Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series, #190

Today, in our ongoing “Truth from Arkansas” series, we’re featuring two new sermons from the brethren down under.

First, we have Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching from 1 Samuel 1 on “A Faithful Mother.”

Next, we have Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaching on “Mother’s Day.”

Both of these sermons were delivered on Sunday, May 14th.

Pastor Roger Copeland – A Faithful Mother

Pastor Cody Andrews – Mother’s Day

Reformanda Initiative Podcast #33*: Faith and Reason

Welcome to this week’s installment of our Reformanda Initiative podcast series! I’m excited to present the ministry of Dr. Leonardo De Chirico and his associates at Reformanda Initiative as they examine Roman Catholic theology in order to inform and equip evangelicals.

Episode #33: Faith and Reason

Show Notes

In this episode we discuss Dr. De Chirico’s next Vatican File, #185, which will provide an evangelical analysis of the late Pope John Paul II’s important encyclical letter, Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason) and help evangelicals better understand how to think through the relationship between faith and reason.

My Comments

What is the relationship between faith and reason? Many have pondered this question. Roman Catholicism teaches that the natural man’s reasoning is only impaired or “wounded” rather than being completely depraved by sin and that he has the ability to ascertain the ways of God. In 1998 his encyclical letter, “Faith and Reason,” pope John Paul II affirmed this misguidedly optimistic and erroneous view.

Men and women can understand the truths of God’s Word only after they have been saved and after the Holy Spirit has illuminated Scripture to them.

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” – 1 Corinthians 2:14

I appreciate that Dr. De Chirico critiques some evangelicals’ infatuation with “Thomism,” Catholic philosopher Thomas Aquinas’ unscriptural elevation of nature. Such recognizable names as Norman Geisler, John Gerstner, and R.C. Sproul were proud “Thomists,” misguided admirers of Aquinas.

Episode #33: Faith and Reason
Featuring Leonardo De Chirico, Reid Karr, and Clay Kannard
February 26, 2021 – 44 minutes

For the YouTube video version of this particular podcast, see here.

Next week: Episode #34: From Bondage to Freedom. An interview with former nun, Amanda Scopilliti

*Note: While preparing this post, I discovered the Reformanda Initiative guys changed the numbering of the podcast episodes from a S#.E# format to a comprehensive # format.

We Don’t Speak Ill of the Dead?

Hypothetical scenario: You live in a large apartment building in a major city with many co-tenants. By chance, you discover a fire deep in the building’s basement and flee. Standing safely outside, you call out to the other tenants to get out of the building as well. Shortly thereafter, a fire department official arrives at the scene and after a cursory inspection declares there is no danger. The other tenants go back into their apartments thinking they are safe, but the building is eventually engulfed in flames and all of the residents perish.

I came out of the Roman Catholic church with its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit in 1983 and accepted the free gift of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Over the course of forty years, I’ve witnessed many evangelical pastors and para-church leaders, who “should” have known better, declare that the RCC was fine or “close enough.” It’s not a matter of ambiguity. The RCC teaches unabashedly and without apology baptismal regeneration and that salvation is ultimately merited by obeying the Ten Commandments and church rules.

Evangelical Protestant pastor, theologian, and author, Tim Keller, died this past May 19. Keller was very popular and influential. He no doubt did a lot of good over the course of his 48-year ministry, but he also made a critical error/compromise by publicly embracing the Roman Catholic church as a Christian entity. He in effect declared the burning building, the RCC with its false gospel, was safe.

I briefly referenced Keller in my weekend round-up the day after his death with the following observation: “Many souls accepted Christ through the ministry of Tim Keller. However, Keller also muddied the Gospel by embracing the Roman Catholic church with its false gospel as a Christian entity and by introducing Catholic mystical ‘Lectio Divina’ and contemplative prayer to his Redeemer Presbyterian (NYC) mega-church congregation.”

A WordPress blogger subsequently took umbrage with all those who criticized Keller after his passing by publishing the post, “We Don’t Speak Ill of the Dead.” The writer leans upon the popular social norm and convention that frowns upon all criticism of a dead person, especially if they’ve recently passed.

Christians are not subject to worldly etiquettes and norms, especially when the Gospel is under attack. The Bible doesn’t teach us to revere false teachers or to remain silent when those who present themselves as shepherds allow wolves into the sheep pen. The Gospel and souls are at stake. We must not remain silent whether the person is living or dead.

The blogger, who only reluctantly identifies as an “evangelical Protestant,” shares Keller’s view that Roman Catholicism is a very valid branch of Christianity. She objects to those who focus on the irreconcilable doctrinal differences dividing Catholics and evangelicals and has even stated in comments elsewhere that it’s not up to her to decide if Mormonism and the Watchtower proclaim false gospels. In this particular “evangelical Protestant” blogger’s view, it’s all about a nebulous, doctrine-lite (c)hristianity where “warm and fuzzy” supersedes doctrinal truth and church history. Sadly, this type of wide-is-the-way relativism is beginning to permeate the body of Christ.

Yes, we certainly DO speak critically of the dead if they compromised/betrayed the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 5/27/23

Above: Rochester took a breather this week after last week’s simultaneous Lilac Festival and PGA Championship.

The fallout continues in Poland over journalist Ekke Overbeek’s controversial book, “Maxima Culpa: What the Church Is Hiding About John Paul II,” which presents evidence that the former pope covered-up for pedophile priests while he was archbishop of Krakow. Credulous Polish Catholics are not interested in examining the facts. I’m still waiting for the projected publishing date for the English edition.

Progressive pope Francis is systematically eliminating the Latin mass because it is the beloved bastion of the anti-Vatican II, conservative and traditionalist Catholic opposition.

I need to eventually read “Playing God: American Catholic Bishops and The Far Right” by Mary Jo McConahay. Sadly, many politically-minded evangelicals have forgotten about the Gospel and allied with politically-conservative Roman Catholics.

The National Council of Churches was once a prominent voice in American society, but has become totally irrelevant. The old mainline Protestant denominations began drifting into social gospel apostasy one-hundred years ago.

The Southern Baptist Convention is a large umbrella with 47,000 affiliated churches and 13 million members. There are many solid churches in the SBC, but also some “progressive” and wayward fellowships like, until recently, Rick Warren’s Saddleback mega-church. Let’s pray that the solid SBC churches stay true to the Gospel.

First there was Jinger Duggar’s book, “Becoming Free Indeed” (see here) and now there’s the upcoming docu-series, “Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets,” which will also be examining the Duggars’ relationship with Bill Gothard’s cultic Institute of Basic Life Principles. All four episodes of the series will be available on Amazon Prime on Friday, June 2nd.

The above article is nonsense. Contrary to the assertions, Constantine played a major role in the institutionalization of the early church. See my review of historian Alistair Kee’s book, “Constantine Versus Christ: The Triumph of Ideology” here.

“Meeting the Protestant Response,” #48: “Mary’s response refers to her being a virgin at the time of Gabriel’s announcement, not to some vow of lifelong virginity.”

⚠️ Broussard’s self-serving and arbitrary eisegesis in this installment is particularly galling.

Thanks for joining us today as we continue to examine and respond to Catholic apologist, Karlo Broussard’s book, “Meeting the Protestant Response” (2022). This week, Broussard begins his short chapter in which he defends the perpetual virginity of Mary using Luke 1:34 and John 19:26-27 as his proof-texts:

“And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’” – Luke 1:34

“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’” Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” – John 19:26-27

In this section, Broussard focuses on Luke 1:34.

The notion of Mary’s perpetual virginity is an extremely important element of Roman Catholic Mariology. In the RC religious culture where (especially for women) virginal “purity” was a mark of higher spirituality, it was unimaginable, despite Biblical evidence to the contrary, that the exalted, semi-divine Mary was anything other than “pure,” “chaste,” and “unsoiled” by sexual relations with her earthly husband.


Protestant response #48: “Mary’s response refers to her being a virgin at the time of Gabriel’s announcement, not to some vow of lifelong virginity.”

Broussard writes, “(Evangelical apologist) James White argues that (in Luke 1:34) the angel was ‘speaking about an immediate conception,’ and therefore Mary’s response has to do with her being a virgin at the time Gabriel announces to her that she is to bear the Messiah. To quote (evangelical apologist) Ron Rhodes, her response basically amounts to, ‘I am a virgin and my upcoming marriage will not take place for close to a year. So how will this pregnancy you speak of come to fruition?'”

Continues Broussard, “White gives two reasons for his claim. First, he says Mary was ‘only engaged to Joseph, but not married.’ From this he infers that ‘at that time [Mary] could not possibly conceive in a natural manner, since she did not know a man.’ He thinks that’s what prompts Mary’s question.”

Writes Broussard, “White’s second reason is ‘the present tense, ‘I do not know a man‘ (NKJV). For White, if Mary had a vow of perpetual virginity, she would have said, ‘I have pledged never to know a man,’ or ‘I will never know a man.’ Since Mary doesn’t say such things, White again concludes she must be thinking of not conceiving a child at that time.”

Broussard’s response

⚠️ Broussard’s and Catholicism’s interpretation of Luke 1:34 is that Mary is a betrothed virgin who has taken a vow of perpetual virginity and is therefore shocked when angel Gabriel announces she will become pregnant and give birth to the Messiah. Ancient Jewish marriage consisted of two parts: the betrothal [erusin]; and later, the wedding [nissuin]. “At the betrothal the woman was legally married, although she still remained in her father’s house. She could not belong to another man unless she was divorced from her betrothed. The wedding meant only that the betrothed woman, accompanied by a colorful procession, was brought from her father’s house to the house of her groom, and the legal tie with him was consummated.”* Broussard criticizes White for stating Mary was only “engaged” and not married. Broussard’s argument is that Mary was in the betrothal/erusin portion of the marriage and that Mary’s statement, “I am a virgin,” was intended to mean she would remain a virgin throughout the wedding/nissuin portion and afterwards. Broussard counters White’s appeal to the present tense of “I am a virgin” and the view that Mary understood Gabriel was indicating an immediate conception during the betrothal/erusin period. Broussard argues the present tense suggests Mary expected to remain a virgin on an ongoing basis. Broussard then claims Mary’s startled reaction makes sense only if she understood Gabriel’s announcement to mean she would conceive after the wedding/nissuin portion because of her alleged vow of perpetual virginity.

My response

I’m almost speechless. The sheer eisegetical sophistry of Broussard’s arguments in an attempt to defend the RCC’s doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity is jaw-droppingly deceitful. The clear understanding of Gabriel’s visitation recorded in Luke 1:26-38 is that Mary was a virgin betrothed (erusin portion of the marriage) to Joseph and that Mary understood from Gabriel’s announcement that the conception would be immediate.

To construe from Luke 1:34, “I am a virgin,” that Mary had previously made a vow of perpetual virginity and that her incredulousness can be attributed to her misunderstanding of Gabriel’s announcement that conception would take place after the wedding (nissuin portion) is like pounding the proverbial square peg through a round hole. I would confidently hazard that James R. White is probably thrice the Bible scholar that Broussard is and doesn’t need to be schooled regarding the erusin and nissuin portions of ancient Jewish marriage. White and Rhodes are absolutely right in stating that Mary’s question was prompted by her correct understanding that she could not possibly conceive in a natural manner at that time of the betrothal/erusin period because she did not yet “know a man.”

*Ancient Jewish Marriage by Hayyim Schauss

Next week, Protestant response #49: “There are other explanations for why Jesus entrusts Mary into John’s care without having to say that Mary didn’t have other biological children.”

Farmer debates Stuckey . . . . . and James R. White’s response

I try to keep some distance from politics because I believe from the Bible that Christians are to be pilgrims, sojourners, and ambassadors in this temporal world rather than deeply-invested citizens. However, every once in a great while I will watch a podcast-video from conservative political pundit, Candace Owens, not necessarily because I share all of her views, but because her rapid-fire, confrontational approach is amazing to watch.

Because of my viewing history, YouTube recently presented me with two episodes from the Candace Owens Podcast channel that piqued my curiosity. The titles of the podcasts were “My Husband George Farmer Debates Protestantism with Allie Beth Stuckey,” Part 1 and Part 2. I was aware that Farmer was an Anglican convert to Roman Catholicism. Allie Beth Stuckey is an evangelical, political conservative, popular podcaster, and a personal friend of Owens.

Although I was interested in the 43 and 45 minute podcasts, I wasn’t in a big hurry to view them. I don’t believe either Farmer or Stuckey has had any formal theological training and I already have a list of Catholic-Protestant debates I needed to watch/listen to featuring much more qualified/knowledgeable participants. However, fellow-blogger, Katherine, at Eden Unlocked graciously sent me a heads-up regarding the Farmer-Stuckey debate, which pushed it to the head of my queue.

My impression?

Candace Owens opened the debate by stating that she was brought up as a Protestant, but was gradually being drawn to Catholicism by her husband. Hmm. Another un-regenerated, nominal “Protestant.” Well, Stuckey did a decent job of countering Farmer, but he was pressing his claims and arguments with a greater degree of energy and faux-confidence, aka chutzpah, although several of his statements were glaringly misinformed and erroneous, even from a Catholic perspective.

As I watched the podcasts, I wished evangelical apologist, James R. White, was debating Farmer. White’s knowledge of the Bible and church history is extensive. His debating experience and acumen are unparalleled, although some criticize his direct approach.

Following the Farmer-Stuckey debate, many pundits, Catholic and Protestant, created their own YouTube videos commenting on the event. Fellow-blogger, Michael, at Berean Crossroads, posted a 90-minute video reaction to the debate from James R. White titled, “The Real Issues With Rome.” Excellent. I queued it up shortly thereafter.

In his video, White presents audio clips of Farmer’s claims and arguments and responds with a high level of Biblical and church history knowledge.

Issues brought up by Farmer and addressed by White include:

  • Sola Scriptura
  • Papal Infallibility
  • Canonization of Scripture
  • The Apocrypha
  • Traditions vs. Scripture
  • Biblical Inerrancy
  • Mary
  • The Sacerdotal Priesthood and the Perpetual Sacrifice of the Mass

White concludes his video with a presentation of the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Below are the Part 1 and Part 2 videos of “My Husband George Farmer Debates Protestantism with Allie Beth Stuckey” as well as James R. White’s video reaction. I realize 176 total minutes of video time is quite a bit to soak in, but you may want to bookmark this post for when you have some downtime.

Bottom line: Rome’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit is NOT the same as the genuine New Testament Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The two gospels are irreconcilable. One is right and one is wrong. They cannot both be right. Blessings to Allie Beth Stuckey and James R. White for defending the genuine Gospel of grace. Please say a prayer for George Farmer and Candace Owens.

Excellent American Revolutionary War history, just a little tough to read

The American Revolution: A Visual History
DK Publishing – The Smithsonian, 2016, 360 pp.

4 Stars

Way back when I was in fifth grade (1966-67), I developed a strong interest in the American Revolutionary War (ARW, 1775-1783). I think it may have been those summer vacation trips when my parents took us to Fort Niagara and Fort Ticonderoga on opposite ends of New York State. After I displayed an interest, my parents presented me with a copy of “The American Heritage History of the American Revolution” by Bruce Lancaster, junior-reader edition. That book was the cat’s meow. I subsequently read many, many books about the Revolution. My enthusiasm waned a bit over the years after ingesting so much information. I had reached a point of saturation and redundancy. Nevertheless, I still enjoy picking up a book about the ARW every once in a great while.

Several months ago I was strolling through the local Barnes & Noble and this ARW tome from DK Publishing caught my eye. The lavishly illustrated layout reminded me a lot of Lancaster’s book. B&N wanted $40, but Amazon was charging $25 and I happened to have an Amazon gift card.

This is a fantastic general history of the ARW. It’s a well-written narrative with many, many paintings, illustrations, and photos of artifacts from the Smithsonian Institute.

One drawback to this book was the small font size. I was just barely able to read the text comfortably with my bifocals. DK publishing is notorious for using undersized text. Another shortcoming on a much lesser scale: The book highlights many of the political and military leaders on both sides of the conflict, however, for some very strange reason the editors chose not to accord any special recognition to the second-most important commander in the American war effort, General Nathanael Greene. From one who knows their ARW history, the oversight is glaring.

Bottom line: If you can accommodate the small print, this book is a very good illustrated overview of the American Revolutionary War.

Question: Several of the nation’s “founding fathers” were “deists,” believing in a nebulous “supreme being,” but not in the God of the Bible. They took their inspiration from John Locke and the other humanistic philosophers of “the Enlightenment.” But many of the common folk were believers. The First Great Awakening took place in the colonies in the 1730s and 1740s. So how was it that the American colonists supported a military revolution against King George III and Great Britain when the Bible clearly teaches submission to the governing powers? There was certainly some self-interest involved in the break from Great Britain. I’m currently reading a biography of Nathanael Greene in which the author observed, “The American Revolution was not driven by the poor. Its engineers were the wealthy, like Greene, Washington, and the rice kings of the South, men who had something to gain by getting King George III and his corrupt bureaucrats out of their pockets.”

More on General Nathanael Greene next week.

As to why I periodically publish posts on “secular” topics, see my explanatory post here.

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series, #189

Today, in our ongoing “Truth from Arkansas” series, we’re featuring two new sermons from the brethren down under.

First, we have Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching from Psalms 32 on “The Blessedness of Forgiveness.”

Next, we have Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaching from Romans 15:14-21 on “The Marks of a Minister.”

Both of these sermons were delivered on Sunday, May 7th.

Pastor Roger Copeland – The Blessedness of Forgiveness

Pastor Cody Andrews – The Marks of a Minister

Reformanda Initiative Podcast, S2.E10: An Introduction to the Papacy

Welcome to this week’s installment of our Reformanda Initiative podcast series! I’m excited to present the ministry of Dr. Leonardo De Chirico and his associates at Reformanda Initiative as they examine Roman Catholic theology in order to inform and equip evangelicals.

Season 2, Episode 10: An Introduction to the Papacy

Show Notes

In this episode we provide a brief overview of the papacy from an evangelical perspective.

My Comments

Dr. De Chirico provides many excellent insights regarding how the bishops of Rome consolidated their prerogatives and power in their quest to become the leaders of the increasingly institutionalized church.

Season 2, Episode 10: An Introduction to the Papacy
Featuring Leonardo De Chirico, Reid Karr, and Clay Kannard
February 2, 2021 – 44 minutes

For the YouTube video version of this particular podcast, see here.

Next week: Season 2, Episode 11: Faith and Reason (Vatican File 185)

Rome Under Grace – Wow!

I became aware of Dr. Leonardo De Chirico and the Reformanda Initiative ministry several years ago. The stated purpose of RI is “to identify, unite, equip, and resource evangelical leaders to understand Roman Catholic theology and practice, to educate the evangelical Church and to communicate the Gospel.”

Well, that is a much needed ministry in this era of undiscerning ecumenism with Rome.

Over the years, I’ve referred to Reformanda Initiative many times and reviewed all four of Dr. De Chirico’s excellent books. Last October, I began posting Reformanda Initiative’s podcasts on Mondays as part of a weekly series. After listening to and briefly summarizing 31 RI podcasts at this point, I feel like I’ve gotten to “know” Dr. De Chirico and his colleagues at Reformanda Initiative, Reid Karr (associate director) and Clay Kannard (communications director) to a small degree.

A few weeks ago, I was perusing through YouTube and stumbled upon the 12-minute video below, which focuses on Reid Karr and his ministries in Rome, Italy, including co-pastoring a church and being associate director of the Reformanda Initiative.

I strongly encourage you to watch this short, 12-minute video.

I don’t want to give too much away, but Reid had to deal with an unimaginable tragedy in his life, and yet continues his outreach to the lost Roman Catholics of Rome, Italy and throughout the world. I’m grateful for this video and for faithful servants of God like Leonardo de Chirico, Reid Karr, and Clay Kannard.

Praise God and pass the kleenex!

Note: This video is four+ years-old. Reid re-located to San Paolo, Italy in 2018 and helped plant a church there and from the information I gathered, was planning another church plant in the Trionfale neighborhood of Rome in 2022. Reid is now remarried, to his second wife, Steppie.