I usually listen to a Catholic talk radio show, “Called to Communion,” for about one hour each work day. It’s not something that I would recommend to my fellow believers, but the show often provides me with good fodder for this blog. I was recently listening to a podcast of the show and a couple of interesting segments came up that I’d like to pass along.
Called to Communion
EWTN Radio – 4/3/19 podcast
Moderator: Thom Price, Host: David Anders
At the 34:19 mark, non-Catholic, Edward from Coal Grove, Ohio, called in with a question regarding the Catholic sacrament of reconciliation/confession:
Edward: “When you go to confession, and you go into the little booth to pray, when you’re confessing, why do we go in to pray in that little booth? Can we sit in our pews to pray to God?”
Host, David Anders, then proceeded to explain to Edward the basics behind the Catholic sacrament of reconciliation. The Roman church teaches that every time a Catholic commits a mortal (major) sin, they must go to church and confess the sin to a priest. The church teaches that its priests receive the power to forgive sins at their ordination. In the confessional booth, the priest allegedly acts “in persona Christi,” in the person of Christ, when absolving sin. The Roman church uses John 20:23 as the basis of this alleged prerogative: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld,” but the verse is only correctly understood in the context of the New Testament Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, which the apostles were commanded to proclaim. A few verses after John 20:23 we read, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” – John 20:31. Forgiveness of sins comes from hearing the Gospel, repenting of sin, and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior. Going to the confessional booth once a week or once a month (most Catholics never go) doesn’t save anyone. The sacrament of penance is just another cog in Catholicism’s complicated salvation system of sacramental grace and merit.
After briefly describing Catholicism’s sacrament of reconciliation to Edward, David Anders says something quite revealing:
David Anders: “You know, I had a priest ask me recently, and I’m going to make a personal revelation here, he said, ‘How do you relate to Christ?’ And I said, this is truthful, and I’m just going to let this out. Jesus in the Gospels sometimes is kind of a scary dude. He holds us up to pretty high standards, and I said, ‘You know, in the Gospels, sometimes I read the words of Christ and I’m like, gulp, am I doing that? Am I doing that? But when I meet Christ in the person of his priest, I experience only mercy.‘”
Argh! Did you get that, folks? This Catholic apologist says Jesus is a mean and “scary dude” and people must therefore go through the more merciful priest (and more merciful Mary). Man, oh man! The Jesus I know, my Savior and Shepherd, is infinitely more tender and merciful than any person. Yes, someday He will return as Judge, but right now He offers REAL forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal salvation to all those who repent of their sin and accept Him as their Savior by faith alone! The ONLY mediator between God and men is Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).
The second segment from the same broadcast is a bit comical in a sad way. At the 38:42 mark, Sam from Charleston, West Virginia, an ex-Baptist and convert to Catholicism in 2018, called in to say he was troubled by the liberal priests and prelates in the church who seemed to be flouting the rules he claims to love so much. He haltingly continued, “…and then I see things, like on the news a lot, it seems the news tends to amplify, the pope, seems that the pope, who I want to believe is the Vicar of Christ, but then he tends to say things like, has a softer view about cohabitation before marriage…”
Well, it was very entertaining to hear Price and Anders grab their microphones and shut down Sam before he could say another word. I even looked up the video segment on You Tube just so I could actually see Price and Anders become unglued (see above photo). Sam couldn’t have gotten in another word with a crow bar. Remember, the stated purpose of this show is to try to convince Protestants to convert to Catholicism, so any direct criticism of the pope over the airwaves is strictly verboten. Pope Francis, with his liberal reforms is making these conservative apologists twist around like pretzels. Ach, so funny. Without directly criticizing Francis, Anders advised Sam to focus on the traditional teachings of the church and not to pay attention to liberal priests and unnamed progressive prelates. The sadly comical segment was worth the price of admission all by itself.