Coming soon to a Protestant church near you: the “Ecumenical Rite of Mass”

If you’re at point A and you want to get to point B, what must you do to achieve your goal?

The Catholic church has been in protracted discussions with several Protestant groups for decades, trying to find an acceptable pathway to reunion. Pope Francis’s ingenious sleight of hand in last year’s “Amoris Laetitia” document, which subtly reversed infallible dogma and opened the door to communion for Catholic remarrieds, prompted liberal German cardinal, Walter Kasper, to anticipate hopefully that the next papal document would allow “shared Eucharistic communion” with Protestants (Avvenire, December 10, 2016).

But what exactly would the steps be to “shared Eucharistic communion”? Differences would have to be overcome. Protestants, for the most part, believe the elements of the Lord’s Supper, bread and wine/grape juice, symbolize the body and blood of Jesus Christ while Catholicism teaches its priests transform the bread and wine into the literal body and blood of Christ. But some Protestant views on communion are closer to Catholicism’s than others. While Anglicans and Lutherans don’t believe in the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, the literal changing of the elements, they do believe in the “real presence” of Christ in the elements, what they term as “consubstantiation.” It would make sense that Catholicism would initially target those two denominations for shared communion.

The news article below from a Catholic source reports of rumors that the Vatican is working with representatives of the Anglican church and liberal Lutheranism to create an “Ecumenical Rite of Mass” that would be acceptable to all three groups. Portions of the rite would be said in silence by the respective parties in order to accommodate the differences in belief. The article points out that cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, “a close collaborator of pope Francis and currently the President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts,” has already primed the pump by suggesting the sacraments may be more malleable than previously taught. Watch as Francis works more of his magic.

Ecumenism is making deep inroads into evangelicalism. Some pastors and para-church leaders now openly embrace Catholicism as a Christian church EVEN THOUGH Rome still teaches the same false gospel of sacramental grace and merit that it has always taught. Neither Catholics or evangelicals benefit by the muddying of the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Ecumenism will advance. An “ecumenical rite of mass” is certainly in the works and will come about.

Lord Jesus, come quickly!


Vatican reportedly working on “Ecumenical Rite of Mass” for joint worship with Protestants
https://catholiccitizens.org/news/71788/vatican-reportedly-working-ecumenical-rite-mass-joint-worship-protestants/

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup – News & Views – 6/24/17

Some may consider the picture of pope Francis photoshopped into the Godfather to be a bit much, but I thought it was appropriate for the first two stories:

For centuries, organized crime was the great benefactor of Catholicism as blood money poured into church coffers. The Mafia and the church once fit together like hand in glove. When pressed, Catholic spokespersons said of Mafia goons and labor union thugs, “We don’t ask them about their business, and they don’t ask us about ours.” Mafia dons were often pious churchmen and their weddings and funerals were officiated by leading prelates. Mafia killers were buried without a second thought in blessed Catholic cemeteries next to pedophile priests, while unbaptized babies, divorced remarrieds, and psychologically-disturbed suicide victims were barred. As the Mafia slides into obscurity, this “consideration” is far too little, way too late.

And while we’re speaking about organized crime, there was the papacy of pope Alexander VI – Rodrigo de Borja – who ruled from 1492 to 1503. The ABSOLUTE corruption of Rome under Borja and the aftermath hastened the rise of Luther and the other 16th-century Reformers through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I’m always encouraged when I read stories about Catholics buying Bibles and reading them. Hopefully, they’ll soften their hearts, accept Christ, and come out of religious legalism. But the fact remains that the “one true church” discouraged personal Bible reading and study for centuries. Catholic defenders claim their church gave the world the Bible and yet the church denied it to everyone but their clergy. If you read the Bible with an open heart and the Lord’s enlightenment you’ll understand why that was the case.

If you’ve been following Catholic news reports as I have this month – LGBTQ Pride Month – you’ve witnessed an overwhelming number of stories dealing with the Catholic church’s increasing acceptance of “alternative” lifestyles, not at the Vatican level but at the diocesan and parish levels.

Who would have thought Francis would be able to line up the Lutherans, Charismatics, and Pentecostals a lot more easily than the Eastern Orthodox. But the Patriarchs have long memories. They’re still smarting over the sacking of Constantinople by the infallible pope’s armies of the Fourth Crusade in 1204. Too bad most Protestants have forgotten the past.

The four traditionalist cardinals – Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Burke and Joachim Meisner – are once again demanding that Francis clarify his ambiguous teaching in “Amoris Laetitia” regarding communion for remarrieds. Francis ingeniously, yes, INGENIOUSLY, circumvented previously “infallible” dogma via an obscure footnote in an effort to recover alienated remarrieds who were previously barred from communion. But the defenders of Wojtyla/Ratzinger-style ecclesiastical conservatism aren’t laying down without a fight. Oh, and Catholics are so comforted to know they are guided by an infallible, unified Magisterium?

Contemplating the level of corruption inside the Catholic church that enabled a murderous pedophile like father Joseph Maskell to die a free man, this ex-priest has nothing good to say. See my review of “The Keepers” here.

I’m actually encouraged by these continuing “pot shots” at Luther from the ultra-traditionalist Catholic website, Church Militant. They don’t get it. Luther would be the first to admit, it wasn’t about him and a religious institution, it was about Jesus Christ and the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Few contemporary Catholics relate to this type of pre-Vatican II militancy anymore. Eighty-percent of American Catholics can’t be bothered with attending obligatory mass every Sunday.

Imagine Roman Catholic crucifixes hanging in U.S. public school classrooms? That’s the case in Italy and in at least one other European “Catholic country” that I’m aware of; Poland. I obviously don’t agree with atheists on a lot of things but sponsorship of a particular religion by a tax-supported government institution in a democracy is totally untenable.

…And finally, for all my fellow Baptists out there, here’s a little fun from the Babylon Bee at our expense.

Solving the “Willis Weatherford” Caper

I thought some might enjoy this very unusual tale of how and why I began this blog two years ago, so here goes:

During my “prodigal” years away from the Lord, I attempted to fill my spiritual emptiness by reading and posting reviews of books on Amazon; mostly historical non-fiction dealing with Poland and Polish-Jewish relations. I continued posting reviews after I returned to the Lord but the books that I was reading after my “homecoming” were mostly related to Christianity. Among the books I reviewed was one which criticized the mixing of Christianity with nationalism, a topic dear to my heart as readers of this blog are aware. But mainly I reviewed books which examined Catholicism, including *Norman Geisler’s disappointing ecumenical treatise, “Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences.”

One day the pastor of our Southern Baptist church and I were discussing Christian nationalism and I mentioned the book referred to above. A short time later I started receiving rebuttal comments on my review of Geisler’s book from a “Willis Weatherford” who used words and phrases that were uncannily similar to what I was accustomed to hearing from our pastor. I immediately suspected the pastor had gone to Amazon to check out the Christian nationalism book, saw my review, and followed my profile to the Geisler review. After I mentioned to “Willis Weatherford” that his writing was oddly similar to our pastor’s phraseology, the comments stopped. Out of curiosity, I googled “Willis Weatherford” and discovered the gentleman is widely revered as a Christian folk hero down in Tennessee and North Carolina where our pastor grew up and attended seminary. But nothing was ever said between the pastor and I about this episode because I wasn’t absolutely sure of my suspicions.

Our pastor’s ecumenical attitude regarding Catholicism was very much in line with Geisler’s. Over the course of a year he had approvingly referred to such notable Catholics as Thomas Aquinas, Blaise Pascal, G.K. Chesterton, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Peter Kreeft, all of which was becoming increasingly problematic for me. When I confronted him about his admiration for Aquinas, the pastor quickly brushed aside my objections.

Several months later, I was involved with the church’s name change committee and when there was a need for a lengthy article to be written, the pastor immediately piped up, “Give it to Tom, he likes to write.” Wow. One of the deacons, a close friend of the pastor, then turned to me and said something to the effect of, “You like to write so much, you ought to start a blog.” Double wow. I sat there with a knowing smile on my face. The thing was I had NEVER mentioned my Amazon reviews to either one of those guys, thus confirming my suspicions.

But I still didn’t confront the pastor with the “Willis Weatherford” incident because I was already anticipating leaving the church due to his ecumenism (as well as a few other reasons). But the deacon’s comment is what gave me the motivation to eventually start this blog. A month after we left the church, excatholic4christ was born. It had become very clear to me after one year in that church that another voice was needed warning against ecumenism with Rome and inviting Catholics to accept Christ.

If anyone is interested in reading the exchange between “Willis Weatherford” and myself regarding the ecumenical compromise of Norman Geisler and others, I’ve posted it in the comments section.

*Ecumenical theologian, Norman Geisler, has mentored notable apologists, Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, and Lee Strobel, who also espouse ecumenism with Rome.

“Gregorian masses” – just more religious calculus

In the interest of thoroughness I’d like to elaborate a bit on a previous post in which I referred to “Gregorian masses” (see here). I usually try to pursue the rationale behind Catholic rituals and ceremonies beyond the superficial to their self-refuting conclusions but for some reason I failed to carry forward my argument regarding Gregorian masses to its finality.

Briefly, Catholics are taught they must spend an indeterminate amount of time in “purgatory” to be cleansed from the guilt of “venial” (minor) sins and to pay the penalty for any remaining temporal punishment for “mortal” (major) sins already forgiven by a priest. Catholic theologians once taught the flames of purgatory were as excruciating as those in Hell but contemporary teaching now tends toward viewing purgatory as more of a way-station where deep-longing has replaced suffering.

According to Catholic theology, time in purgatory may be shortened by receiving “indulgences” from the church. “Plenary” (full) indulgences pardon all of the punishment/cleansing due in purgatory up to the point of reception while “partial” indulgences remove only an indeterminate portion. Indulgences may be applied to oneself or to deceased loved ones in accordance with official guidelines.

Are you still with me? The vast majority of Roman Catholics could not explain their church’s teaching on indulgences.

Catholics are taught that individual masses offered up for the deceased souls in purgatory will shorten their stay, although no one can say for how long. The suggested “stipend” for a mass intention is $10-$15. A tradition arose in the 6th century which claimed that thirty masses offered for a deceased person over thirty consecutive days, termed “Gregorian masses,” would be sure to release a soul from purgatory. See here. But the tradition stipulates the thirty masses cannot be said intermittently. They MUST be said over the course of thirty consecutive days for the plenary indulgence to be granted. The suggested “offering” for this series of masses ranges from $150-$300 depending on the priest or monastery a person deals with.

Okay, so now we finally get to carry this ritual to its illogical conclusion as I should have done initially.

Let’s just suppose a pious Catholic named Joe pays…er…I mean, contributes $300 to his parish priest to offer up thirty consecutive masses for the soul of his deceased mother who may or may not be in purgatory. The priest subsequently says twenty-nine masses over the course of twenty-nine consecutive days for the soul of the mother. But on the twenty-ninth day, immediately following mass, a flash fire destroys the church, killing both the priest and Joe. The result? The thirtieth and final Gregorian mass in the series was never conducted. So what is the status of Joe’s mother? Must she remain in purgatory as the Gregorian mass tradition stipulates since the series was not completed or will her remaining time in purgatory be pro-rated because of the 29 masses that were said?

And let’s not forget about the suffering soul in purgatory whose relatives are too poor or too cheap to shell out $300 to the priest for Gregorian masses. What about him? Why do the wealthy receive preferential treatment?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) does not mention Gregorian masses so this tradition is NOT an official teaching of the church although it has very wide acceptance. If you google “Gregorian mass” you’ll see many advertisements from monasteries offering this service. Why doesn’t the infallible pope weigh in on whether this popular tradition of thirty consecutive masses actually releases a soul from purgatory or not?

Catholics will charge that I’m being outrageously petty here for the sake of argument but, no, if you build a legalistic religious system, you must account for all contingencies. Catholic rituals, ceremonies, and traditions are refuted by logic and God’s Word.

I’m so grateful my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, released me from the chains of Catholic legalism and ritualism. Jesus paid the penalty for ALL of my sins on the cross.

Accept Jesus as your Savior by faith alone and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” – Psalm 103:12


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

A regrettable decision to “dialogue” with spiritually deadly error

Thanks to Chris at Wings of the Wind for his indirect contributions to this post.

In my last “Weekend Roundup” post, I commented on a recent “dialogue” session held in Idaho featuring evangelical and Mormon apologists. The purpose of that dialogue was to promote understanding between the two “parties” and find common ground. Argh! I’m definitely of the opinion that evangelical apologists should debate false religionists rather than dialogue with them. Accommodation and cooperation with error are slippery slopes that always lead to compromise and betrayal of the Gospel. Try to imagine the apostle Paul endeavoring to dialogue with the priests of 1st-century Roman paganism in order to benefit “mutual understanding and respect.” Imagine, if you can, Charles Spurgeon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John R. Rice, or James R. White having dialogue sessions with clerics of false religions. Stop the tape! James R. White? I should definitely rewind that statement in light of recent events.

I truly appreciate the ministry of evangelical apologist, James R. White. He’s done some excellent work examining Roman Catholicism and other non-Christian groups. I have favorably reviewed several of his books on this blog. Where other popular apologists have accommodated and compromised, White has stood firmly on the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. I can’t think of another apologist who has engaged in more debates with false religionists than James White. There are those who have criticized White for his sometimes brash approach but perhaps a debater needs a bit of a thick skin.

This past January, White inexplicably chose to hold two dialogue sessions with Dr. Yasir Qadhi, “one of the most influential conservative clerics in American Islam.” One of the sessions was held at an evangelical church and the other at a mosque. The purpose of the project was to increase understanding between Christians and Muslims. It appears that one of the specific goals of the dialogues was to convince the Christian audience that the extremist views of Al-Qaeda and ISIS are not representative of the majority of Muslims in this country.

Dr. White is currently catching a lot of flak from some concerned Christians for organizing the dialogue sessions with Dr. Qadhi. They wonder why a Muslim apologist was allowed to promote Islam in a church setting. They wonder why White felt obligated to help Muslims counter the general public’s negative perception of Islam due to jihadist terrorism. Is that White’s responsibility?

I believe Christian apologists should be debating false religionists, not dialoguing with them. Certainly, individual Christians “dialogue” all the time with unsaved friends, family, neighbors, and acquaintances in order to ultimately lead them to salvation in Jesus Christ. But dialoguing with clerics of false religions in front of audiences in an effort to “increase mutual understanding and respect” is definitely not the mission of apologists of the Gospel. Despite this recent breach of prudence, I honestly don’t believe James White would participate in a dialogue session with Roman Catholic clerics. How then did he see clear to organizing friendly dialogue sessions with a Muslim cleric?

I believe Dr. White made a mistake in this case, a rather large one. But nobody’s perfect. We all have spiritual blind spots. We must pray for Dr. White as he deals with the repercussions of his regrettable choice. Unfortunately but predictably, some of the objections to Dr. White’s misjudgment are being posted on the internet in the form of ad hominem attacks.

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


Christian Muslim Dialogue Pt.1 | Dr. James White & Dr. Yasir Qadhi

Christian Muslim Dialogue Pt.2 | Dr. James White & Dr. Yasir Qadhi

White’s defense of his dialogues with Yasir Qadhi begins at the 27:50 mark of the video below:
https://www.aomin.org/aoblog/2017/06/19/epiphanius-bodily-assumption-facts-observations-continued-misrepresentations-yasir-qadhi-dialogue/

♫ …It was FIFTY years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play… ♫

The 1960s was an interesting period to grow up in as society was in major flux. Throughout the decade, Walter Cronkite reported on civil rights battles, Vietnam, the rising youth culture and drugs, the peace movement, the beginning of the fight for women’s rights, the growing awareness of the environment, the dawn of computer technology, etc. Young people were rapidly losing faith in traditional institutions and were turning elsewhere for answers.

Because of my five older sisters’ love of The Beatles, I constantly heard the group’s music on the family stereo from 1964 until the end of the decade. Every time a new Beatles album came out it would be played over, and over, and over again until we all knew the words of every song by heart.

I recently watched a PBS special on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” released in 1967. The album was a revolutionary recording at the time with its pioneering studio gimmickry. It was the first LP album cover which included the song lyrics and we were all transfixed by “heavy” wisdom of the far-out Beatles.

Jim McGuinn of The Byrds and a Beatles contemporary proclaimed in 1966, “Lord Buckley (comedic hipster) said that the entertainers now are the new clergy.”

Institutional religion appeared as passé and the rock and roll troubadours seemed to have all the answers. “Sex, drugs, and rock and roll” was the new religion of the young and rock concerts were the new churches. Albums like “Sgt. Pepper” were the new bibles.

John Lennon of the Beatles went even farther that same year when he declared, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that. I’m right and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first, rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”

Lennon was right in some respects. Cultural (c)hristianity, the kind Lennon was familiar with, has all but disappeared in Europe and is declining in the U.S. But the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone continues to go out into the world.

Jim McGuinn changed his first name to Roger in 1967 as part of his initiation into an Eastern religion. But after hitting rock-bottom after years of heavy drug use, McGuinn accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior in 1977.

The Beatles’ partnership was formally dissolved in 1975 after five years of bitter personal and legal acrimony. I guess the lads needed more than love after all. John Lennon was murdered by an insane fan in 1980 and his Beatles-mate, George Harrison, died of lung cancer in 2001.

People are still chasing after something to fill the spiritual vacuum in their soul. Jesus Christ is the ONLY solid Rock, yesterday, today, and forever!

“Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.” – Acts 17:21

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads and Granddads out there!

I’m grateful for my Dad who passed away two years ago. Our relationship was a mixed bag as is the case with many fathers and sons. Dads, don’t push your sons too hard.

I’m very grateful for my wife and our two sons and their families which include our three grandchildren. And I’m so grateful for my Heavenly Father, for Christ my Savior, and for the Holy Spirit who indwells and seals me.

Our oldest son who lives here in town is coming over for dinner this afternoon with our two granddaughters and I’ll also be looking forward to a phone call from our other son stationed down in Texas. I hope all you Dads out there have an enjoyable day with your loved ones! Family is a great gift.

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” – Romans 8:14-16