Throwback Thursday: “Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism”

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re revisiting a slightly re-edited post that was first published back on August 15th, 2015.

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Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism
by Scott and Kimberly Hahn
Ignatius Press, 1993, 182 pp.

1 Star

This memoir from conservative Catholic apologist, Scott Hahn, and his wife records a spiritual train wreck.

In this book, Hahn describes allegedly accepting Jesus Christ as his Savior as a teen, attending seminary, marrying, and becoming a Presbyterian minister. Although Hahn boasts that he started off fiercely anti-Catholic, both he and his wife admired and shared Rome’s strong stand against all forms of birth control. Hahn then slowly became enamored with formal liturgical worship. While studying the Bible, he became transfixed with “covenant” theology (referenced ad nauseam throughout), leading him to believe that sacraments and obedience to religious law were essential to salvation and remaining in God’s family. Hahn joined the Catholic church and pestered his wife until she did as well.

Hahn’s journey from an alleged “born-again” believer, supposedly trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, to a works-righteousness Catholic is unfathomable. Did he ever genuinely grasp that salvation is by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone? Obviously not. For Hahn it was just head knowledge; words on paper. Like the emancipated Hebrews in Exodus who wished to return to Egypt, Hahn desired the “security” of legalism, ritualism, and spiritual chains over God’s free gift of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” – Galatians 2:21

Now Hahn and his family are “happily” attempting to earn their way to heaven. Hahn and his wife revealingly note that they often look around while at Sunday mass and observe the glum faces surrounding them and can’t fathom why their fellow-Catholics aren’t as bubbly as they are about the stultifying legalism of the “one true church.” Catholic research shows that only 20% of Catholics attend obligatory mass every Sunday. The other 80% would rather sleep in and pick up another “mortal” sin every week. After all, pope Francis has said even atheists will go to Heaven if they lead “good” lives, so who needs all of that dreary liturgical rigmarole? But God says there are none who are good and that all must repent of their sin and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. Only 12% of Catholics go to confession at least once a year which means the other 88% may still somewhat identify as church members, but do not invest personally in their church’s salvation system: A [sacramental grace] + B [merit] might possibly = C [heaven].

Hahn has built quite a career as a Catholic apologist, but I feel sorry for him and his family and anyone who gives heed to Catholicism’s gospel of chains. Reading about Hahn enthusiastically carrying around an alleged “relic” of a Catholic “saint” in his pants pocket every day as a spiritual rabbit’s foot was a disturbingly illustrative passage in a disturbing book.

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” – Romans 1:25

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A popular apologist stands up for the Gospel and calls a lie a lie

As an ex-Catholic who was and is saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, I am troubled by evangelical pastors and para-church leaders who succumb to ecumenical pressure and compromise and suggest to their followers that Roman Catholicism teaches a similar Gospel, even though Catholic priests, prelates, and apologists unapologetically proclaim that their church teaches salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Several of the most popular evangelical apologists – men like Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, and Lee Strobel – blur the irreconcilable differences between Catholicism and Biblical Christianity in an effort to advance ecumenical “unity.” Craig has acknowledged on his website (see here) and in friendly, ecumenical dialogue with Catholic bishop, Robert Barron (see here), that Catholicism teaches a heterodox version of justification, yet he still embraces the RCC as a Christian entity! Mind boggling! On Zacharias’ and Strobel’s websites, you won’t find ANY information critical of the Roman church, but in their books and media messages you will definitely see or hear glowingly favorable references to Roman Catholic saints, clergy, and theologians. The message to their audiences is clear and unmistakable.

When I first heard about J. Warner Wallace (photo above) and his Cold Case Christianity apologetics ministry, I was a little skeptical. I assumed Warner would be following the lead of compromising ecumenists like Craig, Zacharias, and Strobel.  How blessed I was to read the following recent article on Wallace’s web site:

What Does the Bible Say About Purgatory?
By J. Warner Wallace
May 24, 2019

“My mother was a cultural Catholic for many years, and although she was quick to identify herself with Catholicism, she had a limited knowledge of the Church’s teaching. Worse yet, she wasn’t yet a robust Bible reader. When I eventually became a Christian, I found myself examining several claims of Catholicism to see if they were true. Catholics believe in purgatory, ‘a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.’”

To continue reading this article, see here.


This is an excellent article, my friends. Purgatory is not Biblical, but is an essential component of Catholicism’s salvation system of sacramental grace and merit. I appreciate that Warner has taken an uncompromising stand against Catholicism’s doctrines of Purgatory and merited salvation.

I see that J. Warner Wallace is currently a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Interesting. The Colson Center, like its founder, Chuck Colson, is a strong supporter of ecumenism with Rome. Has the center’s president, John Stonestreet, or anyone else contacted Wallace yet regarding his critical article on Roman Catholicism? I’m curious how Wallace reconciles his Biblical views on Catholicism’s spiritually-deadly doctrinal errors with the Colson Center’s strong support of ecumenism with Rome? Such an incongruity is typical in today’s evangelical church. Let’s pray for J. Warner Wallace that he stays true to the Gospel of grace.

The forces of spiritual accommodation, compromise, and betrayal are all around us brothers and sisters and have even secured many of our pulpits and para-church ministries. We are all called, every one of us, to battle for Truth and fidelity to the genuine Gospel of grace in this era when plurality, tolerance, and relativism are worshiped as idols.

Throwback Thursday: “The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God”

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re revisiting a slightly re-edited post that was first published back on August 13th, 2015.

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The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God
by James G. McCarthy
Harvest House, 1995, 408 pp.

5 Stars

The Gospel According to Rome is a well-researched and well-written comparison of Catholic theology with Scripture. McCarthy, an evangelical Christian and ex-Catholic, uses Catholicism’s own source material including its official 1995 catechism to present the church’s position on various doctrinal issues and then responds with counter-arguments using relevant passages from the Bible.

Of course, the main disagreement between Catholics and evangelicals is in regards to the issue of justification and McCarthy expounds upon that disagreement thoroughly. Is a person saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone, as the Bible teaches and evangelicals believe, or does salvation come from the Catholic church through the dispensation of its sacraments and by merit? A Christian rests securely in Christ’s imputed perfect righteousness while a Catholic believes their salvation will ultimately depend on how well THEY “cooperate with (sacramental) grace” and obey their church’s rules and the Ten Commandments. Is that “Good News”? A person who adheres to a religious legal system like Catholicism could never possibly justify their standing before a Holy God according to how well they obeyed His commandments. The law teaches us we are all sinners (Galatians 3:24) and that we all need a Savior; justification doesn’t come from trying to obey the law. Christ came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15-17) NOT the self-righteous. Jesus Christ has made complete and final atonement for us, but we need to repent of our sin and accept Him as our Savior by faith alone. Pride in their religious system and its traditions and their false confidence in their ability to ultimately merit their salvation prevent Catholics from trusting in Christ by faith alone.

McCarthy examines the errors of many other Catholic doctrines including the sacerdotal priesthood, the sacrifice of the mass and transubstantiation, Mariolatry, the papacy, purgatory, sacred tradition, and baptismal regeneration. I’ve read many books which critically examine Catholicism and “The Gospel According to Rome” is easily one of the best. McCarthy’s tone is charitable yet uncompromising in his examinations of the Roman church’s fallacies. Order from Amazon here.

The following books were also written by McCarthy and published by Harvest House. They’re all available through Amazon.com:

*Roman Catholicism: What You Need to Know (Quick Reference Guides) (1995)
*What Every Catholic Should Ask (1999)
*Letters Between a Catholic and an Evangelical (2003)
*Talking with Catholic Friends and Family (2005)

Trent anathemas – I stand corrected, but the application was exactly the same

In my examinations of Roman Catholicism, I strive to be factual. However, it came to my attention recently that I had an imprecise understanding of the anathema canons of the Council of Trent. A little background:

In response to the Protestant Reformation, pope Paul III convoked the Council of Trent (1545-1563), which decreed over one-hundred canons clarifying Roman Catholic doctrine. Several canons specifically addressed doctrines being taught by the Reformers including the Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Persons who held to the Protestant doctrines were declared “anathema” (Greek and Latin: something dedicated, especially dedicated to evil, cursed). See here for a listing of the Tridentine anathemas.

For centuries, many Protestants have been claiming that, by issuing the Tridentine canons, the Roman church had forthwith and forever cursed/condemned ALL Protestants. But Catholic apologists point out that that understanding is mistaken.

Recently, I was listening to a podcast of a Catholic radio talk show and the host was discussing this issue.

Called to Communion – 5/27/2019 podcast
Host: David Anders (photo above), Moderator: Thom Price
2:36 mark

Thom Price: So we’re going to lead off this special memorial Day mailbag program with a question. This is an anonymous text that came in: How can Protestants simultaneously be, quote, separated brothers and sisters, and at the same time, anathema, as the Council of Trent proclaims in at least eight of its canons? How can one be a damned Christian?

David Anders: Thanks. I appreciate the question. The premise of the question is faulty, that the anathema pronounced by the Council of Trent does not constitute a judgement of damnation. So you’re incorrect in (your) understanding of what an anathema is. An anathema – and by the way, anathemas no longer exists in the Catholic church – but an anathema was an ecclesiastical penalty, right. It’s a form of excommunication and it would have been executed against members of the Catholic church that professed the errors in question; the particular errors that were being rejected at the Council of Trent. And the way those anathemas would read would be, “If anyone says blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, let him be anathema.” Well, you know, even then, if someone was not a member of the Catholic church then ecclesiastical penalties wouldn’t apply to them. The anathema applied specifically to members of the Catholic church that would have committed these crimes against the church’s doctrines. So, even then, it wouldn’t have applied to somebody who had been raised in the Protestant church. Today, there are no anathemas. We don’t use that ecclesiastical penalty anymore. So it’s a false dichotomy, the one you raised.


So, technically, the anathemas of Trent were ecclesiastical excommunications of all of the former members of the church who had embraced the Protestant doctrines. The Protestants’ children and future descendants who had never been baptized as Catholics were not being directly addressed by the anathema canons since they had never been members of the church.

Okay. Fair enough. I get it. However, the descendants of the first-generation Protestants who also held to Protestant beliefs were obviously still considered to be heretics by the church, just like their predecessors. In countries where Catholicism held sway and was allied with the ruling monarch, Protestant “heretics” were viewed as traitors and in many cases were tortured and executed, whether the offender was a first-generation Protestant or a descendant. So while we duly note the ecclesiastical fine print, the end results were the same for early-Protestant grandparents and their grandchildren. The bottom line to all of this is that, while contemporary Catholic apologists like David Anders attempt to softsoap the Tridentine anathemas, they served as a death sentence for millions and have never been officially rescinded.

“The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this, that the Sacred Deposit of Christian Doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously [with a] renewed, serene, and tranquil adherence to all the teachings of the Church in their entirety and preciseness, as they still shine forth in the acts of the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council.” – pope John XXIII, opening speech to the Second Vatican Council, October 11, 1962

Postscript: Why does the Catholic church no longer issue anathemas? The RCC boasts that it is “Semper Eadem,” always the same, but that is clearly not the case. At Vatican II, the formerly-militant Roman church changed its approach and declared all Protestant heretics to be “separated brethren.” The success of this ecumenical about-face has proven the old adage that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Throwback Thursday: Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re going to take a look back at this post, which was first published on August 19, 2015 and has been only slightly revised.

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Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment
by Gregg R. Allison
Crossway, 2014, 496 pages

5 Stars

At a time when some evangelical pastors and para-church leaders are ignoring doctrinal distinctives in the interest of “Christian” unity, noted evangelical theologian, Gregg R. Allison, gives us “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment,” a clinical examination of the many differences between Bible Christianity and Roman Catholicism.

Allison begins by outlining Rome’s two major theological constructs: the nature-grace interconnection which posits the concrete conferring of grace through nature (e.g., priests, sacraments, sacramentals, shrines, relics, etc.) and the Christ-Church interconnection, whereby the Catholic church presents itself as the prolongation of the incarnation of Christ. Allison then examines Rome’s catechism, reviewing each major doctrine in light of the aforementioned constructs and how they compare to God’s Word and evangelical theology. The author notes that Catholicism and evangelicalism agree on some doctrinal issues, but disagree on a myriad of others. Most importantly, Catholicism teaches salvation by sacramental grace and merit while evangelicals profess Biblical salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. There is no bridge over this theological chasm despite the best efforts of some accommodating, doctrine-light evangelicals.

This new book is a VERY welcome addition to the evangelical-Catholic debate. Every evangelical pastor who works with Catholics and ex-Catholics should own a copy. Many of the Protestant books about Catholicism written in the past were uncharitable and did not present Rome’s doctrines accurately. Allison’s tone leans toward the irenic almost to a fault, but he’s also firm in his critique of Catholicism’s un-Biblical and anti-Biblical doctrines.

Unfortunately, Allison ends this book on a bit of a disappointing note. After spending the first 450 pages carefully analyzing Rome’s errors, he avoids drawing any overall conclusions. Does he believe Rome is at its foundation a Christian church that happens to teach many doctrines not found in the Bible (see Norman Geisler) or does he believe Catholicism is an apostate church that turned from the Gospel of Jesus Christ to legalism and ritualism and that no person can be saved by adhering to its standard theology? After reading the first 450 pages the reader will definitely assume Allison’s position is the latter, but, unfortunately, for reasons only he knows, he’s not willing to commit himself in a forthright summation and conclusion. Instead, the six-page final chapter offers evangelicals advice on how to share the Gospel with Catholics. That criticism aside, this book is a timely and intelligent clarification of Catholic teaching for evangelicals, some of whom are disturbingly too eager to embrace a “church” they actually know very little about.

Available from Amazon here. Please note: This book is definitely on the academic side and wouldn’t appeal to a number of readers. For an excellent book on Roman Catholicism that will appeal to the general reader, tune in to next week’s installment of Throwback Thursday!

Former Catholics for Christ Conference: Videos of all eight sessions

For the last two weeks, I’ve been posting videos of the individual sessions of the recent Former Catholics for Christ Conference, which was held at the Southern View Chapel in Springfield, Illinois this past May 17-19.

Today, I am publishing all of the videos in a single post as an easy reference for bookmarking. Please note: I had previously posted an audio version of Session #8, “Evangelizing Roman Catholics,” presented by Mike Gendron, but the video version is posted below for the first time.

Thank you for watching these important videos and for your supportive comments during the course of this series. Roman Catholics are a mission field and need to hear the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Thanks to the presenters, Cecil Andrews; Rob Zins; Mike Gendron; and Tim Kauffman, and to Pastor Gary Gilley and Southern View Chapel for hosting this blessed event. Thanks also to Cecil Andrews for posting these videos on his YouTube channel which can be accessed here.

Session One
“Scripture Alone”
Speaker: Cecil Andrews
Presented: Friday PM, May 17th, 2019

Session Two
“Grace Alone”
Speaker: Rob Zins
Presented: Saturday AM, May 18th, 2019

Session Three
“Christ Alone”
Speaker: Mike Gendron
Presented: Saturday AM, May 18th, 2019

Session Four
“Faith Alone”
Speaker: Tim Kauffman
Presented: Saturday PM, May 18th, 2019

Session Five
“Contending Against False Ecumenism”
Speaker: Rob Zins
Presented: Saturday PM, May 18th, 2019

Session Six
Question & Answer Panel
Panelists: Cecil Andrews; Mike Gendron; Rob Zins; Tim Kauffman
Presented: Saturday PM, May 18th, 2019

Session Seven
“What Roman Catholics Are Taught”
Speakers: Tim Kauffman and Cecil Andrews
Presented: Sunday AM, May 19th, 2019

Session Eight
“Evangelizing Roman Catholics”
Speaker: Mike Gendron
Presented: Sunday AM, May 19th, 2019

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Former Catholics for Christ Conference: Session #7: “What Roman Catholics Are Taught”

Today, we continue with our video series from the recent Former Catholics for Christ Conference, which was held at the Southern View Chapel in Springfield, Illinois this past May 17-19.

Below is the video of the seventh presentation of the conference, titled…

“What Roman Catholics Are Taught”
Speakers: Tim Kauffman and Cecil Andrews
Presented: Sunday AM, May 19th, 2019

Former Catholics for Christ Conference: Session #6: Question & Answer Panel

Today, we continue with our video series from the recent Former Catholics for Christ Conference, which was held at the Southern View Chapel in Springfield, Illinois this past May 17-19.

Below is the video of the sixth presentation of the conference, which was a…

Question & Answer Panel
Panelists: Cecil Andrews; Mike Gendron; Rob Zins; Tim Kauffman
Presented: Saturday PM, May 18th, 2019

This is an excellent Q&A session featuring the four conference presenters. The microphone shared by Zins and Kauffman is not operational so you’ll have to turn up your volume when those brothers speak. One qualification: In the course of the Q&A, Rob Zins makes a few critical remarks in which he mentions Steve Lawson in connection with the “Lordship Salvation” controversy. I respect Zins quite a bit, but I don’t believe he’s presenting the views of Lawson with complete accuracy on this issue. Steve Lawson DOES NOT teach that works are a part of salvation, but teaches, as does God’s Word, that a person who has genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone will bear fruit.

Former Catholics for Christ Conference: Session #5: “Contending Against False Ecumenism”

Today, we continue with our video series from the recent Former Catholics for Christ Conference, which was held at the Southern View Chapel in Springfield, Illinois this past May 17-19.

Below is the video of the fifth presentation of the conference, titled…

“Contending Against False Ecumenism”
Speaker: Rob Zins
Presented: Saturday PM, May 18th, 2019

Some evangelical pastors and para-church leaders are embracing Roman Catholicism as a Christian entity, even though the Catholic hierarchy proclaims without apology, as they always have, that salvation is by sacramental grace and merit. How could these ecumenical evangelicals have been deceived? Rob Zins examines the compromise and betrayal of the Gospel of grace by focusing on two ecumenical accords: The Manhattan Declaration (2009) and Evangelicals and Catholics Together (1994).

 

Former Catholics for Christ Conference: Session #4: “Faith Alone”

I hope everyone had an enjoyable, Father’s Day weekend! Today, we continue with our video series from the recent Former Catholics for Christ Conference, which was held at the Southern View Chapel in Springfield, Illinois this past May 17-19.

Below is the video of the fourth presentation of the conference, titled…

“Faith Alone”
Speaker: Tim Kauffman
Presented: Saturday PM, May 18th, 2019

Catholics will readily say that they believe in salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, but what they mean by those words is something entirely different than from what Bible Christians understand. Catholics’ “faith” is in their priests and in their church’s sacramental system. Catholics believe, as they are taught, that their sacraments provide grace that will enable them to resist sin and temptation so that they can hopefully merit Heaven at the moment of their death. Catholics readily admit that their good works (obedience to the Ten Commandments and mandatory church rules) and charity are essential in meriting their salvation. Catholics will NOT say salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. They believe, as they are taught, that salvation is by sacramental grace AND good works.