When the Flying Burrito Brothers introduced me to Bluegrass music

Last week, I wrote a post about my appreciation for Bluegrass music (see here) and that appreciation all began with the LP…

“Last of the Red Hot Burritos”
The Flying Burrito Brothers
Producer: Jim Dickson, A&M Records, Release date: May, 1972, Length: 34:45

5 Stars

The Flying Burrito Brothers had already crashed and burned as a band by the time this album was released in 1972. Ex-Byrds, Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, had formed the group back in 1968, hoping to pursue their dream of melding country music, R&B, and rock-and-roll. Their debut LP, “The Gilded Palace of Sin,” remains a pioneering classic (see my review here), but Parsons’ descent into drug and alcohol addiction quickly spelled trouble. Their sophomore release, “Burrito Deluxe,” was uneven, and their Parsons-less, eponymous third album, although pleasant, was uninspiring. After four years, with zero commercial success, Hillman had had enough and decided to pull the plug. To fulfill their contractual obligations, the band released this live album.

I liked it a lot and it ranked right up there as one of my most-played LPs back in my high school heydays. At its end, when this album was recorded, the band consisted of Hillman on bass and lead vocals, Rick Roberts on rhythm guitar and vocals, Al Perkins on pedal steel guitar, Kenny Wertz on guitar and banjo and vocals, and another ex-Byrd, Michael Clarke on drums. For the short Bluegrass set, Byron Berline (fiddle) and Roger Bush (upright bass) came out on stage and helped out.

Side One

  • “Christine’s Tune (aka Devil in Disguise)” (Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons) – 3:54 – A great tune from the band’s debut album with plenty of tasty pedal steel licks from Perkins.
  • “Six Days on the Road” (Earl Green, Carl Montgomery) – 3:03 – The boys do their rendition of this classic truck driving ditty. The song had been a #2 country hit for Dave Dudley in 1963 and was a staple in Burrito concerts.
  • “My Uncle” (Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons) – 2:20 – Another song from the band’s debut; a lament about being drafted during the Vietnam War.
  • “Dixie Breakdown” (Jimmie Lunceford, Don Reno) – 2:17 – With this tune and the following two, Hillman and the Burritos add Berline and Bush to the mix and do it up Bluegrass style. This is a classic 1958 bluegrass song from Don Reno. Hillman contributes an excellent mandolin solo.
  • “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down” (Louise Certain, Gladys Stacey Flatt, Jerry Organ, Wayne Walker) – 2:20 – Roger Bush does a nice job on lead vocals on this 1925 classic. It doesn’t get much “rootsier” than this.
  • “Orange Blossom Special” (Ervin T. Rouse) – 3:39 – Byron Berline and his fiddle shine on this 1938 classic. I thoroughly enjoyed these three Bluegrass numbers and it’s clear from the live recording that the audience did as well.

Side Two

  • “Ain’t That a Lot of Love” (Homer Banks, Deanie Parker) – 3:20 – The Burritos deftly put a country spin on this 1966 Stax-Memphis, driving R&B soul tune. Yeah, Al Perkins could play.
  • “High Fashion Queen” (Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons) – 3:22 – From their “Burritos Deluxe” album.
  • “Don’t Fight It” (Wilson Pickett, Steve Cropper) – 2:56 – Another countrification of an R&B tune, this one written by Wilson Pickett in 1965.
  • “Hot Burrito #2” (Chris Ethridge, Gram Parsons) – 4:35 – One of the best songs from the band’s debut LP.
  • “Losing Game” (James Carr, Dennis Weaver) – 2:59 – Hillman struggles a bit with his vocals on this R&B song written by Memphis soul artist, James Carr, in 1967.

Postscript: Back when album covers were considered works of art, this LP cover was a simply a thing of beauty. Credit goes to famous album cover illustrator, Joe Garnett. Being the completist that I am, I’m going to have to review the Burrito’s 2nd and 3rd studio LPs somewhere down the road.

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Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 9/14/19

Due to the mounting lawsuits filed by former victims of priest sexual abuse, the Catholic diocese of Rochester, N.Y. (where I live) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this past Thursday. Fifty-nine claims have been filed in Rochester in the last month under the state’s 2019 Child Victim Act and another 100-200 are expected before the legal window closes in August 2020. The Rochester diocese is using bankruptcy protection to shield its financial assets from survivors of priest abuse. To date, nineteen other U.S. Catholic dioceses have filed for bankruptcy protection because of priest sexual abuse. Expect many more to follow. Roman Catholicism is absolutely corrupt on multiple levels including its apostate false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

As members fall away elsewhere, the Catholic church is growing in Africa. As this article explains, unwitting new African converts are attracted to the church’s social welfare programs.

On his plane trip to Africa two weeks ago, pope Francis stated that he felt “honored” to be “attacked” by conservative American Catholics. On his return trip to the Vatican this past week, the pope remarked that while he doesn’t desire that church conservatives break away into schism, he’s not fearful of that increasingly possible development. Wow! We live in extraordinary times with the progressive pope addressing the growing rebellion against him, including the possibility of schism.

This past week, conservative Catholics reacted to pope Francis’ remark that he felt “honored” to be “attacked” by them. Next weekend, we’ll see how they react to Francis’ broaching the subject of the potential schism of conservative Catholics.

What must it take for pope Francis to fire the Catholic bishop of nearby Buffalo who was outed eleven-months ago on national television as a serial abuse-enabler? Francis talks about reform, but the foxes in the henhouse still watch out for their fellow foxes.

There have been statues and paintings of Mary allegedly weeping for centuries. This one occurred in a Greek Orthodox church. These phenomena are either outright frauds, the result of natural causes, or manifestations of demonic activity. Thanks to our sister at “I Once Was Lost” for the heads up!

This article from a Catholic media source discourages the use of crystals, but the church’s sacramentals (medals, statues, holy water, and other jujus) and Catholic mysticism predispose the membership to dabble in New Age practices.

Man-buns and girly spandex skinny jeans on men are de rigueur at hipster mega-churches. Well, okay, man-buns are yesterday’s news and have been replaced by one-hundred-dollar swag haircut$.

How a Yankee New Yorker became a fan of Bluegrass Music

A couple of weeks ago, I threw a birthday bash for my wife and after everybody left, I crawled into bed and aimlessly surfed the cable channels as is my nightly custom. When I got to PBS, I saw they were broadcasting a documentary about the history of Bluegrass music. Are you kidding me? I love Bluegrass music! I watched the show for about thirty-minutes until I started to fall asleep, but caught the entire thing via on-demand the next day. Great stuff! If you’re a fan of Blugrass, you’ll really enjoy this documentary:

Big Family: The Story of Bluegrass Music
Produced by Kentucky Educational Television
PBS premier, August 30th, 2019, Length: 1 hr 58 min
To view online see here.

So how does a person born and raised in Western New York become a fan of “hillbilly” Bluegrass music?

While I was growing up in the suburbs of Rochester, N.Y. in the 1960s, my older sisters always had their Beatles records blasting from the family phonograph. Having a mind of my own, I eventually adopted the Byrds* as my favorite band, but other musical forms piqued my interest as well. I can clearly remember hearing the opening theme music of “The Beverley Hillbillies” television comedy when it premiered in 1962 and being absolutely fascinated by the lightning-quick banjo picking of Earl Scruggs (accompanied by guitarist, Lester Flatt). Flatt and Scruggs caught my attention again, as well as the rest of the nation, when their Bluegrass tunes were featured in the 1968 film, “Bonnie and Clyde.” Then there was the popular “Dueling Banjos” song featured in the 1972 movie, “Deliverance.” No, I didn’t have any Bluegrass records yet, but I definitely liked the sound.

Chris Hillman started out very young as a Bluegrass mandolin player, but was drafted into rock and roll as the bassist for the Byrds in 1964. With Hillman on board, the Byrds did take some notable excursions into country music, but he quit the group in 1968 andCapture14 attempted to combine rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and country music with his new band, the Flying Burrito Brothers. The experiment, documented by three studio albums, was artistically brave and noteworthy, but a commercial failure. Hillman and the FBBs ended their four-year run with the release of the live LP, “The Last of the Red Hot Burritos,” in 1972. The latter-day Burritos had begun including a Bluegrass set within their concerts and this album featured three Bluegrass performances, “Dixie Breakdown,” “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down,” and “Orange Blossom Special.” I loved it. I mean, really loved it. No, I didn’t run out and buy a bunch of Bluegrass albums, but I definitely had an affinity for the music. Hmm. Do I sense an album review coming up in the near-future?

Years passed by and as I was walking through Borders Book Store in 1995, a new CD wasCapture15 being played through the store’s sound system; “Now That I’ve Found You: A Collection,” a retrospective of the early recordings of Bluegrass artist, Alison Krauss. Wow! Great music! I bought that CD and eventually also bought Krauss’ five-album back catalog and stayed current with her new releases.

Over the years, I’ve gotten to know many of the artists and some of the history of the Bluegrass genre. Bill Monroe (1911-1996) is credited with taking various strains of Appalachian roots music and melding them into Bluegrass beginning in the 1930s. In Bluegrass, you’ll often hear songs with Gospel themes. Hillman has continued to feature Bluegrass on his solo albums. I generally don’t buy CDs anymore, but I will make an exception for a new Krauss album (although she’s sadly been crossing over into mainstream music more and more). Mandolinist, Sierra Hull, is pretty good, too.

So, that’s how a Yankee, born and raised, improbably became a fan of Bluegrass music.

*The lead guitarist of the Byrds, Roger McQuinn, came from a folk background. He didn’t know any better and multiple-finger picked his twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar like he had his banjo, creating a unique, “jingle-jangle” sound that became the band’s signature.

Throwback Thursday: One of those old and angry ex-Catholics?

Welcome to this week’s edition of “Throwback Thursday.” For today’s installment, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on October 9th, 2015 and has been slightly revised.

[The information in this post is closely associated with the “Throwback Thursday” post that was published just a few weeks ago. See here.]

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In 1994, Chuck Colson’s and, Catholic priest, Richard John Neuhaus’s ecumenical “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” (ECT) alliance issued its first declaration; “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium.” The gist of the statement was that both camps recognized the other as “Christian” and resolved to join as allies in the culture war against secularism. Several notable evangelicals supported the statement, but perhaps the most surprising signatory was J. I. Packer (photo above), an influential Reformed theologian best known for his book, “Knowing God.” Packer’s endorsement of ECT was met with shock and strong criticism from many evangelicals.

One year later, ECT leadership released “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission,” a collection of articles defending the ECT declaration, written by six of the document’s signers, including Packer. In his article, Packer argued that his endorsement of ECT was not an approval of the doctrines of Catholicism. He stated, in so many words, that if Catholics are saved, they are saved in spite of their church’s standard theology, not as a result of it. But, as I noted in a previous post, as a signatory of ECT, Packer was quite willing to give every Catholic the benefit of the doubt.

In defending himself from his critics, Packer wrote:

“The most poignant expressions of these criticisms come from middle-aged and elderly individuals who found Christ and spiritual life in evangelicalism after failing to find either in the Roman Catholicism of their birth and who cannot believe that Protestants who back ECT know what they’re doing” (p.156).

Packer’s statement is condescending at best and insulting at worst. Well, J. I., who best to comment on a false religious system than one who was once held in bondage by it? Who best to answer whether Christ and spiritual life can be found in Catholicism than ex-Catholics who have accepted Christ and come out of that church with its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit? On the one hand, Packer readily admits that salvation cannot be found in the standard theology of the Catholic church, but then he turns around and backhands the ex-Catholic critics of ECT as being a bunch of bitter, old fogeys! Well, it’s easy to see that J. I. was quite stung by the well-deserved criticism of his participation in ECT and lashed out irrationally and uncharitably.

In some cursory readings, I see Packer was always a bit of an ecumenist, being an ardent admirer of C.S. Lewis, which eventually led to his break with David Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd-Jones! Now there was a man of God who knew the danger of cozying up to Rome and wasn’t afraid to speak about it!  To read Lloyd-Jones’ sermon, “Roman Catholicism,” see here.

It’s been twenty-one years since the first ECT document was published and the fruits of Colson’s, Packer’s and other ecumenists’ efforts are everywhere. It’s a rising tide. A recent survey found that 58 percent of self-identified evangelical Christian pastors agreed that pope Francis was a fellow Christian and a “brother in Christ,” while another 19 percent responded that they were not sure. What that means is only 23 percent of the evangelical Christian pastors who were polled disagreed with the statement that the pope is a fellow Christian and a “brother in Christ.” I shouldn’t be surprised at the rising apostasy. The Bible does speak about it. And, no, I shouldn’t be hateful towards Packer and other misguided evangelicals who embrace the RCC and serve as the Vatican’s “polezni durak” (useful fools). However, I love my Catholic family members, friends, and Catholics in general who endlessly toil to be “good enough” to merit Heaven. Ach! What a rat race they run! They need evangelicals who will confront them with their sinful state and present them with the genuine Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. They don’t need accommodating and compromising evangelicals like J.I. Packer, who betray them and the Gospel.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18

I’m clothed with my Savior’s imputed perfect righteousness. Now THAT’S something to REJOICE about! Yep, I am a HAPPY guy! Repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ and trust in Him as your Savior by faith alone, not in your own efforts or the man-made traditions your church.

A Loving Warning to All Catholics

 

In this short, 7+ minute video, evangelist Ray Comfort reaches out to a Roman Catholic college student with the Gospel of grace. Every Roman Catholic would benefit by watching this video. In addition, every evangelical who mistakenly believes the Roman Catholic church preaches the Gospel would also benefit by watching.

I posted another video of Ray witnessing to a Roman Catholic back on July 2nd. Watch it here.

Back when Bible Christians began making erroneous assumptions about Catholicism – Part 2

Born-Again Catholics and the Mass
By William C. Standridge
Independent Faith Mission, 1980, 32 pp.

5 Stars

Yesterday, we reviewed the 1975 booklet, “What’s Happening in the Roman Church,” by William Standridge, in which the missionary-to-Italy commented on the growing misbelief within evangelicalism that the Catholic church was moving closer to Biblical Christianity (see here). Today, we’ll take a look at Standridge’s 1980 follow-up booklet, “Born-Again Catholics and the Mass.”

This publication provides some of the puzzle pieces that were missing in the previous booklet. The author begins by once again noting the confusion among some evangelicals caused by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) movement. Adherents were allegedly manifesting the Pentecostal “gifts of the spirit,” including speaking in tongues (aka glossolalia), healings, prophecy, and being “slain in the spirit.” CCR Catholics were also adopting the moniker of “born-again Catholics” although they still followed their church’s salvation system of sacramental grace and merit. For Catholics who were involved in the Renewal, being “born-again” meant experiencing the emotional euphoria involved with the Pentecostal practices rather than trusting in Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone and being reborn spiritually in Christ.

In the chapters that follow, Standridge compares the doctrines of the Roman Catholic church, reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), especially as they pertain to the Catholic mass, with Holy Scripture. The Bible clearly teaches there is no longer any need for a sacredotal priesthood or perpetual sacrifice for sin. The Roman church’s teaching that its sacraments infuse grace to the recipients, so that they are able to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!), in order to possibly merit Heaven at the moment of their death is contrary to the Scriptures, which state that a person is only saved by repenting of (turning from) their sin and accepting (trusting in) Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. A Catholic who is genuinely born-again in Jesus Christ will increasingly understand from Scripture and the illumination of the Holy Spirit that the mass, with its mediatorial priests, perpetual sacrifice, faux Jesus wafer, and merit-based false gospel, is antithetical to the Gospel of grace and he/she will leave the Roman church.

Standridge also credits Vatican II’s conciliatory gestures toward Protestants as the cornerstone of the subsequent ecumenical and interfaith movements that were evident in 1980 and would grow exponentially afterwards, all under the auspices of the RCC. Because of Vatican II’s winsome approach to Protestants and the subsequent Catholic Charismatic Renewal, evangelicals were increasingly deceived into believing that the Roman church was moving closer to Biblical Christianity.

It’s my subjective observation that charismatic Catholics are now much-less apt to refer to themselves as “born-again Catholics” as they did when this booklet was written in 1980. They’ve generally fallen in line with their church’s official terminology, that a person (infant, child, or adult) is “born-again” when they are baptized.

I appreciated this second booklet by William Standridge, which filled in some of the gaps missing in his previous effort.

Back when Bible Christians began making erroneous assumptions about Catholicism – Part 1

What’s Happening in the Roman Church?: A Report from Rome
By William C. Standridge
Independent Faith Mission, 1975*, 32 pp.

4 Stars

Several generations ago, evangelical Christians in America were under no illusions regarding Catholicism. The Catholic church unabashedly preached “another gospel” of salvation by sacramental grace and merit rather than the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. However, confusion was starting to grow among evangelicals back when this booklet was first published in 1975* and even before. Some Christians were erroneously claiming that the Roman Catholic church was reforming itself and moving towards Biblical Christianity. What were the bases of those claims? Were they accurate? William C. Standridge, an evangelical missionary to Italy, partially addresses those questions in this short and somewhat informative publication.

Standridge notes that throughout its long history, the Roman church has always been able to accommodate a wide spectrum of beliefs and practices underneath its broad tent as long as some basics are adhered to; most importantly, fidelity to the papacy and magisterium and belief in the efficacy of the sacraments. The author also notes that, as important to the church as its religious doctrines and practices are, its political influence and financial wealth are equally important. The church’s sprawling bureaucracy is focused as much on temporal concerns as it is on quasi-spiritual ones.

After building his case, Standridge gets to the crux of this booklet on page 20. In February 1967, some students at Catholic Duquesne University manifested the Pentecostal practice of speaking in tongues (aka glossolalia). The phenomenon spread quickly within Catholicism, resulting in many Pentecostals and charismatics wondering if the genuine Gospel had taken hold within the Roman church? The Catholic hierarchy accommodated the Catholic charismatics and their “gifts,” as it did with so many other enthusiasts dedicated to a particular “devotion,” because the Catholic charismatics still held to their church’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. In fact, Catholic charismatics characteristically displayed a greater zeal for the mass and Mary worship than non-charismatics. But Protestant Pentecostals and charismatics were now in a pickle. Because Catholic charismatics manifested the requisite “gifts of the spirit,” pressure mounted to embrace them as Christians and the RCC as a Christian entity despite irreconcilable doctrinal differences. Standridge also notes that many younger, “rebel” priests were using evangelical terminology that was giving the false impression that they were teaching the genuine Gospel.

I give this booklet an “A” for effort, but only a “B” for substance. There definitely WAS change taking place within Catholicism in the 1960s and 70s that was prompting some evangelicals to draw unwarranted conclusions. Chief among the change agents was the conciliatory approach of the Second Vatican Council, but, yes, the growth of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) movement also had an influence.

Standridge would rightly address the powerful influence of Vatican II in his next booklet, “Born Again Catholics and the Mass” (1980), which I’ll be reviewing tomorrow.

*My edition of this booklet states that it was published in 1975, but some events from 1978 and 1979 are cited within, so this is certainly the subsequent 1980 edition.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 9/7/19

With the increasing acceptability of tattoos in society, some younger Catholics are having images of sacramentals (medals, crucifixes, rosaries, illustrations of Mary, etc.) tattooed onto their bodies, figuring the image of a sacramental will impart the same “blessing” as the physical object. However, church spokespersons state that while physical sacramentals do impart blessings, images of sacramentals, like tattoos, do not. Oy vey. Where does it all end? Superstition through and through.

The Catholic diocese of Philadelphia is representative of all dioceses in the Northeast (and most elsewhere in the U.S.) with its recent “struggles” with the clerical sexual abuse scandal tsunami, financial quandaries, and parish closures. I don’t know about you, but when I read news reports about rats found in the kitchen of a particular restaurant, I won’t eat there. My Catholic friends, there is a way out of the institutional corruption of your church and His name is Jesus Christ. Trust in Him as Savior by faith alone and ask Him to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches the genuine Gospel of grace and teaches God’s Word without compromise.

Speaking of troubled Catholic dioceses in the Northeast, the nearby diocese of Buffalo is in meltdown. Ten months ago, the investigative journalism television show, “60 Minutes,” outed Buffalo bishop, Richard Malone, as a serial abuse-enabler. Despite appeals by increasingly exasperated Buffalo-area Catholics, Malone won’t resign and pope Francis won’t fire him.

In another one of his impromptu airplane aisle press conferences, pope Francis recently took a backhanded swipe at his increasingly-vocal conservative American Catholic critics who are horrified by his doctrine-bending reforms. This is priceless theater that was unimaginable just seven short years ago, before Bergoglio was elected to the papacy.

Eighty-two-year-old pope Francis understands that he’s not going to be able to effect all of his reforms, so he’s “stacking the deck” by promoting like-minded progressives to the college of cardinals to ensure a successor sympathetic to his agenda.

What can we say when one of the iconic propagators of the prosperity gospel allegedly renounces the prosperity gospel?

We currently have one Chick-Fil-A in our area, but it’s about 16 miles from our house. Number two is slated to open a year from now and that one will be only 7 miles away.

The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington

The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill Washington
By Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch
Flatiron Books, 2018, 416 pp.

5 Stars

I became very interested in the history of the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) back when I was in fifth grade and for the next three or four years I read many of the books at our local library branch on the topic. I then moved on to other interests, but my family still remembers my infatuation with the Am Rev War. One of my sisters recently gave me this book as a birthday present and it turned out to be better than I expected.

The American Revolutionary War started in 1775, with engagements between the rebel colonists and British troops at Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill (actually, Breeds Hill) outside of Boston. Virginian George Washington, one of the few members of the Continental Congress with military experience, was appointed Commander in Chief of the fledgling rebel army. By a stroke of military genius, Washington was able to drive the British from Boston without another shot being fired. Anticipating that the British would strike next at New York City, Washington assembled his rag-tag army there and dug in for the anticipated assault.

One of Washington’s problems was that many of the city’s residents were Loyalists and supported the crown. Most people are unaware that only one-third of the colonists supported the revolution. Another third remained loyal to the crown, and the remaining third claimed neutrality pending the outcome. The Loyalist governor of New York, William Tryon, took refuge from the continental forces in a ship anchored in New York harbor alongside an intimidating British man-o’-war and used his protected position to coordinate Loyalist opposition within the city. Aware of the strong anti-rebellion sentiment that surrounded him, Washington created a special detachment, the Life Guards, to ensure his personal safety. He also requested that the New York Provincial Congress create a special committee in order to streamline investigations into Loyalist subversion. That committee was headed by John Jay, the future first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

With the help of the pro-Loyalist mayor of New York and others, Governor Tryon was able to persuade/bribe five members of Washington’s elite personal guards to join the Loyalist cause and the general’s safety was thenceforth in certain jeopardy. However, Jay’s special committee was made aware of the treachery, most of the conspirators were arrested, and one Life Guard, Thomas Hickey, was publicly executed by hanging as an example to all those with Loyalist sentiments.

The British expeditionary force of 34,000 troops under the command of General William Howe sailed into New York Harbor on June 29, 1776. In a series of subsequent battles, Washington’s troops were outmanned, outgunned and outmaneuvered and would be forced to retreat to New Jersey. However, the British forces would eventually be worn down over the next five years and would suffer a decisive, back-breaking defeat at Yorktown in 1781.

What would have happened if Tryon and his co-conspirators had been successful in murdering Washington in 1776? Would we all be drinking tea today instead of coffee?

I didn’t think I would enjoy this book, but I definitely did despite myself. Meltzer broke it all down into 84 bite-size chapters of around 4-pages each and the writing was pleasantly non-academic. General readers would enjoy this book as well as Am Rev enthusiasts. Most war histories dwell on campaign and battle tactics, but this one provided a lot of personal information about Washington and many unconventional details of the invasion of New York. I was not aware of this conspiracy against Washington’s life or even of the existence of his personal Life Guard, so this book was interesting eye opener.

Bonus question: The Bible clearly instructs believers to submit to all governmental authorities. How then were believers who supported the rebellion and even participated in the fight against the British able to justify their actions? Every July 4th we celebrate that the American colonists were able to throw off the yoke of Britain, but the deadlier yoke is the bondage to sin that enslaves all souls until they repent of sin and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone.

Throwback Thursday: Ravi Zacharias impersonates Fred Astaire while compromising the Gospel

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment! Today, we’re revisiting a post that was originally published back on October 29, 2015, but has been revised substantially.

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Ravi Zacharias is a very familiar name to many evangelicals. The apologist has written several popular books, makes appearances all across the country, and his half-hour daily radio show is broadcast by many Christian radio stations. Mr. Zacharias* is an intelligent and very well-spoken orator and can be a pleasure to listen to regarding some topics. But, as an ex-Catholic saved by God’s grace though faith in Jesus Christ alone, it troubles me greatly that Mr. Zacharias often references committed Roman Catholics in his presentations as if they were Gospel Christians. I have personally heard him extol St. Francis of Assisi, Mother Teresa, and Malcolm Muggeridge. All three were committed to Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Mr. Zacharias also appeared as a speaker at the “Together 2016” ecumenical event in Washington D.C., which included a video-greeting from pope Francis.

Above is a 6-minute YouTube video that gives some additional perspective on Mr. Zacharias’ accommodation of Roman Catholicism. At an evangelical seminar, a young man has a question for Mr. Zacharias. He states that he’s been involved in street evangelism for six or seven years and has often encountered members of religious groups widely identified as cults, such as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. But he also mentions that he regularly encounters Roman Catholics. The young man asks Mr. Zacharias, albeit somewhat inarticulately because of nerves, to clarify for him whether Roman Catholicism is a cult or an apostate church?

Well, Mr. Zacharias tap dances around the question like Fred Astaire for about five minutes and manages to avoid giving anything resembling a forthright answer. It’s actually quite stunning to witness. Why the great hesitancy, Mr. Zacharias? Why the obfuscation? Can people be saved through the Catholic church’s standard theology of salvation via sacramental grace and merit or not? Is the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone the only way to Heaven or not? What was so extremely difficult about the young man’s question, Mr. Zacharias, that caused you to hem and haw for five long minutes? Yes, Gospel-preaching churches and denominations have their secondary-belief distinctives, but, at its core, does the Roman Catholic church preach the genuine Gospel or not? That was the crux of the question as you very well knew.

The audience heartily applauded Mr. Zacharias for his “wise” and “gracious” non-reply, but that young man left the hall more confused than when he entered.

Catholic apologists and priests have absolutely NO problem proclaiming that their church is the “one true church” and that it alone possesses the “fullness of the gospel.” Catholic apologists and priests have absolutely NO problem disparaging “Bible-thumping evangelicals” and their “easy-believism” Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. So why then are evangelical preachers and apologists, like Mr. Zacharias, so deferential when it comes to Roman Catholicism? What are Mr. Zacharias and the others so afraid of? What spirit is driving them to cooperate, accommodate, compromise, and tap dance on egg shells? The young man mentioned Charles Spurgeon and his uncompromising stand regarding Catholicism. Where are the Spurgeons of today?

Lord, thank you for watchmen who are faithful to the Gospel of grace and who continue to work the ripe fields of the Roman Catholic lost.

*Some may be assuming that I am being disrespectful by referring to Ravi Zacharias as “Mr.” rather than “Dr.” in this post. In my first draft of this Throwback Thursday revision, I did refer to Ravi Zacharias as “Dr. Zacharias,” however, I subsequently learned that questions were raised recently regarding his academic credentials and, as per a statement on his own website, he is requesting that no one refer to him any longer as “doctor.” I point that out not as an attack (academic credentials can be absolutely meaningless as we all know), but for purposes of clarification.