Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series, #83

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 Luke 9:10-17 on “The Jesus Who Provides.”

Next, we have Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City, preaching from John 16:5-11 on “The Ministry of the Holy Spirit.”

Both of these sermons were delivered on Sunday, April 25th.

Pastor Roger Copeland – The Jesus Who Provides

Pastor Cody Andrews – The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

Joe Biden & Catholicism’s “soft schism”

Joe Biden and Catholicism in the United States
By Massimo Faggioli
Bayard Publishing, 2021, 161 pages

2 Stars

The debate over the status of self-described “devout” Catholic and abortion-supporter, President Joe Biden, currently dominates American Roman Catholic media articles.

When cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope in 2013, conservative Catholics had no idea what they were in for. In 2016, pope Francis guilefully lifted the ban on communion for remarried divorcees and followed with such “reforms” as a condemnation of capital punishment in all circumstances and approval of civil unions for same-sex couples. In addition were a flurry of encyclicals championing immigration and environmental causes and strongly critiquing capitalism. The majority of the U.S. Catholic bishops were dismayed by their religiously and politically liberal pope, but took solace in the pro-conservative administration of President Donald J. Trump.

When Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, the U.S. bishops were in a strange quandary. Biden was a “practicing” Roman Catholic, but he definitely was not the bishops’ kind of Catholic. The president-elect unapologetically supported abortion on demand and the LGBT agenda. Some bishops called for Biden to be excommunicated and denied communion, leading to a debate with liberal prelates that was quickly dubbed the “wafer wars.” In contrast, progressive pope Francis personally called Biden a week after the election and enthusiastically congratulated the president-elect on his victory. It was obvious that the pope and Biden were closely aligned on many views, both religiously and politically.

In this short book, theology professor and liberal Roman Catholic, Massimo Faggioli, expounds on the current internecine squabbling and the increasing polarization of the Catholic Right and the Progressive Catholic Left, especially in light of Joe Biden’s recent presidential election victory. The book is more of a rambling stream of consciousness than a structured, linear analysis, but evangelicals who have been objectively observing the Vatican and Catholicism since Francis became pope will find Faggioli’s candid thoughts refreshing (in contrast to conservative Catholic apologists who dishonestly won’t acknowledge the intensifying internecine tug-of-war). The RCC is currently experiencing what the author describes as a “soft schism.” Conservatives are in a Catch-22 as they are restrained from opposing Francis’ reforms more forcefully because of their absolute fealty to the papal office as a central tenet of their beliefs. This self-imposed restraint has prevented the emergence of a galvanizing conservative leader except for a few who Francis easily checkmated (i.e., cardinals Müller, Burke, and Sarah). Will soft schism eventually lead to hard schism? Conservative Catholics are anxiously waiting to see if 84-year-old Bergoglio’s successor is a progressive like his predecessor. Will Joe Biden’s dichotomous brand of Catholicism (clinging to a rosary while rallying for abortion and LGBT “rights”) become the overriding expression of American Catholicism? That is what the conservative American bishops strongly fear.*

This book would be of interest only to evangelical Vatican watchers like myself who are following the growing polarization within the RCC big tent. From start to finish of this book, there’s no sign of the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

*A January 2021 survey of U.S. Catholics performed by Pew Research Center found 56% of U.S. Catholics believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Below is an interesting article that’s pertinent to this discussion:

Joe Biden’s Presidency Has Highlighted the Rifts in the American Catholic Church
https://time.com/5951502/joe-biden-catholic-church/

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 5/8/21

It’s sobering to watch the news of India’s surging COVID-19 catastrophe. I wonder if anyone in that nation is calling the pandemic a “hoax.” India’s one-billion Hindus believe they will be reincarnated again and again until they achieve “moksha,” the release of the soul from the cycle of death and rebirth.

The “wafer wars” continue. It’s certain that pope Francis would not have appointed William Koenig as bishop of Wilmington if there was a possibility of Koenig denying the Jesus wafer to abortion-supporter, Joe Biden.

It’s interesting that Catholic priest and diocesan administrator, Georges de Laire, is suing ultra-traditionalist Catholic website personality, Michael Voris, for defamation. Voris has been critical of De Laire’s antagonistic handling of the renegade traditionalist Catholic sect, the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which I examined in a recent book review (see here).

Pope Francis has made a determined effort to strengthen Catholic-Muslim relations. The Catholic church declares that Muslims also worship the true God and may merit salvation according to their particular religious precepts. I might read the book mentioned in this article, “The Pope and the Grand Imam: A Thorny Path” by Mohamed Abdel Salam.

Many politically-conservative American Catholic prelates and priests were outspoken in their support of former-President Donald Trump during the last election, but only half of Catholic voters cast their ballot for Trump. Politically-liberal U.S. Catholics are now questioning whether they can remain in the American Catholic church. It should be noted that Pope Francis was an unabashed critic of Trump and MAGA-ism. The polarization of Roman Catholicism continues.

Josh Duggar, of the reality-TV Duggar clan, is an agonizing, slow-motion train wreck. Lord God, help us to walk the talk and not get derailed by Satan and our own sin.

Throwback Thursday: Cremation: Another example of the “unchanging” Roman Catholic church flip flopping

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on May 29th, 2016 and has been revised.

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The Catholic church claims that it’s Semper edem (“Always the same”), but anyone who studies church history is aware of the fallaciousness of that claim. Let’s look at another example: cremation.

For centuries, the Catholic church did not allow cremation based on the practice’s strong association with paganism (and later, Freemasonry)  and because of Scripture verses that taught a bodily resurrection. When cremation began to be introduced as a modern funerary method in the late-nineteenth century, the church banned all Catholics from participating via two documents published in 1886 and another one in 1892. When the Code of Canon Law was revised in 1917, it strictly prohibited cremation (Canon 1203). Catholics who arranged their own cremation prior to their death committed mortal sin and were excommunicated from the church and its sacraments. Catholics who arranged the cremation of a deceased family member also committed mortal sin and were also excommunicated.

In 1963, pope Paul VI reversed the church’s absolute ban on cremation, although “recommending” physical burial as the preferred option. This change was reflected in the next revision of the Code of Canon Law in 1983 (Canon 1176). All Catholic cemeteries changed their policy and accommodated cremated remains.

So I must ask, what happened to those Catholics who chose to be cremated or had their loved ones cremated prior to 1963 and died in mortal sin? Did they receive an apology and a “Get Out of Hell Free” card from pope Paul VI?

Some people think it’s unkind, hypocritical, and judgmental to raise such questions about Catholicism. But, in regards to this issue and many others, no one can deny the blatant inconsistency of this religious institution, which has boasted over the centuries that it “never changes.” The takeaway is to put your faith in Jesus Christ, not in “unchanging” religious institutions. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. Baptism doesn’t save. Sacraments don’t save. Being “good” doesn’t save because God’s Word says no one is good except for God. No one obeys the Ten Commandments. But God the Son, Jesus Christ, came into this world, lived a perfect life, and paid the penalty for your sins on the cross. He rose from the grave defeating sin and death and He desires to be your Savior. Pray to Jesus, repent of your sin and ask Him to save you today. Walk away from religious institutions that don’t teach the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

My opinion regarding cremation? Scripture doesn’t address cremation one way or the other. Christians in the very early church were expecting Christ’s imminent return and understandably favored burial. But in over two millennia, the dead bodies of innumerable saints have been consumed by bacteria, micro-organisms, maggots, small animals, large animals, fish, birds, etc. Placing a dead body in a sealed casket and a sealed vault to “secure” it from the ravages of decay and scavengers strikes me as a bit of a useless and unnecessary battle. These practices seem to have more in common with ancient Egyptian funerary rites than with any Scriptural teaching. My wife and I agreed to have our bodies cremated when the Lord calls us home. The less money spent on the ritual, the better.

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.” – Philippians 1:21-26.


Is cremation forbidden by the Catholic Church?
(Ultra-traditionalist Catholic perspective – I relied on this article for dates and canon specifics)
http://sspx.org/en/is-cremation-forbidden-by-catholic-church

What does the Bible say about cremation? Should Christians be cremated?
(Sample from evangelical perspective)
http://www.gotquestions.org/cremation-Bible.html

Meet the new car, same as the old car 🎼

Many people love their cars and spend A LOT of time comparing models and prices before choosing the next one. Not me. I have a funny relationship with cars. I see them “primarily” (i.e., strictly) as a necessity to get me to work and back. For me, car shopping is a real drudgery. I’ve leased Volkswagen Jettas the last two cars. The Jetta is a basic, relatively inexpensive compact car that gets the job done. I had zero service issues with my two Jettas. Granted, they’re not the ideal car to drive in Rochester snow, but I’ve had worse.

The three-year lease on my 2017 Volkswagen Jetta (photo left) expired back in October, but I was unemployed at the time and you can’t get financing when you’re unemployed. However, I was able to extend my lease with Volkswagen Credit for another six months. Phew! In the interim, I finally did get a job. Early last month, with my lease extension set to expire in just a couple of weeks, I called my VW sales guy and set up an appointment. The following week, I drove the convenient 1.7 miles to the VW dealership, walked into the showroom, and sat down with the salesman. I got right down to business and immediately asked Nick, “What are your cheapest Jettas on the lot?” There was a 2020 model on the showroom floor (photo right) and a 2021 on the lot. The showroom model had a sunroof and was a little snazzier overall so I opted for that one. Badda bing, badda boom. In less than one hour, my car shopping drudgery was over with. I must be Nick’s easiest customer.

I don’t know why I’m so blasé about cars. My Dad loved cars and enjoyed maintaining them, although he was more of a wanna-be mechanic than a bona fide one. He would make me help him (hold the flashlight, tighten the bolt, etc.) as he worked on his cars on Saturday mornings. I had no interest and hated it. My Dad would inevitably become angry about a difficult repair and take his frustration out on me. “Hold it (the flashlight) steady!,” he would regularly yell. I eventually developed a strategy of sneaking out the back door early Saturday mornings and staying away from the house all day.

My wife loves cars and could easily make choosing the next car a month-long project. With my wife on long-term disability, we’re now down to only one car and she had a vested interest in choosing the next one. She desired that our next car be an SUV, which is what “everybody” is driving these days. I argued that an SUV is not practical for us. We certainly don’t need the extra room or the higher monthly payment. My wife accompanied me to the VW dealership with the notion that it was going to be only the first of several stops in the car selection process, but she liked the 2020 Jetta showroom model and conceded that we didn’t need to spend additional money each month for a bigger, fancier car.

Nope, there aren’t any deep spiritual lessons to be culled from this post other than I’m grateful to the Lord for the needed transportation!

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series, #82

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 Luke 8:40-56 on “Christ is the Answer.”

Next, we have Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaching from Hebrews 12:1 on “Continuing.”

Both of these sermons were delivered on Sunday, April 18th.

Pastor Roger Copeland – Christ is the Answer

Pastor Cody Andrews – Continuing

Catholicism & Protestantism: The Differences, Why They Matter, & What’s At Stake

In this era of widespread ecumenical accommodation and compromise of the Gospel, it’s extremely rare that you’ll hear a sermon/lecture on Roman Catholicism’s false gospel at an evangelical church. That’s why I was very pleased when I recently stumbled across an excellent 53-minute sermon/lecture audio, “Catholicism & Protestantism: The Differences, Why They Matter, & What’s At Stake” (link below), presented by Elder Charles Hedman at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. on February 17, 2019. There are MANY irreconcilable doctrines dividing Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity, but Hedman focuses on the two most important; 1) authority and 2) salvation.

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Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 5/1/21

In Roman Catholicism, the month of May is dedicated to Mary. Every May at my Catholic grammar school, we students participated in a procession which culminated in the crowning of the statue of Mary as the “Queen of Heaven” at the adjoining church (see here). Pope Francis is now encouraging Catholics to join him in praying the rosary to Mary throughout this month for her intercession in ending the coronavirus pandemic. Half of Catholic piety is focused on Mary and when Catholics do speak about Jesus it’s as a victim who is allegedly sacrificed on their altars and eaten in the form of a bread wafer.

Contrary to the psychological band-aids mentioned in this article, genuine spiritual peace and joy cannot be found in Roman Catholicism with its system of merited salvation.

The “wafer wars” continue as conservative Catholic prelates wring their hands ruminating how they’re going to deal with pro-abortion president, Joe Biden.

I’m Polish American and have a special interest in Poland. Perhaps more than any other European national/ethnic group, Polish identity is intertwined with Roman Catholicism. To be a Pole is to be Catholic. But that is now changing as secularization is creeping into the country. Much of that change is precipitated by young Poles who resent the government’s close ties with the Polish Catholic church. It’s estimated that only 0.2% (80,000) of Poland’s population of 38 million identify as evangelical Christian. 90% of Poland’s counties (voivodeships) do not have an evangelical church.

Speaking of Poles, Polish Catholic immigrants to America in the late-19th century built their churches within their ethnic enclaves with their hard earned dimes and quarters only to see the Irish-American hierarchy claim control of the properties. Dissenting Poles formed the Polish National Catholic church in 1897. Here in Rochester, in the old “Polishtown” neighborhood, St. Casimir church (PNCC) was just a few blocks from St. Stanislaus (RCC). The RCC taught that the PNCCers were schismatics and heretics and would all burn in hell. That condemnatory attitude was relaxed after the Second Vatican Council. The PNCC has about 26,000 members across the U.S. and Canada. The genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone is not preached in either RCC or PNCC churches.

As outcry grows, it’s not a question of “if” the RCC will change its official catechism, which currently labels homosexuality as “intrinsically disordered” (CCC 2357), it’s a matter of when.

Evangelicals are beginning to cave to the LGBT paradigm, and the accommodation is beginning at schools and seminaries.

As local courts continue to sort through the pedophile priest abuse miasma, the diocese of Rochester continues to try to cover-up.

John Stott was actually an enthusiastic supporter of ecumenism with Rome and discouraged outreach to Roman Catholics. Stott led the movement to reconcile with Rome in the U.K, just as Billy Graham did in the United States. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones broke ties with Stott because of his accommodation and compromise with error. “Seeing ourselves and Roman Catholics as fellow-Christians, we repent of attitudes that have seemed to deny it.” – John Stott.

Throwback Thursday: National Day of Prayer?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. The post below was originally published back on April 15, 2016, but has been revised to reflect the upcoming 2021 National Day of Prayer.

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The National Day of Prayer is coming up next week on Thursday, May 6th. Back in 1952, during the Korean War and Red Scare and in response to a groundswell of support sparked by a young Billy Graham, President Harry Truman signed into law the bill which mandated that an annual day of prayer be observed throughout the nation. The observance day was later fixed as the first Thursday in May. On this day, people of all religious faiths in the United States are called upon to pray for the nation and its leaders. Many born-again followers of Jesus Christ will join in “prayer” with Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, New Agers, and followers of various aberrant “christian” denominations and sects including Roman Catholicism and Mormonism.

Many evangelical Christians see participation in the National Day of Prayer as a good thing. After all, doesn’t God’s Word instruct us to pray for the authorities over us, “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)? But the National Day of Prayer also has some critics within evangelicalism, including myself.

The National Day of Prayer is an event that promotes American civil religion (see here), a conflation of religion and American patriotism. Christians should never join with unbelievers in spiritual endeavors. God’s Word is explicitly clear on this:

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.'” – 2 Corinthians 6:14-17

“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.” – Ephesians 5:11

“…holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” – 2 Timothy 3:5

Jesus proclaimed that He is the ONLY way to salvation. That’s definitely not a popular message in our post-modern era of cooperation, pluralism, tolerance, inclusiveness, and relativism. But Christians should NOT join with religious unbelievers as they pray to their false deities. That is cooperation with idolatry. Yes, we Christians must pray for our country’s leaders so that the Gospel can continue to be preached unhindered throughout this land, but we cannot join with religious unbelievers in this ministry.

Some Christian supporters of the National Day of Prayer argue that the event can be used as an evangelism tool, however, compromise works both ways. Cooperation and compromise with unbelief always leads to betrayal of the Gospel. The Old Testament is largely a record of the disastrous consequences of God’s people cooperating with idolatry.

In closing, I would ask born-again believers who regularly read God’s Word to try to imagine the Lord, Jesus Christ, or even the Apostle Paul, joining with the pagan religionists of 1st-century Palestine, Mesopotamia, and Asia Minor in ecumenical prayer. The notion is beyond preposterous and yet many followers of Christ will enthusiastically join with religious unbelievers in the National Day of Prayer. For many evangelicals, shared national citizenship and religious-tinged, patriotic fervor take precedence over fidelity to the Gospel. The pastor of the Southern Baptist church we previously attended encouraged participation in the National Day of Prayer, which was one of several warning signs that we were worshiping at the wrong place. This is pretty cut and dry, folks. The fact that the National Day of Prayer is so popular with American evangelicals is another example of the lack of discernment when it comes to ecumenism and “interreligious” cooperation.

“The Church of Christ is continually represented under the figure of an army; yet its Captain is the Prince of Peace; its object is the establishment of peace, and its soldiers are men of a peaceful disposition. The spirit of war is at the extremely opposite point to the spirit of the gospel. Yet nevertheless, the church on earth has, and until the second advent must be, the church militant, the church armed, the church warring, the church conquering. And how is this? It is the very order of things that so it must be. Truth could not be truth in this world if it were not a warring thing, and we should at once suspect that it were not true if error were friends with it. The spotless purity of truth must always be at war with the blackness of heresy and lies.” – Charles H. Spurgeon

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series, #81

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 Luke 8:22-25 on “When Storms Come.”

Next, we have Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaching from Galatians 4:7-9 on “Don’t Turn Back.”

Both of these sermons were delivered on Sunday, April 11th.

Pastor Roger Copeland – When Storms Come

Pastor Cody Andrews – Don’t Turn Back