Ben Seewald reaches out to Catholics again!

After a very long prodigal “season,” I returned to the Lord in 2014. That same year, our oldest son hooked us up with Netflix. I can’t say I watch a lot of Netflix but I did make it a point to watch the “19 Kids and Counting” show featuring the Duggar family. I believe I watched the first four and a half-seasons until The Learning Channel yanked the show from Netflix.

The Duggars didn’t talk a lot about their religious affiliation directly, but if a viewer paid attention they could gather that they were independent fundamental Baptists who adhered to Bill Gothard’s and Doug Phillips’ ultra-conservative Christian Reconstructionism. Coming from an IFB background myself (although much less hardcore than the Duggars’), I was fascinated by the show. Among many other IFB distinctives, the girls weren’t allowed to have short hairdoos or wear pants. I could argue secondary doctrinal issues with the Duggars but at least they uphold the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE.

The series premiered in 2009 and ran until May 2015 when news headlines revealed oldest son, Josh Duggar, was involved in several scandalous transgressions. A spinoff show, “Counting On,” carries on the Duggar saga, focusing mainly on married daughters, Jill and Jessa.

I recently saw that Jessa’s husband, Ben Seewald (see photo), is making headlines once again with remarks about Catholicism. Back in 2014, Seewald posted some comments critical of Roman Catholicism on his Facebook account, which caused a firestorm among 19 Kids and Counting’s Catholic fans. I see in the recent article below from a virtual gossip rag that Ben has posted on Facebook and Instagram that he’s currently reading James White’s excellent “The Roman Catholic Controversy: Catholics and Protestants – Do the Differences Still Matter?” (see my review here) to further educate himself regarding Catholicism’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit and Catholic fans are up in arms once again.

Up until about fifty years ago, most evangelicals were very aware that Catholicism’s gospel of sacramental grace and merit was a false gospel. But because of the ecumenical push by Rome and some Judas evangelicals, the differences between Catholicism’s false gospel and the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE have been blurred in the minds of many. It’s now considered unkind, unloving, and intolerant to warn Catholics that they are on the wide way to destruction. I admire young Ben Seewald for upholding the Gospel of grace despite undoubtedly enormous pressure from network executives and family to keep his mouth shut.

Persevere in the Lord, Ben Seewald! There’s already way too much cooperation, compromise, and betrayal within evangelicalism.

Ben Seewald: Duggar Husband Studies To Refute Catholicism While Jill and Derick Evangelize to Catholics
http://www.inquisitr.com/4166855/ben-seewald-duggar-husband-studies-to-refute-catholicism-while-jill-and-derick-evangelize-to-catholics/

A 2000-year-old testimony to God’s truths (now in brilliant virtual color)

Our youngest son, Steve, has served in the Air Force for sixteen-years and has been all over the world. My wife and I had the opportunity to visit him when he was stationed in Aviano, Italy back around 2004. Aviano is about sixty-miles north of Venice in the northern part of the country. After a few days in Aviano/Pordenone, we took a train excursion to Venice and Rome. The highlight of our short stay in Rome was walking through the Colosseum and the nearby Roman Forum. On the east end of the Forum, on the Via Sacra, standing fifty-feet tall, is the Arch of Titus, erected in 81 A.D. to commemorate the military success of the Roman general (later emperor), Titus, during the First Jewish War (66-74 A.D.). Titus had ransacked and completely destroyed the Temple complex in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Historians say the spoils of the Jewish Wars helped finance the construction of the Colosseum, where many of the early Roman Christians were martyred.

There’s a carved relief panel under the Titus arch which depicts Roman soldiers carrying the confiscated treasures of the Temple, including the table of showbread and the lampstand/menorah, through the streets of Rome. Even though I was not walking with the Lord at that time, I was still AWESTRUCK to stand underneath the arch and gaze at this panel, a two-thousand-year-old testimony to the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy:

“And He said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.'” – Matthew 24:2

Last night, I was reading the latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, which featured the cover story, “True Colors: Digital Reconstruction Restores Original Brilliance to the Arch of Titus.” We mistakenly assume ancient Roman buildings originally appeared as plain stone edifices as we see them today, but recent research reveals building and monument exteriors were often decorated with vibrant colors. A team of scientists examined the victory parade panel in the Arch of Titus and discovered traces of yellow pigment on the menorah, indicating the entire panel had been painted. Using computer enhancement, the team was able to digitally restore the panel as it may have originally appeared (see photo). Being somewhat of a history nerd and a Christian, stuff like this absolutely fascinates me.

For the past two millenia, Jewish visitors to the Forum have bitterly resented the Titus Arch and its victory procession panel. When Jews visit the arch, they have been known to proclaim something along the lines of, “Titus, you’re gone, but we’re still here. Am Yisrael Chai! The people of Israel lives!” Israel was re-established as a nation in 1948, one-thousand, eight-hundred, and sixty-seven years after the death of Titus.

“He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” – Isaiah 11:12

The Lord doesn’t hit the people of the world over the head to show them He’s there, but He’s given us remarkable signs if we would pay attention.

Weekend Update – News & Views – 4/22/17

In 2000, former-president, Jimmy Carter, announced that he was severing ties with the Southern Baptist Convention because it had ruled that its affiliated churches could not ordain women as pastors. But here it is, seventeen years later, and Carter is still teaching Sunday School class at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, which states on its web site that it’s affiliated with the SBC, although it reserves the right to “ordain whom they perceive as gifted for ministry.” Carter is now suggesting that former Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi (d. 1948), a committed Hindu, may be in Heaven. What Bible does Carter teach from in Sunday School? It’s definitely not the same Bible I read and study. We’re seeing the heresy of universalism making increasing inroads into “evangelicalism” (e.g., “The Shack”). There’s about 47,000 churches in the SBC and they range in belief from solid Christian orthodoxy on one end to Rick Warren’s ecumenical apostasy on the other.

Now that Hanegraaff has joined the Greek Orthodox church he needs to do the honest thing and remove himself from the supposed “evangelical” Christian Research Institute and the “Bible Answer Man” radio show.

Churches that include denominational affiliations in their names just don’t cut it with young “seekers” these days. The Saddleback/Willow Creek/Peter Drucker marketing model dictates that churches not only drop denominational labels but also doctrinal distinctives.

Week after week I’ve been including stories on Catholic conservatives’ growing disenchantment with pope Francis. He’s trying to keep the ship afloat by making some pragmatic changes, even if the changes involve previously “infallible” dogma.

It’s ironic that this Catholic college is uncomfortable about its yoga classes while ecumenical evangelicals can’t get enough of Catholicism’s “contemplative spirituality.”

Speaking of contemplation, the Catholic church has had thirty years to formulate and enact a decisive response to its pedophile priest abuse and cover-up scandal. But the fetid wound just keeps on oozing. What parent in their right mind would ever leave their child in the care of a Catholic priest?

Many people are strongly attracted to sacramental ceremony and ritual. For many, religion equates to an elaborate liturgy, robes, and incense rather than a personal saving faith in Jesus Christ.

I’ve written many times about Roman Catholicism’s very sad misinterpretation of John 6 and the Last Supper passages. Receiving Christ is accepting Him as Savior by faith alone, NOT eating Him! Catholics say Jesus’ words MUST be interpreted literally in John 6:35-59, but if that were the case, salvation would just be a matter of lining up every Sunday morning and eating a communion bread wafer just as once-faithful Catholics, Adolf Hitler, Al Capone, Tomás de Torquemada, and Rodrigo de Borja (pope Alexander VI) used to do, because Jesus certainly stated, “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51).

This week, Russia’s Supreme Court upheld an earlier Justice Ministry order banning the Jehovah’s Witnesses from operating on Russian territory. All JW property will now be immediately confiscated by Putin’s government. Putin is also clamping down on other religious groups that compete with the government sanctioned Russian Orthodox church including evangelical Christians. Will Putin outlaw evangelical Christianity like he has the JWs? Last year he signed a law which restricts evangelism to church properties. Similar persecution could happen here in the U.S. in the coming years for churches that hold to increasingly unpopular Biblical “hate speech” regarding homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and apostate denominations.

Something better than fame and fortune

Pickin’ Up the Pieces: The Heart and Soul of Country Rock Pioneer Richie Furay
By Richie Furay with Michael Roberts
WaterBrook, 2012, 274 pages

Despite a sterling musical pedigree, Richie Furay (few-RAY) never made it to “superstar” status. As a talented member of the short-lived Buffalo Springfield band, he was overshadowed by Stephen Stills and Neil Young. After Springfield imploded in 1968, Furay formed Poco, a pioneering country-rock band that was too country for rock-and-roll radio and too rock-and-roll for country audiences. But then Furay watched in jealous amazement when the upstart country-rock band, The Eagles, rose to the very top of the rock charts in 1972. With Furay’s next group, David Geffen’s CS&N knockoff, the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, Richie was hoping to finally catch the elusive golden ring but then an unusual thing happened; Richie accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and his life took a completely different turn. Furay has been pastoring a Christian congregation in Colorado since 1983.

In this book, Furay traces his journey from his childhood in Yellow Springs, Ohio to his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Fans of Buffalo Springfield and Poco will enjoy his many detailed memories and insights. But Furay makes it clear he found something much more meaningful and enduring than fame and fortune when he accepted Jesus Christ. There were still many heartaches and disappointments in his life but Richie now had an anchor, a Friend, who sticks closer than a brother. Some Buffalo Springfield and Poco fans will resent Furay’s Christian witness, which is prevalent throughout the book, but others will benefit from it. I’ll always fondly remember this book as one of the gentle nudges from the Lord leading to my return to Him in 2014.

Unsettling

WL

Woodlawn
Directed by Andrew and Jon Erwin
Pure Flix Entertainment, 2015, 124 minutes

Every morning on my drive into work, I catch the tail-end of evangelist Greg Laurie’s radio show. I’m not a big fan because of Laurie’s ecumenical leanings but many months ago I heard him discussing “Woodlawn” with one of the movie’s directors and I picked up the DVD out of curiosity. This week I finally got around to watching it.

Plot

In 1973 in his sophomore year, African-American student, Tony Nathan (Caleb Castille), is bused to Woodlawn, a previously segregated all-white high school in Birmingham, Alabama. Nathan is an extremely talented athlete but Coach Tandy Gerelds (Nic Bishop) keeps him on the bench because he doesn’t want to rile the good ol’ boys of the community who are already on edge. Racial tensions on the team compound an already dismal start to the football season. A Christian evangelist, Hank Erwin (Sean Astin), asks if he can give a motivational talk to the team and most of the players profess accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior. Racial tensions ease as the players are increasingly united in their faith. Nathan is given the starting job as the team’s featured running back, but as the wins begin piling up he must reconcile his growing popularity with a budding romantic relationship and with his faith in Christ.

The Gospel begins to spread through the high school campus and Bible studies and prayer groups become the norm. Even reluctant Coach Gerelds accepts Christ. Impacted by what’s happening at Woodlawn, the revival spreads to other high school campuses. A large number of the players from the Banks high school football team, once a bitter rival of Woodlawn, also accept Christ. Forty-thousand fans turn out to watch Woodlawn play Banks but it’s more about cheering for Jesus and racial harmony than for a ball game.

Commentary

The writing, acting, and production standards of this film all leave a lot to be desired.

Additional thoughts from a believer

It was somewhat inspirational to see this portrayal of faith spreading so quickly among so many, but how many of the young people of Birmingham actually accepted Christ in 1973 and how many were just caught up in religious emotionalism and hysteria? “Woodlawn” left me with an uneasy feeling. This film gives a great deal of credit for the Woodlawn “revival” to the after-effects of “Explo 72,” a Campus Crusade for Christ conference that drew more than 80,000 college and high school students to the Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas, Texas over the course of five days in 1972, featuring Billy Graham and Bill Bright as the main speakers. An affiliated, one-day music concert, later dubbed as the “Christian Woodstock,” drew over 100,000.

Graham is hailed as the greatest evangelist of our times yet no one has done more to blur the Gospel of grace and further evangelical ecumenism with Rome. At the end of the film, viewers are encouraged to attend Laurie’s Harvest 2016 happening in Dallas as well as the ecumenical “Together 2016” event in Washington, D.C., which included a video message from pope Francis. When the credits rolled at the end of “Woodlawn,” I was not surprised to see the executive producers were Roman Catholic/New Age ecumenist, Roma Downey, and her husband, Mark Burnett.

Tainted by association

NJR

Night Journey From Rome
By Clark Butterfield
Chick Publications, 1982, 207 pages

Clark Butterfield was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1965 and “served” in that capacity in California, Kansas, and Michigan until 1973. After losing confidence in various Catholic dogmas, he left the priesthood without scandal and obtained a job working in the offices of the Detroit Police Department, although he still practiced his Catholic religion. He was led to the Lord by a fellow member of the police department in 1978 and subsequently wrote this book, which includes his personal testimony and comparisons of God’s Word with Catholicism in regards to Mary, church authority, confession, the eucharist, the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and end times eschatology.

In attempting to get this book published, Butterfield relates that several of the main Christian book publishers rejected his finished manuscript because it was anti-ecumenical. Butterfield then sent the manuscript to Chick Publications where the controversial Alberto Rivera championed its publication. Butterfield died in 1981 and this book was published the following year.

This is a strange book in more than a few regards. At the beginning of the book Jack Chick inserts a publisher’s note and Rivera adds an introduction. A preface attributed to Butterfield is highly complimentary of Rivera although Butterfield’s core original manuscript includes absolutely no hints of Rivera-like claims of Jesuit world-wide conspiracies. A postscript written by Jim MacKinnon, the man who led Butterfield to the Lord, which is also mildly complimentary of Rivera, closes the book. It’s suggested that Butterfield’s death was suspicious in nature but such an insinuation is par for the course in any Chick publication.

Jack Chick was already publishing hard-hitting, comic tracts that were very popular in fundamentalist circles when he hooked up with Rivera, who claimed to be an ex-Jesuit bishop, in 1979 and the two would proceed to write and publish a boatload of comic books, tracts, and books, which purported that every calamity in the history of Western civilization could be traced to the Jesuits and the Vatican. Rivera stoked the Chick conspiracy engine until his death in 1997. Those outlandish attacks on Catholicism did much to undermine the witness of responsible Gospel outreach ministries to Roman Catholics. I believe Satan was the inspiration behind Alberto Rivera and Chick Publications. It’s a shame “Night Journey From Rome” was published by Chick because, excluding the favorable extraneous references to Rivera and Chick that I mentioned, it’s an informative testimony from an ex-Catholic priest.