Would somebody PLEASE excommunicate me?!?!

In the past I’ve written about some of the circumstances surrounding my departureEXC from the Roman Catholic church, but today I’d like to go into a little more detail.

I was baptized into the church as an infant and our family attended mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation. My five older sisters and I were all sent to Catholic grammar school and high school. I received the sacraments of penance and first communion when I was seven years old and was confirmed at the age of ten. I served as an altar boy from fifth through eighth grade and even desired to eventually enter the priesthood. But along with adolescence came the usual distractions and I lost interest in the church and religion.

After my wife and I married, had our two sons, and moved into our first house, the responsibility of fatherhood weighed upon me and I set about to raise our two boys in the Catholic faith. I began attending mass on Sunday at the local church and even arranged for the parish priest to come over and bless our new house. As part of my return to the faith, I also went out and bought a Catholic bible and began reading the New Testament voraciously. In twelve years of Catholic training, we had never read the Bible. I was amazed that the Bible contradicted many of the teachings of the Catholic church. I was so distraught that I finally stopped attending mass.

Through God’s Word and the witness of some Christians and Christian materials I was convicted of my sinfulness by the Holy Spirit and I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior by faith in 1983. Hallelujah! What joy! What peace! In all those years of religious indoctrination I had never come to know Jesus as my Savior. My Catholic family and friends didn’t know Christ, either. Catholicism was all about obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules and trying to merit Heaven. There were lots of ritual and formality but no personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

Catholicism is a religion of ritual and ceremony which includes extensive record keeping. In parish archives there’s records of baptisms, confirmations, weddings, funerals, etc. As a Christian who had come out of Catholicism, I wasn’t sure what to do next. Does one who leaves the church request an excommunication? My mother-in-law, who divorced and remarried in the 1950s, had been formally excommunicated from the church and I desired the same. I wrote a letter to the parish priest explaining my new status in Christ and asked to be excommunicated. He wrote back saying the Holy Spirit blows where He will and wished me well. Hmph! No excommunication? No anathemas condemning me to the depths of Hell? My, things had certainly changed!

In centuries past, people such as myself who left the church and aligned with evangelical Protestantism were condemned as heretics and schismatics. What about today? Does the church teach I can still merit Heaven since I left the “one, true church” of my own accord? It depends on who you ask but according to the conservative Catholic source below, if a person abandons the faith “through their own fault” as I did, they will “bear the eternal consequence of doing so,” whatever that means.
http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/if-someone-leaves-the-church-for-another-religion-can-he-still-be-saved

But let’s reason this out. Since the church’s salvation doctrine has “evolved” to the point where the current pope teaches that even “good” atheists are able to merit Heaven, it can’t very well arbitrarily condemn all those who left the ranks as it did in the past. Make no mistake, the Catholic church still has its excommunication canons in its Code of Canon Law, but if it had served excommunication papers on everyone who left or stopped attending over the last forty years, there wouldn’t have been time or resources for anything else.
https://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/heresy_schism_apostasy.htm

Thank you, Lord God, for drawing me out of legalistic religion and opening my eyes to your “Good News” and saving me. Baptism, sacraments, and church membership don’t save. Only accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith and trusting in Him alone leads to salvation.


There’s no such thing as an ex-Catholic

Is it actually possible to become an ‘ex-Catholic’?

A man of God

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-JonesDMLJKK
By Eryl Davies
EP Books, “Bitsize Biographies” series, 2011, 128 pages

I don’t recall exactly when I first became aware of English minister, Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981). I think it may have been about a year ago, when I read his criticism of C. S. Lewis. Since then, I’ve been able to better acquaint myself with the doctor (an actual MD) and what a blessing it’s been.

The story of post-1960 English evangelicalism mirrors similar circumstances here in the U.S. There were mounting pressures to cooperate and compromise with liberal Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. Lloyd-Jones stood firm in fidelity to the Gospel and doctrinal clarity. He spoke out against the ecumenism of the popular C. S. Lewis. He refused to support evangelists such as the visiting Billy Graham who cooperated with liberals and the Catholic clergy. Lloyd-Jones called for all born-again believers to leave spiritually dead denominations that did not preach the Gospel of grace.

I very much enjoyed this short introduction to Lloyd-Jones. What a blessing! Like a cool drink on a blistering hot day. I don’t use the phrases, “man of God” or “woman of God,” carelessly. In fact, I just about NEVER use them. We need to put Jesus Christ on a pedestal, not men. However, after reading this book I was able to say with full confidence about Lloyd-Jones, “Yes, this was a man of God!” This was a man after God’s own heart. But where are the men and women of God today who warn against accommodation, cooperation, compromise, and the betrayal of the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone? They’re certainly not on TBN!

Just imagine D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones sitting in front of a television set and watching TBN for one solid day. What would be his assessment of contemporary mega-church Christianity? Arrrgghhh!!!!!

I read an equally informative book in the “Bitesize Biographies” series on Swiss Reformer, Ulrich Zwingli. See here. For the entire line-up of EP Books’ “Bitesize Biographies” series, see here.

For my previous posts on Lloyd-Jones see here and here.

The Assumption of Mary?

Yesterday, August 15th, Catholics all over the world celebrated the Feast of theASSU Assumption of Mary. The Catholic church teaches that at the end of her life, Mary was taken up body and soul to Heaven and that she is currently seated at the right hand of Jesus Christ as Mediatrix, Co-Redemptrix, and Channel of all God’s graces.

In the 4th-century, a small but determined group began calling for an exalted position for Mary in church theology. Claims were made for her immaculate conception, followed by claims for her assumption, although earlier church writers had made no mention of either assertion. Her immaculate conception was finally defined as a dogma of the church in 1854 and her assumption in 1950. Catholics are obliged to believe both teachings or incur mortal sin. But the rise of Mariology within Catholicism was just another example of the increasingly institutionalized church adapting pagan beliefs and practices. See “The Virgin” (1976) by historian Geoffrey Ashe for an examination of the pagan roots (mother goddess worship) of Mariology.

The Feast of the Assumption is a major holiday for Catholics and is often a “holy day of obligation” whereby Catholics are normally required to attend mass or they incur a mortal sin. However, because the Feast of the Assumption fell on a Monday this year, the U.S. bishops did not require Catholics to attend mass. To be frank, the bishops are having a hard enough time getting Catholics to attend obligatory mass on Sundays let alone the following day. Officially absolving parishioners from mandatory mass attendance yesterday saved the clergy the embarrassment of thousands of near-empty churches on a “holy day of obligation.”

I was listening to “Calling All Catholics” (Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) yesterday and “father” Jacek Mazur was bemoaning the fact that, in Poland, Mazur’s native country, Catholics are required to attend mass on the Feast of the Assumption no matter what day it falls on. He felt the U.S. bishops are too soft on their subjects and that the church needed to enforce a uniform policy worldwide.

I don’t believe Mary’s body was assumed into Heaven. Early church writers never bothered to mention such an important event. Why not? Because it never happened. Mary was a sinner like every person born on Earth and needed a Savior.

“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.'” – Luke 1:46-47

Mary is NOT the Mediatrix or the Co-Redemptrix. The Catholic church would have Mary share in the holy offices of Jesus Christ but Jesus is the ONLY Mediator and Jesus is the ONLY Redeemer. Catholics who read the New Testament for the first time are startled to find that Mary is barely mentioned in comparison to the immense honors, duties, and privileges she is accorded by the Catholic church. In fact, Jesus corrects those who would give Mary any special reverence or even worship:

“As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” – Luke 11:27-28

Catholic friend, Mary would be saddened by all the devotion and worship given to her by the Catholic church. Jesus Christ is the only Savior. Accept Him. There is no need to pray to Mary or the saints. Pray to Jesus Christ. Accept Him as your Savior.


From John MacArthur:

Exposing the Idolatry of Mary Worship: Catholic Dogma, Part 1
https://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/90-315/exposing-the-idolatry-of-mary-worship-catholic-dogma-part-1

Exposing the Idolatry of Mary Worship: Catholic Dogma, Part 2
http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/90-316/exposing-the-idolatry-of-mary-worship-catholic-dogma-part-2

And while we’re on the subject of the “Mother of Harlots”…

Readers of this blog are aware I recently finished reading “A Woman Rides the Beast” by Dave Hunt. See myKM review here. Such a book is certainly not a breezy read for the beach. Far from it! The information presented by Hunt is both disturbing and sobering. I think it took me about two weeks to finish the book and when I was done I felt like I’d been on a long, arduous journey.

Yesterday, as I was scanning through the news on the internet, I noticed the article below from Evangelical Focus:

Malcomson: There Can Be No Unity with Roman Catholicism
http://evangelicalfocus.com/magazine/1869/Malcomson_There_Can_Be_No_Unity_with_Roman_Catholicism

Keith Malcomson, an evangelical pastor based in Ireland, has recently written, “The Scarlet Woman,” which also expounds upon the prophecy of the woman of Revelation 17 and 18. I checked Amazon and I see the book is available to order. See here. I will definitely be reading Malcomson’s book down the road but right now I need a little break from the Mother of Harlots.

You won’t see this book offered on TBN

A Woman Rides the Beast: The Roman Catholic Church and the Last DaysWRB
By Dave Hunt
Harvest House, first published in 1994, 544 pages

I’ve been meaning to read “A Woman Rides the Beast” for quite some time and finally squeezed it into my queue. The author, Dave Hunt (1926-2013), was a Christian apologist who was never known to mince words or to be deferential when defending the Gospel.

I had assumed from the full title that this book focused primarily on eschatology but that’s not the case at all. Hunt begins by identifying the Great Harlot of Revelation, chapters 17 and 18, as the Roman Catholic church. He uses the remainder of the book to justify that conclusion. Many events from the Roman church’s sordid history are examined as well as the origins of many of its unscriptural doctrines.

This book definitely belongs in the collection of every Christian interested in Roman Catholicism. Yes, Hunt leans towards hyperbole at times but that’s understandable given the subject matter. The author references “Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy” by former Jesuit priest, Peter de Rosa (see my review here), and “The Pope and the Council” by disaffected 19th-century ex-priest, J.J. Ignaz von Dollinger, to a fault, but it’s not a problem in my eyes. Few of the people purchasing this book are expecting an academic treatise yet Hunt has done more than enough homework.

If you’re interested in comprehensive examinations of Catholic dogma you would be better served by reading “The Gospel According to Rome” by James McCarthy or “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” by Gregg R. Allison (only nerdy seminary alum need apply in the case of the latter), but this book does a fine job of highlighting some of the most unbiblical and anti-Scriptural elements and episodes of Roman Catholic history.

Let’s be honest; the average Catholic has very little knowledge of their church’s history. What they were taught was more idealistic than realistic. And evangelicals? Most evangelicals these days have no idea why the Reformation even took place. They hear Catholics speak about Jesus and “grace” and “faith” and assume everybody’s now on the same page. This book would be ideal for both Catholics and evangelicals who should know better. Don’t let the 544 pages scare you. Hunt breaks it all down into many short, manageable chapters. “A Woman Rides the Beast” would definitely make my top ten list of books about Catholicism. Now there’s an idea for a future post!

Final thoughts: You surely won’t find “A Woman Rides the Beast” at your local Christian bookstore but it’s readily available from Amazon.com. When I first read the Book of Revelation after coming out of Catholicism and accepting Christ, I knew exactly what was being referred to in chapters 17 and 18. As more and more evangelicals get swallowed up into mega-church ecumenism, those Christians who continue to identify the Great Whore of Revelation as the Roman Catholic church will be increasingly relegated to the fundamentalist/lunatic fringe.

Weekend Review – News and Commentary

Yes, it’s Saturday morning once again. Where did the week go? Time to look back on the news of the last seven days. GotWRRRRRR my cup of joe so let’s get going!

Reaction to the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Reformation has been varied. Rome’s official approach has been mildly conciliatory as would be expected, Catholic traditionalists have been indignant, mainline Protestants and evangelical ecumenists ask why there ever was a Reformation, while evangelicals faithful to the Gospel of grace believe the Reformation must continue. We’ll surely see many more interesting views on the Reformation as the anniversary date approaches.

You could see this one coming. Even worse to follow.

Conservative Catholic bishops still can’t believe Note Dame recently awarded Biden a medal for being such a great Catholic. Many of them would like to excommunicate the Vice President but the current pope says even atheists are going to heaven if they are “good” so what would be the point?

I thought it was more than a little ironic that Billy Graham is giving advice to people on how to avoid a cult. In the big picture, what’s more dangerous to peoples’ souls; some small, cultish church down in Texas with 70 members or an ecclesiastical mega-institution with 1.2 billion members worldwide that teaches a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit? Unbeknownst to many evangelicals, Graham regularly enlisted the support of the local Catholic clergy for his crusades. When Catholics came forward and accepted Jesus Christ at Billy Graham crusades, they were referred to Catholic workers who told them their experience was simply a reaffirmation of their Catholic baptism or confirmation.

At first glance it’s encouraging that so many in Latin America seem to be leaving religious legalism for evangelical Christianity, but is that really the situation? Are these people genuinely accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior or are they signing up for the prosperity gospel’s false jesus who offers all of his followers the opportunity to live opulent lifestyles like Joyce Meyer and Kenneth Copeland?

With the advance of Islamic extremism, the world seems to be headed toward some type of cataclysm. Catholic doctrinalists may be outraged by pope Francis’s ecumenism but he’s adroitly positioning the church to take full advantage of the opportunity when it arrives.

You’ll never see McDonald’s invite Burger King execs to one of their board meetings, but evangelicals can’t seem to muster at least the same level of fidelity to the Gospel of grace.

Several months ago, I wrote a post regarding one of the strangest books I have ever read in my entire life. InGeis “Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences” (1995), evangelical theologian, Norman Geisler, examined the many doctrines that separate evangelicals and Roman Catholics. Most importantly, Geisler noted that Catholicism’s gospel of salvation through sacramental grace and merit was not in accord with the biblical Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Nevertheless, Geisler still somehow concluded that Catholicism is a Christian entity. Huh? It was like a courtroom prosecutor concluding his presentation by ripping up his water-tight evidence and turning to the judge and asking that the case against the guilty defendant be dismissed. Needless to say, ecumenists loved Geisler’s book. See my review here.

I’ve come across Geisler’s name several times recently. While he’s certainly not a household name, Professor Geisler is esteemed in evangelical academic circles as one of their most respected theologians and philosophers. I’ve learned that several of evangelicalism’s most popular apologists were mentored by Geisler; men like Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, and Lee Strobel. Ahhh. Now I get it! The apple never falls too far from the tree. I’ve mentioned Zacharias’s ecumenical leanings here. I’ve also read a couple of offerings from Strobel’s best-selling “The Case for…” series, but I jumped off that assembly line, never to return, after he cited Roman Catholics, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, G.K. Chesterton, and Saint Teresa of Avila as exemplary Christians in “The Case for Faith.”

While searching on Amazon the other night, I came across a book titled, “Why I Am A Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe” (2001) (see photo), which was edited by Geisler. Among others, contributors include Zacharias, Craig, and Roman Catholic philosopher, Peter Kreeft. Kreeft, a convert to Catholicism from the Dutch Reformed Church, is definitely one of Rome’s most prolific champions. He has authored many books which proclaim and defend Rome’s gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Isn’t it strange that a Catholic philosopher would be invited to contribute to a book devoted to evangelical apologetics? Not if the editor is Norman Geisler. Imagine Catholicism’s EWTN or Ignatius Press inviting John MacArthur or R.C. Sproul to contribute to a book on Catholic apologetics! Oy vey! The concept is laughable from either side. But accommodators like Geisler would much rather err on the side of “Christian unity” than be known as – heaven forbid – “uncharitable” Protestant sectarians.

Kreeft’s gospel of sacramental grace and merit is NOT the Gospel of grace by faith. Including Kreeft in “Why I Am A Christtian” blurs the Gospel just like Peter’s accommodation of the legalistic judaizers in Antioch.

“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” – Galatians 2:11-14

Weekend Review – News and Commentary

I hope everyone had a nice week! It’s time to take a look at all the news that’s piled up inJB my in-basket over the last seven days:

Like Obama and Clinton, pope Francis is careful to couch his words in such a way that won’t offend Muslims. The vast majority of Muslims obviously don’t support terror, but radical Islam is a growing reality. It’s also very easy to forget that only seventy-years ago the Catholic church had concordats with many nations in Europe and Latin America, which stipulated that Protestants and other non-Catholics be suppressed. Since those days, the goal of Catholicism has pragmatically shifted to global ecumenism centered in Rome.

Just a few months ago, the University of Notre Dame presented its Laetare Medal to Vice-President, Joe Biden, a Roman Catholic, “in recognition of his outstanding service to the Catholic Church and society.” This past week, Biden officiated at the wedding of two male White House staffers. Joe Biden is a good example of the vast majority of Catholics who consider themselves members of the church but thumb their noses at official church teachings.

It’s a long way until November 8 and we’ll be hearing a lot more about Roman Catholic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine’s support of “reproductive freedom.” Kaine, like Biden and most other American Catholics, identifies as a member of the church but pays absolutely no attention to his bishop. I have very little personal interest in politics – Christians are to be ambassadors of their Lord and their new home in heaven rather than patriots deeply rooted in this world – but I do think it’s interesting how a candidate’s religious beliefs are simultaneously exploited and targeted during these campaigns.

A few months ago, I reported that pope Francis was mulling over appointing a commission to study the possibility of ordaining women as deacons. See here. Conservative priests that I regularly listen to on Catholic talk radio claimed that the the media was once again drawing conclusions that weren’t warranted. After all, John Paul II had already infallibly slammed the door shut on any possibility of female ordination (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 1994). But Francis definitely has his own ideas, infallible doctrine or not. Stay tuned.

The Catholic church is aping Protestant evangelization methods these days in an effort to slow down membership attrition but what it offers people is not Good News at all but VERY bad news of trying to merit your way to heaven through the sacraments of the Catholic church and obedience to the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules.

No. The two perspectives are “mutually exclusive” as the article states. Unfortunately, some evangelicals hear Catholics talk about Jesus and “faith” and “grace” and declare, “Close enough!”

News stories of pedophile priests and cover-up by the hierarchy continue to filter in. I think we’ve all become a bit enured to the whole dirty business. The Catholic church’s policy of forced celibacy and the slavish subservience once accorded to the clergy turned seminaries and Catholic schools into breeding grounds of unimaginable deviancy.

Irresponsible

I usually don’t read or endorse anything from Chick Publications because many of theirChickee claims against Roman Catholicism are irresponsibly outrageous, but this book was a gift. “The Secret History of the Jesuits” by Edmond Paris was originally published by Librairie Fischbacher in France in 1970 and later republished by Chick Publications in 1975. Multiple editions followed. From what I can tell, Paris (1894-1970) was a quasi-historian who specialized in Vatican exposés in much the same vein as Avro Manhattan.

There’s no doubt the Jesuits were involved in more nasty business than we’ll ever see in mainstream history books. The order was committed to foiling Protestantism and extending Catholicism by any means necessary. But Paris goes where no academic historian would dare by adding two plus two to equal five in several of his far-reaching extrapolations presented as fact. There’s some excellent information here mixed in with some sensationalistic blarney such as the Jesuit’s alleged orchestration of both the First and Second World Wars. The translation is somewhat choppy, making for some challenging reading. Also, Paris goes into great detail recounting the Jesuits’ role in French politics and history, which won’t resonate with American readers.

On page 269 of my edition (no publication date indicated), Chick added a publisher’s note claiming the Vatican with its “communist pope” (Karol Wojtyla aka Pope John Paul II) had thrown its support to the Kremlin and was “preparing a concordat with Russia.” Chick continues, “Moscow will serve the Vatican as the muscle to conquer nations where Roman Catholicism will be the only religion tolerated worldwide.” The subsequent fall of the Soviet empire foiled Chick’s wayward and preposterous prophecy.

Chick Publications built quite a little empire for itself among fundamentalist Christians back in the 1970s and 1980s with its Jesuit conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, Chick’s irresponsible flailings harmed the efforts of credible ministries to Roman Catholics. Christians interested in responsible critiques of Catholicism should avoid the Chick quagmire and seek out books by James G. McCarthy, James R. White, Rob Zins, and William Webster, among others. For more of my viewpoint regarding Chick Publications, see here.

I’m Catholic and I believe my good outweighs my bad

 

There are currently about seventy-million people who identify as Roman Catholics in the United States. If you could ask all of them, “How does a person get to heaven?,” you would get a very wide range of responses but I would be willing to guess the most popular answer would be something like, “A person’s good must outweigh their bad.” Roman Catholicism teaches Jesus Christ died for sins but also teaches He established the sacraments to administer grace to Catholics so they could obey the Ten Commandments and church rules and become increasingly sanctified (holier) so they could merit heaven at the time of their death. The church also teaches those outside the church can merit heaven if they “follow the light they are given” and are “good.”

Only a small percentage of Catholics can actually articulate their church’s intricate theology but the overriding belief is clear – “good” people go to heaven and “bad” people go to hell. Naturally, most Catholics believe that they’re good enough to get to heaven. After all, they haven’t killed anyone or cheated on their spouse or live-in partner.

Of course, none of the above is the Gospel found in God’s Word. We’re all sinners and we all deserve eternal punishment. But God loves us so much he sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins. Jesus rose from the grave, defeating sin and death, and offers eternal life and fellowship with Him to all those who repent of their sins and accept Him as their Savior.

Above is a six-minute video of evangelical apologist, Ray Comfort, witnessing to a typical Roman Catholic who believes he’s good enough to merit heaven. This gentleman speaks for tens of millions of lost Roman Catholics in America and hundreds of millions more throughout the world.