“Risen,” the movie

RisenRI
Directed by Kevin Reynolds and featuring Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton, and Peter Firth.
2016, 107 minutes

I had already read and reviewed “Risen,” the book (see here), before seeing the movie yesterday with my wife. Regrettably, one of the book’s main characters, Rachel, ended up on the film’s cutting room floor. All in all, this is an enjoyable movie about the resurrection of Jesus through the eyes of a fictional non-believer. Roman tribune, Clavius, is in search of “a day without death” and “peace.” Does he find what he’s searching for in Christ?

Unfortunately, the film doesn’t make explicitly clear that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins by His death on the cross and rose from the grave, conquering sin and death, to be the Savior of all those who accept Him. Viewers of this film who don’t already know Christ and God’s Word might assume Jesus is just some type of divine, New Age guru who pedals nirvanic bliss to his followers rather than being their Savior from the wages of sin. The book does a much better job of identifying Jesus’ biblical roles as the sacrificial Lamb of God and the Savior of those who accept Him.

But I don’t mean to be too harsh. Transferring the Bible to film and pleasing every viewer is an impossible task and many would say it’s a task that shouldn’t even be attempted. I enjoyed “Risen” and would watch it again. Fiennes gives a fine performance as the battle-hardened tribune in search of life’s true meaning. I choked back tears several times at the depictions of my Savior’s death and His triumphal resurrection and appearances. What a price He paid and what a gift He offers! But, if you want the factual details, and you should, read the New Testament.

Hopefully, “Risen” will be the start of the journey to Christ for many. If the Holy Spirit can use a movie like “The Omen,” as He did with me, He can most assuredly use “Risen.”

“Catholicism: East of Eden”

Catholicism: East of EdenCEE
By Richard Bennett
Banner of Truth, 2010, 336 pages

In this book, ex-priest, Richard Bennett, provides a charitable but uncompromising critique of Roman Catholicism in comparison to God’s Word. Catholicism claims to be the “one true church” but in each chapter Bennett details how the Catholic church strayed from simple faith in Jesus Christ of early Christianity to institutionalized legalism and ritualism. Bennett’s insights into Catholicism as a former Dominican priest are invaluable.

Chapters

  1. From Tradition To Truth: A Priest’s Story
  2. The Lord Gave His Word: Unshakable Authority
  3. The Mystique of the Catholic Priesthood
  4. The Papacy: An Overview of Its History and Nature
  5. The Papal Claim to Have the Keys of the Apostle Peter
  6. Baptism, Confirmation, and the Anointing of the Sick
  7. Encounters in the Confession Box
  8. The Mass as a Sacrifice
  9. Holy Communion
  10. The Mystic Plague
  11. Images of “Christ” and the Gospel
  12. The Biblical Mary and Tradition
  13. God’s Institution of Marriage and Rome’s Infringement on It
  14. Convent Life
  15. Biblical Unity in the Lord
  16. The Alignment of New Evangelicals with Catholicism
  17. Conclusion

Bennett is founder and director of The Berean Beacon, a ministry to Roman Catholics. Copies of Catholicism East of Eden can be ordered directly from the Berean Beacon or from Amazon.com.

For a list of over 300 books that compare Catholicism with God’s Word, see my Books tab.

“Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” – Genesis 4:16

Projections of priest shortages worry Catholics

The article far below warns of a projected decline in the number of Catholic priests in thedecline Cleveland, Ohio diocese over the next 30 years. There are currently 264 active priests in the diocese but a recent study suggests the number will be around 145 by 2045. Of course, the shrinking number of priests isn’t peculiar to Cleveland but is the case throughout the United States.

I would suggest three of the biggest reasons for the decline of priestly vocations within Catholicism might be:

  • A growing indifference to official church teaching and requirements. Only 24% of Catholics attend mandatory weekly mass and only 12% participate in mandatory yearly confession. 40% of Catholics do not believe the consecrated bread wafer and wine are the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ.
  • Mandatory celibacy is viewed as too great a sacrifice by young, red-blooded Catholic men.
  • The pedophile scandal and subsequent cover-up by the hierarchy cast a dark pall over the priesthood in the minds of many Catholics.

Catholicism relies heavily on its priests. The church teaches salvation is dependent on a mixture of sacramental grace and merit. Its sacraments – baptism, confirmation, the eucharist, confession, marriage, ordination, and last rites – are all administered and jealously controlled by the church’s bishops and priests. Catholicism without priests is like Los Angeles without gas stations.

But the Bible teaches the priestly sacerdotal system was done away with by the final High Priest, Jesus Christ, Who offered Himself once and for all time as the sacrifice for sin. He now sits at the right hand of the Father acting as the sole Mediator for all who accept Him as Savior. You won’t find Him on Catholic altars as a broken victim or locked away in tabernacle boxes as a flat, round piece of bread.

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. He’s the only Priest you’ll ever need!

“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, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” – Hebrews 10:11-14


 

The Scandal of the Catholic Priesthood – John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-264/the-scandal-of-the-catholic-priesthood


 

With priest shortage growing, Northeast Ohio Catholics can expect fewer Masses, other changes

http://www.cleveland.com/tipoff/index.ssf/2016/02/with_priest_shortage_growing_n.html

 

Pope vs. Trump and Zika!

A) “Pope Francis Suggests Donald Trump Is ‘Not Christian’”TP

And I would suggest pope Francis is not a Christian because he leads a church which proclaims a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. The genuine Good News is that salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Because he teaches a false gospel of works righteousness masquerading as Christianity, Francis is a MUCH more dangerous person than Donald Trump.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/19/world/americas/pope-francis-donald-trump-christian.html?_r=0

B) “Pope Francis Says Contraception May Be ‘Lesser of Two Evils’ During Zika Virus Outbreak”

Well, whaddaya know? It took him long enough. Although the statement is certainly less than definitive so as not to be seen as contradicting Paul VI’s ban on contraceptives. But what about the babies who were already affected by the virus and were born or will be born with microcephaly because Catholic married couples in South America wanted to be obedient to their church and didn’t use contraceptives prior to this imprecise, off-the-cuff statement made in an airplane aisle?

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/pope-francis-contraception-lesser-evils-zika-virus-outbreak/story?id=37026017

“Sin” not a popular word in our 21st-century culture

“There is no holy life. There is no war between good and evil. There is no sin and nosin redemption.” – Deepak Chopra

“Sin” is a VERY unpopular word in our post-modern society. The general understanding now is that everyone is a law unto themselves; each person makes their own moral laws and follows their own individual conscience. If they “mess up,” no biggie. There are no absolute moral standards and there is no such thing as sin.

This thinking is even creeping into the evangelical church. A very popular pro$perity preacher on TBN has stated that he doesn’t harp about sin because no one would come to his services or tune in to his television show. His messages are all about attaining a “better life.”

The Catholic church mandates its members must confess their “mortal” sins to a priest at least once a year. Only once a year? Failure to do so incurs another “mortal” sin. Yet, research indicates only 12% of Catholics go to confession at least yearly (see article below). That is not surprising since Catholicism generally sets a very low bar regarding “holiness.” Part of Catholic salvation teaching is that people must merit Heaven by obeying the Ten Commandments, which is absolutely impossible.

Most Catholics would say they do a pretty good job of obeying the Ten Commandments. If pressed, they will say they’re not perfect but at least they’ve never killed anyone or cheated on their spouse. The Catholic church has reinforced the minimization of sin by differentiating between venial (small) and mortal (big) sins and by teaching such things as “mental reservation,” whereby an individual is not guilty of a sinful act as long as there’s a proviso in their mind that the act is for a greater good. Catholics talk about Jesus the “Savior” but still think they must save themselves by trying to obey the Ten Commandments.

But there is a Holy God Who reveals Himself to the world through His Word. The Lord definitely has absolute moral standards and all of us fall short. None of us could ever possibly obey God’s Law. None of us will be able to stand before Him and present our own “goodness” as justification. When we appear before God we will have no plea of our own. Our lives will be revealed completely; all the private thoughts, acts, and motivations. All of them. No, we may not have actually killed anyone or cheated on our spouse but Jesus made it clear that physical manifestations of hatred and lust (etc., etc.) are rooted in our sinful hearts. None will be able to justify themselves. None will have an excuse.

“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” – Luke 12:2-3

“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” – Hebrews 10:31

But God loved us so much He sent Jesus Christ, God the Son, to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross. Jesus rose from the grave, conquering death and sin and offers the free gift of eternal life and fellowship with God to all who accept Him by faith as their Savior. I have no righteousness other than the imputed, perfect righteousness of my Savior. Will you accept Him, too? Yes, yes, yes, God wants His children to follow Him in obedience, but you must first become a child of God by accepting His Son.

People don’t realize their need for a Savior until they comprehend just how sinful they are in comparison to God’s holiness. And this realization only comes by the revelation of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God.

*********************************************

Bishop asks Catholics in his diocese: ‘When did you last go to Confession?’
http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/02/12/bishop-asks-catholics-in-his-diocese-when-did-you-last-go-to-confession/

Biblical Archaeology Review

As believers know, reading through the Bible presents some challenges with all the exoticbar names of people, places, and things. A good Bible dictionary is a great help. I personally recommend The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary; a very reliable, orthodox resource for evangelical Christians.

For those interested in digging even deeper into the history of the Bible lands I recommend Biblical Archaeology Review magazine. It’s fascinating to read about excavations of sites mentioned in the Bible. The photography is excellent. The contributors aren’t all necessarily believers so the reader should keep that in mind. I just received my first issue after having subscribed many, many years ago. A one-year print subscription (six bi-monthly issues) only costs $13.97 (or $10 if you use the subscription card inside a newsstand copy). See here.

Spanish evangelicals remember Catholic persecution

Back in December, I commented on how several journalists had used Donald Trump’sFranco controversial remarks regarding Muslims to remind readers of anti-Catholicism in America in previous generations. I pointed out that the journalists conveniently reported only half of the story. The Protestant immigrants to America were painfully aware of the persecution of non-Catholics in countries where Catholics held the majority. Popes reserved the right to suppress Protestants and Protestant worship services wherever Catholics were able to gain the cooperation of the civil authorities. See my previous post here.

In the article below, Spanish evangelical Christians recall the persecution they suffered in Spain during the dictatorial regime (1939-1975) of faithful Roman Catholic, Francisco Franco (see photo of fascist Franco posing with clerical allies).

“…many Spanish Protestants were incarcerated, beginning with Franco’s victory and until the late sixties. Most of them were brought to the courts by Catholic priests. In 1965, Monroy recalls, private Protestant meetings to pray, sing and study the Bible were approved. But the meetings were only legal if there were less than 20 people. Christians were were fined and even incarcereted. In the public spaces, only Catholic ceremonies were allowed.”

But Protestants were also oppressed in many other Catholic countries during the 20th century: Salazar’s Portugal, Mussolini’s Italy, inter-war Poland, Vichy France, Pavelic’s Croatia, and several Latin American countries that were strongly influenced by Catholic clerico-fascism.

Some may respond, “Why bring this up now? It’s all water over the dam. The Catholic church is nowhere near as religiously and politically militant as it used to be.”

The Catholics who still bother to attend mass on Sunday are fed a saccharinized version of their church’s history. Why would anyone think it would be otherwise? But their church’s actual history defies all claims to Spirit-led, infallible leadership. That’s the moral of the story.

**************************

Spain, forty years after Franco’s death
http://evangelicalfocus.com/europe/1173/Spain_Forty_years_after_Francos_death

“Pope’s efforts to stop church child abuse appear to unravel”

The phrase, “That’s unacceptable,” is a worn out cliche but if anything is UNACCEPTABLE it’s been the Catholic hierarchy’s ongoing “mishandling” of pedophile priests.

Despite the damage-control campaign we’ve seen over the last decade, the story below indicates it’s still the same old, same old. Every Roman Catholic should call their bishop’s office TODAYUntitled3 and DEMAND safeguards are in place to protect their children. Better yet, come out of legalistic, sacerdotal religion and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior; the only Priest you’ll ever need.

**********************

Pope’s efforts to stop church child abuse appear to unravel

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/02/15/popes-efforts-stop-church-child-abuse-appear-unravel/80394122/

Did Saint John Paul II have a married girlfriend?

Recently revealed personal letters indicate Saint John Paul II aka Karol Wojtyla had a long, intimate friendship with a married woman that, at the least, bordered on KWinappropriate (see story below).

Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka (pictured), a Polish-American philosopher, sold the letters Wojtyla had written to her — letters not made public until now — to the National Library of Poland in 2008. She died in 2014.

Celibacy for clerics was made mandatory in 1139 by pope Innocent II mainly to ensure church property stayed within the church. Human nature being what it is, the forced celibacy of priests and nuns led to sinful relationships and monstrous abuses too numerous to count.

Celibacy remains a controversial issue within Catholicism and is certainly a factor in the dramatic decline in the number of Catholic clerics that we now see.

I thank the Lord He freed me from the chains of Catholic legalism and tradition. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and seek out a Bible-believing, evangelical fellowship. Following the religious rules of men won’t save.

“They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.” – Matthew 23:4

“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

**************************************

John Paul II ‘secret letters’ reveal connection to married woman he called ‘a gift from God’

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/02/16/john-paul-ii-secret-letters-reveal-connection-to-married-woman-he-called-a-gift-from-god/

Why I am not a Roman Catholic

Why I am not a Roman Catholic:  Ten biblical reasons why I cannot be a RomanMary Catholic

By Will Graham, Evangelical Focus, February 13, 2016

  1. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in Mariology.
  2. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in the pope
  3. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in idolatry
  4. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in purgatory
  5. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in transubstantiation
  6. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in the clergy/ lay division
  7. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in the apocrypha
  8. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in the seven sacraments
  9. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I don’t believe in mortal or venial sins
  10. I’m not a Roman Catholic because I believe in the biblical Gospel

See the full article via the link below:

http://evangelicalfocus.com/magazine/1363/Why_I_am_not_a_Roman_Catholic