Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 3/23/19

At last month’s Vatican “abuse summit,” pope Francis promised “concrete action” to stem sexual abuse by priests and subsequent cover-ups by the hierarchy, but the “concrete action” has turned out to be the same old song and dance.

Last October 28th, CBS’s “Sixty Minutes” exposed Buffalo Catholic bishop, Richard Malone, as a serial abuse-enabler, yet he still retains his position. Malone just sold his impressive mansion as a PR tactic, but has moved into an even larger home, although the neighborhood isn’t anywhere near as swanky. Prior to last Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Buffalo’s Catholics circulated a petition demanding that Malone not participate in the festivities. Malone reluctantly complied, but vowed to be back in the parade in 2020.

It’s getting hard to find a (c)hristian bookstore these days. Is that bad or good? I’m ambivalent about Lifeway and other (c)hristian bookstores. They sell Bibles, which is a good thing, but many of the other books they stock are doctrinally dangerous from TBN-types.

Any parent who allows their child to be in a situation where they are alone with a Catholic priest (such as an altar server) is credulously naive.

This objective article from Roman Catholic church historian, Massimo Faggioli, shows how the RCC canonization process is all PR and politics.

Cardinal Marx of Germany often serves as the vanguard for the progressives in the leadership of the Catholic church, including pope Francis. When Marx floats a trial balloon statement, you can be assured it’s already being discussed in the hallways of Brokeback Vatican.

Conservative and traditionalist Catholics rue the day when progressive Francis was elected pope. But whether Catholics are conservative or liberal, they still don’t know the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Excellent article by evangelical Vatican-watcher, Leonardo De Chirico.

I inadvertently stumbled across this article about a recently published book that focuses on the confrontation between Catholics and Protestants in Lakeville, Connecticut in 1882-1883. Notice that the book totes itself as “a tale of prejudice and nativism.” I take it this is yet another example of a book or article that focuses on Protestant “neuroticism” without taking into account Catholicism’s unbridled militancy wherever it had hegemony. Book ordered and review to follow.

This satire is funny, but also reveals some sad truth about our culture.

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Thoughts on some high-profile mess-ups from a low-profile mess-up

If you’ve been paying attention to the news the last six weeks, you’re probably aware of the highly-publicized, embarrassing circumstances involving Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, San Francisco Giants manager, Larry Baer, and popular actress, Lori Loughlin (photos above). We don’t need to get into the details here, but suffice it to say these people made some very poor decisions, which led to consequences that the national media was more than happy to pounce on.

My knee-jerk reaction to those reports was, “Wow! These are obviously some very intelligent folks. How could they have done something so stupid and so damaging to themselves and their reputations?”

These news stories remind us that we’re all sinners, just as God’s Word says. The veneer we present to the public looks pretty good (most of the time), but behind closed doors and deep in our hearts and in the recesses of our minds is some real wickedness.

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

The public is prone to venerate and envy people who are successful entrepreneurs, administrators, and entertainment celebrities, but, because of their wealth, those people have even greater opportunities and temptations to sin than the rest of us. In the flesh, I’m tempted to quietly celebrate when high-profile, wealthy folks “get caught up” in some messy scandal. I’m tempted to think I’m somehow better than those people and others like them who have been exposed in their sin. It makes me feel better, as if I’m morally superior. But the truth is, I’m just a sinner saved by the grace of God solely through faith in Jesus Christ. I’ve behaved similarly in my thoughts if not in deed EVEN AS A BELIEVER. I’m grateful to my Savior for saving a wretch like me. He gives me the grace to follow Him and picks me up when I inevitably fail.

It’s tempting for us believers to become “morality snobs” and place ourselves above THOSE sinners, when in reality, our ONLY plea is our Savior, Jesus Christ.

“9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” – Luke 18:9-14

Throwback Thursdays?

I’ve been blessed by being a part of the Christian blogging community here at WordPress for the last 44 months. It’s been a joy to read inspirational and informative posts from my fellow bloggers each day (and form some friendships) as well as to write my humble contributions, some serious and some on the frivolous side. We all pray the Lord uses our meager efforts to reach souls with the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Seeing as I’ve accumulated over 1200 posts in the archives to this point, I thought it might be a good idea to use Thursdays to take a second look at messages from the blog’s first couple of years (including some revisions if needed). That would serve two purposes: 1) It would bring back to light some older posts that very few folks ever saw when they were first published and 2) it would give me another day off from writing. I used to write every day, but about a year ago, I gave myself Sundays off with the goal of eventually taking another day off as well.

Thanks for your support! Next Thursday, I’ll be queuing up a post from 2015.

 

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A scene from the intersection of Main Street and Clinton Avenue, the busy hub of downtown Rochester, N.Y., during the late 1960s. These days, all of the retail stores are long gone.

Catholic apologist: “Do NOT believe in forensic justification.”

Catholic apologist, David Anders, featured in the photo above, repeatedly condemns forensic justification on his radio show. Forensic justification? What’s that? People are generally turned off by theological jargon like “forensic justification.” Hang in there. I’m going to break it all down for you.

These days, many church-going folks are eager to gloss over any and all doctrinal differences and embrace each other as fellow “Jesus lovers.” But many doctrinal differences are vitally important, like the answer to the question, “How does a person get to Heaven?”

The Roman Catholic church teaches that for a person to get to Heaven, they must participate in the church’s sacraments in order for graces to be “infused” into their soul, to be able to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules, in order to remain in a hypothetical mortal-sinless “state of grace,” so as to be able to merit heaven at the moment of their death. Phew! That was a long sentence! Another way of expressing it is, the RCC teaches a person must actually (subjectively, intrinsically) become holy enough to merit entry into Heaven.

In direct contrast, Bible Christianity teaches from Scripture that we are all sinners and no one can possibly merit Heaven. Even our so-called “good works” are sin-stained rags before a Holy God. But God loves us so much, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins by His death on the cross of Calvary. But Jesus defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave and offers eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who repent of sin and ask Him to save them. When a person accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior, His perfect righteousness is “imputed” (ascribed) to them. They are declared righteous before a Just and Holy God only because of the imputed, perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. Evangelical theologians call this “forensic” (legal) justification. God the Father declares a sinner who has accepted Christ as righteous because of the perfect righteousness that was imputed to them by God the Son. Bible Christians believe those who have genuinely accepted Christ will follow Him in obedience, although imperfectly. But the desire to obey God and the resulting spiritual fruit are the evidence of salvation, not the cause of it.

The Catholic doctrine and the Bible Christian doctrine on salvation are incompatible and irreconcilable. One is right, one is wrong. They cannot both be right.

To be honest, I don’t cherish the work of Catholic apologists, but I do appreciate the way they strongly distinguish between the Catholic gospel of sacramental grace and merit and the Biblical Good News! Here’s an example from Anders’ show that I came across recently, although the Biblical doctrine of salvation is not clearly presented:

Called to Communion – EWTN Radio
Episode: 3/4/2109
Host: David Anders (photo above), Moderator: Thom Price
Beginning at 24:33 mark

Thom Price: Let’s go to Claire now in Baton Rouge, Louisiana listening on the great Catholic Community Radio. Hey, Claire. What’s on your mind today?

Claire: Hi. Thank you for taking my call. I have a question about, well, it’s a two-part question about forensic acquittal (theologians use the term “forensic justification” – Tom). We have a local pastor here in town who preaches forensic acquittal and I’m very confused by what he says. I encounter this in RCIA.* So my questions are these: My understanding of forensic acquittal is that when you are saved, God covers your sins, but you are still in your sins and you remain depraved. So then my question is, if that’s correct then doesn’t that belief, in terms of justification, kind of say that, well, Jesus’ saving work wasn’t quite good enough? And my second question, and this is really the question that I’m most concerned about, is if that is an accurate understanding of forensic acquittal, then what exactly does sanctification do? Does it have any effect on the soul or is it just proof of election?

David Anders: Thank you very much, Claire. I really appreciate the question. The doctrine that you have heard from your preacher acquaintance, that doctrine, the way you put it, is an accurate description of what Lutherans believe. It is an accurate description of what Calvinists believe, and of Protestants in general. It is not, however, what Scripture teaches and it is not what the Catholic church teaches. So the doctrine of forensic justification through the imputed righteousness of Jesus, what you articulated, is actually a doctrine that was condemned by the Catholic church at the Council of Trent and no Catholic should believe that doctrine.


For the next four minutes, Anders presents a summarized version of the Catholic doctrine of salvation, which I described above.

I regretfully applaud Anders for his candid honesty in distinguishing between his church’s gospel and the genuine Gospel. Ecumenical evangelical pastors and para-church leaders do a disservice to evangelicals and lost Catholics by embracing the Catholic church with its false gospel as a Christian entitiy.

*The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) – is the year-long course aspiring adults must attend before they can be baptized into the Catholic church.

For more information on the difference between the Catholic and Bible Christian views on justification, see the article below:

Justification: Infused or Imputed Righteousness?
https://reformedbaptistdaily.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/justification-infused-or-imputed-righteousness-in-honor-of-the-496th-reformation-day/

Lent is no match for Super Rodent!

This is the third week of Lent for Roman Catholics. Two weeks ago, I reposted my yearly observation on the inane perplexities of Lenten dietary restrictions; “Is it OK to eat Chicken in a Biskit crackers on Fridays during Lent?” Today, I’m reposting what’s already become another Lenten classic, last year’s “Lent is no match for Super Rodent!”

Enjoy!

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Most of the topics I write about on this blog are serious matters involving spiritual life and death, but there are occasions when I come across something that can only be categorized as sadly comical. Case in point:

This year, the Catholic church’s Lenten season runs from Wednesday, March 6th to Thursday, April 18th (dates revised for this re-post) and Catholics are strictly forbidden from eating meat on all six of the Fridays during that span under the threat of mortal sin and eternal damnation. But getting down to the nuts and bolts of what actually constitutes “meat” can get a little tricky as I alluded to in the infamous Chicken in a Biskit post (see here).

Well, now we have another very strange twist to this rule regarding obligatory abstention from meat during Lent.

A few days ago, I was listening to the 2/21/18 podcast of the “Called to Communion” Catholic talk radio show. Moderator, Thom Price, and host, David Anders, were discussing Lenten abstinence restrictions and Anders unflinchingly mentioned that Venezuelan Catholics are allowed to eat the meat of a Capybara on Fridays. Capybara? What’s that? Well, it turns out that Capybara (photo above) are the largest living rodent in the world, ranging anywhere from 80 to 150 pounds full grown and they like to hang out near or in water. They are a dietary staple of Central America and some say they taste like pork with a slightly fishy accent. As the tale goes, Padre Sojo, Venezuela’s most influential Catholic cleric at the time, traveled to Rome in 1794 and petitioned pope Leo XII to allow his countrymen to eat the meat of the Capybara during Lent because, he argued, the animal spent so much time in the water that it was more like a fish than a warm-blooded mammal. Remember, fish are okay to eat on Fridays during Lent, but not the meat from mammals or birds. Sojo’s absurd argument evidently made an impression on the credulous pope because he granted his request and actually issued a Papal Bull decreeing that Venezuelans were free to eat Capybara during Lent without incurring a mortal sin.

So Venezuelan Catholics can gorge themselves on Capybara burgers on Lenten Fridays with an absolutely clear conscience, but if an American Catholic takes even one bite of a Big Mac, they are doomed to hell forever!

But this sinner who was freed from the chains of Catholicism and is saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone has a hypothetical question for my Catholic friends. Let’s set aside the current political chaos in Venezuela for a moment and suppose an American Catholic travels down to that country on business during Lent. He’s walking the streets of Caracas on a Friday at noon and smells the wonderful aroma of barbecue in the air. In a few minutes, he discovers the source of the olfactory bliss; a sidewalk food vendor who beckons him over to try some of his smokey barbecued Capybara (known as “Chigüiro” by the natives). The American, mouth watering, declines with noticeable regret, saying in his broken Spanish that he is prohibited from eating meat on Friday during Lent. But the vendor reassures him that the pope himself declared it was okay to eat Capybara in Venezuela during Lent and another native walking by confirms the information. The American then hungrily orders a double-plateful of barbecued Capybara and eats his fill. The next day, the American begins his journey back to the U.S., but his plane crashes and all aboard perish. Which now brings us to our question: Did the American Catholic go to hell for eating Capybara on a Lenten Friday because he was still under the jurisdiction of his American bishop or did Leo XII’s papal bull cover all the bases?

Catholic friend, if you ever get tired of spinning in Catholicism’s legalistic hamster (another rodent) wheel, turn to Jesus Christ. Repent of your sin and ask Jesus Christ to save you by faith in Him alone.

Is Catholicism a false religion? Are Catholics saved?
https://www.gotquestions.org/catholicism.html

Postscript: Some may object to my interjection of humor in this discussion, but seriously folks, I couldn’t have come up with this “Capybara dispensation” in my wildest dreams.

In the video below, a food critic tries some barbecued Capybara/Chigüiro:

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Dog meets Capybara

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 93 & 94

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

The previous two weeks, we examined the first two passages presented by Armstrong in chapter twelve of his book, in which the Catholic apologist attempts to prove the existence of purgatory and the need to pray for the dead. This week we will examine his final two proof-texts:

#93) 2 Timothy 1:16-18: “16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiph′orus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains, 17 but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me— 18 may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.” (RSVCE)

Beneath the passage, Armstrong writes,“Catholics believe in prayers for the dead, in order to aid them on their journey through purgatory to heaven. In fact, praying for the dead makes sense only if some sort of purgatory or intermediate state is presupposed, because it would be futile to pray for those in hell (prayer cannot help them; it is too late) and unnecessary to pray for those in heaven (they have everything they need). This verse [sic] offers one probable biblical support for this belief.”

Catholics would like to make the case from this passage that Paul is stating Onesiphorus is dead and that he is praying for him, but such an interpretation is self-serving eisegesis. I specifically addressed Catholicism’s misinterpretation of 2 Timothy 1:16-18 in a post last May, so rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll direct you to that post here.

#94) Acts 9:36-37, 40-41: “Now there was at Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which means Dorcas or Gazelle…In those days she fell sick and died…But Peter…knelt down and prayed; then turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, rise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and lifted her up. Then calling the saints and widows he presented her alive.” (RSVCE)

Beneath the passage, Armstrong writes, “I readily grant that the example is unusual, because of the uniqueness of praying to raise someone from the dead (as distinguished from a prayer that aids someone in purgatory), and I agree that the Apostles had extraordinary powers of healing, so that this is not exactly a normative state of affairs…Nevertheless, it seems indisputable that here St. Peter literally prayed for a dead person, as far as that goes – which Protestants say is not permitted by, and supposedly not recorded in, the Bible.” – pp. 174-175.

Armstrong is shamelessly engaging here in some theological slight-of-hand. From the outset, he readily admits that the passage does not support the notion of praying for the dead in purgatory. But he says the passage is valuable because it refutes the alleged Protestant belief that prayers for a dead person are nowhere permitted in the Bible. I’ve read or listened to many Catholic apologists over the years, but the above may be the most blatant example of irresponsible apologetic chicanery I’ve ever seen. Armstrong is presenting a straw man fallacy and claiming victory where there is no victory.  Bible Christians are certainly familiar with the above passage in which Peter prays to God on behalf of Tabitha and raises her from the dead. We are also familiar with other passages in the Bible in which the dead are raised. We believe God gave prophets and apostles the ability to raise people from the dead and we fully believe and accept all of those passages, none of which give ANY support to the Catholic doctrine of praying for dead souls in purgatory!!!

After examining the four passages Armstrong presents as proof-texts for purgatory and praying for the dead, we can very safely say that we are not “confounded.” For more information on the Catholic doctrine of purgatory, see the article below:

What does the Bible say about Purgatory?
https://www.gotquestions.org/purgatory.html

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 3/16/19

Well, we could see this one coming. In a Gallup poll released this past week, thirty-seven percent of American Catholics say they are uncertain whether they should remain in the Roman church. With the pedophile priests and cover-up scandal turning into a tsunami over the last ten months and reaching up to the highest echelons of the hierarchy, the average Catholic layperson is wondering to some degree why they should remain in the church. Pray for these souls, that in this time of despair and confusion, many will be led to Jesus Christ and the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone and come out of the Roman church with its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Above are two articles written by Roman Catholics who are deeply despairing over the “sorry state” of their institutional religion. There is a Rock who never disappoints. His name is Jesus Christ. Accept Him as Savior by faith alone and leave Catholicism.

I’m not a fan of Pete Davidson or SNL, but the young comedian spoke truth. The Catholic church doesn’t have the credibility to “demand” apologies from ANYONE who references its abuse and cover-up scandal.

Here’s a likely pair. Two peas from the same anti-Scriptural pod.

As I’ve noted over the years, the Catholic archdiocese of New York City and the diocese of Peoria, Illinois have been fighting over the cadaver of archbishop, Fulton J. Sheen, since he died in 1979. Sheen was a pioneering media apologist for Catholicism and will certainly be canonized as a “saint” once the tug-of-war ends. Sheen was “ordained” a priest in Peoria, but is famous for his radio and television shows out of NYC. The bishops of both dioceses want the future shrine to this “saint” to be located in their respective back yards. Peoria has won the latest round, but New York says the battle isn’t over. So silly and anti-Biblical.

Blasphemous comic book series, “Second Coming,” was cancelled by DC Comics, but the creators have found a new publisher. Yes, Satan is the ruler of this world.

Today, here in Rochester, they’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (which is officially* tomorrow, Sunday, March 17th) with another parade. While the day was historically an opportunity for Irish-Americans to show their ethnic and Catholic pride, it’s been largely transformed into an annual secular celebration, mainly of hooping it up at a parade and chasing down corned beef and cabbage with several green beers or Guinness. St. Patty’s Day is about as serious as religion gets for a very large percentage of Catholics these days. *Many would be surprised to learn that Patrick has never been officially canonized as a “saint” by the Roman church.

Last Sunday, I posted that the Rochester Catholic diocese had notified the “independent” arbitrator it had appointed to review sexual abuse claims, that it desired to participate in the review of future claims and the awarding of settlements. Realizing that it had forfeited any modicum of credibility, the diocese has now scuttled the program entirely. The only option now open to abuse survivors is to sue the diocese in civil court. Is this a “church” or an asbestos manufacturer?

Funny stuff! Whether or not to lend your “like” to an iffy post can be serious business.

Feminism fractures the Legion

Yes, blogging friends, it’s 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…

“The Mutiny of the Super-Heroines!”
Adventure Comics #368, May, 1968
Writer and layouts: Jim Shooter, Penciller: Curt Swan
Cover art: Neal Adams

In some of the previous Legion story-lines that we’ve reviewed, writer Jim Shooter indirectly alluded to some of the hot-button issues of the late-Sixties, including civil rights, the Vietnam War, and the environment. With this story, Shooter takes a look at the rising feminism of that era.

Plot

Karate Kid and Superboy are engaged in some manly, physical sparring when they’re summoned to the Legion control room along with Brainiac 5, Duo Damsel, Invisible Kid, Light Lass, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Supergirl, and Ultra Boy. The team is dispatched to the Metropolis Spaceport where a spaceship carrying an alien ambassador has crashed. The heroes are able to rescue the diplomat who turns out to be…huh…a woman!?!?!? Unbelievable! Thora, an emissary from the planet Taltor, is likewise surprised the Legion and United Planets government have male leaders since her world is an absolute matriarchy. The heroes return to their headquarters and in the girl’s dorm, Dream Girl, Princess Projectra, and Shadow Lass join the other heroines in discussing the novelty of a matriarchal society.

In the meantime, Thora deviously creates statuettes of the female Legionnaires and, by exposing the icons to radiation from her power bracelet, she is somehow able to correspondingly increase the girl’s super powers. In a couple of subsequent crime-fighting events, the girls seriously outperform the boys. Brainiac 5 quarantines the females to study the phenomenon, while Thora amps ups the volume on the changes to the girls, including mind control and the impartation of an increasingly resentful attitude.

When the boys run into trouble responding to a prison breakout, the girls leave their confinement and come to their aid. But rather than being grateful for their help, the Legion’s leader, Invisible Kid, orders the gals back to quarantine. Fed up with the boys’ chauvinistic and patronizing attitudes, the girls give them a thorough thrashing and expel them from the Legion. Thora satisfyingly contemplates the success of the initial phase of her plan to use the powerful heroines to transform Earth into a matriarchy. However, while the other girls have been thoroughly brainwashed by the ambassador, Supergirl seems to have some misgivings about turning against her boyfriend, Brainiac 5.

The ousted male members must resort to using a Legion spacecruiser as their headquarters. When they’re summoned to several emergencies, the girls must once again bail the boys out with their superior powers. Supergirl then gratefully presents Thora with a bracelet charm as a token of appreciation for her guidance. Suddenly, the male members storm the Legion headquarters, saying they’re wise to Thora’s scheme. The ambassador orders the female heroes to kill the boys, but her power bracelet suddenly explodes, freeing the girls from the grip of Thora’s mind control. Supergirl’s gift was actually a tiny bomb. Jolted back to full-cognizance by the thought of harming Brainiac 5, Supergirl had uncovered Thora’s plot and worked with the boys to bring her down. Defeated and humiliated, the dignitary bites down on an empty tooth filled with poison, ending her life (Note from Tom – biting down on a poison-filled tooth seems so 007-ish and so out of place in the 30th-century).

Commentary

This story is undoubtedly Shooter’s reaction to the rise of radical feminism in the 1960s. As we’ve seen in the previous twenty-two stories that we’ve reviewed, the male Legionnaire characters are decisively more powerful than the females (except for Supergirl who is rarely featured) and much more apt to be portrayed as the decision-makers. The characterizations reflected the prevailing culture of that time.

The roles of men and women in society have changed dramatically in the fifty years since “The Mutiny of the Super-Heroines!” was published. Some of that change was positive and absolutely necessary, while some changes have wreaked havoc, including the genocide of thirty million female babies (and thirty million male babies) in the U.S.A. alone via legalized abortion. In our foundationless culture, even gender can no longer be taken for granted these days. The “battle of the sexes” has become an anachronism with the advance of gender theory.

UPDATE: “Jesus Saves” billboard changed to advertisement for fish fry in time for Lent

Back on February 21st, I posted about the mammoth “Jesus Saves” billboard (photo left) that sat along Route 490, the busiest interstate highway in Greater Rochester, New York. See the post here.

While I was driving to work two weeks ago, I noticed that the billboard had been changed. What new advertisement had gone up in place of “Jesus Saves”? I’ll give you a clue: Rochester has a large Catholic population and Lent began last week. That’s right, a new billboard went up advertising local fast-food restaurant chain, Bill Grays, and its self-proclaimed “Rochester’s Best Fish Fry” (photo right).

Fish fries on Fridays are hugely popular here in Rochester because of the large Catholic population. Prior to 1966, Catholics were not allowed to eat meat on Fridays throughout the entire year under threat of soul-damning mortal sin. But after 1966, the obligatory abstention was lifted by the U.S. Catholic bishops EXCEPT for Fridays during Lent. For more historical background, see my post on the subject here.

Isn’t it quite ironic that a billboard proclaiming that “Jesus Saves” with a reference to John 3:16 is followed by an advertisement seeking to profit off of Catholic legalism? It reminds me of how the simple Gospel of the early church was gradually institutionalized into sacramental ritualism and legalism.

Postscript: I had taken the photo of the “Jesus Saves” billboard one-handed with my iPhone through the windshield as I was driving my car at 60 mph. Very dumb. For the photo of the Bill Gray’s fish fry billboard, I exited the expressway, drove through the city neighborhood to as close to the billboard as possible, parked the car and took the photo. Much safer that way and much better quality.

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A photo of Bill Gray’s fish fry plate, which includes a piece of fried haddock, french fries, a roll, and cole slaw for $13.69. Haddock ain’t cheap, folks.

Catholic apologist says you can and must achieve spiritual perfection in order to merit Heaven

There’s all kinds of questions out there in the world, but I would argue that the most important question is, “How does a person get to Heaven?” Bible Christians would quickly and confidently answer, according to Scripture, that we are all hopeless sinners and the only way to Heaven is by repenting of sin and accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. Evangelical Christians may disagree on various secondary beliefs, but we can agree that salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. We have no righteousness of our own, but it is the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ that is imputed to us when we accept Him as Savior that alone justifies us before a Holy God.

However, Roman Catholics unabashedly DO NOT believe the above. They claim without equivocation that salvation is through the administration of their church’s sacraments followed by obedience to the Ten Commandments and church rules aka merit. The Roman church teaches its members that they must become subjectively and intrinsically holy enough, via its sacraments and good works, to merit heaven.

These two views are irreconcilable. One is Jesus-based and one is self-based. One is right and one is wrong. They cannot both be right.

Two weeks ago, I was listening to Catholic talk radio, and a segment vividly illustrated the Catholic view on salvation:

Called to Communion – EWTN Radio
Moderator: Thom Price, Director of EWTN radio programming
Host: David Anders, Catholic apologist (photo above)
Episode 2/20/19 beginning at the 44:00 mark:

Thom Price: “Here’s (an email) from Mark: ‘Recently I’ve been thinking about the purpose of striving for holiness. By nature, we’re all sinners and the only way any of us are going to get to heaven is by the mercy and grace of God. But that being said, what is the point of striving for holiness when we’re always going to fall short?’”

How would you answer Mark’s question, evangelical Christian? Let’s see how Catholic apologist, David Anders answered.

David Anders: “Okay. Well, actually, the Catholic faith teaches that we’re not always going to fall short. We’re not always necessarily going to fall short. And the aim of Christian life is perfection. Jesus Christ says, ‘Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.’ And we have a doctrine of Christian perfection. And some attain it and they are called saints. The canonized saints achieved Christian perfection before they died. That’s why they’re saints. They exhibited heroic charity and the form of Christian perfection is charity. So it’s possible. It’s not easy.”


Catholicism shares many terms and phrases with Bible Christianity, but its basically a religion of works. When a Catholic mentions “grace,” “faith,” and “Jesus the Savior,” they mean something entirely different than from what a Bible Christian understands. Poor Catholic souls, like Mark, are on a religious treadmill of constantly, constantly, constantly trying to merit their salvation, but there is no assurance in that as he admits. Their hope is in their own efforts, NOT in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” – Romans 10:1-4

For more information on the false gospel of striving to be good enough to merit heaven, see the article below:

What does the Bible say about perfectionism?
https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-perfectionism.html

Postscript 1: Catholicism invented purgatory as a safety-net for those who allegedly have no major/mortal unconfessed sin on their soul at the moment of death, but are still not quite perfect.

Postscript 2: Ecumenical evangelicals should spend a little time studying what Catholicism actually teaches before embracing it as a Christian entity.