I have some news about a couple of “faith-based” television shows, one on the way out and one on the way in.
I previously reviewed the first eight episodes of “Living Biblically,” which ran on CBS from February through April on Monday nights. The comedy was about Chip, a “lapsed” Catholic, who decides to get serious about his religion and live his life “one-hundred-percent according to the Bible” with “laughable” results. The only redeeming quality of the show, if you could call it that, was that it accurately portrayed Catholicism’s “good people go to Heaven” false gospel.
With the final five episodes still in the can, CBS cancelled the low-rated show in mid-April. However, I’ve just learned that the network will allow the series a “last hurrah” by airing the final five episodes according to the following schedule:
Never Let Loyalty Leave You – May 28th
Submit to Thy Husband – June 4
Thou Shalt Not Covet – June 11
It’s Better to Give Than to Receive – June 18
David and Goliath – June 25
All of these dates are Mondays and I’m assuming all broadcast times will be at 9:30 p.m. EST as it was previously.
The “Never Let Loyalty Leave You” episode scheduled for this coming Monday, May 28th, looks intriguing. The summary states, “Father Gene is jealous when he finds out that Chip attended Vince’s Baptist church to see another side of religion.” I expect a good dose of “whatever works for you” ecumenism.
Reviews to follow.
Evidently, CBS did not learn its lesson from “Living Biblically” and is coming out with another faith-based comedy show in the Fall titled…
God Friended Me
CBS, Fall 2018 (premier date and time not yet available)
The advertised premise of the new, one-hour show is as follows:
“Brandon Micheal Hall stars in a humorous, uplifting drama about Miles Finer (Hall), an outspoken atheist whose life is turned upside down when he receives a friend request on social media from God and unwittingly becomes an agent of change in the lives and destinies of others around him.”
That’s certainly a wacky premise and I imagine the god that’s presented on this show will be something akin to the New Age, feel-good, false deity that we saw on Roma Downey’s “Touched by an Angel” rather than the God of the Bible. But the Holy Spirit can certainly use a show like this to get people thinking and draw people to the Lord. See the preview video below:
Catholic Concerns: Where Does the Road to Rome Lead?
By Mary Ann Collins
IUniverse, 2008, 272 pages
If you browse through a Christian bookstore these days, there’s an excellent chance you won’t see any critical examinations of Roman Catholicism on the shelves. Why not? The ecumenism that’s rampant today is intolerant of anyone who is so “uncharitable” as to suggest that Rome teaches a different gospel.
But there are MANY resources available that expose Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit, you just have to know where to look (see here for my books list and here for my list of links).
Occasionally, I stumble upon a book that’s available as a free PDF download, like “Catholic Concerns” by Mary Ann Collins. Ms. Collins was a secular humanist who eventually converted to Catholicism and spent two years as a postulant and novice nun. Advised by her religious “superiors” that religious life wasn’t for her, she left the convent, began attending Protestant services, and eventually accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior by faith alone.
Between 2003 and 2010, Collins self-published eight books on Roman Catholicism and maintained a website, CatholicConcerns.com (no longer functioning).
“Catholic Concerns” is a very good overview of the differences between Roman Catholicism and Biblical Christianity from a “layperson’s” perspective. Collins is not a theologian or an academic, just a born-again believer in Christ who has a sincere heart for lost Catholic souls. The writing is unpolished to a degree and the material begs for professional editing, but every Roman Catholic and evangelical would greatly benefit by reading this book. This isn’t an angry and hateful harangue against Catholicism from a bitter ex-member, but a loving invitation to Catholics to “Come, see a Man” (John 4:29).
Mixing Catholicism with Non-Christian Religions
The Eucharist (Catholic Communion)
Wide Variety in Catholic Beliefs
Who Gave Us the Bible?
Was Peter the Pope?
Reflections on Unpleasant History
The Birth of the Roman Catholic Church
Faith versus Works
The Good Thief
Faith Under Fire
To access a free PDF of “Catholic Concerns” see here.
I usually prefer to read hard copy if I can, so I printed out the PDF double-sided and had it spiral bound at Staples for $6.00.
Today we’re going to take a break from theological discussions and take a trip back to 1966 to review the next Legion of Super-Heroes tale from DC’s Silver Age…
Target – 21 Legionnaires!
Adventure Comics #348, September, 1966
Writer & Layouts: Jim Shooter, Penciller: George Papp
Superboy arrives at Legion headquarters in 30th Century Metropolis to participate in the election of the club’s new leader, Invisible Kid. The team then demonstrates their powers at a charity benefit, which is disrupted by an earthquake caused by the Legion’s clubhouse being ripped from its foundations and abducted by a mysterious giant spaceship. Sun Boy awakens after having been knocked unconscious during the mayhem, but has a case of amnesia and flies away in a confused panic.
A sinister villain, Dr. Regulus, sits at the controls of the rogue spaceship and contemplates his plan to destroy the Legion and “dominate the Universe” by harnessing the power of the sun’s radiation, while on the ground the fugitive Sun Boy unknowingly falls asleep in front of an open radiation source. Will he be killed by the deadly rays?
The Legion tracks down the mammoth spaceship and, once inside, Brainiac 5, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Duo Damsel, Invisible Kid, Phantom Girl, and Superboy are individually vanquished by Regulus’ advanced technology. But the villain’s celebration is cut short when a rejuvenated Sun Boy confronts him, allowing some of the recovered Legionnaires to rejoin the fray. Regulus escapes and the Legion is able to return their clubhouse to its location. Sun Boy then reveals that he originally gained his powers via a failed experiment conducted by Regulus several years previous.
While Jim Shooter’s second Legion saga is notable for revealing Sun Boy’s origins, it’s clear the DC wunderkind was still honing his craft. Dr. Regulus would return to battle the Legion in future installments. Guest artist George Papp’s pencils are decent but no match for the Legions’ regular drawer, Curt Swan. It’s amusing from our 2018 perspective to see all of the mechanical dials and controls in these 30th century portrayals.
Error alert: The title of this story is “Target – 21 Legionnaires,” but the Legion’s roster increased from 21 to 24 members two issues previous in Adventure 346.
Next up: In Adventure 349, young Shooter begins his long string of classic Legion tales with “The Rogue Legionnaire.”
Why I Became a Protestant
By Luis Padrosa
Moody Colportage Library, #240, 1953, 65 pages
Moody Press published over 500 booklets as part of its Colportage Library series including “Why I Became a Protestant” by Luis Padrosa, an ex-Jesuit priest and the founder of the Loyola Institute of Barcelona, Spain. Padrosa testifies that he began reading Protestant literature in order to familiarize himself with the “false doctrines” in an effort to help stamp out Protestant missionary efforts in his locale, but ended up accepting Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone instead through the ministry of the Holy Spirit after reading God’s Word.
In the following chapters, Padrosa compares Catholic doctrine with Scripture:
Necessity of a Visible Church
Mary, Our Mother
Regulations (mass in Latin, eucharistic fasting, confession, celibacy)
The booklet ends with testimonials from the Spanish press regarding the authenticity of Padrosa’s Jesuit credentials followed by his letter of resignation from the Jesuit order.
I have studied many examinations of Catholicism, but Padrosa’s thorough debunking of Catholicism’s interpretation of Matthew 16:18-19 as the basis for its claims for Petrine authority and papal succession is excellent; perhaps the best I have ever read.
While this 1953 booklet is somewhat dated, it touches upon the main issues that still differentiate Catholicism from Biblical Christianity. Order the Kindle version from Amazon here or you can access a free PDF file below:
During Francis’ visit to Chile this past January, the pope committed an incredible blunder by reacting in anger to victims of priest pedophiles who have gone public and referring to them as “slanderers.” Chilean Catholics are livid over the church hierarchy’s cover-up of abusive priests and the pope’s gaffe added fuel to the fire. The Vatican has been in damage control mode ever since.
Last week, the Chilean bishops were summoned to the Vatican (photo above) and Francis accused them of “failing to investigate complaints of abuse, allowing evidence to be destroyed, and covering up for abusive priests by moving them from place to place.” Francis said the systemic failures had left him “perplexed and ashamed.” On Friday, all 34 of the national bishops offered their resignations, an unprecedented occurrance in the history of Romanism. How many resignations will Francis accept? Stay tuned. The takeaway is that Francis needs to throw some bishops under the bus in an attempt to exonerate himself after his misstep. This pedophile scandal has been dogging the Catholic church for twenty years but is uncorrectable because celibacy both attracts and fosters deviancy. One of the commentators on the Catholic radio show I was listening to today stated that it’s well-known that the Chilean Catholic clergy are rife with homosexuals, but that’s no different than here in the U.S.
In addition to dressing down the bishops, Francis met with some of the victims of the abuse in Chile including the main whistle-blower, Juan Carlos Cruz, a self-professed homosexual.
It’s reported that Francis told the man: “Look Juan Carlos, the pope loves you this way. God made you like this and he loves you.”
The statement is contrary to official Catholic teaching, which teaches that homosexual inclinations are unnatural and sinful if pursued.
The conservative Catholic pundits I listened to were quick to point out that the statement was only alleged, but given Francis’ radical comments in the past they hedged their bets and added that the pope’s private conversations are not official teaching and are not binding on anyone. For many conservative Catholics, Francis’ papacy can’t end soon enough. LGBTQ organizations are reacting to the pope’s alleged comments with high praise.
I don’t condone any unlawful destruction, but this news story strikes me as bitterly ironic because the Catholic church in Buffalo that’s mentioned, St. John Kanty’s, has done far worse damage of eternal consequence to all the trusting souls who’ve entered through its doors over the years.
Few Americans are aware of the history of the dreaded Ustasha, the Croatian Catholic fascist militia that collaborated closely with Nazi Germany during World War II. It’s estimated the Ustasha exterminated 30,000 Jews, 29,000 Gypsies, and 500,000 Serbs during the war. A couple of weeks ago in Bleiburg, Austria, Croatian bishops co-sponsored a memorial to Ustasha war dead. Fascist symbols and slogans were in evidence. The Catholic church is also pushing hard to canonize Croatian cardinal, Aloysius Stepinac (d. 1960), who strongly supported the Ustasha during the war. The Catholic church was closely associated with 20th century fascist regimes in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Vichy France, Austria, Belgium, and throughout Pan Latin America.
Pope Francis rendered a non-decision in the German bishops’ debate over intercommunion with Protestants due to the controversy still raging over his lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees. The bottom line is that the liberal German bishops will instruct their priests to administer communion to Protestants, which they’ve already been doing for decades anyway.
The U.S. embassy in Jerusalem opened this week with great pomp and ceremony, but there was no mention of it on Catholic blogs that I could see. I speak from experience when I say Catholics generally don’t place any importance on the Jews being God’s chosen people (although they are currently not in accord with God because they reject Jesus the Messiah) or of God’s promises towards Israel being fulfilled in the future. Unlike evangelicals, Israel’s not even on the radar scope of the average Catholic.
Quite often, disgruntled conservative Catholics like the ones at The Vortex-Church Militant do the heavy lifting for me as in the story above. People are attracted to Catholicism’s “smells and bells,” but once they’re inside, they realize it’s an empty shell.
I grew up during a very tumultuous time for Roman Catholics, during the implementation of the dramatic window dressing changes of Vatican II, and I’d like to share a few memories from that time.
Prior to Vatican II, all Catholic altars had a wooden or carved stone rail around them. The rail signified that the altar, where the priests allegedly changed bread wafers and wine into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ and where surplus consecrated Jesus wafers were stored in the “tabernacle,” was an especially holy area. Just as the “common” Israelites were forbidden from stepping foot on Mt. Sinai or entering into the restricted areas of the Tabernacle and Temple, Catholics were generally not allowed to enter the altar area.
I was an altar boy from fifth through eighth grades and my first couple of years serving were prior to the Vatican II changes. The priests conducted the mass in Latin and the altar boys’ responses were in Latin even though we did not understand one word we were saying. The priests had their backs to the congregation and wooden rails were around the altar. I felt very privileged to be able assist the priests inside the restricted altar area.
Several men officiated as priests at the parish while I was an altar server and all of them struck me as a bit strange compared to my father, uncles, and other adult men I knew, but none more so than “father” Lynch.
The other priests at least made awkward attempts at civility towards us altar boys, but not Lynch. When we entered the church sacristy to prepare for mass, Lynch could barely be bothered to say hello. He never offered a smile. I sensed he had a keen dislike for us (or was he struggling with some other issue?). During the mass liturgy, the priests were required to read passages from the huge altar “missal” (i.e., a liturgical book containing all instructions and texts necessary for the celebration of Mass throughout the year). Lynch was a short, squat fellow and very near-sighted. He would have us boys stand on one of the lower steps leading up to the altar and he would place the huge, heavy book on our heads, not always gently, which he would then read from. It was very humiliating (and physically uncomfortable) to have to stand in front of the congregation with the heavy book on our heads. Lynch enjoyed demeaning us.
When it came time to distribute the Jesus wafers, the supplicants would kneel down along the altar rail and the priests would place the wafer on each person’s tongue while we altar boys walked backward, next to the priest, placing a round “patten” under the chins of the supplicant in order to catch a possible falling Jesus wafer. Lynch would always distribute communion twice as fast as the other priests and we altar boys had a difficult time keeping our balance as we walked backward and tried to properly position the patten under people’s chins in synch with the pace of the frenetic priest.
Vatican II dramatically changed the rubrics of the mass. The mass liturgy was changed to English and priests turned around and faced the congregation. The altar rails were removed so that the congregants could feel like they were more like participants in the ritual rather than just observers. But despite all the window dressing changes, the core doctrines of Catholicism remained. Catholics continue to be taught the false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.
Catholic traditionalists deeply resented the changes wrought by Vatican II and still clamor for the mass to be said in Latin, for the priest to face “ad orientem,” toward the altar, and for the reinstallation of altar rails. In Catholicism, the ritual and ceremony, the shell, has always been the focus rather than the Pearl of Great Price, which is salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Priests are not needed. Altars are not needed. Sacrifice for sin was finished for all time by Jesus Christ at Calvary. Place your trust in Jesus as your Savior by faith alone. Jesus Christ removes all rails and barriers between sinners and God, but you must accept Him as your Savior. Won’t you repent of your sin and place your trust in Him?
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” – Matthew 27:50-51
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” – Ephesians 2:13-14
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16
* “and such like” – for you non-Baptists out there, this phrase means “and similar things.”
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church
By Malachi Martin
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1981, 309 pages
I don’t recall exactly when I had first read “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church,” if I was still a Roman Catholic on my way out or after I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1983 and was looking back? Either way, I remember that the bestseller did make an impression on me and when I stumbled across the title in our library’s database recently, I opted to take it for another spin.
Author Malachi Martin (1921-1999) was a Jesuit priest who ascended the bureaucracy of the Catholic church to become the assistant to one of the church’s most powerful cardinals, but became disenchanted with the direction of the church after Vatican II and left the order to eventually became Catholicism’s most prolific gadfly during the 1980s.
Martin’s premise in this book is that the church made a regrettable “deal with the devil” in consenting to become the official state religion of the Roman Empire. As the church adopted the imperial model and became increasingly institutionalized, the acquisition of worldly wealth and political power took precedence over spiritual matters. The church, in fact, abandoned the simple Gospel of grace for religious legalism and ritualism, all controlled by an increasingly powerful clergy class. Martin presents example after sorry example of popes and cardinals who used any and all means (torture, murder, bribery, military conquest, etc.) to advance their self-interests and counter political and religious opponents. This is all information that was withheld throughout my twelve-year Catholic education.
Martin was not a historian. The book includes no footnotes, bibliography, or index. He also utilized fictional elements such as imaginary faux dialogue between historical characters, but the book is valuable for its insights not found in publications from Catholic sources.
Writing in 1981, Martin prophesied a dismal future for Catholicism, as the liberal factions unleashed at Vatican II seemed at that time to be headed toward dominion over the church, but conservative pope, John Paul II, was able to temporarily forestall the inevitable. The current pope, the pragmatic Francis, is willing to consign certain doctrines to the theological dustbin in order to make the church more inviting and appealing to almost everyone excepting church traditionalists and conservatives.
Books that deal frankly with the darkest aspects of Catholic history are few and far between so “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church” is still an informative read thirty-seven years after its publication.
Postscript: Soviet Communism was still a very viable threat within and without Catholicism when Martin wrote this book in 1981 and so consequently some of his final warnings are no longer pertinent. I’m very familiar with modern Polish history and Martin bit off more than he could chew when he conjectured that Adam Michnik and KOR (Workers’ Defense Committee) were stooges of the Polish Soviets meant to foment dissent as an excuse for the Soviets to eradicate all “legitimate” opposition emanating from the Polish Catholic church (p. 293).
A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon a relatively new book about anti-Catholicism in America (see here). I checked our local library for availability and, while they didn’t have a copy of that particular book, they did have…
Papist Devils: Catholics in America, 1574-1783
By Robert Emmett Curran
The Catholic University of America Press, 2014, 315 pages
As one would expect from a Catholic publishing house, this is a hagiographical history of Catholics in Colonial America, largely focusing on the opposition they faced from the Protestant majority.
The vast majority of Roman Catholics in Colonial America resided in Maryland (named after the “Blessed Virgin”), which received its charter in 1632 through the efforts of George Calvert, 1st Lord Baltimore. The situation for Roman Catholics in early-17th century England was precarious. Various Penal Laws had been enacted to suppress Catholicism. Lord Calvert was a crypto-Catholic who was able to rise to the powerful position of Secretary of State under Catholic-sympathizer, King James I (yes, THAT King James). He resigned his office in order to establish a religious haven for English Catholics in the New World. After the first attempted colony in Newfoundland floundered, Calvert focused his energies on Maryland.
The Maryland colony had an interesting history. The Calvert family ruled the colony in absentia from England as proprietary governors for five generations. Many of the largest landowners of the colony were Catholics, including the celebrated Carroll family. In theory, the Penal Laws of England restricting Catholics were also to apply to the colonies, but in Maryland the laws were often overlooked with a wink. Jesuit priests were brought in to “minister” to the Catholic population and to proselytize Native Americans and Protestants (mainly servants of Catholic families). The rigorousness of the application of Penal Law throughout Maryland’s colonial history often depended on how rigorous the laws were being enforced under a particular monarch in the Motherland.
The protracted French and Indian War (1754-1763) inflamed Protestant passions against the Catholic population with fears they would attempt to collaborate with the antagonistic French Catholic forces. But anti-Catholic passions were somewhat quelled during the American Revolution when the newly-formed United States signed an alliance with Catholic France in 1778. France’s support was pivotal in achieving victory against the British in 1783.
We in 21st century America rightly have no tolerance for religious persecution. Protestant suppression of Catholicism in 17th and 18th century England and Colonial America was certainly unfortunate, but such intolerance had an antecedent in Roman Catholic intolerance. Wherever it had the support of civil governments, the Roman church persecuted non-Catholics, not only in the 17th and 18th centuries, but right up into the 20th century (e.g., Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Mussolini’s Italy, inter-war Poland, Vichy France, Pavelic’s Croatia, Dollfuss’ Austria, Rexist Belgium, and Pan Latin America). Popes issued declarations as late as the end of the 19th century condemning freedom of religion and all democratic forms of government (see here). Was it any wonder that the Protestant colonists feared the Catholic presence?
As would be expected, Georgetown professor, Robert Emmett Curran, makes no mention of Catholicism’s persecution of Protestants in countries where it held sway. In this book, all Catholics are portrayed as honorable victims innocently attempting to practice their religion, while just about all Protestants are predictably characterized as hateful bigots. This book is self-serving, historical myopia that purposely avoids the wider context in order to make its case.
Trivia alert: I was surprised to learn from this book that the “Maryland Jesuits…were among the largest slaveholders” in antebellum America. – p. 284.
Postscript: I can vividly remember the nuns at my Catholic grammar school extolling Lord Baltimore, the Carrolls, and the Maryland Catholics as champions of religious freedom, but they made no mention of the absolute denial of religious freedoms in countries where Catholicism ruled.
Yesterday, the United States officially opened its embassy in Jerusalem (photo above) on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the modern nation of Israel.
President Trump’s decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is highly controversial and sparked criticism and protest throughout the world. The nation of Jordan had controlled East Jerusalem until 1967, when Israel took possession of the entire city during the Six Day War. Palestinians desire to make East Jerusalem the capital of a future, totally independent Palestinian state and that plan has the support of most of the international community.
Despite discussions in previous peace negotiations regarding the future status of East Jerusalem, there is little doubt that Israel will never willingly cede part of its capital to Palestinian/Muslim control.
I’m not one who focuses on endtimes eschatology a great deal, but the transfer of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, especially on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding, strikes me as an act of important spiritual significance.
I noticed that a pair of controversial American pastors were invited by President Trump to address the opening ceremonies at the Jerusalem embassy:
Robert Jeffress led the opening prayer. He’s a TBN regular, although the conservative Southern Baptist pastor is somewhat unusual in that he doesn’t share any of the cable network’s “Word of Faith” and prosperity gospel proclivities. However, Jeffress is probably the prime advocate today for church-state symbiosis. Jeffress gladly took on the mantle of the deceased Jerry Falwell, Sr. in the crusade to “reclaim America for Christ.” Jeffress was at one time openly critical of Roman Catholicism and its false gospel of sacramental grace and merit, but he did a 180-degree about-face (see here) in his efforts to enlist political conservatives of many denominational stripes in the culture war against secularism. Jeffress has been one of President Trump’s most unwavering and vocal supporters.
John Hagee delivered the closing “benediction.” Hagee is also a TBN regular and one who aligns much more closely with the cable network’s heterodoxies. Hagee is a leading proponent of the “Word of Faith” prosperity gospel and specializes in endtimes predictions. In his 2013 bestseller, “Four Blood Moons,” Hagee prophesied that the four lunar eclipses, which took place in 2014 and 2015, would signal the immediate beginning of the endtime apocalypse.
Together, Jeffress and Hagee represent some of the most unfortunate movements within evangelicalism today.