Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 9/30/17

The relics of Italian “saint,” Padre Pio (aka Francesco Forgione, d. 1968), are currently touring the U.S. Thousands of the Catholic faithful will venerate these relics (a glove, crusts of his stigmata (!), cotton gauze with his bloodstains, a lock of hair, his mantle, and a handkerchief soaked with sweat in the hours before he died) and seek the intercession of this popular saint. The nuns at my Catholic grammar school were quite enthralled with this priest and “mystic” who was allegedly marked by the “stigmata” or Christ’s crucifixion wounds and who also claimed to be able to bi-locate and levitate. Award-winning historian, Sergio Luzzatto, researched the Vatican’s archives on Pio and concluded the priest was a complete fraud in his book, “Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age.” See here.

For the first time since this “Amoris Laetitia” contoversy began, conservative Catholics are discussing “schism” as a possible option to pope Francis’ lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees.

Conservative Catholic media conglomerate, EWTN, bids Protestants and lapsed Catholics to “come home” to the church, but which church? Should they return to the church run by heretic Francis or should they wait until the EWTN-types break away and create their own wildcat organization? The genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone is not preached at either end of the Catholic spectrum.

The Catholic mass has to be one of the most boring hours a person ever had to sit through and there’s little that church-growth marketing consultants like Judas evangelical, Rick Warren, can do to change that. Catholics are obligated to attend mass every Sunday under pain of eternal damnation but only 22% of the membership comply. Who can blame them when pope Francis says even atheists can merit Heaven if they “follow their conscience,” whatever that means.

I see that the Catholic diocese of Rochester where I live recently celebrated its 150th anniversary. That’s 150 years of Rochesterians being taught a false gospel. When I was a boy, the bishop lived ostentatiously like a king on East Avenue, the preferred neighborhood of the city’s industrial barons. See here. Rochester was part of the Buffalo diocese prior to 1868.

Catholic dioceses throughout the Northeast Rust Belt are closing or consolidating churches because of the shortage of priests and bodies in the pews.

Marky Mark is one of those rare Catholic celebrities who wears his religion on his shirt sleeve, when he’s not acting in R-rated movies. Stephen Colbert and Patricia Heaton are two other proud Catholic celebrities who come to mind. For these folks, like all Catholics, the church institution and its labyrinthine religious system are preeminent, with Jesus Christ buried somewhere under all the rituals, ceremonies, and traditions.

I could have told them that. Catholic seminaries were both magnets and incubators of perversion.

Quite often, I will end the weekend roundup with a satirical piece from the Babylon Bee, but this article on prosperity gospel purveyor and anti-trinitarian, T.D. Jakes, serves just as well.

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When the bottom drops out: What’s a Catholic to do when their pope is a heretic?

…A wife happens to pick up her husband’s smart phone and discovers hundreds of romantic texts he sent to her best friend.

…A mother answers the doorbell and gasps at the sight of a policeman standing there. He notifies her that her teenage son was just killed in a motor vehicle accident.

…An employee of twenty-five years is called into his boss’s office and is told that the company is trimming costs and he is being let go immediately.

…A person has some abdominal pain and his doctor arranges for x-rays. The following day, the doctor calls and asks him to come to the office to discuss the results.

If you haven’t been confronted with these kinds of life-changing circumstances yet, your time is coming. We live in a fallen world and bitter disappointment, pain, sorrow, and death are a part of living in this world.

But there is Hope!

This week, I’ve written quite a bit about the growing controversy within the Roman Catholic church regarding pope Francis’ ambiguous lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees. By this change, Francis is de facto nullifying a teaching that has been considered unchangeable for one-thousand years. While this is all dry information to disinterested observers, it has shaken conservative Catholics to the core. They have always believed, as their church has always claimed, that a pope could never lead their church into error, and yet this is precisely what has happened.

Yesterday, I visited a number of blogs belonging to conservative Catholics, which feature posts and commentary discussing this controversy. These poor souls are extremely upset. Their pope is propagating heresy. Their pope is leading the church into error. They are confused. They are hurt. They are angry. They don’t know what to do next. The one thing they thought they could always count on in this life, the Catholic church, has betrayed them. The bottom has dropped out from beneath them. My heart goes out to these hurting people.

But my message to these confused souls is that there is a Rock who will never change and never disappoint. Catholicism took the simple, saving faith of the early Christian church and transformed it into a religious system that would be unrecognizable to the apostles. The Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone devolved into a complicated system of rituals and legalism administered by an increasingly authoritative and powerful hierarchy.

Come to Christ my Catholic friend. He is the Rock, not the pope, not the Vatican. He never changes. He never disappoints. The Lord is exposing the corrupt Catholic system for exactly what it is with this controversy. The church’s unscriptural claims and boasts are empty words as this scandal clearly demonstrates. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and ask Him to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches God’s Word without compromise.

What does it mean that God is the Rock of salvation?
https://www.gotquestions.org/Rock-of-salvation.html

Catholics voting on whether the “Vicar of Christ” is a heretic

A few days ago, I posted that sixty-two conservative Catholic clerics and theologians had recently sent a formal petition, what they term a “filial correction,” to pope Francis, accusing him of spreading heresy in the church, especially in regards to his allowing communion to remarried divorcees. See here.

There’s a few recent developments to this escalating “crisis”:

  • Francis’ allies immediately ridiculed the signatories as being a bunch of ecclesiastical second-stringers, but retired bishop, René Henry Gracida, a friend of pope John Paul II and mother Angelica, has added his name to the document. See here. Additional signatories are adding their names daily. The current number is 146. See here.
  • One of Francis’ close supporters, Vatican Secretary of State, cardinal Pietro Parolin, has expressed his desire that the progressive, pro-Francis wing of the church hierarchy should dialogue with the dissenters. See here.
  • In response to the attack by church conservatives and traditionalists, Francis’ liberal friends have launched their own website where Catholics can register their support of the pope. See here. Evidently, these folks are not bothered by the fact that Francis has changed a doctrine that had been considered infallible for the last 1000-years.

So, first we had the “Five Dubia” letter sent to Francis by the four conservative cardinals asking him to clarify his lifting of the ban on communion to remarried divorcees, and now we have this petition outright accusing the pope of heresy. Can the pope continue his silence as the dissenters grow in number and boldness?

The average U.S. Catholic who still bothers to attend church on Sunday may not even be aware of this conflict. They mechanically attend the rote rituals and ceremonies oblivious to the crisis. But if a pope can change doctrine previously held to be infallible, then what does that say about Catholicism’s boastings of the infallibility of its magisterium, and what does it say about the entire Catholic system?

Friends, salvation is not in a denomination or an institution. Salvation is in a Person, Jesus Christ. Pray to Him. Repent of your sins and ask Him to save you. Your religious institution is built on sinking sand.

Postscript: I was listening to the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) on my drive home from work today and for the first fifteen minutes of the program, priest-host Paul McDonald spoke cautiously about the “filial correction” and “Amoris Laetitia.” McDonald avoided directly criticizing the pope, but stated that if the ban on communion to remarried divorcees is lifted, “the whole thing (i.e., the Catholic system) falls apart.”

“Litmus test? How dare you judge anyone!”

Do you all recall the litmus test? If you took Chemistry in high school, you’re familiar with this test in which specially treated paper strips are used to indicate the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. No, I didn’t like Chemistry either and passed it only by the skin of my teeth. In the jargon of our culture, a litmus test has also come to mean any single factor (such as an attitude, event, or fact) that decisively reveals a finding or conclusion. But litmus tests have gotten a very bad reputation lately. In our wide-open, post-modern era, when all truth is relative, and plurality and inclusiveness are worshiped as idols, anyone who presumes to judge anyone else according to any standard is deemed to be sectarian at best.

When it comes to Biblical Christianity, I surely don’t assume to know everything in God’s Word, but there are some basic foundational Scriptural truths that we can stand on. When I come across a person who claims they are an evangelical Christian pastor or a leader of a evangelical para-church organization, I immediately want to know three things about them:

  • Do they uphold the Bible as the infallible, inerrant Word of God?
  • Do they proclaim the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone?
  • Are they faithful to the Gospel by refusing to join in ecumenism with Roman Catholicism and its false gospel of sacramental grace and merit?

If they don’t pass muster on these three items, I really don’t care to listen to ANYTHING else they have to say. Period. Needless to say, just about every performer on TBN who I can think of fails on at least two of these “litmus tests,” with Charles Stanley being the exception.

“…test everything; hold fast what is good.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:21

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” – 1 John 4:1

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” – Colossians 2:8

“Calvinist” due out October 2nd

The independent fundamental Baptist church that my wife and I attended after we accepted Christ in the early 80s was like a lot of other IFB churches back then when it came to the Arminian-Calvin, free will vs. predestination debate. Our pastor leaned heavily toward free will, but also preached the eternal security of the believer. I can remember him getting behind the pulpit and deriding the Reformed movement’s TULIP acronym like it was straight from the pit of hell.

After returning to the Lord following a loooong prodigal season, the last two churches we’ve attended have been Reformed Baptist, although the pastors didn’t/don’t really push the doctrine of election very hard that I’ve heard. I appreciate the Reformed movement’s emphasis on the Lord’s grace and forgiveness compared to the Arminian movement’s heavier emphasis on works and guilt (even with the possibility of losing salvation in some circles). So I’m somewhere in the middle of the Arminian-Calvin debate and firmly committed to non-commitment unless the Lord shows me otherwise.

The other evening, I was scanning through the news and I came across the interesting web sites below. A new documentary, “Calvinist,” from director, Les Lanphere, is being released on October 2nd. The film documents how Calvinism is enjoying increasing interest among young evangelicals. Featured are some notable brothers whom I’ve often quoted in past posts including R.C. Sproul, Paul Washer, Ligon Duncan, Kevin DeYoung, James White, Tim Challies, Steven Lawson, and Michael Horton.

As I said, I’m somewhere in the middle of the Arminian-Calvin debate, but I do have a fondness for my conservative Reformed brethren and sistren, especially for their bold stand against ecumenism with Rome, something increasingly hard to find these days within evangelicalism.

“Calvinist” Explores An Old Theology Overtaking Young Christians

“Calvinist” official website

So, are we soon going to see a rebuttal documentary from the Wesleyans, Pentecostals, and Free Will Baptists titled, “Arminian”? 😁 Why is this committed Arminian-Calvinist advertising a movie promoting Calvinism? Hey, I wanted to give a heads-up to my Reformed friends and I want to eventually see it as well. The documentary isn’t available from Amazon yet, so you’ll have to order it from the official website.

Please, my Arminian brothers and sisters, no hate mail!

Oy vey! Another doomsday prediction gone sour!

For the past couple of months, I’ve caught bits and pieces on religious talk radio of some strange prediction about the end of the world happening this past Saturday, September 23rd. Well, it’s September 25th and we’re all still here. Evidently, “Christian numerologist and researcher,” David Meade (pictured), had posted a You Tube video predicting the end of the world on September 23rd, but he’s now pushed the date back to October 15th, along with all kinds of lame excuses. It’s Edgar C. Whisenant all over again (see below). I agree that circumstances in the world are getting increasingly dicey, but no man knows the day of the Lord’s return.

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” – Matthew 24:26

excatholic4christ

After we accepted the Lord in 1983, my wife and I attended an independent fundamentalAAAAAA Baptist (IFB) church for eight years. We were firmly grounded in God’s Word at that church, but the pastor also took the congregation down some strange rabbit holes. I can laugh about it now.

In the early part of 1988, a small booklet was creating quite a stir at our church as well as at thousands of other evangelical and fundamentalist churches. Former NASA engineer, Edgar C. Whisenant, had written “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.” Based on information from the Bible and using his own mathematical calculations, Whisenant had determined the Rapture of the church would occur sometime between September 11th and September 13th of 1988. 4.5 million copies of the booklet ended up being distributed.

Like most IFB preachers, our pastor often taught the Rapture – the taking up of Christians bodily into…

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62 Catholic scholars and clergy send letter to pope Francis accusing him of “propagating heresies”

I’ve been posting updates on the “Amoris Laetitia” crisis just about every Saturday on my Weekend Roundup, but this latest development is too important to postpone.

In April 2016, pope Francis published his “Amoris Laetitia” apostolic exhortation, which touched on marriage and family life. Buried in the document are two now-famous footnotes, #s 329 and 351, which seem to allow communion to remarried divorcees based upon a priest’s discretion. The ban on communion for remarried divorcees was alienating a large percentage of the church’s membership and Francis pragmatically and craftily used “Amoris Laetitia” to dismiss doctrine previously held to be infallible through its ambiguously worded directives. Four conservative cardinals subsequently petitioned Francis, asking him to clarify what appeared to be an abrogation of infallible doctrine. Francis did not respond to the initial petition or its follow-up.

Last night, Catholic news services reported that 62 Catholic scholars and clergy had sent a “Filial Correction” to Francis on August 11th. Because Francis once again had not responded, the letter was made public today (see here). Based on his “Amoris” exhortation, the petition accuses Francis of supporting “heretical positions about marriage, the moral life, and the Eucharist that are causing a host of ‘heresies and other errors’ to spread throughout the Catholic Church.”

What is a Catholic to do? An “infallible” pope has overturned doctrine held to be “infallible” by previous “infallible” popes. Priests and theologians faithful to Catholic teaching are accusing the current pope of being a heretic, all of this contradicting boasts of the past that a pope could never lead the church into error! Despite counsel to the membership from bishops and priests to “remain calm and trust in the church,” this predicament cannot be ignored.

Catholic friend, rather than trusting in your institutional church with its copious man-made rituals and traditions and clearly fraudulent claims to infallibility, place your trust in the unchangeable Rock, Jesus Christ. Repent of your sins. Ask Jesus Christ to save you by faith alone and then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical fellowship in your area that teaches God’s Word without compromise. Your church is in extremely deep crisis. God is exposing your church for what it is. The Lord is calling you out of it and calling you to Him.

62 scholars correct Pope Francis for ‘propagating heresies’
https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-62-scholars-correct-pope-francis-for-propagating-heresies

Postcript: “Is the pope Catholic?” was a rhetorical response widely used as an absolute affirmative to a question, but it’s no longer valid.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 9/23/17

American Catholic writers love to kibbitz about anti-Catholic persecution in this country. I certainly agree that the persecution of any group is wrong, but they somehow fail to mention that much of the ill-will, fear, and paranoia could be traced to the bloody oppression of non-Catholics in Catholic-controlled countries that was encouraged by papal encyclicals condemning freedom of religion and democratic forms of government. Schoolyard bullies mustn’t be surprised when someone strikes back.

The battle between pope Francis and his allies and the conservatives/traditionalists within the Catholic church continues. The rancor between the two groups is reaching fever pitch. You won’t find a more entertaining soap opera on television.

Liberal priest, James Martin’s new book, “Building a Bridge,” which encourages rapprochement with the LGBTQ “community,” has conservative/traditionalist Catholics in an uproar, resulting in push-back by the liberals. Catholic headlines are currently dominated by this controversy.

I’m currently reading a book by a liberal Catholic, which criticizes some of the hallowed traditions of the church including saint manufacturing. In this relevant article from 2002, we see how the church exploits the popularity of certain religious celebrities (e.g., Edith Stein, Padre Pio, mother Teresa, John Paul II, and the two Fatima children) by canonizing them expeditiou$ly, while less popular candidates must wait in queue for centuries. It’s all PR politics and $$$. For more on the anti-Biblical nature of Catholicism’s saint-making machine, see here.

This is a short article on the Reformation by Michael Reeves for those who don’t have time to read a book, likes Reeves’ excellent “The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation” (see here).

Francis, ya’ think??? Actually, even after thirty years of damning headlines, the Roman Catholic church still doesn’t have a comprehensive plan in place to deal with priest pedophiles and hierarchical cover-up.

Evangelicals have no idea just how much of Catholic worship revolves around Mary. I listen to Catholic talk radio regularly and the references and appeals to “Our Lady” are mind boggling.

Funny stuff! If you go to church, you’re going to hear A LOT of prayers that include “Lord, we just…” or “Lord, I just…” I’ll admit, I’ve succumbed to getting sucked in and using “just” myself at times, but I just consciously try to just avoid it. 😄

The scarlet cord that runs through the entire Bible

My wife and I are currently studying through the Book of Joshua in the Old Testament. The more believers study the Old Testament, the more we comprehend, through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ and His plan of salvation are woven throughout the entire text via symbolism/typology.

Take Joshua, who the Lord chose to be Moses’ successor. Moses had disobeyed God by striking the rock at Kadesh to obtain water for the Israelites rather than speaking to the rock as God had commanded (Numbers 20:2-13). Moses had previously struck a rock at Rephidim to obtain water (Exodus 17:1-7), but a rock was not to be struck again. This is a wonderful typology of Jesus, the Rock, dying only once for sins, and, after that, the living waters of salvation being obtained only through appeal to the Savior by faith and prayer. Because of Moses’ disobedience, God did not allow him to enter the Promised Land. Moses represented the Law. His successor, Joshua/Yeshua/Jesus (meaning “The Lord Is Salvation”), would be the one to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. This is a wonderful typology of salvation only through faith in Jesus Christ rather than through the Law.

Yesterday, in preparation for our next devotion time, I was studying Joshua, chapter 2, which deals with the two spies sent by Joshua to scout the fortified city of Jericho. We all know that it was Rahab* the prostitute who hid the spies from soldiers sent out by the king of Jericho to search for them. The spies made a pact with Rahab, saying if she left a scarlet rope hanging from her window, all those inside would be spared by the invading Israelite army. Scarlet? Why not black? Or blue? Or green? No, the rope was scarlet red because it symbolized the blood of the Savior to come, Jesus Christ, which was also typified by the blood of the guiltless lamb sacrifice smeared on the door posts and lintel of the Hebrew homes in Goshen on the first Passover.

I know many of you are already aware of these foreshadowings of the Lord Jesus, but I just had to stop and praise God for the theme of salvation in Jesus Christ that runs throughout the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation! For centuries, rabbinic scholars have studied the Old Testament day and night, but they were blind to these simple yet profound symbols and types of the Savior Messiah.

*In Matthew 1:5-6 we find that Rahab married Salmon of the tribe of Judah, and that “Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.” Hence, Jesus Christ’s human lineage can be traced back to Rahab, the Jerichoan prostitute. What other religion’s “holy book” would confess such a thing of its founder? The name, Rahab, means “spacious or broad” in Hebrew and some suggest this referred to Rahab’s rather loose morals. Joshua 2:11 says the hearts of all the inhabitants of Jericho melted from fear of the approaching Israelites, but it was only Rahab the prostitute who turned to Yaweh for salvation by faith, calling to mind Luke 5:32, “I have not come to call the (self) righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Billy Graham: Friend of popes and Gospel compromiser

 

Few men are as revered by the world as Billy Graham, who is now age 98. Graham preached to millions on six continents and is recognized as the greatest Christian evangelist of the 20th century. Any criticism of Graham is considered blasphemy by most evangelicals. Yet, while many people genuinely trusted in Christ at Graham’s crusades, no one, and I mean NO ONE, has muddied the Gospel of grace more than Billy Graham. The damage he did to the Gospel witness cannot be overstated. Graham’s trailblazing cooperation and compromise with Rome’s false gospel has since been emulated and expanded by three generations of evangelical pastors and para-church leaders that followed his lead.

In the 12-minute video above, evangelical apologist, Dave Hunt (d. 2013), tries to wrap his head around the compromise and betrayal of the Gospel by Billy Graham, friend of presidents, kings, and popes.