Book Review: “Pagans: The End of Traditional Religion and the Rise of Christianity” (2015)

“Pagans: The End of Traditional Religion and the Rise of Christianity” by renowned classicist, James J. O’Donnell, is an 637113f855747af12a3207c98d374eafinteresting and informative examination of that period of the Roman Empire when the traditional pagan religion was replaced by “Christianity.” What Christians would refer to as paganism was largely a casual belief system in an assemblage of gods, each of whom supposedly had a particular jurisdiction (just like the Catholic “saints” who followed). Prayers and sacrifices were offered to the capricious and unpredictable gods in hopes of attaining success in business, warfare, and personal circumstances. People were apt to adopt the god/s favored by a particularly successful person in the hopes of replicating their good fortune. Paganism was an impersonal religion largely based on ritual and tradition; zealots and “true believers” were few.

As Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire its adherents encountered persecution due to its peculiar monotheistic and exclusivist claims. Christians also refused to worship the emperor. But Christianity grew despite the opposition and was eventually proclaimed the state religion in 380. O’Donnell does an excellent job of presenting the tensions between the dying, old religion and the new. As the church’s leadership became increasingly more powerful and wealthy as an important and influential cog in the state apparatus “Christianity” began to adopt many of the formal and impersonal characteristics of the preceding religion. Personal faith in Jesus Christ morphed into sacramental ritual, liturgy, legalism, and evolving “tradition,” all tightly controlled by the ascending clergy-class.

O’Donnell isn’t a believer but he has provided an excellent introduction to how Christianity initially devolved from simple faith in Jesus into an iron-fisted, worldly institution focused on wealth, power, and absolute control.

Francis visiting church in crisis

This month’s National Geographic has an interesting cover article on pope Francis in anticipation of his visit to the United States in September. Francis is aware the American Catholic church is in deep crisis: ngm_august_2015_cvr-575x836

  • The latest numbers from PEW Research show the number of professing Catholics in the U.S. has dropped from 54 million in 2007 to 52 million in 2014.
  • The vast majority of Catholics do not participate in the sacraments. Only 24% attend mass weekly and only 12% go to confession at least once a year.
  • The number of priests continues to decline. There were 59 thousand priests in the U.S. in 1981 but only 38 thousand in 2014. More than 40% of today’s priests are over the age of 65. The decline in the number of churchgoers and the shortage of priests has resulted in the closing or consolidation of many parishes.
  • Catholic morale was rocked by the priest pedophelia scandal and cover-up.
  • Catholics continue to question official church policy regarding divorce, celibacy, contraceptives, ordination of women, and homosexuality.

Despite the hoopla surrounding his visit Francis is aware he’s visiting a church in deep turmoil. Also, as the National Geographic article points out, this pope is playing the part of reformer and has many of his more traditionalist leaders and membership on edge. He’s trying to keep the “boat afloat” but can he do it without changing the “infallible” doctrines of yesteryear?

I’m grateful to the Lord that I’m free of the chains of Catholic ritualism and legalism. My heart goes out to Catholics. May many discern the path to life through God’s grace by simple faith in Jesus Christ.

If you can get ahold of the NG print issue you’ll get to see the three-page photo foldout of a mass at the Vatican “high” altar. It’s an incredible shot but Christians will shudder at the contrast between Rome’s ostentatious splendor and the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/08/vatican/draper-text

“Father, am I “born again?”‘ “Yes, you were “born again” when you were baptized as a baby.”

1st Catholic Caller: “Hi, Father. There’s a guy at work who asked if I was “born again.” What should I tell him?” Bishop radio recording

Catholic Priest: [Slightly annoyed] “You tell that guy that you WERE born again when you were baptized as a baby.”

2nd Catholic Caller: “Hello, Father. Thanks for taking my call. My cousin asked if I was “saved.” What should I tell her?”

Catholic Priest: [Obviously agitated] “You tell her you WERE saved when you were baptized, you ARE BEING saved as you participate in the sacraments and avoid sin, and you will hopefully BE saved as you continue to take the sacraments and avoid sin and die in a state of grace. Sheesh!”

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If you listen to Catholic radio for a few days you’re bound to hear at least one of the above exchanges as I did this morning. Is the priest giving Godly advice? I’m not going to examine the subject of justification at length in this short blog but I do have a few thoughts.

Being genuinely born again is definitely NOT about being baptized as an infant OR as an adult. Priests have no magical powers and neither does the water sprinkled on someone’s head. From God’s Word we come to the realization through the Holy Spirit that we are all sinners and deserving of God’s eternal judgement. We then understand that Jesus Christ, God the Son, came down from Heaven and put on flesh and lived a perfectly sinless life. He offered Himself up on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. But He then defeated sin and death by rising from the grave. He now sits at the right hand of God the Father as the Savior and Mediator and offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who will accept Him.

The person who understands the Gospel is then at a crossroads as the Holy Spirit moves in their heart. Maybe it’s the first time they’ve heard the Good News. Do they continue living their life as they have – relying on themselves or even their religious activities and hoping their good outweighs their bad at the end – or do they humbly admit their need for a Savior and pray to the Lord, Jesus Christ, to save them? Some people make a decision for Christ right away. Some wait. Some never accept Him.

But when you genuinely accept Christ and are born again you know it. For some who accept Christ it’s an emotional epiphany unlike any other; kind of like being given the last seat on the last lifeboat of the Titanic but even better. Yahoo!!! For most it’s a joyous realization that they’ve crossed over from death unto life beginning a sweet relationship that lasts forever. A new Christian’s eyes are open to spiritual things for the first time but the full impact won’t hit them until they wake up in eternity. They’re now pilgrims on this earth and still struggle with the flesh but their desire is to please their Savior and Lord.

Being born again is accepting Christ, becoming a new creation in Christ, walking with Christ, being accepted into God’s family because of Christ, loving Christ, and serving Christ. It’s definitely NOT about having water sprinkled on an infant’s head (although the Lord does command all who are old enough to accept Him to be baptized as a witness for Him).

Thank you, Jesus! Catholic friends, read your New Testaments!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” – 2 Cor 5:17

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” – John 1: 9-13

“Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” – John 3: 1-23

Francis seeks to softsoap divorce PR nightmare

If divorced Catholics remarry they are not allowed to receive the “eucharist” at mass. Why not? Because the church teaches remarried Catholics are living in “mortal” sin and anyone with “mortal” sin on their souls cannot Decision_marriage_divorce_annulment_Photo_by_George_Hodan_CC0_10_CNA_US_Catholic_News_10_1_13receive communion. This wasn’t a problem fifty years ago but with today’s high divorce rate the church’s restrictive policy is giving many Catholics a good reason to stay home Sunday morning or even consider worship alternatives (hopefully where the true Gospel is preached).

The Catholic church’s canon lawyers are keeping busy these days cranking out “annulments” for first marriages but that is not always possible UNLESS your last name is Kennedy.

I recently heard a priest on Catholic talk radio say a remarried Catholic should wait until they’re on their deathbed when they could strategically confess their second marriage and be received back into the full graces of the church just prior to their death. Oy vey!

Pope Francis understands he has a PR nightmare on his hands and is trying to stem the exodus but I don’t see the Vatican changing its official policy on the communion ban for remarried Catholics any time soon. It would be unthinkable for this “infallible” pope to abrogate the policy of previous “infallible” popes, as much as he’d like to.

Unfortunately, the world’s increasingly casual approach toward marriage vows is rubbing off on Evangelical Christians. The Bible says divorce is permissible only in the cases of adultery or abandonment (Matthew 19:19 and 1 Cor. 7:15). But thank the Lord that the blood of Jesus Christ covers all sin.

Works-righteous Catholicism with its bevy of canon lawyers has more rules and regulations than Carter has pills. Thank the Lord for the simple but glorious Gospel of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE.

https://carm.org/what-does-bible-teach-about-divorce

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Pope Francis calls on church to welcome divorced Catholics

635743653507068908-AP-Vatican-Pope

David Gibson, Religion News Service, August 5, 2015

Speaking out on one of the most contentious issues of his papacy, Pope Francis issued a powerful call Wednesday for the church to embrace Catholics who have divorced and remarried.

Such couples “are not excommunicated, and they absolutely must not be treated that way,” Francis told a Vatican crowd. “They always belong to the church.”

Francis asked pastors to welcome Catholics who have remarried without an annulment, even though such Catholics are currently barred in most cases from receiving the Eucharist, the central sacrament of the faith.

“The church is called to be always the open house of the father … no closed doors! No closed doors,” Francis told the crowd at his weekly public audience, which resumed after a month-long summer break.

Since he was elected in 2013, Francis has said that the church must be more merciful and open, and he has encouraged debate on changing pastoral practices to allow, for example, divorced and remarried Catholics to take communion.

That issue was one of several that inflamed unusually public debates at a major Vatican summit of bishops that the pope convened last October. The arguments — including how to welcome gay couples and those who are cohabiting — have continued to engage top churchmen in pointed exchanges ahead of a follow up summit, called a synod, set for October.

Many Vatican observers believe Francis wants to see some concrete changes, which his foes believe would be tantamount to heresy because it would undermine Jesus’ teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

The issue of how to treat divorced and remarried Catholics is just one of many the bishops will debate, but it is a widespread pastoral problem and has come to stand for the bigger question of how, and even whether, the Catholic Church can change.

Francis himself has not endorsed any particular proposal, and in focusing on the topic on Wednesday he reiterated that “there is no easy solution for these situations.”

But he made it clear that he wanted the Catholic Church to take a new, more open approach.

“For how can we encourage these parents to raise their children in the Christian life, to give them an example of Christian faith, if we keep them at arm’s length?

“If we look at these new bonds (of remarried Catholics) with the eyes of small children – and the children do watch,” he said, “we see once again the urgency of developing in our communities a real welcome for people in such situations.”

The children are the ones who suffer most when their parents are shunned, Francis said.

How can the church, he said, “tell these parents to do everything to raise their children as Christians, giving them an example of a firm and practiced faith, if we keep them at arm’s length from the community, as if they were excommunicated?”

The church, he concluded, “must do everything not to add further burdens to those that children in these situations must already bear.”

Catholics and the Bible

Catholics proudly claim responsibility for the New Testament canon without giving any credit to the Holy Spirit. But wasn’t it the Catholic church that kept the Bible from the common people for over one-thousand years? Attempts to translate the why-study-the-bibleBible into the vernacular were met with intimidation, threats, and even death.

Even today the Catholic church generally does not encourage reading the Bible. Why not? What are they trying to hide? A recent poll revealed only 7 percent of Catholics read the Bible daily and a whopping 44 percent of Catholics “rarely or never” read the Bible!

http://www.catholicity.com/commentary/carlin/05386.html

Yet, Jesus said God’s Word should have a greater priority in our lives than our daily meals:

“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:4.

Catholics would be surprised to find the Jesus of the New Testament is not the Jesus of Catholicism. Neither is the Mary of the New Testament the Mary of Catholicism. Or the “saints.”

Catholic friends, get yourself a Bible and prayerfully read the New Testament beginning with the Gospel of John.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

“Cafeteria Catholic,” Chris Christie, defies church’s birth control ban (just like most Catholics)

New Jersey Governor and Republican presidential candidate, Chris Christie, a Roman Catholic, created a bit of controversy recently when he revealed he is personally opposed to his church’s gov-christie-attends-memorial-prayer-service-for-victims-of-charleston-sc-mass-shooting-a1dbcc9b15c316afban on the use of contraceptives by married couples.
http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/04/politics/chris-christie-birth-control/index.html

Let’s get a little background. In 1968 pope Paul VI issued his controversial Humanae Vitae encyclical banning all forms of artificial birth control. Catholic sources have stated this ruling is infallible and irreversible. Although the church is strikingly vague in its distinction between “mortal” and “venial” sins, mainline Catholic sources state that the use of artificial birth control is definitely a “mortal” sin.

“The Church also has affirmed that the illicitness of contraception is an infallible doctrine: “The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. Contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity, it is contrary to the good of the transmission of life (the procreative aspect of matrimony), and to the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses (the unitive.aspect of matrimony); it harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of human life” (Vademecum for Confessors 2:4, Feb. 12, 1997).

“Ignoring the mountain of evidence, some maintain that the Church considers the use of contraception a matter for each married couple to decide according to their “individual conscience.” Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. The Church has always maintained the historic Christian teaching that deliberate acts of contraception are always gravely sinful, which means that it is mortally sinful if done with full knowledge and deliberate consent (CCC 1857). This teaching cannot be changed and has been taught by the Church infallibly.”
http://www.catholic.com/tracts/birth-control

The vast majority of “Christians” believe that human life begins at conception (Psalm 139:13,16)…
http://archive.lifenews.com/nat2870.html

…but is the prevention of conception via birth control a sin as the Catholic church dictates? While Scripture doesn’t specifically address the question of artificial birth control, a fairly recent development, most Christians agree it would be sinful for a couple to use any form of birth control that ends life (abortion or abortifacient). The Catholic magisterium cites Genesis 38:8-10 as Scriptural support against birth control where Onan “spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother.” In proper context Onan’s sin wasn’t precisely the spilling of his semen on the ground, it was sidestepping his brotherly responsibilities. In a 2012 CNN poll, 86% of those who identified themselves as Evangelical, born-again Christians disagreed with the statement, “Using artificial means of birth control is wrong.”
http://www.jacoblupfer.com/blog/2013/11/30/southern-baptist-attitudes-on-abortion-and-contraception

Humanae Vitae was a disaster for the Catholic church. More than a few Catholics wondered why the church prohibited contraceptives but lent its imprimatur to the rhythm method/natural family planning. Weren’t the results the same? Many cash-strapped Catholic families wondered how a bunch of old celibate priests could dictate family planning? The encyclical opened up a Pandora’s Box. Incredulous Catholics began to question and doubt other obligatory church teachings. A recent survey reveals that a whopping 79% of Roman Catholics take Christie’s side in this contraception debate. But as some Catholics are aware, the church hierarchy is hardly uniform in its opinion on birth control. Many liberal Catholic bishops and priests quietly approve of the use of contraceptives by married couples.

But God has Good News for all the “cafeteria” Catholics who have lost confidence in their church. One’s faith should be in Jesus Christ, the Savior, the Rock, who never changes and will never lead anyone astray, NOT in a church or religion. Praise the Lord for salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE.

“For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” – 1 Peter 2:6.

Pope Francis says even atheists can merit Heaven!!!

It used to be the Catholic church taught that only baptized Catholics who participated regularly in the sacraments could have a chance of going to Heaven. My, how things have changed! These days the church teaches that the Separated 1428864343000Brethren, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and members of every other religion can merit Heaven if they “seek the true God given the light they have received.” Pope Francis has said EVEN ATHEISTS can make it to Heaven if they obey their conscience and lead a “good” life.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/12/pope-francis-letter-atheists_n_3909425.html

Catholicism is a mixture of sacramental grace and merit. While Catholics give lip service to grace and faith they teach that people must ultimately “cooperate with grace” and merit their salvation. Since good works are the deciding factor in the Catholic “gospel,” it follows that they finally conceded that followers of other works-righteous religions, and even non-believers, would merit Heaven if they were also “good.”

But pope Francis’s wide-is-the-way Catholic “gospel” has nothing in common with the Gospel found in the New Testament. The Bible says no one is “good,” which is why Jesus Christ came.

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” – 1 Timothy 1:15

We can’t save ourselves by being “good.” Here’s 101 Bible verses that teach salvation is NOT by works:

http://gochristianhelps.com/tracts/stl/notworks.htm

Who are we to believe, Francis’s wide-is-the-way “gospel” of “If you can’t be Catholic just be good!” or God’s Word? Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. Trust in Him, not your own merit.

 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” – Acts 16:30-31

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12

The pope’s wide-is-the-way “gospel” offends no one except for genuine followers of Jesus Christ.

 “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” – 1 Corinthians 1:21-23

coexist

Assisi1986

Book Review: “Babylon Mystery Religion,” 1981

Evangelist Ralph Woodrow originally published “Babylon Mystery Religion: Ancient and Modern” in 1966 followed by a 1981 revision. This short book (161 pages, 1981) examines the pagan babylon-mysteryroots of various elements of Roman Catholicism including relics, indulgences, church architecture, celibacy, the mass, confession, the church hierarchy, various Catholic holy days, and the worship of Mary and the saints. Catholicism’s claim for the primacy of Peter followed by a short and decidedly sordid history of the popes is also presented.

One of Woodrow’s prime sources for this book was Alexander Hislop’s “The Two Babylons,” the seminal work on Catholicism’s pagan roots. Hislop had argued that the pagan religions of antiquity – Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Canaanite – all had their roots in the post-diluvian, Babylonian worship of Nimrod and his mother/wife Semiramis and that modern pagan faiths – Hinduism and Buddhism – could also be traced back to Nimrod. Hislop claimed that Catholicism was a mixture of Babylonian paganism and Christianity.

In 1997 Woodrow published “The Babylon Connection” in which he flip-flopped on several of his “Babylon Mystery Religion” conclusions. Woodrow claimed that additional research revealed that many of Hislop’s extrapolations could not be substantiated. However, Woodrow did not entirely refute “Babylon Mystery Religion” as many Catholic apologists suggest. In fact, the Catholic Encyclopedia had been one of Woodrow’s primary resources for linking Catholicism to paganism.

Woodrow has made a career out of flip-flopping. Not only did he retract some of his “Babylon Mystery Religion” claims with “The Babylon Connection,” he also published books reversing his previous “hardcore” opposition to the celebration of Christmas and Easter because of their pagan roots. Needless to say Ralph probably has very few fans left among the hardcore independent fundamental Baptists. Jesuit-worldwide-conspiracy theorists probably assumed the “Black Pope” or agents of Opus Dei brought pressure on Woodrow and “suggested” he soften his positions.

Despite the controversy, I enjoyed reading “Babylon Mystery Religion” once again. It’s probably been thirty years since I read it last. There’s some very valuable information here that just can’t be found in today’s climate of ecumenical ultra-tolerance. Woodrow yanked “Babylon Mystery Religion” off the market in favor of “The Babylon Connection” but you can still find vintage copies available at Amazon starting at a very pricey $24. But do your wallet a favor and download a free pdf file via http://www.johnrothacker.org/Article.html

No Meat On Friday Nonsense

Back when I was a cute, young tyke, the Catholic church prohibited eating meat on Fridays throughout the entire calendar year. The obligatory abstinence had something to do with Jesus dying on a Friday and the refraining from eating the meat of warm-blooded animals was supposedly a commemoration of His sacrifice. Disobeying the church and eating meat on Friday was a “mortal” sin that would stain your soul and send you to eternal damnation, no excuses. Even just one bite of a cheeseburger meant perpetual torment! We “good” Catholics were scandalized when we heard about so-and-so Catholic who defied the church and barbequed hot dogs on the grill on a Friday. My Dad usually picked up a big batch of very tasty fried fish and french fries at Karl’s Fish Store at 1314 Culver Road so it wasn’t like we felt any kind of deprivation. I actually preferred the store-bought fried fish to Mom’s meat dishes the rest of the week. Sorry, Mom!

However, all this changed in 1966 (Sorry, Karl!) when pope Paul VI, in his PAENITEMINI document, left it up to the national bishops to determine abstinence policy and the U.S. bishops ruled that Catholics were able to eat meat on Fridays except during Lent.

Most Catholics are unaware that the Canon Laws prohibiting meat on Fridays throughout the year are still on the books (Canons 1250-1252) along with the provision that the national bishops are able to “determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety” (Canon 1253)

So the MONUMENTAL question is, What about all the U.S. Catholics who died before 1966 who had disobeyed the church and ate meat on non-Lenten Fridays without ever confessing this “sin?” Are they still in Hell or did God give them a “Get Out of Jail Free” card in 1966 in light of the new policy? Skeptical Catholics should definitely smell a rat with this one.

In contrast, the Bible is pretty clear on this abstaining-from-meat business:

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” – 1 Timothy 4:1-5.

So eating meat on Friday is definitely NOT a sin according to the Bible but the rule to abstain from meat is a man-made commandment subject to whimsical alterations (with *unexplainable complexities) as we saw in 1966. Are we to believe the Bible or the Catholic church?

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

Unfortunately, Catholics are taught they must merit their salvation by jumping through legalistic religious hoops such as refraining from meat on Fridays. Praise the Lord for His Word and for His salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE!

*Postscript: Let’s suppose in 1967 an American Catholic traveled to a foreign country where he knew the national Catholic bishops dictated the abstention from meat on non-Lenten Fridays was still in effect. If the American traveler ate a cheeseburger in that country on a non-Lenten Friday did he commit a “mortal” sin? Oy vey!!! Just give me Jesus!

More Catholic Voodoo

Periodically, I like to visit our local “Christian” bookstore. Admittedly, there’s a lot of “Jesus junk” sold at these kinds of stores along with a preponderance of books from the “prosperity gospel” crowd but occasionally I do find something useful. Durstjosephkiting a visit last year I noticed a very large supply of St. Joseph statues in the store’s Catholic section. I wondered why there was such a large number of St. Joseph statues available because I knew that Catholics worship Mary much, much more than lowly Joseph. A couple of weeks later there was an article in the real estate section of the newspaper that explained it all. I learned that many Catholics, and even non-Catholics, make it a practice to bury a statue of Joseph, the “patron saint” of home and family, in the yard of a house they’re trying to sell to bring good luck and expedite the sale.

Folks, this is sheer pagan voodoo superstition at its very worst. But I’m not surprised at all. Catholicism is full of voodoo good luck charms like this including blessing yourself with “holy” water, making the sign of the cross, “holy” medals, scapulars, crucifixes, rosaries hanging from automobile rear view mirrors, etc., etc. “Father” Robert J. Levis, a writer at EWTN.com, states that burying a St. Joseph statue to facilitate the sale of a house is blatant superstition although I’m sure there are many other priests who would condone the practice or simply wink at it.

I wrote a letter to the manager of the bookstore asking that they remove the large supply of St. Joseph statues from their shelves since they were being used in a superstitious pagan practice, besides the fact that God forbids the worship (Catholics call it “veneration”) of statues.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them” – Exodus 20:4-5.

Needless to say the St. Joseph statues are still being sold.

Thank the Lord for the plain but glorious Gospel of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE.