“Yeah, we believe the Bible, but…”

Answers to Catholic Claims: A Discussion of Biblical Authorityacc
by James R. White
Crowne Publications, 1990, 116 pages

If you were to ask 100 random evangelical Christians what’s the difference between Bible Christianity and Roman Catholicism you’d probably get a lot of blank stares and maybe even elicit some angry responses. “Catholics may have some quirky practices but they also believe in God, faith, and Jesus the Savior,” many would say. Evangelical Christians of only one or two generations ago were much more knowledgeable about the differences between Bible Christianity and Catholicism but in today’s era of ecumenism and the growing disfavor of “doctrinalism,” pretty much everyone who names the name of Jesus is embraced. The Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone is being watered down by shared religious experientialism.

In this short book, apologist, James White compares evangelical and Catholic views on the Bible. Both sides believe the Bible is God’s Word, but Catholics believe their church’s traditions and magisterium (teaching office of the pope and his bishops) are as equally inspired as the Bible. As a consequence, many non-Biblical and even anti-Biblical dogmas have crept into Catholic teaching such as salvation by sacramental grace and merit, the papacy, papal infallibility, praying to Mary and the saints, the immaculate conception of Mary and her assumption into Heaven, purgatory, priests, the sacrifice of the mass, etc.

The Catholic church claims it is responsible for the New Testament canon and that it has exclusive authority to correctly interpret the Bible. White answers all Catholic claims. The Bible, God’s Word, stands by itself and needs no church council to confirm its authority. The Old and New Testament writers, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Himself, proclaimed a high view of Scripture that puts Catholicism to shame. The early church devolved into a powerful and wealthy institution, patterning itself after the Roman imperial model. The church’s credulous followers were forced to accept its authoritarian leadership, which kept the Bible from them for centuries. But the Holy Spirit is like the wind, going wherever He will. He accomplished His work through the ragtag, patchwork of evangelical fellowships that accepted God’s Word as their sole authority and rose up in defiance of Rome.

This book is a good introduction to Biblical authority in comparison to Roman Catholic claims. Fortunately, White stays totally on topic, unlike his first book on Catholicism,”The Fatal Flaw.” “Answers to Catholic Claims: A Discussion of Biblical Authority” is available from Amazon as a Kindle download for only $0.99.

Weekend Roundup – News and Views – 11/26/16

I hope everyone has recovered from their turkey hangovers at this point as we take a look back at the news of thehd last seven days.

Now that the “holy doors” are closed, Roman Catholics will have to get their “plenary indulgences for temporal punishment in purgatory” elsewhere. If that all seems like a bunch of unintelligible religious gobbledygook to you, see here.

A few days ago, I mentioned that a New York court recently ruled that the remains of television celebrity, bishop Fulton Sheen, could be moved from New York to Peoria, IL (see here), but cardinal Dolan of New York City is still fighting to keep the future saint’s body at Saint Patrick’s cathedral. To those unfamiliar with Catholic turf wars, this must seem like really strange stuff.

This historic stand-off between the four conservative cardinals (and the many others they represent) and Francis continues. The daily Catholic talk radio show I listen to has understandably avoided this controversy because it certainly doesn’t reflect well on the myth of Catholics marching in lockstep behind their infallible pope.

I’m in agreement with Luther on most of the 50 items as they’re stated here but I never received my formal excommunication even though I requested it.

Priests in the US and some other countries are already able to forgive women who have had abortions but that ability has now been conferred to priests throughout the world. If it seems very strange to you that some priests allegedly have powers that others don’t based on national borders, see my earlier thoughts on the topic here.

“Yes, I’ll eat your Protestant turkey but I’m eating it under protest!” Relax and just go with the flow, my Catholic friend. The traditionalist Catholic writer of this article reminds me of Nikita Khrushchev insisting that the Russians invented everything.

Since no one is perfect, exactly how “faithful” does one have to be to merit Heaven? I’m so grateful the Holy Spirit revealed my sinfulness to me and the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through simple faith in Jesus Christ alone. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and run from institutional religion.

St. Malachy’s infamous “Prophecy of the Popes” turned out to be a forgery and is completely bogus.

There’s no doubt that Osteen’s Bible suffers from neglect. Major portions  – those dealing with any and all hardship and persecution – are apparently never read.

Everyone who reaches out to Catholics with the Gospel is labeled “anti-Catholic” and in this era of tolerance and plurality nobody likes an “anti” anything.

More criticism of the late hyper-fundamentalist, Jack Chick, this time from a Catholic perspective. Unfortunately, Chick’s irresponsible worldwide Jesuit conspiracy theories smirched credible Christian outreach to Roman Catholics.

Connecticut turns out to be a leading indicator of the general decline of Catholicism in the U.S.

Catholicism occupies itself with such minutiae as which way the priest should be facing during mass while they deny the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

The Catholic church partnered with repressive and murderous political regimes in Europe, Latin America, and Africa right up into the 20th century in the effort to discourage and eliminate Protestant “heresy.”

Speaking of Catholic persecution, this article refers to a new book written about the ongoing Catholic persecution of evangelicals in Southern Mexico, which I’ve been posting about for over a year.

Well, isn’t this refreshing! Here’s a Roman Catholic who admits some of the prejudice against Catholics in the U.S. was a reaction to Catholic intolerance elsewhere. Objective assessments like this one are hard to find.

The Protestant mission of returning the church to the simple, saving Gospel had its challenges. Here’s an interesting history lesson.

Searching for “truth” and “fulfillment”

Good morning, everyone! How do your stomachs feel? Yesterday, most Americans satbeatty around the dinner table with family and friends and gorged on a traditional turkey dinner. I hope yours was as delicious as ours. Many gave thanks to the Lord God for the blessings in their lives while more than a few gave thanks to a non-existent entity taught by their religion or to some vague “cosmic force” because they don’t know the true Lord. Some didn’t thank God at all because they either doubt or deny His existence.

How does a person make sense of life without the Lord? What do they really have without God? They chase from one pleasure to the next trying to fill that void in their soul that only He can fill. Over the holiday season, many people will flock to movies theaters. It’s a tradition for many families. Hollywood keeps cranking out “product,” bringing short-lived happiness and fulfillment to people, many who are generally unhappy with their personal circumstances and are looking to temporarily escape from their doldrums for a couple of hours.

These days, I’m not much of a movie or television fan but in my younger years I also chased after the fleeting sensation of connection and fulfillment a good movie could provide. I don’t remember the exact year, but when I was a young teenager I watched a movie on television titled, Splendor in the Grass, which featured Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood. Bud and Deanie were high school sweethearts and the most popular couple on campus but life intervened and took them in separate directions. In the final reel, Deanie visits Bud who she hasn’t seen in quite awhile, hoping a spark of romance remains in their relationship, but Bud has a wife and children at that point and Deanie’s hopes are dashed. What? I mean, WHAT??? Movies aren’t supposed to end that way! I took it for granted that Hollywood provided pleasant fantasy rather than tragic realism. Because the film had a ring of truth and authenticity about it that was rare to encounter, I became curious about the director, Elia Kazan (in center of photo with Beatty and Wood), which began a lifelong interest. What a character!

In the months ahead, I’ll be reviewing all of Kazan’s 19 films from a Christian perspective. Kazan was an atheist who tried to make sense of a world without God. It’s a sad story but there’s plenty of lessons for the non-believer and believer.

Have a blessed day of Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow, people all across the United States will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Familynr and friends will gather together for roasted turkey dinner. Many will eat too much and unbuckle their belts before plopping on the couch to watch the Cowboys and Redskins.

During the day more than a few will contemplate how grateful they are for their family, friends, health, home, employment, etc. Perfunctory prayers of thanks will be offered before the big meal in many homes.

We who know Jesus Christ as our Savior are thankful to the Lord every day for His many blessings upon us. I am in awe of my Savior and Lord. Thanksgiving never ceases.

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” – Psalm 9:1-2

I’m grateful for my reader friends here at WordPress who chime in with thoughts and encouragement. Thank you! I’m grateful for the inspiration and comfort the Lord provides through your blogs through your faithfulness to Him. Have a blessed time with your family and friends tomorrow. And, ladies, don’t work too hard!

11 things you didn’t know about the Pilgrims’ religion

Court settles feud over famous bishop’s remains

If you’re sixty-years-old or older you probably remember Catholic archbishop, Fultonbs J. Sheen. Sheen was the auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of New York City from 1951 to 1965 and hosted two television shows; one pioneering show, Life Is Worth Living, from 1951 to 1957 and the other, The Fulton Sheen Program, from 1961 to 1968. In both programs he spoke on the topics of the day and propagated the Catholic religion.

I can remember as a young Catholic boy watching Sheen on TV, dressed in his bishop’s finery and with his piercing eyes. The man had a rapier wit and intellect and spoke to the camera extemporaneously for thirty minutes without the aid of notes or cue cards. He had a regal persona befitting a “prince of the church.” Rarely do we encounter Sheen’s brand of royal chutzpah in these days.

As we now know, Sheen was on very bad terms with his immediate superior, archbishop of New York, Francis cardinal Spellman. Spellman no doubt resented his subordinate’s national popularity. In 1957, Spellman demanded that Sheen reimburse the NYC diocese for the million-dollar value of powdered milk donated by the U.S. government that was distributed to the needy by Sheen’s Society for the Propagation of the Faith. When Sheen refused, Spellman brought the dispute before pope Pius XII who shocked the cardinal by siding with Sheen. Spellman swore to Sheen he would get his revenge someday. In 1966, Spellman arranged for Sheen to be appointed bishop of the inconsequential diocese of Rochester, N.Y. where I live. The Catholic community in Rochester was not privy to the political machinations in New York City and we all wondered how a man of Sheen’s national stature could be installed as the bishop of our small, humble city. I don’t remember too much about Sheen’s short episcopate in Rochester (1966-1969) other than some anti-Vietnam War statements that infuriated my politically conservative father and the fact that he chose to live in a humble apartment at the downtown CYO rather than at a 7000 square-foot mansion in the city’s ritziest neighborhood like his predecessor (see here). Sheen resigned his Rochester bishopric in 1969 and was crowned as a titular archbishop in the same year.

Sheen died in 1979 and twenty years later the process began to have him canonized as a saint. Things were put on hold in 2010 because both the dioceses of New York City and Peoria, Illinois where Sheen grew up claimed title to the future saint’s remains. Imagine the believers of New Testament times fighting over someone’s dead body. On November 17th the Supreme Court of the State of New York ruled in favor of Sheen’s niece that the remains of the former celebrity be moved from New York to Peoria (see the news report below).

Now that the dispute has been settled, the Vatican will put Sheen’s canonization back on the fast track. The church benefits tremendously from the canonization of popular figures like it did with pope John Paul II and mother Teresa.

I may have watched 15 or 20 of Sheen’s television shows when I was a young guy. He spoke eloquently about the Catholic religion but he never once mentioned the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. In contrast, Sheen, like all Roman Catholic clergy, taught a gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. People reverence appealing and influential personalities like Fulton Sheen but he was a false shepherd with a false gospel. Venerating dead bodies is not helpful. Salvation is only by faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, the Savior.

New York court rules Fulton Sheen remains should go to Peoria

Taking the NFL thing a little too far

I’m not a big fan of “Good Morning, America” but it comes on right after my favorite localboys morning news show and about 15 minutes before I leave for work. This morning, one of GMA’s lead stories was about how a church in Dallas, Texas had shown the first-place, 8-1 Dallas Cowboys versus the Baltimore Ravens football game on one of their big screens “during” the church service. Are you kidding me? Have evangelical churches sunk that low?

From the article below, we learn that the church in question was Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, but according to a comment from a church member the game was presented “after” worship service and before some other event. GMA strikes again!

Dallas Church Plays Cowboys Game During Service

I know football is religion for many people. Even many Christians get more worked up about the NFL and/or college football than they do about Jesus Christ. Men, if we only had a fraction of the passion for Jesus Christ and lost souls that we do for weekend football!

Now, I’m not going to begrudge anyone a little entertainment. Far be it from me! I certainly have my own hobbies and interests. But let’s get our priorities straight. As for showing a football game in the sanctuary between events so the fans can go to church and still get their ‘Boys fix…well, you might call me a legalist but that strikes me as a bit off kilter.

Weekend Roundup – News & Views – 11/20/16

Post-presidential election news reports are clogging the internet but let’s see if we can tiptoenbc around them.

Time to throw out all the copies of the old “The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism (No.2).”  None of the children in the illustrations appear to be anything other than WNECs (White Northern European Catholic). But even as the percentage of Hispanic Catholics rises in the U.S., an increasing number of Hispanics are accepting Christ as Savior and leaving Catholicism.

This past Friday I posted a message about the escalating tensions between pope Francis and conservative cardinals over the issue of communion for remarried Catholics. See here. The cardinals have drawn a line in the sand and threaten to declare Francis a heretic if he does not amend or withdraw his reversal of what was always considered infallible doctrine. You won’t find better drama on cable television, folks, and the controversy speaks volumes about the dearly-held Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility.

Make no mistake, Francis is stacking the deck to ensure the next pope shares his pragmatic liberal bent.

Veneration of relics (body parts or personal items) of dead “saints” is an important component of Roman Catholicism. Relics traffickers thrived in the Middle Ages selling alleged body parts and personal effects of apostles and other believers cited in the New Testament. No need to venerate bogus body parts, friends. Just accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith.

Those magnificent cathedrals in Europe, mostly built on the backs of credulous peasants, are all whitewashed sepulchres. There’s no Gospel being preached in those tombs.

Yes, I know. One slipped through. I’m trying to stay away from news about presidential politics but this interesting article speculates how the election of Trump might prod American Catholicism to the Left.

Representatives of Catholicism and liberal Lutheranism signed a unity accord on Reformation Day. But born-again followers of Christ still proclaim the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone while the Catholic church still teaches the same gospel of sacramental grace and merit that it taught in 1517. Nothing has changed.

Some young men in seminary are undoubtedly thinking, “When I get out of here, how do I get me one of those 10,000 member mega-churches they list in Outreach magazine so I can live in a mega-mansion like Joel Osteen?”

We’re all sinners, me most of all, but the decision of a growing number of churches to accept proud and practicing LGBTQ as leaders and to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies is contrary to God’s Word. Expect this trend to pick up steam within evangelicalism. We already see equivocation and compromise on the issue in such places as the Hillsong prosperity gospel mega-church.

WTLM’s drive-by, scorched earth “evangelism” is most unfortunate and imprudent

Readers of this blog know most of my posts deal with the differences between the Gospeldb of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and Roman Catholicism’s gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. My posts are usually tagged as “Catholic,” “Catholicism,” “Evangelical,” “Christianity,” etc.

About once a day it was my habit to check the posts at WordPress tagged as “Catholic” to see what Catholics and others were writing about. There were usually around 20-25 posts each day and many of the contributors were regulars.

Recently, an entity named “WTLM Ministries” associated with the Seventh-Day Adventists has been posting on WordPress any and all daily news items associated with Catholicism via drive-by, automated electronic feed. The result is literally hundreds of posts each and every day under the “Catholic” tag. I counted over 300 for yesterday alone. There’s no commentary, just Catholic news, Catholic news, Catholic news, and more Catholic news ad infinitum with a little SDA news mixed in here and there. WTLM advertises this “service” as “Automated News About Religious Apostasy in their Own Words” but what they’ve done is bulldozed a forum that often served as an exchange of viewpoints between Catholics and evangelicals. Yes, they’ve won. They’ve scorched the earth and hoisted their WTLM flag on the top of the “Catholic” hill. But everyone else has gone home. Most unfortunate and imprudent.

Showdown: Rising tensions within Catholic hierarchy could lead to crisis

We’re currently witnessing a struggle of historic proportions in the chambers of the Roman Catholicrb hierarchy although most Catholics and evangelicals aren’t even paying attention.

At the center of the controversy is the mass, the centerpiece of the Catholic religion. Catholics are obligated to attend mass every Sunday where priests allegedly change bread wafers and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Supplicants ingest the Jesus wafer and wine, believing they receive graces which help them avoid mortal sin so they are able to merit Heaven.

For century after century, the popes and Catholic hierarchy taught that Catholics who had divorced and remarried without an annulment of the first marriage were living  in a state of open adultery and were forbidden from receiving communion. That wasn’t a problem when divorce among Catholics was relatively rare, but in current times, with Catholic divorce rates at 50% mirroring the rest of society, the restrictive communion policy was alienating a large portion of the membership and many were dropping away.

In an effort to stanch the exodus, pope Francis the pragmatist issued the Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) apostolic exhortation last April, which, among other things, ambiguously left it up to parish priests to decide whether a remarried Catholic could receive communion or not, thus countermanding a doctrine that had been taught by other equally “infallible” popes for over a millennia.

Opposition to the pope’s new teaching has been swelling within the ranks of traditionalist cardinals, bishops, priests, and laity for the past eight months. Recently, four cardinals including American cardinal, Raymond Burke (pictured), formally requested that Francis “clarify” his remarks in Amoris Laetitia in light of previous infallible church teaching. The pope has declined to respond to the appeal. Burke is now suggesting the cardinals could possibly issue a “formal act of correction,” a declaration that Francis is teaching heresy (see articles below).

As I stated previously, most Catholics are oblivious to the dramatic tug-of-war taking place between Francis and his allies and church traditionalists over Amoris Laetitia and other reforms. What’s at stake is Catholicism’s claim to the infallibility of popes on teachings of faith and morals. The great irony here – don’t miss this – is traditionalists are willing to concede the current pope is fallible and in error in order to preserve the teaching of previous infallible popes! Francis winks at “infallible” doctrines in an effort to keep people in the pews.

All men are fallible. Even casual students of the history of the Catholic church are aware of the tragic failings of popes and other high church officials down through the ages. The only Rock we have is Jesus Christ. Accept Christ as your Savior and then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches God’s Word without compromise.

Is papal infallibility biblical?

“I prayed 19,345 prayers this past year but they weren’t prayers to God”

A few days ago I wrote about “good Catholics.” It’s generally agreed among Catholics thatros those who follow the prescribed rules of the church – like going to mass every Sunday and going to confession regularly – are “good” Catholics. There’s a very small percentage of those “good” Catholics who take it even a step further and do things like go to mass daily or say the rosary daily.

Evangelicals know that many Catholic use rosaries but they may not know some of the details involved. The standard rosary is made up of 59 beads. When a Catholic uses the rosary they will say 53 “Hail Mary” prayers and 6 “Our Father” prayers along with some other standard prayers mixed in.

What exactly is said in the “Hail Mary” prayer? Let’s take a look:

“Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

The first portion of the Hail Mary prayer comes from excerpts from Luke 1:28 & 42 (see the Catholic Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition). The first line says Mary is “full of grace” but Bible scholars agree the meaning of the Greek text is something closer to “favored one” (NASB and ESV). Yes, Mary was favored and blessed by the Lord to bear Jesus in her womb. But Mary was a sinner as we all are and was trusting in the Lord for her salvation (“…my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” – Luke 1:47)

The second portion of the prayer is a creation of the Catholic church and didn’t appear in print until Savonarola’s “Esposizione sopra l’Ave Maria” in 1495. Mary is not holy. Only God is holy. Mary was given the title, “Mother of God” ( theotokos – God bearer) in the 400s in reaction to heresy which emphasized Christ’s humanity over His divinity. The thinking was that since Jesus is God, then Mary was the mother of God, which eventually led to elevating Mary to a position of semi-deity. Catholics believe that, like God, Mary is omnipresent and able to hear the millions of prayers said to her every day throughout the world. Catholics believe Mary, the sympathetic mother, intercedes and mediates on behalf of their salvation before a harsh and judging God. God may not forgive but soft-hearted Mother Mary does and she will intercede for her followers. Catholics believe that by giving birth to Jesus and witnessing His death on the cross, Mary plays an active role in the redemption of sinners. So, Catholics believe that Mary shares Christ’s intercessory offices of Mediator and Redeemer and that she is also the channel of all of God’s graces. Catholics believe that salvation comes through their church’s sacraments which dispense grace channeled through Mary so that the partaker is able to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules in order to merit Heaven. Catholics must constantly work at meriting their salvation so they pray to Mary and the saints for assistance in helping them live a good life right up until the “hour of (their) death.”

If you were a devoted Catholic and prayed the rosary every day you would spend 122 hours a year praying to Mary (20 minutes x 365 days = 7300 minutes or 122 hours). In one year you would pray 19,345 prayers to Mary (53 beads x 365 days = 19,345 prayers).

Mary was a sinner who loved the Lord and accepted Christ as her Savior like every believer. Mary is currently in Heaven worshipping her Savior. She is not omnipresent like God. She does not hear prayers. Nowhere in God’s Word does any believer pray to anyone other than God. Salvation does not come by receiving the sacraments and by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!). The Law only shows us that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. Yes, God is a Holy Judge but He is also loving and merciful. He loves us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life and die for our sins. But Jesus rose from the grave, defeating sin and death and offers the free gift of salvation to all who repent of their sins and accept Him as their Savior.

Mary would be sorely grieved by all the devotion given to her. She would want you to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, just as she did, and to worship God alone.

Mary, Full of Grace, and Luke 1:28

Roman Catholicism, Mary, and Idolatry

When Catholics read the New Testament for the first time, they are surprised by how little Mary is mentioned. As the early church became increasingly institutionalized, it syncretized many of the Roman pagan beliefs and practices including worship of the mother goddess. For how Mariolatry evolved see “The Virgin: Mary’s Cult and the Re-emergence of the Goddess” by distinguished British historian, Geoffrey Ashe.