Weekend Update

It’s time to review the news items I’ve collected over this past week along with some humbleNews commentary thrown in:

What? Francis isn’t a teetotaling Baptist? Actually, there are many more important differences between Baptists and Catholics than the question of alcoholic beverages, like, say, whether salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone versus Catholicism’s version of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. I happen to agree with Francis that limited drinking of alcoholic beverages is fine and in accordance with Scripture but that’s a future post.

If it’s true, I applaud the growing interest in reading the Bible among Catholics. I never opened a Bible in 12 years of Catholic schooling because I was never instructed or encouraged to do so. When I finally did read the Bible for myself I was jarred by the differences between God’s Word and Roman Catholic teaching. There’s a reason that reading the Bible was not encouraged by the Catholic church for centuries.

The escalating feud between Francis and traditionalist Catholics is a fascinating thing to observe.

Why is the Catholic church still fumbling its way through this shameful scandal involving pedophile priests and the subsequent cover-up by the hierarchy? Why weren’t guidelines put in place 30 years ago when the stink first arose from the sewer?

Catholics place great importance in the relics of “saints.” From a Christian perspective, the veneration and worship of body parts or material objects that once belonged to “saints” resembles Haitian voo doo practices. This is sheer paganism, folks. Scripture specifically prohibits this kind of idolatry.

When John Piper addressed the leaders of European evangelicalism in Poland recently, he advised them, “We need to preach (to) Catholics justification through faith alone.” Yet, over here in America we have the “evangelical” organizers of “Together 2016” recruiting the pope as a speaker for their event. Does not compute.

This isn’t a particularly flattering article on the reformer, which is fine. Luther was a sinner saved by grace who was used mightily by the Lord to recover the saving Gospel of salvation by grace through faith.

Billy Graham was the preeminent evangelist of our era and he’s widely considered to be a Protestant version of a Catholic “saint.” But later in his life, Graham espoused some ecumenical beliefs that were extremely disturbing. In this article, he’s quoted as saying,  “(Muhammad) Ali’s primary beliefs are something we could all believe.” I’m very aware that any criticism of Dr. Graham is considered blasphemous by “mainstream evangelicalism,” but I’ll be examining his troubling ecumenism in a future post.

Over the last two hundred and forty years, American evangelicals have intertwined faith with nationalism and patriotism, as if America was in a covenant with God as the New Israel. Yet, when I read the New Testament, I understand the early church to be averse to national pride. Yes, Scripture says we are to be law abiding citizens and to pray for those who have authority over us, but blood-bought believers are ambassadors of our Lord and our new home is in Heaven. We’re just traveling through this world on behalf of our Heavenly King and our suitcases are lightly packed. We’re no longer to be deeply attached to this world with its partisan pridefulness.

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10 thoughts on “Weekend Update

    1. Yes, previous modern popes have talked ecumenism but this pope is willing to downplay and seemingly sweep aside SOME doctrine for the cause of “christian” unity, to the consternation of Catholic fundamentalists. Window dressing aside, it’s still salvation by sacramental grace and merit. Could this big push for unity be leading to something very ominous? I don’t dabble in eschatology much but methinks so.

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  1. I also don’t get into trying to discern the events foretold, but I think it highly likely that the Roman church will be involved. And that she will acquire more power and influence before then. So if the pope is seen as moving towards evangelicals, many will move towards him.

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    1. Yes, if there were some sort of cataclysmic event – a meteor hit, the detonation of a nuclear device by a rogue nation or terrorist group – I can see the world turning to the pope for leadership.

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    1. Hey Wally. When I returned to the Lord two years ago and started becoming reacquainted with the “church scene,” I came across Piper’s name a lot. He’s one of leaders of the New Calvinism movement which is having quite an impact on the church. Maybe I’m wrong but it seems a lot of the “popular” non-charismatic preachers are Reformed but of course Piper is Reformed AND charismatic. I was pretty deep into the indy freewill Baptist viewpoint back in the 80s and I can remember our old pastor ridiculing Calvin from the pulpit.

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      1. Tom your last line struck me. We don’t need ridicule from the pulpit, even when we may disagree. There is plenty of that on both sides of the free will/sovereignty of God debate. I don’t have a problem calling out a false teacher by name at all, but we never need to personalize it like that.

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      2. I agree, Wally. Oh, he used to go on and on about Calvinism at tmes. He had great fun disparaging the T-U-L-I-P acronym. I don’t know why we stayed as long as we did. The bad thing was I became so disillusioned I walked away from the Lord entirely.

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      3. See? Exactly. My pastor is very clear where he stands on this, but it’s always the Bible he talks about, not somebody who teaches different. In fact, he is a John MacArthur fan himself even though they don’t agree on this totally. I’m probably a lot closer to Calvinism than the extremes of the other view…just not quite all the way. I say I am a 4.5 point Calvinist LOL. But, to be perfectly honest, most of the debate is above my pay grade so for me to jump in the middle would be dumb.

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      4. Yup, I’m also somewhere in-between and maybe leaning a little more towards Calvinism than Arminianism. There’s some dangerous theology at either extreme.

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