Welcome to the eighteenth installment of our weekly Reformanda Initiative podcast series! I’m excited to present the ministry of Dr. Leonardo De Chirico and his associates at Reformanda Initiative as they examine Roman Catholic theology in order to inform and equip evangelicals.
Season 1, Episode 18: Understanding the Sacrament of Penance in Roman Catholicism
In this episode we examine the Roman Catholic teaching on the Sacrament of Penance (also known by many other names) from an evangelical perspective. We underscore what is at stake with this doctrine theologically and concerning the gospel, and highlight how it fits into the larger framework of the Roman Catholic system.
The Catholic sacrament of penance/confession/reconciliation elevates the Catholic priest to the place of God Almighty in forgiving people of their sins. The sacrament is just one facet of Roman Catholicism’s Christ-Church Interconnection construct whereby the RCC presents itself as as the prolongation of the incarnation of Christ and usurps the exclusive office of Jesus Christ as the one and only Mediator between God and men – 1 Timothy 2:5. Good discussion.
Postscript: It’s puzzlingly ironic that the RI guys favorably reference Tim Keller in this podcast because Keller is an outspoken advocate of ecumenism with Rome.
In January of 2022, I published a post noting the significant drop in views/hits for excatholic4christ from the previous year, from 70.7K views in 2020 down to 44.9K views in 2021, a 37 percent drop. That was after 6 years of significant growth. The decline continued into 2022, the year ending with 37.6K views. So in the space of two years my views have declined a whopping 47 percent. That’s obviously very significant (see chart above).
Following last year’s post, a fellow Christian blogger (who is no longer active at WordPress) criticized me for noting my blog stats, as if Christians were supposed to be above such concerns. Well, I’m guessing the vast majority of us write and publish posts with the intent and hope of reaching people with our message. Few of us use WordPress strictly as a private, personal journal.
My post output has remained pretty steady over the years – 2414 total posts in 7.5 years = 322 posts/year average. Most of the blog’s views, by far, come from anonymous internet hits rather than from fellow WordPress bloggers. But newer posts definitely don’t get the internet churn that older posts did and still do. So why the steep drop? My discernment subject matter is admittedly “controversial,” but how then to explain the steady rise in views my first six years? I’m not a conspiracy monger or an IT expert, but I believe internet search engines and social media platforms are currently working hard to filter out what they consider “hate speech.” The EU has already passed legislation requiring IT companies and social media platforms to clamp down on “hate speech” and I imagine the U.S. will be following suit, while social media platforms are already taking “pro-active” steps. I certainly don’t consider my posts to be “hate speech.” I’m presenting the Biblical view on Roman Catholicism and on deviant social movements. There’s no hate in any of my posts. But in this era of undiscerning “tolerance,” “plurality,” “inclusiveness,” and “relativism,” a Biblical view IS increasingly viewed as “hate speech.”
I began this blog in 2015 mainly with the intent of warning Catholics and evangelicals about the heterodoxy of the RCC and I will continue to do so, falling stats or rising stats. “But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” – Acts 5:29. A sincere thanks to all of my friends and encouragers here at WordPress.
Nancy Pelosi was barred from receiving the Jesus wafer by the Catholic archbishop of San Francisco because of her support of abortion, but she still considers herself a devout Catholic. After an attacker seriously injured her husband at their SF home last October, Pelosi called in Catholic priests to “exorcise the evil spirits,” but who was going to exorcise the priests’ false gospel? Catholicism is a syncretization of pagan superstition and pseudo-(c)hristianity.
I would never recommend anyone attend a Roman Catholic mass, where its claimed that priests transform bread wafers and wine unto the actual body and blood of Christ, and the Jesus elements are then offered up as a sacrifice for sins. However, if you were to attend a mass you might be surprised that the sermon (aka homily) is usually only around 10 minutes long with the rest of the time devoted to the rote liturgy. Homiletics are not a focus in Catholic seminary. Priests, from my subjective experience, are generally not good public speakers. The homily message is usually connected to the short snippet of the gospel passage that was previously read, whereby the priest will exhort the congregants to live morally upright lives in pursuit of their salvation. There’s no mention of the genuine Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.
German cardinal, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, has emerged as progressive pope Francis’ most vocal conservative critic. Müller compares Francis’ secret 2018 Vatican-Beijing accord, in which Bergoglio granted the Chinese communist government the power to select puppet bishops from its quisling Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, to a deal with Adolf Hitler. Actually, pope Pius XII did sign a deal with Hitler as historian David I. Kertzer discovered from documents in the previously sealed Vatican archives (see here).
Roman Catholic seminaries and rectories are magnets and hot-house incubators of deviancy and debauchery. Catholic and secular sources have estimated 30-40% of Catholic priests are homosexual. 80% of the victims of priest sexual abuse cases that have been documented since the 1950s were male.
The German Catholic Synodale Weg (Synodal Path), a four-year progressive reform initiative steered by liberal clerics and laypersons, concludes this year. Some conservatives anticipate a schismatic split. Reforms being proposed include women’s ordination, married priests, lay participation in selection of bishops, and the blessing of same-sex unions and revision of the catechism currently disallowing homosexual practice.
Matthew Clark was Catholic bishop of Rochester, N.Y. from 1979 to 2012. Clark was a Vatican II progressive and looked the other way when liberal priests offered Jesus wafers to non-Catholic attendees at wedding and funeral masses. In a March 2020 bankruptcy court deposition, Clark admitted the diocese kept secret archives of pedophile priests and that priests accused of sexual abuse were allowed to continue to “serve,” sometimes moved from parish to parish.
Thanks for joining us today as we continue to examine and respond to Catholic apologist, Karlo Broussard’s book, “Meeting the Protestant Response” (2022). This week, Broussard continues his first of two chapters defending transubstantiation and the eucharist using John 6:48-67 as his lengthy proof-text. For brevity’s sake, find that passage here.
Protestant response #35: “The context reveals that ‘eat’ and ‘drink’ mean belief.”
Broussard writes that evangelical apologists Rob Zins, Eric Svendsen, and James R. White identify John 6:35 as a very important verse that clarifies that Jesus was using metaphorical language in the Bread of Life Discourse. Zins identifies John 6:35 as the “controlling verse of John 6.”
“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” – John 6:35
States White, “‘Coming’ and ‘believing’ will become ‘eating’ and ‘drinking’ in verse 54…the definitions assigned to these terms by the Lord (being spiritual and symbolic, not literal and earthly) must be carried through the rest of the text.”
Writes Broussard, “Both White and Svendsen further cite verse 47, where Jesus says, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life,’ and infer from this that eating equals believing.”
Broussard acknowledges that “Jesus speaks about the necessity to believe in him…in verses 27-48,” but then states, “in verse 51, Jesus introduces his flesh and identifies it as the bread from heaven that he will give for the life of the world.” It is Jesus’ words about eating his flesh that distresses the Jews and disciples, says Broussard. He continues, “Belief in Jesus is not the issue here. It’s eating his flesh.” Broussard notes that “flesh” is mentioned six times in six verses. “If Jesus intended his statement about eating his flesh to be understood as mere belief,” declares Broussard, “and not something that a believer will do in order to have his spiritual hunger and thirst satiated, then he could have easily retracted his language about eating his flesh and gone back to the metaphorical language of coming to him and never hungering and believing in him and never thirsting, as he did in verse 35.”
John 6:35 is definitely a prime clarifier, one of the major keys in the Bread of Life Discourse as Rob Zins, Eric Svendsen, and James R. White rightly point out. In verses that follow, Christ presents “coming” and “believing” metaphorically as “eating” and “drinking.” Broussard argues once again that Jesus would have corrected the Jews’ and disciples’ literalist understanding of “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” (John 6:54) if their understanding was not accurate. That is ground we covered in great detail back in installments #30 (see here) and #31 (see here). Jesus spoke in parables and metaphors throughout His earthly ministry. “Believe” (Greek: pisteúō: to believe in, to put one’s faith in, to trust in) is used nine times in John 6. Trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone is the key to salvation, not physically eating Jesus.
Jesus spoke of the hard-hearted Jews and faux tare disciples in Matthew 13:10-13. His words are also true of Roman Catholics: “Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”
Broussard devotes twelve sections total to his passionate defense of RC-ism’s literalist interpretation of John 6 and the Last Supper gospel accounts. Six more sections to go. Will Broussard ever get around to mentioning that the RCC also grants that non-Catholic religionists who never eat the Jesus wafer – Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, etc., and even atheists may also merit Heaven?
Next week: Protestant response #36: “The words eat and drink are used in the Bible as metaphors to refer to our relationship with God.”
Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on December 2, 2016 and has been revised.
Husband: “Hey, Dear. I’m sorry, but I was lusting after that pretty news anchor on television again.”
Wife: “Again?!?! For crying out loud. Turn it to C-SPAN…right NOW!”
John Piper is highly regarded in some evangelical circles. I was even a little taken aback by the level of Piper’s popularity when I returned to the Lord in 2014. When Piper has something to say, a segment of evangelicalism is listening.
Yesterday, I came across the article far below in which Piper advises husbands to confess their lustful desires for other women to their wives. Huh? Say what?
Please allow me to chime in on this issue with some frankness and I hope no one is offended. I’m a 66YO male and my body still produces testosterone (although obviously nowhere near the levels it did thirty or forty years ago). Males are biologically “hardwired” to procreate. When we see an appealing member of the opposite sex, we are attracted. At that point, Christian men can either wallow in the attraction and escalate the desire – lust – or we can fight the desire using any of several methods: escape, prayer, attempting to see the person through the Lord’s eyes, striving to honor the Lord and our wives in all that we think and do, etc. I’ll readily admit that I haven’t always fled temptation. Multiple industries exploit and are banking on men’s propensity to lust, or is it just a coincidence that just about every female news anchor on CNN and FOX looks like a Miss Texas? I’m so grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ, who died for all my sins and beckons me down a better road of unselfish love. When I fail, I can always run to the cross for grace and forgiveness.
Now back to Piper’s comments. Is it expedient for husbands to confess their lustful thoughts and desires to their wives? What’s your opinion? I don’t think the struggle against lust is a battle a man ever “wins.” We’ve heard MANY stories of pastors who were scandalously caught in adulterous relationships. In this culture, with its ever-growing emphasis on sex, the struggle is ongoing unless the husband lives a hermit’s existence. Maybe a man can tell his wife, “Yes, I struggle with lust now and then,” and leave it at that, but he shouldn’t be confessing the details to her on a regular basis. What good would that serve? It would just feed her insecurity with no end in sight. She’ll think, “What? He was lusting after my best friend again?! Sheesh! I’m leaving him at home from now on,” or “Hmm, maybe I better start looking for a man who respects me and who I can trust rather than somebody who admires every pair of yoga pants that walks by and thinks he’s still 25-years-old.”
If a man senses he’s being drawn deeper and deeper into lustful desires, he should probably seek counsel from his pastor, or partner up with a male friend at church for prayer, support, and accountability, but rare is the woman who is going to tolerate this kind of ongoing confession objectively. There is such a thing as TMI – too much information – even between husband and wife.
Ladies, I know it’s not all lily white on your side of the biological fence, either. I happen to know a married Christian woman who automatically stops and lingers over every movie featuring Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, or Mel Gibson while channel surfing!
My original intent in creating this post was to briefly review all of singer-songwriter, David Crosby’s solo albums, but the 81YO died on January 18th while I was still working on some of the details. We’ll get to the reviews, but first a short intro and some important opening thoughts.
In spite of his highly-publicized, self-destructive behaviors, David Crosby had been a fixture in the American music scene for 57 years, first as a founding member of the legendary Byrds, then as a member of the Crosby, Stills, and Nash (and sometimes Young) super-group, and finally in a remarkable late-life musical surge.
I’ve enjoyed Crosby’s music since I was 13YO, with his distinctive, velvety baritone and impeccable vocal harmonies (one of the very best harmonists in rock ‘n’ roll history), his funky open guitar tunings, and his unconventional songs. In many of his tunes, Crosby asked serious questions about life, society, and the Universe. He didn’t have any answers, but his ponderings were one of the things the Lord used to get me thinking about my own mortality and spiritual circumstances. Ex-Byrd, Roger McGuinn, accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone in 1977 and witnessed to his former bandmate several times, like in his 2019 tweet below.
Wow. That was quite a tweet. But Croz would have none of it. Several months following McGuinn’s tweet, Crosby blocked his old bandmate from his Twitter account. On the very last day of his life, January 18th, Crosby was on Twitter scoffing about Heaven (see graphic at far bottom).
Reviews: David Crosby’s Solo Albums
Crosby had a well-publicized falling-out with his CSN&Y bandmates (particularly Neil Young and Graham Nash) in 2016 and had been concentrating on his solo work in recent years. In fact, one could say Croz had something of a career renaissance in his old age, recording five very good solo studio albums in a span of only seven years.
It’s understandable that only serious Crosby fans would willingly endure detailed individual reviews of his 8 studio and 2 live solo albums, so I’ve put together very short summaries for all ten of the albums below. Fasten your seatbelts, friends! We’re going to do 52 years in 7 minutes!
If I Could Only Remember My Name Atlantic, 1971
Crosby’s 1971 debut solo album reached the #12 spot on the Billboard Top LPs chart based solely upon the enormous popularity of CSN&Y at the time, but when fans gave the LP a spin on the turntable they were perplexed. What was this? Crosby had holed-up in the studio with his pals from San Francisco’s premier hippie bands – Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Santana – and created this weird collection of spacey tunes. Critics panned it at the time, but it’s garnered increasing respect over the decades. Atlantic-Rhino’s 50th Anniversary Edition released in 2021 has an hour of outtakes. Most noteworthy song: Laughing (with Jerry Garcia adding the stunning pedal steel guitar licks).
Oh Yes I Can A&M, 1989
Eighteen years after his solo debut and four years after his incarceration, Croz released this mediocre solo LP, which is overwhelmed by co-producer, Craig Doerge’s 80s-style keyboards (including overdone 80s synthesizers). Strictly for the obsessive completist. Only noteworthy song: Tracks in the Dust
Thousand Roads Atlantic, 1993
The best I can say about this album is it’s “mildly pleasant” to listen to. The songs are mostly covers with Croz claiming songwriting credit on just three of the ten tracks. The first five tunes outshine the remainder. Notable songs: First track, Hero (the Crosby and Phil Collins-penned song was actually a modest hit, peaking at #3 on the Billboard US Adult Contemporary chart, listen here), and Through Your Hands.
It’s All Coming Back to Me Now… Atlantic, 1995
Croz and his excellent back-up band give a fantastic live performance. The first five tunes are “newer” songs while the last five are from the CS&N and CSN&Y 1969-1970 glory days. Jeff Pevar plays some stirring electric lead guitar throughout. I played this album a lot back in the day. Notable songs: Rusty and Blue (listen here).
Croz Blue Castle, 2014
Wow! Crosby recorded this mellow, jazz-rock fusion album twenty-one years after his last solo studio project and it’s a solid five-star gem. Crosby’s talented son, James Raymond, had a significant role in writing, arranging, and recording the tunes. Raymond’s keyboards tastefully complement the songs rather than taking center stage. Croz was released two years before the permanent breakup of CS&N and with this album Crosby was putting his old bandmates on notice that he was ready, willing, and able to go it alone. There’s an air of melancholy throughout as an aging Crosby wrestles with mortality and some of the other big questions of life. Crosby needed to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior. Notable song: It’s difficult to pick out one track because they’re all good, but I’ll go with Radio (listen here).
Lighthouse GroundUP Music, 2016
75YO David Crosby made the acquaintance of 32YO multi-instrumentalist and jazz-rock band leader, Michael League, and the two closely collaborated to create this wonderful album. No drums, just soothing melodies. Once again, Crosby inquires about “life’s big questions” and even gets close to the answer in “What Makes It So.” You should have picked up a Bible, David! Notable song: The album’s finale, By The Light of Common Day (listen here), was written and performed by Crosby and multi-talented Becca Stevens, who travels in League’s jazz-rock circles. Michelle Willis, another of League’s friends, adds back-up vocals. Both women will be heard from again as we continue this multi-review. Crosby no doubt wrote Things We Do For Love (listen here) for his wife, Jan, but also as a reprimand to his once-very close friend and colleague of 48 years, Graham Nash, for leaving his wife of 38-years for a young woman half his age. Croz and Nash never reconciled.
Sky Trails BMG, 2017
After his delightful excursion with what will later be referred to as the Lighthouse Band (League, Stevens, Willis), Crosby shifted back to collaborating with his son, James Raymond, on this fusion of jazz and rock. Once again we get lots of Raymond’s melodic arrangements and Croz pondering life’s mysteries. Excellent. Notable song: Becca Stevens guests on the beautiful Sky Trails (listen here).
Here If You Listen BMG, 2018
Michael League returns along with Becca Stevens and Michele Willis to complement Croz on this exceptional album. Once again, no drums, just delightful, jazzy melodies and soaring vocal harmonies. Yup, you guessed it: as with previous albums, there’s lots of surmising about life’s big questions. Notable song: They’re all good, but check out Vagrants of Venice (listen here). Touring in support of “Here If You Listen” in 2018, the “Lighthouse Band” performed Becca Stevens’ Lean On, which isn’t included on this album, but is very enjoyable (here) if you listen.
For Free BMG, 2021
Like back-and-forth tennis volleys, Croz rejoins his son, James Raymond, again for a good, but not outstanding album. Notable song: Lots of good tracks within, but nothing that really stands out for me.
David Crosby & The Lighthouse Band Live at the Capitol Theatre BMG, 2022
This CD/DVD combo captures Croz and the Lighthouse Band (Michael League, Becca Stevens, and Michelle Willis) at the historic Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY on December 8, 2018. The performance was the last tour date in support of the band’s “Here If You Listen” album reviewed above. Good stuff. Great to see 77YO (at the time) Crosby having a wonderful time with three young, talented musicians and singer-songwriters. As with the other Lighthouse Band projects, there are lots of guitars and keyboards, but no drums.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” – John 5:24
Welcome to the seventeenth installment of our weekly Reformanda Initiative podcast series! I’m excited to present the ministry of Dr. Leonardo De Chirico and his associates at Reformanda Initiative as they examine Roman Catholic theology in order to inform and equip evangelicals.
Season 1, Episode 17: An interview with Dr. Michael Reeves on The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ)
An interview with Prof. Michael Reeves, President and Professor of Theology at Union School of Theology, UK. Author of books such as The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation (2010) and (with Tim Chester), Why The Reformation Still Matters (2016).
On October 31, 1999, the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation signed ‘The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification’ (JDDJ), claiming that they were ‘now able to articulate a common understanding of our justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ.’ This has led many since to think that the fundamental theological differences of the Reformation have now been resolved, and that there remains little or nothing of real theological substance to prevent evangelical-Catholic unity. Professor Mark Noll, for instance, boldly declared,
“If it is true, as once was repeated frequently by Protestants conscious of their anchorage in Martin Luther or John Calvin that iustificatio articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae (justification is the article on which the church stands or falls), then the Reformation is over.”
Is the Reformation indeed, over? Listen as Dr. Reeves helps us make sense of the JDDJ.
Did the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” (JDDJ) forged by the Roman Catholic church and the liberal Lutheran World Federation in 1999 really resolve the opposing and irreconcilable views on justification that sparked the Reformation? Dr. Michael Reeves peels back the ambiguous parlance of the document to reveal that Rome continues to teach that Catholics are initially justified by baptism and then “enter into a process of justification and salvation requiring (their) free cooperation with God’s grace” (i.e., good works resulting in merit). That’s NOT the Good News. Very informative discussion.
I’ve been meaning to write this particular post for a very long time, but just couldn’t seem to get around to putting pen to paper…ur, I mean fingers to keyboard.
Some of my Christian blogger friends here at WordPress may be disappointed or concerned that I occasionally post about “secular” topics. I began this blog back in 2015 with the intent of writing strictly about theological topics, mostly dealing with the errors of Roman Catholicism and the dangers of evangelical ecumenism with Rome. The Lord put that desire in my heart and I perceived it to be a ministry and still do.
Towards the end of 2016, I began to get the itch to also occasionally publish posts about “secular” topics. Would that be okay? In the restrictive, independent fundamental Baptist culture I started out in as a new Christian four decades ago, it would definitely NOT have been okay. In that legalistic, cultish culture, interest in most “secular” activities or entertainments was a sign of worldliness Everyone at church conformed to the lock-step, group-pleasing, “Stepford Wife,” misrepresentation of themself as someone who was myopically focused strictly on “spiritual things” with no “secular” hobbies or interests. We all knew we were being phonies, but we all played along. The pastor had a keen interest in martial arts and Kung Fu action movies, but that was somehow considered to be okay (still scratching my head over that one).
With my fundamentalism experience many years behind me, I thought it would be honest and helpful for other Christians to occasionally write about my “secular” interests and hobbies. Well, God is sovereign over all, even over my “secular” recreations. So in 2016, I began to occasionally publish posts about “secular” topics along with my theological output. Over the years, there have been posts about film director, Elia Kazan, the Byrds, sports, comic books, food, yardwork, etc. In many of those “secular” posts I have been able to turn attention back to the Lord. Again, He is sovereign over all. “Secular” artists like Elia Kazan and David Crosby explored the foibles of mankind. They had many questions, but, of course, no answers. But on my journey to salvation in Jesus Christ, the Lord used the deep ponderings of “secular” artists to lead me to Him.
Many months ago, the Cave to the Cross podcast guys reviewed Scott Christensen’s book, “What About Evil,” in which the author expounded upon, among other things, the “meta-narrative.” The Bible is THE meta-narrative, the ultimate story of good vs. evil. The literature and entertainment arts of humankind are comprised of millions of good vs. evil minor-narratives. Go to any Barnes and Noble or movieplex and you’ll see it yourself. People are captivated by stories of good triumphing over evil. All of these minor-narratives point to the Biblical meta-narrative of God’s ultimate triumph over evil through Jesus Christ.
Are we to live as cloistered Roman Catholic monks, with every moment of the day strictly devoted to prayer, Bible reading, and painfully ascetic deprivations? Nope, we are to be “in the world, but not of the world” (not a Biblical quote, but garnered from Scripture, i.e., John 17:14-16). It’s okay to have “secular” interests and hobbies with the mindset that everything we think, say, and do should ultimately bring glory to God. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” – 1 Corinthians 10:31. That’s going to be different for each Christian as the Holy Spirit leads, but lets not be phony, sanctimonious, ascète fundamentalists looking down our noses at others.