Oy vey! Yet ANOTHER liturgical calendrical dilemma for Catholics!

Catholics had a bit of a quandary on their hands last month with Christmas, a Holy Day of Obligation (HDO), falling on a Monday. Catholics were required to attend regular obligatory Sunday mass on December 24th as well as mass the next day, Monday, December 25th, Christmas day. Failure to attend mass on both days was purported to be a mortal sin that doomed the Catholic to Hell for eternity unless they confessed it to a priest. I wonder what percentage of Catholics actually complied?

Well, leave it to me, but I was scanning the news the other night and I see that Catholics have another difficult situation approaching. The article below says Ash Wednesday falls on the same day this year as Valentine’s Day – February 14th.

What’s the problem with that? Glad you asked, as my former pastor used to say.

For Catholics, Ash Wednesday is the first day of their 40-day penitential Lenten season. Ash Wednesday is NOT an HDO, so Catholics DO NOT have to attend mass that day, although they are strongly encouraged to do so and to receive ashes made from the blessed palm fronds from last year’s Palm Sunday on their forehead. But on Ash Wednesday, Catholics ARE required to spend the day in “fasting and abstinence.” The church’s rule for fasting states that all Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 may eat only “one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal.” Break out the food scales! The church defines abstinence as refraining from consuming any meat. All Catholics, from age 14 and up, are obligated to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday. See here for the rules.

If a Catholic does not fast or abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday they commit mortal sin. Catholics must also abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. On Good Friday, they are also required to spend the day in “fasting and abstinence.”

So, what’s a Catholic to do with Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day falling on the same day this year? The church advises its members to choose another day to romance their sweetie. The Chicago archdiocese recommends they choose Tuesday, February 13th – Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Pączki Day – because that is the day Catholics traditionally whoop it up before they have to buckle down for Lent. Hmm. Even as a young Catholic I thought that “painting the town” the day immediately preceding Lent was just a “tiny bit” contradictory and hypocritical.

Can a Catholic get around this obligation by celebrating Valentine’s Day and postponing their Ash Wednesday fasting and abstinence to some other day? It doesn’t appear at this point that any of the U.S. Catholic bishops are granting dispensations for Ash Wednesday. Many of the bishops did, however, grant a dispensation last year when St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Lenten Friday. Mustn’t interfere with that sacred corned beef and cabbage! So why was it OK to grant a dispensation for St. Patrick but not for St. Valentine? I don’t understand? [sarcastically feigning confusion]

Actually, NONE of the above has ANYTHING to do with the Lord, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone! It’s just another example of the Catholic church requiring everyone to march to the drumbeat of its liturgical calendar and prescribing a specific amount of time spinning inside its religious hamster wheel in order for its members to “hopefully” merit Heaven. How many Catholics will actually abide by the “fasting and abstinence” rule on Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day? Catholic sources report only 20% of its membership attend obligatory mass every Sunday and only 12% go to confession at least once a year as required, but a whopping 45% receive ashes on Ash Wednesday. People just love certain ceremonies and rituals. That’s their “religion.” They won’t attend mass every Sunday or EVER go to confession, which both doom them to Hell with no exceptions according to their church, but they do like to parade around in public with ashes on their forehead throughout the day. Interesting.

Catholic friend, rituals, ceremonies, and man-made traditions don’t save. Repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone.

Ash Wednesday trumps Valentine’s, Chicago archdiocese says
https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2018/01/30/ash-wednesday-trumps-valentines-chicago-archdiocese-says/

Postscript: Only fourteen days until Lent. Could the infamous Chicken-in-a-Biskit post be far behind?

Conservative Catholic priest favors return to banishing unbaptized babies to “limbo”

Yesterday morning, I listened to the 1/26/18 podcast of “The Catholic Connection” talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF (Our Lady of Fatima) 101.7 FM, Buffalo, New York) with moderator, Jim Havens, and priest-host, Shannon Collins (photo right). The topic of the show was unbaptized infants and the existence of “limbo.”

In Catholic theology, baptism is an absolute requirement in the process of attaining salvation.* Catholicism teaches that the baptismal waters actually wash away original sin by working ex opere operato, i.e., baptism and the other sacraments being efficacious in and of themselves rather than dependent on the attitude of either the priest or the recipient. Catholics are usually baptized as infants, but when they mature, they are expected to follow church teaching by receiving the other sacraments in order to receive graces to assist them in obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) in order to hopefully merit Heaven at the moment of their death.

Catholic teaching throughout the centuries was that unbaptized babies who died were consigned to a place called “limbo,” an outer-region of Hell where there was no suffering, but neither was the soul in communion with God (i.e., the “Bosom of Abraham” of the Old Testament). Although the teaching on unbaptized babies being consigned to limbo was never officially declared as dogma, bishops, theologians, and even popes sanctioned this belief. When I attended Catholic parochial school in the 60s, the priests and nuns taught unbaptized infants were consigned to limbo. The Baltimore Catechism, the recognized authority on doctrine for American Catholics up until the late 1960s, unequivocally taught that all unbaptized babies went to limbo:

“Limbo: The place where unbaptized infants go.” – The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism (No. 2), 1991 edition, p. 248., – Imprimatur – Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York

During the radio show, conservative priest Collins bemoaned the fact that many in the church have moved away from the traditional teaching on limbo. In the official 1992 catechism, there is no mention of limbo. Instead, the church states that it “hope(s) that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism” (CCC #1261, see here). In 2006, pope Benedict stated limbo did not exist (photo left). These days, sympathetic priests comfort parents of miscarried fetuses by saying that their child is in Heaven, but Collins is critical of such counsel. He does acknowledge, however, that “some” conservative Catholic priests believe that in cases where a fetus or infant died before being baptized, the desire of the parents for that child to have been baptized “may” suffice in the place of actual baptism.

Oy. Is your head starting to spin yet?

What about fetuses who are aborted? Collins says they are definitely going to limbo. Havens and Collins briefly discussed the “holy innocents,” the male infants in the vicinity of Bethlehem who were killed by King Herod in his effort to murder Jesus. They were actually canonized as “saints” by the Catholic church because they were said to have died as innocent martyrs in the place of Christ. Huh? So Collins agrees with traditional church teaching that the “holy innocents” went to Heaven even though they weren’t baptized, but he holds that aborted fetus babies and other unbaptized babies probably do not. Collins also satisfyingly commented that for centuries the church never allowed unbaptized infants to be buried in Catholic consecrated cemeteries. Even these days, grieving parents of deceased unbaptized infants must submit to a dispensation process through their diocese in order to have their child buried in a Catholic cemetery. See here.

I don’t put ANY stock in what priest Collins or the Catholic catechism says on this subject. God’s Word teaches that children reach an age of accountability when they are responsible for their active rebellion against the Lord. That age is going to be different for each child. Prior to that, infants, young children, and the mentally handicapped are covered by God’s grace. Baptism saves no one. I renounced my Catholic infant baptism by being baptized as an adult 35 years ago as a public witness of my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my personal Savior by faith alone. Trust in Christ by faith alone. Baptism, sacraments, rituals, and religious legalism save no one.

“He said, ‘While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” – 2 Samuel 12:22–23

“Then the little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them; and the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” – Matthew 19:13-14

*The Catholic church holds to two very conflicting teachings simultaneously. On the one hand, it still insists that everyone must be baptized in order to even start thinking about eventually meriting Heaven. On the other hand it grants that people of all religious beliefs and even atheists can also merit heaven if they “follow the light they have been given” with a “sincere heart.” How does the church reconcile this dichotomy? It says all these “good” non-Catholics would have gotten baptized if they only knew how important it was, so they’re also covered under the “baptism of desire.” Hmm. Anyone else hearing, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” What we really have here is a case of old Catholic tradition (“all must be baptized to be saved”) conflicting with “new school” wide-is-the-way Catholic ecumenism. So unbaptized atheists can merit Heaven but unbaptized babies are barred? I’m confused. Well, not really. It’s just another Catholic rabbit hole.

Yes, even in a thoroughly Catholic country such as Poland, the Gospel shines through!

A Light Shines in Poland
By R.K. Mazierski
Mayflower Christian Books, 1982, 43 pages

In the late 18th century, Poland’s aggressive neighbors – Prussia, Austria, and Russia – began partitioning the country until it was finally wiped off the map. Poland would not reemerge as a nation again until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles following the First World War. In the interim, the Catholic church in Poland became the sanctuary and guardian of Polish nationalism. With Poland under Soviet domination following the Second World War, the church once again functioned as the repository of nationalism and hope for an independent Poland. Perhaps in no other Western country in modern times did the Catholic religion become such an integral part of the national identity. To be a Pole was to be Catholic. That’s still true today. Poles who accept Christ and leave Catholicism to join an evangelical church are looked upon as traitors both to their religion and nation.

In this booklet, Roman Mazierski, ex-Catholic priest, gives his interesting and improbable testimony. Born in 1899, he entered the Catholic seminary in Lwow in 1921. He was ordained a priest but became increasingly troubled by the differences between God’s Word and Catholic legalism and sacramentalism. Mazierski was shaken by the example of a few of his parishioners, who trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. Mazierski eventually trusted in Christ himself and left the priesthood.

The booklet doesn’t mention it, but Polish Wikipedia notes that Mazierski subsequently attended evangelical seminary in Warsaw and was appointed a pastor at an Evangelical Reformed Church in Zelow. In 1939, with the threat of a German invasion hanging over Poland, Mazierski was appointed chief administrator of the Reformed chaplaincy for the armed forces, but was immediately captured by the invading Wehrmacht and imprisoned until the end of the war. He joined the large community of Poles-in-exile in London in 1945 and labored as a minister for the Polish Evangelical Reformed Church in Great Britain until his death in 1959.

The last fifteen pages of this booklet are excerpted from Mazierski’s short history of the Reformation in Poland.* Few people are even aware that the Reformation did have an impact in Poland in the 16th century because it is now such a homogeneous Catholic country. But the Gospel did enter into Poland through the liberality of the Polish monarchs and nobility and the ministry of such men as Jerome of Prague, Andrzej Gałka at Krakow University, Jacob Knade, Nicholas Rey, and Jan Łaski. The influence of the Bohemian Brethren also had an impact for the Gospel. At one point, a sizable percentage of the Polish nobility had accepted Christ as Savior and joined the Reformation movement. However, as part of the Catholic church’s counter-Reformation strategy, the Jesuits entered Poland and founded many Catholic schools, ensnaring the children of the Protestant nobility.

Praise God that He freed Roman Mazierski and many others from the chains of religious legalism in a country almost completely overshadowed by Roman darkness!

“A Light Shines in Poland” can be ordered from Revival Literature here.

Postscript: My paternal grandparents immigrated from Poland in the early 1900s. Growing up, our father introduced us to some Polish foods and customs, but like most second generation immigrants, he was more interested in assimilating than hanging on to Old World “baggage.” When I walked away from the Lord during my long prodigal “season,” I needed to fill the spiritual vacuum with something, so I dove headfirst into researching Polish and Polish American history and culture.

One of the most interesting things I learned was that Christ Polish Baptist Church had been organized here in Rochester, NY in 1913 under the leadership of Pastor Ludwik Adamus. Polish Baptists! Another improbability! A sanctuary was eventually built at 910 Hudson Avenue in the middle of “Polish Town” (see photo below). The work was difficult amidst the intensely proud and spiritually-blinded Polish Catholic immigrants. Interestingly, there had been a radical schism in the close-knit Polish neighborhood a few years previous in 1907 when 2000 members of St. Stanislaus left the parish in a dispute over the question of diocesan versus parish ownership of church property. They established St. Casimir’s a few blocks away as part of the breakaway Polish National Catholic Church, which was founded in 1897 in Scranton, PA. But all of the rituals and sacramentalism of the PNCC were exactly the same as in Roman Catholicism.

CPB
Christ Polish Baptist Church, Hudson Ave. and Roycroft Drive, Rochester, NY. This building is no longer standing.

*”A Concise History of the Polish Reformed Church,” Polish Reformed Church of Great Britain, 1966.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 1/27/18

No, this isn’t a satirical piece, it’s real news. Who would give one, single, hard-earned penny to this con man?

Francis stumbled BADLY last week while on his trip to Chile when he labeled victims of clerical predators as “slanderers.” His underlings were busy this week rolling out damage control.

This is an interesting article from an unbeliever trying to understand the difference between Biblical Christianity and Catholicism. Actually, Christians don’t have a problem with James 2. If you’ve genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, fruit will follow. Works and charity are the fruit of salvation in Christ, not the basis of it.

Francis continues to flaunt all the rules to the great displeasure of conservative Catholics. But don’t think for a moment that he doesn’t have an agenda.

It wasn’t all that long ago that every Catholic-dominated nation had a clause in its constitution stipulating great privileges for the Catholic church and restrictions on Protestants.

Expect this long-ago controversy over pope Pius IX’s forcible abduction of Jewish boy, Edgardo Mortara, to heat up dramatically once again as Stephen Spielberg’s film draws closer to its release. Conservative Catholics do not tolerate any criticisms of their popes! Well, except for Francis.

LOL! You know that Catholicism has turned totally upside down when the National Catholic Reporter is the one defending the pope!

Regarding Francis’s reinterpretation of Scripture, so far the French and Italians say “Oui” and “Si,” while the Germans say “Nein.”

Great satirical piece from the Babylon Bee! Many/most Christians throughout the history of this country believed, as it was preached from their pulpits, that God was in a special covenant relationship with America.


p.s. If you see our oldest son, Joe, today, wish him a happy 43rd birthday! Wow! It seems like only yesterday.

ballons

Big Tent Compromise: A “conversation” between William Lane Craig and Catholic bishop, Robert Barron

Yesterday, I was perusing through news on the internet and came across a report of a two-hour “Conversation with Two Leading Evangelists,” featuring evangelical philosopher and apologist, William Lane Craig, and Catholic bishop, Robert Barron. The event was open to the public and was held at Roberts Pavilion Arena at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California on January 13th. I’ve included the You Tube video of the entire proceedings far below if you’re interested.

The advertised purpose of the get together was certainly NOT to debate the differences between evangelical and Catholic theology, but to discuss “How can Christians best share their faith?,” and “What should we (Christians) know about faith and science issues?,” and “How can Catholics, Protestants, and all Christians join together against the rise of secularism?”

This morning, I listened to (and watched some portions of) the entire deliberations. The viewpoint shared by both men at the very start of the conversation was that, while there are still “substantive differences” between evangelicals and Catholics, the greater priority was to unite in order to focus on the common enemy, aggressive secularism, and to “reclaim our culture.”

So the presupposition that Craig brought to the discussion was that the Roman Catholic church is a Christian entity and that practicing Catholics who adhere to their church’s standard theology are Christians. He emphatically stated, “I don’t have any interest in internecine battles between Christians.” That is not at all surprising coming from Craig because he is a disciple of ecumenical theologian, Norman Geisler. When asked to name some other leading evangelical apologists, he mentioned Lee Strobel and Ravi Zacharias, also disciples of Geisler and unapologetic supporters of ecumenism with Rome.

Toward the end of the discussion (at the 1:41:22 mark of the video below), Barron asked Craig why he hadn’t converted to Catholicism. Craig answered that while he admired some aspects of Catholicism (e.g., its ancient history and traditions*), he could not personally adhere to many Catholic beliefs, specifying Marian veneration/worship and the Catholic view on justification.

Stop!!!!!!

 

Rewind Craig’s last statement.

It’s at this point that I want to take a moment to comment on these regrettable proceedings.

Media savvy bishop Robert Barron is one of the most popular Catholic personalities in America. Some even call him the “new Fulton Sheen.” Barron has written fourteen books in which he unabashedly propagates the Catholic system of salvation. In order to attain Heaven, Barron, like all Catholic prelates and clerics, teaches that a person must be baptized and receive the Catholic church’s sacraments, in order to receive sanctifying graces to be able to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!), in order to remain in a “state of grace” so as to “hopefully” merit Heaven at the moment of death. In shorthand, the Catholic system requires faith in its sacramental system and qualifying good works in order to merit Heaven.

But that is definitely NOT the same Gospel that Craig professes. Craig says that he believes that salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The two gospels are contrary. They are not the same. They are actually incompatible.

So how does Craig reconcile in his head and in his soul sitting down with a Catholic bishop and discussing their alleged common enemy, aggressive secularism, when he does not personally believe the Catholic church has the correct, Biblical teaching on justification and salvation???????

I do not understand.

Does not compute.

Can someone please help me understand how an evangelical can rationalize sidestepping this unbridgeable, irreconcilable difference on justification and salvation that has eternal consequences for every individual?

While Barron commented on the great blessings of worshiping the consecrated Jesus bread wafer, Craig sat silently in his chair. After all, we can’t rock the boat over “different perspectives,” right? Let’s just concentrate on C.S. Lewis’s wide-is-the-way “Mere Christianity” (referenced several times in this discussion) and we’ll all get along just fine in the sandbox, right?

Meanwhile, Roman Catholics are dying and going to a Christ-less eternity because compromisers like Craig are betraying the Gospel.

“If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.” – Ezekiel 3:17-18

*When pressed to name some things he admired about Catholicism, Craig mentioned its ancient history and traditions, but even a casual student of Roman Catholicism knows that much of the church’s authoritarian history is unflattering and most of its traditions are un-Biblical or even anti-Biblical.

For my previous post on Catholicism’s polezni durak or “useful fools,” see here.”

 

 

Decent DVD summary of differences between Biblical Christianity and Roman Catholicism

Reasons to Stand with the Reformation and Not Unite with Rome
Eric Barger, DVD, 2015, 53 minutes

Last week, I posted a message about a conversation that I had heard on Southwest Radio Ministries’ daily radio show regarding Mormonism. Out of curiosity, I checked SRM’s website to see if they offered any resources on Roman Catholicism. There weren’t very many (see here), but I did see “Reasons to Stand with the Reformation and Not Unite with Rome” from Eric Barger and Take a Stand Ministries. For some inexplicable reason, I thought this offering was a book and ordered it. Well, it turned out to be a DVD. Argh! No problem. My dumb error.

This DVD presentation is a low-tech-but-decent overview of the differences between Roman Catholicism and Biblical Christianity. Barger starts off by discussing the early Reformation and then briefly examines several anti-Biblical Catholic doctrines such as Mariolatry, praying to saints, image idolatry, transubstantiation, purgatory, and works justification.

The revealing centerpiece of the video is breakaway Anglican “bishop” and ecumenist, Tony Palmer’s presentation at a conference for Pentecostal/Charismatic ministers hosted by Kenneth Copeland on January 21, 2014. Copeland is one of the main propagators of the “name it and claim it,” word of faith, prosperity false gospel. In his presentation, Palmer declared that he had come in the spirit of Elijah and John the Baptist to reconcile the children (evangelical Protestants) with their father (pope Francis). He proclaimed that the “protest is over” and it was now time for Protestants to put aside doctrinal disagreements and “unite with” (i.e., submit to) the pope and Catholicism. Palmer then produced a cell phone video of pope Francis making the same appeal. If you have never seen this presentation before, you need to. The compromise and betrayal of the Gospel is stunning and will take your breath away. Of course, a good case could be made that Palmer, Copeland, and many of the “name it and claim it” ministers who were in attendance at this conference were not genuinely saved.

This DVD is a decent introductory overview of the errors of Rome and of the demonic spirit of Scripture-defying ecumenism that’s currently infiltrating the church. Order from Southwest Radio Ministries here.

Large portions of “Reasons to Stand with the Reformation and Not Unite with Rome” are available via the two You Tube videos below. Judas Tony Palmer’s appeal begins at the 6:00 mark on the second video.

 

 

Getting to the correct destination is NEVER a case of “Whatever”

Isn’t it amazing how popular the phrase, “Whatever,” has become? Some suggest it took off with the 1995 movie, “Clueless.“ You could rightly say that the back-handed, dismissive term has become emblematic of our self-absorbed society. It’s as if the speaker is saying, “Don’t bother me with your viewpoint or any details. MY opinion is all that I care about.”

But for some things in life, especially some VERY important things, it’s not a case of “whatever.” Details can be important and even life saving.

On our last trip to Europe to visit our German grandson, my wife and I took a side excursion to Zurich, Switzerland. Yes, I wanted to visit the Grossmünster church where Swiss Reformer, Huldrych Zwingli, preached every Sunday. Anyway, we successfully drove the autobahn to Zurich and our hotel despite more than a few challenges. In the morning, we consulted the concierge for directions to the train station and scurried off. Not being familiar with the city or the German language, there were a few “mishaps.” At one point, the commuter train we had mistakenly boarded was headed in the opposite direction of our desired Old Town destination. My point is that some things in this life are not “whatever.” It’s very important that you get on the correct train if you want to arrive at your desired destination.

The same can be said of spiritual matters. In this era, when relativism and plurality are king, the pervasive opinion is that “whatever religious beliefs work for you is fine.” This attitude is even infecting the church. The Bible, God’s Word, is no longer the standard. Case in point is Roman Catholicism. Many evangelicals hear Catholics say they also believe in “grace,” “faith,” and “Jesus the Savior,” and conclude, “Good enough!” If you point out to those evangelicals that Catholics believe something diametrically opposed to the Gospel in regards to HOW a person is saved, the response of many is a disinterested, “Whatever.”

I’m certainly not a theologian, but it might be helpful to borrow some theological shorthand to clarify the major difference between how evangelicals and Catholics view salvation in order to see past this dangerously indifferent “whatever” attitude.

  • Track #1 – The Catholic view: Catholics believe God literally “infuses” grace into their soul from the sacraments, actually transforming them into a better person so that they can obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and continue in a “state of grace” so as to hopefully merit Heaven at the moment of their death. Catholics say with the help of the sacraments they can become “intrinsically” righteous, i.e., actually such a good, outstanding person in and of themselves that they are able to attain Heaven through their own divinely-assisted merits.
  • Track #2 – The Biblical, evangelical view: Christians believe in the depravity of man. As the Bible says, there is none righteous, no not one. But when a person repents of their sin and accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone, the Lord “imputes” His perfect righteousness to that person. We are made righteous only by the righteousness of Christ. The Reformers used a legal term, “forensic” righteousness, to describe this glorious spiritual transaction. God the Father, the Perfect and Holy Judge, declares a repentant sinner righteous and justified based solely upon their acceptance of Christ as Savior by faith alone and the imputed perfect righteousness of His Son.

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21

Do you understand the difference? They are actually two completely opposite paths. One is right and one is wrong. It’s not a case of “whatever.” Just as getting on the wrong train will NOT enable a person to arrive at their desired destination, following the Catholic system of infused sacramental grace and alleged subjective intrinsic righteousness will NOT lead to salvation.

Catholic friend, repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. Evangelical friend, Roman Catholics are following a false religious system of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. Reach out to them with the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

“Roman Catholicism” by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

In our current “post-modern” era, when tolerance, plurality, and relativism are, in effect, worshiped as idols, it’s considered VERY bad form to criticize anyone’s religious beliefs. This attitude has also regrettably infected the Christian church. It’s ironic but there seems to be more tolerance for false teachers and false churches these days than for those who say a critical word about them.

But it wasn’t all that long ago that Christian pastors and leaders passionately warned their flocks about false gospels like the gospel of Roman Catholicism. What happened? Why have evangelical leaders gone silent or even embraced Rome?

About eighteen months ago, I posted a sermon about Roman Catholicism given by Welsh-English pastor, Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981). I later discovered that that version of Lloyd-Jones’ sermon had been abridged, but recently I was able to find a PDF of the complete 14-page sermon (see below). I printed out a copy for myself and had it spiral-bound at Staples because I’m sure I will refer to it periodically.

Praise the Lord for all the faithful pastors and watchmen who aren’t afraid to oppose the growing ecumenism with Rome and its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.


“Roman Catholicism”
Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Westminister Chapel, London
A Sermon published in The Westminister Record, May, 1963
http://www.zephaniah.eu/The%20Roman%20Catholic%20Church%20by%20D%20M%20Lloyd-Jones.pdf

“Decisionism” – Pro or Con?

Our sister at Biblical Beginnings (see here) and I were recently discussing “decisionism” (sinner’s pray, altar calls, coming forward, etc., for salvation) and so I ordered this booklet, which I had already been planning on reading at some point.

The Invitation System
By Iain H. Murray
The Banner of Truth Trust, 2002, 38 pages

The independent fundamental Baptist church my wife and I attended for eight years after we accepted Christ as Savior had a familiar routine. The pastor closed all three weekly services – Sunday AM, Sunday PM, and Wednesday PM – in the same way: first with a prayer that related to the teachings of the sermon followed by an invitation to receive Christ, followed by the sinners prayer, and then an encouragement from the pastor, “with all heads bowed, and all eyes closed, and nobody looking around,” for anyone who had prayed the prayer and accepted Christ as personal Savior, to raise their hand. Perhaps the most famous (some would say infamous) example of the “invitation system” was at the crusades of Billy Graham* and other evangelists who asked “seekers” to physically leave their seats and walk to the front of the speaker’s platform where they would be led to pray the sinner’s prayer.

That all seemed to me like a reasonable way to lift up Christ and His salvation to lost people and encourage them to accept Christ. Personally, I had accepted Christ after years of reading the Bible and then talking with Christians at work and reading the tracts they strategically placed in the men’s restroom. I had read over the sinner’s prayer on the back of the tracts many times, but resisted praying it for several reasons. But the Lord continued to convict me of my sinful and helpless condition and my need of the Savior and I finally ran out of excuses and repented of my sins and asked the Lord to save me!

Fast forward to 2014. After my very dumb extended prodigal “season,” I returned to the Lord, but at the small SBC church we attended, an invitation was rarely given. Our current church that we’ve attended over the past two years also rarely extends an invitation to accept Christ during the service. What had happened? What did I miss? I’ve learned over the past four years that many churches and pastors don’t favor the “invitation system,” which has also been somewhat disparagingly labeled, “decisionism.”

In this short booklet, Iain Murray, former ministerial associate of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, critically examines the invitation system. He argues that many people have raised their hand or walked the aisle in response to an invitation without genuinely accepting Christ. They didn’t really understand the Gospel, but they responded due to some other internal or external pressure. Years later, they are, in essence, trusting in their physical response, e.g., they raised their hand in a Sunday School class when they were a child because everyone else was doing it, not in a genuine acceptance of Christ. Murray argues that pastors and workers should definitely lead people to a point where they realize their sinful state and their need of the Savior, but maintains that such methods as leading people in the sinner’s prayer or asking people to raise their hands or walk the aisle can lead to confusion and false conversions. The focus, he says, is on numbers rather than on genuine conversions that often take years (like mine).

Murray makes many good points, but I’m in the middle of this debate. It’s obvious that the invitation system can and has led to disingenuous conversions, but I believe there’s also a Biblical mandate to press people to make a decision for Christ.

“For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” – 2 Cor.: 6:2

For many people, having been invited to pray the sinner’s pray and then asked to acknowledge that they did so was eternally helpful.

Reading the sinner’s prayer over and over on the back of tracts was very helpful for me, although it took me a long time to finally trust in Christ. Are there also dangers if we don’t press people to decide for Christ and show them how that can be done through using the sinner’s prayer as an example and guide? Can vital opportunities be missed? Without leading people to pray the sinner’s prayers and pressing for positive affirmations of accepting Christ, do we encourage people to just drift along without understanding how to accept Christ and the desperate urgency of doing that? After getting my groundings in a church that used invitation system methods, our current church’s “non-decisionism” approach feels almost lackadaisical and indifferent.

I can see positives and negatives on both sides of this argument. There’s no doubt the Lord has blessed various approaches to giving out the Gospel. But I can certainly understand why someone who had a false conversion experience through the invitation system and then genuinely trusted in Christ afterward would have criticisms of it.

Comments are welcome.

“The Invitation System” by Iain H. Murray can be ordered from Amazon here.

*Unbeknownst to most evangelicals, Roman Catholics who came forward at Billy Graham’s crusades were referred to Catholic workers who counseled them that their decision for Christ was simply a “reaffirmation” of their confirmation or infant baptism. Beginning in the early 1960s, Graham disappointingly solicited local Catholic bishops to participate in the planning and administration of his crusades.

Enchilada Pie aka “Mexican Lasagna”

Need a steaming hot dinner idea for a cold winter evening…

Mexican restaurants are all over the place these days, but back when I was a young teen in the early 70s, there was only one Mexican restaurant in the entire county and that was Taco Kid on Penfield Road. I developed a yen for Mexican after frequenting the Kid a few times.

When our family was first starting out, every Friday night was home-made taco night. It was cheap and delicious. Eventually, I got a little adventurous and bought a Mexican cookbook. One of my favorite recipes was enchilada pie. I don’t cook a lot, but when I do, enchilada pie (aka Mexican lasagna) is one of my “go to” staples. It’s easy, relatively healthy, and delicious. Enjoy!

Enchilada Pie

  • One 3.8 oz. can sliced black olives, chopped
  • One 4 oz. can chopped green chiles
  • One 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
  • Three green onions, chopped, including green stems
  • Two 10 oz. cans of MILD red enchilada sauce
  • 12 corn (not flour) tortillas
  • One 16 oz. can fat free refried beans
  • One 8 oz. package shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine olives, chiles, tomatoes, and onions in a bowl. Set aside.

Pour enchilada sauce in a bowl. Set aside.

Wrap four tortillas at a time in a wet paper towel and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Take one tortilla, dip completely in enchilada sauce, and place flat in a baking bowl. Spread on thin layer of refried beans. Spread on a spoonful of vegetable mixture. Top with cheese shreds. Repeat for each tortilla, building layer upon layer.

Bake enchilada pie for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cut in wedges, top with a dollop of sour cream. Serve with shredded lettuce on the side.

Buen provecho!

For variation, try adding chopped fresh cilantro, shreds of cooked chicken, a small amount of pickled jalapeno peppers, or cooked corn to the recipe. Don’t be afraid to douse each tortilla liberally in the sauce, which is why I specified two cans of sauce rather than one. If you skimp on the sauce, the pie will end up on the dry side. Stick with the MILD sauce. I like spicy food but the MEDIUM sauce is too spicy even for me. The refried bean paste also helps keep the pie moist. If a can of kidney beans or pinto beans was substituted in place of the refried beans, the pie would be too dry.