham eventually enlisted the support of local Roman Catholic bishops in organizing his crusades. Catholics who came forward at Graham’s crusades were referred back to Catholic workers who counseled the seekers that their acceptance of Christ was only a reaffirmation of their infant baptism and confirmation.

To further increase his popularity and influence, Graham forged a close relationship with President Dwight Eisenhower. At the height of the Cold War standoff with atheist Russia, Graham influenced Eisenhower to meld patriotism and religion by directing that “In God We Trust” be stamped on currency and that “…under God” be inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance. American Civil Religion was/is antithetical to Jesus Christ and genuine Christianity because it presents God as a nebulous “Supreme Being” that’s palatable to all American religionists – Catholics, nominal “Protestants,” Muslims, Hindus, Jews, etc. It was the glue that bound patriotic Americans together in the face of advancing Soviet communism. Even today with the steady rise of atheism, Americans of all religious persuasions still join together at ball games and other public events and sing, “God Bless America.” Graham would go on to have an even closer relationship with another president, Richard Nixon, but would afterwards distance himself from politics following the ignominy of the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s resignation. However, Graham’s hobnobbing with presidents set the table for the Christian nationalists who followed, including Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

Graham began drifting into Universalism in the mid-1970s. At a September 1977 interview session with McCall’s magazine journalist, James Michael Beam, Graham candidly revealed that he no longer believed people in foreign lands who had not heard the Gospel were going to hell. Incredulous? Hear Graham for yourself below in this 1:30 video snippet from 1997 tell “positivity gospel” propagator, Robert Schuller, that he believed all religions and even atheism were legitimate pathways to God.

I appreciated this PBS documentary for its critical examination of Billy Graham. Yes, many souls trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior through Graham’s ministry, however, Graham had several major flaws, including his strong desire for popularity, prestige, and political influence, his trailblazing propagation of ecumenism with Roman Catholicism, and his drift into Universalism. After trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior and leaving Roman Catholicism and its false salvation system of sacramental grace and merit in the early-1980s, I was shocked to discover that Billy Graham, evangelicalism’s favorite son, fully endorsed the Roman Catholic church with its false gospel as a Christian entity. Graham betrayed ex-Catholic evangelicals and Roman Catholics who needed to hear the genuine Gospel. The legacy of Billy Graham is that of a beloved evangelist who actually undermined and betrayed the Gospel on multiple levels. It’s not surprising that Satan would use Graham’s lust for numbers and popularity to subvert the Gospel.

See the PBS Graham documentary for a limited time here.

Postscript: Influential evangelical pastor, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, declined to support Billy Graham and his crusades in the U.K. because of Graham’s ecumenism with liberal, nominal “Protestant” Bible-deniers and Roman Catholic prelates. Lloyd-Jones also objected to Graham’s use of “decisionism” (i.e., the use of the “sinner’s prayer” to affect conversions). Millions of people who attended Graham’s crusades undoubtedly had false conversion experiences based on coming forward at Graham’s invitations without true repentance.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 6/6/21

Christians should use discernment when it comes to these online conspiracy theories.

Christian nationalism, the conflation of faith and ardent patriotism, is still a very popular paradigm among American Christians and a “God Bless the USA Bible” would have sold well in some quarters. Many Christians are realizing the fanciful notion of America as a “Christian nation” is no longer tenable given today’s realities.

British tabloids are abuzz, questioning how twice-divorced Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was able to be marry his latest bride at a Catholic church-sanctioned ceremony. Catholic marriage laws are complicated and restrictive, but it always seems to work out for wealthy and politically connected members.

The German Catholic church continues on its “Synodal Path” towards radical reforms to the dismay of Catholic conservatives.

Although very few traditionalist Catholics understand Latin, they love the Latin mass because it symbolizes pre-conciliar, militant Catholicism. Progressive pope Francis recognizes that the Latin mass is a bastion of anti-conciliar traditionalism and is working to restrict and eventually eliminate it.

Teachers are on the front lines of this radical social re-engineering.

Why has it taken twenty years of scandalous headlines involving pedophile priests and their bishop enablers for a pope to impose canon law sanctions?

Few people know about the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-1921. The Red Army was determined to “liberate” Poland and advance into Western Europe. But the rag tag Polish forces led by Marshal Józef Piłsudski improbably stopped the Reds at the gates of Warsaw and forced them to retreat back to Moscow. Poles attributed their very unlikely military victory to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, calling it “The Miracle on the Vistula” (a river next to Warsaw). Joseph Stalin, one of the Red Army’s generals in the campaign, did not forget the humiliating defeat and would subsequently orchestrate the overthrow of Poland by Soviet forces in concert with Adolf Hitler and the German Wehrmacht in September 1939. Where was the Blessed Virgin in 1939?

Throwback Thursday: “Rescuing the Gospel” aka The Reformation – 101

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on May 25, 2016 and has been revised.

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Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation
By Erwin W. Lutzer
Baker Books, 2016, hardcover, 224 pages

5 Stars

With the 500th anniversary of the Reformation coming up in the Fall of 2017, we can expect the publication of many books on the subject. Every evangelical should, at the least, be “somewhat” familiar with the struggles of the men and women of the 16th-century, who, led by God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, sought to return the church from Roman Catholic ritualism and legalism to the New Testament Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Sadly, many of today’s seeker-friendly mega-church pastors never reference the Reformation.

“Rescuing the Gospel” is an excellent introduction to the Reformation for those who want to get just an essential understanding. It’s basically a “Reformation 101” in an easy-to-read style and a very attractive format with many small, color illustrations. It’s abundantly evident that this book was a labor of love for author, Erwin Lutzer, retired pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

The book begins by examining the absolute corruption of the Roman Catholic church in the Middle Ages. The early church had gradually devolved from preaching simple, saving faith in Jesus Christ into ritualism, legalism, ceremonialism, and superstition, all tightly controlled by the increasingly despotic clergy. The popes, cardinals, and bishops had adopted flagrantly wicked lifestyles. Early reformers like John Wycliffe in England and Jan Hus in Bohemia defiantly challenged Rome’s teachings and practices. The bulk of the book focuses on Martin Luther’s rebellion against church authority beginning with the nailing of his 95 theses to the cathedral door in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517. Luther was a complex man with his share of faults, but he was used mightily by the Lord to return the church back to the Gospel. Lutzer then turns to the important contributions of Huldrych Zwingli in Zurich and John Calvin in Geneva, as well as a few others. The Reformers had several failings and missteps (e.g., Luther’s liturgicalism and anti-Semitism, Zwingli’s alliance with civil government), which the author readily acknowledges. It would be up to succeeding Reformers to chip away at remaining vestiges of Roman error.

Perhaps the best part of this book is the final chapter: “Is the Reformation Over?” Today, some evangelicals clamor for unity with Rome despite the remaining irreconcilable differences in doctrine. Most importantly, the Roman Catholic church continues to teach salvation by sacramental grace and merit in contrast to the Good News! of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Some undiscerning evangelicals hear “grace” and “faith” mentioned by Catholic representatives and proclaim, “Close enough!,” while purposely ignoring the fine print. Lutzer calls for evangelicals to continue to rescue the Gospel of grace from the Catholic church and all other groups and individuals who believe “that it is up to them to contribute to their salvation and that they must make themselves worthy to receive it “ (p.200). Lutzer suggests that our task to uphold the Gospel may be even more difficult than in Luther’s day because of the compromise with error WITHIN evangelicalism. It’s our unending job to rescue and defend the genuine Gospel of grace and to proclaim it! The Reformation continues.

If you’re interested in reading a basic examination of the Reformation without the challenges and obstacles of a lengthy academic tome, THIS is your book. It would also make a wonderful gift for anyone who loves the Gospel. I’m not one to collect books on a dusty bookshelf anymore, but this one’s a keeper! Order from Amazon here.