A Legion Clunker

Yes, my friends, it’s time to once again climb into our fictional time machine and travel to the 30th-Century for another adventure from DC Comics’ Silver Age with the Legion of Super-Heroes in…

“The Tornado Twins!”
Adventure Comics #373, October, 1968
Writer and layouts: Jim Shooter, Penciller: Win Mortimer, Cover: Neal Adams

3 Stars

Plot

Seven of the Legionnaires – Brainiac 5, Element Lad, Karate Kid, Phantom Girl, Princess Projectra, Sun Boy, and Superboy – are enjoying various recreational activities when they’re suddenly summoned to a robbery in progress. However, when they arrive at the crime scene they discover the criminals have already been apprehended by a brother and sister, super-hero duo with the last name of “Allen.” Hmm, we may already know where this one is headed, right JLA fans? The Allen twins, Don and Dawn, smugly gloat about beating the Legion to the punch, which leads to a heated exchange between Don and Karate Kid.

The Legionnaires return to their headquarters with their tails tucked between their legs, but are soon called to another emergency; some worker robots have gone haywire at an iron mine, causing a partial cave-in and trapping some V.I.P. visitors. The Legionnaires confront the powerful robots, but are quickly overcome. The Allen twins show up, thrash the robots and save the visitors. The puzzled Legionnaires search for information about the mysterious twins, but find nothing unusual as the Metropolis media celebrates the new heroes and pronounces the Legion as “has-beens.”

Like beating a dead horse, the Legion is called to a third emergency at a chemical plant and are once again upstaged by the twins. Heated words are again exchanged between Don Allen and Karate Kid, which quickly escalates into an all-out rumble between the seven Legionnaires and the twins, with the Allens leaving the seven bloodied and battered. Does anyone else see a pattern developing here? Public confidence in the Legion is at an all-time low and still plummeting.

The Legion is then sent a, gulp, fourth emergency signal, but the heroes’ confidence is so shaken that they initially opt to stay inside their headquarters. However, they soon reconsider and investigate a seemingly-hostile alien spaceship parked in the middle of Metropolis. Yet, when they force their way inside the ship, they find a giant statue of the 20th century super-hero, the Flash aka Barry Allen. Don and Dawn soon arrive and explain they are descendants of Barry Allen and were artificially endowed with the Flash’s powers on a temporary basis in order to publicize the United Planets’ upcoming commemoration of “Flash Day.” After twenty-two pages of bitter acrimony, everyone suddenly shakes hands and goes about their business. Ugh!.

Commentary

Aside from the pitiful “The Revolt of the Super-Pets” (Adventure Comics, 364), this issue might be the hokiest Legion tale we’ve reviewed to this point. A “Flash Day” in the 30th century? C’mon! Seriously? The feigned animosity featured in this story was a well-worn plot device in DC’s Silver Age-era. Win Mortimer’s pencils are a step down from Curt Swan’s, but still much better than latter-day Legion artwork. It’s great to see Element Lad in a story for a change. For some strange reason, he was one of the least-featured Legionnaires. Maybe it was the pink leotards?

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Throwback Thursday: A look at “Mere Christianity” aka the armchair theologian has no clothes

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re going to take a look back at this slightly-revised post that was first published on August 26, 2015.

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Few books are as revered by evangelical Christians as “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis. Evangelical pastors across the country quote snippets of “Mere Christianity” to their congregations every Sunday. But Lewis’ wide-is-the-way, bottom-line, mere Christianity is problematic for Bible Christians. This post will undoubtedly upset some readers, but we should allow “Mere Christianity” speak for itself.

Mere Christianity
By C.S. Lewis
Harper Collins, 2001, 256 pp.

1 Star  Only 1-star because of the wide-is-the-way theology

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was a distinguished British author, educator, armchair theologian, and a former atheist. “Mere Christianity” (first published in 1952) was adapted from a series of talks given by Lewis on BBC radio between 1942 and 1944.

Many evangelical pastors and para-church leaders refer to “Mere Christianity” with unqualified high praise. Christianity Today magazine even names it as the “absolute best religious book of the twentieth-century.” Well, after hearing all the hoopla for many years, I finally got around to reading this “classic” and I must say I’m surprised by all the adulation. There’s no doubt Lewis was a talented writer and pleads the case for many of the basic tenets of Christianity in an enjoyable let’s-discuss-religion-over-a-few-pints-at-the-pub manner. But there are more than a few difficulties with Lewis’s lowest-common-denominator theology which should give all conservative evangelicals pause. All quotes below are from the Harper Collins 2001 edition which I borrowed from my local library.

* The author, an Anglo-Catholic, cuts the widest swath possible in his definition of Christianity. He is purposefully inclusive, identifying Christianity as a large hallway which has many doors to various denominational rooms (p. XV). Roman Catholicism, a propagator of salvation via sacramental grace and merit, is presented as a totally valid Christian entity. Chuck Colson cited “Mere Christianity” as the inspiration for his ecumenical Evangelicals and Catholics Together alliance.

* Lewis is deliberately vague about how one actually becomes a Christian. He sets forth three things that “spread” the “Christ-life” to us: “baptism, belief, and that mysterious action which different Christians call by different names – Holy Communion, the Mass, the Lord’s Supper” (p. 61). While Lewis confesses that a Methodist friend of his would prefer more emphasis be given to belief than to the two “sacraments” as the way to “Christ-life,” the author declines to do so. High-church Anglicans generally believe the Holy Spirit is first received at infant baptism and that Christ is really present in the eucharist. Catholics believe that at their mass the priest brings Christ down from heaven to be sacrificed again and again under the forms of bread and wine as an offering for the sins of the participants. However, God’s Word states that priestly sacrifice for sins ended with Jesus’s once-for-all-time sacrificial death at Calvary and that He is now seated at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1:3 & 10:12), not on Catholic altars as a broken victim.

* Lewis correctly states that at some point a person on their way to becoming a Christian will realize they cannot merit their way to God, but must accept Christ’s completely free gift of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Him as Savior alone (p. 147). But how Lewis reconciles this with his previous approval of sacramentalism is unclear. Also, Rome unequivocally condemns the belief of unmerited salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone (see Council of Trent canons), yet Lewis cites Catholicism as a valid branch of Christianity. So which is it? Is salvation by grace or works? Lewis’ theological dissonance suggests to his readers that there are two gospels.

* Lewis affirms his unscriptural belief in purgatory. Putting words into Christ’s mouth, Lewis writes, “Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect…” (p. 202). Lest anyone believe I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill in regards to this somewhat nebulous reference, Lewis greatly expounded on his belief in purgatory in other writings.

* Lewis is an unabashed Universalist: “There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it” (p. 209). Chapter and verse, Clive Staples? What about John 14:6? But Lewis is not the only evangelical darling to preach Universalism. In a May 31, 1997 interview with ecumenical minister, Robert H. Schuller, Billy Graham stated, “God’s purpose for this age is to call out a people for His name. And that’s what God is doing today, He’s calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world or the non-believing world. They are members of the Body of Christ because they’ve been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved, and that they’re going to be with us in heaven.”

* Lewis outright dismisses the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ, not a minor triviality (p.182), and in other writings he doubts the inerrancy of Scripture. Lewis confessed his sins weekly to Anglican priest, Father Walter Adams, beginning in 1940. After Adams’ death in 1952 Lewis continued the practice of auricular confession with the priests of St. Mary Magdalen Church in Oxford.

C. S. Lewis’s deviation from Biblical orthodoxy on several extremely important issues raises the question of why so many evangelical pastors stumble over each other to sing the praises of “Mere Christianity”? The fact that many Roman Catholics have adopted Lewis as one of their own and are convinced he was on the path to joining their religion says volumes. Lewis’s spiritual inspiration, ardent Catholic apologist, G. K. Chesterton, was certainly no friend of evangelical Protestantism. Is intellectual snob appeal part of what fuels the attraction to the troubling writings of Oxford professor, Lewis? I’m guessing that’s some of the appeal.

My advice is don’t waste one second of your time with this wide-is-the-way “classic.” There are much more doctrinally sound books on the basics of the Christian faith from solid evangelical authors that deserve your attention. I would neither recommend “Mere Christianity” to an unbeliever or to a Christian of many years. I can only surmise that the undiscerning herd enthusiasm for this book among some evangelicals is guided by the same spirit that persuaded Billy Graham to invite Catholic bishops and priests to participate in organizing his later crusades.

Fifty-years of The Gilded Palace of Sin

The Gilded Palace of Sin
The Flying Burrito Brothers
Produced by Larry Marks, A&M Records, Released February 6, 1969, Length: 37:24

5 Stars

The Byrds had recorded the groundbreaking country-rock album, “Sweetheart of the Rodeo,” in 1968, but personal and artistic differences led members Gram Parsons followed by Chris Hillman to leave the band shortly afterwards. The two country music enthusiasts soon teamed up again to realize their vision of country and rock-and-roll fusion with the formation of the  Flying Burrito Brothers. For a couple of months, Parsons and Hillman holed up together in a rented house dubbed “Burrito Manor” in Canoga Park in the San Fernando Valley and wrote a collection of excellent tunes. With Hillman on rhythm guitar and Parsons on acoustic guitar and keyboards, they rounded out their sound with the addition of Chris Ethridge on bass and Pete “Sneaky Pete” Kleinow on pedal steel guitar (four session drummers were used on the debut LP). A&M Records was attempting to beef up its rock and roll footprint at the time and unwittingly signed the Burritos, not knowing what they were getting themselves into.

When “The Gilded Palace of Sin” was released in early-1969, it landed with a huge thud, peaking at only #164 on the Billboard 200. Rock and roll audiences were not quite ready for the synthesis of country and rock music. But recording artists and music enthusiasts are keenly aware of this excellent pioneering effort.

The Burritos’ legacy was a short one. Their second studio album was disappointing as Parsons descended deeper and deeper into a spiral of alcohol and drug abuse. Hillman fired Parsons in 1970 and released the third and final Burritos studio LP in 1971. After two uneven solo projects (both prominently featuring a relatively unknown, young vocalist by the name of Emmylou Harris), Parsons died of a drug-overdose in 1973. Hillman would go on to have a long career, most notably as the front man for the successful country group, The Desert Rose Band, from 1985 to 1994.

While the Flying Burrito Brothers’ tenure was brief, music fans have been enjoying the “The Gilded Palace of Sin” for fifty years.

Side One

  • Christine’s Tune (Parsons, Hillman) – A bitter diatribe lambasting the former founder of the Byrds’ fan club who was meddling in the band members’ already-troubled marriages. A great tune. As in the rest of the album, Hillman’s steady harmonies perfectly complement Parson’s more adventurous and fragile lead vocals. Sneaky Pete’s rocked-up pedal steel solos are overdone here, but most of his contributions on this disc are excellent.
  • Sin City (Parsons, Hillman) – Hillman takes aim at the Byrds’ money-grubbing, former manager, Larry Spector. This is a country-rock classic that has been covered by many artists over the years. In this case, “Sin City” isn’t Las Vegas, but Los Angeles, and the former manager is portrayed as the much-anticipated object of the Lord’s retribution. Listen here.
  • Do Right Woman (Chips Moman, Dan Penn) – Parsons included this and another Moman-Penn penned “Southern Soul” tune immediately following, showing his interest in fusing country, rock, and blue-eyed soul into a gumbo of “Cosmic American Music.” That’s David Crosby providing some vocal harmonies.
  • Dark End of the Street (Chips Moman, Dan Penn) – Sneaky Pete’s use of the pedal steel guitar as a rock-and-roll lead guitar was radically innovative.
  • My Uncle (Parsons, Hillman) – Parsons received his draft notice in the mailbox during the height of the Vietnam War, prompting this tongue-in-cheek promise to head “for the nearest foreign border.” Parsons subsequently received a 4-F deferment. He was actually the very last person in the country the U.S. Army would have wanted in uniform. In this song, Hillman goes back to his bluegrass roots with some nice mandolin weaving around Sneaky Pete’s tasty steel licks.

Side Two

  • Wheels (Hillman, Parsons) – Parsons’ paean to motorcycles following a minor accident with his BSA bike. He sings, “I’ll turn to Him who made my faith so strong.”
  • Juanita (Hillman, Parsons) – His woman left him and he’s lower than the floor; the grist for about 90% of country music songs.
  • Hot Burrito #1 (Ethridge, Parsons) – Speaking of a song about a woman leaving her man, Parsons scores the very best vocal of his short career with this lament dripping with palatable pathos. Ethridge brought the melody to Parsons who added the lyrics. Listen here.
  • Hot Burrito #2 (Ethridge, Parsons) – What? Yet another song about a broken relationship? Yes, and another Ethridge melody with lyrics by Parsons. An outstanding Parsons vocal. The improbably titled Hot Burrito #1 and #2 are the finest songs on a great album.
  • Do You Know How It Feels (Parsons, Barry Goldberg) – The fourth song in a row about a relationship breakup. Parsons sings in a traditional Country-Western style. Co-writer, Goldberg, would have a long career and eventually end up in Stephen Stills’ The Rides.
  • Hippie Boy (Hillman, Parsons) – Hillman talk-sings through a dirge about a hippie and “redneck” trying to find common ground over the death of a hippie boy. The song was generally a plea for the generations to be more tolerant towards each other at the time of the turbulent sixties and specifically a plea for the country music community to be more accepting of “hippies” like Parsons and Hillman.

There are references to the Lord throughout the album, and much of that no doubt can be attributed to Parsons’ upbringing in Waycross, Georgia, deep in the Bible Belt. Parsons, like many other people, knew ABOUT the Lord Jesus Christ, but he didn’t KNOW Him. Parsons tried to find peace, truth, and fulfillment in the bottle, the pill box, in music, and in fame, but there was no lasting peace or redemption to be found in those things.

Chris Hillman Reflects on The Flying Burrito Brothers’ ‘The Gilded Palace of Sin’ at 50
https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/8496642/chris-hillman-flying-burrito-brothers-gilded-palace-sin

 

Two valuable articles from ex-Catholic priest, Richard Bennett

Last week, I highlighted several Gospel outreaches to Roman Catholics, including ex-priest, Richard Bennett’s Berean Beacon ministry.

The Berean Beacon website (see here) is chock-full of resources for curious Catholics who would like to know more about Biblical Christianity and for evangelicals who would like more information so that they might be better able to witness to their Catholic family members and friends.

I was perusing through the Berean Beacon site myself recently and came across the two valuable booklets below. I printed them out and had them spiral bound at Staples for my reference library, but you can easily download the PDF formats and read them on your tablet or another device.

The Roman Catholic-Lutheran Accord
By Richard P. Bennet
Chapel Library, 2000, 17 pp.

The Roman Catholic church had been in ecumenical discussions with liberal Lutheranism (Lutheran World Federation – LWF) for many years and in 1999 the two bodies issued the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” (JD), which proclaimed a “common understanding” of the means to justification before a Holy God. Ex-priest, Bennett, wrote this short critique the following year. As the early church became increasingly institutionalized, the Gospel of grace was replaced with legalism, ritualism, and superstition. Martin Luther and the other early Reformers reclaimed the Good News Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone that was preached by the New Testament church. The genuine Gospel was diametrically opposed to Catholicism’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit and Rome condemned the Gospel of grace and all Protestants at its Council of Trent (1545-1563). Rome has never rescinded its Tridentine anathemas although it now presents itself in a much more conciliatory veneer. Much of Lutheranism has drifted into Bible-denying modernism so it was quite easy for representatives to co-create and endorse this ambiguous document that’s filled with religious vagueries. The wording is so purposely obscure that a passionate works-righteousness Catholic and a defender of the genuine Gospel of grace could both unwittingly agree with most of it, while still holding to their diametrically opposed gospels. This is a helpful introduction to the JD that critiques the main problems of the document without getting into theological heavy-lifting.

From Tradition to Truth: A Priest’s Story
By Richard P. Bennett
Chapel Library, 1998, 13 pp.

Dominican Catholic priest and missionary, Richard Bennett, was trying to merit his salvation according to the teachings of his church, but began reading the Bible and could not reconcile Scripture with Catholic doctrine. He repented of his sin and accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone in 1985 and left Catholicism. In this era of accommodation, compromise, and betrayal of the Gospel by many evangelical leaders, it would benefit many souls to read the simple testimony of this ex-priest regarding the spiritually deadly errors of Catholicism.

These two articles and many others can be accessed free of charge at the Chapel Library website found here.

Memorial Day

Today, the country rightly commemorates the servicemen and servicewomen who sacrificed their lives so that we can enjoy the many freedoms we possess. There are billions of people throughout the world who can only dream about the freedoms that we often take for granted. Today we remember that those freedoms were secured for us by those who sacrificed their lives, and we are grateful.

As a believer, today I also remember all of those martyrs who paid with their lives so that we could have the Gospel. When people think about “the martyrs,” they generally think about the members of the early church who were persecuted by the Roman Empire. But believers have suffered persecution over the past two-thousand years, mainly at the hands of the institutional church. Do we ever think about those who sacrificed their lives so that we could hear the genuine Gospel and have God’s Word to read for ourselves? For the HIGH PRIVILEGES of hearing the Gospel of grace before you accepted Christ, for worshiping the Lord at church yesterday unmolested, and for being able to absentmindedly pick up your Bible today, millions of believers over the centuries suffered harassment, persecution, or death.

I am grateful to all those who purchased our temporal freedoms with their blood. And I am eternally grateful for all those believers who boldly proclaimed the Gospel of grace and would not recant and suffered persecution and death in the service of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Bob Dylan’s Christian “phase”

As I’ve mentioned previously, I began working at Kodak in 1976 at one of its huge manufacturing plants here in Rochester N.Y. I started out in the warehouse division with a great bunch of guys. Forty-plus years later, I still remember them very well. One of the guys was Jim Moon, a large, strapping man with an equally big smile. Jim had a few Christian-themed items boldly posted above his desk, so I knew he was one of those “crazy” born-agains. We had a few conversations about religion, although it would be several years later that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.

One day in conversation with Jim, the subject of Bob Dylan came up. Dylan had been an international cultural icon beginning with his folk-protest albums released in the early-1960s. I had not been a fan of Dylan’s music directly, however my favorite band, the Byrds, had covered several of his songs, most notably, “Mr. Tambourine Man.” But Dylan was making waves again in the late-1970s by claiming to have accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. I remember Jim taking great satisfaction in the fact that such a popular icon as Dylan had accepted Christ.

Dylan recorded two Christian-themed albums, “Slow Train Coming” in 1979 and “Saved” in 1980 (see photo above). I had no interest in listening to those albums at the time they were released. I subsequently heard roundabout that Dylan eventually put his “Christian period” behind him, but I never forgot about it, especially after I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1983.

A few months ago, I mentioned to my wife about Dylan’s “Jesus phase.” We briefly discussed whether he had really accepted Christ at the time or whether it was all a disingenuous “experience”? Still curious, a couple of weeks ago I played “Slow Train Coming” and “Saved” via our Amazon Echo. Wow! There are actually some outstanding songs on those albums, once you get past Dylan’s raggedy voice. Hmm, Dylan certainly “sounded” like he understood the Gospel and trusted in Jesus. I then proceeded to read some articles that examined Dylan’s “Gospel period.” Turns out he had heard about the burgeoning “Jesus movement” in Southern California from some of his friends and at a 1978 concert in San Diego, Dylan picked up a cross that someone had thrown on stage. He claimed that later that evening in his hotel room he had a mystical experience in which Jesus appeared to him. That “encounter” was followed with studies at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship near Los Angeles. If you know anything about the Vineyard churches, you know they’re all about religious experientialism and emotionalism with some Gospel parlance thrown in. The two Jesus albums followed, along with concerts where Dylan preached to his puzzled audiences. But Dylan backed away from his “Jesus phase” after 1981. He took up Orthodox Judaism for awhile, and eventually settled into a widely-inclusive, “whatever works for you” religious relativism (see articles far below).

“Whoever said I was Christian? Like Gandhi, I’m Christian, I’m Jewish, I’m a Moslem, I’m a Hindu. I am a humanist.” – Bob Dylan, 1983

I’m not able to see inside Bob Dylan’s soul, but from his own words it appears he most probably had a false religious experience in 1978. I’m guessing Dylan knew ABOUT Jesus, but didn’t KNOW Jesus. That should not be surprising because the Lord said there will be many tares within the church. Some stay a short time, while others park themselves on a pew for the temporal duration.

The Parable of the Wheat and Tares – Matthew 13:24-30
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+13%3A24-30&version=ESV

Postscript: Jim Moon wasn’t a youngster in 1979 and has most probably gone on to be with the Lord at this point. He had no idea at the time, but his testimony was one of the many things the Holy Spirit used to lead me to salvation in Christ several years later. Are you letting the light of Jesus shine through you like Jim Moon? Just keep planting the seed and leave the rest to the Lord.

The year Bob Dylan was born again: a timeline
See article here.

Bob Dylan, Recovering Christian
See article here.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 5/25/19

Promise Keepers got its start in 1990 as a ministry to, among other things, assist men in becoming better husbands and fathers. Unfortunately, Promise Keepers’ “gospel” message was so watered down that both evangelical and works-righteousness Catholic men could gather at stadiums and sing macho versions of “Kumbaya” together. Promise Keepers was a tool of ecumenism. Catholic men don’t need to stand around singing with a bunch of accommodators and compromisers who tell them they’re just fine spiritually. They need to hear the undiluted Gospel! See more on the problems with Promise Keepers here.

Speaking of ecumenism, pope Francis is encouraging Catholics to join in the “Thy Kingdom Come” international prayer campaign, May 30-June 9. I myself will be praying that week, as I do every week, that Roman Catholics here in the U.S. and throughout the world will hear the genuine Gospel of grace, repent of their sin, accept Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, and leave the apostate RCC.

Our state senator and aspiring POTUS, Kirsten Gillibrand, has her opinions as to what makes one view “Christian” over another, but I can assure you, her opinions have absolutely no basis in Scripture. Sixty-million infants have been murdered in the U.S. alone since the inception of the abortion genocide here in 1973. There appears to be some battles looming ahead in the SCOTUS over the abortion issue. However, souls were never born-again or hearts changed via legislation or by a court ruling.

This “news” should not be a revelation to anyone. Back in the day when Catholic prelates were political power brokers in this country, local police agencies conspired with Catholic dioceses to keep cases of abusive priests out of the headlines. I imagine newspapers and other media sources were also willing partners in the “gentleman’s agreement.”

This police raid on the Dallas Catholic diocesan offices is just one more sickening detail in the year-long pedophile priests and cover-up scandal tsunami. Many Catholics no longer have any faith in their priests or their church. They need to hear there is a better Way; Jesus Christ and the Gospel of grace.

The PBS “educational” cartoon, “Arthur,” which is aimed at the 4-8 years-old age group, recently featured an episode in which a teacher character marries his same-sex “partner.” Young children are being indoctrinated into the LGBTQ agenda at school and via television.

To accusations from conservative Catholics that he is subverting foundational doctrines and creating confusion, pope Francis just keeps his head down and continues to cunningly mold the Roman church into a more “progressive” version. In the meantime, conservative Catholics continue to search for the courage of their convictions.

Sozo prayer? Argh. So much bad stuff comes from Bethel Redding church and the New Apostolic Reformation movement.

I appreciate a little humor from the Babylon Bee after another roundup of serious news. I’m not a fan of believers being pushed to identify their spiritual gifts, as I wrote about here.

Gospel Outreach Ministries to Roman Catholics

Did the title of this post, “Gospel Outreach Ministries to Roman Catholics,” catch your attention? Some of you may be thinking, “Why do we need to reach out to Roman Catholics with the Gospel? Aren’t they Christians, too?” In our current era of plurality, tolerance, and inclusiveness, it’s seen by many as uncharitable to speak the truth about Roman Catholicism. After all, many say that “Catholics love Jesus, too.” But the truth is that the Roman Catholic church teaches many doctrines that are quite different from Biblical Christianity. Most importantly, Catholics are taught that salvation comes through sacramental grace and merit rather than by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Catholics need to hear the genuine Gospel rather than the false gospel they are taught in their churches.

Below, I’ve provided links to the websites of some of the most effective ministries that specifically reach out to Catholics with the Gospel. All of these ministries provide abundant resources for Catholics who are curious about the Biblical Gospel or for Bible Christians who desire to witness more effectively in their encounters with Catholics.

Berean Beacon – Director, ex-Catholic priest, Richard Bennett
Website link here.

Reformanda Initiative – Director, Leonardo De Chirico
Website link here.

Proclaiming the Gospel – Director, ex-Catholic, Mike Gendron
Website link here.

Just for Catholics – Director, ex-Catholic, Joe Mizzi
Website link here.

Christian Resources – Director, William Webster
Website link here

A Christian Witness to Roman Catholicism – Director, ex-Catholic, Rob Zins
Website link here.

In addition to the six ministries listed above, there are many other organizations that offer excellent resources regarding Roman Catholicism. Refer to my Links page here. I hope these resources are a blessing to you!

Throwback Thursday: Next time you drive past a Catholic church on Sunday morning…

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re going to revisit a slightly re-edited post that was first published back on August 28th, 2015.

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Many evangelicals pass a Catholic church on Sunday morning and probably think to themselves, “Sure, Catholics worship God a little differently than we do, but we’re all worshiping the same God, that’s the important thing.” But let’s examine that thought. At an evangelical worship service there’s typically some announcements and singing of hymns and songs of praise for about a half an hour followed by an hour of preaching from God’s Word by the minister. The Gospel is presented and the unsaved are invited to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.

The Catholic “mass” is quite different. At the mass, there are also announcements, singing, a couple of very short readings from the Bible and a short seven or eight-minute “homily” (sermon). But the main focus of the mass is the lengthy ritual whereby the priest allegedly changes bread wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus. Jesus spoke about being the “bread of life,” but Catholics interpret those passages in a literalist sense that defies sound exegesis and a spiritual understanding of God’s Word. The priest then offers up Jesus the “host” (i.e., “victim”) to God the Father as a sacrifice for the sins of all the participants and any others who are mentioned. The mass attendees then line up to take the Jesus wafer and Jesus wine from the priest and consume them, believing grace is imparted that will wash away “venial” sins and supposedly help them avoid committing “mortal” sins in the future in order to hopefully merit their salvation at the moment of their death.

Catholicism is really an extension of the Old Testament Levitical sacrificial system with the priest serving as a mediator between God and the people. The priest is essential to the Catholic sacramental and works-righteousness system. Without his ordained “powers” and role as mediator, the people are doomed and the Catholic hierarchy has always desired to keep it that way.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” – 1 Timothy 2:5.

However, Jesus completely did away with the Old Testament sacrificial system when He was crucified and breathed His last breath with the words, “It is finished,” and the veil to the Holy of Holies of Jerusalem’s temple was torn in two, giving all people direct access to God through Jesus Christ the Savior. God’s Word says Jesus is currently seated at the right hand of the Father, NOT on Catholic altars as a broken victim, being sacrificed again and again, thousands of times daily all over the world.

“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” – Hebrews 10:11-12.

Here’s a passage from a Catholic source that should put the Catholic priesthood and the mass in stark perspective for all evangelicals:

“When the priest pronounces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the victim for the sins of man…The priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal victim for the sins of man – not once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo, Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priest’s commands.” – from “The Faith of Millions” by Father John O’Brien, Nihil obstat; Rev. Lawrence Gollner, Censor Librorum Imprimatur: Leo A. Pursley, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend; March 16, 1974.

What anti-Biblical BLASPHEMY!

So when you drive by that Catholic church next Sunday morning, remember they’re NOT worshiping God the Son inside, rather they believe they’re sacrificing Him on their altars as part of a process to merit their salvation. Rather than trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone for their salvation, they’re relying on priests, sacraments, “good” works, and “obeying” the Ten Commandments (impossible!)

The Usual Double Talk

The Usual Suspects: Answering Anti-Catholic Fundamentalists
By Karl Keating
Ignatius Press, 2000, 195 pages

1 Star

In 1979, a young Roman Catholic lawyer, Karl Keating, became angered when members of a local Bible Christian church left tracts on car windshields during mass at his Catholic parish. In retaliation, he created tracts of his own and distributed them at said Bible church. Thus was born the Catholics apologetics organization, Catholic Answers. Then as now, many Catholics were hearing the Gospel from friends, neighbors, and co-workers, repenting of sin, accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior, forsaking the Roman church with its false gospel, and attending Gospel-preaching churches. Keating and Catholic Answers sought to “stem the tide.” Keating’s first book, “Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on “Romanism” by “Bible Christians” (Ignatius Press, 1988) was fairly popular among Catholics who had “lost” family members and friends to “Christian fundamentalism.” In his attack on “fundamentalists,” Keating mixed together credible ministries with disreputable extremists (Chick Publications, Tony Alamo). Keating’s brief explanations of various Catholic doctrines rivaled the sophistry of any Jesuit.

“The Usual Suspects” is Keating’s fourth book and picks up where “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” left off. The credible evangelicals/fundamentalists targeted this time include Bart Brewer, Frank Eberhardt, Dave Hunt, and Bill Jackson, all four now deceased, and John Ankerberg, John MacArthur, and James McCarthy. Mixed in are several bad apples including Jack Chick and Bob Jones, III.

Keating’s approach is the same as before: short explanations of Catholic doctrine expressed with obsfucation masquerading as certitude, but lacking Biblical substance. Two examples will suffice:

  • Bible Christians criticize the continual sacrifice at Catholic masses as a fraudulent repetition of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Calvary, since the Bible clearly says Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was offered once for all time (Hebrews 10:12). Keating confidently responds that Catholics certainly don’t “repeat” Jesus’ sacrifice, they “re-present” the very same once-offered sacrifice. Ach. Please.
  • Bible Christians criticize Catholics for worshiping Mary. Well, of course Catholics don’t “worship” Mary, objects Keating. They rightly offer her “hyper-dulia veneration,” which is her due. Hyper what? Ninety-five out of one-hundred Catholics could not define “hyper-dulia veneration,” but most do attribute deific powers to Mary, adore her, and pray to her for their salvation. Call it whatever you’d like, but THAT’S worship.

Each short chapter is filled with similar equivocations. Keating accuses his opponents of lacking charity and sophisticated nuance in their arguments, yet turns around and commits those offenses himself, labeling all Bible Christians as “fundamentalists,” “Bible-thumpers,” and “tract-pushers.” Recommended only to those involved in Gospel outreach to Roman Catholics.

Postscript: This book was written in 2000, way before the current papal crisis, with Catholic conservatives now accusing pope Francis of sowing doctrinal confusion and some even accusing him of being a heretic. Conservatives like Keating and his successors at Catholic Answers are no longer boasting that their pope is incapable of leading the Roman church into error. Should Catholics follow pope Francis and his doctrine-bending reforms or the conservative Catholicism of Keating and cardinal Burke? Neither camp teaches salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.