Pedophile Monster

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of Godchurch4tvf-1-web
Directed by Alex Gibney
HBO, 2012, 107 minutes

I borrowed this excellent documentary from our local library and watched it over the weekend. Mea Maxima Culpa (“My Most Grievous Fault”) examines the Catholic pedophile priest scandal by focusing mainly on the case of father Lawrence Murphy (pictured), a priest who taught at the former St. John School for the Deaf in the Milwaukee suburb of St. Francis from 1950 to 1974. He later admitted to molesting around 200 deaf boys in that time period. As in most cases of priest abuse, the hierarchy largely turned a blind eye to Murphy’s activities and allowed the abuse to continue. As former victims began to press the church for compensation through legal channels the hierarchy’s priority became protecting the church’s reputation and assets.

The cover-up of the pedophile priests extended to the very top of the church hierarchy. Singled out by the documentary are cardinal Bernard Law, pope John Paul II, and pope Benedict XVI. The Catholic church recently canonized pope John Paul II as a “saint” but the film questions how Wojtyla could have slavishly honored father Marcial Maciel, founder of Christ’s Legionaries, when the Vatican had extensive records of his sexual abuse dating as far back as the 1950s. Wojtyla’s leadership in relation to the abuse and subsequent coverup is viewed by many as deficient and even as complicit.

The Catholic church’s rule of clerical celibacy led to innumerable abuses in the confessional and in rectories. The combination of deep sexual frustration fostered by their unnatural celibate lifestyle and their close contact with children in school and ministerial settings set the stage for the clergy’s unthinkable deviancy. Also, troubled souls already inclined toward aberrant behavior were attracted to the Catholic system.

While watching this documentary my heart broke for the victims of pedophile priests. I was anMea_Maxima_Culpa_-_Silence_in_the_House_of_God_poster altar boy from 5th through 8th grade but the priests at our parish never laid a hand on me although they appeared to be very troubled men. There was one priest who was a very friendly fellow but years later he was pulled from his parish and not allowed to offer public mass due to a relationship with an underage girl. I was propositioned by an Irish Christian Brother as a senior at my Catholic high school but I laughed in his face. The Christian Brothers were bankrupted in 2011 after paying out settlements to victims of abuse.

It’s easy to point a finger at all of those deviant Catholic clerics but all sin is wicked and none of us can stand blameless before a Holy God.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23

God’s Word says none of us are able to merit heaven by our “obedience” or “faithfulness.”

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” – Galatians 2:21

Praise the Lord, Jesus Christ, for leading me out of the chains of Catholicism and for salvation by grace through faith in Him!

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

Nuns Gone Wild!

The Nuns of Sant’Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent in Scandalnun

by Hubert Wolf

Knopf, 2015, 496 pages.

Protestant literature of the 19th and early 20th centuries abounded with “convent escape narratives,” first-hand accounts of abuse and debauchery in Roman Catholic convents as reported by ex-nuns. Naturally, the veracity of these reports was attacked by Catholic apologists who dismissed the books as “Puritan pornography.” Now we have “The Nuns of Sant’Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent in Scandal” by award-winning German historian, Hubert Wolf. From the archives of the Office of the Holy Inquisition, opened for the first time to scholars only as recently as 1998, Wolf gives us this tale of fraudulent mysticism, struggle for power, lesbianism, fornication, and murder all within the walls of this single Rome convent in the 1850s.

It’s ironic that the sheer vileness of what transpired in this convent from the pages of official Catholic sources far eclipses those Victorian-age, blushingly restrained and inexplicit Protestant accounts. Perhaps even more interesting than the nuns’ tawdry behavior is how the scandal was used as a pawn by competing factions within the Catholic church at the time; Dominicans vs. Jesuits, Modernists vs. New Scholastics. A few reviewers gave this book low grades complaining it was too dry. Perhaps from the title they were hoping for something a bit more bawdy? Quite the contrary, I found “The Nuns of Sant’Ambrogio” to be an extremely well-written, well-researched history. Very rare is a history book that presents such a complex subject in such a readable, illuminating fashion.

Traditionalist Catholics may be offended by the revelations of what transpired behind the convent walls of Sant’Ambrogio and by the subsequent political machinations both inside and outside of the Vatican. There’s no doubt that similar diabolical debaucheries took place in countless other Catholic convents and rectories (and bishops’ palaces and at the Vatican) throughout the ages fueled by the church’s unnatural rule of celibacy for its clergy. Reports of pedophile priests abusing children have been in the headlines for the last twenty years.

After Christianity was adopted as the state religion by the Roman Empire the church quickly became institutionalized and “faith” for most of its members meant adherence to religious ritual and legalism. In general, Catholics are taught salvation is through the administration of the seven sacraments, all tightly controlled by the clergy, and by obeying the Ten Commandments and church rules. Asceticism became the rule for many of the religious orders leading to expressions of fanatical mysticism of the type exhibited by the nuns of Sant’Ambrogio. In contrast, God’s Word tells us salvation is only by the grace of God through simple faith in Jesus Christ.

Below are some of the previously mentioned Protestant accounts of convent abuse. Most are available through as reprints.

* Six Months in a Convent, or the Narrative of Rebecca Theresa Reed, Who Was Under the Influence of the Roman Catholics About Two Years, and an Inmate … Nearly Six Months, in the Years 1831-2 (1835) by Rebecca Theresa Reed

* The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, as Exhibited in a Narrative of Her Sufferings During a Residence of Five Years as a 51yypECGPVLNovice and Two Years as a Black Nun, in the Hotel Dieu Nunnery in Montreal (1836) by Maria Monk

* The testimony of an escaped novice from the Sisterhood of St. Joseph, Emmettsburg, Maryland: the mother-house of the Sisters of charity in the United States (1855) by Josephine M. Bunkley

* Life in the Grey Nunnery at Montreal: An authentic narrative of the horrors, mysteries, and cruelties of convent life by Sarah J. Richardson, an escaped nun (1857) by Sarah J. Richardson

* Personal Experience of Roman Catholicism with Incidents of Convent Life (1864) by Eliza Smith Richardson

* The Mysteries of the Neapolitan Convents: With a Brief Sketch of the Early Life of the Authoress (1867) by Enrichetta Caracciolo

* Almost a Nun (1868) by Julia McNair Wright

* The Convent Horror: Twenty-one Years in the Dungeon, Eight Feet Long, Six Feet Wide from Official Records (1869) by Barbara Ubryk

* The Veil Lifted or The Romance and Reality of Convent Life (1869) by Eliza Smith Richardson

* The Way Out; or, Rescued from a Convent (1877) by Justin D. Fulton

* My life in the convent: Or, the marvelous personal experiences of Margaret L. Shepherd, consecrated penitent of the Arno’s Court Convent, Bristol, England (1892) by Margaret Lisle Shepherd

* Convent Cruelties: Or How Girls Become the Brides of Christ (1912) by Henry A. Sullivan

* Behind Convent Bars (1912) by William Lloyd Clark

* Convent Life Unveiled: The Trials and Persecutions of Edith O’Gorman (otherwise known as Sister Theresa de Chantal) (1913) by Edith O’Gorman

* The Escaped Nun: The Story of Her Life (1913) by Margaret Mary Moult

* The Martryr in Black – The Saddest Bride on Earth: Twenty Years of Convent Life of “Sister Justina, O.S.B.” (1913) by Anna M. Lowry

* Rome’s Awful Persecutions of Anna M. Lowry (1914) by Anna M. Lowry

* Convent cruelties, or, My life in a convent: A providential delivery from Rome’s convent slave pens; a sensational experience (1919) by Helen Barnouski Jackson

* My Convent Life (1928) by Flora Tillman

* Convent Secrets or An Autobiography of a Former Nun (1932) by Gertrude Frances Healy

* Forgotten Women in Convents (1946) by Helen Conroy (Sister Mary Ethel)

More recent books which detail convent abuse:

* The Light in the Window (2005) by June Goulding

* Rock Me Gently: A True Story of a Convent Childhood (2006) by Judith Kelly

* Childhood Interrupted: Growing Up Under the Cruel Regime of the Sisters of Mercy (2006) by Kathleen O’Malley

* Suffer the Little Children: The Harrowing True Story of a Girl’s Brutal Convent Upbringing (2010) by Frances Reilly

* Children of the Poor Clares: The Collusion between Church and State that Betrayed Thousands of Children in Ireland’s Industrial Schools (2012) by Heather Laskey and Mavis Arnold

Book Review: Behind the Purple Curtain

Behind the Purple Curtain
By Walter Manuel Montano
Cowman Publications, 1950, 327 pages

Americans in the cold-war era were accustomed to hearing about the poor souls trapped behind the Soviet Union’s “Iron Curtain” and Communist China’s “Bamboo Curtain.” In “Behind the Purple Curtain,” ex-Dominican monk and evangelical missionary, Walter Montano, examines the intolerance of Roman Catholicism in countries where it enjoyed a religious majority and received the strong support of the local and national governments. In Europe, the Catholic church was closely allied with the fascist regimes in Spain and Portugal and there were still disturbingly vivid memories of Catholicism’s strong ties to Mussolini’s National Fascist Party in Italy, Pavelic’s Ustase in Croatia, the Sanacja and Dmowski’s Endecja in Poland, and to Petain’s Vichy France.

But Montano’s focus is mainly on Latin America where the Catholic church held sway for 400 years. The rule of the Spanish conquistadors and their successors eventually gave way to unstable, quasi-democracies and military-backed dictatorships, but the Catholic church maintained its death grip on the enormous peasant population through its falangist political organizations and alliances with civil governments. Montano gives many examples of the church’s often-lethal intolerance of Protestants within Latin America and cautions North American Protestants to maintain their vigilance otherwise they would face similar circumstances. Montano warnings may come across as quaintly paranoid to the contemporary reader accustomed to today’s prevailing spirit of tolerance and ecumenism, but the reality for believers in many parts of world in the 20th-century was that Catholic hegemony often meant harassment, persecution, and even death.

Sixty-five year’s after “Behind the Purple Curtain” was written we find that the Catholic church no longer enjoys anywhere near the political prestige and influence it once did. American evangelicals no longer need worry about the pope manipulating Washington politics from his Vatican throne. These days, pope Francis can’t even get his American membership to attend obligatory mass on Sundays.

The real danger to Christian witness today began several decades ago when some evangelicals began embracing Catholics as co-belligerents in social causes, which transitioned into compromising the Gospel of Jesus Christ and embracing works-righteousness Catholics as fellow Christians (see Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, Rick Warren, etc.). But Catholicism still teaches the same fundamental doctrines as those taught at the time of the Reformation. Most importantly, Catholics teach justification by sacramental grace and merit while evangelicals proclaim salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. For most Catholics the “gospel” is receiving the church-administered sacraments, trying to live a “good” life, and hoping their “good” outweighs their “bad” at the end. They’re relying on their works-religion and their own righteousness, not Jesus Christ, for their salvation. So why are evangelicals so eager to embrace Roman Catholics as “brothers in Christ”? Montano saw the coming evangelical compromise even as far back as 1950 when the leading figure of American Protestantism at the time, Dr. John R. Mott, was already embracing Rome and discouraging mission work to Latin America.

Walter Montano was executive director of Christ’s Mission, a mission to Roman Catholics based in New York City, from 1951 to 1960.

Very recent reprints of this book are available from See my Books tab for a long list of books which examine Roman Catholicism.

Next time you drive past a Catholic church on Sunday morning…


Many Evangelicals pass a Catholic church on Sunday morning and probably think to themselves, “Sure, Catholics worship God a little differently than we do but we’re all worshipping the same God, that’s the important thing.” But let’s examine that thought. At an Evangelical worship service there’s typically some announcements and singing of hymns and songs of praise for about a half an hour followed by an hour of preaching from God’s Word by the minister. The Gospel is usually presented and the lost are invited to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.

The Catholic “mass” is quite different. At the mass there are also announcements, singing, a couple of very short readings from the Bible and a very short “homily” (sermon). But the main focus of the mass is when the priest allegedly changes bread wafers and wine into the literal body and blood of Jesus. Jesus often spoke about being the bread of life but Catholics interpret those passages in a literalist sense that defies sound exegesis and a spiritual understanding of God’s Word. The priest then offers up Jesus the “host” to God the Father as a sacrifice for the sins of all the participants and any others who are mentioned. Catholics then line up to take the wafer body and wine blood from the priest and consume them believing grace is imparted to them that will wash away “venial” sins and help them avoid committing “mortal” sins in the future.

Catholicism is really an extension of the Old Testament Levitical sacrificial system with the priest serving as a mediator between God and the people. The priest is essential to the Catholic sacramental and works-righteousness system. Without his ordained “powers” and role as mediator the people are doomed and the Catholic hierarchy has always desired to keep it that way.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

However, Jesus completely did away with Old Testament sacrificial system when He was crucified and breathed His last breath with the words, “It is finished,” and the veil to the Holy of Holies of Jerusalem’s temple was torn in two, giving all people direct access to God through Christ the Savior. God’s Word says Jesus is currently seated at the right hand of the Father. He’s NOT on Catholic altars as a broken victim, being sacrificed again and again, thousands of times daily all over the world.

“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:11-12).

Here’s a couple of quotes that should put the Catholic priesthood and the mass in stark perspective for all Evangelicals.

The Faith of Millions by Father John O’Brien

(Nihil obstat; Rev. Lawrence Gollner, Censor Librorum Imprimatur: Leo A. Pursley, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend; March 16, 1974)

“When the priest pronounces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the victim for the sins of man.”

“The priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal victim for the sins of man – not once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo, Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priest’s commands.”

Oy vey! What anti-biblical BLASPHEMY!

So when you drive by that Catholic church next Sunday morning remember they’re NOT worshipping God the Son inside, they’re sacrificing Him on their altars as part of an attempt to merit their salvation. Rather than accepting Christ by faith for their salvation they’re relying on priests, sacraments, “good” works, and “obeying” the Ten Commandments.

Book Review: Mere Christianity

Mere Christianitylewis-mere-l

by C.S. Lewis

Harper Collins, 2001

The armchair theologian has no clothes.

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was a distinguished British author, educator, armchair theologian, and a former atheist. “Mere Christianity” (first published in 1952) was adapted from a series of talks given by Lewis on BBC radio between 1942 and 1944.

Many Evangelical authors and ministers refer to “Mere Christianity” with unqualified high praise. Christianity Today even names it as the absolute best religious book of the twentieth century. Well, after hearing all the hoopla for many years I finally got around to reading this “classic” and I must say I’m surprised by all the adulation. There’s no doubt Lewis is a wonderful writer and pleads the case for many of the basic tenets of Christianity in an enjoyable let’s-discuss-religion-over-a-few-pints-at-the-pub manner. But there are more than a few difficulties with Lewis’s lowest-common-denominator theology which should give all Evangelicals pause. All quotes below are from the Harper Collins 2001 edition which I borrowed from my local library.

* The author, an Anglo-Catholic, cuts the widest swath possible in his definition of Christianity. He is purposefully inclusive, identifying Christianity as a large hallway which has many doors to various denominational rooms (p. XV). Roman Catholicism, a hybrid of works salvation (sacramentalism, good deeds, and obedience to the law) and grace, is presented as a completely valid branch of Christianity. Chuck Colson cited Lewis as the inspiration for his ecumenical Evangelicals and Catholics Together alliance.

* Lewis is deliberately vague about how one actually becomes a Christian. He sets forth three things that “spread” the “Christ-life” to us: “baptism, belief, and that mysterious action which different Christians call by different names – Holy Communion, the Mass, the Lord’s Supper” (p. 61). While Lewis confesses that a Methodist friend would prefer more emphasis be given to belief than the two “sacraments” as the way to “Christ-life,” the author declines to do so. Anglicans believe the Holy Spirit is first received at baptism and that Christ is really present in the eucharist. Catholics believe that at their mass the priest brings Christ down from heaven to be sacrificed once again under the forms of bread and wine as an offering for the sins of the participants. However, God’s Word states that priestly sacrifice for sins ended with Jesus’s once-for-all-time sacrificial death at Calvary and that He is now seated at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1:3 & 10:12), not on Catholic altars as a broken victim.

* Lewis correctly states that at some point a person on their way to becoming a Christian will realize they cannot merit their way to God but must accept Christ’s completely free offer of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Him (p. 147). But how this reconciles with Lewis’s sacramentalism is unclear. Also, Rome unequivocally condemns the belief of unmerited salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone (see Council of Trent canons) yet Lewis cites Catholicism as a valid branch of Christianity. How does that work?

* Lewis affirms his unscriptural belief in purgatory. Putting words into Christ’s mouth, Lewis writes, “Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect…” (p. 202). Lest anyone believe I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill in regards to this reference, Lewis greatly expounded on his belief in purgatory in other writings.

* Lewis is an unabashed Universalist: “There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it” (p. 209). Chapter and verse, Clive Staples? What about John 14:6? But Lewis is not the only Evangelical darling to preach Universalism. In a May 31, 1997 interview with ecumenical minister, Robert H. Schuller, Billy Graham stated, “God’s purpose for this age is to call out a people for His name. And that’s what God is doing today, He’s calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world or the non-believing world. They are members of the Body of Christ because they’ve been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved, and that they’re going to be with us in heaven.”

* Lewis dismisses the penal view of the atonement of Christ (p.182) and in other writings he doubts the inerrancy of Scripture. Lewis confessed his sins weekly to Anglican priest, Father Walter Adams, beginning in 1940. After Adams’ death in 1952 Lewis continued the practice of auricular confession with the priests of St. Mary Magdalen Church in Oxford.

C. S. Lewis’s deviation from Biblical orthodoxy on several important issues raises the question of why so many Evangelicals fall over each other to sing the praises of “Mere Christianity”? The fact that many Roman Catholics have adopted Lewis as one of their own and are convinced he was on the path to joining their religion says volumes. Lewis’s spiritual inspiration, ardent Catholic apologist, G. K. Chesterton, was certainly no friend of Evangelical Protestantism. My advice is don’t waste one second of your time with this wide-is-the-way “classic.” There are much more doctrinally sound books on the basics of the Christian faith from solid Evangelical authors (e.g., John MacArthur, R. C. Sproul, Steve Lawson) that deserve your attention. I would neither recommend “Mere Christianity” to an unbeliever or to a Christian. I can only surmise that the undiscerning herd enthusiasm for this book among some Evangelicals is guided by the same spirit that persuaded Billy Graham to invite Catholic bishops and priests to participate in organizing his later crusades.

“I might not be perfect but at least I never killed anyone or cheated on my wife.”

One way to begin presenting the Gospel is by asking someone why they think God878548_f520 should allow them into Heaven? Most people, including most Catholics, would respond with something like, “I try to be a good person” or “My good outweighs my bad.” I’ve heard Catholics try to justify themselves even further by admitting, while they weren’t perfect, at least they never murdered anyone or cheated on their spouse.

But let’s examine that last statement a little more closely by posing a hypothetical scenario:

On his wedding day a certain man enters into a marriage “covenant” with his bride and vows to love and honor her and to forsake all others until “death do us part.” Decades later, on his 50th wedding anniversary, the man looks back with immense pride on his record of complete “faithfulness” to his wife. But what is the spiritual reality? How does God see it?

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7.

While it’s true the man may have never physically committed adultery with another woman in those fifty years, he committed adultery in his heart almost every single day. Who can possibly count the number of times he desired another woman besides his wife while watching television or movies? At a crowded beach? Walking the mall? At the office? Surfing the internet or leafing through magazines? Uh-oh, even at church! The man protests, “Well, of course! All men sneak a peek now and then. It’s not the same thing as physically being with a woman!” Oh, really? God disagrees.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:27-28.

The man claims he was obedient and faithful and to all outward appearances he was. But God sees the heart and this man’s heart, like ALL men’s hearts, was filled with lust and covetousness. He was certainly not “faithful” according to God’s standard.

When we appear before God we will have no excuse, no alibi, and no plea in and of ourselves. All hidden thoughts and desires will be revealed. So who then can live up to God’s standard of righteous perfection? The answer is no one. But God so loved us that He sent His Son, the ONLY One without blemish or spot, to die for our sins.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

Only those who accept Jesus the Savior and His perfect righteousness can stand before God. There is no other way to come to God than through the Savior, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Trying to be “good” won’t cut it. Trying to be “faithful” won’t cut it. Trying to uphold your end of a religious “covenant” with God won’t cut it. All of our “righteous” acts that we present to God in trying to merit our salvation are like “filthy rags” in His eyes. – Isaiah 64:6.

“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” – Romans 5:2

Question from a confused eleven-year-old Catholic child: “If we get to Heaven by obeying the Ten Commandments and religious rules as the church teaches, then why did Jesus have to die on the cross?”

The “Good News” of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ was the joyous message of the early church. How then was the Gospel of simple faith in Christ twisted into this Catholic religious system of ritual sacramentalism, legalism, and salvation by merit? That’s a topic for a future blog.

The IMPOSSIBLE burden of trying to merit your way to Heaven

Catholics are taught when they were baptized as infants their souls were wiped clean of sin but aftercarrying-a-heavy-load that they must constantly toil to merit their way to Heaven. They must receive the church’s sacraments and obey church laws and also obey the Ten Commandments completely in thought, word, and deed (impossible!).

But God’s Word says righteousness does not come by trying to obey the law. The law only teaches us how sinful we really are.

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” – Romans 3:20.

Scripture says the only Person who perfectly obeyed the law was Jesus Christ.

“Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” – Romans 10:4

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” – Philippians 3:7-9.

I was listening to Catholic radio today and the priest was talking about “Holy Days of Obligation.” Catholics MUST attend mass EVERY single Sunday. Every mass they miss without a valid excuse is a grave “mortal” sin that stains their soul and sends the apathetic Catholic to Hell forever. That’s one way to try to keep attendance up at church but despite that threat 75% of Catholics still choose to sleep in on Sundays. In addition to the obligatory mass there are also “Holy Days of Obligation” on which Catholics must also attend mass or incur another “mortal” sin.

According to Canon 1246 the Holy Days of Obligation are as follows:

January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, the solemnity of the Ascension
August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
November 1, the solemnity of All Saints
December 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
December 25, the solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Included in the canon is the caveat: “Whenever January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, or August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption, or November 1, the solemnity of All Saints, falls on a Saturday or on a Monday, the precept to attend Mass is abrogated.”

Catholics need a canon lawyer to keep it all straight. My, what heavy burdens Catholics must bear in trying to merit their way to Heaven! The vast majority deal with it by simply throwing up their hands and staying away from church altogether except for weddings and funerals.

For every Catholic who is exasperated by the long lists of rules and obligations and trying to earn their way to God I have some REALLY GOOD NEWS for you! God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for your sins. All who sincerely repent of their sins and accept Christ as their Savior will be born again into God’s family. The Lord is looking for humble people, the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3), who will admit they are depraved sinners without any merit of their own.

“I have not come to call the (self) righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” – Luke 5:32

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

Accept Christ as your Savior and find an Evangelical church in your area that reaches out to all the lost – the unchurched as well as the religious lost who place their trust in their own works.

How is it that Catholic clerics refer to Jesus as “Savior” but then insist their followers MUST participate in the sacraments they tightly control and precisely follow their many religious laws, rules, and regulations in order to merit Heaven? It’s a rhetorical question.

Book Review: Talking with Catholics about the Gospel: A Guide for Evangelicals

Talking with Catholics about the Gospel: A Guide for Evangelicals51CitdN-V6L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

by Chris Castaldo

Zondervan, 2015, 192 pages

Over the last couple of decades we have seen an increasing number of Evangelical leaders embrace Roman Catholicism in the interest of ecumenical “Christian” unity. But there are more than a few VERY critical doctrinal issues that divide Evangelicals and Catholics. Most importantly, Catholics believe in justification through ongoing sacramental grace and merit while Evangelicals believe in justification by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Thankfully, there are still Evangelicals like Chris Castaldo who are willing to point out that differences in doctrine matter.

With “Talking with Catholics about the Gospel” Castaldo continues where he left off in his previous book, “Holy Ground: Walking with Jesus as a Former Catholic” (2009), by offering specifics on how to engage Catholics in a discussion of the Gospel in a loving, respectful manner that is worthy of Christ. He offers a lot of very practical advice that would benefit anyone who desires to share the Gospel with Catholics. Castaldo argues that the aggressive, confrontational approach that many Evangelicals and Fundamentalists utilize when witnessing to Catholics is un-Christlike and counterproductive. Castaldo encourages friendly dialogue, relationship-building, and mutual understanding rather than conflict and heated exchanges.

Castaldo makes some great points. Most “cultural” Catholics (the vast majority of Catholics) are ill-equipped to debate theology and reactively cling to their church and its traditions. Aggressive confrontation often leads to retrenchment and bad feelings. Catholics, for the most part, rarely or never read a Bible and have no idea what you’re talking about when you mention words like “justification.”

Castaldo offhandedly dismisses fears that dialogue leads to compromise, accommodation and a “reduction of the gospel” (pp. 145-147) but that is exactly what has happened within Evangelicalism. If Castaldo were to look around he would notice very few books are being written by Evangelicals these days which examine the errors of Catholicism. Chuck Colson’s Evangelicals and Catholics Together project and other ecumenical endeavors did have a dampening effect upon the Gospel. As one example, and I could provide many more, Rick Warren, “America’s Pastor,” enthusiastically embraces traditional Catholic teaching as authentically Christian and has gone so far as to officially endorse Catholicism’s New Evangelization campaign. Warren’s viewpoint, increasingly popular in Evangelical circles, is that church-going Catholics don’t need to be evangelized.

But I get it. On a personal level our witness to Catholics should communicate Christ’s truth AND love. But, from our Evangelical leadership we also need more theologians and pastors who are willing to step out and bravely defy the lure of ecumenism, pluralism, inclusivism, and compromise and clearly distinguish between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Rome’s “gospel” of sacramental grace and works-righteousness. Yes, Evangelicalism needs people like Chris Castaldo to remind us to see lost Catholics with the love of Christ but we also need more men like John MacArthur, Alistair Begg, R. C. Sproul, James White, and James McCarthy to remind us to be vigilant in distinguishing between the Gospel truth and the works “gospel” of error.

Castaldo’s purpose isn’t to deep-dive into theology so for anyone interested in a more thorough critique of Roman Catholicism from an Evangelical perspective I suggest, “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” (2014) by Gregg R. Allison and “The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God” (1995) by James G. McCarthy. Also, please check out my “Books” tab for a very long list of books that examine the many differences between Catholicism and God’s Word.

I am very grateful for this recent book published by a major “Christian” publisher and for the testimony and ministry of ex-Catholic, Chris Castaldo.

“And she’s buying a stairway to Heaven.”

Members of a legalistic, works-righteous religious system like Catholicism can never truly rejoice about their spiritual state. It’s a never-ending treadmill; do good works, sin, confess, do good works, sin, confess, etc., etc., right up to the day they die. Catholics hope they time it right by dying immediately after confession when their slate will supposedly be clean.

Praise the Lord Jesus Christ Who takes ALL the sin away of those who accept Him.

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1

Catholics differentiate between “venial” and “mortal” sin although they would be hard pressed to tell you where one ends and the other begins. Catholics are taught that when they confess their sins to a priest the eternal punishment is removed but even after saying the prescribed rote penitential prayers some of the “temporal” punishment remains. Catholics can reduce the temporal punishment they’ve accumulated through good works in this life. But whatever temporal punishment remains at the time of death will be meted out in “purgatory” (as long as there was no “mortal” sin on the soul). Somebody call a canon lawyer!

Catholics can erase big chunks of temporal punishment by doing good works, doing penance, and receiving indulgences. The Catholic system says its members can take years off or even wipe away all temporal punishment accumulated up to that point by receiving prescribed indulgences. Where’s that canon lawyer!!! Catholicism has more rules than Carter has pills. Believe me when I tell you that 95% of Catholics would be clueless if you asked them what “temporal punishment” was.

But let’s take a look at one particular indulgence. There is a Catholic myth that “Saint” Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, removed the 28 marble steps, the “Scala Sancta” (Holy Stairs), leading to Pontius Pilates’s praetorium in Jerusalem and had them brought to Rome. Jesus supposedly descended these steps after being judged by Pilate and there are 4 places on the stairs, encased in gold-framed glass, where drops of Jesus’ blood allegedly fell. Take note that Helena is said to have transported these steps to Rome 300 years after the death of Christ.

In 1908 pope Pius X granted a “plenary” (full) indulgence to all who ascended the stairs on their knees after confession and communion. Indulgences were a HUGE money-making machine for the church for centuries. The church claims they never officially “sold” indulgences but contributions were always STRONGLY recommended. Pilgrims continue to flock to Rome to climb these 28 steps on their knees.

Incidentally, biographers state that it was while climbing these steps on his knees in 1511 that a particular Bible verse flashed through Martin Luther’s mind: “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). Praise God!

Book Review: The Riddle of Roman Catholicism

The Riddle of Roman Catholicism: Its history, its beliefs, its future51mbm8vJndL._SX369_BO1,204,203,200_

by Jaroslav Pelikan

Abingdon Press, 1959, 272 pages

The Riddle of Roman Catholicism (1959) by Jaroslav Pelikan (1923-2006) initially presents itself as an examination of Catholicism for curious Protestants but eventually reveals it’s true purpose as an ecumenical clarion call for unity among fellow “Christians.” Pelikan was a Lutheran minister, Yale professor, and author of more than thirty books mostly dealing with the history of Christianity.

This book is an interesting look at Catholic-Protestant relations immediately prior to Vatican II. Pelikan challenges both Catholics and Protestants to acknowledge the shortcomings of their own traditions and to recognize the positives of the other camp. Many of Pelikan’s critiques of Rome are right on the money but there’s also an amazing amount of compromising and accommodation in these pages. Pelikan concedes that Catholicism preaches a legalistic gospel of sacramental grace and works and has largely replaced genuine faith in Christ with ritual and ceremony yet still accepts it as a “Christian” church (see Norman Geisler for a more recent example of this head-in-the-sand “tolerance”). Pelikan, always an admirer of tradition, joined the Eastern Orthodox church in 1998 when he was seventy-five.

We’ve seen some disturbing changes in Catholic-Protestant relations since this book was published. The mainline Protestant churches have largely embraced modernism and have become almost entirely irrelevant. We can even see evidence of modern criticism/disbelief in the pages of this book: e.g. “Since Jesus expected the end of the world to come very soon, he did not envision anything like a church; therefore the two passages in the gospels where he uses the word “church” are both pious inventions of later Christians” (p. 78). Catholicism, beginning with Vatican II, turned from confrontational militancy and adopted a policy of dialogue and reconciliation with the “Separated Brethren” as a more effective strategy. With the demise of mainline Protestantism, Catholicism’s focus has turned increasingly to Evangelicalism. Catholics understand “unity” to mean complete submission to Rome and that appears to be okay with some doctrinally-indifferent ecumenical Evangelicals who jostle in line for the chance of a photo op with the pope.

Praise the Lord that many still proclaim the Gospel of salvation by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE!

“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” – Matthew 15:9