Those angry separated brethren!!!

Yesterday I was listening to the 5/25/17 podcast of the Calling All Catholics talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY), featuring moderator, Steve Quebral, and priest-host, father Kevin Barrett. Toward the end of the show a question came up regarding a case of drive-by evangelism.

Steve Quebral: Let’s go next now to a question we got from Brad, and Brad writes to us, “Recently at our parish someone left anti-Catholic flyers on everyone’s cars during mass and even left some in our pamphlet rack in the vestibule of the church. What would be the best way to handle it if you could catch them in the act.”

Priest Barrett responded by decrying the divisions within (c)hristianity, reaffirming that the Catholic church is the one true church established by Jesus. He attributed the efforts of those who reach out to Catholics with the Gospel to the “devil and fallen spirits who are trying to confuse us and divide us.” He stated that (c)hristians should be reaching out to each other and building bridges instead of fomenting division. Barrett argued that hostility towards the Catholic church is not of God. He observed that, “Catholics aren’t constantly agitated towards our non-Catholic Christian brothers and sisters and yet…so often the separated Christian brethren are constantly agitated with Catholics.” In closing, Barrett recommended Protestants and Catholics put their efforts into praying for each other, looking for ways to work for (c)hristian unity, trying to build bridges, trying to maintain a respectful dialogue, and “celebrating what we share in common and bring that goodness to the world.”

The only problem with Barrett’s approach is Catholicism teaches a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit in contrast to the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Rather than shake hands with apostasy, it’s every Christian’s duty to expose it. What did the Old Testament prophets say about false religion? Did they coddle it? Did they cooperate with it? What about John the Baptist? Or the Lord, Jesus Christ? What did He say about false teachers? Or the apostle, Paul? Christians today are so saturated with this pluralistic, tolerant culture that the only thing they won’t tolerate is somebody who points out that Rome does not preach the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.” – Matthew 10:34-36

I wholeheartedly agree with Barrett that Catholics generally aren’t agitated with the “separated brethren” but why would they be when their church teaches all non-Catholic religionists and even atheists will merit Heaven just as long as they are “good”? Since everyone in the world is hopefully “following the light they’ve been given,” there’s really nothing in the Catholic faith to be passionate about, which is why 80% of American Catholics don’t attend obligatory mass every Sunday.

I don’t endorse the people mentioned far above who left flyers on the car windshields. I don’t know who they were or what information was distributed. Hopefully, those folks were Christians. It’s arguable how effective drive-by evangelism is but if we put God’s word out there, Scripture says it won’t come back void.

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:11

In praise of Catholic cathedrals?

There are a few days here and there when the Lord doesn’t give me any ideas to write about, but I usually have one idea every day. On very rare days I have multiple ideas, like today! I’ll try to be brief…

One

On my drive-in to work this morning, I was listening to my usual local Christian radio station and Joni Eareckson Tada (pictured) was giving her 5-minute inspirational message for the day. Joni was expounding about a previous visit to Paris and her joy in visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral, with its “harmony of unspeakable splendors,” although she used the grime that had accumulated on the building as an analogy for the worldly attachments and attitudes that accumulate in a Christian’s life. Is Joni so ignorant of Reformation history and comparative theology that she doesn’t know that the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone was never preached inside Notre Dame (“Our Lady”)? The mammoth cathedral was constructed between 1163 and 1345 on the backs of medieval peasants who were never shown the way to Jesus Christ. It stands as a monument to institutional legalistic religion with its grandiose but empty splendor. Joni should know better but this isn’t the first time she’s tread these ecumenical roads. Back in 2015, I posted about Joni’s endorsement of a Catholic journal. See here.

Two

The book I’m currently reading refers to the very popular Catholic tract, “My Ticket to Heaven,” written by father Joseph Bernard of Patton, Pennsylvania. Over five-million copies have been distributed to date. Following are a few quotes from the tract which should give pause to evangelicals who embrace Catholicism as Christian:

  • “Now, in this job of getting myself to those gates of heaven, I have everything going for me…”
  • “And if I maintain always . . . . . this determination . . . . . this disposition of mind and soul . . . . . I can be sure of never committing sin.”
  • “I refuse to do anything that is against God’s will. With God as my helper I absolutely refuse to commit sin. Therefore I refuse to go to hell. It’s as simple as that.”
  • “If I do my part, God will do His part.”
  • “God gave me the job of getting myself to heaven.”

http://thekeysofheaven.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/T0-1aaa-MY-TICKET-TO-HEAVEN-a-Roman-Catholic-pamphlet.pdf

Obviously, there’s not one single mention in this tract of accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, it’s all about a person saving themselves through sheer determination not to sin!

Catholics give lip service to “faith” and “grace” but the salvation bottom line for them is receiving the sacraments and “cooperating with grace” by obeying the Ten Commandments (absolutely impossible!) and church rules. They can only “hope” they’ve done enough to merit Heaven, but there’s zero hope for anyone trying to merit their salvation.

“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20

Three

This morning, I was listening to the 5/25/17 podcast of the Calling All Catholics talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) featuring moderator, Steve Quebral, and priest-host, father Kevin Barrett. A listener, Ron from Syracuse, N.Y., called in with a question about “Gregorian” masses for the suffering souls in purgatory. I had never heard of Gregorian masses before so I did a little research. Catholics are taught that masses said for the dead will shorten their stay in the painful fires of purgatory and what pious Catholic would want their deceased loved ones to suffer? The church says it doesn’t actually “charge” for masses but suggests an offering, usually at a dollar value of $10-$15 per mass. According to Catholic tradition, a series of masses called “Gregorian” masses can also be said for the deceased. Gregorian masses are 30 regular masses offered on consecutive days with a suggested donation of $150-$300, depending on the priest. Cha-ching, cha-ching! It’s believed by many Catholics that a series of 30 Gregorian masses may actually free a soul from purgatory based on the following tradition:

”During the 6th century, a deceased monk from St. Andrew’s Monastery in Rome (founded by St. Gregory) reportedly appeared to a friend and requested that 30 Masses be said to release his soul from purgatory. After the Masses were completed, the monk appeared again to declare he had entered heaven. Since that time, Catholics have continued the tradition of celebrating 30 consecutive Masses for one person to free his or her soul from purgatory.”
– from http://www.cnewa.org/donations.aspx?ID=1378&sitecode=hq&pageno=1

Purgatory? Masses for the dead? Gregorian masses? It’s all unbiblical, man-made tradition. If all of this were true, then dead Catholics with rich families that could afford hundreds of masses for their deceased loved ones would be at a much greater advantage than poor, family-less Catholics. And let’s not forget about the sale of indulgences! What a money-making racket this purgatory doctrine used to be (although the average Catholic today can’t be bothered with obligatory mass on Sunday let alone shelling out $300 for the soul of Aunt Sally).

“The Keepers” on Netflix: Recommended with sadness

I finally finished watching Netflix’s seven-part-series, “The Keepers,” about the unsolved murder of a young nun in 1969. Sister Cathy Cesnik taught at an all-girls’ Catholic high school in Baltimore, Maryland. She disappeared in November, 1969 and her decomposed body was found the following January. The murder was never solved but two retired alumni of the high school and former students of the nun have relentlessly attempted to identify the killer/s.

The facts show that Father Joseph Maskell, a chaplain at the high school, had sexually abused a large number of the students. One of the victims had confided in Sister Cesnik who took initial steps to expose Maskell but then disappeared. There’s little doubt that priest Maskell orchestrated Cesnik’s death even if he was not the murderer himself.

This is gut-wrenching stuff. The sexual abuse of multiple girls at Archbishop Keough High School by Maskell and another priest sickens the soul. Then there was the murder. And finally there was the cover-up of Maskell’s abuse by the Baltimore Archdiocese and its subsequent legal battles with the victims.

My heart breaks for the victims of Father Maskell and for all the other victims of abuse within the Catholic church. The church definitely perpetuated the abuse through its clerical celibacy rule and by moving known predators from one parish to the next. I’m also very saddened that the Catholic church deceives its members with a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit rather than teaching them the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

I highly recommend this series although it’s difficult to watch. But the truths it reveals are so important.

excatholic4christ

A new Netflix docu-series, “The Keepers,” premiers tomorrow, Friday, May 19th and it looks like something Christians may want to watch. I certainly will be.

The seven-part series focuses on the unsolved murder of a Catholic nun, Sister Catherine Cesnik, inKeep Baltimore, Maryland in 1969. One of the suspects was a priest, Father Joseph Maskell, a known sexual predator, who was shuffled from parish to parish by the church hierarchy. The documentary alleges that Maskell was abusing girls at the high school where Cesnik taught and she was attempting to expose him prior to her death.

It’s one thing to hear general information about the scandal of pedophilic and abusive priests and the subsequent cover-up by the church hierarchy. That’s bad enough. But it’s another thing to examine the personal aftermath of the abuse and cover-up in the lives of actual human beings with names and faces and in the lives of their families.

Catholicism…

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An unbeliever’s history of evangelicals in America

The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America
By Frances Fitzgerald
Simon & Schuster, 2017, 740 pages

Several weeks ago I saw some reviews of this weighty tome and I finally ended up borrowing a copy from the library, even though I hesitated because of its length. However, because of the interesting subject material, especially the first half of the book, I breezed through it pretty quickly.

Unbeliever Fitzgerald examines the history of evangelical Protestantism, from the First Great Awakening in the 1730s to 2016. It’s fascinating stuff for history buffs. She begins with the revivals in Colonial America spearheaded by Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, followed by the Second Great Awakening, which included Arminian revivalist, Charles Finney, and then proceeds to frontier revivalism, the polarization of the church over slavery, the rise of higher textual criticism and the social gospel, the splintering away of biblical fundamentalists, the rise of Billy Graham and the New Evangelicals, and the move into political activism and ecumenism.

The first 260 pages take the reader up to the 1960s. The remainder of the text, about 360 pages, deals with the rise of Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and Pat Robertson and the intricate details of the Christian Right’s misguided efforts to mix nationalism with the Gospel and “reclaim America for Jesus.”

The heavy over-emphasis on the last fifty years of evangelical history is a drawback. I wasn’t altogether enthusiastic about the minutiae regarding the support for this and that congressional bill and for this and that presidential candidate, although I did enjoy learning more about the inspirations behind the political Christian Right, R.J. Rushdoony and Francis Schaeffer. The author is at her best describing the broad sweeps of pre-1970s evangelicalism. Fitzgerald is not a believer and is often not complimentary of the Christians she writes about or their beliefs. I dismiss the scoffing for what it is but I wholeheartedly agree with her that Christians in America have not always done a good job of sticking to the Gospel and witnessing for Christ.

10 Really “Uncool” Things About Being Catholic

In the article far below, Catholic bishop, Thomas Tobin, cites the following ten items as “really cool” things about being Catholic, but in actuality they’re just about all unbiblical and spiritually toxic:

  1. Confession – God’s Word says salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Go to Jesus in prayer and trust in Him as your Savior. Going into a dark box and confessing sins to a priest is unscriptural. No man can forgive sins. The Catholic confessional box was often used by predatory priests to initially lure their victims. Priests were required to probe older children and young adults with embarrassing questions about sexuality to ensure they gave a full, “good” confession. Any potential pitfalls with that arrangement? See here.
  2. The Rosary – The standard rosary is made up of 59 beads. When a Catholic prays the rosary they say 53 “Hail Mary” prayers to Mary and 6 “Our Father” prayers to God along with a few other prayers. God’s Word forbids prayer to any entity other than to Him. It also forbids multiple rote prayers.
  3. Popes – Nowhere in the New Testament is there any mention of a pope. In contrast, Jesus strictly forbade the kind of ecclesiastical hierarchy that developed in the institutional Roman church (Matthew 20:20-28).
  4. Saints – The New Testament refers to saints as all those who have accepted Christ as Savior, not a super-holy class of people as Rome invented.
  5. Relics – Nowhere in the New Testament are believers instructed to venerate physical objects.
  6. Processions – As priests parade a large bread wafer alleged to be the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus in a sunburst container called a monstrance, the Catholic faithful bow down and worship it. This is unmitigated idolatry.
  7. Blessings – Priests and bishops are alleged to have been ordained with the ability to endow people and objects with powerful blessings.
  8. Music – Gaudy liturgical ritual with its accompanying music defined “religion” for most older generation Catholics.
  9. Guilt – Yup, God’s Word says we are all sinners, but Catholics can never find spiritual peace in Christ because they’re on a religious treadmill and no matter how much they do or how good they try to be, it will never be enough.
  10. A Sense of Humor – I went through twelve years of Catholic education and I can attest to the fact that MANY priests, nuns, and brothers did NOT have a sense of humor. Often those troubled souls were cold and hurtful.

10 Really Cool Things About Being Catholic
http://www.thericatholic.com/stories/10-really-cool-things-about-being-catholic,8977

Weekend Roundup – News & Views – 5/27/17

People are infatuated with celebrity and Christians aren’t always immune. I know of a Christian blogger who regularly posts about celebrities who (may have) accepted Christ. Trail-blazing, gender-bender rock star, David Bowie, made a few impersonal references to God before he died and he’s celebrated as a believer? C’mon! I certainly hope Steve McQueen accepted Jesus. That would be great. But McQueen put his pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else. And I definitely wouldn’t be one to make a huge deal out of Billy Graham’s Bible.

“It is astonishing that a (political) party that celebrates family values at every turn has a president who is on his third wife and who has bragged about his extramarital affairs and who is appointing an ambassador to the Vatican who had a six-year affair with her future husband while he was still married to his second wife. That is not a rumor: Mrs. Gingrich testified to that fact under oath during her husband’s divorce proceedings.” – from the above article.

Mrs. Gingrich should feel right at home inside the infamous Vatican. How does the saying go, “If only these walls could talk”?

The grammar school nuns used to tell us about Padre Pio’s stigmata wounds. So, were the wounds self-inflicted or were they of demonic origin?

We’re pretty much through the “bow wave” of the pedophile priest abuse and cover-up scandal here in the U.S., but it’s currently front-page news in Guam and Australia. I believe this grevous scandal is one of the Lord’s marks upon the Catholic church.

Franklin Graham is one of the last of the Conservative-Right Christian leaders in the mold of Falwell, Dobson, and Robertson. Young Americans generally don’t go for mixing religion with politics like some of their parents did. Graham is also an ecumenist like his father and appears regularly on TBN.

Traditionalist Catholics took this bishop to task for lifting the Lent meat abstention rule for St. Patty’s Day. It’s funny to me that Catholics in general take this no-meat-on-Lenten-Fridays rule so seriously but thumb their noses at so many of the church’s other man-made obligatory rules.

Protestants had good reasons in 1960 for fearing a Catholic in the White House. The Catholic church was still in militant mode at that time and routinely suppressed non-Catholics in European and Latin American countries where they held a majority. But Protestants certainly had nothing to fear from randy Jack. Religion was the LAST thing on his mind.

The Catholic diocese of Orange County must be doing pretty well to sink $72 million into the renovation of ecumenical apostate Schuller’s former showplace. Catholic parishes over here in the Rust Belt are either merging or closing.

Catholics’ and Judas Protestants’ ecumenical views on Martin Luther are always interesting to read. Luther would “roll over in his grave” at the current compromise and betrayal of the Gospel if he were there, but I assume the man the Holy Spirit used to help return the church to Romans 1:17, “the righteous will live by faith,” is largely preoccupied with praising the Lord these days.

Hey, hey, hey! I usually get a chuckle out of the satirical articles in the Babylon Bee but this one hit too close to home!

I’m trying to limit these weekend updates to ten links but I’m making an exception this time with this late addition. Friends of this blog know I truly appreciate John MacArthur (pictured, sort of) and his ministry but these lampoons really had me chuckling. Oy! So funny! If you’re familiar with Johnny Mac, you’ll appreciate these. Absolutely no disrespect intended.

Can Roman Catholics have a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ?

Can a Roman Catholic have a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ? Such a question is not well-received in this era of watered-down theology and inclusiveness. But before you become offended, let’s take a look at this query calmly and objectively.

It’s referred to in different ways – trusting in Christ, accepting Jesus as personal Savior, knowing Christ, following Christ, accepting Jesus into your heart, etc., – but they all refer to a moment in time when a person comprehends they are a sinner and deserves eternal punishment, that Jesus Christ, God the Son, came into this world and died for their sins, but rose from the grave and offers them forgiveness and eternal life, and the person comes to Jesus in prayer and genuinely accepts Him as their Savior by faith alone, knowing they themselves did not do a single thing to earn the gift of salvation that Christ offers. When a person genuinely places their trust in Jesus by faith alone, they then enter into a personal relationship with Christ that lasts throughout all eternity. That is the very Good News!

But is that what Roman Catholicism teaches?

Well, Catholicism also teaches that we are sinners and deserve eternal punishment. It also teaches that Jesus is God the Son and that He came into this world to die for our sins, and that He rose from the grave conquering sin and death. So far so good. But what happens next is where Catholicism goes off the track. Rome teaches that Jesus established its sacramental system and that a person must be baptized and participate in the other sacraments in order to receive graces so they will be able to allegedly abstain from sin – aka “cooperate with grace” – and try to maintain their soul in a “state of grace” up to the moment of death in order to be able to merit Heaven. For Catholics, justification does not happen in a moment of time, but rather is a lifelong process with an unknowable ending.

In deference to Bible verses that speak of salvation as a free gift, Catholicism claims that its sacramental system dispenses God’s unmerited grace, but then Catholics must regularly receive the sacraments and “cooperate with sacramental grace” by obeying the Ten Commandments and church rules in order to merit Heaven.

A person who has genuinely trusted in Christ as their Savior has assurance of their salvation because their salvation rests completely on the finished work of Christ and HIS imputed perfect righteousness, not on themselves. A Catholic has no assurance of their salvation because their salvation depends on how well THEY “cooperate with grace” by obeying the Law right up until the moment of their death. In fact, their church teaches that a person commits the “sin of presumption” if they believe they have already been saved. Just ask a devout Catholic if they know if they’re going to Heaven and listen to their answer. It’s all about what THEY do or don’t do.

The Bible certainly speaks of obedience and good works, but we can only walk with the Lord in obedience (albeit imperfectly) AFTER we have accepted Him as Savior.

People of different faiths are passionate about their religion. Pious Mormons will certainly insist they have a “personal relationship” with Jesus. Jehovah’s Witnesses will claim they have a “personal relationship” with Jehovah through Jesus. But we know both groups are trusting in their works religious systems with their aberrant christologies rather than trusting in the Christ of the Bible by faith alone.

Many Catholics are also passionate about their religious system and regularly proclaim Jesus as their “Savior.” But a careful consideration of Catholicism reveals its members are trusting not in Christ, but in how well THEY participate in their church’s sacramental system and how well THEY “cooperate with grace” by obeying the Ten Commandments and church rules.

A person’s reliance on themselves for ANY part of their salvation indicates they DON’T have a “relationship with Christ” and that they are actually denying the Savior and His gift of salvation.

There are no doubt some Catholics who become so discouraged by trying to follow the precepts of their church that they finally fall at the feet of Christ and plead for His forgiveness. Those Catholics are saved in spite of their church, not because of it. After they have received Christ, they should obediently remove themselves from a false religious system and find an evangelical church where the Gospel is preached.

Having a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ means putting all of your faith in Him, without one single plea of your own. Trust in Him by faith alone and then walk with Him in an eternal relationship.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” – John 1:12-13

Postscript: A Catholic who is faithful to the teachings of their church (i.e., salvation via sacramental grace and merit) and insists they DO have a personal relationship with Jesus the Savior is kind of like a person who eats at KFC every day and insists they follow a healthy diet. Does not compute. If Jesus is your Savior, then why are you attempting to save yourself?

“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” – Galatians 2:21