One of those angry, old, ex-Catholics?

In 1994, Chuck Colson’s and “father” Richard John Neuhaus’s ecumenical “EvangelicalsPack and Catholics Together” project issued its first statement, “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium.” The gist of the declaration was that both camps recognized the other as “Christian” and resolved to join as allies in the culture war against secularism. Several notable Evangelicals supported the statement but perhaps the most surprising signatory was J. I. Packer (pictured), an important Reformed theologian best known for his book, “Knowing God.” Packer’s endorsement of ECT was met with strong criticism from many Evangelicals.

One year later, the ECT leadership released “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission,” a collection of articles defending the ECT statement written by six of the signers including Packer. In his article, Packer argued that his endorsement of ECT was not an approval of the doctrines of Catholicism. He stated, in so many words, that if a Catholic is saved they are saved in spite of their church’s standard theology not as a result of it. But, as I noted in a previous blog, here, as a signatory of ECT, Packer was happy to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

In making reference to his critics Packer wrote:

“The most poignant expressions of these criticisms come from middle-aged and elderly individuals who found Christ and spiritual life in evangelicalism after failing to find either in the Roman Catholicism of their birth and who cannot believe that Protestants who back ECT know what they’re doing (p.156).”

Packer’s statement is condescending at best and insulting at worst. Well, J. I., who best to comment on the quality of a restaurant than one who’s eaten there? Who best to answer whether Christ and spiritual life can be found in Catholicism than ex-Catholics who have accepted Christ and come out of that church with its doctrines of works-righteousness? On the one hand Packer readily admits that salvation cannot be found in the standard theology of the Catholic church but then he turns around and backhands the critics of ECT as being a bunch of bitter, ex-Catholic, old fogeys. Well, J. I. was understandably stung by the well-deserved criticism and lashed out a bit uncharitably.

In some cursory readings I see Packer was always a bit of an ecumenist, being an ardent admirer of C. S. Lewis, which eventually led to his break with David Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd-Jones! Now there was a man of God who knew the danger of cozying up to Rome and wasn’t afraid to talk about it!  Try and get your hands on copies of Lloyd-Jones’ “Roman Catholicism” and “The Roman Catholic Church.”

It’s been twenty-one years since the first ECT document was published and the fruits of Colson’s, Packer’s and other ecumenists’ efforts are everywhere. It’s a rising tide. A recent survey found that 56% of Evangelical pastors believe the pope is their “brother in Christ.” Praise the Lord for the other 44%! I shouldn’t be surprised at the rising apostasy. The Bible does speak about it a bit. And, no, I shouldn’t be too ANGRY with Packer and other misguided Evangelicals who embrace Rome. I love my Catholic family members, friends, and readers of this blog who endlessly toil to be “good enough” to merit Heaven. Ach! What a rat race they run!

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18

I’m clothed with my Savior’s imputed perfect righteousness. Now THAT’S something to REJOICE about! Yep, I can be a HAPPY guy, too! Accept Christ and trust in Him as your Savior, not in your own efforts or the traditions your church.

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12 thoughts on “One of those angry, old, ex-Catholics?

  1. Thank you for pointing out the fact the Packer admired Lewis and this led to his falling out with the godly man Dr. Martin Llyod-Jones, and led him into ecumenical apostasy.
    Realizing Lewis was a false teacher was a huge turning point for me in my walk with Christ, almost like coming out of the Catholic Church because when I made that stand it resulted in total rejection from the church leadership and those with whom I had attended church. As I came to realize the apostasy within the visible evangelical church that led to even more relationship breaks. The compromise and apostasy within the visible church is deep and wide. However, that loss was mitigated by a greater devotion to Christ and His love for me, praise His name.
    Just a question, why do you think so many evangelical pastors believe that the pope is a brother in Christ? Could it be from the influence of Billy Graham who has said as much himself? Many are not aware of his apostasy and ecumenism, because they themselves are compromised against the truth of the Scripture. Graham has done great disservice to the cause of Christ through the years by aligning himself with heretics and false teachers. Now that was quite a rude awakening.
    We must cast ourselves on the mercy of God and rely on His provision through Jesus Christ our Lord in these dark days. May Christ our Savior keep us for His glory! Amen!

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    1. Eliza, I could surely write a couple of thousand words in reply but I’ll try to keep it short. Before I walked away from the Lord (way back in 1991) I had read several things about Billy Graham, which had shocked me. We had all put Graham up on a pedestal as our own Protestant “saint.” Even at the independent fundamental Baptist church where we worshipped he was referred to with great reverence and held up as a shining example. But then I read from several sources that all Catholics who came forward at Graham’s crusades were referred back to Catholic workers who told them their acceptance of Christ and coming forward were just reaffirmations of their baptism and confirmation. I learned local bishops and priests were asked to help plan the crusades. I was so disappointed but when I mentioned Graham’s cooperation and compromise with others I was looked upon as a bitter, ex-Catholic oddball. Who would dare to criticize “saint” Billy Graham? We left the IFB church after eight years, mainly because the pastor preached politics from the pulpit and constantly harangued against homosexuals and we just couldn’t stomach it anymore. So, very disillusioned, I walked away from the Lord for 23 years. What a dummy!

      As I mentioned to you before, the Lord kept drawing me back and I returned to Him last year. I subsequently found a small Southern Baptist church nearby for us to attend because I didn’t want to hear the hardcore IFB rants again. The young pastor, just out of seminary, was full of enthusiasm for the Lord. He also mentioned that he was a big fan of G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis. Well, my antennae went up because I knew Chesterton was a convert to Catholicism and an ardent apologist. I had been curious about Lewis’ Mere Christianity anyway because other pastors often quoted it in their sermons and, boy, was I disappointed after I had read it. Talk about ecumenism! Given your experiences you might be interested in reading my review of Mere Christianity here which I initially posted on Amazon over a year ago. I knew my opinion of Lewis put me at odds with the majority of Evangelicalism. In the course of the year the pastor also made glowing references to esteemed Catholics, Blaise Pascal, Malcolm Muggeridge, and “saint” Thomas Aquinas. From the pulpit he quoted Peter Kreeft and said he was one of his “favorite philosophers.” Argh! I already knew that Kreeft is one of Catholicism’s most prolific apologists. There were some other issues my wife and I had with the church – politics being preached from the pulpit again – so everything came to a head and we left. I very much appreciated the pastor’s emphasis on the Lord’s grace vs. the judgmentalism of the IFB church but his embracing of Kreeft, Aquinas, etc., was just too much. If you’re going to recommend those guys just padlock the doors and send everyone to the large Catholic church down the road.

      So, it’s been four months since we’ve been to church. I know the Lord commands us to assemble and worship with other believers but there’s no doubt we’re oddballs given our viewpoints on the likes of Graham, Lewis, ecumenism, the pope, etc. I found the compromise with apostasy runs a lot deeper now than it did when I walked away from the Lord in 1991. Probably the only churches in the area that might still hold to separation from the compromise are IFB churches and I’ve had enough of that. My wife and I read and study from the Word together every day and we’re leaning on Him in these dark days. I’m trusting in Him to lead us in the way we should go.

      Thanks for the words of encouragement, Eliza! Yes, we have our Rock to stand on in these stormy times! Thank you, Jesus!!!!

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      1. Dear Beloved Brother,
        We also meet together in our home and have done so for a number of years after visiting numerous churches. It is so incredibly sad that the apostasy has so infected the visible church that there are few who haven’t compromised with the world.
        About Kreeft, he was at one time Dutch Reformed. He credits Lewis with leading him into Catholicism. He wrote a book called Ecumenical Jihad where he teaches universalism. These are desperate times indeed. Jesus bless us to stand for You. Amen!

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      2. Eliza, We’ve had very similar experiences. Yes, I saw Kreeft’s Jihad book. I’d like to read it but I know it will just make me angry. He also has several books defending basic Catholicism. So how can an Evangelical pastor recommend Kreeft to his congregation, who teaches salvation by sacramental grace and merit, and a half-hour later give an invitation to accept Christ by faith? It boggles my mind. It’s so obviously contradictory. There’s an amazing amount of spiritual blindness out there. Yes, Lord help us to proclaim your pure Gospel!

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      3. Tom, It all stems from elevating man’s word and devaluing God’s Word. This has been occurring from the beginning of God calling out a people for Himself and it stems from unbelief. If we are called out of the apostasy it is because of God’s great grace towards us, praise His name.
        Here is a post that I wrote last year that sheds some light on this terrible situation. It is one post in a series using the same name. I hope you are blessed by it. May Christ come soon! Amen!

        https://holdingforthhisword.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/the-grid/

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      4. Thanks, Eliza. I read your blog and it’s so very true. I am amazed by the sheer ridiculousness of an Evangelical pastor praising Peter Kreeft (and Lewis, Chesterton, Aquinas, Muggeridge, Pascal, etc.) but spiritual discernment is given by the Holy Spirit, not through human intellect. Always good to keep in mind.

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  2. Hi Tom,
    So I too found that very puzzling. Why would they say they believed the Bible to be the Word of God, but then quote those who spread falsehood? Well, it sadly has been occurring since Christ established His church. Most of the early church fathers were heretics of one sort or another. Augustine proved to be a doctor of the Catholic Church based upon his false teaching about the church and a champion of the Reformation, leaned upon heavily by Luther and Calvin, based upon his soteriology. So here is an example of this behavior and another reason why visible leadership is so comfortable quoting false teachers. God tells us in His Word that we must turn away from all false teaching and false teachers. As He says through Paul, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”

    A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Galatians 5:9

    Here is a post in the Grid series about Augustine. May we stay faithful to Christ by His Holy Spirit. Amen!

    https://holdingforthhisword.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/the-grid-3/

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    1. Thanks, Eliza. Yes, I have also noticed that many Evangelicals get in line to heap praises on “saint” Augustine.

      I’m probably smack dab in the middle of the Arminian-Calvin debate. My old IFB church leaned toward the Arminian side. They strongly emphasized free will and an individual’s choosing of Christ although they taught that if you genuinely chose Christ you would never lose salvation. At the extreme end of the Arminians are those who believe a Christian can lose salvation. In the SBC church I attended the last two years the pastor was Reformed Baptist and leaned toward Calvinism. He taught you didn’t choose God, God revealed himself to you and gave you the faith to accept Him as per Ephesians 2:8-9. At the extreme end of that view are the hyper-Calvinists who dabble in antinomianism (I learned a new word today) and have little motivation to evangelize the lost. Who is right? Bible verses are used by both sides to support their claims. Like I said, I probably walk down the middle. I believe faith is a gift. None of us could have comprehended the Gospel on our own. But I also believe freewill enters into the process at some point. I could have rejected the Gospel that the Lord revealed to me. They’ll continue to debate this one long after I go home to be with the Lord if He tarries.

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      1. You mirror my understanding as girded by the Scriptures, not the vain reasoning of man. The only thing I disagree with is that our natures are so corrupted by sin that we cannot freely choose God. However, we are responsible to believe the gospel. If we don’t we are condemned. How that all works out, God knows. I don’t have to know, I only need to believe what He has told me in His Word.

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      2. Yep, God’s Word says none seek after Him. I don’t claim to understand it either and those who claim they do – on both sides – are ignoring the Scriptures that oppose their viewpoint. But, as you say, I don’t need to understand how the Lord works it all out.

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