Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 8/31/19

We’ve been watching the increasing polarization within the Roman Catholic church since the day progressive pope Francis was elected. Bergoglio’s pragmatic strategy, to “bend” and de-emphasize doctrine in order to make the church more appealing and viable in an increasingly secular world, is anathema to rigid church traditionalists and conservatives.

This new television show from CBS debuts Sept. 26 and will feature a team of three characters, including a Catholic seminarian, who “investigate the (Catholic) Church’s backlog of unexplained mysteries.” In light of the scandal tsunami involving abusive priests and their enabling superiors that’s currently overwhelming the RCC, the team may want to start their investigation into “evil” at the closest Catholic diocesan office.

Disaffected Catholics are shaken by the scandals that are rocking their church. Pray that many will leave Catholicism and trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone.

Last February, pope Francis and the Muslim Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, co-signed the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,” which states that a “pluralism and diversity” of religions is “willed by God.” This newly appointed multi-faith committee will pursue inter-religious dialogue and cooperation in accordance with the goals of the February document. There’s no sign of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in any of this.

Because of their church’s teaching that Mary and thousands of dead “saints” act as spiritual mediators, Catholics are especially susceptible to full-blown necromancy aka spiritualism. I’ll be submitting a post on this topic in a couple of weeks.

Readers of church history know that the Waldensians were a proto-Reformation group that got their start in France and Italy in the 12th century. They were brutally persecuted by the Catholic church. However, the Waldensians drifted into Bible-denying liberalism and modernism decades ago. Pope Francis keeps trying to apologize to the Waldensians on behalf of the RCC, but they won’t accept.

Steve at Triablogue has some good thoughts regarding the evolution of Catholicism.

Catholic “visionaries” are constantly coming forward with claims of new appearances by Mary that Catholic bishops must examine for “authenticity.” There’s no sign of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in any of this.

Netflix will be releasing “The Two Popes” on December 20th and the trailer can be accessed via the article above. From the trailer, this appears to be a pro-Francis puff piece that contrasts Benedict XVI’s fondness for cold doctrine and elaborate ceremony with Francis’ “warm humanity.” Yes, but what about Jesus Christ?

Hipster mega-churches must constantly be on the outlook for breaking new trends in order to remain on the “cutting edge.”

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Watch out for the proverbial “rebound”!

Rebound

That word has some negative connotations as well as some positive ones. Here’s a few negative examples:

After a failed relationship, an “emotionally needy” person who immediately jumps into another relationship without much, if any, careful consideration is said to be “on the rebound.” Also, after dropping some pounds, many dieters “rebound” and put all the weight back on, plus more!

A couple of months ago, I completed a 16-week-long diet campaign in which I lost 30 lbs. I was pretty happy about that and tooted my horn a bit with three posts about the experience as a potential motivator for others. But, from past diet experiences, I also knew exactly what was coming down the road. It’s a given. The body, a wondrous, God-designed and God-created “biomachine” is always seeking equilibrium. Lose thirty pounds and the body will fight “tooth and nail” to get those highly desirable, fuel-source fat cells right back on.

Losing all that weight took some discipline and effort. During my diet, I avoided many of my favorite high-calorie snacks and meals. But once I reached my goal, I rationalized that I could relax the discipline, treat myself “here and there,” and still maintain my new weight. Well, you know the story. A little ice cream and a few chips “here and there” was slowly morphing back again into a regular habit. Thankfully, I continued to weigh myself daily after I had achieved my goal and a trend showing the consequences of my relaxed eating habits began to emerge on my iPhone’s health app’s weight graph (see photo above). Fluctuating a few pounds up and down around a target/maintenance weight is fine, but I was on a steep trajectory to Yo-Yo Diet Land. OK. No need to panic. I caught it early. I ramped up my exercise regimen and ramped down my increasingly careless and undisciplined eating habits.

Spiritual application

Christians are spiritually reborn in Jesus Christ and we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, BUT we also still have our old sin natures and still live in a fallen world. There’s a spiritual battle going on around us every day and we can easily become neutralized and sidelined by the enemy. We’re always being tempted to “rebound” back to sin.

Just as a dieter (and former dieter) needs to hop on the scale each morning to gauge the stark truth about their physical weight, we need to get into God’s Word daily, which the Holy Spirit will use as a mirror to show us our true spiritual condition. Then there’s communing with the Lord throughout the day in prayer. There’s also worship with fellow believers at church on Sunday and admonition and exhortation from God’s Word from the pastor. I’m also grateful for my fellow believers here at WordPress for their exhortations and encouragement. In addition, my wife and I have a daily devotion time and we also provide “loving” (well, most of the time) feedback to each other about the reality of our spiritual condition.

Argh! Just like the unflattering data from the scale, that’s not always information that I enjoy, but I do need honesty regarding my walk with the Lord. Is there a fellow Christian in your life who encourages you and provides honest feedback? I could not stay on track with my health regimen without the honest feedback of our bathroom scale and I could not follow the Lord faithfully without daily Bible reading and communing with the Lord in prayer, and fellowshipping with other believers.

Postscript: Having discipline in our Christian walk is a good and necessary thing, but always keep in mind that our walk with the Lord is a relationship rather than a check-list.

“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” – Hebrews 4:11-13

Throwback Thursday: ECT – Toward a Common Mission of Apostasy

Welcome to this week’s edition of “Throwback Thursday.” For today’s installment, we’re revisiting a post that was originally published back on September 19th, 2015 and has been slightly revised.

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Evangelicals & Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission
Charles Colson, Richard John Neuhaus, editors
Word Publishing, 1995, 236 pages

1 Star

Before I begin discussing this book, I’d like to provide a little background. In the late 1970s, influential evangelical theologian, Francis Schaeffer, challenged American pastors and para-church leaders to enter the political arena in order to “reclaim America for Jesus!” Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and other popular figures picked up the gauntlet, determined to stem the tide of “secular humanism.” Evangelicals soon found themselves as co-belligerents with conservative Roman Catholics in culture and morality battles. Predictably, political alliances paved the way for religious accommodation and compromise. Irreconcilable doctrinal distinctives were overlooked and some evangelicals began to accept unabashed salvation-by-merit Catholics as “brothers in Christ.”

Bombastic Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority eventually flamed out, but another evangelical would soon carry the ecumenical torch. Chuck Colson had been Special Counsel to President Nixon, but his involvement in the Watergate scandal landed him in prison where he claimed to have had a born-again experience. His 1975 memoir, “Born Again,” was a national bestseller and launched Colson’s new career as a popular para-church leader. Taking his cue from C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity,” ecumenism became increasingly dear to Colson’s heart.*

In 1994, Colson and Catholic priest, Richard John Neuhaus, began “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” (ECT), an ecumenical project calling for evangelicals and Catholics to unite in the battle against secular humanism and to recognize each other as Christians. The organization’s 1994 declaration was signed by a number of influential evangelicals and Catholics. However, a number of other evangelical leaders voiced their strong opposition to the declaration, which embraced works-righteousness Catholicism as a Christian entity and called for an end to evangelizing Catholics.

This book, “Evangelicals & Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission,” was published in 1995 to explain and defend the controversial ECT declaration. The evangelical contributors were Colson, Mark Noll, and J. I. Packer, and the Roman Catholic contributors were George Weigel and priests Avery Dulles and Neuhaus.

I really don’t care to expend too much energy reviewing the details of this book. In my view it’s a tragedy from the first page to the last. The three evangelicals who participated flagrantly accommodate error and compromise the truth. What is the Gospel? For genuine evangelicals faithful to God’s Word, the Gospel is salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. In contrast, the Catholic gospel is salvation by sacramental grace and merit. The two views are irreconcilable and cannot be bridged. Colson and Noll heard Catholics concede that “salvation is by (sacramental) grace through faith” and eagerly jumped the gun, declaring, “Close enough,” yet also knowing full well that Catholics actually adhere to “cooperation with grace,” aka merit or works, as an essential component in their salvation system. Packer? He correctly writes that if any Catholics are saved, they are saved IN SPITE of their church’s standard theology, but he’s willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

“And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” – Romans 11:6

ECT went on to publish several additional declarations over the years (via Neuhaus’ conservative Catholic and ecumenical journal, “First Things”), although it faded from view after the deaths of Neuhaus in 2009 and Colson in 2012. But, regrettably, Colson did accomplish some of what he set out to do. He would be pleased that works-righteousness Catholicism has been embraced as a Christian entity by a large number of Gospel-compromising evangelical pastors and their followers.

*I’m speculating that Chuck Colson’s great desire to unite evangelicals and Catholics was at least partially motivated by his 48-year marriage to Patty Hughes Colson, a “devout” Roman Catholic. Colson regularly attended mass with his Catholic wife. To see more on Colson’s proclivity for Roman error, see here.

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Partners in ecumenism: Chuck Colson, left, and priest, Richard John Neuhaus

The Top Ten Christians of All Time!

Yes, it’s time to rank the Top Ten Christians of all time. So without any further ado, let’s get started:

#10

#9

#8

#7

#6

#5

#4

#3

#2

#1

What? A blank list of the “Top Ten Christians of All Time”? Yup, and you probably already know where this post is going.

A couple of Sundays ago, I was walking out of one of our local grocery supermarkets and a headline on the front of the local Sunday newspaper caught my eye; “Buffalo Bills: Who are the Top 100 players in franchise history?” We’re headed toward the start of the NFL football season and Rochester is in the middle of Bills country, so a headline like that is a good ploy to sell newspapers.

Unbelieving culture always tends to think in terms of Top Ten or Top 100 lists and who or what is the best at some particular occupation or function. It’s a competitive world out there and people are always trying to be at the head of the pack because that translates into prestige and $$$.

But Christians know that Jesus Christ was quite counter-cultural in His teachings.

“So the last will be first, and the first last.” – Matthew 20:16

Jesus came to save and to serve and exhorts those He has saved to also serve others in many ways, but most importantly, by giving out the Gospel to the lost. There are none who are righteous, according to the Bible, and saved souls do not have a single plea of their own except for the imputed, perfect righteousness of their Savior, Jesus Christ. A list of “Top Ten Christians” is really a contradiction in terms.

The world’s Top Ten and Top 100 lists can be interesting and even helpful in a practical way when it comes to the most effective, reliable, and pleasing consumer products, but the rankings of people according to some scale of greatness should ring hollow to a believer. All talents and capabilities are gifts from the Lord.

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 1:31

“For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” – Luke 16:15

Now, there are some religious groups that do boldly lift certain people up as “great.” Roman Catholicism, for example, canonizes certain people as “saints,” meaning they allegedly achieved an extraordinarily high level of sanctity in their lifetime. There are unofficial lists of the church’s greatest saints and greatest popes, but that type of thinking follows worldly models rather than the humble example of Jesus Christ.

Regrettably, there are times when genuine believers ape the world’s thinking and exalt certain pastors or para-church leaders in the same way the world exalts its movie star celebrities. We should avoid puffing up others and ourselves with pride.

Twisted logic from an ecumenically-minded evangelical

Over the years, I’ve engaged with many Roman Catholics and ecumenically-minded evangelicals who took umbrage at my outreach to Roman Catholics with the Gospel of grace.

One incensed, ecumenically-minded, evangelical blogger smugly put it to me this way:

“Going to a Catholic church doesn’t make anybody a non-Christian, just like sitting in a pew at a Baptist church doesn’t make anybody a Christian.”

Well, that argument is a logical fallacy. Yes, we certainly agree that just by attending church services or by being a member of a particular religious denomination or church doesn’t make anyone a Christian. According to the Bible, God’s Word, an individual becomes a Christian only when they repent of (turn from) their sinful rebellion against God and accept (trust in) Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. A person must be born-again, spiritually reborn in Jesus Christ, in order to become a Christian.

Many of the old mainline Protestant denominations drifted into modernism many decades ago and no longer teach that the Bible is God’s Word and no longer preach the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. People who still bother to attend those dead churches are not going to hear the Gospel. But thankfully, there are still many conservative-evangelical Baptist, Presbyterian, old-school Lutheran, and non-denominational churches where the genuine Gospel of grace is preached. At least unsaved people who attend those churches will have the opportunity to hear the Gospel. They must then decide whether to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior or not.

In the case of Roman Catholic churches, the Gospel is NEVER preached in ANY of them. Roman Catholicism teaches a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Catholics are taught by their priests that they must receive graces from the church’s sacraments, so that they can successfully obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!), in order to hopefully merit their salvation at the moment of their death. That is a false gospel, NOT the genuine Gospel!

There are certainly some individuals who still identify as Roman Catholic who have genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone after hearing the Gospel of grace from a Christian friend, by reading a Gospel tract, by hearing a Christian preacher on television or radio, or by reading God’s Word themselves and responding in faith. But their salvation in Jesus Christ by faith alone is always, always, always in spite of their church’s teachings and not because of them. As they grow in Christ and His Word, the Holy Spirit will draw them out of the false (c)hristianity of Catholicism.

So, my indignant, ecumenically-minded, evangelical friend, I totally agree with you that sitting in a church pew Sunday after Sunday makes no one a Christian, BUT that doesn’t preclude the fact that the 1.3 billion souls who sit in the pews of Catholic churches around the world NEVER get to hear the genuine Gospel of grace from their church’s pulpit. Many evangelicals today just don’t know a lot about the particular teachings of the Catholic church and wrongly interpret Gospel outreach to Catholics as sectarian intolerance.

The battle of the signs!

Last week, I took a trip to the Tops grocery store at the Panorama Plaza shopping center that’s near us and I happened to glance over at the Alpha and Omega Christian bookstore, also located at the plaza and right next to a GNC (General Nutrition Center) store, and the notion popped into my head to add a little something below the A&O sign in response to the GNC sign.

Many people nowadays are absolutely consumed with diet and fitness, as if they’re trying to stave off their inevitable demise. I mean, there’s people who spend a fortune at GNC every week on vitamins, protein powders, etc. Gyms are popping up everywhere and have become the temples of this new religion of staving off mortality. A healthy diet and some exercise are great, but if you haven’t trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and walk with Him daily, you’re just NOT “living well” and you have no real hope. The ol’ body’s gonna peter out eventually; it’s a forgone conclusion no matter how many reps you do or how many alfalfa sprout smoothies you drink.

“For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” – 1 Timothy 4:8

Postscript One: Please, no irate letters! I’m not a huge fan of quasi-(c)hristian bookstores, which peddle a LOT of heterodoxy. This particular store stocks quite a few books from TBN prosperity gospel types and also has a Catholic section. But at least they do sell Bibles and “some” books from solid evangelical writers.

Postscript Two: Yup, my version of photoshop is pretty basic!

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 8/24/19

Rochester Jesuit priest, William O’Malley, was the “toast of the town” after he appeared in the popular 1973 film, “The Exorcist.” O’Malley was teaching at McQuaid, the “prestigious” local Jesuit high school for boys, when he wrote a favorable review of the horror novel, “The Exorcist.” The book’s author, William Peter Blatty, took notice and a friendship ensued, which eventually led to O’Malley’s role in the film adaptation. A former McQuaid student has recently filed a lawsuit in conjunction with the Child Victim Act, charging that O’Malley, now 88, sexually abused him multiple times in 1985 and 1986, before the priest was unceremoniously whisked away to Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York City. Whenever I watch a movie or television show that includes an exorcism by a Catholic priest, I always quip to whoever’s listening that the priest character is actually more dangerous than the demon.

Cardinal George Pell, the former Vatican finance minister, lost his appeal in Australian court and must serve his 6-year prison sentence for sexually abusing children. Catholics are shaken by the recent revelations that even their bishops and cardinals were preying on children.

Pope Francis talks about cracking down on pedophile priests and their enablers, but Richard Malone is STILL the Catholic bishop of Buffalo, New York, ten-months after the investigative journalism television show, “60 Minutes,” outed him as a serial-enabler. Buffalo-area Catholics are dumbfounded.

In last weekend’s round up, I posted that a whopping 69% of Roman Catholics do not believe in their church’s transubstantiation doctrine, instead believing that the consecrated wafer and wine are merely symbolic. As might be expected, the reaction in the Catholic media this past week was one of anguish and despair. Catholics generally don’t go to obligatory Sunday mass, don’t go to obligatory confession, don’t believe in transubstantiation, and use banned contraceptives.

This is another article about American Protestants’ supposedly irrational paranoia in previous centuries in regards to Catholic immigrants, with no mention whatsoever of the larger context involving the severe persecution of Protestants in Catholic-dominated countries.

Catholics are famously known for being “anti-abortion,” yet surveys reveal the Catholic membership supports abortion to the same degree as the general public.

A large percentage of Catholic priests and prelates view the Bible as myth and allegory rather than God’s literal Word.

The pedophile priests and cover-up scandal tsunami has shaken the confidence of millions of U.S. Catholics in their institutional church. May many of them turn to Jesus Christ and the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone.

This past week, the blogger at “Triablogue” posted this informative article about Catholicism’s false doctrine of Purgatory.

It’s sadly comical how some evangelical churches play follow-the-leader and also put up shiplap behind the pulpit in an effort to appear as  non-traditional trendy and “edgy.” I’ve even seen dilapidated commercial wooden pallets secured to church interior walls as an economy version. Huh?

Remembering the Summer of 1969: Part 2 – the Manson Murders

This past Wednesday, we took a look back fifty-years ago to the heady days of the summer of 1969, when many young people naively saw the Woodstock music festival as a part of the dawning of a new era of peace, love, and universal brotherhood. See here. But just one week prior to the festival, a communal hippie “family” was wreaking havoc twenty-eight hundred miles away in Los Angeles, California; a calamity that would subsequently help to deflate the dreams of the “Woodstock Nation.”

Charles Manson (1934-2017) had been in and out of prisons throughout his young life, beginning in 1951 at the age of seventeen. When he was released from prison in 1967, he had spent more than half of his life behind bars. Manson, a charismatic personality, gradually attracted a large number of followers to his clan, mostly young, female runaways. Manson convinced his impressionable disciples that he was the “second coming” of both Jesus Christ and Satan, and they submitted to his absolute control. In Manson’s twisted mind, he believed the United States was headed towards a race war and that his role was to incite it.

An aspiring singer, songwriter, and musician,* Manson had previously been rejected by influential LA record producer, Terry Melcher (producer of five of the Byrds’ twelve albums). On August 8th, Manson sent four of his communal “family” members to Melcher’s former home to murder the occupants as part of his race-war strategy and probably also to instill fear into Melcher. Actress, Sharon Tate, eight-months pregnant, and four others were brutally killed. The following evening, Manson drove the same four followers plus two others to another house, eleven miles from the previous homicide, where they murdered a married couple and staged the scene as another faux racial attack.

Following the two grisly “events,” the entire Los Angeles area went into panic mode. The police investigation was slow going, but clues eventually led to the Manson clan and arrests were finally made in the first week of December 1969. The trial began on June 15, 1970 and the proceedings turned into a daily media circus with Manson and his brainwashed followers performing on cue for the press. But on January 25, 1971, Manson and the direct perpetrators of the LA murders were convicted and subsequently sent to prison for life.

The young people of the nation scratched their heads. Hippies living in communes were NOT supposed to be mass-murderers. The Manson murders revealed the Aquarian ideal of peace, love, and universal brotherhood had a very dark underside. In addition to the Manson killings, the Altamont Free Concert festival, held on December 6, 1969, which was planned as a “West Coast Woodstock,” was also marked by violence and murder.

The hope of the Aquarian dream of the summer of 1969 turned out to be a mirage. But there is real hope and His name is Jesus Christ! The Bible, God’s Word, says that we are all sinners and that we all deserve eternal punishment. But God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to earth, lived a perfect life, and died for our sins on the cross. But He rose from the grave, defeating sin and death, and now offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all those who repent of their sin and accept Him as Savior by faith alone. Won’t you trust in Jesus?

Postscript One: Convicted Manson family killers, Charles “Tex” Watson and Susan Atkins both professed to have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior while in prison. I read Atkins’ book, “Child of Satan, Child of God,” thirty years ago. She died in prison in 2009. Were Atkins’ and Watson’s professions of faith genuine? I don’t know, but I do know Jesus Christ will save ANYONE who repents of their sin and trusts in Him as their Savior by faith alone.

Postscript Two: The entire nation was shocked fifty-years ago by the brutal and ritualistic Manson “family” murders, but murder has since become quite commonplace in the United States. There were 17,000 murders in the U.S. in 2017. Mass-shootings are becoming an everyday occurrence. As of Aug. 5, there have been 255 mass shootings in the U.S. this year. And let’s not forget the GENOCIDE of 60,000,000 babies killed since Roe v. Wade in 1973.

*Two rock artists who had tried to help Manson land a recording contract were Dennis Wilson (d. 1983) of the Beach Boys and Neil Young.

Throwback Thursday: The Dark Side of the Papacy

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment! Today, we’re revisiting a post that was first published back on September 22nd, 2015 and has been slightly re-edited.

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Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy
By Peter De Rosa
Crown Publishing, 1988, 484 pages

3 Stars

The Roman Catholic church presents a fanciful, pollyannaish, idealized version of itself as the “one true church,” perpetually guided by the Holy Spirit through an infallible pope from an unbroken line of apostolic succession all the way back to Peter, the alleged first bishop of Rome. But history tells quite another story.

In “The Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy,” former Jesuit priest, Peter De Rosa, plays the “devil’s advocate” by examining the role of the papacy throughout history. Credulous Catholic readers will be shocked to learn that many popes were devoted only to furthering their political, financial, and ecclesiastical power by whatever means necessary. De Rosa refutes claims to divine guidance and papal infallibility by recalling the early church’s metamorphosis into an all-powerful, authoritarian institution which initiated the Crusades, the Inquisition, the persecution of Galileo (an unbreachable repudiation of infallibility), mandatory clerical celibacy, condemnation of civil democracies and freedom of religion, and the ban on contraceptives. Further historical embarrassments for the papacy and the RCC include:

  • Previous popes were sometimes denounced as heretics by their successors.
  • For centuries, popes reigned over a church that was ferociously anti-Semitic.
  • The Bible was placed on the Catholic church’s Index of Forbidden Books.
  • In their personal affairs, popes were often paragons of avarice and debauchery.

When this book was written, De Rosa was not privy to the pedophile priests and cover-up scandal tsunami that followed and that has rocked Catholicism to its foundations.

De Rosa is not an academic historian (no footnotes), but he credits a lengthy bibliography of scholarly sources. Intransigent Catholic traditionalists have slandered this book, but the muck is just too deep to overcome.* What is liberal Catholic De Rosa’s aim in exposing the papacy’s dark side? By demonstrating that the alleged vicars of Christ were not divinely guided, the author hopes Catholics will realize many of the current controversial dogmas (ban on contraceptives, clerical celibacy, male-only hierarchy, exclusion of remarried divorcees from the sacraments, etc.) are concocted traditions without foundation that the hierarchy perpetuates to its own peril.

De Rosa pines for the liberality of pope John XXIII who “threw open the windows of the church” at Vatican II. But the church is reluctant to abandon its allegedly inspired doctrines for fear of losing credibility, for Rome has always boasted that it never changes. But didn’t Rome once teach that everyone not baptized a Catholic would go to hell? The current pope, Francis, now says even atheists will go to heaven if they lead “good” lives. Of course! If works are the means to salvation as Catholicism teaches then, taken to its logical conclusion, everyone who tries to lead a “good life” will merit heaven. So why should Catholics bother with their scrupulously legalistic religion if even atheists are “good to go”? Recent surveys reveal 75% of Catholics wonder the same thing and no longer bother to attend obligatory Sunday mass. But the house of cards came down decades ago for many Catholics when pope Paul VI forbade all forms of contraception while eagerly endorsing the natural family planning (aka rhythm) method. Most married Catholics legitimately asked, “What’s the difference?”

What is an evangelical Christian to make of the “Vicars of Christ”? Despite exposing the dark side of his church’s history, De Rosa is still an advocate of Rome’s salvation system of sacramental grace and merit with priests as the ordained mediators between God and men. The Catholic church’s story is that of early-Christianity’s transformation into a legalistic, authoritarian institution whose cruelties, depravities, and corruption eventually overshadowed even pagan Rome.

The Reformers abandoned the legalism and ritualism of Catholicism and reclaimed the beliefs of the early church, which were based upon the scriptural Good News of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Unlike pope Francis who preaches Universal salvation for all who are “good,” the Reformers pointed to the Bible, which proclaims that there are none who are good or righteous and can earn their way to heaven (Romans 3:10). But the Good News! is God so loved the world that He gave His Son to die for our sins, and that whoever places their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone will not perish, but will have eternal life (John 3:16).

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*Since the above post was written four years ago, several conservative Roman Catholics have written books which cite embarrassing and unflattering episodes in their church’s history. An absolutely amazing development! Their strategy? By showing that the church has survived corrupt and/or heretical prelates in the past, the authors contend that the church will also survive the heterodoxy of progressive pope Francis.

Remembering the Summer of 1969: Part 1 – Woodstock

I grew up during the turbulent 1960s and I can remember that decade very well. Just about every day, there seemed to be something in the news about the Civil Rights movement, the war in Vietnam, or the burgeoning youth/counter culture movement.

Towards the end of the decade, young people had the optimistic hope that the old institutions were crumbling and that we were all heading into a new and marvelous era of peace, love, and universal brotherhood. In books, films, and music, especially music, writers and artists were anticipating this coming Age of Aquarius.

“But the age of truth will soon appear, Aquarius arrives…”
– from “Right Between the Eyes” by Graham Nash, written in 1968

A pop song, “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” caught the imagination of the entire country just prior to the summer of 1969:

“When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius
The Age of Aquarius
Aquarius! Aquarius!
Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation
Aquarius! Aquarius!

Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” was originally written by Rado, Ragni, and MacDermot for the 1967 Broadway musical, “Hair,” but The 5th Dimension’s rendition caught the imagination of young people across America. The single was released in March 1969 and reached the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart where it stayed for six weeks in April and May.

I had just turned thirteen in the summer of 1969 and I was somewhat aware of the Woodstock music festival in Bethel, New York, about 230 miles southeast of Rochester, which was fully-billed as the “Woodstock Music and Art Fair – an Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music.” The festival ran from August 15 to 18, and back in Rochester we heard daily reports on the television news that weekend about the New York State Thruway being shut down by the logjam of cars belonging to the festival goers.

When I returned to my Catholic grammar school in September, our resident eighth-grade hippie classmate, Bill DeFraine (d. 2016), was exuberant about the Woodstock “happening,” but was short on details. Those would come later with the release of the documentary film, “Woodstock” on March 26, 1970 and the triple-album, “Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More” on May 11, 1970.

There’s no need to get into the nitty-gritty details of the festival for our purposes except to note that thirty-two music acts had performed during the weekend in front of almost half-a-million concertgoers. Crosby, Stills, and Nash (and sometimes Young) would leverage their Woodstock appearance into becoming the “voice of a generation.”

“We are stardust, we are golden,
We are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.”
– from “Woodstock” by Joni Mitchell and popularized by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young* with their single version, released in March, 1970, which peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

There was no sign of the Gospel of Jesus Christ at the festival. It goes without saying that few of the 400,000+ attendees (or the musical performers for that matter) were actually full-bore, new-age Aquarian astrologists, but most readily supported the festival’s faux-spirituality of “wine, women, and song,” including the nebulous notion of “universal brotherhood.”

Woodstock is now just a 50-year-old memory and many of the young people who attended the event subsequently became part of the very “establishment” they had previously claimed to abhor. The natural man is constantly searching and flailing about for some type of meaning to life and the universe, and the faux Age of Aquarius and the Woodstock Nation were just two more false hopes among countless others.

Jesus Christ is the ONLY Salvation and Hope. Learn about Him and trust in Him as your Savior. He doesn’t go out of style. He’s the eternal Rock Who never fails.

How can I be saved?
https://www.gotquestions.org/how-can-I-be-saved.html

Woodstock symbolized the idealistic hope of young people in 1969-70 and was widely believed to be part of the dawning of a new era of peace, love, and universal brotherhood. But the highly anticipated Age of Aquarius wasn’t to be. A few other events in August, 1969 took a lot of the luster off of the idealism of the “Woodstock Nation” that we’ll discuss on Friday.

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” – 1 Corinthians 2:14

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Above: Woodstock’s official poster, advertising the event as an Aquarian exposition

*Quite revealingly, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, who had harmonized about peace, love, and brotherhood at Woodstock in 1969, did not reunite for their 50th anniversary this year because, basically, they can’t stand to even be in the same room together.