The “apotheosis” of John R. Rice

John R. Rice: Man Sent from God
By Robert L. Sumner
Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1981, 323 pp.

3 Stars

When I was a young Christian back in the early 1980s, the independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) movement was still quite strong. One of the most prominent leaders of the IFB movement was John R. Rice (1895-1980), the editor and publisher of the very influential “Sword of the Lord” weekly newspaper. The first church my wife and I attended after we were saved was an IFB church and I subscribed to the “Sword” for several years. During the pandemic lockdown, I did some reading and research regarding the seamier side of the IFB (more on that below), which then led me to order a used copy of this biography of Rice.

John R. Rice was born near Gainesville, Texas in 1895. His father was a lay preacher and also a member of the Ku Klux Klan, a fact this complimentary biography conveniently omits. Following the death of his mother, John R. Rice accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior at the age of nine. As a young man, he obtained a teaching certificate, taught school, and pursued additional education at Decatur Baptist College and Baylor University. He was called to the ministry in 1920 and completed two years at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Southern Baptist Convention – SBC) in Waco, Texas before becoming an assistant pastor and then pastor. In 1926, Rice felt called to be an evangelist and staged revivals throughout Texas. He became associated with firebrand pastor, J. Frank Norris, of First Baptist Church in Fort Worth and soon was a regular speaker on Norris’s fledgling radio station, KFQB. Norris and Rice left the SBC in 1927 and became independent Baptists.

Rice subsequently planted a church in Dallas in 1932 as an outgrowth of one of his revivals and continued as pastor for seven years while also simultaneously conducting evangelization/revival campaigns. In 1934, he began the “Sword of the Lord” as another ministry. In 1940, he re-entered full-time evangelism and moved the “Sword” facilities to Wheaton, Illinois. The circulation of the paper grew dramatically and Rice galvanized the nationwide independent fundamental Baptist movement with yearly “Sword of the Lord Conferences,” which drew pastors throughout the country to the IFB mission of evangelism and discipleship.

In 1963, Rice moved the “Sword” facilities to Murfreesboro, Tennessee where he continued to lead the burgeoning IFB movement. The circulation of the “Sword” peaked in 1974 with 288,000 subscribers. John R. Rice died in 1980 at the age of eighty-five.

I enjoyed this book even though it’s much more of a gushing hagiography than an objective biography. The author, Robert Sumner, was an employee of Rice’s at the “Sword.” Sumner does delve into some controversy including the feud between Rice and J. Frank Norris involving pre-eminency over Texas independent Baptist fundamentalism, although Rice is portrayed entirely as the victim. Sumner also devotes twenty-five pages to the parting-of-ways between Rice and Billy Graham. It’s a fascinating story, folks. Graham began as a Baptist fundamentalist and was mentored by Rice and two other leaders in the IFB movement; Bob Jones, Sr. and William Bell Riley. But Graham increasingly bridled at the partisan separatism of the IFB camp and began, with some-like minded cohorts, the “New Evangelicalism” movement, which championed accommodation to theological liberalism and ecumenism. Many guessed that Graham left fundamentalism and its restrictions mainly in order to be able to expand his crusade numbers. Sumner deliberately avoids other well-known controversies involving Rice, such as his feud with Bob Jones, Jr. and the fact that some members of his Dallas congregation staged a church coup in the late 1930s because they felt Rice was devoting too much of his time to the “Sword” and evangelization/revival campaigns throughout the country rather than to pastoring.

The IFB movement has declined greatly since the passing of Rice in 1980. The “Sword of the Lord” is still published out of Murfreesboro although the circulation is about one-third of what it was at its height during Rice’s tenure. Rice and the IFB movement did great work for the Lord, but there were also some negatives:

  • There was a tendency within the IFB to “major on the minors,” with certain sins (drinking, smoking, bobbed hair and pants on women, hair below the collar on men, listening to Amy Grant, movie theater attendance, dancing, etc.) being absolute litmus tests for right Christian living. IFB churches were notoriously HEAVY on guilt and light on God’s grace.
  • Pastors within the IFB were put on pedestals and absolutely idolized (and often feared) by their congregations. To be blunt, some of the attitudes and practices at IFB churches with regards to leadership were idolatrous and cultish and led to pastoral authoritarianism and manifold abuses. This gushing, “saintly” portrayal of Rice is an example of how IFB leaders were elevated far beyond Biblical standards. It’s disturbing how God is portrayed in this book as answering EVERY prayer of John R. Rice, EXACTLY as Rice desired, down to the most minute detail. This kind of exaggeration/mythology was characteristic of how pastors were venerated in the IFB movement. I’ll be posting about one particular IFB “superstar” pastor and his abuse of power on Wednesday.
  • Pastors within the competitive IFB and “Sword” network felt compelled to report higher and higher conversion and baptism numbers, leading to innumerable false professions in Christ. The “sinner’s prayer” was carelessly utilized in the relentless competition for numbers.
  • Christian nationalism was a VERY popular theme within the IFB movement.

John R. Rice and the IFB movement no doubt did some great work for the Lord, but there were also many abuses. After being a member of an IFB church for eight years, I finally left in 1991 and was so exasperated by the oppressive legalism and judgmentalism that I walked away from the Lord and didn’t return until twenty-three years later. Praise God for His mercy and patience! I have heard of others who attended heavy-handed IFB churches and likewise experienced the same trauma and burn-out.

Postscript: Some of the “superstar” pastors who contributed to the “Sword of the Lord” back when I was a reader included Jack Hyles, Tom Malone, Tom Wallace, Curtis Hutson, Robert G. Lee, Lee Roberson, W.A. Criswell, Hyman Appleman, Truman Dollar, Bob Gray, Sr., and Jerry Falwell, Sr. Hyles, Dollar, and Gray were later dogged by serious scandals while Falwell was almost completely sidetracked in his ministry by his propagation of Christian American nationalism.

Kazan Redux: Elia Kazan’s Ninth Film; “Man on a Tightrope”

Today, as part of our “Kazan Redux” series, we’re going to re-review director Elia Kazan’s ninth film, “Man on a Tightrope.” I enjoyed re-watching the film for this re-review and appreciate it a bit more each time through. The review below was first posted on February 26, 2017 and has been slightly revised.

capture30Man on a Tightrope
Directed by Elia Kazan and featuring Fredric March, Terry Moore, Gloria Grahame, and Cameron Mitchell
Twentieth Century-Fox, 1953, 105 minutes

4 Stars

Following his friendly testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1952, director Elia Kazan’s reputation was under assault from both sides of the political spectrum. The New York and Hollywood Left were outraged that he had named names of former fellow-communists while the studio heads were concerned about the moviegoing public’s reaction to the news that their leading director was an ex-Red. Fox mogul, Darryl F. Zanuck, convinced Kazan to direct “Man on a Tightrope,” to demonstrate his loyalty to his country. The film was one of several anti-communist propaganda pieces released during the height of the Red Scare. Kazan reluctantly agreed to direct the film, but he made it clear in later interviews that it was definitely not one of his fondest projects.

Plot

Mild-mannered, Karel Cernik (Frederic March), and his broken-down circus struggle to survive in post-war, communist-controlled Czechoslovakia. The state security apparatchiks constantly harass Cernik and the circus looking for “irregularities” and “affronts to the people.” Cernik finally has enough and secretly plots the circus’s escape to West Germany, but the situation is complicated by his wife Zama’s (Gloria Grahame) disdain for him and her very public infidelity, and by his daughter Tereza’s (Terry Moore) attraction to a mysterious new roustabout, Joe Videk (Cameron Mitchell), a possible state spy. When Cernik senses the communists are close to discovering his plan, he sets things in motion and Zama suddenly has a newfound respect for her now-decisive husband. As the circus travels toward the border crossing, it’s revealed that Krofta (Richard Boone), Cernik’s foreman, is actually the state’s spy. Krofta is killed in a struggle, but manages to mortally wound Cernik. The circus successfully crosses the border into West Germany with the corpse of Cernik in tow.

Commentary

This film is based upon the true story of the Circus Brumbach, which escaped from East Germany to Bavaria in 1950. Kazan filmed on location in West Germany and actually used Circus Brumbach for the project. Frederic March had been on the Hollywood blacklist because of his Far Left sympathies, but Kazan used his influence to get him casted. Kazan balanced the playbill by casting the politically-Far Right actor, Adolphe Menjou, as one of the lead security apparatchiks. The pairing of 55-year-old March with 30-year-old, film noir femme fatale, Grahame is a stretch. When Zama goads Cirnik into slapping her and then smiles approvingly because her husband has finally displayed some “manly backbone,” today’s viewers will be quite shocked. Sorry, that won’t fly today. Alex D’Arcy as the cowardly lion tamer and the object of Zama’s unrequited affections provides some comedic relief. The romantic sub-plot involving Cam Mitchell and the constantly overwrought Terry Moore should have been left on the cutting room floor.

I like this movie a little bit more with each viewing. There’s no mistaking that it’s a Red Scare propaganda piece meant to reassure audiences regarding Kazan’s loyalties, but the film has some very good performances (March, Grahame, Menjou, Pat Henning, Paul Hartman) and it’s entertaining to watch how this rag tag (and I mean RAG TAG) circus manages the impossible of escaping to freedom right under the noses of the Czech communist security apparatus. Propaganda piece or not, Eastern Europeans endured unbelievably great hardship under Soviet-communist domination from 1945 until 1989. Liberals still hate Kazan (d. 2003) as the ultimate rat fink, but how were American communists and their sympathetic Leftist fellow travelers able to square their theoretical ideology with the deadly realities of Stalinism and the Iron Curtain?

Trivia alert: Don’t blink or you’ll miss a cameo from Fess “Davy Crockett” Parker as one of the U.S. border guards at the end of the film. Also, the elderly woman who plays Cernik’s mother was actually Mme. Brumbach, the great dame of the actual Circus Brumbach.

“Man on a Tightrope” is one of three of Kazan’s nineteen films still not available as a single DVD. However, it is available on Amazon video streaming and as one of the fifteen films in The Elia Kazan Collection DVD box set. No commentary or any other bonus features were included with the DVD.

Additional thoughts from a believer’s perspective

I thank the Lord I live in a (still) free country although individual freedoms have been gradually eroding here for quite some time. But spiritual freedom in Jesus Christ trumps political freedom every time. The world could never comprehend it, but the apostle Paul, bound in a Roman prison prior to his execution, was the spiritually free man while the Roman emperor (Nero?) was the actual prisoner – to sin. Praise the Lord Jesus Christ for leading believers out of darkness to eternal life!

 

 

Next up: Kazan’s masterpiece, “On the Waterfront”

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 5/30/20

With its coffers running dry of liquid capital, the Vatican can’t reopen its money-making museum (photo above) fast enough. It’s worth noting that the museum’s collection includes a sizeable assortment of semi-erotic paintings and statues of naked men and women, aka Renaissance porn. I think I need to write a future post about how worldly Roman Catholicism has patronized erotic art over the centuries.

Catholic schools were already struggling financially and the COVID-19 pandemic will push many over the edge. At their peak in 1965, the Catholic parochial schools in the U.S. numbered around 13,000, but there are now approximately 6000. That works out to 127 closings per year over the last 55 years. The Catholic grammar school that I attended for eight years (1962-1970) closed back in 1990. Millions upon million of students have passed through the Catholic educational system, but NOT ONE child learned about the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. No, not one.

The writer of this article notes how some young Catholics are desiring to return to the “smells-and-bells-on-steroids,” heavy liturgical formalism of the preconciliar church. At the Second Vatican Council, the RCC tried to make the boring (and ineffectual) mass at least semi-bearable by changing the language of the liturgy from Latin to the vernacular. These young traditionalist crusaders want none of it and desire to return to a language they don’t understand because it seems to them “holier” and more “reverential.” But whether it’s a Latin mass or a “novus ordo” English mass, the effects are still the same; spiritual emptiness.

Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938) was a Polish Catholic nun and “mystic” who claimed Jesus Christ visited and spoke with her often. She originated the “divine mercy chaplet,” which uses the traditional rosary for a different series of rote, repetitious prayers. Ecumenical compromiser, Rick Warren, once confessed that he often prayed along to the divine mercy chaplet that was broadcast on Catholic cable channel, EWTN. Kowalska was “canonized” a “saint” in 2000 and her “feast day,” October 5th, has now been added to the official RCC liturgical calendar.

Churches are beginning to open, but it’s prudent to continue precautions with COVID-19 still out there. There’ve been 104,000 confirmed deaths in the U.S. to date. I see on the evening news that many people have had enough of the restrictions and are getting careless.

Catholics are normally obligated to attend mass every Sunday under threat of eternal damnation, although fewer than 4 in 10 Catholics were attending weekly mass prior to the lockdown. When the coronvirus pandemic first hit, Catholic bishops across the nation granted “dispensations,” allowing Catholics to miss Sunday mass without incurring a mortal sin. Catholic churches are beginning to open, but for the time being Catholics are still able to continue to stay home on Sundays and utilize the coronavirus “dispensation.” This is another one of those Catholic legalistic rabbit holes. Time will tell if the lockdown further eroded Catholics’ motivation to attend the dreary mass liturgy. Catholic prelates emphasize that watching mass via television or streaming does not fulfill the Sunday obligation.

Pope John Paul II is highly revered by conservative Roman Catholics, but as this article points out, the man was a serious enabler of pedophile prelates and priests.

Bill Johnson of Bethel church in Redding, CA leads thousands astray with his “signs and wonders” quackery and now Francis Chan is following in his footsteps. Why didn’t these two charlatans fly to New York City at the start of the C-19 pandemic and heal every infected person?

Pastor Leonardo De Chirico of the Reformanda Initiative presents good reasons why we must reach out to Roman Catholics with the Gospel.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist – Halfway Index

We began this 50-part, “Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist,” weekly series way back on December 6th, and because we’ve reached the halfway point, I thought we’d take a break with this index of the 25 topics we’ve addressed so far. I’ll also post a complete index after we finish the series. I really appreciate everyone’s support and encouragement up to this point. Click on each topic listed below to access the post.

Church Hierarchy & Authority

#1: “James Led the Council”

#2: “No Other Foundation but Jesus”

#3: “Paul Rebuked Peter”

#4: “Where Two or Three Are Gathered”

#5: “All Are One in Christ”

#6: “The Anointing Teaches Us”

Scripture & Tradition

#7: “Traditions Nullify God’s Word”

#8: “Scripture Makes the Man of God Complete”

#9: “The Noble Bereans”

#10: “Don’t Go Beyond What is Written”

#11: “Don’t Add to God’s Word”

Salvation

#12: “We Are Justified All At Once”

#13: “Not Because of Works”

#14: “Justified by Faith, Not Works”

#15: “We Know That We Have Eternal Life”

#16: “No One Can Snatch Us”

#17: “Sanctified For All Time”

Sacraments

#18: “Up Out of the Water”

#19: “Believer’s Baptism”

#20: “Cornelius Received the Spirit First”

#21: “Not to Baptize but to Preach”

#22: “God Will Cut Off the Person Who Eats Blood”

#23: “Do This in Remembrance”

#24: “Once and For All”

#25: “The Fruit of the Vine”

 

Next up: “God Alone Can Forgive Sins”

Throwback Thursday: Rob Zins and a Christian Witness to Roman Catholics

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on December 16, 2015 and has been revised.

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Evangelical minister, Rob Zins (above photo, right), has been reaching out to Roman Catholics with the Gospel of Jesus Christ for many years through his ministry, CWRC – A Christian Witness to Roman Catholics. See the organization’s website here.

Zins has written a couple of excellent books on Roman Catholicism that I’ll review very briefly below:

Romanism: The Relentless Roman Catholic Assault on the Gospel of Jesus Christ
White Horse Publications, 1995, 277 pp.

5 Stars

Zins answers the sophistry of Catholic apologist, Karl Keating, and his book, “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” (1988), by comparing the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone with Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit, requiring obedience to the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules to attain Heaven. I also enjoyed Zins’ stinging critique of Chuck Colson’s dangerously misguided “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” ecumenical project.

On the Edge of Apostasy: The Evangelical Romance with Rome
White Horse Publications, 1998, 285 pp.

5 Stars

Zins does a masterful job of examining the regrettable courtship with Rome pursued by some evangelicals. The Catholic church continues to affirm all of its unscriptural, Tridentine doctrines, but some accommodating, compromising evangelicals increasingly turn to Catholics as co-belligerents and fellow “Christians” in the fight against the erosion of social morality, betraying the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This book is largely a critique of “Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences” (1995) by Roman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie, two evangelical theologians who conclude the Catholic church is a Christian entity despite its many anti-Biblical doctrines. Zins effectively argues that, because Rome teaches salvation by (sacramental) “grace” through “faith” (in its sacramental system) PLUS works, along with many other heresies, it cannot possibly be considered a Christian church. Amazingly, Geisler and MacKenzie readily concede that Catholicism teaches works-righteousness justification in opposition to the Gospel, but STILL conclude Romanism is Christian! Absolutely incredible! Evangelical compromisers cite “Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences” as one of their favorite resources regarding evangelical-Catholic ecumenism. The damage done to Christian witness by Geisler, MacKenzie, and other Gospel-compromising, Judas theologians, pastors, and para-church leaders cannot be overstated. Christian leaders who refuse to join in the betrayal of the Gospel are finding themselves increasingly marginalized within “mainstream” evangelicalism. See last week’s “Throwback Thursday” post about Geisler’s and MacKenzie’s book here.

Used copies of both of Zins’ books are available at Amazon.com. See my Books tab here for over 360 books that compare Roman Catholicism to God’s Word.

There are also MANY excellent videos available on You Tube featuring Rob Zins speaking about Roman Catholicism or debating Catholic apologists.

Please pray for Rob Zins and A Christian Witness to Roman Catholics and pray that young evangelicals will respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading and take up the call to reach Roman Catholics for Jesus Christ.

Additional resources regarding Roman Catholicism can be found on my Links tab here.

Reading about Martyn Lloyd-Jones during lockdown

Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life: Doctrine and Life as Fuel and Fire
By Jason Meyer
Crossway, 2018, 274 pp.

4 Stars

During the COVID-19 lockdown, I was determined to read something written by or about Martyn Lloyd-Jones so I downloaded this book to my Kindle.

Welsh-English pastor, Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981), is still widely admired as one of the most influential evangelical ministers of the 20th century. Pastor and author, Jason Meyer, does a nice job of summarizing MLJ’s teaching in regards to the major doctrines of Christianity and their significance and practical application in the life of a believer. The Doctor (MLJ was a licensed physician prior to becoming a pastor) was an exponent of strong, solid doctrine, but also believed that right doctrine and belief should lead to obedience to the Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit and to subjective love, joy, and peace in the Lord. Loyd-Jones asked, what good is it having a head full of doctrine, but not knowing the joy of the Lord?

MLJ was involved in some controversy. In the first appendice, the author briefly touches upon Loyd-Jones’ teaching on a baptism of the Holy Spirit after conversion, which some mistakenly assume was akin to Pentecostal practices, but was actually a type of subjective experience from the Spirit whereby the believer understood/experienced the assurance of salvation. Author, Jason Meyer, presents his objections to MLJ’s teaching on this point. In the second appendice, Meyer briefly examines the Secession Controversy of 1966 in which MLJ challenged evangelical pastors in Great Britain to separate from ecumenical compromise. As an ex-Catholic who observes many of today’s evangelical theologians, pastors, and para-church leaders bending the knee to Rome, I admire Lloyd-Jones for his strong stand in defense of the Gospel of grace and against ecumenism.

It’s ironic that respected evangelical theologian and pastor, Sinclair Ferguson, in the introduction to this book, inappropriately included a very complimentary reference to Roman Catholic author and apologist, G.K. Chesterton, and his “Father Brown” series. Also, I noticed that the editor of this “Theologians on the Christian Life” series for Crossway Publishing is Stephen J. Nichols who wrote a children’s book, which included Jesuit co-founder and counter-Reformer, Francis Xavier, as one of “heroes of the Christian faith” (see here). MLJ would not have been pleased with either of those accommodations to error.

Contents:

Part 1 – The Doctor

  • The Life and Times of Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Part 2 – The Doctor’s Doctrine

  • God the Father Almighty: The Person and Work of the Father
  • Christ and Him Crucified: The Person and Work of Christ
  • Power from on High: The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
  • Redemption Applied: Justification and Sanctification
  • The Church: The Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ
  • The Last Thing: Death and the Glory

Part 3 – The Christian Life

  • The Word
  • Prayer
  • Faith Working through Love
  • Life in the Spirit at Home and Work
  • Why Are You So Downcast? Spiritual Depression
  • The Acid Test: The Hope of Glory

Part 4 – The Doctor’s Legacy

  • The Legacy of Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Appendix 1: The Charismatic Controversy

Appendix 2: The Secession Controversy

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday sermon series, #33

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

First, we have Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching about “For A Thousand Tongues To Sing” and Moses’s song of praise and thankfulness to God in Exodus 15:1-18 for Israel’s deliverance and how we should also praise and thank God for His deliverance from the bondage of sin through Jesus Christ.

Next, Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City exhorts believers to actually “Walk the Walk” of faith for our own sake as well for the the sake of others.

Both of these sermons were delivered on Sunday, May 10th.

Pastor Roger Copeland – For A Thousand Tongues To Sing

 

Pastor Cody Andrews – Walk the Walk

Love means telling the truth AND attacking the false.

The popular idols of our post-modern era are tolerance, plurality, and relativism. Tolerance and plurality can be excellent guiding principles in some circumstances, but NOT when essential truth is at stake.

We have only one authority, God’s Word, and only one Gospel; the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The exclusiveness of the genuine Gospel is contrary to the inclusivity and relativism (i.e., “Whatever works for you”) that are venerated throughout society today.

The idols of tolerance, plurality, and relativism have also made inroads into evangelicalism. Seeker-friendly, mega-church preachers deliver ear-pleasing messages about God’s “love” that are based on a few selected Scriptures and human emotions rather than on God’s entire Word. Many/most Christians recoil at warnings about false churches and false teaching. It strikes them as just soooooooo “negative.” Ministries that expose the false teaching of Roman Catholicism and other heretical sects strike them as repugnant, distasteful, and unloving.

The New Testament actually has a lot to say about false teachers and false doctrine. Believers are commanded not to accommodate false teachers:

“For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” – 2 Corinthians 11:4

We must not only avoid accommodation and compromise with false teachers, we must expose them:

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” – Ephesians 5:11.

As I was googling for an image of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones for a different post recently, I came upon the featured photo and excellent quote. The quote is worth repeating:

“Do not be misled by the spurious notion of love. We must not only assert the truth; we must attack the evil and the false.” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Thank you, Doctor. My thought exactly.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 5/23/20

This story about a Michigan Catholic priest squirting parishioners’ Easter baskets with “holy water” as they drove by in their cars (photo above) is sadly comical and disturbing. Catholics will go to great lengths to adhere to superstitious rituals, even allowing a priest to squirt them. This is just WRONG on multiple levels.

For the past couple of weeks, media sources have posted stories on the Roman Catholic church’s looming financial crisis.

Catholics devote the month of May to Mary and there’s been many stories in the Catholic press the last three weeks about seeking Mary’s intercession for relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. Catholics deny they worship Mary and then turn around and do exactly that.

This writer speculates that Mel Gibson’s upcoming “The Passion of the Christ” sequel could possibly alienate the director’s undiscerning evangelical fans, depending on how he handles the issue of what Jesus Christ did while His body was in the grave. There’s some debate over this topic although I personally believe Jesus descended into Sheol/Abraham’s Bosom to set the Old Testament saints free. See here. However, from the trailer it’s clear the movie will be more about Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ than about anything else. Either way, I don’t need to get my theology from traditionalist Roman Catholic, Mel Gibson, who unabashedly propagated the Catholic doctrine of Mary as co-redemptrix in “The Passion of the Christ.”

I don’t get the God TV channel, but I did a little research and found out it’s filled with prosperity gospel pickpockets just like TBN.

Millennials aren’t attracted to “square,” old-school prosperity gospel shysters like Copeland, Meyer, and Osteen. The young folks go for new-school hipster shysters like Judah Smith, Chad Veach, Rich Wilkerson Jr., Carl Lentz, and Steven Furtick.

Many aren’t aware of how Catholic fascism was the rage in interwar Europe. In addition to Ante Pavelić’s murderous Ustase in Croatia were the following:

  • Francisco Franco and Nacionalcatolicismo in Spain
  • Antonio Salazar and Estado Novo in Portugal
  • Benito Mussolini and the Partito Popolare Italiano in Italy
  • Engelbert Dollfuss and Austrofacism in Austria
  • Jozef Tiso and the Slovak People’s Party in the Slovak Republic
  • Leon Degrelle and the Rexists in Belgium
  • Philippe Petain and Vichy France
  • The Endecja and post-Pilsudski Sanacja in Poland

 

Catholics have made an industry out of denying pope Pius XII’s enablement of the Holocaust. But now that the Vatican archives have been unsealed, some of the truth about Pius XII’s calculated silence and inaction may come to light. Renowned historian, Hubert Wolf, who gave us an unflinching look at convent debauchery in “The Nuns of Sant’Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent in Scandal,” had already uncovered some damning evidence before the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted his research.

Christians are anxious to get back to public worship and churches are beginning to reopen, but safety precautions are still necessary.

The truth is Osteen rarely opened his Bible BEFORE the pandemic.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #25: “The Fruit of the Vine”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his section on Sacraments and the specific topic of the sacrifice of the mass and the eucharist as he counters evangelical Protestants’ arguments that Jesus Christ referred to the wine at the Last Supper as “The Fruit of the Vine” rather than His blood.

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The Roman Catholic church teaches that at the mass its priests change bread wafers and wine into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ to be offered up as a sacrifice for the sins of the congregants. Catholics call this change transubstantiation. The RCC bases its teaching on literal interpretations of John 6 and the Last Supper accounts in the four gospels. Below is the passage from Matthew 26:26-28 in which Jesus refers to the bread and wine as His body and blood:

“26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Catholics interpret this passage to mean that Jesus changed the bread and wine into His actual body and blood. Evangelical Protestants, in contrast, believe Jesus is presenting the bread and wine elements as symbols of His impending death. As Broussard points out, evangelical Protestants believe they are able to refute a literal interpretation of this passage with the very next verse:

29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

If the liquid in Jesus’s cup was His transubstantiated blood, Protestants ask, then why does He refer to it as “fruit of the vine” in verse 29?

Matthew 26:29 is a difficult roadblock for Catholic apologists and Broussard attempts to circumvent it with four spurious rejoinders:

Firstly, he notes that while Matthew and Mark (14:22-25) place the “fruit of the vine” phrase after the alleged consecration/transformation in their Last Supper accounts, Luke (22:14-20) records it before. He states that Luke wrote the sequence correctly while Matthew and Mark were not concerned with the correct sequence.

Secondly, Broussard suggests Jesus was using phenomenological language in Matthew 26:29 rather than literal language, meaning He was referencing appearance rather than reality. Broussard presents examples in the Bible including those which refer to dead people as “sleeping” (John 11:11, 1 Thessalonians 4:15).

Thirdly, Broussard posits that Jesus was describing the contents of the cup/chalice in its prior state, much the same way that Aaron’s “staff” is described in Exodus 7:12 as devouring the “staffs” of the Egyptian magicians after they had changed to snakes.

Lastly, Broussard proposes that Jesus is not so much talking about the contents of the cup/chalice as He is prophesying of a future event in which He’ll drink wine (the sour wine on the cross or a post-Resurrection meal with the apostles or at the Heavenly banquet).

Okay, let’s now respond to Broussard.

The reader’s head is purposely meant to be spinning after Broussard’s arbitrary sophistry. He can’t provide a solid rebuttal, so he instead dazzles the reader with…four flimsy “possibilities.”

I could attempt to respond to Broussard’s “grasping at straws,” but I’m inclined instead to point the reader to Paul’s description of the Last Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:23-28:

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

Like Matthew and Mark, Paul refers to one of the elements, bread in this case, as bread AFTER the alleged consecration/transformation. Believers are certainly to reverence the communion elements as symbols of our Lord’s body and blood as Paul instructs, but we do not worship the elements as the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ as Catholics do. Nowhere in New Testament do we read of the apostles or members of the church worshiping the communion elements the way Roman Catholics do.

A few weeks ago, we discussed how the Catholic literal interpretation of “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” (John 6:54) in conjunction with Catholic transubstantiation and consuming the Jesus wafer as the means to salvation is absolutely untenable (see here). Believing/trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone is the way to salvation, NOT physically eating a bread wafer!

Next: Half-time hiatus