Dead bones religion

I just love me a good sermon from the Word of God from a Spirit-filled preacher. If you know the Lord and you’ve been to a Jesus-preaching, Gospel-focused, evangelical church with a pastor who has surrendered his heart to God, you know what I’m talking about. A Spirit-filled, godly evangelical preacher can expound on a single Bible verse for an hour and believers’ hearts will dance with joy at His Word.

Sadly, millions of people attend churches – Catholic and most mainline Protestant – where the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone is never preached. Congregants will hear snippets of the Bible and some platitudes about the God of love and being a good neighbor, but there are no convicting words from Scripture about their sinful condition and no invitation to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone.

Have you ever attended a Catholic mass? As part of the formalities, the priest gives a short talk called a “homily” (from the Greek homilia – to have communion or hold intercourse with a person). The Vatican advises its clergy to limit their homilies to around eight minutes so as to leave enough time for all of the many rituals of the 45-minute mass.

A homily’s listenability varies widely depending on the priest. Many of these men are socially withdrawn and were initially attracted to the priesthood because of the isolation it offered. Public speaking is generally not their forte. Beyond that, none of these priests preach the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Rather, they propagate a joyless religious system of sacramental grace and merit that leads no one to Heaven.

I was browsing the internet the other day and came across podcasts of the homilies from Peace of Christ Catholic parish. Peace of Christ incorporates three former parishes on the eastside of Rochester, N.Y., including the one I attended as a child and teen. Below is a link to the 9-minute homily given by current pastor, “father” Robert Schrader, on Sunday, April 30, 2017. I invite you to take a listen, even for only a couple of minutes if you’re pressed for time. Argh, this brings back memories of so many Christ-less Sunday mornings! Schrader is obviously reading his prepared homily from a sheet of paper. It’s excruciatingly dry and boring. There’s no joy, no passion, and most importantly, no Gospel of salvation by grace through faith! As a believer, I recoil from this message that’s spiritually DOA.

Take a listen to Schrader’s homily below. You’ll be amazed.

Robert Schrader, homily for 4/30/17

It’s a chore for Catholics to have to sit through these tedious, monotone homilies as well as the accompanying dead liturgical rituals of the mass. Many Catholics legitimately ask themselves, “Why bother?,” when their pope teaches that even atheists can merit Heaven if they follow their consciences and are “good.” Catholic sources report only 20% of Catholics attend obligatory weekly mass while a whopping 56% say they attend mass only “a few times a year,” “rarely,” or “never.”

Praise God, there’s an alternative to “dead bones” religion. His name is Jesus Christ. God the Son came into this world and lived a perfect life so that He could offer it up as a sacrifice for your sins and mine. But Jesus rose from the grave, conquering sin and death, and offers eternal life and fellowship with God as a free gift to all those who accept Him by faith alone. No one can merit Heaven by trying to follow the Ten Commandments or their conscience. No one. Go to Jesus in prayer and accept Him as your Savior by faith alone and then ask the Lord to help you find an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise.

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12 thoughts on “Dead bones religion

  1. My dear Brother in Christ,

    I’ve read a few of your posts, I certainly respect and love your zeal for our Savior Jesus Christ. In our ecumenical dialogues, I believe it is important to state when discussing our vastly different theological and institutional disagreement with our motives with our commonalities. In our faith in Jesus Christ, we love each other, I love your zeal for Christ and wish to learn better from you how to cultivate that fire. I only hope that you approach me and my faith with the same openness.

    Of course, with that being said, I must conclude that many of your assertions are simply semantic and equivocating the term or idea of justification. It’s also negating the priority of Christ within Catholicism.

    In accord to Justification:

    I understand your misunderstanding of Catholic theology on Justification, most Catholics do not understand Justification. As a Catechist, when I enter a room and ask those what it takes to go to heaven do you know what most of them say? “Be a good person!” I say, well you’re wrong because that’s a heresy called Pelagianism. Catholics and most Mainline Protestants agree on Justification; whether they know it or not, we do not merit salvation by ‘being good people’. We are given salvation as a free gift from God. The traditional conflict of Justification comes from attempting to understand what this entails, whether it is one method (faith alone process) or a two method (faith and works of charity).

    For example, Tom excatholic4christ writes:
    “Sadly, millions of people attend churches – Catholic and most mainline Protestant – where the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone is never preached. (Prima Gratia)

    Then writes: “Congregants will hear snippets of the Bible and some platitudes about the God of love and being a good neighbor, but there are no convicting words from Scripture about their sinful condition and no invitation to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone.” (Sola Fide)

    However, these two assertions contradict even in the same paragraph my Brother. You claim in the first example that the Gospel of Salvation is through God’s Grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Prima Gratia). Nonetheless, in the next assertion, you claim that salvation must come from faith alone. (Sola Fide)

    If we take a look at Justification in the Bible, as you claim (and perhaps rightly so and this is something we can learn from the Evangelical tradition) that Catholics have little knowledge, St. Paul says that we are justified by faith and not works of the law, however, if we examine 1 Corinthians 13 and the letter of James, they assert that we need love. Of course, this is also declared by Christ in the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 25 the Judgement of All Nations and the separating of sheep and the goats. “When did we see you hungry?”

    So how Christians take these differing perspectives in Scripture and make them agree? Christians have to understand that St. Paul in the letters of Galatians and Romans uses the term Justification in a narrow way and faith in a much larger sense. However, James uses it in the opposite manner such justification in a large scope and faith in a narrow sense. We can examine St. Pauls change of Justification to a much larger scope in 1 Corinthians 13.

    In a very short explanation, in accord to what you call the ‘dead mass.’ Catholics understand the Church to be the Body of Christ, being instituted by Christ himself to St. Peter, where Christ can be experienced in the flesh at Mass. The criticism you make of Catholicism is that we’re more or less materialist for our ritual, and if you’re correct about the Eucharist and the Mass, we’re the biggest idolaters of them all. The biggest problem with this narrative is Church history simply doesn’t follow this sort of claim. In fact, prior to the reformation from Christ to Luther, there had been no issue of the Eucharist and the Mass other than Cathars.

    In the Incarnation of Christ, in the institution of the Eucharist, the material physical world is just as important as the spiritual. In fact, If Catholic are correct about Church History, which led to Henry Newman’s conversion to Catholicism, every act of the mass is a celebration of the priority of Christ.

    And Evangelicalism is nothing more than the age-old heresy of Gnosticism with its rejection of the material body of Christ instituted in the Church.

    As Christ prayed for the unity of all his faithful in his priestly prayer found in John 17, let us pray for the unity of all Christians.

    In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirity. Amen

    Pax Christi,

    Philip Augustine.

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    1. Philip Augustine, thanks for your comments. Ephesians 2:8-10 is a wonderfully succinct summary of just how works and charity follow justification by faith alone in Jesus Christ. Catholics appeal to institutional antiquity but of course the Eastern Orthodox do the same thing. And the Jews trump you both. But it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. Catholics say being a good person is the way to Heaven because that is generally what they have been taught. The pope says even atheists will go to Heaven if they follow their consciences and are “good” which is the logical extension of any works-righteousness religion. But no one follows the dictates of their conscience perfectly and no one is good but God as Christ says. We are not surprised the early church lapsed into ritualism and works heresy so quickly. Paul warned against the encroaching works salvationists repeatedly in his epistles. Accept Christ without a single plea.

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  2. Tom, it is possible that this priest in his emphasis on letting go of the past is preparing his parishioners for the changes in the Church of Rome which Francis is promoting, that is, to leave doctrine – except of course the Eucharist – behind for social justice and empathy.

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    1. Thanks for reading and listening, Maria! Yes, I had the very same thought. Francis is constantly scolding his Catholic conservative critics for being rigid doctrinalists and “shrine lovers.” Francis knows Catholicism will continue to lose ground if changes aren’t made. Did the deadpan monotone of that sermon bring back memories for you as well?

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      1. Thanks so much, Maria! My wife came down with a bad case of shingles but is doing better. I hope your husband is continuing to improve. We’ve been praying for our non-believing sons’ salvation for years and we’ve been asking our oldest son who lives in town to come to church with us. Yesterday, he said he would accompany us to church tomorrow. My wife and I are very excited! This is the Lord’s working in his heart. Would you please pray for our son Joe that the evil one would not be victorious in persuading him to stay home tomorrow?

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