Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 7/11/20

The March 3rd deposition of former-Rochester Catholic bishop, Matthew Clark (photo above), in bankruptcy court was finally released to the public this past week. Clark, 82, oversaw the Rochester diocese from 1979 to 2012, the time period that most of the surviving victims of priest abuse say they were preyed upon. In his deposition, Clark fully admitted to reassigning (aka shuffling) predatory priests and maintaining secret files. I’m glad Clark told the truth (attorneys for the diocese are attempting to impugn his testimony), but he’s indirectly responsible for the abuse of hundreds (or thousands?) of Rochester-area children over the course of his thirty-three-year tenure as bishop.

The progressive German Catholic bishops are pursuing radical reforms via their “Synodal Way” initiative, such as married and female priests, and pope Francis has given them a green light.

Any tax dollars diverted to Roman Catholic schools is a blatant violation of the separation of church and state.

Some of same pastors who correctly object to Hindu yoga being taught in public schools, still bemoan the fact that school-sponsored, conscripted prayer was banned from public schools in 1962. Tax-supported government institutions should not support/endorse ANY religion, even the nebulously-inclusive “In God We Trust” American civil religion.

Catholic archbishop and gadfly, Carlo Viganò, speaks for many conservative and traditionalist Catholics with his unqualified denunciation of the Second Vatican Council. Pope Francis continues to respond to Viganò’s critical broadsides with silence.

Yes, there were individual Roman Catholics who contributed to the founding of the United States. What the writers of articles such as this one deliberately fail to mention is that the Roman Catholic popes continued to condemn democratic forms of government, freedom of religion, and the heresy of “Americanism” right up until the end of the 19th century. Examples? Pope Leo XIII condemned “Americanism” in his apostolic letter, Testem Benevolentiae, of Jan. 22, 1899. See here.

The Vatican has been engulfed by rumors and reports of financial corruption since the early-1970s. See here for an embarrassing timeline of Vatican finances from a Catholic source.

In his new book, “The Next Pope,” conservative Catholic, George Weigel, hopes the next “pontiff” is the polar opposite of the pragmatic and doctrine-bending progressive, Bergoglio.

I’m not scandalized by CNN host, Don Lemon’s absurdly false and ignorant statement that “Jesus Christ admittedly was not perfect.” Lost people (including all of the lost people at FOX news) have no clue about Jesus Christ and the Gospel. Yes, Don, Jesus Christ was perfect and He came to save the lost like you.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #31: “Mary Needed a Savior”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his section on Mary as he counters evangelical Protestants’ arguments that “Mary Needed a Savior.”

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The Roman Catholic church teaches that Mary was not only initially preserved from original sin (aka a sin nature) at the moment of her alleged “immaculate conception,” but that she also “committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life” – CCC 411. Not so fast, object Protestants, who point to Luke 1:47 where Mary exclaimed,

“…my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

Protestants rightly ask, How could Mary have exalted God as her Savior if she was sinless? This is a difficult verse for the Roman Catholic church and Broussard presents the church’s rationale. Fasten your seat belts.

The RCC agrees that God is Mary’s Savior, but in a “singularly unique way.” How so? Pope Pius IX posited the following:

“In view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, [Mary] was preserved free from all stain of original sin.”

Broussard elaborates, “Unlike we who are saved by the application of a past event, Mary was saved by the application of graces of a future event” (p. 174).

In plain English, Catholics argue that Mary was saved by God at the moment of her conception based upon the merits of Jesus’s future propitatory sacrifice and kept sinless by God’s grace, so that Mary could rejoice in her Savior, even though she was allegedly always without sin. Some Catholics also zealously advocate for the sinlessness of John the Baptist and Mary’s husband, Joseph, although the RCC has not officially ruled on those two cases.

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

  • Last week, we thoroughly discussed how Romans 3:10-12 precludes any exceptions to the Scriptural truth that “None is righteous, no, not one.” See here.
  • Nowhere in the New Testament is there a teaching of the preservation of anyone from sin as Roman Catholicism claims for Mary. The doctrine is a Roman fabrication.
  • If Mary was sinless, why did she go to the Temple to offer a sacrifice for her uncleanness in Luke 2:22? Broussard predictably omits any mention of that verse. See the article far below for more on this topic.
  • Why is it so important for Catholics that Mary be sinless? In Catholic theology, Mary was semi-deified and elevated to the offices of co-mediator and co-redemptrix, along with Jesus Christ. It followed that Mary had to have been sinless in order for her to hold those offices. The doctrine of Mary’s immaculate conception was eventually defined as binding Catholic dogma in 1854.
  • According to Catholic tradition, Mary’s mother was named Anne. If Mary had to have been sinless in order to bear Jesus Christ in her womb, as Catholics argue, it follows that Anne would also have had to been sinless to bear Mary, and that Anne’s mother would also have had to been sinless to bear her, etc., etc., etc.

Mary exalted her Savior because she was a sinner saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, just like every other genuine Christian. She would be grieved to know how Catholics semi-deify her and worship her.

I hope you enjoyed the brevity of this chapter. It was Broussard’s shortest chapter up to this point.

If Mary was sinless, why was she unclean and had to offer a sacrifice for sin?
https://carm.org/catholic/mary-unclean-offered-sacrifice-for-sin

Next up: “The Lord’s Brothers”

Throwback Thursday: Talking with Catholic friends and family about Jesus Christ and the genuine Gospel

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on January 27, 2016 and has been revised.

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Talking with Catholic Friends and Family
By James G. McCarthy
Harvest House Publishers, 2005, 224 pp.

5 Stars

In “The Gospel According to Rome” (1995), ex-Catholic and evangelical Christian minister, James G. McCarthy, presented a thorough, 400-page comparison of Roman Catholic theology with Scripture. Although I appreciate that book immensely, it might be too much information for those who desire only a summary view of how Catholicism disagrees with Biblical Christianity.

In “Talking with Catholic Friends and Family,” McCarthy gets down to where the tire meets the road, examining how Catholics approach their church’s teachings and providing several examples of how to witness to them. For the vast majority of Catholics, their religion is just part of their familial and ethnic baggage. They generally have little knowledge of Catholic theology or the Bible and participate in the church’s sacramental rituals only out of habit and obligation, if at all.

McCarthy gives many examples of Catholics who did trust in Christ and left Catholic legalism. This book provides practical information for Christians who desire to share the Good News! of the free gift of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone with Catholic family members and friends.

Although this excellent book is regrettably out of print, used copies of “Talking with Catholic Friends and Family” are available at Amazon starting at $5.96. See here.

The Ecumenical Hall of Shame

Some evangelical Christians will find this post incredibly offensive. They will ask, “How could anyone besmirch the character of these great men and women of God?” It’s not surprising that the evil one would bring deadly error into the church via popular pastors, theologians, and para-church leaders. We have a Biblical mandate for pointing out those who accommodate and compromise with false gospels.

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A month ago, I presented a series of posts examining the inaptly named, “Christian Hall of Fame” (see here). That series gave me the idea me to compile a list of “evangelicals” who have played prominent roles in the betrayal of the Gospel in the cause of ecumenical unity with Roman Catholicism, with its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. The confusion and damage caused by these twenty-five men in their embracement of Roman Catholicism as a Christian entity cannot be overstated. While most of these people accomplished some good things, all of them muddied the Gospel of grace.

Many would categorize all of the individuals on this list as “evangelicals,” but it’s doubtful if several of them were/are redeemed. This is certainly not meant to be an exhaustive list, but only a collection of some of the most influential ecumenists that come to mind. Additional suggestions are welcome.

The names below are hyper-linked to their respective Wiki articles.

Bill Bright (1921-2003) – Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ and one of the ten evangelical formal endorsers of the initial “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” (1994) ecumenical declaration.

Edward John Carnell (1919-1967) – Theologian, apologist, and former president of Fuller Theological Seminary. Along with Harold Ockenga and Carl Henry, Carnell provided the intellectual “clout” behind Billy Graham’s popular ecumenical outreach.

Chuck Colson (1931-2012) – Founder of Prison Fellowship ministry and The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and co-founder of the Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) ecumenical initiative.

Kenneth Copeland (1936- ) – Pentecostal televangelist and purveyor of the prosperity gospel. In 2014, Copeland partnered with Tony Palmer in organizing highly publicized meetings of Pentecostal and charismatic leaders with pope Francis.

William Lane Craig (1949- ) – Theologian and philosopher. Disciple of influential ecumenist, Norman Geisler. Outspoken in his acceptance of the RCC as a Christian entity.

Paul Crouch (1934-2013) – Pentecostal founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), which has consistently championed the cause of ecumenism with its programming.

James Dobson (1936- ) – Founder of the nationally popular Focus on the Family radio-book ministry, who undiscerningly enlisted Catholic clergy and laity in his culture battle to “save the family.”

Jerry Falwell, Sr. (1933-2007) – Baptist pastor and founder of the Moral Majority who melded evangelicalism and American nationalism, thereby subordinating Protestant and Catholic theological differences in the interest of conservative political activism.

Norman Geisler (1932-2019) – Theologian and philosopher who steered evangelical pop apologetics (see Craig, McDowell, Strobel, Turek, Zacharias, etc.) toward ecumenism with Rome.

Timothy George (1950 – ) – Theologian who co-authored the ecumenical Manhattan Declaration and was a prolific contributor to Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT).

Billy Graham (1918-2018) – The most famous evangelist of the 20th century. Graham discreetly enlisted the support of local Catholic bishops for his crusades, beginning as far back as the 1950s. His cooperation with the Roman Catholic church became increasingly less cautious in the 1960s. The personal information collected from Catholics who came forward at Graham’s crusades was turned over to Catholic workers, who informed the “seekers” that they had merely rededicated themselves to their baptism and/or confirmation.

Franklin Graham (1952- ) – Continues his father’s ecumenical legacy although with a stronger emphasis on Christian-American nationalism.

Carl F. Henry (1913-2003) – Theologian and first editor of Christianity Today magazine. Henry, in partnership with Billy Graham and Harold Ockenga, founded the “Neo-Evangelical” movement, which distanced itself from separatist fundamentalism and advanced a more accommodating and compromising approach to Roman Catholicism. It was often said that Henry was the “brains” behind the less-academically-inclined Graham.

Richard Land (1946- ) – Prominent Southern Baptist and founder of The Christian Post internet news site, which routinely presents Roman Catholicism as a Christian entity. Land was one of the three evangelical signatories of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT), along with Chuck Colson and J.I. Packer.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) – British author, apologist, and high-church Anglican who determinedly paved the way for ecumenism between Protestants and Roman Catholics. Chuck Colson cited Lewis as the inspiration behind Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT).

Walter Martin (1928-1989) – Considered THE evangelical authority on cult religions. His book, “Kingdom of the Cults” (1965), famously did not reference Roman Catholicism. Martin said of pope John XXIII that he believed he was a “sincere Christian.”

Mark Noll (1946- ) – This “evangelical” historian has been at the center of the ecumenical movement with his book, “Is the Reformation Over?” (2005) – Noll definitely thinks it is – and as one of the ten evangelical formal endorsers of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT).

Harold Ockenga (1905-1985) – Pastor and theologian, who, along with Billy Graham and Carl Henry, pioneered the “Neo-Evangelical” movement, which advanced conciliatory rapprochement with Roman Catholicism.

J.I. Packer (1926- ) – The influential theologian lent his considerable reputation to the ecumenical movement as one of the three evangelical signatories, along with Chuck Colson and Richard Land, of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT).

Tony Palmer (1966-2014) – South African Anglican who brokered the landmark 2014 ecumenical meetings between pope Francis and Pentecostal and charismatic leaders.

Pat Robertson (1930- ) – Charismatic (theology not personality) founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and host of The 700 Club. Along with Jerry Falwell and James Dobson, Robertson was a leader of the Christian nationalist movement of the 80s and 90s and was one of the ten evangelical formal endorsers of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT). Robertson has consistently identified the Roman church as a Christian entity.

John Stott (1921-2011) – Influential English-Anglican priest and theologian who steered English (and American) evangelicals towards rapprochement with Rome.

Billy Sunday (1862-1935) – Prominent evangelist of four generations ago who set the stage for Billy Graham by sending the personal information collected from Catholics who came forward at his evangelistic services back to Catholic workers for follow-up.

Rick Warren (1954- ) – Influential leader of the seeker-friendly, church-growth movement. Often referred to as “America’s Pastor.” Warren has close connections with the U.S. Roman Catholic hierarchy and has often spoken at Catholic institutions.

Ravi Zacharias (1946-2020) – Pop apologist and disciple of Norman Geisler, who routinely referred to prominent Roman Catholic clergy, laity, and “saints” as Christians in his talks.

Dishonorable mention: Jerry Falwell, Jr. (following in his father’s footsteps of propagating ecumenical Christian nationalism), Richard Foster (popularized Catholic mysticism, contemplative prayer, and Ignatian spiritual formation among evangelicals), Nick Hall (Pulse founder and organizer of ecumenical “Together” events), Robert Jeffress (Baptist pastor and Christian nationalist), David Jeremiah (pastor, contributed to the Catholic-controlled “A.D.” project), Greg Laurie (charismatic pastor and evangelist fully embraces the RCC as a Christian entity), Bill McCartney (founder of the ecumenical Promise Keepers), Eric Metaxas (author and radio host, regularly refers to Roman Catholics as Christians in his messages), Beth Moore (popular writer and speaker fully embraces the RCC as Christian), Stephen J. Nichols (Reformed theologian and author of a children’s book listing Jesuit co-founder, Francis Xavier, as a “hero of the faith”), Nancy Pearcey (theologian, co-wrote the pro-ecumenical, “How Now Shall We Live?,” with Chuck Colson), David Robertson (Reformed pastor and theologian), Lee Strobel (pop apologist and disciple of Norman Geisler and Rick Warren who propagates ecumenism with Roman Catholicism in all of his materials), Carl Trueman (Reformed theologian and featured writer for Catholic ecumenical journal, “First Things”), Frank Turek (apologist, Geisler disciple), Dallas Willard (along with Richard Foster popularized Catholic mysticism, contemplative prayer, and Ignatian spiritual formation among evangelicals). This list is admittedly limited, but the folks mentioned above are some of the more notable offenders I’ve come across in my 5-years of blogging.

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday sermon series, #39

It’s Two-fer-Tuesday, my friends, which means two new sermons from the brethren down in Arkansas.

First, we have Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching from 2 Kings 20:1-11 about the role of fathers in a sermon titled, “Set Your House in Order.”

Disclaimer: At the 39:00 mark, Pastor Copeland makes a favorable reference to St. Francis of Assisi. This is very disturbing. In two of his previous sermons that I have posted, Pastor Copeland pointed to Catholic apologist, G.K. Chesterton (#7, 11/26/19), and to a student at Mount St. Joseph Catholic University in Cincinnati (#34, 6/2/20) as exemplary Christians. And now we have “saint” Francis of Assisi being reverenced in a Sunday morning sermon from a Baptist preacher! This is a disturbing error by a pastor who should know better, but such is the confused state of the evangelical church these days.

Moving on, we next have Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaching on Acts 12:7 and “The Key.”

 

Pastor Roger Copeland – Set Your House in Order

 

Pastor Cody Andrews – The Key

Kazan Redux: Elia Kazan’s Eleventh Film: “East of Eden”

Today, as part of our “Kazan Redux” series, we’re going to re-review director Elia Kazan’s eleventh film, “East of Eden.” The review below was first posted on April 11, 2017 and has been slightly revised.

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East of Eden
Directed by Elia Kazan and featuring James Dean, Julie Harris, Raymond Massey, Richard Davalos, and Jo Van Fleet
Warner Brothers, 1955, 117 minutes

5 Stars

John Steinbeck’s 1952 novel, “East of Eden,” had been well-received by the public and director Elia Kazan used the last third of the book as the basis for his eleventh film.

Plot

In Salinas, California in 1917, aging rancher, Adam Trask (Massey), is determined to make his mark on the world before he dies by developing a process for shipping fresh, ice-packed lettuce to the East via railroad. His loving and dutiful son, Aron (Davalos), supports and encourages him in the endeavor, but his other son, Cal (Dean), continuously rebels against the father’s stern and “puritanical” authority. Cal has a change of heart and decides to help Adam with the lettuce venture, but he also learns his mother (Van Fleet) is not dead as Adam had told the boys, but has become the no-nonsense matron of a profitable brothel in nearby Monterey, information Cal initially keeps to himself. Cal becomes friendly with Aron’s girlfriend, Abra (Harris), who is beginning to chafe at the thought of marrying the “prudish” brother.

When Adam’s lettuce venture fails, Cal secretly borrows money from his mother and contracts a crop of beans, speculating that America’s entry into World War I will drive commodity prices sky-high, enabling him to recoup his father’s lost fortune. As Cal and Abra’s relationship grows warmer, tensions in Salinas reach a boiling point as America enters the war and the town folk take out their frustrations on a German immigrant. Pacifist Aron tries to intervene, but yelling and pushing turn to fisticuffs when Cal enters the melee. Brother then turns on brother.

Cal attempts to present his father with the investment profits after Aron preempts him by announcing he and Abra are engaged, much to her displeasure. Adam refuses the money, which he sees as war profiteering. Humiliated by the rejection, which he interprets as another demonstration of his father’s lack of love, Cal declares he hates Adam and brings Aron to Monterey to vengefully reveal to him the truth about their mother, knowing it will destroy him. Subsequently disillusioned and in a drunken stupor, Aron joins the army. Adam runs to the train station just as Aron’s train is leaving and suffers a stroke. Lying in bed, Adam is close to death. Abra pleads with him to express some love to Cal before it’s too late. Adam responds by asking Cal to take care of him rather than his condescending nurse. Feeling loved and accepted by his father for the first time, Cal sits down next to Adam’s bed.

Commentary

After the release of “East of Eden” Dean swiftly became an icon among young movie-goers as a symbol of teenage angst and rebellion. He would die in an automobile accident just six months after the film’s release. Julie Harris gives a wonderful performance. Kazan later gave her a great amount of credit for steadying the moody and mercurial Dean throughout the filming. The rest of the cast does a good job. Van Fleet won an Oscar for her portrayal, while Dean, Kazan, and screenwriter Paul Osborn were all nominated. Kazan specifically chose to dramatize the last third of Steinbeck’s novel because the conflict between father and son reminded him of his difficult relationship with his own overbearing father. I’ve had the Blu-ray version of “East of Eden” for quite a while, but I watched it for the first time only recently. It was a real pleasure watching this familiar movie in hi-def. This was Kazan’s first color film and it was also shot in wide-angle Cinemascope. Kazan and cinematographer Ted McCord took some successful risks and deliver an excellent film.

Additional thoughts from a believer

There are obviously many religious undertones in this film drawn very loosely from the Genesis narrative of Cain and Abel. Adam, the father, is a stern and pious Christian who wishes to impose his faith on his sons. Bible reading at the dinner table is a mandatory and joyless exercise. The message from atheists Steinbeck and Kazan is that what appears to be “good” (Adam and Aron) is not always good, and what appears to be “bad” (Cal) is not always bad. It’s no wonder the writer and director got it wrong. Too often we Christians present our faith as a joyless attempt to impose our morality on others. Better we should focus on spreading the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone and humbly letting others know we are sinners saved by grace rather than taking the attitude of pious churchgoers looking down our noses at everyone else.

 

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 7/4/20

Nothing is escaping the scrutiny of the Black Lives Matter protesters, including the statue of King Louis IX (1214-1270), in the city of St. Louis, Missouri. The city was founded in 1764 by French fur traders and named after the French king. Louie led the Catholic armies against the Muslim forces in the Seventh and Eighth Crusades. French Jews were also the targets of the crusaders. Louis presided over the public burning of the Talmud (see Disputation of Paris, 1240) and issued a preliminary decree preparing for the eventual expulsion of the Jews living in France. He was canonized a “saint” in 1297. Protesters deem Louis to have been an anti-Semite and an “Islamophobe” and are not only demanding the mammoth statue in the nearby-suburb of Forest Park be removed, but that the city be renamed.

Catholics don’t generally read the Bible because the Roman church hasn’t encouraged it. When I was an adult Catholic, I had The Way Bible, which was the Catholic version of The Living Bible paraphrase, and also The New American Bible (NAB) for Catholics (see here). As I was reading the New Testament in my NAB Bible, the Holy Spirit illuminated the many differences between Roman Catholic doctrine and God’s Word. Catholic Bibles include the Apocrypha, seven books written in the intertestamental period that were never considered as Scriptural by Rabbinic Judaism in Palestine. In addition, all Catholic Bibles contain notes that attempt to reconcile Scripture with anti-Biblical, Catholic “sacred tradition.”

In this era of heightened awareness regarding racism, everything is being vetted. Warner Screenshot 2020-07-01 at 5.44.04 AME. Sallman’s “Head of Christ,” completed in 1940 and widely popularized during World War II, stereotyped Jesus Christ as an ethnic Northern-European Caucasian with delicate facial features. Jesus was actually a Middle Eastern Semite and as such probably had a darker skin tone and dark hair. The character in Sallman’s fanciful painting looks as if a stiff breeze might blow him over, but we know Jesus probably apprenticed under His stepfather in the physically demanding occupation of carpenter/stone mason. Sallman crafted his genteel Jesus portrait according to his own ethnic sensibilities. The Jesuits were also famous for adapting icons of Jesus to the particular ethnic groups they were proselytizing. Worship God in spirit and in truth.

The Catholic church’s pedophile priest scandal turned into a tsunami in 2018 with revelations regarding cardinal Ted McCarrick and other predatory prelates, prompting independent investigations into the abuse and cover-up by the attorney generals of multiple states. Claims against Catholic dioceses tripled from 2018 to 2019 and expect the same in 2020.

The German Catholic church is leaking members like a sieve, but the progressive German bishops are hoping their current “synodal path” initiative, with its goals of married priests and female priests, will intrigue the increasingly disinterested masses and slow the tide.

Arch-conservative prelate and thorn in pope Francis’s side, archbishop Carlo Viganò, raised eyebrows once again with his praise for President Trump’s photo op in front of the John Paul II statue at the John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C. Viganò is now publicly criticizing the Second Vatican Council as the launching pad for liberal heterodoxy throughout the RCC. Many conservative Catholics share this sentiment, but are reluctant to openly criticize a papal-sanctioned church council.

Jesuit priest, James Martin, the Vatican’s point man on LGBT integration, continues his crusade for full acceptance of practicing LGBTers within the RCC.

Israel welcomes evangelical support, but not God TV? The cable channel actually purveys the bogus health and wealth prosperity gospel, just like TBN.

In the not-so-distant past, EVERY Latin American country recognized Roman Catholicism as the official state religion. Likewise in much of Europe. That meant tremendous persecution for Protestants in those countries. This article states that only the nations of Costa Rica, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco and Vatican City still recognize Catholicism as their state religion.

Bishop-emeritus, Matthew Clark, age 82, was in charge of the Rochester Catholic diocese when the majority of the priest abuse cases that are currently being investigated took place. Was he involved in the cover-up? There’s little doubt, but he’s now in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and his testimony is useless.


Closing thoughts:

  • The dramatic spike upward in COVID-19 cases recently is the result of a laissez-faire attitude in many states. The pandemic and business lockdowns are now prolonged because people did not act responsibly. Political leadership was/is lacking and in some cases even undermined the warnings/guidelines of public health officials.
  • Readers of this blog know that I’m critical of how Christians in America have historically mixed faith and nationalism. On the other hand, I’m grateful for the political freedoms we enjoy in this country. My paternal grandparents immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe in the early-20th century to escape political and economic oppression. Many of our Christian brothers and sisters living throughout the world must deal with persecution; in some cases very severe persecution. As Americans celebrate the 244th anniversary of the founding of the United States today, we Christians can also contemplate the ultimate and eternal freedom that comes with salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #30: “All Have Sinned”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter and the four that follow, the Catholic apologist defends Catholicism’s “veneration” of Mary. In the first installment, Broussard attempts to counter evangelical Protestants’ insistence that Mary was not sinless with their argument from Scripture that “All Have Sinned.”

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Broussard begins the chapter by reiterating the Catholic teaching that “not only was Mary conceived without original sin, but she also remained free from personal sin throughout her life” (p. 168). He notes that evangelicals object to this doctrine by citing such proof texts as Romans 3:23:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

How could Mary have been sinless when God’s Word clearly declares that all have sinned? Broussard presents three arguments:

(1) Broussard contends that while the Greek word, pas, translated as “all” in Romans 3:23 can mean “every single one without exception,” it can also be used in a non-absolute, hyperbolic sense, i.e., “intentional exaggeration to make a point.” Broussard then presents several examples in Scripture where “all” is used in a hyperbolic sense, including Matthew 2:3 and Matthew 3:5-6. But what about Romans 3:10-12 that also speaks of the sinfulness of all:

“As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’”

This passage precludes all possible exceptions with the clarifiers, “no, not one” and “not even one.” Broussard points out that the apostle Paul was quoting Psalm 14:2-3, in this passage, yet in v.5 that follows, David refers to the “generation of the righteous.” Broussard concludes, therefore, that the writers of Romans 3:23, 3:1-12, and Psalm 14:2-3 were employing non-absolute, hyperbolic speech.

(2) Broussard then presents two exceptions to an absolute interpretation of “all have sinned” that he claims Protestants are bound to agree with: (1) unborn babies and young children who have not yet reached the age of accountability and (2) Jesus Christ.

(3) In his final rejoinder, Broussard notes that Romans 3:23 is part of Paul’s larger argument involving all of Romans chapter 3, that salvation is obtained apart from the Law of Moses. Broussard asserts that Paul’s statement, “all have sinned,” in its proper context, refers not to individuals, but rather to sin being characteristic of both Jews and Gentiles.

Let’s now respond to Mr. Broussard.

(1) There’s no argument that pas/”all” in Romans 3:10 and also ouk/”none” and “no one” in Romans 3:10-12 can be used either as adjectives signifying absoluteness or as non-absolute hyperbole. However, Romans 3:10-12 includes the significant clarifiers; “no, not one” and “not even one.” Broussard attempts to dismiss these phrases, which clearly signify absoluteness, as hyperbolic speech with his appeal to Psalm 14:5, but evangelicals are not fooled. The Old Testament saints were “righteous” NOT because they were sinless, but because their hope for salvation was in God their Savior. In Romans 4, Paul writes that Abraham was righteous not because he was sinless, he surely wasn’t, but because of his faith/trust in God for salvation.

(2) Evangelicals believe, as the Bible teaches, that all people are born with a sin nature, but that God won’t hold children responsible for their sins until the age of accountability (see article far below). Jesus Christ on the other hand was/is the sinless God Man. He is the Exception to Romans 3:10 and 3:10-12 by His very nature. Can Broussard claim an advantage in his argument for Mary by presenting these two exceptions? He actually fails to mention another exception. Evangelicals are also hopeful that God will pardon the mentally disabled as mercifully as He will children who die before the age of accountability. However, the Mary we read of in the New Testament was neither a young child, mentally disabled, or Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God. In fact, Mary openly acknowledged she was a sinner in need of the Savior in Luke 1:47, “…and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” More on that specific topic next week.

(3) In Romans chapter 3, Paul certainly writes about the sinfulness of both Gentiles and Jews in general and their shared need of salvation in Jesus Christ by faith alone. However, the clarifiers “no, not one” and “not even one” in vv.10-12 clearly refer to individuals, not to groups.

In the chapters that follow, we’ll discuss why the false doctrine of Mary’s sinlessness is so vitally important to Roman Catholics.

Where do I find the age of accountability in the Bible?
https://www.gotquestions.org/age-of-accountability.html

Next week: “Mary Needed a Savior”

Throwback Thursday: The “church” of the 21st-century

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a short post that was originally published back on January 28, 2016 and has been revised.

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My wife and I have a nice 20-minute drive to church on Sunday mornings, mostly on a straight stretch of road. Invariably, we pass many people jogging on the side of the road, all dressed in their sporty attire. The route takes us past a couple of large gyms and their parking lots are always full. It’s great to try to stay in shape, but it looks like the gym has become the new “church” in our increasingly secularized society. People don’t know the Lord so they have to fill the emptiness in their soul with something. Not having the Lord as the center of their lives, they put all of their faith and hope in themselves.

I’m currently reading “The Courage to Be Protestant” by David F. Wells and came across this very relevant passage last night:

“Health clubs have increased as churches have declined in the West. It is not just a case of people being more health-conscious. It is the recognition that signs of aging betray us as becoming useless in a modernized world. That has to be avoided at all costs. And, perhaps more deeply, it is a case of people searching for a kind of secularized eternal life.” – page 164.

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. – 1 Timothy 4:8

Addendum: Both Gold’s Gym and 24 Hour Fitness gym chains filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May 2020 due to adverse business conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

My old neighborhood, Part 2: Gossip

On Monday, I wrote about a secret in my old neighborhood that was eventually brought to light. See here. Today, I’m going to write about a memory that involved the same parties. Once again, the names have been changed for obvious reasons.

We all have childhood memories. Some we cherish, some are painful, and some are just downright strange. Unlike today, everybody knew everybody else on our street back in the early-1960s. Get-togethers with neighbors were very common. Our family spent a lot of time with the Karros family, whose house was almost directly across the street from ours. There were six children in our family and my parents were VERY strict disciplinarians. Nonconforming conduct was NOT tolerated. Period. End of story. Mr. and Mrs. Karros, in contrast, allowed their four children A LOT more leeway and that was glaringly apparent every time the two families got together. The laxness in discipline troubled my mother to no end, as we shall see.

I’m not sure exactly how old I was, maybe around eight or nine, but one sunny, summer morning my Mom and I walked across the street to the Karros’s house. My Mom intended to visit with Mrs. Karros, who was on her knees doing some gardening in the front yard, while I was going to play with one of the Karros children. The memory is still quite vivid 55 years later. Shortly after we arrived, I heard Mrs. Karros yelling at my mother in a VERY angry tone. My mother didn’t reply, but sheepishly turned back towards our house and motioned to me to follow her. That exchange was quite a novelty for me. I had never witnessed an adult talk so angrily or seen my very self-assured mother so humiliated.

I had no idea what had just transpired, but I learned later, from one of my older sisters, that my Mom had been chitchatting on the phone with another neighbor, Mrs. Palmeroni, who lived a couple of houses down the road, and said that the Karros children were wild and crazy and that all of them “needed a psychiatrist.” Well, the Palmeronis were also very friendly with the Karros family and Mrs. Palmeroni was happy to share my Mom’s disparaging remarks with Mrs. Karros, which was beyond ironic given the circumstances I described in my Part 1 post. Well, there’s nothing more ferocious than a mama bear when somebody’s messing with her cubs.

“I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs.” – Hosea 13:8

It was very strange living across the street from the Karroses after that. I still played with the Karros children occasionally, but Mrs. Karros let me know that I was a persona non grata as far as she was concerned. She looked at me and talked to me with barely restrained repugnance and hatred. I made it a point to avoid her as best I could for the next ten years. My mother and Mrs. Karros did not acknowledge each other when they were within eyesight.

Many years later, after I had moved out of my parents’ house, my mother and Mrs. Karros did resume a neighborly relationship. That was surprising. Mrs. Karros even attended my Mom’s funeral in 2014.

I’ll never forget the memory of walking back home with my thoroughly chastised and humiliated mother. Has gossip ever come back to bite you?

“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” – Proverbs 21:23

“A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends.” – Proverbs 16:28