Alistair Begg: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Back in August, my wife and I were in a position where we needed to find a new source for livestream Sunday morning church services. I chose the services at Parkside Church in Chagrin Falls, Ohio (near Cleveland) with Pastor Alistair Begg (photo above). Yup, I had my misgivings about Pastor Begg because of his penchant for quoting C.S. Lewis (ecumenist) and G.K. Chesterton (Roman Catholic) and because of one particular incident that I posted about last year in which he favorably cited a book written by a Catholic cleric (see here). But I decided to give Pastor Begg another try because, well, he is such an enjoyable and inspirational speaker to listen to. Ach. I can be a real dummy sometimes.

My wife and I were pleased, make that VERY pleased, with the subsequent services UNTIL we watched the video of the Sunday, November 1st evening service. Begg had preached an excellent sermon earlier that morning on 2 Samuel 2:1-11 and the anointing of David as King of Israel at Hebron, which was followed by the insurrection of Abner and his installation of Saul’s son, Ish-Bosheth, as the competing king. Begg continued the message in the evening service, preaching on 2 Samuel 2:12-32 and the battle at Gibeon between the military forces of Abner and the forces of David, led by Joab. In the course of both sermons, Begg made the connection between the circumstances surrounding David’s anointing and the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Begg’s point was that all temporal political systems and nations are ultimately destined to fail because multiple forms of advancing corruption bring them down. Begg’s message was that believers should focus on Jesus Christ and the Gospel, not on political solutions and nationalism. Excellent! Here, here! Bravo! Amen! However, at the 37:35 mark, Begg made a disturbing tie-in reference to “the church”:

“(David) came to Israel, and the tribes lined up under Ish-Bosheth, to stand against God’s anointed king. The story incidentally of the development of the history of the church may be understood in these terms, too. I listened to a very fine address by a Roman Catholic priest just yesterday in order to help me in my life. And it was a political address and it was jolly good. And I was paying very careful attention. And he explained at one point that the organization and the commitment of the church runs all the way, he says, from pope Pius IX (papal reign, 1846-1878) to Benedict (XVI). I said to myself, Oh, so what happened to Francis? (That’s) exactly what happened to him!”

Huh? I replayed the remarks several times to make sure I had heard correctly. First, Begg favorably cites to his congregation an address by a Roman Catholic priest to “help me in my life.” He then notes that the priest favorably commented on the papacies of Pius IX* to Benedict XVI, while purposely omitting the controversial current pope, Francis. Begg presents this as a parallel example of how the condition of “the church,” like the nation, is also deteriorating.

Please catch the irony in this circumstance, folks. Begg is bemoaning the deterioration of “the church,” while he himself is contributing to the declining state of evangelicalism by his embracement of Roman Catholicism. What to make of this? I’m certainly not implying that Begg, by his comment, is endorsing the RCC on a wholesale basis, but his remarks here are beyond disturbing. What goes through his head?

Ach. I was disappointed, but not surprised. What a dummy I am. I should NOT have given Begg a second chance. No more listening to Alistair Begg for me. No third chances. Brothers and sisters, this kind of ecumenical accommodation and compromise is rife within evangelicalism.

Below is a link to the sermon in question. Begg’s remarks regarding the address by the Catholic priest begin at the 37:35 mark.

David anointed and opposed – part two (2 Samuel 2:12-32), Sunday evening, November 1st

*It was Pius IX who had himself and other popes declared infallible at the First Vatican Council in 1870. All popes and priests teach Rome’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Update: Brother Billy at the excellent “Soul Refuge” YouTube channel created a video based upon the above post. See below:

38 thoughts on “Alistair Begg: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

  1. That’s interesting about Begg as he was featured in American Gospel: Christ Crucified speaking against the emergent and Roman Catholic Church’s teachings. I will be honest, I had never heard of him before that documentary. Honestly, who is left for you to listen to/learn from? My Hebrew professor wanted us to read works from RCC and Jewish scholars as to how they translate, exegete, interpret Hebrew in comparison to evangelicals. I don’t know enough about Begg to say not to throw the baby out with the bath water. I do understand your sensitivity and irritation with evangelicals endorsing the RCC.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks, Mandy. I remember that director, Brandon Kimber, made some very strong statements about Roman Catholicism in his first documentary, “American Gospel: Christ Alone,” but I don’t recall if Begg contributed to that portion.

      RE: I don’t know enough about Begg to say not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

      Roman Catholic clerics and prelates are outspokenly unapologetic in propagating their church’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. If evangelical pastors, theologians, and apologists don’t have enough discernment to distinguish between a false gospel and the genuine Gospel, then they are part of the problem and I don’t wish to hear/read about anything else they have to say. I have no problem with studying Roman Catholicism for educational purposes, I do that myself all the time, the problem is when evangelicals insinuate the RCC teaches the genuine Gospel and many/most in Begg’s congregation could make that assumption from his regrettable remarks. I’ve been following Begg’s track record re: ecumenism for quite awhile and it’s spotty at best as I noted in the post.

      RE: who is left for you to listen to/learn from?

      A 2015 Lifeway poll revealed 58% of self-identified evangelical pastors agreed that pope Francis was a fellow Christian and a “brother in Christ,” while 19% were non-committal, responding that they were not sure. That left only 23% of the evangelical Christian pastors who were polled who disagreed with the statement that the pope is a fellow Christian and a “brother in Christ.” Again, the pope unabashedly teaches a false gospel and he heads an institution that has taught a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit for 1500 years. I would much rather be on the side of the discerning 23% minority than those who have bought into the ecumenical compromise. The above statistics were reversed 50 years ago. What changed? Certainly not the prime tenets of Roman Catholicism.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Begg was not in the first installment of American Gospel. I take your word about Begg’s RCC sympathies. The more I think about this and I have thought about it a lot this morning, the more hypocritical it becomes. How can you refute their teachings one minute and then be edified by them another?! That is horrifying the statistics from Lifeway and it’s only going to get worse.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thanks, Mandy. I don’t wish to be totally unbalanced about this. I’m not suggesting that Begg is scheduling trips to the Vatican anytime soon. But presenting the “decline” of the Roman Catholic church under pope Francis as an example of the decline of “the church” is jaw-droppingly wrong. The RCC was as apostate under Pius IX as it is under Francis. I know of several evangelical pastors or theologians who favorably reference the Reformation while also applauding contemporary ecumenism. It’s incongruous, dichotomous, Jeckyll and Hyde irrationality.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, Mandy, I hate to totally write a guy off from this when the rest of his teaching may be solid, but at least Tom’s insights have eased some of those concerns regarding Pastor Begg.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. A very good post my brother in Christ. This is a topic that needs to be addressed in this day of apostasy. My wife brought this post to my attention and I immediately went to work to make a video regarding your post today. I added my own thoughts on the subject also. Once again thank you for your concern for truth and the salvation of souls! Be Blessed in the Lord! Wf White

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you brother! I listened to the video and I appreciated all of your remarks. I’ve actually listened to MANY of your good videos each time your wife, Cathy, posts them on her blog. I’m very grateful for your ministry and I pray the Lord uses your videos to reach Roman Catholics with the Gospel.
      Yes, this type of “small” accommodation to Rome that Alistair Begg slipped into this sermon are rampant throughout the evangelical church today. Your point about a member of Begg’s church bringing an unsaved family member to a service, only for them to hear Begg embrace the RCC system is well-taken. Lost Catholic souls need to hear the uncompromised truth. May the Lord continue to help you speak out.


      1. Going well! Taught homeschooling, was busy on FB with conflict resolution for the apologetics group I’m in, think that’s the role I play as a Pastor and admin in the group and right now it seems to be heading in the right direction. Going to go to the garden now to walk, read and spend time with family…and burgers tonight for dinner!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Glad you’re having a good day! Enjoy the burgers! I’m about to sit down end enjoy a big bowl of “kapusta i kluski” aka cabbage and noodles, with lots of shredded pork, Polish comfort food.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Cathy! I appreciate yours and Billy’s efforts to get this message out! So many examples of accommodations and compromises like this proliferating throughout evangelicalism.


  3. Thank you for this post. You’ve warned about him before, he use to he my wife’s favorite preacher until well, things like this. The quote is more problematic than previous posts from you in showing a window his life of what he allows to spiritually shape him. Sad

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. Yup, sad and disappointing. He refused to sign Chuck Colson’s 2009 Manhattan Declaration because it affirmed the RCC as a Christian entity, but it’s clear he’s caving.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Why am I not surprised ? It’s so disappointing about AB and so many like him these days.
    A local church I was planning to visit I noticed on their FB page they quote Billy Graham. And they call themselves a “Reformed Church” 🤷🏻‍♀️. Go figure.
    Thank you for sharing this Tom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Crissy. It’s hard to find a pastor who doesn’t go along with the ecumenical betrayal these days. Seminaries pump them out. Yeah, the Billy Graham mystique crosses all denominational lines, like Mother Teresa.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Me too! These are strange times and getting stranger with the current chaos in the world and the decline of the church. Praise God we have a Savior and an eternal home to focus on!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yup, I’m grateful for you and others in the WP community. As a member of a “small group” at our former church, I had to keep many of my thoughts and opinions to myself because they were perceived as too radical/fundamentalish.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you Tom for an important and informative post.
    Sorry to see this about Alister Begg. There is such a phenomenon of churches and so called believers compromising Gods word, I truly wonder if we will return to the simplicity of Bible believing home churches. We had Communion in our home last week with a new believer and it was glorious.
    Took your idea to listen to Martin Lloyd Jones on Sunday, cant go wrong with this godly brother.
    I pray for you and your wife, may the Lord speak to your hearts and gird up your loins in Him everyday.
    Press on brother.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lisa Beth! Yes, this kind of compromise and betrayal is permeating evangelicalism. It is becoming increasingly hard to find a church “home,” even via streaming. Yes, we’re grateful for the very large library of MLJ sermons. No need to worry about favorable comments regarding priests and popes from MLJ. Glad you were able to enjoy communion at home. We need to do that!
      Thank you for your prayers and I pray the Lord continues to bless you and your husband as you serve Him. May the Lord continue to use you to minister to the new believer you mentioned.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Tom. New believer Raquel received Communion for the first time in her life, what an exhilarating experience! We studied the Passover, the Last Supper, and Paul’s exhortations to the church. Her joy and love have truly revived my own heart.
        Thank you again, Press on brother!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. RE: new believer
        It truly warms my heart that you and Raquel are able to minister to each other! What a joy it is to have a relationship in which the Lord is THE center.


  6. Hi Tom.

    I am very disappointed by but very appreciative of the information you have shared here. I have been listening to Alistair’s messages on Sunday mornings for the past couple of months as well. I have never noticed any statement like the one in the evening service that you are commenting on in this post. I listened to WF White’s video above, where he includes the statement that you’ve highlighted, and was shocked to be honest. I am going to go back and listen to it again through the link you’ve given. For a man that is so well educated, I really don’t understand this.

    I don’t know how many times I have now had this experience. A pastor of a church I once was attending who is probably as knowledgeable as Alistair suddenly began quoting “protestant” pastors who have veered into error. When I asked him about such quotes, he was very defensive. These incidents were rare but I understand exactly how you feel. Rareness can sometimes make such statements even more confusing.

    I’m still trying to figure out why Ravi Zacharias was accepted to “preach” at the Mormon Tabernacle. Before Ravi died I tried to contact him more than once to try and get a statement about his Tabernacle appearance. I never received any reply even though I expected at least a generic one that I thought would be prepared for questions like mine.

    I think I will be writing Alistair. If he hasn’t already gotten feedback on this quotation, he needs to. If I get a response, I will share it with you. This is a very important incident. Alistair Begg is highly regarded by Christians in many places in our world. Our God is not a God of confusion and this comment has the potential to create great confusion, particularly among new Christians and Catholics.

    Thank you for this post, Tom. It is a very important one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Chris. As I mentioned in the post, my wife and I had been VERY pleased with Alistair Begg’s sermons until that Sunday evening sermon. It’s a little bit confusing as to what he was trying to convey with the example of the priest’s list of modern popes and the omission of Francis. Given the context of the entire sermon, I believe Pastor Begg was using the priest’s omission of Francis as an example of how “the church” was in decline as well as the state. It’s absolutely mystifying to me why an evangelical pastor would use such an example in a sermon. It certainly lends credibility to the Roman Catholic church and to the popes prior to Francis. Very strange.

      I was very troubled by another sermon by Pastor Begg that I posted about a year ago in which he favorably cited a book written by a Roman Catholic religious brother (link below). I sent an email with my concerns to Pastor Begg, but I never received a reply back.

      RE: Ravi Zacharias
      I was very disappointed in Ravi Zacharias’ speech at the Mormon Tabernacle. In my view it was extremely accommodating. Ravi also had a penchant for favorably referencing Roman Catholics in his talks, as WF White mentions in his video, and I wrote several posts over the past five years addressing that issue.

      Thanks, Chris. This ecumenical dalliance with Roman Catholicism is rampant throughout evangelicalism. We attended a Southern Baptist church for one year in which the pastor made many favorable references to such Catholics as Thomas Aquinas, Peter Kreeft, Malcolm Muggeridge, and G.K. Chesterton.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I appreciate your reply, Tom.

        I went back and listened to that section of the sermon several times, each time listening to a bit more. If he had left the bit about Catholics completely out, it would be the same solid type of preaching that I have come to expect from Alistair.
        I got the same sense that you did that he was “using the priest’s omission of Francis as an example of how ‘the church’ was in decline as well as the state.” Just like you, I do not understand why he would make such a statement as it does seem to lend credibility to popes prior to Francis.
        There are hundreds of examples of decline within protestant churches that he could have used without any question.
        I also noticed that he seemed to veer from his notes at that particular spot. He doesn’t seem to need to rely much on his notes most of the time. Perhaps he will have to get back to that so that he doesn’t say things he will regret later.
        Because I am not a former Catholic, I would probably miss things that you would catch. I plan on continuing to listen to him on Sunday mornings but I will be listening for anything similar to this. It seems that once a preacher begins down this road, he rarely corrects himself. I am going to add to the feedback that I hope makes him reconsider any favorable view of Popes or Catholic Theology.

        Thank you for the other link you have shared with me. I will definitely check that out and I think you are spot on about the appearance of Ravi Zacharias at the Mormon tabernacle.

        God’s blessings brother. Keep up the good work!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Chris, thanks for all of your thoughts. Many times, I have witnessed evangelical ministers favorably referencing a famous/notable Roman Catholic in a sermon. As you commented, there are obviously many evangelical Protestants the ministers can draw upon for examples and illustrations. I believe pastors think long and hard about including such still-controversial references in a sermon. There is a deliberate effort to “broaden the horizons” of the congregation toward a more accepting/accommodating view of Roman Catholicism. I would be very interested to hear if Pastor Begg favorably references a Roman Catholic again in one of his sermons.

        Thank you, Chris, and may God bless you, too!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. You’re welcome, Tom, and thank you as well. I will be listening for similar types of comments and if I hear any I will definitely let you know. I plan on getting some mail off to Alistair about this problem this weekend. I will let you know if I get any reply.
        God’s blessings…

        Liked by 1 person

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