Weekend Roundup – News and Commentary

Thanks so much for joining me for a roundup of this week’s news.weru

Geopolitical pressures (better known as Germany and Russia in this case) turned Poland into the most Catholic nation on the planet. The Polish Catholic church follows the rigid doctrinalism of its beloved Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II and resents Francis, the liberal reformer. Francis is hoping to make a few friends with this visit but the Polish hierarchy, like other conservative factions, is holding its breath until the triple tiara passes to another JPII or Benedict.

While the pope attempts to mend some fences in Poland, reasons for his unpopularity among traditionalists and conservatives continue to make the headlines.

Democratic vice-presidential candidate, Tim Kaine, attempted to draw support from Catholic voters at the DNC this week by referring to his Catholic faith, Jesuit education, and experience as a volunteer with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras. But he was also outspoken in his support of abortion. I’m mystified by “faithful” Catholics like Kaine who can justify the murder of the unborn. The second article blames some of the politically-correct immorality on liberal priests.

Switching to the other political party, Republican vice-presidential candidate, Mike Pence, is an ex-Catholic who says he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and is now an evangelical Christian. This obviously doesn’t sit well with Catholics. They are unnerved by the many folks, represented by Pence, who have left Catholicism for a “more meaningful worship experience” or a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ at an evangelical fellowship. Catholics are desperately trying to understand the “problem” and to “fix” it. They’re even attempting to reach out to non-Catholics (see second article). What they don’t see is that it’s not about “meaningful worship experiences,” it’s about the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. People are responding to God’s Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit and accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior and coming out of Catholicism, which teaches salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

This traditionalist Catholic article criticizes ecumenical events like the recent ‘Together 2016’ which blur the doctrinal lines between Catholicism and evangelical Christianity. I agree with the author that overlooking doctrine helps no one. Salvation is either by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone as the Bible teaches or it’s by sacramental grace and merit as Catholicism teaches. One way leads to heaven, the other way leads to hell. Woe to those who blur the Gospel.

Catholicism regularly sponsors “tours” of relics or “holy” objects. In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the alleged appearance of Mary at Fatima, Portugal, the statue that normally stands at the Fatima grotto is stopping at 100 U.S. dioceses in 100 weeks. Once again, this is a case where Catholics put their faith in the created rather than in the Creator.

This is an informative, thoughtful article on the decline of the Catholic church in the U.S. as exemplified by the Diocese of Chicago. Religious institutions rise and fall. Jesus Christ is the solid Rock Who never fails.


Thanks for visiting my weekly roundup of news and commentary. Enjoy your weekend!

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“The Unfinished Reformation: What Unites and Divides Catholics and Protestants After 500 Years”

I try to keep an eye out for new books about Roman Catholicism from evangelical authorsREF and last night I came across “The Unfinished Reformation: What Unites and Divides Catholics and Protestants After 500 Years” by Gregg Allison and Christopher Castaldo, which is due out on September 12, 2016. Preliminary remarks about the book are provided below.

“Five hundred years ago, a Catholic monk nailed a list of grievances on the door of a church in Germany and launched a revolution in the history of Christianity. Today there continues to be a number of unresolved issues between the Protestant and Catholic churches, and many experience this ongoing division within their family and among friends and neighbors.

Written in an accessible and informative style, Gregg Allison and Chris Castaldo provide a brief and clear guide to the key points of unity and divergence between Protestants and Catholics today. They write to encourage fruitful conversation about the key theological and sociological differences between the two largest branches of the Christian Church.

From the revolutionary events 500 years ago that sparked the Reformation to today, Unfinished Reformation takes a nuanced and thoughtful look at doctrine, practice, and how Protestants and Catholics can have fruitful discussions about the gospel of Jesus Christ.” – from Amazon.com

I’ve reviewed books about Catholicism by Castaldo and Allison in the past. See here, here, and here. As a general observation I would say that, while these gentlemen certainly do distinguish between the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and Catholicism’s gospel of sacramental grace and merit, they are a bit too deferential in their approach. You definitely won’t mistake their material with the no-compromise tack of a James McCarthy, a James White, or a John MacArthur. Castaldo and Allison are more about “dialoguing” with Catholics rather than confronting them head-on with the Gospel. One could make a case, which I have done many times, that beating around the bush doesn’t really help the Catholic. They naturally interpret accommodation by evangelicals to mean approval and acceptance of their religious system. We’ve seen that this “dialogue” approach has even led some evangelicals to jettison right doctrine altogether and to declare Catholicism to be “Close enough!”

On the other hand we’ve also seen how Jesuit conspiracy theorists (e.g., Chick Publications) and other extreme viewpoints (e.g., Ruckmanism) have weakened responsible efforts to reach Roman Catholics with the Gospel.

I wish Castaldo and Allison were more forthright in their apologetics but in this era of ecumenical apostasy and wholesale betrayal of the Gospel I’m grateful that they differentiate between the Gospel of grace and Rome’s gospel of works and invite Catholics to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. I look forward to reading this book and presenting a review.

To pre-order “The Unfinished Reformation: What Unites and Divides Catholics and Protestants After 500 Years,” see here.

Deception Calling

Several months ago, a person gave a book to my sister-in-law titled, “Jesus Calling,” byJC Sarah Young. My wife asked me about the book but I wasn’t familiar with it other than I had seen it prominently displayed at the local Christian bookstore. I did a little digging and found out that Ms. Young claims Jesus visited her and gave her alleged direct revelations which she recorded and compiled into this “devotional.” Say what? Are you kidding me!?!? Young qualifies her revelations saying they aren’t inspired, infallible, and inerrant like the Bible and yet she claims they are messages given to her directly from God. So why wouldn’t they also be inspired, infallible, and inerrant? They’re either from God or they’re not.

But many Christians have no problem with Young’s supposed messages from God. The publisher claims “Jesus Calling” has sold more than 16 million copies since it was first published in 2004. There’s a large segment of evangelical Christianity where many people claim to receive direct revelation from the Lord. “The Lord gave me this message to give to you” and “The Lord revealed to me that He desires for you to do (such and such).”  The flesh being what it is, I’ve noticed those claiming to be a modern-day prophets tend to “lord it over” those without the “gift.”  Catholicism has many examples of this kind of supposed direct revelation including the popular “Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska.”

Don’t get me wrong. I feel the leading of the Holy Spirit every day. There are times when I feel the Lord wants me to do something and there are times when I feel the Lord leading me away from sin. The Holy Spirit regularly uses God’s Word to direct me. But God doesn’t put His thoughts in my head to write to paper as He used the writers of the books of the Bible!

This is a bad precedent, folks. Every misguided and deceitful snake charmer can claim Jesus is speaking to them through direct revelation. There is only one Word of God. Call Young’s book a “devotional.” Call it what you want. I call it garbage. Jesus is not writing any books through Sarah Young or anyone else. Throw it in the refuse can where it belongs. I see there are now a very large number of “Jesus Calling” spinoff products. It’s become quite a large “cottage industry” for Ms. Young.

“But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” – 2 Timothy 3:13


Book Review on The Jesus Calling
https://carm.org/book-review-jesus-calling

10 Serious Problems with Jesus Calling
http://www.challies.com/articles/10-serious-problems-with-jesus-calling

Arguing about God over dinner

I’ve mentioned in a few other posts that I have five older sisters and no brothers. Yes,DA I was the “baby” of the family and the apple of my Mom’s eye. 🙂 All six of us children were sent to Catholic parochial school and Catholic high school but my sisters (all now in their sixties) currently claim to be agnostics or atheists.

My Mom died two years ago and my Dad died last summer. Sister #4 never attends Catholic church…ever…but she felt compelled to have a mass said for our mother last year on the anniversary of her death. This month she arranged to have a mass said for our father. Catholics are taught that they can contact their local parish office and request that a mass or masses be dedicated to a deceased loved one. A stipend is usually involved. Catholics are taught that masses dedicated to a deceased person bestow grace and shorten the person’s time in Purgatory. However, God’s Word doesn’t speak about Purgatory. Those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior have all of their sins forgiven. Praise God!

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” – 2 Cor. 5:6-8

The sale of indulgences and masses for those in Purgatory was a huge moneymaker for the Catholic church. St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the center of Catholicism, was largely built through the sale of indulgences.

My wife and I had Sisters #2 and #4 over for dinner last Saturday. The discussion around the table eventually turned to spiritual matters. Sister #4, an agnostic who nevertheless still buys masses for my parents, made it clear that she doesn’t have any respect for the Bible. She quoted a quasi-documentary on cable television which disparaged the Bible. The show claimed the Israelites had plagiarized much of their religion from the beliefs of other ancient nations. The show allegedly also claimed that the New Testament manuscripts were manipulated by devious and self-serving popes. I countered that many scholars have researched the Bible and have attested to its trustworthiness. My sister has never actually read the Bible for herself and she has no intention of doing so. She stated the producers of the cable show and other likeminded atheists had as much or more credibility in her eyes than any group of “Bible scholars” that I could come up with.

Sister # 4 exemplifies many Roman Catholics. They don’t participate in the church’s mandatory sacraments of mass and confession. They don’t read the Bible and may ridicule those who do. Rather than having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, they may doubt if God even exists. But at life’s important milestones (infant baptisms, weddings, serious illnesses, funerals), they enjoy the comfort of familiar Catholic rituals. Although they are Catholics in name only at best, they’ll vigorously contend for their religious system if challenged.

As I began to defend the Bible and the conversation became a bit heated, my wife calmed things down by interjecting, “Well, you’re either looking for God or you’re not.” That stopped the argument. Right, no sense in arguing with a person who would rather go by their own thinking than trusting in what God has revealed to mankind through His Word and through His Son.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” – Proverbs 16:25

Dear Father God, I am soooooo grateful that You opened my blind eyes to the GOOD NEWS of salvation by Your grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Thank You for Your Word. Help us to give out the Gospel to those who are hoping they can merit Heaven by obeying the Law and by being “good.” Help us also to know when to stop arguing about spiritual matters with people who aren’t really interested.


What does the Bible say about Purgatory?
http://www.gotquestions.org/purgatory.html

Patriotic saint or fascist collaborator?

We’ve seen a lot in the press over the past year regarding threats to religious freedom.Step Individuals and groups have made headlines in their opposition to new federal mandates which interfere with religious beliefs regarding insurance coverage for contraceptives and marriages of same-sex couples. We’ll undoubtedly see further assaults on religious freedoms in the future.

The Catholic church has been an outspoken defender of religious freedoms during this current controversy. The relics of saints Thomas More and John Fisher recently concluded their tour of several U.S. cities as part of the church’s “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign. More and Fisher were murdered by Henry VIII in the 16th century because of their refusal to acknowledge the king as the leader of the breakaway church of England. But the Catholic church conveniently forgets to mention that in the same era when More and Fisher were killed, hundreds of thousands of Protestants were put to death as heretics by civil authorities in league with the church in countries where Catholicism dominated. Also, when Donald Trump first made his negative remarks regarding Muslims last December, journalists were quick to remind us that Catholics had once been the target of nativist Protestants in 19th and 20th century America. What the pundits failed to mention was that anti-Catholicism in the United States was at least partially a reaction to the suppression and persecution of non-Catholics in Catholic countries. See my earlier post here.

Several days ago I saw the article below about Croatia overturning the 1946 conviction of Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac as a fascist, pro-Nazi collaborator. No one can deny that Stepinac was an early supporter of the murderous Catholic Ustase. Few Americans are familiar with the story of the bloody Ustase and their alliance with Nazi Germany. See here. But Croatians who currently campaign for Stepinac’s canonization view him as a patriot and supporter of Croatian independence rather than as a patron of fascist intolerance. Survivors of the Ustase and their families are understandably outraged at the canonization efforts on behalf of Stepinac.

But Stepinac and the Ustase weren’t alone. There were many other fascist movements in 20th century Europe that had the full support of the Catholic church including:

  • Francisco Franco and Nacionalcatolicismo in Spain
  • Antonio Salazar and Estado Novo in Portugal
  • Benito Mussolini and the Partito Popolare Italiano in Italy
  • Engelbert Dollfuss and Austrofacism in Austria
  • Jozef Tiso and the Slovak People’s Party in the Slovak Republic
  • Leon Degrelle and the Rexists in Belgium
  • Philippe Petain and Vichy France
  • The Endecja and post-Pilsudski Sanacja in Poland

For the purposes of this post I won’t digress into Catholic falangism that sprouted up throughout Latin America.

The church used its strong connections with fascist, pro-Catholic regimes to restrict and oppress non-Catholic religious groups, but only seventy-years after the peak of clerical fascism in Europe, the Catholic church portrays itself as the defender of religious freedom. Yes, European clerical fascism is water well over the dam at this point but there’s an irony here that should not be missed or forgotten.


Croatia overturns conviction of WW2 ‘collaborator’ Cardinal Stepinac
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36866939

Weekend Roundup – News and Commentary

I hope everyone had a good week at work. Now it’s time to do a few chores around theWRRR house, catch a few zzzzzs on the backyard hammock, and get caught up on the news with the weekend roundup!

Reports of Marian appearances are on the uptick. What does it all mean? I could be wrong but I’m of the opinion that these Marian apparitions will play a key role in the endtimes.

Opposition to pope Francis continues to escalate among Catholic conservatives and traditionalists who don’t comprehend that Francis is softening rigid doctrinalism in order to make Rome more appealing to the non-Catholic masses. The last article attempts to downplay the anti-Francis faction but the proof is in the proverbial pudding.

The Catholic church is reaching out to young people with commercials at movie theaters. But if the curious visit a Catholic church what will they find? There’s plenty of ritual, ceremony, traditions, formalism, and salvation by sacramental grace and merit but nothing pointing people to a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s a whited sepulchre.

That’s a rhetorical question if there ever was one. But the bottom line is no religious system, whether introspective or formal, can save. Only Jesus Christ can save. Turn from religion and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Last weekend’s ecumenical jesus-fest, Together 2016, held in Washington D.C., shut down five hours early because of the 96-degree heat index. A judgement from the Lord? Together 2016 was the first public event organized by evangelicals which featured a pope as one of the speakers. Expect a ramp-up of ecumenical compromise and apostasy within evangelicalism going forward. Pray that Catholics will continue to be reached by faithful stewards of the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

The “Long Island Medium” is coming to town

I was reading through the local fish wrapper last night and I noticed an advertisementTC for Theresa Caputo, popular television psychic, appearing here in Rochester at the Auditorium Theater on October 6th. I anticipate all of the theater’s 2464 seats will be sold out for this event.

Theresa is the brassy “star” of “Long Island Medium,” a “reality” show featured for six years on cable television’s The Learning Channel (TLC). In each of the 131 episodes of this series, Theresa acts as an intermediary between a person or family and their dead relative or friend.

Theresa describes herself as a devout, practicing Roman Catholic who displays a statue of Mary in her yard and attends mass every Sunday. See here.

Roman Catholicism officially opposes the practice of spiritualism, but on the other hand, the belief system also seems to encourage it. Catholics are taught to pray to dead saints for assistance. See my earlier post regarding this teaching here. Yet, the Bible strongly condemns the practice of communicating with the dead. But since Catholics are encouraged to communicate with dead saints, it’s not hard for many to also make the short leap and attempt to connect with deceased loved ones. The use of sacramental charms and amulets (holy water, medals, scapulars, candles, statues, etc.) may also foster an interest in occultic practices. For centuries, the indigenous peoples of Central and South America have found Catholicism to be the perfect complement to their native pagan superstitions and sorcery.

Theresa Caputo, a practicing Catholic, is a charlatan at best and a channel for demonic activity at worst. I’m inclined to believe a sizable percentage of the ticket buyers for her October show will also be practicing Roman Catholics.

“When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do so.” – Deuteronomy 18:9-14

Catholic friend, turn from ritual, superstition, and dangerous spiritualism and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. Jesus is the Answer to your religious striving.

What does the Bible say about necromancy?
http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-necromancy.html

Weekend Roundup – News and Commentary

Yes, the weekend is here! A chance to do some yardwork, continue painting those cabinetsWRRRR in the basement (argh!), worship at church tomorrow morning (yea!), and present all the news items I’ve collected over this past week:

Catholic conservatives and traditionalists continue to voice their increasing displeasure with pope Francis. The plea by Catholic “life and family leaders” for Francis to “end the confusion” is a brazen step. Perhaps emboldened by the swelling conservative outcry, cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, called on priests to return to the pre-Vatican II posture of facing the altar instead of the congregants during mass, eliciting a swift reproval from Francis. This issue of whether the priest should face East (ad orientem – in the same direction as the congregants) or towards the congregants during mass is a perfect example of how Catholicism is hopelessly entangled in the weeds of pharisaical ritualism and liturgical details rather than leading people to Jesus Christ.

While Francis is busy gathering all the “separated brethren” under his wings, these traditionalist Catholics act like it’s still 1950. Actually, every Catholic who is in Heaven is there in spite of their church, which teaches salvation by sacramental grace and obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules. Some Catholics become so exasperated with their church’s legalism they finally just throw themselves at the feet of Jesus Christ and ask Him to save them. See Luke 18:9-14, the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.

Not all Catholics think Francis is doing a bad job. This leader of Catholic charismatics in Italy is even quite complimentary. Francis’s mission is to position Catholicism at the top of an increasingly ecumenical world. That rankles conservatives who see a weakening of Catholic orthodoxy but Francis says so be it.

The big ecumenical event in the news is “Together 2016” taking place in Washington D.C. today and featuring the pope, Ravi Zacharias, Hillsong United, etc., but smaller gatherings of this type are occurring more frequently all over the world. Note that one of the participants in this Filipino ecumenical praying of the Catholic “Divine Mercy Chaplet” cites “prominent American Evangelical pastor and author Rick Warren” for praying the chaplet “everyday.”

Southern Baptist, Timothy George, the author of this article, calls the Reformation a tragic necessity, but has spent a large portion of his career working for the cause of Catholic-Protestant reunification.

I have a very strong suspicion that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.

They’re not. In fact, Pew Research shows that it’s the other way around; Catholics are leaving Roman Catholicism in large numbers for Jesus Christ and joining evangelical churches. This author cites an unusual case where nine students at an evangelical college joined Roman Catholicism but somehow the nine have disingenuously become “so many.” See my review of the same book here for my take on the compromise and betrayal of the Gospel at Southern Evangelical Seminary.

Betraying the Gospel for the sake of “Christian unity”

Evangelical, Nick Hall, and his team are working out the final details of “Together 2016,”TG which will be held tomorrow, Saturday, July 16, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The stated purpose of this ecumenical gathering is to “empower the church and awaken the culture to Jesus.” Hall is expecting one million people to attend the event.

Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic church, has been invited to provide a video message to the crowd. As far as I’m aware, “Together 2016” will be the very first public event organized by evangelical Christians in which a pope has been invited to address the audience.

But for many evangelicals, the “elephant on the National Mall” will be that the pope teaches the Catholic gospel of sacramental grace and merit, as opposed to the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. How do Hall and Co. reconcile the two? They don’t. Like all ecumenically-minded evangelicals, they hear Catholics speak of “Jesus” and “grace” and “faith” and declare, “Close enough.”

Can a person actually be saved through the standard Catholic theology of sacramental grace and obedience to the Ten Commandments and church rules? Yesteryear’s evangelicals answered with a resounding “No!” while many of today’s evangelicals answer, “No need to get hung up on theological details; we all love Jesus and that’s the important thing.” Yet, Pope Francis has declared even atheists will merit Heaven if they follow their consciences and are “good.” But there’s nothing surprising about that. It’s the logical extension of a works gospel. But how does that teaching sit with you, evangelical friend?

The spirit of accommodation, cooperation, compromise, and betrayal prevails in this day, all in the name of Jesus. It’s a strange thing; today’s compromising evangelicals don’t get angry at the pope’s gospel of works, they get angry at those who point it out.


Together 2016: 1M Christians, Francis Chan, Hillsong United, Pope Francis Will Pray for Revival This Saturday
http://www.christianpost.com/news/together-2016-1m-christians-francis-chan-hillsong-united-pope-francis-will-pray-for-revival-this-saturday-interview-166441/

James White: What goes through Ravi Zacharias’s head?

Back in October of last year, I ran across a You Tube video of Christian apologist,JWW Ravi Zacharias, speaking at a seminar. At the start of the video, a young street evangelist asks Ravi if Roman Catholicism is a cult or an apostate church? For five minutes Ravi dances around the question without giving the young man a forthright answer. I was a bit angered. Does Rome teach the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone or does it not? Why was Ravi so reluctant to be straightforward? Why the hesitancy? Why the deference to Rome? Meanwhile, Catholic apologists do not hesitate to proclaim their church is the one true church and that its gospel of sacramental grace and merit is the only authorized way to God.

For Ravi’s video and my reaction, see here.

Praise God, I see that I’m not the only one who was flabbergasted by Ravi’s non-reply to the street evangelist! Yesterday, I stumbled across Christian apologist, James White’s 2/3/15 reaction to the very same video. Click on the link below. White’s critique of Ravi’s comments begins at the 29:40 mark and ends at the 47:37 mark.

http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php/2015/02/03/roman-catholicism-on-todays-dividing-line/

I can personally attest to the fact that Ravi has referred to several Roman Catholics with great praise and admiration in his talks and writings including St. Francis, G.K. Chesterton, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Henri Nouwen. I would not be surprised if there have been many others. I see Ravi’s also scheduled to appear at the “Together 2016” ecumenifest this weekend along with pope Francis.

Ravi is a wonderful speaker and he’s pointed many to Christ but, unfortunately, he’s also muddied the Gospel of grace by embracing as Christians those who teach salvation by sacramental grace and obedience to the Ten Commandments. But there is only one Gospel. No one benefits when evangelicals turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the deadly errors of Catholicism’s gospel of sacramental grace and merit.