The Legion vs. History’s Deadliest Assassins

It’s time once again to take a break from theological discussions and look back to the future 30th Century via another classic Legion of Super-Heroes tale from D.C. Comics’ Siver Age. Writer, Jim Shooter, adds an interesting twist at the conclusion of…

The Unkillables!
Adventure Comics #361, October, 1967
Writer and layouts: Jim Shooter, Penciller: Jim Mooney

Plot

The United Planets have been at war with a strange confederation of distant worlds known as the Dominion for two decades until the aliens suddenly sue for peace. But U.P. citizens on the political right are bitterly opposed to peace negotiations and threaten violence. President Boltax summons the Legion to escort and protect the Dominion’s negotiators.

At the same time, on the other side of Metropolis, a new recruit is indoctrinated into a group of assassins known as the “Unkillables,” who have sworn to eliminate the Legion and destroy the Dominator envoys.

Ten Legionnaires meet the Dominators at the neutral planet of Politor. Brainiac 5 opens Boltax’s secret orders, which instruct the Legion to escort the envoys to Earth through the Tenth Dimension to avoid an ambush. The route is 500 miles overland to a portal that will deliver the group to its destination.

The Unkillables are privy to the secret plan and journey to the Tenth Dimension themselves and create a rock avalanche, which threatens to destroy the Legion-Dominion convoy, but is successfully neutralized by the Legionnaires.

With their initial attempt foiled, the Unkillables launch a night attack on the convoy’s base, but are repulsed by the Legion.

The Unkillables anticipate victory as their “Ultimate Weapon” is finally completed. As the convoy approaches the portal to Earth, the villains launch their final attack with their Master firing a ray from the Ultimate Weapon upon the teen heroes. Initially, the weapon seems to have no effect, but as the Legionnaires respond to the attack, they discover their powers have been switched. Unfamiliar with each other’s superpowers, the heroes are thrown into disarray and the Master uses the opportunity to throw a bomb towards the Dominators. Brainiac 5 has Superboy’s super-powers, and with the Boy of Steel’s super-intelligence, he uses super-breath to blow the bomb back at the Master Unkillable, injuring him. The Master is revealed to be the deposed leader of the Dominators, who used a device to brainwash descendants of famous assassins, including Lee Harvey Oswald, Brutus and Cassius, and John Wilkes Booth to fill the ranks of his death squad. The Dominators then reveal they are actually decoy illusions and that the real ambassadors had already arrived safely at Earth.

Comments

This was a decent, one-issue tale. Once again, we see Shooter using the political unrest of the late 1960s as inspiration. The reader assumes throughout the story that the Unkillables are linked to the right-wing protesters cited initially, so the ending is a surprise. The tie-in to infamous historical assassins is a nice story twist. The illustrations are disappointing. Guest penciller, Jim Mooney, is no match for the artistry of Curt Swan.

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Digging deep into the corruption that inspired Kazan’s “On the Waterfront”

On the Irish Waterfront: The Crusader, the Movie, and the Soul of the Port of New York
By James T. Fisher
Cornell University Press, 2009, 370 pages

Director Elia Kazan’s “On the Waterfront,” is widely recognized as one of the top twenty American films ever made. It’s probably my favorite of Kazan’s nineteen films (see my review here). In this book, historian James Fisher documents the corruption on the docks of New York City and New Jersey that inspired the film. I’d been aware of this book for quite a long time and finally borrowed a copy from the library. I’ll always remember it as the book that kept me company during my wife’s recent 24-hour hospital Emergency Department visit.

In nineteenth-century New York City, Irish immigrants were consigned the very dangerous and strenuous work of physically loading and unloading ships. Over time, the Irish eventually usurped control of the docks. In the mid-twentieth-century, Joe Ryan and his corrupt union, the International Longshoreman’s Association (ILA), ran the piers with an iron fist. Ryan ultimately reported to “Mr. Big,” Bill McCormack, who controlled a variety of industries in the New York City metropolitan area including all of the stevedore companies. McCormack, Ryan, and their lieutenants were in cahoots with local politicians and the Catholic prelates. Everyone benefited from the symbiosis except for the rank-and-file longshoreman, who were beholden to the union bosses each day for a chance to work a ship. Ryan and McCormack, devout Catholics, attended daily mass in the early morning and authorized intimidation, violence, and murder the rest of the day.

Jesuit priest, John “Pete” Corridan, was frustrated by the corruption on the docks and launched a one-man crusade against Ryan, the ILA, and McCormack. Investigative journalist, Mike Johnson, became aware of Corridan’s fight with the syndicate and wrote a series of exposés for one of the New York dailies. The articles came to the attention of novelist and screenwriter, Budd Schulberg, who acquainted himself with Corridan and the fight against corruption on the docks and eventually fashioned the script that became “On the Waterfront.”

Serious students of “Waterfront” and Kazan will definitely enjoy this book, but it’s not for the casual fan. Fisher’s history is extremely detailed and gets into quite a bit of minutiae. Jesuit priest Corridan’s work on the piers of New York was a precursor of the Jesuits’ propagation of “Liberation Theology” in Latin America and elsewhere. Corridan was the inspiration for priest, Pete Barry, in the film, played by Karl Malden, while the corrupt union boss character, Johnny Friendly, was somewhat based on Joe Ryan. For more on “Mr. Big,” Bill McCormack, see my previous post here. It’s interesting to note that shortly after “On the Waterfront” was released, the need for longshoreman would rapidly decline with the introduction of mammoth container ships.

Another Regrettable Example of Coerced Tithing

I don’t believe in mandatory tithing. See my post on the topic from January 2017 here. I think it’s very wrong for pastors to appropriate a law meant strictly for ancient Israel and impose it on the church, but of course it’s obvious why they do it.

The only standard for giving in the New Testament is found in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7:

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

I really don’t wish to go through my arguments against coerced tithing that I stated in my January 2017 post. So why do I bring it up again?

While my wife was in the hospital a couple of weeks ago, a Christian couple who are good friends came up to visit her. The conversation eventually turned to their church. For several years, the pastor and elder board have been contemplating purchasing or building a larger facility. One of the local YMCA* branches (photo above) is moving into a new facility and the pastor would like to purchase the old “Y” and convert it into the “new” church building. The purchase of this large complex and the subsequent renovations will require a massive amount of money. The pastor addressed the membership and told them that many of them are disobedient because they currently do not tithe and he is compelling…er…”asking” them to make a commitment to begin tithing immediately to support the purchase and renovation of the YMCA property.

This is so wrong. Giving to the Lord’s work is surely a privilege and a blessing, but using coercion and making the Old Testament law of tithing mandatory is un-Biblical. Pastors drive people away and lay unnecessary guilt trips on people with this type of un-Biblical, heavy-handed manipulation.

The short article below offers a very helpful perspective on tithing:

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

*It’s quite strange that the YMCA – Young Men’s Christian Association – still uses that name. The organization moved away from any kind of connection to Christianity many decades ago.

The Lessons of the Seven Churches Never Grow Stale

Christ’s Call to Reform the Church
By John MacArthur
Moody Publishers, 2018, 199 pages

If you’ve been a follower of Jesus Christ for a length of time, you’ve probably heard at least one sermon on the Lord’s letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor referred to in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3. Our pastor did a sermon series on the seven churches not all that long ago, so when I first saw publication notices for this book, I wasn’t all that sure about purchasing it, but I’m very glad I did.

Pastor J. Mac examines the the Lord’s letters to each of the churches and provides excellent analysis of what was happening at each fellowship, both the good and the bad. MacArthur then makes applications to Christian churches in our current era. There’s also plenty of life applications for the individual believer. This is a short book, but rich in spiritual exhortation and admonishment. In our current era, when fewer and fewer churches are standing upon God’s Word without compromise, this book is required reading.

Chapters:

  1. Calling the Church to Repent
  2. The Lord’s Work in His Church
  3. The Loveless Church: Ephesus
  4. The Persecuted Church: Smyrna
  5. The Compromising Church: Pergamum
  6. The Corrupt Church: Thyatira
  7. The Dead Church: Sardis
  8. The Faithful Church: Philadelphia
  9. The Lukewarm Church: Laodicea
  10. The Need for a New Reformation

 

 

 

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, & 54: Salvation by Works? – Part 4

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

Armstrong presents the seven passages that follow under the heading, “The Crucial Role of Works (And Absence of Faith) in Judgement Day Accounts.” Beneath these passages Armstrong writes, “All of these passages are in complete accord with the Catholic belief that although works themselves do not save us, they are intimately connected with the process of salvation, being always enabled and caused by God’s grace. The remarkable thing about these passages is the utter absence of “faith alone” in them. This cannot fail to strike a person who believes in that doctrine (the standard Protestant position).” – pp. 90-91.

#48) Matthew 7:16-27

Those who are genuinely trusting in Christ as Savior by faith alone will manifest good works and charity as evidence of their faith. But works do not justify. This lengthy passage states that while those who are condemned to Hell may have done “mighty works,” their faith was not in Christ, the “rock.” Because Armstrong is spiritually blind, he doesn’t even realize this passage refutes his argument for merited salvation.

#49) Matthew 16:27 – “For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.”

John MacArthur writes of this verse, “In the future, God will reward believers (1 Cor. 4:5, 2 Cor. 5:8-10, Rev. 22:12). Here, however, the Lord is concerned with the reward of the ungodly – final and eternal judgment (Rom. 2:5-11, 2 Thess. 1:6-10).” – The MacArthur Bible Commentary, p. 1155. Yes, individuals who have not trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior will be judged according to their sinful works.

#50) Matthew 25:31-46

This lengthy passage describes the “judgment of the nations,” which many theologians describe as the judgment that will precede Christ’s millennial reign and the subjects being only those who are alive at His coming” (The MacArthur Bible Commentary, p. 1175). As we have discussed previously, the good works mentioned in this passage are the fruit/verification of genuine, righteous faith, not the basis of salvation.

#51) 2 Corinthians 5:10 – “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.”

#52) 1 Peter 1:17 – “And if you invoke as Father him who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.”

As I’ve stated previously, Catholicism confuses the Judgement Seat of Christ (the Bema Seat) where believers will be rewarded according to their service with the Great White Throne Judgement where the Lord will judge unbelievers according to their sinful works. The two verses above are directed to believers regarding their rewards for service at the Bema Seat of Christ.

#53) Revelation 22:12 – “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done.”

MacArthur and J. Vernon McGee believe this verse also refers to the Bema Seat Judgment for believers.

#54) Ecclesiastes 12:14 – “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

Yes, God will judge every unbeliever according to their sinful thoughts and action. Verses like this one lead the repentant sinner to the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Armstrong presents the seven passages above as proof texts for merited salvation, but as I’ve shown, he has done so without referencing the passages in their proper context. While Catholicism, with its false gospel of merited salvation, understandably prioritizes passages that refer to God’s judgment for works, it ignores the “red thread” of the Gospel of grace that runs through the entire Bible. If people could merit their own salvation, Jesus Christ would not have had to die on the cross to pay the penalty for sin.

We’ve patiently witnessed Armstrong’s arguments for Catholicism’s false gospel of merited salvation over the last six weeks, which included twenty-six Scripture passages that he presented as supportive proof texts. Upon examination, we are certainly not “confounded” by Armstrong and his “evidence” as we keep in mind the main themes of the Bible; man’s sinfulness and the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

101 Bible Verses That Teach Salvation Is Not By Works
http://gochristianhelps.com/tracts/stl/notworks.htm

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 11/24/18

This article reports that cardinal Daniel DiNardo (photo above), president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, covered-up for predatory priests. Is there an American Catholic bishop who isn’t personally involved in this scandal?

In Catholicism, with its top-down hierarchy, the pope and his cardinals, bishops, and priests have always called the shots. The laity have always had the responsibility of keeping their mouths shut and doing (and believing) what they were told. But now that the hierarchy has proven to be totally corrupt, what are the laity to do? See me after class and I’ll tell you about the Good News of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Here we have ANOTHER book written by a disaffected conservative Catholic that’s extremely critical of pope Francis. My copy is arriving Tuesday. Where are the evangelical apologists who should be critiquing Catholicism’s current double-crisis (the predatory priests/cover-up scandal and the growing dissatisfaction with Francis)?

Pope Francis and his progressive allies have had enough of conservative Catholics questioning their every move. Censorship is nothing new in Catholicism. Up until recent times, Catholics were forbidden from reading religious material that didn’t have a “Nihil obstat” and bishop’s “Imprimatur.”

The LGBTQ community is tirelessly advancing its agenda.

My wife and I stopped attending mid-week, small group meetings last May. Small groups can be a blessing or a source of tension. We may sign up for next semester (Jan.-May) with a different group depending on the status of my wife’s health.

RE-baptized??? What’s that all about?

Last week, I was listening to the 11/5/18 podcast of the “Called to Communion” Catholic talk radio show and at the 5:20 mark, moderator, Tom Price, read a question from Katrina, a listener, who asked, “When a baptized person leaves the Catholic church and then attends a non-denominational or any Protestant church, why are those folks re-baptized?”

The show’s host, David Anders, then made the claim, as he often does, that the Catholic church is much more magnanimous and charitable than Protestants regarding baptism because it recognizes the baptisms of Protestants as “valid” while evangelical Protestant churches do not recognize Catholic baptism as valid and will ask that ex-Catholics be “re-baptized.”

Of course, Catholics and born-again Christians view baptism QUITE differently. Catholics see baptism as a sacrament by which a person is inducted into the church. The vast majority of Catholics are baptized as infants. When a priest says the prescribed trinitarian formula and sprinkles water over the baby’s head, it’s claimed the infant has their original sin wiped away and is spiritually reborn and begins a lifelong process of attempting to merit their salvation through the church’s sacraments and by obeying the Ten Commandments. Catholics teach that anyone can baptize an infant, even an atheist, and the baptism will be valid just as long as the precise trinitarian formula and water are used.

In contrast, Bible Christians believe that after a person repents of their sin and accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone, they should follow the Lord by being baptized as a public profession of their faith. By being buried (immersed) in the water, we identify with Christ’s death and burial, and by being raised from the water we identify with His resurrection. Baptism is not a sacrament that regenerates anyone, it’s a public testimony of faith in Christ. Infants cannot be baptized since they are unable to comprehend the Gospel. My Catholic infant baptism was absolutely meaningless and worthless. Only after I accepted Christ as Savior by faith alone as an adult was I able to follow Him in believer’s baptism at an evangelical church. Children are also able to be baptized if they are old enough to comprehend the Gospel and genuinely repent of their sin and accept Christ as Savior by faith alone.

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” – Acts 2:41

As the above verse points out, trusting in Christ comes first, then baptism. Catholic churches are not being more magnanimous and charitable by recognizing Protestant baptisms as valid. Baptism must follow genuine repentance and acceptance of Christ as Savior by faith alone. Catholic baptism is not Biblically valid, which is why ex-Catholics who accept Christ as Savior by faith alone are baptized validly in evangelical churches.

The evolution of Catholic doctrine has forced Catholicism into a bizarre dichotomy. In centuries past, the church taught that only those who were baptized could merit Heaven. In modern times, the church has allowed that people of other religions could also merit Heaven. Pope Francis has stated that even atheists can be saved if they follow their conscience and are “good.” So while Catholics still insist that baptism is a requirement for salvation, they grant that those who were never baptized through no fault of their own, can also be saved.

As with many other doctrines, Catholicism makes the ritual and ceremony THE THING. It’s not the ritual that saves, it’s repenting of sin and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone that saves.

See the helpful article below for further study:

Believer’s Baptism
https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/80-370/believers-baptism

Note: The Roman Catholic church does not accept as valid the baptisms of the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Happy Thanksgiving!

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my friends here on the WordPress blogosphere! May your time with family and friends be happy as we contemplate all of our blessings through Christ Jesus! I’m especially grateful that my wife came home from the hospital yesterday and her broken leg is on the mend.

Hypocritical double standard: Why was monk Luther “neurotic” for daily confession, but John Paul II “saintly”?

I listen to “Called to Communion,” a Roman Catholic talk radio show, for about one hour every work day in order to keep abreast of what’s going on within the RCC. The advertised aim of the show is to convert Protestants to Catholicism. There’s no ecumenism going on during this show, folks. Host, David Anders, is pretty blunt in his attacks on the Gospel of grace.

Last week, I was listening to the 11/1/18 podcast of the show, and the discussion focused on Reformer, Martin Luther. As in MANY previous episodes, Anders described “heretic” Luther as an overly-scrupulous neurotic, who suffered from an obsessive-compulsive disorder. On what does Anders base that ad hominem smear?

Prior to breaking from Catholicism, Luther was an Augustinian monk. Luther took his legalistic religion very seriously, unlike most Catholics, and constantly compared how his thoughts, words, deeds, and acts of deliberate omission measured up to God’s Ten Commandments. Catholics are obligated to confess their sins to a priest at least once per year or incur a mortal sin (only 12% of contemporary Catholics obey this rule). Luther confessed his sins to a priest EVERY DAY and would often spend hours in the confessional recounting his offenses against God’s Law.

Catholics like Anders brand Luther as hyper-scrupulous and neurotic, but the Holy Spirit was revealing to the monk his sinful depravity and his absolute inability to obey his way into Heaven. Luther would eventually trust in the promises of God’s Word and become spiritually reborn by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Luther was finally able to rest in God’s forgiveness and salvation through Christ.

Anders naturally pushes his church’s false gospel, which states that people can successfully obey their way into Heaven with the help of sacramental grace, but in order to keep their sanity while on this legalistic treadmill, Catholics seriously downplay the extent of their sin. Most Catholics will tell you with a great degree of sincerity that they do a pretty good job of obeying the Ten Commandments.

It’s interesting, though, that there have been many Catholics over the ages who, like Luther, also had a sharp awareness of their sinfulness. However, rather than repenting of their sin and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, these Catholics practiced various methods of severe asceticism including painful self-mortification as part of their penance or as attempts to master the flesh. Mother Teresa wore a pain-inducing “cilice” (see here) daily. Catherine of Siena starved herself to death by restricting her food intake to only a daily communion wafer. Pope John Paul II flagellated himself daily and also, like Luther, went to confession every day. I wrote all of the above to ask this: Isn’t it contradictory for Anders and other Catholic apologists to slander monk Luther as being overly-scrupulous, neurotic, and an obsessive-compulsive when many Catholic saints, who these apologists extol with great gusto, were slaves of their legalistic religion to an even greater degree than monk Luther? Why was Luther’s daily confession a sign of neurosis, but John Paul II’s daily confession a sign of sanctity?

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 44, 45, 46, & 47: Can Genuine Christians Lose Salvation? – Part 2

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

In the last several weeks, we’ve examined fifteen verses/passages which Armstrong presented as proof texts for salvation by faith plus works. Today, we’ll examine the final four verses/passages that Armstrong presents as evidence that salvation is dependent on works and can be forfeited. Last week’s six verses were written by the apostle, Paul, and these final four verses/passages appear under the heading, “Other Biblical Writers on Apostasy.’”

#44) Hebrews 3:12-14 – “12 Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end,” (Note – All Bible quotes presented by Armstrong are from the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, RSVCE)

#45) Hebrews 6:4-6 – “4 For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt.”

#46) 2 Peter 2:15 – “Forsaking the right way they have gone astray; they have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Be′or, who loved gain from wrongdoing,”

#47) 2 Peter 2:20-22 – “20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog turns back to his own vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire.”

The Catholic church teaches that the salvation of its members is dependent on their receiving grace from the sacraments so that they can obey the Ten Commandments and church rules in order to hopefully merit Heaven at the moment of their death. Because their salvation is dependent on their obedience, a Catholic can never be assured of their salvation. Armstrong presents these four verses/passages as proof that Christians can apostatize and lose their salvation.

Bible Christians believe a person is saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. We believe charity and good works are the fruit/evidence of genuine salvation, but never the basis of it. There are many people who profess to have accepted Christ, but were not genuinely reborn in Christ and “fall away” from church and religious activities for a variety of reasons.

Many people attend evangelical churches. Some are saved, some are not. The wheat and the tares are often together as we read in Matthew 13:24-30 and only the Lord knows who is truly saved. The Epistle to the Hebrews and 2 Peter were both written to the saved saints/wheat within the church and to the unsaved tares who were constantly exposed to the Gospel of grace, but had not genuinely accepted Christ. When a formerly church-going, professing “Christian” abandons the Lord and the church, what are believers to think? That the person was a genuine believer who apostatized and lost their salvation? No, the person never genuinely accepted Christ.

1 John 2:19 gives precise clarity to this issue: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

It’s interesting that Armstrong quotes from the Epistle to the Hebrews in his attempt to prove merited salvation and to “confound” Protestants. Hebrews directly refutes Catholicism’s basis for its priesthood and ongoing sacrifice for sin.

While Armstrong cites these four verses as proof texts of the possibility of losing salvation, careful examination reveals they discuss the reality of those who have yet to accept Christ and are in danger of being led astray or those who made a false profession of faith in Christ and fell away.

See the article below for further study:

When Believers Stop Believing: Portrait of an Apostate