“The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional”


The Priest, the Woman, and the ConfessionalPWC
By Charles Chiniquy
Chick Publications, 1979, 144 pages

I don’t normally waste my time with material from Chick Publications because I don’t believe in every calamity being attributed to a Jesuit global conspiracy, but I received this book as a gift. This Chick reprint of “The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional” by ex-priest, Charles Chiniquy, preserves a valuable nineteenth-century Protestant critique of Roman Catholicism’s sacrament of auricular confession. Chiniquy’s book was first published in 1875, followed by many subsequent editions.

With overwrought prose typical of his times, Chiniquy warns his readers of the dangers inherent in “auricular” (spoken into the ear of the confessor) confession. Catholics are obligated to confess their “mortal” sins to a priest at least once a year under penalty of incurring yet another “mortal” sin. Since most penitents are extremely reluctant to divulge any embarrassing sexual sins, whether they be thoughts or actions, priests are instructed to thoroughly question the person about such matters to ensure a candid “good” confession. Chiniquy gives many examples of the dangers of celibate confessors (priests) interrogating their female supplicants about such personal matters. The church even defines the use of the confessional for immoral purposes by priests as “solicitation.”

Catholicism teaches salvation comes by receiving its sacraments, all tightly controlled by the clergy, and by obeying the Ten Commandments and church rules. The sacrament of reconciliation, auricular confession, is just another opportunity for the Catholic clergy to exercise control over its members. Chiniquy demonstrates that confession of sins to a priest has no basis in New Testament Scripture and he urges the reader to turn from man-made Catholic legalism and traditions and accept Jesus Christ as Savior. Once a person accepts Christ they should confess all sin directly to God, not to a human mediator (Mark 2:7).

The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional has been lumped together with similar Evangelical Protestant books of the period as anti-Catholic hate literature of a bygone era. One could argue the title is a bit salacious and meant to appeal to prurient interest. Likewise, the illustrated cover provided by Chick Publications is mildly sensationalistic. Ex-priest Chiniquy definitely exaggerates his point by claiming the confessional was directly responsible for bringing many Catholic countries to ruin. These very minor objections aside, even the most sectarian Catholic apologist can’t deny the Roman confessional has led to abuse of scandalous proportions.

While Chiniquy was concerned with relationships between confessor priests and their female penitents, news reports over the last thirty years have revealed shocking clerical sexual abuse of children, mainly boys, validating the ex-priest’s warnings but going far beyond the impropriety alluded to in this book. In many cases the abusive relationships between priests and children began in the confessional box. Sending very young children (age 7) into the dark box didn’t begin until 1910 with a decree from “Saint” Pius X. In 2012, bishopaccountability.org reported the number of American priests credibly accused of molesting children since 1950 to be more than 6,100. Over 16,000 victims have been documented although many others surely never came forward. The Catholic church’s cover up of its pedophile priests scandal involved the highest offices of the hierarchy.

In contrast to Chiniquy’s time, Catholics now stay away from the confessional box in droves despite the threat of “mortal” sin. Who can blame them? Recent Catholic sources state only 12% of its members participate in confession at least once a year. Evidently the other 88% would rather take their chances with eternity than share a dark box with a priest. Additionally, asking penitents to recall all of the times they disobeyed the Ten Commandments in the past year is beyond ludicrous. I couldn’t possibly recall all of my sins against God in thought, word, deed, and omission for even a single day. Christ reveals in Matthew 5 the utter hopelessness of attempting to obey the law as a means to salvation. The entire business is a religious sham designed to keeps its members totally dependent on the Catholic clergy.

“Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” – Galatians 2:16

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and ask the Lord to direct you to an evangelical church in your area that’s preaches God’s Word without compromise.

“Spotlight” wins Best Picture

I’m not a fan of awards shows but I did take notice that “Spotlight” earned the Oscar for Bestspotlight Picture of 2015 at the Academy Awards last night. The film examines the true story of a small team of investigative reporters at the Boston Globe in 2001-2002 who uncovered the unspeakable serial sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in the Boston diocese for decades and the subsequent cover-up at the highest levels of the church hierarchy. More tragically, the abuse was widespread throughout the entire country.

“Spotlight” is an unflinching look at the betrayal of Catholic children by their church and should be seen by everyone. Hopefully, many more will see this film as a result of its Best Picture Oscar.

I’m certainly not an admirer of the Catholic church, mainly because it teaches a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. The abuse of children by pedophile priests and the subsequent cover-up were symptoms of the general corruption and false teaching that permeates Catholicism.

Faith Alone

Faith Alone: The Doctrine of JustificationFA

By Thomas Schreiner
Zondervan, 2015, 288 pages

In commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Zondervan is publishing the 5 Solas Series. Each book in the series will examine one of the great solas of the Reformation.

The first book, Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification (September, 2015), examines one of the dividing truths of Christianity: that one can only be justified before God by faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.

The Reformers attempted to return the corrupted, institutionalized church to the Gospel message of the New Testament of simple, saving faith in Jesus Christ. Schreiner examines the doctrine of faith alone, one of the rallying cries of the Reformation, in the context of Scripture and church history. Opponents of “sola fide” call it “cheap grace” and the road to antinomianism (free license to sin). They insist good works and merit are a necessary part of justification. Certainly, good works and charity are the fruit of salvation in Christ but they could never be the basis for it because of their imperfection. But one who has genuinely accepted Christ will want to follow Him in obedience. A genuine conversion will lead to a transformed life. Those who claim to have accepted Christ but have no fruit never genuinely accepted Him.

On the other hand, those who claim to be followers of Christ but insist they must obey the Ten Commandments (an impossible task!) to merit their salvation do not know Jesus or understand the Gospel of grace.

“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

Schreiner covers the doctrine of justification by faith alone – and the biblical relationship between faith and works – in great detail but for a theology book this is actually quite readable and enjoyable. In our current day, when right doctrine is increasingly dismissed in favor of “just loving Jesus,” it’s important to uphold the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Every believer would benefit from this book as well as those who seek Him and wish to understand the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith.


“The Young Messiah”

What must it have been like for Jesus growing up in Nazareth as a young child, being the Son of God and yet also fully human? The Bible speaks very little about Christ’s childhood.

“The Young Messiah,” due out in theaters on March 11, is based on the few biblical accounts and Ann Rice’s “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.”


New book boasts evangelical seminary is hotbed of conversions to Catholicism

A new book from a Catholic publisher boasts that Southern Evangelical Seminary in NorthSem Carolina is a hotbed for conversions to Catholicism. Why would that be? Actually, I’m not surprised at all. Although the book’s blurb (see below) states the school’s founder, Norman Geisler, is a critic of Catholicism, the actual truth of the matter is quite different. While Geisler did critique aspects of Catholicism, he also accepted it as a legitimate branch of Christianity that preached the Gospel. See my review of Geisler’s “Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences” here. Both Catholic and evangelical ecumenists cite Geisler’s work as an important bridgehead in their cause.

I returned to the Lord in 2014 after walking away from Him for 23 years. I subsequently found a small Baptist church in the area with a new pastor fresh out of seminary – another NC seminary just 3 hours down the road from SES. The pastor was quite enamored with Catholicism and frequently namedropped such Catholic stalwarts as Aquinas, Pascal, Chesterton, Muggeridge, and Kreeft. We stuck it out at that church for 13 months, which was a lot longer than we should have. The apostasy within evangelical seminaries appears to be even more widespread than this book suggests.

Decades ago, Christian apologists faithful to the Gospel warned that the ecumenism spearheaded by Billy Graham and others would inevitably lead unwary souls to Rome and the gospel of legalism and ritualism.

Evangelical Exodus: Evangelical Seminarians and Their Paths to Rome by Douglas M. Beaumont

“Over the course a single decade, dozens of students, alumni, and professors from a conservative, Evangelical seminary in North Carolina (Southern Evangelical Seminary) converted to Catholicism. These conversions were notable as they occurred among people with varied backgrounds and motivations—many of whom did not share their thoughts with one another until this book was produced. Even more striking is that the seminary’s founder, long-time president, and popular professor, Dr. Norman Geisler, had written two full-length books and several scholarly articles criticizing Catholicism from an Evangelical point of view.

What could have led these seminary students, and even some of their professors, to walk away from their Evangelical education and risk losing their jobs, ministries, and even family and friends, to embrace the teachings they once rejected as false or even heretical? Speculation over this phenomenon has been rampant and often dismissive and misguided—leading to more confusion than understanding. The stories of these converts are now being told by those who know them best—the converts themselves.

They discuss the primary issues they had to face: the nature of the biblical canon, the identification of Christian orthodoxy, and the problems with the Protestant doctrines of sola scriptura (“scripture alone”) and sola fide (“faith alone”).” – from Amazon.com


The Borgias, Season 2

The BorgiasBOR
Season 2 (2012), 10 episodes
Featuring Jeremy Irons, Francois Arnaud, Holliday Grainger, and David Oakes

I just finished watching the second season (2012) of The Borgias cable television series via Netflix.

It’s a bit risky to get one’s history from a television series but The Borgias is an interesting glimpse at the absolute corruption of the Roman Catholic church immediately prior to the Reformation. The Borgia clan is headed by Rodrigo, pope Alexander VI (Irons), who’s ably assisted by his ruthless children, Cardinal Cesare (Arnaud), Lucrezia (Grainger), and Juan (Oakes).

In this season, Cesare ingeniously foils an attack on Rome by the French king. An attempt to avenge the treachery of the Sforza family backfires, leading to the eventual downfall of Juan. Rodrigo can no longer ignore the “heretical” opposition of influential friar Savonarola of Florence and plots his demise. Possible suitors for Lucrezia are considered for their political advantages, as Rodrigo’s arch-enemy, Cardinal Della Rovere, schemes to end the pope’s life with poison.

As I mentioned in my review of the first season, fidgety, irresolute Jeremy Irons is a fish out of water as the ruthless Rodrigo. Likewise, Arnaud can’t pull off the barracudian intensity of the Machiavellian “Prince,” Cesare. Holliday Grainger is also a bit too sweet as the venomous black widow, Lucrezia, but we’re starting to see her fangs come out. The 15th-century sets and costumes are remarkable.

Murder, torture, treachery, fornication, heresy, the ruthless acquisition of wealth and political power; these were just a few of the earmarks of the Borgias’ reign. The history of the papacy includes many such dark and embarrassing chapters. For my review of “The Dark Side of the Papacy,” see here. Praise the Lord for raising up the men and women of the Reformation  who sought to return the church to simple faith in Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament. Many died for their stand for the Gospel while many of today’s doctrine-lite evangelicals eagerly join arms with Rome in the interest of “Christian unity.”

Catholic church has no problem attacking evangelicalism while evangelicals generally tiptoe on eggshells

Non-evangelicals look at the evangelical church and are quite incredulous. Evangelicalismbf appears to be a ragtag patchwork of thousands and thousands of denominations and individual non-denominational churches with no central authority and many secondary doctrinal differences. They say, “What a hodgepodge! Could Jesus be the author of such confusion?” But despite many secondary differences and preferences, evangelical Christians are UNITED in their belief in the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. We are one in Christ because we have individually accepted Him as our Savior with no other plea than His perfect, imputed righteousness. Are there some people who attend evangelical churches who haven’t genuinely accepted Christ? Obviously, but that’s another post.

We live in the post-modern era where truth is relative and pluralism and inclusiveness are gods to be worshipped. It’s no surprise that this thinking has crept into the evangelical church. If some individual or group professes to be a “Christian,” that seems to be good enough for many evangelicals these days. An individual or group may insist salvation is merited by obeying the Ten Commandments and religious rules but many evangelicals will still readily embrace them as brothers and sisters in Christ because they mention Jesus a lot and seem so sincere. The thinking among many in evangelicalism has become, “Let’s leave doctrine to the theologians. We all love God and that’s good enough.” The Gospel of grace through faith has become watered down and devalued in the quest for “unity,” i.e., “You believe we must obey the Ten Commandments to merit salvation? Oh, no problem. Let’s not get bogged down on doctrine my brother in Christ!” The recent controversy surrounding the dismissal of a Wheaton College professor who mentioned the pope as her ally in her claim that Islam is a legitimate pathway to God shows how far evangelicalism has strayed.

I’ve noticed there are relatively very few in the church these days who are willing to take a stand for the genuine Gospel. To point out to Catholics that their gospel of sacramental grace and merit is NOT the Good News of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone is seen as rude and off putting. There are very few nationally known evangelical leaders who confront Catholicism for what it is. In stark contrast, mainline Catholic leaders and apologists have no problem claiming their church is the “one true church” and that it alone has the fullness of the gospel. The Catholic church has television and radio shows which often focus on those who left Protestantism for Rome. Many, many books are offered each year by Catholic publishers, which describe the conversion of “evangelicals” to Catholicism (see photo). I monitor Catholic media quite a bit and I often hear disparaging remarks about the “fundamentalist, bible-bangers,” and Catholicism’s full-course spiritual meal compared to Evangelicalism’s “junk food” diet. In contrast, testimonies of ex-Catholics who accepted Christ and left Catholicism for evangelical churches are found only on the evangelical fringes these days.

Yet, despite the well-organized Catholic media campaigns and the shameful silence, indifference, and even opposition of evangelicals, surveys show many, many more Catholics are accepting Christ and leaving Catholicism for evangelicalism than the other way around. According to Pew Research on conversion rates, 10 percent of people raised Catholic “wind up” as evangelicals while just 2 percent of people raised in evangelicalism “wind up” Catholic. See here. I don’t boast in that fact but, rather, I’m so grateful the Holy Spirit freed myself and others from the chains of religious legalism and man-made traditions and led us to Jesus Christ. Instead of being so deferential regarding error, may evangelicals get a back bone and proclaim the uncompromised Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone.

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13