Catholic sacramentalism: Like a moth drawn to a flame

Evangelicals Adrift: Supplanting Scripture with Sacramentalism
By Matthew E. Ferris
Great Printing Publishing, 2015, 248 pages

There are a number of unsaved individuals who are involved in evangelical church culture in some capacity, who take stock of the comparative religious landscape and feel a mounting sense of personal intellectual crisis regarding some if not all of the following issues:

  • Certainty – God’s Word is the final and ultimate authority in evangelical churches, but with the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible increasingly under attack from liberals, some of these souls are drawn to the authority of Roman Catholicism, where the Bible is subservient to the church’s supposedly unwavering and infallible teaching magisterium and its traditions.
  • History – Mega-church, seeker-focused evangelicalism with its CCM rock music and light shows appears completely rootless in comparison to Catholicism’s ancient rituals and traditions and claims of direct lineage to the apostles and apostolic teaching. Famous convert to Catholicism, John Henry Cardinal Newman, boasted, “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.”
  • Unity – Evangelicalism appears as an unorganized and dysfunctional hodgepodge in contrast to Rome’s grandiose hierarchy and McLiturgy standardization.
  • Interpretation – Within evangelicalism, it appears every individual has an opinion when it comes to Scripture, while Catholicism mandates standard doctrine and dogma through the pope and his bishops.

Some unsaved souls within evangelical church culture reach an intellectual crisis point because of these perceived deficiencies and leave for Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. In the last twenty years, a small number of high-profile “evangelical” academics converted to Catholicism, creating quite a buzz.

In “Evangelicals Adrift: Supplanting Scripture with Sacramentalism,” Matthew Ferris examines whether these apparent advantages some ascribe to Catholicism are accurate.

If the apostle, Paul, were somehow able to witness a contemporary Roman Catholic mass, he would not be familiar with the vast majority of associated rituals, religious props, and doctrines. When Christianity became legalized and was afterwards adopted as the official religious arm of the Roman Empire, sacramentalism, legalism, and ritualism eventually replaced simple saving faith in Christ. The institutional church became the arbiter of salvation rather than the Holy Spirit through the preaching of God’s Word. Sacraments and merit rather than saving faith in Jesus Christ as Savior became the standard way to Heaven.

There are some within evangelicalism who are envious of Rome’s pompous, worldly “advantages,” but, as Ferris points out, this is an incorrect viewpoint. He addresses the previous concerns as follows:

  • Certainty – God’s Word is our only unassailable authority, while Rome, untethered from Scripture, has created one un-Biblical (and often anti-Biblical) tradition after another. Yes, folks, popes have contradicted previous popes.
  • History – Most of Roman Catholicism’s history documents an unflattering quest for temporal wealth and power. Catholic apologists appeal to the writings of the church fathers as evidence of their church’s direct connection to apostolic authority, but the patristic writers often contradicted Scripture and each other as well as modern Catholic theology.
  • Unity – Catholic belief in actuality runs the gamut from liberal higher criticism and Marxist liberation theology to Tridentine ultra-traditionalism. Born-again followers of Jesus Christ may differ on doctrinal secondaries, but we are united in the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The many denominations within Protestantism are the result of the continual reform of the church and guard against wholesale apostasy exemplified by Roman Catholicism.
  • Interpretation – God’s Word says we are to personally study Scripture to show ourselves approved and not to cede that responsibility to another person or an organization. Roman Catholics are not exposed to the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone because they accept the teachings of men rather than digging into to God’s Word themselves.

One need only examine the current heterodoxy of pope Francis to see how Rome’s claims of authority, doctrinal continuity, unity, and reliable interpretation are without merit. Catholicism’s worldly facade that appeals to the spiritually unwary actually veils a sepulcher full of dead men’s bones. Evangelicals, you needn’t be intimidated by Catholicism’s claims to institutional antiquity.

Could a genuine, blood-bought, born-again believer, saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, willingly enter into a religious system which teaches salvation by sacramental grace and merit along with a plethora of other beliefs that seriously contradict Scripture? Impossible. Does not compute.

For everyone  – saved and unsaved – who look at Catholicism and see comparative advantages, this book is an absolute must-read! I can’t recommend “Evangelicals Adrift” highly enough. In my studies of Catholicism, I perceive a dire need for resources that examine how the early church devolved from preaching the Gospel of grace to institutionalized sacramentalism and I’m so grateful that I stumbled upon this book. It deserves a much wider audience. Order from Amazon here.

“But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:25-28

Postscript: A chapter outline of this book is provided in the comments section.

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Misrepresenting Catholicism’s complicated salvation calculus

Many people are attracted to ceremonial religious ritualism. The sights. The smells. The pious liturgies. The statuary. The robes and vestments. The choir. The impressive church architecture. The long legalistic laundry list. This, they believe, is how God must be approached; with strict and exacting formality that’s best controlled by the clergy. And few religions can match the ritualistic calculus of Roman Catholicism with its 1752 Canon Laws, 2865 numbered paragraphs in its official catechism, and its 1300 page missal (a liturgical book containing all instructions and texts necessary for the celebration of mass throughout the year).

But Catholic apologists understand that not everyone is attracted to layer upon layer of legalistic ceremonialism, especially in comparison to the simple yet sublime genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. So some Catholic apologists have attempted to compete with the born-again “Bible bangers” and their simple Gospel with a disingenuous, “Catholic-lite” explanation of their religion.

In response to the question of “How to Get to Heaven,” Catholic apologist, Jimmy Akin (photo) offers the following:

“Sometimes people make it sound like the Catholic understanding of how to get to heaven is really complex. It’s not. While you can go into any of Christ’s teachings in a lot of very rich detail, he made sure that this one can be understood even by a child. I can summarize it in two sentences:

To come to God and be saved, you need to repent, have faith, and be baptized. If you commit mortal sin, you need to repent, have faith, and go to confession.” See the article here.

Well, as a born-again follower of Jesus Christ and an ex-Catholic, I have some BIG problems even with those few words, but it’s also clear Jimmy is not telling the full story involved with Catholicism’s complex salvation system. Let’s break down Jimmy’s summary, word for word, by comparing it to Biblical Christianity:

you need to repent – a) Biblical repentance means to turn from rebellion against God, accepting that you are a helpless sinner deserving damnation, and placing your trust in Jesus Christ, God the Son, who came to this Earth to pay for your sins, as your Savior by faith alone. b) Catholic repentance means turning from atheism or a different works-righteousness religious system and placing your trust in the Roman Catholic church and its sacramental system.

have faith – a) Biblical faith is trusting in Christ alone by God’s grace alone for salvation and then following the Lord according to His Word in prayerful communion. b) Catholic faith is trusting in the Catholic church and its priests and its sacramental system.

be baptized – a) Biblical baptism is an ordinance established by Jesus Christ in which a born-again believer makes a public profession of their trust in Christ, identifying through immersion with His death, burial, and resurrection. b) Catholics claim baptism is a sacrament by which the sprinkling of water accompanied by the proper words literally washes all sins away. For Catholics, baptism is the initial component of the life-long salvation process. Most Catholics are baptized as infants.

If you commit mortal sin, you need to repent, have faith, and go to confession – a) Born-again followers of Christ know they break the Ten Commandments by thought, word, deed, or by omission every single day. The Bible says no one can be justified by the Law because only Jesus perfectly obeyed the Law. It is by God’s grace through our faith in Christ and His imputed perfect righteousness that saves us. When believers do disobey God, we go directly to Him and confess our sins. Jesus is our only Mediator. We do not confess our sins to a mortal man. b) Catholics believe, with the help of grace from the sacraments, that they are hopefully able to obey the Ten Commandments and church rules so as to become subjectively righteous and able to merit Heaven at the moment of their death. Catholics are taught they must confess their sins to a priest at least once a year, although 88% of the membership ignore this mandate. Catholicism is a hopeless religious treadmill of sin-confess, sin-confess, sin-confess, etc., etc.

In his effort to present the Catholic salvation system as something that “can be understood even by a child,” Akin is purposely leaving out quite a few dogmatic essentials such as:

  • Mandatory attendance at Sunday mass and holy days of obligation
  • Belief that priests change bread wafers and wine into Jesus Christ and sacrifice him as an offering for sins 350,000 times daily throughout the world.
  • Belief also in confirmation, last rites, marriage, and ordination as grace-infusing sacraments.
  • Belief in the immaculate conception of Mary, her perpetual virginity, and her assumption into Heaven. Also, belief in Mary as advocate and mediatrix and the efficacy of prayer to Mary and the saints in Heaven.
  • Belief in the pope as the vicar of Christ, infallible in all matters of faith and morals.
  • Belief that the magisterium (the teaching office of the pope with his bishops) and sacred tradition are equal in authority to the Bible.
  • Belief in purgatory as a place where venial sins and any leftover temporal punishment for confessed mortal sins are atoned for. Belief also in church-granted indulgences, which shorten the time in purgatory.
  • Belief that no one can be assured of their salvation since obedience to the Law is required right up until the last dying breath.

Akin is being deceitful by claiming the complicated Catholic salvation system can be summarized in only two sentences.

The genuine Gospel isn’t complicated, folks. You’re a sinner. You deserve eternal punishment. Jesus Christ, God the Son, died for your sins but rose from the grave and offers the gift of eternal life to all of those who accept Him as Savior by faith alone. Won’t you repent (turn from your sin) and pray to Jesus and ask Him to save you?

“Through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the Law of Moses” – Acts 13:38-39

Catholic radio host won’t answer question about pope Francis in forthright manner

Part of my daily routine at work is to listen to one hour of Catholic talk radio. While I wouldn’t recommend that activity to someone who has recently accepted Christ and come out of Roman Catholicism, I do it to stay abreast of what’s going on in the RCC and to pick up material for this blog.

I used to listen to a local Catholic talk show broadcast out of Buffalo, but after they changed formats and experimented for a couple of months with material that was very critical of pope Francis, they did an abrupt about-face and returned to uncontroversial (and very boring) topics. I then switched to the “Called to Communion” show on EWTN radio with host, David Anders (photo above), who attempts to proselytize Protestants and lapsed Catholics. I’d been listening to Anders for over eight weeks and hadn’t once heard him address the controversies surrounding pope Francis…until just now.

I was listening to the 5/22/18 podcast of “Called to Communion” and at the 42:31 mark, Nancy from Rockingham, North Carolina called in with a concern. She cited the recent news reports that the German Catholic bishops were debating the acceptability of intercommunion with Protestants, always a forbidden practice according to official Catholic teaching. But rather than issue a ruling on the argument, pope Francis directed the German bishops to work out a solution for themselves. Nancy then asked Anders…

“If the Holy Father lets the German people, for example, bishops, decide about spouses that are non-Catholic receiving the eucharist, what does that say or do to people who are attracted to the Catholic church by (its) authoritative teaching?”

Ah! Wonderful question! Nancy has put her finger on the very essence of the recent controversies over Catholicism’s claims to papal infallibility and the inability of the pope to lead the church into doctrinal error in light of Francis’ heterodoxy. I had been patiently waiting for this question for eight weeks! How would Anders respond?

For the next 6 minutes and 34 seconds, Dr. Anders danced around Nancy’s question. He said popes only speak definitively and dogmatically on issues of faith and morals when they speak ex cathedra – from the chair of Peter – and that Catholics are not bound to follow the pope when he is not speaking ex cathedra. This is sheer obfuscation. Popes have issued thousands of bulls, decrees, letters, and encyclicals over the centuries (240 encyclicals in the last 150 years alone) and Catholics were always obliged to obey their pontiff. Papal infallibility wasn’t defined until 1870. Did Catholics feel free to ignore the pope’s declarations and commands prior to 1870? Nonsense. Advising Catholics to obey the pope only if he speaks ex cathedra is conservative Catholics’ way of dealing with Francis’ heterodoxy without openly calling for schism and rebellion.

Dr. Anders, Nancy from Rockingham, North Carolina contacted you with an extremely important question, but when she hung up the phone she was no clearer about the answer than prior to her call. But why would anyone be surprised by Anders’ circumspection? You’ll never catch a low-level marketing executive publicly badmouthing his company’s CEO.

Postscript: Given the entire 1500-year history of the Catholic church, Catholic theologians can only agree on the infallibility of three papal decrees: The Immaculate Conception of Mary (1854), Papal Infallibility (1870), and the Assumption of Mary (1950). What is the use of having allegedly infallible popes if they almost never speak infallibly? It’s all a ruse.

Creation or Evolution?

The Ultimate Proof of Creation: Resolving the Origins Debate
By Jason Lisle
Master Books, 2010 Kindle Edition, 256 pages

My brain is wired in such a way that I generally avoid most material dealing with science, technology, mathematics, logic, and such like. But Christians can’t help but encounter the debate over divine creation versus evolution, so it’s helpful for all believers to get some grounding on the topic. This book is one of blogger SlimJim’s favorite resources on the creationist view of origins and he finally talked me into downloading it to my Kindle.

“The Ultimate Proof of Creation” by Jason Lisle of Answers in Genesis (website below) can be broken down into four sections. The first part of the book explains the basic arguments of the creationists and the evolutionists in the origins debate. Each side approaches the debate from their own worldview and presuppositions. Only a worldview based upon the Bible is able to successfully account for the existence of morality, logic, and the uniformity of nature. The atheist evolutionist cannot rationally account for these outside of the Bible. Advice is provided on how to debate with atheistic evolutionists. The evolutionist often resorts to arbitrariness and presents claims that are inconsistent with evolution theory. He/she must also reject preconditions of intelligibility such as the reliability of the senses and memory since these are not dependable sources of information in a strict, hypothetical evolutionist worldview.

The second part of the book deals with logical reasoning. I have seen many of the rules of logic – logical fallicies, begging the question, the straw man argument, circular reasoning, etc. – in various books and articles over the years, so it was very helpful to see this information presented in a systematic manner. But I won’t lie, this was difficult reading for a “right-brain” guy like myself.

In the short third part of the book, Lisle argues that for the creationist debater, a presuppositional approach is superior to an evidential approach. Atheists view all evidence through their worldview, so evidential arguments will not persuade them. Lisle recommends a presuppositional approach, which argues for a literal understanding of the Genesis creation account based upon the Bible as the Word of God right out of the gate. This approach may seem counterintuitive, but the presuppositionalist is able to draw upon the nature and characteristics of God as recorded in the Bible as the basis for morality, logic, and uniformity in nature. Once again, the atheist evolutionist cannot rationally account for morality, logic, and uniformity in nature from their worldview.

The last part of the book includes a large number of actual emails sent to Lisle and Answers in Genesis that attack the creationist view. I found this section to be very helpful. After reading through the somewhat challenging initial material, which detailed the opposing views of creationists and atheists regarding origins, Lisle pulls all of the information together by using actual examples of how to counter the atheist’s faulty reasoning, thereby reinforcing the preceding material.

This was a very interesting book and I recommend it highly. But if you’re new to the origins debate, you may want to get grounded first in something a little more basic. The author assumes the Christian reader already has some familiarity with the fundamentals of the origins debate and means to equip them to be more effective witnesses, and even debaters themselves, for the Biblical account of creation.

Answers in Genesis website
https://answersingenesis.org/

It’s like driving to the grocery store and finding the candy aisle full but the meat display empty

I’ve got the kind of job where I sit in a chair and stare at a computer screen all day. It’sSupermarket Feud a pretty good gig as I head towards retirement because there’s zero stress, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t help with the metabolism if you know what I mean.  Another benefit is I’m able to listen to Christian podcasts quite often throughout the day using an earbud.

Yesterday, I was searching through some Christian apologetics sites for some good audio on Roman Catholicism. I ended up listening to a recent radio podcast from The Berean Call web site titled, “What is the New Catholicism with Greg Durel (Part 1),” originally broadcast on 8/19/2016. This was a very good discussion on the current direction of Catholicism, especially with its increasing drift from traditionalist doctrine and its growing emphasis on contemplative and experiential spirituality.
https://www.thebereancall.org/content/what-new-catholicism-greg-durel-part-1

The Berean Call apologetics ministry has hundreds upon hundreds of articles, videos, and audio messages on its web site which compare Roman Catholicism to God’s Word. As does James White’s Alpha and Omega site. As does John MacArthur’s Grace to You site.

Then I thought about one of evangelicalism’s leading apologists, Ravi Zacharias. I wondered how many resources Ravi has on his RZIM site that critique Roman Catholicism, although I was already pretty confident on what I would find. I went to RZIM.org and conducted a search using “Catholic” and “Catholicism” and came up with only a handful of resources, none of which reference Rome directly or are critical of Catholicism. Surprised? Well, I’m not surprised whatsoever. Ravi, Lee Strobel, and other disciples of ecumenist theologian, Norman Geisler, proclaim that Rome teaches the same Gospel as evangelicals or at least something that’s “close enough.” But how could that be? Rome teaches a gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit while evangelicals proclaim the GOOD NEWS! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. They are different gospels. They are not the same. In fact, one is diametrically opposed to the other. This difference was at the very heart of the Reformation.

Dr. Zacharias is a highly educated and articulate man. Has he not heard of the Reformation? Does he believe the main disagreement at the heart of the Reformation – whether salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone or whether salvation is by sacramental grace and merit – has been resolved in favor of the genuine Gospel? Rome still preaches the same false gospel that it preached before the Reformation. So how can one of evangelicalism’s most popular apologists be so wrong on something so important, thereby leading so many astray? I’d like to know what goes through Ravi Zacharias’s head.

The Berean Call
https://www.thebereancall.org/

Alpha and Omega Ministries
http://www.aomin.org/

Grace to You
http://www.gty.org/

Visit my Links page here for additional resources on Roman Catholicism.

James White: What goes through Ravi Zacharias’s head?

Back in October of last year, I ran across a You Tube video of Christian apologist,JWW Ravi Zacharias, speaking at a seminar. At the start of the video, a young street evangelist asks Ravi if Roman Catholicism is a cult or an apostate church? For five minutes Ravi dances around the question without giving the young man a forthright answer. I was a bit angered. Does Rome teach the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone or does it not? Why was Ravi so reluctant to be straightforward? Why the hesitancy? Why the deference to Rome? Meanwhile, Catholic apologists do not hesitate to proclaim their church is the one true church and that its gospel of sacramental grace and merit is the only authorized way to God.

For Ravi’s video and my reaction, see here.

Praise God, I see that I’m not the only one who was flabbergasted by Ravi’s non-reply to the street evangelist! Yesterday, I stumbled across Christian apologist, James White’s 2/3/15 reaction to the very same video. Click on the link below. White’s critique of Ravi’s comments begins at the 29:40 mark and ends at the 47:37 mark.

http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php/2015/02/03/roman-catholicism-on-todays-dividing-line/

I can personally attest to the fact that Ravi has referred to several Roman Catholics with great praise and admiration in his talks and writings including St. Francis, G.K. Chesterton, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Henri Nouwen. I would not be surprised if there have been many others. I see Ravi’s also scheduled to appear at the “Together 2016” ecumenifest this weekend along with pope Francis.

Ravi is a wonderful speaker and he’s pointed many to Christ but, unfortunately, he’s also muddied the Gospel of grace by embracing as Christians those who teach salvation by sacramental grace and obedience to the Ten Commandments. But there is only one Gospel. No one benefits when evangelicals turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the deadly errors of Catholicism’s gospel of sacramental grace and merit.

Resources on Roman Catholicism from Lighthouse Trails

Lighthouse Trails, a Christian apologetics ministry, offers several interesting pamphlets dealing with Roman Catholicism:

  • The Jesuit Agenda and the Evangelical/Protestant Church
    By Roger Oakland, 2013
  • The New Evangelization from Rome or Finding the True Jesus Christ
    By Roger Oakland, 2013
  • Brennan Manning’s “New Monks” & Their Dangerous Contemplative Monasticism
    By John Caddock, 2013
  • My Journey Out of Catholicism
    By David Dombrowski, 2013
  • Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Path to Rome
    By Roger Oakland, 2015
  • Pope Francis and the Thomas Merton Connection
    By Ray Yungen, 2015
  • The Catholic Mary & Her Eucharistic Christ
    By Roger Oakland, 2015
  • A Former Nun Speaks Candidly
    By Ann Marie, 2016

All of the pamphlets are informative but every evangelical needs to read “Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Path to Rome.”

Visit the Lighthouse Trails’ website here for hardcopy and ebook editions and you can also order ebook editions from Amazon for all except The Jesuit Agenda.

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Rob Zins and A Christian Witness to Roman Catholics

Evangelical minister, Rob Zins (see photo), has been reaching out to Roman Catholics withRZ1 the Gospel of Jesus Christ for many years through his ministry, CWRC – A Christian Witness to Roman Catholics. See the organization’s website here. Additional resources for Roman Catholics can be found on my Links tab here.

Zins has written a couple of excellent books on Roman Catholicism that I’ll review very briefly below.

Romanism: The Relentless Roman Catholic Assault on the Gospel of Jesus Christ
White Horse Publications, 1995, 277 pages

Zins answers the sophistry of Catholic apologist, Karl Keating, by comparing the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone with Rome’s gospel of sacramental grace and perfect obedience to the Ten Commandments and church rules. I especially enjoyed Zins’ stinging critique of Chuck Colson’s misguided “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” ecumenical project.

On the Edge of Apostasy: The Evangelical Romance with RomeRZ2
White Horse Publications, 1998, 285 pages

Zins does a masterful job of examining the regrettable courtship with Rome pursued by some Evangelicals. The Catholic church continues to affirms all of its unscriptural, Tridentine doctrines but some accommodating, compromising Evangelicals increasingly turn to Catholics as co-belligerents and fellow “Christians” in the fight against the erosion of social morality, betraying the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This book is largely a critique of “Roman Catholics and Evangelicals:
Agreements and Differences” (1995) by Roman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie, two Evangelical theologians who conclude the Catholic church is Christian despite its many anti-Biblical doctrines. See my earlier post regarding that book here. Zins effectively argues that, because Rome teaches salvation “by grace” PLUS works, along with many other heresies, it cannot possibly be considered a Christian church. Amazingly, Geisler and MacKenzie openly concede that Catholicism teaches works-righteousness in opposition to the Gospel but STILL conclude Romanism is Christian! Absolutely incredible! Evangelical compromisers cite “Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences” as one of their favorite resources regarding Evangelical-Catholic ecumenism. The damage done to Christian witness by Geisler, MacKenzie, and other Gospel-compromising, Judas theologians, pastors, and para-church leaders cannot be overstated. Christian leaders who refuse to join in the betrayal of the Gospel are finding themselves increasingly marginalized within “mainstream” Evangelicalism.

Used copies of both books are available at Amazon.com. See my Books tab here for over 280 books that compare Roman Catholicism to God’s Word.

There are also MANY excellent videos available on You Tube featuring Rob Zins speaking on Roman Catholicism or debating Catholic apologists. See here.

Please pray for Rob Zins and A Christian Witness to Roman Catholics and pray that young Evangelicals will respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading and take up the call to reach Roman Catholics for Jesus Christ.

The 5 Solas Series: What the Reformers Taught…and Why It Still Matters

As early Christianity transitioned into the state religion of the Roman Empire, simple,FiveS personal faith in Jesus Christ devolved into religious legalism administered by an increasingly powerful and autocratic church hierarchy with their ever-expanding catalog of traditions, rules, and rituals.

Through the inspiration of God’s Word and the working of the Holy Spirit the 16th-century Reformers sought to return the church back to the simple faith and practices found in the New Testament. The biblical principles that galvanized them and that were subsequently anathematized at Trent later became known as the Five Solas:

  • Sola fide (“by faith alone”)
  • Soli Deo gloria (“glory to God alone”)
  • Sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”)
  • Sola gratia (“by grace alone”)
  • Solus Christus (“through Christ alone”)

Yesterday, I was excited to learn that Zondervan is publishing the following five books on the individual solas in commemoration of the approaching 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017:

  • Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification, by Thomas Schreiner (September, 2015)
  • God’s Glory Alone: The Majestic Heart of the Christian Faith and Life, by David VanDrunen (December, 2015)
  • God’s Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture, by Matthew Barrett (September, 2016)
  • Grace Alone: Salvation as a Gift of God, by Carl Trueman (December, 2016)
  • Christ Alone: The Uniqueness of Jesus as Savior, by Stephen Wellum (2017)

Today I ordered the first in the series, Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification, from Amazon and I’ll be ordering the rest down the road.

Especially in these days of seeker/emerging/purpose-driven churches where doctrine has been replaced by ecumenical, “We all just love Jesus,” kumbaya hand-holding, these books are necessary and vital. Too many brothers and sisters suffered and died defending these Gospel truths to see them flushed down the toilet by evangelical Judases.

See the stories here and here.

New organization, the Reformanda Initiative, seeks to educate Evangelicals about Roman Catholicism

I guess you could say I’m a bit of a Christian “Rumpelstiltskon.” I walked away from theri_logo Lord back in 1991 because I was fed up with “churchianity” but finally returned to my patient and wonderfully merciful Lord (who never left me) in 2014.

Well, from my perspective many of the changes to the church in 23 years are quite dramatic. There aren’t too many people calling themselves “fundamentalists” these days. Moody Monthly magazine is only a distant memory. Hymn singing before the preaching as been replaced by rock music with Christian lyrics on the overheads. Pastors now wear sneakers, flannel shirts, and blue jeans on Sunday mornings. Churches have shed denominational names for “more welcoming” monikers.

Okay. I’m not complaining. No doubt the differences seem so radical to me because I’ve been away for so long. But there is one noticeable change that’s very troubling and that’s the change in the church’s attitude towards works-righteousness Roman Catholicism.

Back in 1991 you could definitely see signs of cooperation, accommodation, and compromise with RCism but in 2015 the deception is going full bore. A recent survey revealed 58% of Evangelical pastors believe the pope is a born-again Christian. I shake my head in disbelief!

The thinking back in the 80s among people like Falwell, Robertson, and Dobson was, “Sure, we disagree with Catholics on some doctrines but we need them in our fight to “reclaim America for Christ.” How did that work out?

Predictably, cooperation led to accommodation and compromise and by the mid-90s, people like Colson, Bright, and Packer were calling for the church to recognize salvation-by-works Catholics as Christians. Anyone who objected was identified as an “old-school” doctrinalist.

But there’s no need to despair. There’s still a large group of believers who are defending the Gospel of grace. This past year I was happy to see new books on Catholicism from Richard Bennett, Chris Castaldo, Gregg Allison, and Leonardo De Chirico.

Here’s some more good news. Yesterday I was reading De Chirico’s blog and I see he has partnered with Allison, Michael Reeves, and Greg Pritchard in creating the Reformanda Initiative, an effort to “identify, unite, equip, and resource evangelical leaders to understand Roman Catholic theology and practice, to educate the evangelical Church and to communicate the Gospel.” Take just five minutes and check out the many resources available on the web site.

Let’s support and pray for the Reformanda Initiative. Get the buzz going. Send the link below to your pastor and to any others the Lord directs. Evangelical pastors and their flocks desperately need to be educated about Roman Catholicism.

http://reformandainitiative.org/