Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 6/29/19

Cardinal Raymond Burke (photo left), was initially supportive of Steve Bannon’s (photo right) plans to rally conservative Catholics in opposition to pope Francis and his progressive brand of Catholicism until “Sloppy Steve” endorsed “In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy,” by Frédéric Martel, which specifically names Burke as a member of the Vatican’s “lavender mafia.”

Joseph Bernardin (1928-1996) was one of the American Catholic church’s most powerful prelates of the previous generation. As the Catholic clerical abuse and cover-up scandal tsunami continues, more abusive practices by prelates, past and present, will surface.

Thanks to Crissy from down under for sharing this example of pope Francis’ and the Catholic church’s ongoing efforts towards a worldwide religious confederation based upon a mutual belief in a “higher power” and merited salvation.

As previously noted, conservative Rhode Island Catholic bishop, Thomas Tobin, stuck his neck out and warned all Roman Catholics in the state not to participate in LGBT Pride Month events. Just about all of his fellow American bishops took a big step back by allowing Tobin to catch the predictable flak all by himself. Jesuit crusader, James Martin, is pressing for full church acceptance of the gay lifestyle.

The title of this article is disingenuous. ALL knowledgeable conservative Catholics ARE unsettled by Francis’ doctrine-bending “reforms,” but they’re reluctant to oppose him publicly because loyalty to the papacy is one of conservative Catholicism’s “prime directives.”

Catholics and non-Catholics who are not aware of the great reverence the Roman church accords religious relics should read these two articles. This reverence and worship of objects is sheer religious superstition. All of the relics that are purported to be from New Testament times, such as a shard from the “true cross,” a fragment from the crown of thorns, and a patch from one of Mary’s veils, are all fraudulently bogus. This particular relics “tour” is largely confined to the Midwest at this point. Check out the schedule here.

As the priest abuse and cover-up scandal tsunami continues to unfold, expect many, many more Catholic dioceses to declare bankruptcy in order to “protect” their assets from victims.

This piece from the Babylon Bee may be satire, but society is already heading down a path we couldn’t have imagined fifty years ago.

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Rochester printmaker, James D. Havens

As a child, I had some artistic ability and dreamed of growing up and becoming a professional artist. However, I didn’t have any serious instruction until my senior year of high school when I took a class with artist and teacher, James Wright. I had worked in many mediums, but Mr. Wright introduced me to linoleum block printing, which I really enjoyed.

Life intervened and I didn’t pursue an art career, but I still dabbled in art as a hobby over the years. I also liked to periodically visit the University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery to admire exhibitions and works in the permanent collection.

In early-2001, I visited the gallery and was pleasantly surprised by a temporary exhibit, “Woodblock Prints by James Havens: A Centennial Celebration,” which included forty prints from local artist, James D. Havens (1900-1960). Wow! Having had some rudimentary training in block printing, I really admired Havens’ masterful work.

Havens was born into privilege in 1900. His father was a U.S. Representative, and afterwards, a legal counsel for the successful Eastman Kodak Company. But young James was a stricken with childhood diabetes at the age of fourteen. The disease was a death sentence in those days, however, through his father’s influence, college-student James became the first person in the United States to receive treatment with the new “miracle” drug, insulin.

Havens began studying art at the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (which later became the Rochester Institute of Technology, my alma mater) and further honed his printmaking skills under the direction of nationally known artists, Troy Kinney and Charles Woodbury. Havens co-founded the Print Club of Rochester in 1930 and became one of the region’s most beloved artists. He died of cancer in 1960.

While recently engaging in some internet sleuthing, I discovered that Havens’ former home and studio, built in 1938, is only two miles from our house.

It’s amazing how gifted artists, like Havens, can take a scene out of nature that we would casually pass by without a second thought, and invite us to focus on the intricate beauty and design of God’s creation. Enjoy a few of James Havens’ woodblock prints below:

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Throwback Thursday: Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re going to take a look back at this post, which was first published on August 19, 2015 and has been only slightly revised.

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Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment
by Gregg R. Allison
Crossway, 2014, 496 pages

5 Stars

At a time when some evangelical pastors and para-church leaders are ignoring doctrinal distinctives in the interest of “Christian” unity, noted evangelical theologian, Gregg R. Allison, gives us “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment,” a clinical examination of the many differences between Bible Christianity and Roman Catholicism.

Allison begins by outlining Rome’s two major theological constructs: the nature-grace interconnection which posits the concrete conferring of grace through nature (e.g., priests, sacraments, sacramentals, shrines, relics, etc.) and the Christ-Church interconnection, whereby the Catholic church presents itself as the prolongation of the incarnation of Christ. Allison then examines Rome’s catechism, reviewing each major doctrine in light of the aforementioned constructs and how they compare to God’s Word and evangelical theology. The author notes that Catholicism and evangelicalism agree on some doctrinal issues, but disagree on a myriad of others. Most importantly, Catholicism teaches salvation by sacramental grace and merit while evangelicals profess Biblical salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. There is no bridge over this theological chasm despite the best efforts of some accommodating, doctrine-light evangelicals.

This new book is a VERY welcome addition to the evangelical-Catholic debate. Every evangelical pastor who works with Catholics and ex-Catholics should own a copy. Many of the Protestant books about Catholicism written in the past were uncharitable and did not present Rome’s doctrines accurately. Allison’s tone leans toward the irenic almost to a fault, but he’s also firm in his critique of Catholicism’s un-Biblical and anti-Biblical doctrines.

Unfortunately, Allison ends this book on a bit of a disappointing note. After spending the first 450 pages carefully analyzing Rome’s errors, he avoids drawing any overall conclusions. Does he believe Rome is at its foundation a Christian church that happens to teach many doctrines not found in the Bible (see Norman Geisler) or does he believe Catholicism is an apostate church that turned from the Gospel of Jesus Christ to legalism and ritualism and that no person can be saved by adhering to its standard theology? After reading the first 450 pages the reader will definitely assume Allison’s position is the latter, but, unfortunately, for reasons only he knows, he’s not willing to commit himself in a forthright summation and conclusion. Instead, the six-page final chapter offers evangelicals advice on how to share the Gospel with Catholics. That criticism aside, this book is a timely and intelligent clarification of Catholic teaching for evangelicals, some of whom are disturbingly too eager to embrace a “church” they actually know very little about.

Available from Amazon here. Please note: This book is definitely on the academic side and wouldn’t appeal to a number of readers. For an excellent book on Roman Catholicism that will appeal to the general reader, tune in to next week’s installment of Throwback Thursday!

A revolting meal – un pasto rivoltante

People are funny when it comes to food. Some people are extremely fussy about what they will eat, while others will try anything. Growing up, my five older sisters and I were expected to eat EVERYTHING on our plates. Refusing to eat something was NOT an option. When my Mom served something particularly odious, like steamed cabbage, I had to wash it down with several glasses of milk. Kids today are catered to. I know of several children who dictate to their parents what they will and will not eat (and in one case, even WHAT TIME they will eat).

Thanks to my parents’ insistent training, I will eat most anything now, although I can do without brussel sprouts or eggplant. However, I once had a VERY challenging food experience that I’ll always remember.

It was back in 2004 when my wife and I visited our youngest son who was stationed at Aviano, Italy at the time. We hadn’t seen our son since he enlisted in the Air Force in 2001 and it was our first trip to Europe, so we were excited. While in Italy, we all took a couple of side trips via train to Venice and to Rome. Both cities were amazing to see.

While we were in Rome, we stopped at a nice restaurant for lunch. The menu was entirely in Italian so the three of us felt a little helpless. However, I did spot an entrée on the menu to the effect of “something-linguine-something-calamaro-something.” Hmm, I certainly liked fried calamari. OK, I’ll have me some of that linguine and squid, I confidently told the secretly-amused waiter. As I remember it, my wife and son spotted pizza on the menu and settled for that. Cowards! Twenty-minutes later, the server brought out our plates. What?!?!? Sitting in front of me was a plate full of linguine covered in some kind of DISGUSTING-looking black sauce. It turned out the dish was linguine and squid served in a sauce made with the squid’s own jet-black ink (see photo for example). Yuch! Well, I ordered it, so I ate it. It actually didn’t taste all that bad, but the sight of it and the idea of eating squid ink just revolted me. It was a meal that I will always remember.

What was the most alarming thing you ever ate?

Well, all things work together for good and eating the linguine in black squid ink sauce helped me better appreciate “normal” food. Thank you, Lord, for taking care of us and providing for us!

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:31-33

Postscript I: Writing this post reminded me of another challenging dish, which I learned about and tried when I was researching my Polish heritage. We’ll visit that one another time.

Postscript II: You can blame this post and the queasy feeling in your stomach on brother Slim Jim at The Domain for Truth who somehow motivated me into revisiting this black memory.

One last time to witness for Jesus?

I used to receive the Rochester N.Y. daily newspaper up until about six months ago. I really enjoyed skimming the headlines every day, but as the paper became thinner and thinner and the price continued to climb higher and higher, it became increasingly harder to justify. After I downloaded the newspaper’s app to my iPhone, I found I didn’t need the hard copy paper at all and stopped delivery. In addition to the local news stories, I like the app because it displays the daily obituaries. When people reach a certain age, they generally become interested in scanning the daily obits for the names of old neighbors, friends, classmates, workmates, etc.; yet another official qualification for senior citizenship!

As I was scanning the obits the other day, I came across the name of David N. Both the name and accompanying photo looked very familiar. I cracked the whip and the tired ol’ brain neurons began firing up again and leaping across those worn-out synapses. It was thirty-five years ago, but I began to recall that Dave had been a member at the first Gospel-preaching church my wife and I attended after we accepted Jesus Christ as Savior in the early 1980s.

Dave was around 25 at the time, a couple of years younger than me. I’m somewhat of an introvert, but I remember Dave made me look like a gregarious big mouth. We used to participate in visitation together and during the preparations, Dave would keep his nose buried in his Bible the whole time without looking up or saying much. After a couple of years, Dave stopped coming to church and every once in awhile I wondered what had happened to him. The church had several problems, which I’ve previously written about, and my wife and I eventually stopped attending there ourselves in the early 1990s.

So here I was, thirty-six years later, reading Dave’s obituary via the newspaper’s app. In the obituary, there’s mention of Dave’s family, education, his employment, his passion for NFL football, and his love of animals, but there’s no mention of the Lord or any church-affiliated funeral services.

What happened? Dave was on-fire for the Lord way back in the day. Did he allow frustration with circumstances at our old church to derail his walk with the Lord as I had done? Or did his relatives neglect to give glory to God via the obituary and funeral arrangements? Right, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with education, a career, enjoying some football, or loving animals. But when we’re composing our 150-word obituary, let’s make sure we’re giving God the glory and pointing people to Jesus! Thousands of people read the local obits.

In our walk with the Lord, there are many who once walked beside us who fell away. We can try to help them and pray for them, but we mustn’t allow them to distract or discourage us. Our focus must remain on Jesus Christ. Whether others remain faithful is not our responsibility. We must give an account to the Lord only for ourselves.

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” – 2 Peter 3:17-18

Gang warfare in the 30th Century?

It’s time once again to climb aboard 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…

“Mission: Diabolical!”
Adventure Comics #374, November, 1968
Writer and layouts: Jim Shooter; Penciller: Win Mortimer, Cover: Curt Swan

4 Stars

Plot

We open the story with various groups of Legionnaires scattered across the galaxy consumed in various leisure and crime-fighting activities. One by one, each contingent is abducted by some unseen enemy.

Back at the Legion’s headquarters in Metropolis, Earth, five of the team’s heroes – Ultra Boy, Dream Girl, Element Lad, Matter-Eater Lad, and Supergirl – are contacted by an entity who represents SCORPIUS, a powerful criminal space gang. The being informs the quintet that SCORPIUS is holding their teammates hostage and that they must eliminate five super-outlaws – Rogarth, Black Mace, Mystelor, Shagreck, and Qunto – who are working for a rival gang, TAURUS. Realizing the crooks have them “over a barrel,” the five heroes disguise themselves to avoid identification by the Science Police and engage the TAURUS super-outlaws, but the melee is broken up by the Legion of Substitute Heroes who aren’t privy to the extortion plot. The quintet retreats, but Polar Boy of the substitutes manages to recognize a couple of the disguised heroes. Polar Boy’s observation will lead the substitutes to launch an investigation that will ultimately pay dividends at the story’s end.

In the meantime, the five heroes contemplate how to infiltrate the top echelon of TAURUS. When Dream Girl ascertains the circumstances of the next attack by the five super-outlaws, Ultra Boy concocts a scheme to disguise himself as Black Mace in order to infiltrate TAURUS. The scheme backfires when Ultra Boy is knocked unconscious in the tussle, but Dream Girl is able to subdue Mystelor and, using a quick disguise, takes her place among the outlaws.

Aboard the super-outlaws’ spaceship, Dream Girl, as Mystelor, is able to stoke resentment against TAURUS’s leadership and the crooks decide to travel to TAURUS headquarters to demand proper compensation. However, they’re not aware that Dream Girl has secretly signaled her four Legion co-conspirators to follow along. At the rival gang’s headquarters, the leader of TAURUS is revealed to be R.J. Brande, the Legion’s billionaire benefactor! But is it really Brande? The Legionnaires come out of hiding and arrest “Brande” with no interference from the super-outlaws who are on strike for higher wages. The Legionnaires quickly determine the leader of TAURUS is not actually Brande, but is Chief of the Science Police, Zoltourus, who had kidnapped Brande and secretly used the billionaire’s vast funds to finance TAURUS’s operations.

The five super-heroes are suddenly transported back to SCORPIUS headquarters where they are joined by their released Legion comrades. Thinking the ordeal is over, the heroes quickly realize they’ve been double-crossed by the SCORPIUS gang, which intends to kill them all. Just as the Legionnaires’ doom seems certain, Polar Boy and the Legion of Substitute Heroes attack SCORPIUS headquarters and subdue the criminal gang.

Commentary

This tale was a bit convoluted and wasn’t among Shooter’s best efforts. The thought should occur to the inquisitive reader that if SCORPIUS is powerful enough to kidnap 21 Legionnaires, it should also be powerful enough to neutralize the five super-outlaws by itself. However, it was always interesting whenever the substitute heroes played a role in a story. I remember feeling sad for these Legion “rejects” whose powers obviously far exceeded those of regular Legion members, Matter-Eater Lad, Bouncing Boy, and Duo Damsel. Speaking of Matter-Eater Lad, I’m guessing that Shooter purposely chose him as well as Dream Girl, Element Lad, and Supergirl as four of the five main protagonists in this story in an attempt to compensate for their infrequent appearances relative to other Legionnaires.

Postscript #1: Whenever enthusiasts compile a list of the most ridiculous comic super-heroes of all time, Matter-Eater Lad is inevitably included.

Postscript #2: DC Comics discontinued its Legion of Super-Heroes series in 2013 because of low readership. However, over the last couple of years DC has been teasing Legion fans with hints of a series relaunch. Recently, I learned that DC will be reintroducing the Legion in LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES: MILLENNIUM #1 due out at comic shops on Wednesday, September 4. This is the first of a two-part prelude that will be followed by a monthly, ongoing series from writer, Brian Michael Bendis, and artist, Ryan Sook.

 

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 6/22/19

Prior to the Boston Globe’s 2002 investigation, cases of abuse by pedophile priests were treated as infrequent and dissociated anomalies, if they were covered by the press at all. The newspaper not only revealed a large number of predatory priests in the Boston archdiocese, but also exposed the systematic cover-up of the abuse by the diocesan hierarchy. Over the following sixteen years, stories of clerical abuse and cover-up were published across the entire country, but last year at this time, the flood of articles crescendoed into a tsunami, with reports that high-ranking church prelates, such as powerful cardinal, Ted McCarrick, were not only covering up the abuse, but were/had been abusers themselves. He may have been “defrocked,” but eighty-eight-year-old McCarrick is still being generously cared for by the Catholic church.

This story of Catholic bishop and sexual predator, Michael Bransfield, is an increasingly familiar tale of abuse by Catholic prelates.

As pope Francis continues to “flirt” with heresy, Catholic conservatives increasingly flirt with schism. But what is the tipping point? What line must Francis cross before conservatives will say, “No more!”? He has already craftily nullified two doctrines held to be inalterable by conservatives and traditionalists; the ban on communion for remarried divorcees and the ban on intercommunion with Protestants.

The Vatican continues to pursue the possibility of ordaining married men in regions where priests are extremely scarce. This is already a “done deal,” but Francis must go through the motions. Married priests will be yet another reason for Catholic conservatives to squawk. Catholic internecine squabbles aside, the New Testament does not teach a sacerdotal priesthood or mandatory clerical celibacy.

The Catholic dioceses of New York City and Peoria, Illinois (via Sheen’s niece) tussled in court over media pioneer, Fulton J. Sheen’s corpse for decades. As soon as the cadaver is in Peoria, the Vatican will put the wheels in motion for the once-popular Sheen’s canonization.

I’m so glad reformers in America kept chipping away at vestiges of Roman error that continued in Europe, such as the state church.

Looking back over the last seventy years, perhaps the three most significant developments in furthering ecumenism with Rome among some evangelicals were 1) Rome’s shift in its approach to Protestants at Vatican II, from militant opposition to mollification, 2) the pioneering accommodation and compromise of Billy Graham, and 3) the birth of the Catholic charismatic movement.

Popular television shows like “The Bachelorette” are “problematic” for Christian viewers because they condone/propagate a lifestyle that is opposed to God’s Word. Hannah Brown’s self-serving theology is not that far off the mark of some doctrine-lite mega-churches.

It’s quite amazing to me that many of today’s popular politicians are trying to outdo each other as far as who is the most devoted socialist.

Former Catholics for Christ Conference: Videos of all eight sessions

For the last two weeks, I’ve been posting videos of the individual sessions of the recent Former Catholics for Christ Conference, which was held at the Southern View Chapel in Springfield, Illinois this past May 17-19.

Today, I am publishing all of the videos in a single post as an easy reference for bookmarking. Please note: I had previously posted an audio version of Session #8, “Evangelizing Roman Catholics,” presented by Mike Gendron, but the video version is posted below for the first time.

Thank you for watching these important videos and for your supportive comments during the course of this series. Roman Catholics are a mission field and need to hear the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Thanks to the presenters, Cecil Andrews; Rob Zins; Mike Gendron; and Tim Kauffman, and to Pastor Gary Gilley and Southern View Chapel for hosting this blessed event. Thanks also to Cecil Andrews for posting these videos on his YouTube channel which can be accessed here.

Session One
“Scripture Alone”
Speaker: Cecil Andrews
Presented: Friday PM, May 17th, 2019

Session Two
“Grace Alone”
Speaker: Rob Zins
Presented: Saturday AM, May 18th, 2019

Session Three
“Christ Alone”
Speaker: Mike Gendron
Presented: Saturday AM, May 18th, 2019

Session Four
“Faith Alone”
Speaker: Tim Kauffman
Presented: Saturday PM, May 18th, 2019

Session Five
“Contending Against False Ecumenism”
Speaker: Rob Zins
Presented: Saturday PM, May 18th, 2019

Session Six
Question & Answer Panel
Panelists: Cecil Andrews; Mike Gendron; Rob Zins; Tim Kauffman
Presented: Saturday PM, May 18th, 2019

Session Seven
“What Roman Catholics Are Taught”
Speakers: Tim Kauffman and Cecil Andrews
Presented: Sunday AM, May 19th, 2019

Session Eight
“Evangelizing Roman Catholics”
Speaker: Mike Gendron
Presented: Sunday AM, May 19th, 2019

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Former Catholics for Christ Conference: Session #7: “What Roman Catholics Are Taught”

Today, we continue with our video series from the recent Former Catholics for Christ Conference, which was held at the Southern View Chapel in Springfield, Illinois this past May 17-19.

Below is the video of the seventh presentation of the conference, titled…

“What Roman Catholics Are Taught”
Speakers: Tim Kauffman and Cecil Andrews
Presented: Sunday AM, May 19th, 2019

Former Catholics for Christ Conference: Session #6: Question & Answer Panel

Today, we continue with our video series from the recent Former Catholics for Christ Conference, which was held at the Southern View Chapel in Springfield, Illinois this past May 17-19.

Below is the video of the sixth presentation of the conference, which was a…

Question & Answer Panel
Panelists: Cecil Andrews; Mike Gendron; Rob Zins; Tim Kauffman
Presented: Saturday PM, May 18th, 2019

This is an excellent Q&A session featuring the four conference presenters. The microphone shared by Zins and Kauffman is not operational so you’ll have to turn up your volume when those brothers speak. One qualification: In the course of the Q&A, Rob Zins makes a few critical remarks in which he mentions Steve Lawson in connection with the “Lordship Salvation” controversy. I respect Zins quite a bit, but I don’t believe he’s presenting the views of Lawson with complete accuracy on this issue. Steve Lawson DOES NOT teach that works are a part of salvation, but teaches, as does God’s Word, that a person who has genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone will bear fruit.