Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 7/21/18

The Catholic church loves its relics and few have been as celebrated and publicized as the Shroud of Turin. Despite the proof that it’s a 14th century forgery, credulous Catholics will still flock to it and continue to put their faith in their works-righteousness institution with its emphasis on religious objects and ritualism rather than trusting in Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone.

There was a glut of local news stories this week, including coverage of a memorial to a priest and nun who tragically died in a church fire trying to rescue consecrated Jesus wafers (see my related post here); news that Rochester will join the “inclusive” band wagon and outlaw gay conversion therapy; an update on one of the first, big breakaway Catholic groups in the city that ordains women as priests and “affirms” everyone; and the angry reaction from Catholics in nearby Buffalo as they come face-to-face with the pedophile priests and cover-up scandal in their community

I’m certainly not a fan of the prosperity gospelers, but I find it gallingly hypocritical for the Vatican to take pot shots at the Osteens, Copelands, Myers, and Dollars when Catholic prelates have been living like kings and princes for 1500 years.

Jesus reincarnated? This new show is no surprise given the rising popularity of neo-Hinduism in the West.

The raging controversy over Francis’ lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees in his “Amoris Laetitia” document has run out of steam if the number of news articles are any gauge. Conservatives continue to wring their hands, but have been steam-rolled because they lack the fortitude to mount any kind of meaningful opposition. In the meantime, liberal bishops are busy implementing the new guidelines.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae encyclical, which banned all forms of birth control, even non-abortifacient contraceptives. Result? The church hierarchy lost a massive amount of credibility in the eyes of its membership, the vast majority of which have defiantly used or are using birth control. Pope Francis and his progressive allies would love to reform the church’s teaching on contraceptives, but it’s a question of how and when. It would not be surprising to see the church’s teaching overturned via a guileful, semi-ambiguous method, as Francis did by lifting the ban on communion for remarried divorcees in a footnote in his Amoris Laetitia encyclical.

Fundamentalist publisher, Jack Chick, hatched some absolutely outrageous conspiracy theories involving the Vatican and the Jesuits and ultimately helped to undermine credible Gospel witness to Roman Catholics. A couple of times, I’ve commented that Chick, in his wildest dreams, could not have come up with a papacy like that of Francis, which has created so much Sturm und Drang within Catholicism. I’m definitely not a fan of TBN huckster and ecumenist par excellence, James Robison, but I got a chuckle when I saw this article (written by a Catholic) in Robison’s virtual news rag, which makes the same observation.

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Living Biblically – Episode 11 – “Thou Shalt Not Covet”

Well, we’re slowly inching toward the end of this cancelled CBS sit-com and its propagation of works-righteousness religion. This episode looks at the Tenth Commandment.

Living Biblically
Episode 11, “Thou Shalt Not Covet”
CBS, originally aired 7/14/18

Plot

Chip (Jay R. Ferguson) and his co-worker and best friend, Vince (Tony Rock), are informed they have both been nominated for the same yearly journalism award; Chip for his “Living Biblically” column and Vince for his crime reporting.

Chip subsequently hangs out with his “God Squad” advisers, priest Gene (Ian Gomez) and rabbi Gil (David Krumholtz), at the local tavern and gloats about his nomination. The clergymen remind him that the Bible says, “Thou shalt not covet,” and advise him to be content with a job well done and to keep in mind that, in the grand scheme of things, such awards are “meaningless.”

Despite his “God Squad’s” advice, Chip confides to his wife, Leslie (Lindsey Kraft), that he’s struggling to not covet the award. She suggests that he focus on rooting for Vince to win.

At the awards dinner, Chip tries to make everyone believe that he’s rooting for Vince, but when he’s announced as the winner, he proceeds to make a pompous fool of himself via his obnoxious acceptance speech. However, the emcee abruptly stops the ceremony, saying a mistake had been made and that Vince is the actual winner. Chip then predictably states that he doesn’t really care about the dumb award after all, thereby insulting and angering Vince.

Back at the tavern and with the guidance of his “God Squad,” Chip apologizes to Vince for his behavior and the two friends reconcile.

Comments

The premise of “Living Biblically” is that the main character, Chip, a Roman Catholic and self-professed “good” person, desires to be an “even better” person by following the Bible literally. The show is in sync with the “good people go to Heaven” philosophy and at odds with the Biblical message of man’s total depravity and the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

That being said, I did appreciate this episode about covetousness to a certain degree. No matter how hard he tried to take the high road, Chip’s pride and selfish desires came through. Catholics and other works religionists maintain that they successfully obey the Ten Commandments with the help of sacramental grace. But when they stand before their Holy Judge, He will reveal the tens of thousands of covetous and envious thoughts and actions they had throughout the course of their entire life. And that is just one of the Commandments! When we stand before the Lord, we will not have one single plea of righteousness of our own. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise.

“For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” – Ephesians 5:5

Yet another book about pope Francis’ heresies from a Catholic author

The Dictator Pope: The Inside Story of the Francis Papacy
By Marcantonio Colonna* (aka Henry Sire)
Regenery Publishing, 2018 Revised Edition, 232 pages

After cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected to the papacy on March 13, 2013, many were immediately impressed by his seemingly humble, pastoral approach, which was a noticeable contrast to the rigorous doctrinalism of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. When pope Francis’ off-the-cuff, theologically liberal remarks began making headlines, conservative Catholics attributed them to media misrepresentation, but after a short span it became entirely clear that Francis did not share their agenda.

We’re now seeing a growing number of conservative Catholic critics publicly voicing their deep displeasure with Francis. In this updated version of his controversial 2017 bestseller, historian, Henry Sire, examines Bergoglio’s past and the most eyebrow-raising aspects of his papacy.

When the college of cardinals elected Bergoglio in 2013, few were aware of his liberal proclivities, but an influential, progressive cadre had groomed the Argentinian as their candidate several years previous.

Francis and his progressive allies saw the unbending doctrinal rigidity of JPII and Benedict XVI as impediments to the church’s survival, and they seek to move the church away from doctrinal emphasis to a more pragmatic, “pastoral” approach. Sire devotes much space to Francis’ engineering of the lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees via the 2014 and 2015 synods and his guileful 2016 Amoris Laetitia encyclical. Conservative prelates who oppose his “reforms” are swiftly divested of their positions or influence (hence, the title, “The Dictator Pope”). Religious orders that cling to the Latin mass or other forms of traditionalism are targeted for “correction.” This revised edition was published before Francis’ latest airplane-aisle press conference in which he declared that individual bishops could decide on the issue of intercommunion with Protestants in their diocese.

Francis and his allies will continue to advance such progressive causes such as ending the rule of celibacy for priests, affirming sexually active homosexuals and blessing same-sex unions, and ending the ban on non-abortifacient contraceptives. The author points out that, despite his reputation as a reformer, Francis has kept at arms-length such glaring problems as the much-needed reorganization of the entrenched Curia (the Vatican bureaucracy), the ongoing priest pedophile scandal, and the murky and teetering Vatican finances.

Catholic conservatives are hoping that Francis’ reign ends quickly, but in the meantime Francis is busy “stacking the deck” by appointing new cardinals who share his views to ensure his successor carries forward his progressive reforms.

It’s satisfying to see these critical exposés of Francis from Catholic sources. Catholics once boasted that their pope, under divine guidance, could never lead their church into doctrinal error, but Francis has “reformed” that claim as well.

Catholic friend, what should you do now that your foundation is crumbling? Repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. Jesus is the only Foundation worth standing on. After you have accepted Christ, then ask Him to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise.

*Historian and Vatican expert, Henry Sire, sought to cloak his identity by using a nom de plume, Marcantonio Colonna, when the first edition of this book was published in November 2017. When his identity was later uncovered, his membership in the Knights of Malta, a Catholic lay religious order, was suspended.

Click on the links below to see my reviews of other books written by Catholic authors that are extremely critical of Francis:

“The Political Pope: How Pope Francis is Delighting the Liberal Left and Abandoning Conservatives” by George Neumayr

“Lost Shepherd: How Francis is Misleading His Flock” by Philip Lawler

“To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism” by Ross Douthat

Update: Play ball! Opening Day, 2018!

Back on March 29th, I wrote the optimistic post far below, but as Major League Baseball takes a break for All-Star week, I thought this would be a good time to update everyone on the status of my sorry San Diego Padres.

The Padres stumbled out of the blocks in April as usual, but seemed to be picking up steam and by the middle of June they had accumulated a record of 34-38. Not great, but .500 was within sight. However, since then the team has gone into a tail spin and lost 21 of their last 27, compiling a record of 40-59. Of the 30 teams in MLB, only three have worse records.

What’s the problem? Same old song. No hitting. The Padres can’t compete with the large-market clubs for free-agent bats and the “can’t miss” kids in the farm system never seem to pan out as promised.

The sole big-ticket, free agent pick-up, Eric Hosmer (1B), is having a disappointing season, batting only .249 with 10 HRs. But to be fair, opposing pitchers are able to bear down on him because of the weak line-up. The other veteran big stick, Wil Myers (LF-pictured), has played in only 33 games because of injury. Rookie Christian Villanueva (3B) has been a semi-bright spot with an impressive 19 HRs, but he swings at pitches two feet out of the strike zone, resulting in a .232 BA. But that’s not all that bad compared to the rest of the roster. The team batting average is .232, which is 27th in MLB. Ouch! The pitching is a little better with a team ERA of 4.29, 19th out of 30 teams, but the Padres pitchers receive no run support.

At the start of every season, Padres fans hope for a .500 record, but this year’s team could very well be be headed to the ignominous distinction of 100+ losses, something Padres fans haven’t seen since 1993.

Some people live and die for their sports teams, but in the end it’s all just sinking sand. Hobbies and interests are fine if kept in perspective, but remember that life without Jesus Christ is no life at all.

via Play ball! Opening Day, 2018!

25 most viewed posts from the past twelve months

Today marks the third anniversary of this blog and, by coincidence, this is the 1000th post. So I’m marking the occasion by listing the 25 most viewed posts for the past twelve months. Praise the Lord for His blessings including the ability to to keep plugging away at this blog for another twelve months! Thank you, Jesus! And thanks to all the friends and readers out there for taking the time to read my humble posts, for the re-blogs, and for sending in your comments!

Click on the title to read the post.

Rank Rank Last Year Title Views Posted Comment
1 Mr. Tambourine Man: The Byrds take flyte and Dylan and the Beatles take notice 630 1/7/2018 A Bob Dylan fan posted a link to this article on his website resulting in many hits.
2 4 Walter Martin was no admirer of Catholicism but dropped the ball in “Kingdom of the Cults” 578 10/7/2015 Deceased evangelical apologist, Walter Martin, continues to be googled quite often.
3 Question: When George Harrison was singing, “My Sweet Lord,” who was he singing to? 382 8/31/2017 Most thought “My Sweet Lord” was harmless fun.
4 All hail, Ganesha! Elephant god worshiped in a Catholic church 381 8/30/2017 One of my strangest posts; a statue of the Hindu god, Ganesha, worshipped inside a Catholic church
5 6 James White: What goes through Ravi Zacharias’s head? 339 7/14/2016 Zacharias propagates ecumenism with Rome.
6 7 Does Jorge “pope Francis” Bergoglio wear a “cilice”? 301 9/23/2015 Many googling “cilice” end up here.
7 ♫ Don’t you write her off like that, she’s a real fine lady, don’t you see. ♫ 257 8/21/2017 Many searching for McGuinn end up here.
8 Why did Jesus use mud salve to heal the blind man’s eyes? 249 5/3/2017 Evidently, a lot of people had the same question.
9 20 “If I take off my scapular prior to surgery and die on the operating table, will I still go to Heaven?” 239 1/17/2017 The rules associated with the scapular reveal the futility of sacramentals.
10 “I certainly don’t need to be saved. I’m a good person.” 239 2/20/2018 Got a boost from SlimJim’s social media.
11 8 Sorry, no unbaptized babies allowed! 226 12/17/2015 Heartbreaking post on Catholicism’s cold indifference.
12 16 Ravi Zacharias impersonates Fred Astaire while compromising the Gospel 189 10/29/2015 Zacharias propagating ecumenism with Rome again.
13 Rules about “holy water.” Who knew?!?! 187 6/16/2016 This post attract pious Catholics searching for holy water etiquette.
14 2 Why is it so important to Catholics that Mary remained a virgin? 170 7/21/2015 Marital relations were seen as evil by Catholics, which necessitated Mary remaining a virgin.
15 How Walter Martin sowed the seeds for the current Hank Hanegraaff controversy 164 8/7/2017 Martin’s ambiguous views on Catholicism led to all kinds of confusion.
16 A bullet in the crown of the “Queen of Heaven.” 149 4/7/2017 The curious look for information on the bullet that struck pope John Paul II.
17 “Catholicism Under the Searchlight of the Scriptures” by John Carrara 148 7/31/2017 It was gratifying to see many searching for deceased evangelist, John Carrara
18 Catholic calisthenics: Sit, stand, kneel, sit, stand, kneel… 143 2/27/2017 I believe most of these posture changes at mass are incorporated to keep people awake.
19 Popular Evangelical, Joni Eareckson Tada, endorses ecumenical “First Things” 141 10/8/2015 Interesting how this old post on Joni Eareckson Tada’s ecumenical compromise still has legs.
20 Angels carried Jesus’ house from Nazareth to Europe!?!? 136 7/31/2015 People continue to google the fallacious “Holy House” of Loreto.
21 Catholicism’s “three-legged stool” – Broken for all the world to see! 127 12/8/2017 Pope Francis has deflated Catholic boastings regarding the papacy.
22 “Roman Catholicism” by Martyn Lloyd-Jones 121 1/23/2018 The notable English pastor dissects Catholicism
23 1 “Risen,” the book 121 2/12/2016 This was last year’s #1 post with 983 views.
24 Don’t you dare try to correct me! I’m a priest!!! 120 4/18/2017 Former radio priest, Rick Poblocki, was quite a blusterer.
25 Whatever happened to St. Christopher medals? 116 10/2/2015 These medals used to be a Catholic staple until the church admitted Christopher was fictitious.

See last year’s Top 25 post here.

The Legion’s Greatest Tale – Part One

Beginning with young Jim Shooter’s writing debut in Adventure Comics #346, we’ve seen him make fantastic strides. With his next story, the two-issue saga, “The Fatal Five” and “The Doomed Legionnaire,” Shooter would create what still remains, fifty-one-years later, as the Legion of Super-Heroes most memorable adventure.

The Fatal Five!
Adventure Comics #352, January, 1967
Writer and Layouts: Jim Shooter, Penciller: Curt Swan

Plot

In deep space, a lone sentinel sounds the alarm as he detects the approach of the galaxy’s most feared entity, initially described with great dread only as the unmentionable “it.” Meanwhile, a small contingent of Legionnaires, including Cosmic Boy, Ferro Lad, Princess Projectra, Sun Boy, and Superboy, watches a rogue’s gallery documentary showing the five most dangerous criminals known to the Science Police: the Persuader, who wields an atomic axe, capable of slicing through anything, including energy; Tharok, once a common criminal whose entire left side was replaced with robotic members after an accident, with his half-robotic brain increasing his intelligence exponentially; the Emerald Empress who took possession of the Emerald Eye of Ekron, which has almost unlimited power; Validus, a mammoth being with incalculable strength and a hair-trigger temper; and Mano, a mutant from a strange world, who can annihilate anything, even an entire planet, with the touch of his unshielded right hand. The police have labeled these super criminals as “The Fatal Five.”

Later that evening, the Legion receives a direct emergency call from the President of the United Planets Inner Council. The “it” mentioned previously turns out to be the dreaded Sun-Eater, a large, cloud-like entity wandering through the universe and devouring the energy from the stars in its path, wiping out solar system after solar system and galaxy after galaxy and now headed toward the Sun.

With the other nineteen Legion members detained on a mission in “Dimension QK-51,” Superboy and the others desperately plead with superheroes scattered throughout the galaxy to come to their aid, but to no avail. Cosmic Boy then comes up with the idea of appealing to the Fatal Five for their assistance, hoping their own sense of self-preservation will make them agreeable.

The five Legionnaires travel to the ends of the galaxy in search of the Fatal Five and must intervene to save three of the criminals who are on the verge of being executed for their horrific crimes. The Legionnaires arrive back on Earth with the Fatal Five in tow as the Sun-Eater approaches the Sun. Will the combined powers of the small Legion contingent and the Fatal Five be enough to stop the dreaded Sun-Eater and save the Sun and the Earth? Find out in a few weeks when I review Adventure Comics #353 and “The Doomed Legionnaire!” Uh-oh, that title definitely sounds ominous.

Commentary

This is simply a fantastic story with the five Legionnaires improbably paired with the five most powerful criminals in the galaxy against the most dangerous threat the Legion has ever faced. Shooter outdid himself with the creation of the five impressive villains. The quintet would resurface in Legion lore many times in the future. I’ll have many more superlatives to add regarding this classic tale in my review of the conclusion.

Flubs

I would seriously like to know what was so important in Dimension QK-51 that prevented the other 19 Legionnaires from helping to stop the Sun-Eater from destroying the solar system? Also, this isn’t really a flub, but I would like to know how Ferro Lad is able to function biologically when he transforms his entire anatomy into iron? Does not compute.

Postscript: My last laugh!

As a boy, my Dad tried to break me of my comics addiction by telling me that reading comic books wouldn’t get me anywhere in life. Really, Dad? I was only eleven. It wasn’t like I was hanging out in dark alleys at night. Argh! Time passed and one day I was sitting at my desk in sixth grade, taking a science test and not doing very well. One of the questions on Mrs. Ellis’ test asked for the Latin name of the “most useful” star in the galaxy. The correct answer was “Polaris” for the North Star. I knew what Mrs. Ellis was fishing for, but having forgotten the correct answer, I substituted “Sol,” the Latin name for the Sun, which I had learned on page 10 of this very issue (see below). Chagrined, Mrs. Ellis had no choice but to accept my clever substitute answer, which gave me just enough points to score a passing grade of 75 on the test! Take that, Mrs. Ellis! You too, Dad!

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Devout Catholic consumes stranger’s vomit?

Warning: If you are of a squeamish nature, you may want to skip this post, although it presents an excellent example of the bizarreness of Catholic doctrines when they are pursued to their ultimate conclusion.

Roman Catholics are taught that during the mass their priests change bread wafers and wine into the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ. The mass attendees then line up and receive the Jesus wafer from the priest and consume it, believing they are actually eating Jesus and communing with Him and receiving graces for fifteen minutes while the wafer is broken down in their digestive tract.

Belief in the “transubstantiation” of the bread wafer into Jesus has some very strange consequences. Catholics come to church during off-hours to worship and adore a large Jesus wafer displayed on the altar. Catholics have been known to enter a burning church building to rescue surplus Jesus wafers stored in the altar “tabernacle” from the flames. Any irreverence or harm to the Jesus wafer is seen as an intolerable desecration.

I recently came across the audio-video far below of a five-minute segment from the 07/11/18 edition of the “Take 2 with Jerry & Debbie” Catholic talk-radio show broadcast on the EWTN network. An anonymous Catholic woman who identified herself as “Mary” from Houston, Texas called into the show and shared her disturbing story. At the 0:55 mark of the video, Mary relates the following:

“… I used to bring communion to the hospitals…and I gave this one lady communion, and she immediately puked. And I felt like, okay, what are you supposed to do?

And so I gathered, you know, all the vomit and the host in this little plastic bag. And then I started thinking, How can I leave Jesus there? That is just disgusting. What can I do?

I swallowed it. I swallowed the whole bag.

[Laughs]

… I did! I couldn’t stand to leave Him there!

And then I went to Mass, and I was in the choir, and guess what the song was? “Look Beyond the Bread You Eat, See Your Savior and your God.”

[Laughs]

I mean, that was definitely no coincidence! That was…He was saying, “Yep, I appreciated it!”

This poor, deluded woman swallowed a plastic bag containing a stranger’s vomit believing she was doing the proper thing. Did program co-host, Debbie Georgianni, then counsel the woman to curb her bizarre piety? How could she when her church teaches the consecrated bread wafer is actually Jesus? While Georgianni states that if she were in the same predicament she would have taken the vomit to a church for proper disposal, she commends Mary for “how (she) handled the situation” and praises her for “how beautiful(ly) you responded from your heart because you care so much about the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord in the eucharist.”

Roman Catholicism butchers John 6:22-71 with a literalistic interpretation, but the passage is all about belief and saving faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, NOT about physically eating Him!

Postscript: Contemplating this horrible story, one can’t help but think of the unmentioned final outcome. The plastic bag containing the vomited Jesus wafer was ultimately excreted into the Houston sewer system. No, my Savior, the King of kings and Lord of lords is not flushed down into a sewer system!

“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” – John 6:27-29

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 7/14/18

In the above article, a Catholic deacon explains his church’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Although Catholicism pays lip service to “grace” and “faith,” the bottom line for every Catholic is they must “cooperate with grace” (i.e., obey the Ten Commandments and church rules) in order to merit Heaven.

It’s not a question of “can” the Catholic church change its teachings regarding homosexuality. Pope Francis and his progressive allies have already made great strides in moving the church towards “affirming” practicing LGBTers.

Pastor Leonardo De Chirico of Rome, Italy is the driving force behind the Reformanda Initiative, which seeks to educate evangelicals regarding the differences between Catholicism’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit and the Gospel of grace. Why don’t we see a similar effort in the United States?

Judge Amy Coney Barrett was recently in the news again as a possible candidate to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice, Anthony Kennedy. Coney Barrett is a charismatic Catholic and a member of the People of Praise “covenant community,” a cultish group comprised mainly of Catholics that seeks to promote ecumenism.

The effects of Pope Francis’ most recent airplane-aisle ruling, allowing individual bishops to decide on intercommunion with Protestants, continue to ripple through the church, but with noticeably less opposition than his lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees in 2016. Are church conservatives being worn down?

Opposition mounts as efforts to canonize two anti-Semites, Polish cardinal, August Hlonde and G.K. Chesterton, continue.

Mega-churches continue to bend to the culture to attract visitors. What will be the next innovation? Here’s some speculation from The Babylon Bee.

“I stopped going to mass because I wasn’t getting anything out of it.”

Millions upon millions of American Catholics have dropped away from their church over the past several decades because, try and try as hard as they might, they just could not find any satisfaction sitting in a pew for one hour at obligatory Sunday mass, witnessing the same rote ritual over and over, again and again. The common complaint that’s heard from these former or lapsed Catholics is, “I didn’t get anything out of the mass so I stopped going.” This oft-repeated remark drives pious Catholics crazy who respond with vigor that the mass isn’t supposed to be a feel-good event, but is an obligation of Catholic worship by which attendees offer proper and due sacrifice unto God and are blessed with sacramental grace.

The other day, I was listening to the 6/29/18 podcast of the “Called to Communion” Catholic talk radio show. The stated purpose of the show is to convince Protestants to convert to Catholicism. Maureen from Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin called in at the 24:35 mark to say that she was a former Catholic who had “stopped going to (mass) because (she) wasn’t getting anything out of it” and that in all her years in Catholicism, she “never learned how to have a relationship with God.” Maureen went on to say that she eventually started attending a “Bible-preaching, Christian church” and “did find that relationship with God.” In closing, she asked Anders, somewhat inarticulately, “Why somebody can get out of a different church something (they weren’t) able to get out of the Catholic church?”

Program host, David Anders, responded with several points. He conceded that many Protestant churches offer a type of “warm, affective spirituality,” a condescending phrase he repeated three times. He spoke about how he was brought up in evangelical Christianity, but after much study as an adult, he become convinced of the “objective” authenticity and authority of Catholicism. He reiterated that the prime reason for worship is to offer sacrifice, which is the fulcrum of the mass, where bread wafers and wine are allegedly transformed by the priest into the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ and offered up to God the Father as a sacrifice for the sins of the congregants, and that Protestant worship services, by comparison, do not include sacrifice. Anders apologized to Maureen on behalf of the church for her deficient religious training (aka “bad catechesis”), which did not help her to feel like she could have a relationship with God within the Catholic church.

My take? Well, there’s a lot to reply to, but I’ll keep it brief.

  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; the mass is on the list of the most boring hours a person could ever spend. There is no genuine joy and worship at the mass. The attendees don’t know Jesus Christ as Savior and the mass is a perfunctory exercise in ritualistic religious legalism. The sacrificial priesthood and ongoing sacrifice for sin were done away with by Jesus Christ.
  • Maureen spoke about “finding a relationship with God” at a Bible-preaching church. I don’t want to be critical of Maureen, but that kind of vague talk is helpful to no one. The same thing goes for such sayings as “I gave my life to Jesus” or “I accepted Jesus into my heart.” If you’re born-again in Christ then please tell people that you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as your SAVIOR, not some obscure, milquetoast cliché. Yes, a born-again Christian does have a “relationship with God” through Jesus Christ, but such an ambiguity could mean ten different things to ten different people. When you tell people that you trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior and He forgave all of your sins, now you’re making a stand for Christ and the Gospel.
  • Anders boasts that his academic studiousness and objectivity led him to Catholicism. Really? Other scholars have studied the Bible and Christianity and have placed their trust in Jesus Christ by faith alone. But worldly wisdom is not the key to salvation. It is the Holy Spirit who gives sight to the spiritually blind.
  • I went through Catholic grade school and high school and never did I or my classmates ever hear about the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The only thing we heard about was the Catholic bad news of salvation through sacramental grace and merit. Bad catechesis? No, Dr. Anders, it was the ONLY catechesis available and that is still the case.

When lapsed Catholics say they stopped attending mass because they weren’t getting anything out it, they are proclaiming the honest truth. Besides, the mass is a blasphemy against God and people are better off by not attending. Catholic friend, come out of religious legalism and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. After you have accepted Christ, you will truly enjoy gathering with fellow evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ and worshiping the Lord in spirit and in truth.

But doesn’t Scripture call homosexuality a sin? No problem. Just avoid all of those “problematic” Scripture passages.

Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship, of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity
By James Martin, SJ
Harper One, 2017, 150 pages

For decades, the progressive wing of the Roman Catholic church has been pushing for acceptance and “affirmation” of the church’s active LGBT members. Given the amount of headlines I’m seeing in the Catholic press, there are signs that this crusade is moving toward a critical, watershed moment. Jesuit priest, James Martin (photo left), serves as the unofficial point man for the pro-Gay movement within the church and his name is increasingly mentioned in related articles and news stories, both pro and con.

In this short but very influential book, Martin makes his case for the church to accept and affirm active LGBT members. In Martin’s viewpoint, it’s not a matter of homosexuality being sinful. Not at all. He starts from the premise that God made homosexuals just the way they are, therefore sin cannot be connected to their behavior. In this book, homosexuality is presented as a gift from God that the church must respect like any other. Martin calls for the church to repent of its bigoted past attitude towards active LGBT members, just as he calls upon active LGBT members to repent of their disrespectful attitudes towards the church’s “overburdened” and formerly intolerant hierarchy.

Although there are several references to Scripture passages that appeal to love and acceptance, the Bible passages that identify homosexuality as a sin are noticeable by their absence.

All of the above is essentially a moot point because Roman Catholicism does not teach the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. But as a Vatican observer, it’s interesting to watch the liberal and conservative factions of the church jostling for advantage in this mounting controversy. Pope Francis has already overturned church dogma by lifting the ban on communion for remarried divorcees and by leaving the question of intercommunion with liberal Protestants up to each bishop. Will Francis also be able to overturn the church’s teaching on same-sex relationships and marriages or is the 81-year-old pontiff pragmatically preparing the way for his successor?

I don’t recommend this book to anyone. My interest was merely to get a clearer understanding of progressive Catholics’ views on homosexuality and all of my questions were answered.

Postscript: Martin suggests elsewhere that 30% of Catholic priests are homosexuals.