Some rambling thoughts about “tithing”

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoevertt sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior back in the early 80s and began attending a Gospel-preaching church shortly afterwards. Three or four times a year the pastor would preach on financial giving to the church. He stated that although the New Testament doesn’t command tithing – giving a tenth of your gross income as the Israelites were obligated to do in the Old Testament – that tithing should be our minimum practice since we New Testament saints have so much more to be grateful for. I wasn’t familiar with tithing since I came from the Catholic church where contribution amounts weren’t mandated.

When pastors appeal for funds they often omit mention of 2 Corinthians 9:6-7. Christians are not obligated to tithe as the Israelites were. The Old Testament tithe was, in essence, a tax used to support the theocratic Israelite government of priests and Levites. When all the offerings were included, an Israelite actually gave about 20% of their income/possessions each year. The United States is not a theocracy and the average citizen already pays about 20% of their earnings to the government.

Yes, I fully realize the church needs the financial support of its members. It’s a privilege to support God’s work. But the only New Testament passage that speaks directly to financial giving is 2 Corinthians 9:6-7. A Christian should prayerfully consider (with their spouse if married) how much income to give to the church each week. For some it will be less than 10%, for some it will be more. A tenth of an annual $25,000 income means a lot more to the earner than a tenth of a $250,000 annual income.

I’ve heard pastors put the squeeze on their sheep as if the tithe is still binding. Well, if you believe the tithe is still in effect you had better be following the other 612 Old Testament laws. Our previous pastor said from the pulpit that anyone who criticizes the tithe doesn’t tithe. That’s probably true but it’s not the point. Are New Testament Christians commanded to tithe or not? Is our guide the Old Testament tithe or 2 Corinthians 9:6-7? Many Christians bear a heavy guilt trip because they can’t tithe. Statistics show evangelical Christians give on average about 4% of their yearly income to the church. That means there’s a LOT of non-tithers out there. Are those who tithe “better,” more obedient Christians than those who don’t? Some pastors would have you think so. And let’s not forget the televangelists! The whole TBN prosperity gospel empire is built on the promise of gaining great financial rewards if you send in your “seed money” check, even if you can’t pay your bills. Many people send their money, some on credit cards they’re already struggling to pay off, fully expecting a financial windfall from God based on the promises they hear on TBN.

When we were looking for a church three years ago we considered a popular non-denominational church just five miles from our home. I checked out their website which required potential members to “Commit to giving the tithe (10% of your income) or taking faith steps to move toward the tithe.” Hmm. What happens if a new member makes the commitment but stops giving 10% because of financial difficulties? Do the tithe police pick them up for interrogation? Is their membership rescinded? How unbiblical! Giving should be between the giver and the Lord. Period.

Everything we have belongs to the Lord and we are commanded to be good stewards of God’s resources. Some of us are better stewards than others. Some people get hit with a heavy financial burden. But God doesn’t want us getting puffed up about our ability to give nor does he want us giving grudgingly or by coercion. What a privilege it is to be part of the Lord’s work! Give cheerfully and ignore the arm-twisting.

Does God require me to give a tithe of all I earn?
John MacArthur, Grace to You
http://www.gty.org/resources/questions/QA144/does-god-require-me-to-give-a-tithe-of-all-i-earn

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No Need for Caution: God is at Work!

My wife and I accepted the Lord, Jesus Christ, as our Savior and began attendinggaw church with our two sons when they were very young; ages 8 and 4 at the time. Although they sat through four children’s church services a week for eight years and heard the Gospel more times than you can count, they never accepted Christ. While in their teens they both became devoted disciples of radio shock jock, Howard Stern, and adopted his philosophy of raging atheism. I can’t blame it all on Howard because I certainly wasn’t a good witness for the Lord after having walked away from Him for a long stretch. We went through some rough times as a family but both boys eventually joined the Air Force. Our oldest son took an early leave but our youngest has racked up 16 years of service and will retire in 4 more years.

Our two boys are now middle-aged men at 42 and 38. We pray daily for their salvation and ask the Lord to put people and circumstances in their lives that will cause them to think about Him. We mention the Lord to them whenever a good opportunity comes up. I’m also grateful for the prayers many of you have offered. Our oldest son is an easygoing softy, like me 🙂 and seems to ponder spiritual matters more readily, especially with all the rancor going on in the world. The younger son is a LOT more hardnosed and cynical.

Well, the youngest called the other day to shoot the breeze. He’s stationed down at Sheppard Air Force Base near Wichita Falls, Texas. He told us he was selected to be a member of the base’s honor guard squad in addition to his regular duties, which is a nice accomplishment. The honor guard serves at ceremonies at the base and at funerals of deceased veterans in the area. He’s already gone through a lot of the training. Then a light went on in my head and it occurred to me that my son is going to be at a LOT of funerals and will be hearing a LOT of graveside Gospel from born-again ministers. Remember, this is TEXAS we’re talking about. I told my son to pay attention to all the born-again ministers preaching at the gravesides and ignore the others.

So, our son is going to hear a LOT of Gospel as well as witnessing a steady stream of mortality. Praise the Lord for answering prayer!!! Thank you, Jesus!!!

IFB Memories #11: “The Sword of the Lord”

Shortly after accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior back in 1983, my wife and I beganFront page of the Sword of the Lord, October 8, 1954 attending an independent fundamental Baptist church and we stayed there for eight years. I’ve already shared several memories from that time, both good and not so good (see here). Another memory from our stay at that church was “The Sword of the Lord” newspaper.

I’m an information person. I love to read, always have. As a baby Christian, I was drawn to our church’s information table, which was well-stocked with tracts (including Chick tracts), along with copies of “Our Daily Bread” and “The Sword of the Lord.” What? You’ve never heard of the “Sword of the Lord”? Well, back before the internet age, people used to get their news and information from the printed page and independent Baptists of a particular strain relied on “The Sword of the Lord.” I fell in love with the bi-weekly newspaper and subscribed immediately.

Pastor and evangelist, John R. Rice (1895-1980), first began publishing the Sword in 1934. The readership grew and grew as did Rice’s influence. Circulation of the newspaper peaked at 300,000 in the mid-1970s. Although independent Baptist churches are autonomous, there is a certain degree of networking through conferences, seminary support, etc. The major camps in the independent Baptist movement back in the 60s, 70s and 80s were the Sword group, spearheaded by Rice, and the Bob Jones group led by Bob Jones, Jr. and Bob Jones III. Rice and Jones, Jr. had split over the issue of separation, with the latter taking a much harder stand against the Southern Baptist “compromisers” (and racial integration).

Rice had died by the time I had started subscribing to the Sword, but the paper was continued by his successor, Curtis Hutson. I looked forward to seeing the Sword in our mailbox every other week. There was news, columns, and sermons from Sword regulars and Rice allies, Jack Hyles, Lee Roberson, Tom Malone, Bob Gray, Truman Dollar, Lester Roloff, Jerry Falwell, etc., along with classic sermons from Spurgeon, Moody, and Sunday. Very helpful to me were the advertisements from ministries to Catholics including The Conversion Center (Donald Maconaghie), Mission to Catholics (Bart Brewer), and Christians Evangelizing Catholics (Bill Jackson), all of which I contacted for resources.

There was a lot of good stuff in the pages of the Sword but some of the information also bothered me. Patriotism and nationalism in excess were constant themes. There was also a certain degree of spiritual arrogance and moral superiority that characterized the messages, as if to say, “We are such good Christians and wonderful people who do right as opposed to those terribly wicked unbelievers (and non-IFBers).” The hearts of the contributors didn’t always seem to be humble and contrite before the Lord. One could even sense a spirit of pomposity and Pharisaism. There seemed to be more “Dr.”s in the pages of the SOTL than a medical journal. It’s sad to say but public scandal eventually caught up with some of the names I mentioned above.

After a couple of years I let my subscription to the Sword run out. I just couldn’t stomach it anymore. Shelton Smith succeeded Hutson as publisher in 1995. Circulation has dropped to around 100,000. Independent Baptist Fundamentalism isn’t what it used to be and that’s both good and bad. Praise the Lord for men like John R. Rice who upheld the Gospel of grace by faith in opposition to those who began to accommodate and compromise (Billy Graham & Co.). But something went sour with the Rice camp and some of the other Baptist fundamentalists. They often came across as arrogant WE ARE SOMEBODYS rather than humble sinners saved by grace.

There’s a lesson there for all of us.

http://www.swordofthelord.com/

Is it really, “Whatever works for you”???

Unbelievers look around at all the various “Christian” denominations and groups andcd shake their heads in bewilderment. There’s Roman rite and Eastern rite Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, thousands of mainline Protestants and evangelical groups, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many more smaller groups. They all claim to teach the truth about God and spiritual matters. But they can’t all be right. How can a person sort through this tangled mess? The answer is easier than you might think.

Evangelical Christians are unique in a couple of important ways. Evangelicals believe the Bible is God’s authoritative Holy Word and that it teaches everything necessary regarding spiritual matters. The other groups either do not genuinely accept the Bible as God’s Word (most mainline Protestantism these days) or they attempt to add to God’s Word with their own traditions or with additional “scripture.”

Evangelicals also believe, as God’s Word proclaims, that salvation is only by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The other groups all teach salvation depends upon following their religious protocols, beginning with baptism into their specific group followed by participation in various sacraments and then obedience to religious laws along with acts of charity towards others. Evangelicals believe we are justified by faith in Christ alone and then sanctified by the Holy Spirit to walk more closely with Jesus, our Lord and Savior. The other groups teach the reverse; that sanctification (impossibly trying to live a “holy” life) is rewarded with salvation.

Every group uses the Bible so why do evangelicals read the Bible differently than the other groups? Great question!

“Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” – John 5:28-29

There are many verses and passages in the Bible, like the one above, that seem to indicate those who are “good” and “righteous” will merit Heaven. But passages in the Bible must be understood in context. Scripture clarifies Scripture. A few verses before the above passage we read:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes (“pisteuo” Greek: to believe, put one’s faith in, trust) him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” – John 5:24

Those who trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior pass from death unto life.

The theme of the entire Bible – Old and New Testament – is Jesus Christ. We are all sinners and we all deserve eternal judgement. We could never become good enough to meet God’s holy standard. But God loves us so much he sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross. Jesus conquered sin and death when He rose from the grave and now offers the free gift of eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who repent of their sins and accept Him as their Savior. The Lord imputes His perfect righteousness to us when we accept Him. We have no righteousness of our own.

All counterfeit forms of (c)hristianity insist you must join their group and follow their rules so that you may “possibly” merit Heaven. That’s very, very bad news because no one can earn Heaven. Genuine Christianity says you can’t merit Heaven because you disobey God every single day, but Jesus Christ died for your sins and offers you forgiveness for all your sins, eternal life, and fellowship with God. That’s VERY good news. In Bible-based evangelical Christianity, it’s ALL about Jesus Christ. But wait, you say. Why are there so many different evangelical churches? Evangelicals may differ on minor secondary issues but we are united in our belief in the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. But aren’t Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy much older than evangelical Protestantism? The early church gradually became institutionalized and fell into compromise and apostasy but there have always been those who upheld the Gospel of grace. The Holy Spirit used the Reformation to return the church to the Gospel of grace proclaimed by the New Testament church.

No, not all “Christian” groups are the same. Most say “our way” but genuine Christianity proclaims faith in Jesus Christ alone is the ONLY way.

Pray to Jesus today and ask Him to be your Savior and Lord. Then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that proclaims the Gospel without compromise. What are you waiting for?

Small groups: “You can run but you can’t hide!”

When my wife and I and our two sons attended an indy fundy church back in the 1980s, thesg worship service schedule, typical of many other evangelical/fundamentalist churches at the time, went like this:

Sunday
Sunday School: 9-10 a.m.
Worship Service: 10-11 a.m.
Evening Service: 7-8 p.m.

Wednesday
Evening Service: 7-8 p.m. Many churches often referred to this mid-week service as a “Bible study” although at our church it was the exact same format as the Sunday morning and evening worship services.

It was somewhat expected that a committed church member would attend all four services.

Back then, I hadn’t heard of such a thing as a “small group.” Frankly, there was no time for a small group meeting during the week given the above church schedule. Just about everyone in that 150-member congregation was on a first-name basis anyway with all that contact. Well, we left that church and I subsequently walked away from the Lord for many years but when I returned to Him a couple of years ago I found the church landscape had changed quite a bit. For many churches, especially the increasingly popular mega-churches, the worship service schedule consists of a single Sunday morning service. Period. There’s no Sunday School or Sunday evening or Wednesday evening services. Large churches offset the impersonal environment of their single Sunday service with mid-week small group meetings where members can disciple and support each other in a much more personal setting.

About fifteen months ago, we began attending a non-denominational mega-church (with Baptist roots) and we initially appreciated the anonymity afforded by such a setting. We could nod hello, shake a few hands, worship the Lord in song, hear the sermon, and leave. No muss, no fuss. We didn’t “bother” anyone and no one “bothered” us. After a couple of “sour” experiences at our previous churches, my wife and I had pledged several times to each other that we would never again be in anyone’s back pocket when it came to church, even though we knew our preferred anonymous, arms-length relationship with others in the congregation wasn’t Biblical.

Our new church regularly encourages people to join a small group. The idea began to appeal to me but I wasn’t going to bring it up to my wife. If the Lord wanted us to join a small group, He would work it out. A couple of months ago, a person at church caught us before we could make our getaway and asked if we were members of a group. She turned out to be a group leader and invited us to join. My wife confessed she had been agreeable to joining a group but, like me, wasn’t going to be the one to bring it up. All I can say is the Lord MUST have a sense of humor

Since joining our 18-member group (quite a bit larger than the “optimum” 12) we’ve shared a meal at a restaurant, did some Christmas caroling at a nursing home, and attended the first meeting of the new semester last week. At the meeting, we discussed the previous Sunday’s sermon and what it meant in our lives followed by the men and women splitting up into separate groups for prayer. My wife and I are slowly getting to know everyone and we’re already receiving blessings. Christianity isn’t living life in an isolation booth, it’s reaching out to the lost with the Gospel and it’s also reaching out to brothers and sisters in Christ and allowing them to reach out to you.

“And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:42-45.

The bottom line for groups and everything else in the life of a believer: The focus should be on Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord! He will never disappoint.


Postscript: I looked up the history of the concept of small groups at church and found smatterings of information here and there. Small church groups have been popular for decades so, once again, I’m late to the party. It would make sense that large churches would incorporate small groups to complement the large, impersonal Sunday service.

The popularity of pope Francis

This past Wednesday, Pew Research released the findings of its recent poll regarding thepfj popularity of pope Francis (see article below). According to the poll, 70% of Americans give the pope a favorable rating. For specific groups, 87% of Catholics have a favorable opinion, 72% of White mainline Protestants have a favorable opinion, and 53% of White evangelicals have a favorable opinion.

It’s a sad thing that 53% of (White) professing believers favorably view a man who is leading millions to hell through the anti-Scriptural dogmas of Roman Catholicism. 16% of White evangelicals say they have no opinion of the pope and 31% say they have an unfavorable opinion.

I love pope Francis, Jorge Bergoglio. He’s a sinner in need of the Savior. Unfortunately, he leads a 1.2 billion-member religious institution that teaches people are saved through its sacraments and through obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules.

If Pew Research pollsters could get into a time machine and go back 100 years and conduct the same poll, what would they find? They would probably find that close to 100% of evangelical Christians in 1917 had an unfavorable opinion of the pope at that time, Benedict XV. Would they have rated the pope unfavorably because they had personal animosity toward the man? It’s my opinion that believers of 100 years ago were much more steeped in God’s Word than many of today’s doctrine-lite evangelicals who are led by weak, accommodating, and compromising pastors. Evangelicals of 1917 were much more aware that the pope taught a false gospel of sacraments and merit rather than the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

I will continue to pray for Jorge Bergoglio and for all Roman Catholics. My prayer is that they will renounce their religious ritualism and legalism and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior through faith alone.

Is it…

“No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion (i.e. baptism). Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can then merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph # 2027

or is it…

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:8-10

It can’t be both!


U.S. Catholics, non-Catholics continue to view Pope Francis favorably
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/18/favorable-u-s-views-pope-francis/

A few thoughts on Martin Luther King, Jr.

Growing up in our household in the 1960s was quite an experience when it came tomlk politics and social issues. My Dad was a Goldwater Republican, which meant he had no patience for the great societal upheavals of that decade that Walter Cronkite brought to our attention nightly while we ate our dinner. As one example, my Dad had absolutely no use for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who he deemed to be a “troublemaker” and “rabble-rouser.” But even at a very young age I realized that my father would have had a completely different perspective on King and the civil rights movement had he been an African-American.

In the early 60s, discrimination was no longer a tenable position in American society, at least in the law books. If King hadn’t led the march against racism, someone else would have risen up. Unfortunately, more than a few pastors of White evangelical and fundamentalist churches twisted Bible passages in their sermons to justify segregation and discrimination before and during the civil rights struggle. Many more just kept their mouths shut in the face of blatant evil. King’s leadership of the civil rights movement, which required great personal sacrifice and ultimately cost him his life, is something we should honor.

This past Monday the country remembered Martin Luther King, Jr. and I have a few thoughts about the man from a believer’s perspective:

King was a “minister” but he was an adherent of the “social gospel” rather than the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Social gospel? In the 1800s, German higher criticism – denial of the divine origin of the Bible – seeped into American mainline Protestantism. Rather than upholding Biblical doctrines and salvation through Jesus Christ, liberal “Protestant” ministers taught an unknowable “god” or force that just wanted everyone to “make the world a better place.” Baptist minister, Walter Rauschenbusch (1861–1918), who taught at the Rochester Theological Seminary here in Rochester, NY, was a key figure in introducing the social gospel in the U.S.. The seminary eventually morphed into Colgate-Rochester-Crozer Divinity School, which currently has 90 students. Martin Luther King, Jr. attended Crozer Theological Seminary in Upland, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1951 before the school was absorbed by the Rochester institution in 1970.

As a “minister,” did King ever proclaim the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ? From his writings (see below), it appears that was never the case. As an adherent of the social gospel, King was a religious unbeliever. It’s ironic that King was re-named (his original name was Michael) after Martin Luther, the Reformer who broke from Rome and proclaimed the genuine Gospel of grace through faith.

King led many out of racism’s chains but he apparently led no one to Jesus Christ and out of the the eternal chains of sin.


Papers written by Martin Luther King, Jr. reveal he was not a Christian
http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/papers-written-by-martin-luther-king-jr-reveal-he-was-not-a-christian/

“If I take off my scapular prior to surgery and die on the operating table, will I still go to Heaven?”

This morning I was listening to the 1/13/17 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talkmg radio show broadcast on the Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY, with Catholic priest, Dave Baker, and moderator, Mike Denz, taking questions from listeners.

Towards the end of the show, Mike read a question sent in from “Kim” in Rochester, NY regarding the brown scapular. But first, a little background:

Catholic tradition posits that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Carmelite friar, Simon Stock, in Aylesford, England in 1251 and presented him and his religious order with a brown scapular (a ceremonial apron), proclaiming, “the one who dies in it will be saved.” A smaller version of the scapular, basically two strings with patches of wool on each end that is draped over the head and rests on the shoulders (see photo of Catholic traditionalist, Mel Gibson, wearing his scapular), was created in the late-1500s so that lay people could also benefit from the scapular. A priest must first bless the scapular in order for it to transmit its advantages to the wearer. Untold millions of Catholics have worn the small, brown scapular over the last 430 years, believing that wearing the sacramental would earn or help earn their salvation as the Marian apparition had allegedly promised.

Okay, now let’s get back to Kim’s question. She asked, “If you have the brown scapular but you are having surgery and aren’t allowed to wear it, do the protections and benefits that it provides still apply if something happens?”

Priest Dave and Mike discussed this one for several minutes and concluded that while it’s extremely important to wear the scapular in order to gain Mary’s promise of salvation, there are probably some circumstances when it’s permissible to remove it temporarily such as during surgery, taking a shower, or while swimming. However, they acknowledged that some priests would advise that the benefits of the scapular would only be in effect if it was being worn. Dave and Mike also made sure to add in that the scapular wouldn’t do a person any good if they weren’t following the other teachings of the church. Dave also said that if a scapular becomes worn out, it can be replaced with a new one which does not need to be blessed. The blessing of the old one is grandfathered to the new. But hold on!!!! If the wearer of a brown Carmelite scapular switches to a different color scapular (red, black, blue, white, or green), Dave said they will need to have a priest bless the new one because each of the different colored scapulars has its own distinct protocols. Got that? Are you dizzy yet?

Can this ex-Catholic and born-again follower of Jesus Christ ask just a couple of questions?

1) Dave and Mike said a person needs to be following the prescribed teachings of the church for the scapular to be effective, but if a Catholic were already following the teachings of the church  – receiving the sacraments and obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules – why would they need a scapular? Well, in works-righteous Catholicism the thinking goes that every little bit helps.

2) Dave opines an individual who dies without the scapular can still earn the promise of salvation if it was removed for a “legitimate” reason (surgery, swimming, showering, etc.), but other priests disagree and say the promise is null and void as soon as the scapular is removed. Who is right?

If you’re a blood-bought, born-again follower of Jesus Christ, you know all of the above is sheer anti-Scriptural superstition. But to a Roman Catholic trying to merit their way to Heaven, it all makes perfect sense.

“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:6-8

Come out of religious legalism and ritualism and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.

https://www.gotquestions.org/sinners-prayer.html

Back before they muddied the Gospel

Why a Preacher and Not a Priest: A Biography of Evangelist John Carrarascan0006
By Harriet Hamilton Cowell
Zondervan, 1953 (Ninth Edition), 160 pages

Way, way back in the day, pastors of evangelical and fundamentalist churches used to regularly invite itinerant evangelists to their churches for several days of “revival.” These fellas preached the Gospel with passion, often resulting in many souls accepting Jesus Christ as Savior or Christians rededicating their lives to the Lord. One such evangelist was John Carrara (1913-2008) of Fairview, New Jersey. Carrara was born into a Roman Catholic family and as a young teen even thought about becoming a priest. When he was fifteen, Carrara attended a Protestant service unbeknownst to his parents and was stirred by the sermon and the Bible verse displayed on the church wall: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). John was convicted by God’s Word and eventually accepted Christ at a following service. He faced significant persecution from his family and friends for rejecting the Roman Catholic gospel of sacramental grace and merit and accepting Jesus Christ. During a savage beating, his father struck him so hard with a broomstick that one of his shoulders became separated. The Lord soon called him to be an evangelist and John immersed himself in the Word in preparation. Despite the many obstacles, young John began preaching before people at the age of sixteen and over the course of his ministry he preached the Gospel in churches and assemblies in 40 states and Canada.

I enjoyed this biography of Carrara tremendously once I got used to the simplistic prose of its time. The book was very popular resulting in Zondervan publishing twelve editions between 1937 and 1967. The author only lightly touches upon the many secondary differences between Roman Catholicism and Bible Christianity but great emphasis is given to the most important difference – justification. Is a person saved by grace received through the Catholic sacraments (baptism, confirmation, the eucharist, confirmation, and last rites) and obeying the Ten Commandments and church rules as Rome teaches or is a person saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone? I imagine many born again believers presented this popular book to Roman Catholic friends and family members.

Rarely will you encounter a book like “Why a Preacher and Not a Priest” on the shelves of Christian book stores these days. John Carrara was born in 1913, back when most evangelicals knew the difference between the Gospel of grace through faith and Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Another traveling evangelist, Billy Graham, was born just five years after Carrara in 1918. While many accepted Christ because of Graham’s ministry, no one did more to compromise and muddy the distinctives of the Gospel of grace through faith than Billy Graham. Graham counseled Catholic men and women who, like Carrara, were drawn by the Gospel, to stay in the Catholic church; that its works-gospel was “close enough.” Many evangelical pastors and para-church leaders have followed Graham’s betrayal. The world has largely forgotten about John Cararra and the other evangelists of a generation or two ago who preached the pure Gospel of grace but it venerates and idolizes Billy Graham and that is no surprise.

“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” – Luke 6:26

Used copies of “Why a Preacher and Not a Priest” are readily available through Amazon.com.

carr

The First Baptist Church of Spencer, Indiana mentioned in the undated poster above is still in existence but, as part of the apostate American Baptist Churches USA, no longer preaches the Gospel.

Weekend Roundup – News & Views – 1/14/17

Happy Weekend! Time to sort through the news that collected in my in-basket for the lasttm seven days.

When I was a kid growing up back in the 1960s, someone gave me a one-year gift subscription to “Highlights.” Featuring same-sex parents back then would have put the magazine out of business. Today, it’s an expectation.

The “Amoris” controversy continues to churn in a big way. Evangelicals might say, “Who cares?,” but “Amoris” is paving the way for expanding ecumenism with the separated brethren, as some of the articles point out.

Yes, Francis prioritizes ecumenism over doctrinal rigidity. “Amoris” can only be understood within this context. First, communion for remarrieds, then communion for Protestants.

Catholics of various regions have their own special icons. Being half-Polish, I’m very familiar with the Our Lady of Czestochowa icon in Poland. The importance of these regional/national icons to their devotees cannot be overexaggerated. The Bible clearly teaches that adoration of these types of “holy” objects is idolatry.

Catholicism of the Middle Ages equated virginity with moral and spiritual purity, especially with regards to women. Therefore, Catholic theologians maintained Mary’s perpetual virginity even after Jesus’ birth, going so far as to claim that baby Jesus miraculously passed through her hymen without breaking it. Regarding the second article, weeping statues and paintings of Mary can be attributed to either human intervention or demonic activity.

Evangelicals point to the repentant thief on the cross next to Jesus as an example from Scripture that salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Roman Catholics, who believe baptism is absolutely essential to salvation, say, “Not so fast.” They say the thief would have gotten baptized if he had the chance so he was therefore “baptized by desire.”

The vast majority of Roman Catholics actually know very little about the details of their complicated religion. Praise the Lord that the Gospel of grace through faith is so simple even a child can understand it.

In Martin Scorcese’s latest film, “Silence,” Japanese pagans force Japanese Catholics and their Jesuit missionary priests to renounce their religion or be executed. The religion the Jesuits brought to Japan was not the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. So why would Wheaton College, supposedly an evangelical school, include the original “Silence” novel as part of its curriculum and present the Jesuits’ gospel of sacramental grace and merit as Christianity? Did Wheaton’s distinguished professors never hear of the Reformation? Oh, there I go; being divisive again.