Ecumenicity, Evangelicals, and Rome

Ecumenicity, Evangelicals, and Rome
By John Warwick Montgomery, Ph.D.
Zondervan, 1969, 113 pp.

2 Stars

While reading a booklet on the errors of Catholicism, “What’s Happening in the Roman Church?: A Report from Rome” by William C. Standridge (see my review here), I took note of the author’s favorable reference to what looked to be an interesting book, “Ecumenicity, Evangelicals, and Rome” and immediately ordered a copy from an Amazon third-party used book seller.

At the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the Catholic church changed its stance regarding Protestants from confrontational militancy to conciliatory cooperation. Protestant theologians were quite surprised by the dramatic change and many were eager to enter into ecumenical dialogue with the RCC.

In this book, published in 1969, John Warwick Montgomery (1931-, photo right), a theologian affiliated with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), takes a look at the rising tide of Protestant ecumenism with Rome.

Friends, I’m a Theology 101 type of guy and this book was written for Theology 401 types. The academese is so thick that the lay reader must use a fork and knife to labor through it. Difficulties aside, what I catch from the grandiloquent prose is that Montgomery definitely favors dialogue with Rome. However, he doesn’t view ecumenical discussions as accommodation and compromise, but supposedly as opportunities to witness on behalf of the genuine Gospel of grace to Roman Catholic theologians with their false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit (p. 42). What Montgomery and other overly-optimistic and naive evangelical theologians failed to consider was that ecumenical dialogue is a two-way street and Roman Catholic theologians also relished opportunities to advance their false gospel.

Below are the chapters of the book with some comments from myself:

  • Evangelical Unity and Contemporary Ecumenicity

The author notes the change to the RCC’s approach to Protestants and argues for the value of ecumenical dialogue as a chance to witness for the Gospel. Montgomery strangely devotes several pages to complimenting Eastern Orthodoxy for its emphasis on subjective mysticism, but he ultimately rejects it in favor of the absolute authority of God’s Word.

  • Sixtus of Siena and Roman Catholic Scholarship in the Reformation Period

Montgomery is highly complimentary of Catholic theologian, Sixtus of Siena (1520-1569), and his encyclopedic overview of the Bible in his “Bibliotheca Sancta” (1566), but finally renounces the scholarship of Sixtus for his intellectual approach to Scripture rather than embracing the spiritual message of the Gospel therein.

  • The Approach of New Shape Roman Catholicism to Scriptural Inerrancy: A Case Study for Evangelicals

Montgomery notes the rise of “New Shape” theologians within the Catholic church by which higher-criticism/modernism was introduced into the RCC in the 20th century. As a result, Catholic theologians (and also, prelates and priests) increasingly viewed the Bible as myth and allegory rather than God’s literal Word.

  • Rome and the “Death of God”

Modernist RCC theologians of the “New Shape” argued that the church was “progressively unfolding” and was not anchored to “ancient manuscripts” (i.e., the Bible). The RCC’s untethering from Scripture has always allowed it to place its magisterium and its evolving “sacred traditions” above God’s Word.

  • Three Reviews: Hans Kung, Alonzo Schokel, Nathan Soderblom

Montgomery cites three books that were influential in promoting ecumenism and points out their particular faults.

This is a VERY strange book. Montgomery welcomes ecumenical dialogue while simultaneously warning against Rome’s heterodoxies. Via the efforts of theologians like Montgomery, ecumenism gained a foothold within evangelicalism and eventually reached a point where the author’s cautions and objections back in 1969 were no longer voiced or even considered (see William Lane Craig, Ravi Zacharias, Lee Strobel, etc.). Ecumenism with Rome always, always, always results in accommodation, compromise, and betrayal of the Gospel. What looked to be an interesting book turned out to be a big disappointment.

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Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 9/28/19

This, friends, is breathtaking! The headline and accompanying photo above say it all. Gospel Christians have always been aware of the Biblically-prophesied, one-world, false religious system that would arise at the end times, however, even just sixty-years ago, the possibility seemed to be extremely remote. This generation of believers is witnessing the laying of the cornerstone of that system. And, no surprise, pope Francis is the prime mover.

Jesuit priest, James Martin, is progressive Catholicism’s crusader for full acceptance of the gay lifestyle within the RCC. Elderly conservative Catholic archbishop, Charles Chaput, protests that Martin’s pro-LGBT campaign can’t be reconciled with the Bible or with Catholic “sacred tradition,” but those “inconveniences” won’t stop Martin or his progressive allies. I rarely draw same-issue comparisons between the RCC and evangelical churches, but we can expect to see some “evangelical” churches caving to LGBT pressure in the future.

Francis walks a tightrope with conservative Catholics wishing for a return to preconcilior militantism while progressive German Catholic prelates flirt with throwing all the rules out the window.

After having not regularly attended mass for about a decade, I returned around 1979 or 1980, to this parish in Henrietta N.Y., in order to establish our two young boys in the Catholic religion. The “fly-in-the-ointment” was that I was also reading the New Testament at that time. The Holy Spirit revealed to me from God’s Word that the Catholic mass and many other of Catholicism’s doctrines were incompatible with Scripture. I stopped attending mass after only a few months and finally repented of my sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as my Savior by faith alone in 1983.

In this article, the writer, an unbeliever, reprimands American evangelicals for shifting their focus from the Gospel to temporal concerns. It’s especially shameful when unbelievers have to remind us of what our mission is.

The Catholic diocese of Rochester declared bankruptcy on 9/12/19 in order to minimize payouts to victims of pedophile priests. Rochester was the first domino to fall. How many of the other seven dioceses in the state will follow?

Irate Buffalo Catholics have launched an advertising campaign asking their fellow pew-sitters to withhold contributions to the RCC until the Buffalo bishop, Richard Malone, an outed serial abuse-enabler, is ousted. These frustrated Catholics need to trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone and leave the corrupt RCC.

How does prosperity-gospeler, Osteen, explain tragedy and suffering entering into the lives of his fellow Houstonians after they’ve been so faithful in contributing their “seed faith” money to his Lakewood church?

The Catholic Merit Game!

Back when I attended Catholic grammar school from 1961 to 1970, the nuns were quite clear about the church’s teaching on how a person could possibly attain Heaven. Yes, the church’s sacraments were important, but it was mostly about obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules. Merit was THE KEY to attaining Heaven. The emphasis was on merit, merit, and more merit.

Merit has since became somewhat of “stepchild” word within Catholicism. Is that development an ecumenical accommodation to Protestant sensibilities? I’ve even had Catholics who don’t know their own religion send in comments to this blog angrily insisting that Catholics are not attempting to merit their salvation. Yes, Catholics are absolutely still taught that they must merit their salvation as per the paragraph below and others similar to it in their catechism:

“Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2010

However, the emphasis these days is much more on the supposed graces received via the sacraments, which are alleged to enable a person to hopefully merit their salvation.

Our sister at Biblical Beginnings recently came across an excellent example of the era when I grew up when the Catholic church was much less circumspect about the role of merit in Catholic theology. There was actually a board game called “Merit: The Catholic Game,” which was designed by Edward J. Agnew in 1962 and sold by Educational Research Corp.

I did a little research on the internet and found that the game was somewhat based on Monopoly, but with Catholic themes:

“In “Merit,” two to four players work to build the six key properties (Church , Convent, Seminary, Catholic Charities, School and Foreign Missions) while maintaining their level of merits (700 points) and obtaining six of the seven sacraments. The first player to return home with the required six sacraments and at least 700 merit points after the six properties are built wins the game. The question deck is filled with pre-Vatican II trivia, but also has cards that offer the player a chance to advance via deeds rather than answers (e.g., a card that allows the player to go to any square if they promise to say the rosary).” See the article here.

So, “Merit” was a board game aimed at a Catholic audience, which unabashedly reinforced the teachings of the Catholic church, that its members needed to merit their salvation through the sacraments and obedience/good works.

I’m so grateful to the Lord for leading me out of works-righteousness Roman Catholicism and revealing to me the Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone! Won’t you repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone, also? Nowadays, merit is “somewhat” downplayed as a prime element of Roman salvation theology, but if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig, and, yes, merit is STILL the bottom line for Roman Catholics.

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Postscript: It’s quite ironic that Matthew 18:3 appears on the cover of this game: “Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (NABRE). The simple, saving, childlike faith in Jesus Christ as Savior that the verse refers to is the antithesis of complex Roman legalism and ritualism.

Throwback Thursday: Another evangelical pastor caves to ecumenical apostasy

Welcome to this week’s edition of “Throwback Thursday.” For today’s installment, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on October 3th, 2015 and has been slightly revised.

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Back in 2010, Pastor Robert Jeffress (photo above) of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas stated the Catholic church was an apostate church corrupted by the pagan Babylonian mystery religion:

“It is that Babylonian mystery religion that infected the early church, one of the churches it infected was the church of Pergamos, which is one of the recipients of the Book of Revelation. And the early church was corrupted by this Babylonian mystery religion, and today the Roman Catholic Church is the result of that corruption.”

Hear Jeffress’ 2010 remarks about the Catholic church here.

Now, let’s fast forward to 9/24/15. During pope Francis’ visit to America at that time, Jeffress appeared on Fox News’ Sean Hannity Show and revealed quite a change in his views on Catholicism:

“I have great respect for Pope Francis. He’s a humble Christ follower. We all can learn from himWith the differences we might have with Pope Francis on some of these secondary issues, I’m not going to quibble about that because, here’s the fact, as this world becomes increasingly darker I find myself having much more in common with my Catholic friends than I even do with liberal Baptists because the fact is we are fighting together against a common enemy, the kingdom of darkness.”

See the video of Jeffress’ 2015 remarks about pope Francis and the Catholic church here.

Wow! Jeffress radically changed his views between 2010 and 2015 and compromised the Gospel of grace by joining a number of other evangelical pastors in embracing works-righteousness Catholics as co-belligerents and fellow-Christians in the conservative political crusade to “Reclaim America for Jesus.” At some point in those five years, Jeffress decided that temporal American political concerns were more important than the Gospel. Shame on him. Lost Catholic souls need the Gospel of grace, NOT crusaders for political conservatism.

Underwhelmed in Buffalo at restaurant featured on Triple-D

A couple of Saturdays ago, I was doing my usual evening channel surfing and came across “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” on the Food Network cable channel. Triple-D is one of the few shows that I’ll actually stop and watch. Gregarious host, Guy Fieri, does a great job.

So, in this particular episode, Guy took a trip to nearby Buffalo, New York and the Blackthorn Restaurant & Pub at 2134 Seneca Street. He focused on the restaurant’s specialties: beef-on-weck (sliced roast beef dunked in au jus on a salted kimmelweck roll, a Buffalo favorite), crab cakes, and beer and cheddar soup. If you watch the show, you know that Guy showers profuse superlatives on every single gastronomical creation he reviews, as if each and every one were the absolute greatest thing he’s ever tasted. The hyperbole was flowing during his visit to Blackthorn’s as well.

Well, there was only one thing for me to do. I announced to my wife that we would be driving to Buffalo the following day. If you know my wife, you know she never passes up a trip to a restaurant. That Sunday, after church, we made the 60-minute drive to Blackthorn’s in Buffalo. I was worried the traffic on the Thruway would be heavy because of football, but the Bills were playing the Giants at New Jersey that particular day.

So, we arrived at the restaurant in the South Buffalo, Irish “working-class” neighborhood around 1 p.m. and were seated at our table. Bills fans were whooping it up upstairs and on the outside patio as they watched the Bills and Giants battle on big screen TVs, but it was relatively quiet where we sat. I scanned the large menu and settled on the “Triple D Platter” (see photo above), which, according to the menu featured “the items selected for the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives…a mini beef-on-weck, mini crab cake, small cup of Irish beer-cheddar soup and tater tots” for $16. The multiple “mini”s scared me, so I bumped up the soup order from a small cup to a bowl. My wife ordered a prime rib sandwich, one of the day’s specials, that came with french fries and gravy and she also ordered a bowl of the soup.

The waitress brought out the soup first. I make a decent beer-cheddar soup myself, so I was looking forward to sampling what Guy had raved over. Ach! I would give it only a “C.” It was way too thick and the large amount of potato cubes were an obstacle. My wife was disgusted and only ate a few spoonfuls.

Next came the mini beef-on-weck and mini crab cake. “Mini” was a very accurate adjective. I was underwhelmed by the small amount of food on the “platter.” Adding insult to injury, the roast beef was overcooked. The crab cake was tasty, but was gone in a few bites. The same with the two jalapeno-cheddar tater tots. I gave the items on the “platter” a “B,” but the portion size a “D.” My wife ate only half of her smallish prime rib sandwich, saying it was also overcooked. After I was done with my micro-platter, I finished off my wife’s bowl of soup because I was still hungry.

After paying the bill, we hopped into our car and started the long trek back to Rochester. As we ambled down Seneca Street, which eventually turns into Center Road, we spotted Schwabl’s Restaurant up ahead. Ah, the regret! Folks, don’t listen to Guy Fieri when it comes to roast beef in Buffalo. If you want an excellent and ample medium-rare beef-on-weck sandwich in Buffalo, you have to go to Schwabl’s.

Postscript 1: While doing my research for this post, I was surprised to learn that the particular episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” that featured the Blackthorn Restaurant & Pub in South Buffalo had originally aired way back on 02/01/2010.

Postscript 2: No, this post does not mean I’m considering a new occupation as a restaurant critic. 🙂 But this experience reminds me that the things of this world, even when they receive a great deal of hype, ultimately disappoint. Yes, we praise God for delicious food, but many people make food their religion.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” – 1 John 2:15-17

Postscript 3: If you’re trying to lose weight, I definitely recommend that you avoid watching “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.”

David Crosby: A lot of questions, but no answers and time is running out

David Crosby: Remember My Name
Directed by A.J. Eaton, Sony Classics, 2019, 1 hr 35 min

4 Stars

A couple of Thursdays ago, my wife and I went to the theater to see the documentary, “David Crosby: Remember My Name.” David Crosby was a founding member of two very popular and influential bands from the 1960s and 70s; the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, and Nash (and sometimes Young). I became a fan of CS&N back in 1969 when I was thirteen-years-old and bought every record those guys cranked out in their various permutations over the next eight years. I especially enjoyed Crosby’s unconventional songs with their weird guitar tunings. And what a voice! Crosby was one of the great singers in rock and roll. Learning that Crosby had previously been a member of the Byrds, I eventually bought the entire back-catalog of that band as well and grew to like their music even more than CS&N’s.

Crosby has led an “interesting” life. The Byrds achieved phenomenal success in 1965 with their breakout folk-rock single and album, “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Crosby played rhythm guitar and contributed masterful vocal harmonies. He also began writing songs and the band’s third and fourth albums featured his unconventional and uncommercial compositions. An extroverted and outspoken personality, he became a leading figure in the Los Angeles and San Francisco counter-culture scenes. However, Crosby’s confrontational temperament made him an insufferable bandmate and he was notoriously fired from the group in 1967 during the recording of the Byrds’ fifth album.

Crosby landed on his feet, to say the least, when he hooked up with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash in 1969 to form CS&N. The group became arguably the most popular and successful rock band in the world in 1970-1971. But with the money and fame also came misery. The accidental death of Crosby’s girlfriend in 1969 led to a long depression that was exacerbated by drugs. Squabbles within the band led to a constant pattern of breakups and reunions. Crosby’s spiraling drug addiction led to increasingly frequent run-ins with law enforcement, which eventually led to a 5-month prison stretch in 1986.

Following his prison release, a drug-free Crosby returned to CS&N, but the group had largely devolved into an oldies touring band. Internal conflicts permanently broke up the band in 2016. Freed from CS&N’s constraints, an aging Crosby improbably caught a creative second wind, releasing four solo albums in the past five years.

This one-and-a-half hour documentary is as disturbing as it is entertaining. The now seventy-eight-year-old musician contemplates with great regret his soured relationships with his ex-bandmates in the Byrds and CS&N. Both groups sang songs exhorting everyone to live together in peace, love, and universal brotherhood, but they themselves were glaringly not able to do so. In addition, Croz admits that he steamrolled over hundreds of women in his pursuit of selfish sexual pleasure as a celebrated “rock star.” He also bemoans wasting ten years of his life while in the throes of drug addiction, although he continues to be a heavy marijuana user.

Crosby is now an old man in very poor health. He knows he is close to death and fears his end. Has he considered the Good News! Gospel of salvation and eternal life in Jesus Christ? Below is a snippet from a 2017 interview:

Q: How do you feel about religion?

A: “I think it’s absolute nonsense. It’s fairy-tales.”

Q: So would you call yourself an atheist?

A: “Yeah, certainly an agnostic. I just don’t like it because even when it starts out as a good idea, ‘Love thy neighbor’ for example, not a bad idea, when it winds up as the Inquisition or the Crusades, it’s gotten out of hand. What happens with religion seriously, starts out as a great thing and then winds up a way for a few to manipulate the many.” https://www.huffpost.com/entry/david-crosby-a-certified_b_8079334

Crosby knows about institutional religiosity, but he doesn’t know the Lord. Throughout his entire career, Crosby has written and sang about some of the great questions of human existence, but he has yet to find any solid answers. We enjoy the work of talented, secular artists, but all they can do is make observations or ask questions, they cannot provide answers. I appreciated Crosby’s honesty in this documentary regarding his fear of his impending death. There is an answer to his fears and His name is Jesus Christ. Do you fear death as well? You should if you are not a Christian. Repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

Legion of Super-Heroes Index: Adventure Comics #346 thru #380

Way back in mid-April, 2018, I began this series of bi-monthly reviews of Legion of Super-Heroes tales in Adventure Comics from DC Comic’s Silver Age. I began with issue #346 and ended with #380. That stretch was very significant because it marked the writing debut of young Jim Shooter. Teamed up with DC’s premier penciller, Curt Swan, the duo created some of the Legion’s most iconic stories that are still being talked about fifty years later. The stretch was personally significant for me as well because I became a fan of the Legion after buying Adventure Comics #350 and I continued buying the comic up to and including Adventure Comics #372.

So, without any further ado, below is an index to my 35 reviews of the Legion of Super-Heroes in Adventure Comics, #346 (July, 1966) thru #380 (May, 1969). The titles hyperlink to my reviews:

“One of Us is a Traitor!” –  Adventure Comics #346, July, 1966 – Ferro Lad, Karate Kid, Nemesis Kid, and Princess Projectra join the Legion, but one of them is a traitor.

“The Traitor’s Triumph!” – Adventure Comics #347, August, 1966 – In the conclusion, the Legion’s traitor is revealed.

“Target – 21 Legionnaires!” – Adventure Comics #348, September, 1966 – Dr. Regulus wages war against the Legion.

“The Rogue Legionnaire!” – Adventure Comics #349, October, 1966 – The Legion opposes Universo.

“The Outcast Super-Heroes!” – Adventure Comics #350, November, 1966 – Superboy and Supergirl are forced to quit the Legion and two mysterious strangers take their place.

“The Forgotten Legion!” – Adventure Comics #351, December, 1966 – In the conclusion, the Legion defeats the “Devil’s Dozen” and Starboy and Dream Girl become members.

“The Fatal Five!” – Adventure Comics #352, January, 1967 – The Legion teams up with the most powerful group of criminals in the Universe, the Fatal Five, to battle the Sun Eater.

“The Doomed Legionnaire!” – Adventure Comics #353, February, 1967 – In the conclusion, Ferro Lad sacrifices himself to save the Solar System.

“The Adult Legionnaires!” – Adventure Comics #354, March, 1967 – Superman visits the Legionnaires when they are adults and the team tangles with Ferro Lad’s twin brother.

“The War of the Legions!” – Adventure Comics #355, April, 1967 – In the conclusion, the adult Legionnaires battle the grown-up Legion of Super Villains.

“The Five Legion Orphans!” – Adventure Comics #356, May, 1967 – Five Legionnaires are transformed into tykes.

“The Ghost of Ferro Lad!” – Adventure Comics #357, June, 1967 – The Legion battles the Controller and gets some unexpected help.

“The Hunter!” – Adventure Comics #358, July, 1967 – The Legion battles the Hunter in the 30th-century version of “The Most Dangerous Game.”

“The Outlawed Legionnaires!” – Adventure Comics #359, August, 1967 – The Legion is banned and its members are hunted down like common criminals.

“The Legion Chain Gang!” – Adventure Comics #360, September, 1967 – In the conclusion,  the Legion’s nemesis is revealed to be Universo.

“The Unkillables!” – Adventure Comics #361, October, 1967 – An alien manipulates descendants of the most famous assassins in galactic history into attacking the Legion.

“The Chemoids Are Coming!” – Adventure Comics #362, November, 1967 – The Legion must stop Dr. Mantis Morlo and his environmentally-toxic experiments.

“Black Day for the Legion!” – Adventure Comics #363, December, 1967 – The conclusion of the Legion’s confrontation with Dr. Mantis Morlo.

“The Revolt of the Super-Pets!” – Adventure Comics #364, January, 1968 – The Legionnaires’ super-pets stage a rebellion.

“Escape of the Fatal Five!” – Adventure Comics #365, February, 1968 – The Universe’s most powerful criminal team returns and the Legion is in trouble. The introduction of Shadow Lass.

“The Fight for the Championship of the Universe!” – Adventure Comics #366, March, 1968 – The conclusion of the epic battle between the Legion and the Fatal Five.

“No Escape from the Circle of Death!” – Adventure Comics #367, April, 1968 – The Legion faces certain destruction at the hands of the “Dark Circle,” until they remember the “Miracle Machine.”

“The Mutiny of the Super-Heroines!” – Adventure Comics #368, May, 1968 – First, the super-pets revolted and now, the Legion’s female super-heroines.

“Mordru the Merciless!” – Adventure Comics #369, June, 1968 – The Legion confronts one of its most powerful enemies.

“The Devil’s Jury!” – Adventure Comics #370, July, 1968 – In the conclusion, the Legionnaires battle for their lives against Mordru, one of the most powerful villains in the Universe.

“The Colossal Failure!” – Adventure Comics #371, August, 1968 – Colossal Boy appears to betray the Legion.

“School for Super-Villains!” – Adventure Comics #372, September, 1968 – In the concluding story, the Legion determines the Legion of Super-Villains is extorting Colossal Boy.

“The Tornado Twins!” – Adventure Comics #373, October, 1968 – The Flash’s 30-century descendants give the Legion a “run for their money.”

“Mission: Diabolical!” – Adventure Comics #374, November, 1968 – It’s gang warfare, 30th-century style, and the Legion is caught in the crossfire.

“King of the Legion!” – Adventure Comics #375, December, 1968 – Bouncing Boy? King of the Legion? C’mon!

“The Execution of Chameleon Boy!” – Adventure Comics #376, January, 1969 – In the conclusion, Chameleon Boy is robbed of wedded bliss.

“Heroes for Hire!” – Adventure Comics #377, February, 1969 – The Legionnaires feign that they’re soldiers-for-hire in order to trap the crooks on the planet, Modo.

“Twelve Hours to Live!” – Adventure Comics #378, March, 1969 – The lives of five Legionnaires hang in the balance after being poisoned.

“Burial in Space!” – Adventure Comics #379, April, 1969 – In the conclusion, the Legion is forced to assist a race of weaklings in order to save their five dying comrades.

“The Legion’s Space Odyssey!” – Adventure Comics #380, May, 1969 – Superboy stages a convoluted ruse to protect his comrades.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 9/21/19

Before we start with another roundup of weekly news, I thought it might be a good idea to ponder a bit about why I do this. Most of the stories I present every Saturday focus on the Catholic church. You might ask yourself, “Why should Gospel Christians be concerned about what’s going on within Catholicism?” Well, there’s two reasons: 1) Evangelical churches are being increasingly sucked into ecumenical compromise with Rome. If your pastor is standing strong against ecumenical accommodation and compromise with Rome, know that your church is in the dwindling minority. 2) I don’t dwell on eschatology, but I do share with the Reformers the belief that the Roman church led by the Roman “pontiff” (Latin, means “bridge builder”) will play a significant role in the end times as foretold in the Bible in Revelation, chapters 17 and 18. I also believe that the prostitute daughters of “Babylon the great” mentioned in Revelation 17:5 refers to the compromised, so-called “evangelical” churches that align with Rome. So, Gospel Christian, that’s why what happens inside the RCC is important to you. Of course, the roundup is also presented with Roman Catholics in mind, who will definitely not get this perspective on the news from their church’s lecterns.

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In last weekend’s roundup, I wrote that I anticipated a very strong reaction from conservative Catholics to pope Francis’ September 10th in-flight press conference remarks that he doesn’t desire that they secede from the RCC, but that he is “not afraid” of schism, either. I wasn’t disappointed. Of course, the conservatives accuse the pope of causing schism with his doctrine-bending reforms.

The two articles above are examples of how the moderate and liberal camps of the RCC reacted to Francis’ broaching of possible schism as well. It’s quite extraordinary times we live in when Catholics, including the pope, are openly discussing schism as a potentiality. However, we must keep in mind that the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone is not preached in ANY of Catholicism’s ideologies.

While the pope denies concern about conservative Catholic rebellion, his liberal allies in Germany are pushing their progressive agenda even too quickly for Francis.

The investigative journalism television show, “60 Minutes,” outed Buffalo Catholic bishop, Richard Malone, as a serial abuse-enabler way back in October 2018 and a new poll reveals that just about every Catholic in Buffalo wants him out. This is theater of the absolute absurd. The Catholic laity should ponder the fact that the very priests and prelates who admonish them to merit their salvation do not themselves lead lives worthy of Heaven. Come out of Catholicism and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone.

Which is more dangerous to a young, unwary soul? A Harry Potter book or a book extolling Roman Catholicism’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit?

To be a Catholic godparent of a baptized infant, a candidate is supposed to faithfully follow the church’s rules and regulations. Such an individual is becoming increasingly rare these days. See my post on the Catholic godparent sham here.

Some obligatory humor from the Babylon Bee after the serious news.

Final Word

Nope, it’s not my goodbye to the blogosphere, but, rather, it’s the title of John MacArthur’s latest book!

Final Word: Why We Need the Bible
By John MacArthur
Reformation Trust, 2019, 136 pp.

5 Stars

Over the past couple of years, Reformation Trust has published three short books written by Pastor John MacArthur on some of the basics of Christian belief. This latest one focuses on God’s Word, the Bible. Whether you’re new to the Christian faith or you’re a “seasoned saint,” you’ll enjoy this book, which explains why the Bible is our totally reliable standard of faith and practice. Argh! We Christians sometimes take God’s Word for granted. May we always cherish the Bible for what it is; God’s inerrant and infallible Word.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Chapters:

  • The Bible is Under Attack
  • The Bible is Truth
  • The Bible is Authoritative
  • The Bible is the Catalyst of Spiritual Growth
  • The Bible is Central to Faithful Ministry
  • The Bible is Food for the Soul

Order this book from Amazon here. See my reviews of the two other books by JMac in Reformation Trust’s basics-of-Christianity series, “None Other: Discovering the God of the Bible” here and “Good News: The Gospel of Jesus Christ” here.

Throwback Thursday: Catholics called it the “anti-Catholic bible”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment! Today, we’re revisiting a post that was originally published back on October 1, 2015, and has been slightly revised.

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Roman Catholicism
By Loraine Boettner
Presbyterian & Reformed, 1962, 466 pp.

4 Stars

“Roman Catholicism” is a classic, evangelical Protestant assessment of Catholicism in general and American Catholicism in particular, written at the pinnacle of that church’s power and influence in this country. Reformed theologian, Loraine Boettner (1901-1990, photo right), expresses the early-1960s viewpoint of evangelical Protestantism, which feared the encroaching catholicization of the nation at that time, epitomized by the election of John F. Kennedy to the White House. Boettner’s tone approaches draconian hyperbole at times and is quaintly alarmist in contrast to today’s ecumenically-correct standards, but it’s important to note that the Catholic church at the time this book was written was far more militant than today’s version. In 1962, one could cite Spain and Portugal along with most Latin American countries and the still-vivid memory of the European Catholic clerical fascism of the 1920s and 30s as concrete examples of the reality and danger of Catholic hegemony. Boettner quotes Catholic clerics and writers of the period who still claimed Rome’s God-given right to suppress Protestant churches in cooperation with civil governments in countries where Catholics were in the majority. Since those days, the Catholic church’s political influence has waned dramatically.

Boettner outlines how the Catholic church evolved from New Testament Christianity into apostasy and examines the ritualism and legalism of Catholic belief and practice in comparison to Holy Scripture and Protestant evangelicalism. His sources include theologians as well as pamphleteers, which makes for some entertaining if not always objective reading. Catholic apologists attempted to completely dismiss “Roman Catholicism” over a few questionable dates, but for many of his arguments Boettner references Catholic sources. Boettner doesn’t shy away from detailing some of Catholicism’s most bizarre and superstitious beliefs and practices, material that today’s religiously-correct evangelical apologists are apt to avoid lest they be accused of being uncharitable.

For several decades “Roman Catholicism” remained as the primary resource on Catholicism for evangelical Protestants. Catholics referred to it spitefully as the “anti-Catholic bible” but there have been several important changes to the religious landscape since this book was first published in 1962:

* Both the orthodoxy of the mainline Protestant denominations and the American public’s interest in organized religion have declined tremendously.

* Vatican II softened the Catholic church’s outspoken militancy towards the Protestant “separated brethren.”

* The Catholic church no longer wields anywhere near the degree of political power and influence it had in some parts of the world.

* Catholic religious vocations have rapidly declined resulting in a severe shortage of priests. The number of priests in the US: 58,534 in 1981, 52,227 in 1991, 45,713 in 2001 and 38,275 in 2014. More than 40% of today’s priests are over the age of 65.

* The mushrooming scandal of pedophile priests, including the cover-up by the hierarchy, has rocked the RCC to its foundations and demoralized its membership.

* Fewer and fewer Catholics actively attend services leading to the closing of a high number of churches. Recent research shows that only 24% of Catholics go to obligatory weekly mass compared to 75% in 1958. That’s a LOT of “mortal” sin. 1000 American Catholic churches have closed since 1995.

* 4000 U.S Catholic parochial schools have closed since 1965.

* A rising percentage of Catholics either question, disagree with, or ignore official church doctrine (see birth control, divorce, male hierarchy, unwed cohabitation, obligatory participation in the sacraments, etc.). A New York Times survey revealed 70% of Catholics between the ages of 18 and 44 do not believe the “consecrated” eucharist wafer is the literal body of Christ. Only 12% of Catholics go to confession at least once a year as they are required to do. That’s a LOT MORE “mortal” sin.

Boettner could not have possibly foreseen the lowly depths American Catholicism has sunk to only 57 years after his book was published.

However, while Catholicism faces many daunting challenges at the local and national levels, the current pope enjoys worldwide prestige and popularity (excepting conservative Catholics). News sources run to the pope for his comments following every major catastrophe to get the “religious” perspective. Are there any thoughts on how that will all play out down the road?

While many of Boettner’s other-era arguments are no longer applicable, this book provides a valuable glimpse into early-1960s Protestant angst when Catholicism’s power and influence crested in this country. There certainly is no danger these days of a weakened Catholic church gaining political control over America as Boettner repeatedly warned against. Such a notion is now completely outside the realm of plausibility. The real danger to Christian witness began decades ago when some evangelical pastors and para-church leaders began embracing Catholics as co-belligerents in social causes, which transitioned to compromising the Gospel of Jesus Christ and embracing works-righteousness Catholics as fellow Christians (see Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, Rick Warren, etc.). Catholicism currently teaches the same fundamental doctrines that it taught at the time of the Reformation. Most importantly, the Roman church teaches salvation by sacramental grace and merit while Gospel Christians hold to salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Given this irreconcilable difference, how can some evangelicals now embrace Rome?

For more-current critiques of Catholicism I recommend:

The Gospel According to Rome by James G. McCarthy
The Roman Catholic Controversy by James R. White
Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment by Gregg R. Allison

Also, check out my Books and Links tabs for many additional resources.