Evangelical scholars examine Roman Catholicism with spotty results

Roman Catholicism: Evangelical Protestants Analyze What Divides and Unites Us
John Armstrong, General Editor
Moody Bible Institute, 1994, 345 pp.

3 Stars

In 1994, with American society increasingly heading towards secularization, influential evangelical para-church leader, Chuck Colson, and Roman Catholic priest, Richard John Neuhaus, founded Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT), an ecumenical initiative meant to bridge/overlook/minimize theological differences and unite both groups against the perceived common threat. The effort elicited a wide range of responses within evangelicalism. Faithful pastors and theologians countered that the differences between Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity were far too wide and even irreconcilable. Others were increasingly open to Catholic overtures, which began thirty-years earlier at the Second Vatican Council when the RCC radically altered its approach to Protestants, from militant confrontation to conciliatory rapprochement.

This book from Moody Press was published shortly after the release of the first ECT accord. Thirteen evangelical scholars examine the doctrines that continue to divide Catholics and evangelical Protestants. There are a myriad of un-Biblical Catholic doctrines that Gospel Christians could not submit to (e.g., papal authority, sacred tradition, baptismal regeneration, sacerdotalism, transubstantiation, Mariology, purgatory, etc.), but the opposing views on justification stands as the prime difference. Martin Luther famously argued that justification is the doctrine on which the church stands or falls.

Gospel Christians believe a person is justified/made righteous before God only by trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone and thereby receiving the imputed (alien, extrinsic, objective, forensic) perfect righteousness of Christ. Catholicism, in contrast, teaches that its sacraments infuse saving graces into an individual’s soul. By then “cooperating with grace” (i.e., obeying the Ten Commandments, performing acts of piety and charity) a person can become increasingly sanctified (personal, intrinsic, subjective) and can hope to “possibly” merit* salvation at the time of their death. Okay, let’s forget the theological terminology. Evangelicals believe they are saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Catholics hope to be saved by sacramental grace and obedience to the Ten Commandments (impossible!). The two views are diametrically opposed and cannot be reconciled.

Several of the writers acknowledge that Roman Catholicism’s doctrine of justification is NOT the Gospel, yet still conclude that the RCC is a Christian institution and that Catholics are “brothers and sisters” in the Lord. This is a dichotomous accommodation that defies rationality and theology. In his article, Alistair McGrath goes to great lengths in an attempt to prove that the contrasting “approaches” to justification are two sides to the same coin. To his credit, McGrath also points out that in contrast to ecumenical “dialogues,” where Catholic representatives readily assent to theoretical “salvation by grace through faith,” Catholicism continues to teach such things as purgatory, indulgences, and masses and prayers for the dead, which reveal the RCC continues as a works-righteousness religious system.

The articles by S. Lewis Johnson, Kim Riddlebarger, Michael Horton, William Webster and John Armstrong are faithful to the Gospel of grace and do not make accommodations to Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. This book is a mixed bag, but valuable for revealing evangelicals’ increasingly accommodating attitudes towards Rome twenty-six years ago. There’s no doubt that ecumenical compromise and betrayal of the Gospel has made further inroads since then.

Chapters:

  1. One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church – Thomas J. Nettles
  2. How Did the Church in Rome Become Roman Catholicism – D. Clair Davis
  3. What Really Caused the Great Divide? – W. Robert Godfrey
  4. Roman Catholic Theology Today – Robert B. Strimple
  5. Mary, the Saints, and Sacerdotalism – S. Lewis Johnson
  6. Is Spirituality Enough? Differing Models for Living – Donald G. Bloesch
  7. Unhelpful Antagonism and Unhealthy Courtesy – Harold O.J. Brown
  8. Evangelical and Catholic Cooperation in the Public Arena – Ronald Nash
  9. What Shall We Make of Ecumenism? – Alister E. McGrath
  10. No Place Like Rome? Why Are Evangelicals Joining the Catholic Church? – Kim Riddlebarger
  11. What Still Keeps Us Apart? – Michael S. Horton
  12. Did I Really Leave the Holy Catholic Church? The Journey into Evangelical Faith and Church Experience – William Webster
  13. The Evangelical Movement? – John H. Armstrong

*Back in the 1960s, when I was a young Catholic, the Roman church had no reservations about using the term, “merit,” in association with attaining salvation. Since then, the term has fallen out of favor (partly as a concession to evangelical proselytization) and Catholics will insist that they absolutely are not attempting to merit their salvation. However, the church’s catechism reveals merit is still the bottom line of Catholicism’s salvation system:

“Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion (i.e., baptism). Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.” – CCC 2010

Throwback Thursday: Rick Warren and Rome

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on March 4, 2016 and has been revised.

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Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Path to Rome
By Roger Oakland
Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2015, 20 pages

Popular Southern Baptist, mega-church pastor, Rick Warren, aka “America’s Pastor,” has been courting the Roman Catholic church for many years. But even Rome-friendly, evangelical ecumenists were somewhat taken aback by Warren’s unabashed and forthright endorsement of Catholicism in his 2014 interview on EWTN (Catholic) television (see link below).

In the interview, Warren stated his personal fondness and endorsement of Catholic contemplative mysticism, the pope, ecumenical social projects, Catholicism’s New Evangelization program, spiritual directors, EWTN television, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

In this short booklet, evangelical apologist, Roger Oakland, examines Warren’s shocking statements in comparison to God’s Word and the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The Catholic church teaches salvation by sacramental grace and merit, a different “gospel,” but that’s definitely not a problem for Warren who is quite comfortable throwing correct doctrine out the window. He nebulously states that as long as you “love Jesus, we’re on the same team,” whatever that means.


World Over hosted by Raymond Arroyo
EWTN
4/10/2014
Guest, Rick Warren
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVCY8pW-ACs

Rick Warren’s comments on Roman Catholicism
Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry
https://carm.org/rick-warren-and-catholicism

Note: “Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Path to Rome” is out-of-print, but other materials about Roman Catholicism from Lighthouse Trails Publishing can be found here.

Throwback Thursday: “Secrets of Romanism”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on March 8, 2016 and has been substantially revised.

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Secrets of Romanism
By Joseph Zacchello
Loizeaux Brothers, 1989, 232 pp.

“Secrets of Romanism” by ex-Roman Catholic priest, Joseph Zacchello, was first published in 1948 and went through multiple printings, with the last being in 1989. For decades, this book and Loraine Boettner’s “Roman Catholicism” were the most widely referenced resources on Catholicism from an evangelical viewpoint. Although “Secrets of Romanism” is provocatively titled, most of the material was readily available to anyone willing to dig through the Roman Catholic catechism.

Zacchello examines some of the most significant anti-Biblical Roman doctrines – church authority, sacred tradition, the papacy, the mass, purgatory, confession, Mariology, praying to saints, indulgences – first from a Catholic perspective followed by an evangelical rebuttal. However, the most important doctrinal difference separating Catholics and evangelicals, the opposing views on justification, is not addressed directly. Catholics believe in justification by the alleged graces conferred by its clergy-administered sacraments followed by obedience to the Ten Commandments (impossible!), while evangelicals believe all those who trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone are justified by the imputed, perfect righteousness of Christ. This book offers many convincing arguments in opposition to Rome’s anti-Biblical doctrines, but Zacchello’s failure to deal directly with the overarching issue of justification is a regrettable oversight. Boettner committed the same error in his book.

Used copies of “Secrets of Romanism” are available from Amazon.com here.

In our post-modern era of pluralism, diversity, relativism, and ecumenism, fewer and fewer books from “Christian publishers” are being offered that critically examine the errors of Rome, however, some excellent resources are still available. See “The Gospel According to Rome” by James G. McCarthy and “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” by Gregg R. Allison (a more scholarly treatise) for two excellent and relatively recent offerings. Books by James R. White and William Webster are also very good. For my listing of over 360 books that compare Roman Catholicism to God’s Word and Gospel Christianity, see my books tab here.

Postscript A: The forward to “Secrets of Romanism” was written by William Ward Ayer (1892-1985), the popular and influential former pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in New York City, one of the very first Christian pastors to preach over the radio.

Postscript B: In addition to “Secrets of Romanism,” Joseph Zachello also authored, “Ins and Outs of Romanism” and “How to Prevent Mixed Marriages.” He was also editor of “The Converted Catholic” magazine. Read Zachello’s testimony here.

Postscript C: It’s not clear when Loizeaux Brothers ceased publishing. Their former building at 1238 Corlies Avenue, Neptune, New Jersey is currently occupied by food supplier, Gourmet Kitchen, Inc.

Jesus and John Wayne?

Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation
By Kristin Kobes Du Mez
Liveright Publishing, 2020, 356 pp.

2 Stars

Readers of this blog know I’m not a supporter of the still-popular “America the Christian Nation” paradigm. The conflation of faith and fervent nationalism by American Christians has led to a multitude of wrong turns, errors, and abuses ever since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1620.

The unusual title of this book caught my attention, so I borrowed a copy from the library. The author documents the preliminary origins and rise of militant Falwellian Christian nationalism in the 1970s, which has continued in various permutations into the Trump presidency. Where does Hollywood actor, John Wayne,* fit in? The author posits that post-WWII-era Christians substituted Wayne, or rather the über-masculine and nationalistic ethos that the actor symbolized, for Jesus Christ and the genuine Gospel. The main propagators of Christian nationalism receive plenty of mention, including Pat Buchanan, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Sr., Jerry Falwell Jr., Bill Gothard, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress, D. James Kennedy, Al Mohler, Oliver North, Tony Perkins, Doug Phillips, Pat Robertson, Rousas Rushdoony, Phyllis Schlafly, and Doug Wilson, among others.

The author, Kristin Kobes Du Mez, a professor of history at Calvin University** (Grand Rapids, MI) and a self-described “Christian feminist,” is at the opposite end of the spectrum of the Christian nationalists she critiques. Throughout the entire book, the reader must endure her shrill rants against “white patriarchalism.” I’m definitely not a supporter of Christian nationalism or inflated machismo, but Kobes Du Mez also frequently takes aim at doctrines that are basic to Biblical Christianity. According to her view, evangelical Christian nationalists are also misguided because they preach against homosexuality, desire to evangelize Muslims, and believe the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God.

I would have awarded this book only 1-star due to its theological heterodoxy, however I bumped it up to two stars because I did appreciate the author’s critical examination of the history of Falwellian Christian nationalism. Evangelical scholars are not apt to tackle this subject material either because (A) they’re sympathetic to Christian nationalism themselves or (B) they don’t want to alienate the bulk of American Christians who still hold to that paradigm in some form or fashion. However, the author’s own ax grinding on behalf Christian feminism and theological liberalism draws its own abundant criticisms.

I’ll be focusing on a very recent example of misguided Christian nationalism in the upcoming Weekend Roundup.

*John Wayne was a nominal Presbyterian before “converting” to Roman Catholicism two days before his death.

**Christian parents send their teens off to some “Christian” colleges such as Calvin University mistakenly assuming the faculty believes and teaches Biblical orthodoxy.

When Catholics speak of “Christian Unity,” what they mean is the eventual conversion of Protestants

Christian Unity: The Next Step
By Kevin E. Mackin, OFM (Order of Friars Minor aka the Franciscans)
WestBow Press (A Division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan), 2020, 92 pp.

1 Star

I stumbled across this short book written by a Franciscan priest about the future of the ecumenical movement and was curious to see what he had to say. Based on its short length, I suspected this was some sort of academic dissertation, but was surprised to read the author is eighty-two years old.

Priest Mackin begins with a look back at the Roman Catholic church’s radical redirection at the Second Vatican Council with regards to its attitude towards Protestants, from that of militant confrontation to concerted rapprochement. But Catholicism’s concept of “Christian unity” has always meant Protestants’ eventual reabsorption. The goal since 1964 has been to bring the “separated brethren” back into the fold under the authority of the pope. Paranoia on my part? Read the RCC’s own words:

When such (ecumenical) actions are undertaken prudently and patiently by the Catholic faithful, with the attentive guidance of their bishops, they promote justice and truth, concord and collaboration, as well as the spirit of brotherly love and unity. This is the way that, when the obstacles to perfect ecclesiastical communion have been gradually overcome, all Christians will at last, in a common celebration of the Eucharist, be gathered into the one and only Church in that unity which Christ bestowed on His Church from the beginning. We believe that this unity subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time.

– from Vatican II document, Unitatis redintegratio, (Restoration of unity), chapter 2, 1964

Mackin describes some of the post-conciliar ecumenical talks between Catholics and mainline Protestants focusing on the issues of Scripture, tradition, and authority. He notes that “progress” has definitely been made, but the hoped-for, large-scale reabsorption of Protestants remains elusive.

When Mackin speaks of “Protestants,” he’s generally referring to members of the old, mainline Protestant denominations. The RCC is also making a concerted effort to interface with evangelical Protestants. Ecumenically-minded evangelicals who embrace the RCC with its false gospel of sacramental grace and merit are pawns and polezni durak, “useful fools,” in this calculated endeavor. The genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone has nothing in common with Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit.

Mackin notes that the RCC has been sidetracked by the two-decades-long scandal involving pedophile priests and hierarchical cover-up and needs to “reform” and rededicate itself so that ecumenism can advance once again.

This book “disappointed” in that the theological jargon is sometimes as thick as mud and friar Mackin fails to provide much insight into what the concrete “next step/s” might be in the RCC’s plan for the reabsorption of Protestants. What will it take for Protestants to finally shutter their churches’ windows, padlock their doors, and mosey on down the street to the nearest Roman Catholic church on Sundays? I’m of the opinion that it will take some type of global, catastrophic event for unwitting non-Catholics to submit to the pope en masse and I do believe such an event is coming. In the meantime, misguided, ecumenically-minded evangelicals bemoan denominational divides and long for the day when all “Christians” can worship together under one roof. The pope and his prelates are most assuredly working on it.

Above: Cardinal Kurt Koch (2nd from right), President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, meets with representatives from the World Evangelical Alliance in 2018.

An Unlikely Spy

A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II
By Sonia Purnell
Viking, 2019, 352 pp.

Just about everybody loves a good spy story, right? What can be more dangerous and nerve-racking than someone going “incognito” behind enemy lines to obtain intelligence and/or wreak havoc? This book recounts the exploits of Virginia Hall, one of the most improbably effective Allied spies of World War II.

In 1931, at the age of twenty-five, Parkton, Maryland native, Virginia Hall, entered into service at the State Department, holding various lower-level positions, but desiring a post in the diplomatic corps. She lost a lower-leg from complications due to a hunting accident while on assignment in Turkey. When Nazi Germany invaded France in 1940, Virginia desired to assist in the war effort and volunteered with the United Kingdom’s Special Operations Executive (SOE), the clandestine organization created to gather intelligence and to assist and direct resistance groups within France and other occupied territories

In 1941, Virginia was assigned to the city of Lyons in the unoccupied Vichy zone, where she developed an effective resistance network. Virginia encountered much push-back from French resistance operatives because of her gender, but she overcame misgivings through her intelligence and steely resolve. With Virginia’s help, the Lyons-area underground constantly harassed the Vichy quislings and German forces. At one point, Virginia even orchestrated the bold escape of twelve Maquis/resistance fighters from a Vichy prison.

As a defensive response to the Allied invasion of Northern Africa in November, 1942, the German military forces flooded into previously-unoccupied Vichy, and the Gestapo and Abwehr (German military intelligence) were on the hunt for the female they were convinced coordinated the resistance forces in the region. Gestapo officer, Klaus Barbie, the infamous “Butcher of Lyons,” was hot on Virginia’s trail. She barely escaped by walking 50 miles on her artificial lower-leg prosthesis, dubbed “Cuthbert,” through the Pyrenees Mountains to “neutral” Spain.

Because the Germans had come so close to apprehending Virginia, the Brits were reluctant to send her back to France, despite her pleas, so she signed up with the newly-formed U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Her most notable assignment was in the mountainous Haute-Loire region in south-central France where she coordinated resistance/espionage efforts in 1944.

Following the war, Virginia joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947, but was largely relegated to mid-level desk jobs despite her impressive war-time resumé. She retired in 1966 and died in 1982. Virginia’s outstanding service was recognized posthumously by France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Where the tire meets the road: The spy game is highly romanticized in fictional books and films (e.g., James Bond, Agent 007), but the author reveals that Virginia and other agents battled the overwhelming and unrelenting anxiety involved with their duties with the regular use of sedatives and alcohol.

Postscript: In reading this book, I was struck by the dedication and sacrifice of Virginia Hall and others of that era to the cause of temporal political liberty. Are we believers as dedicated to the cause of Jesus Christ and His eternal Kingdom?

Chris Hillman, pioneer of country-rock, recounts his stints in the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Desert Rose Band, etc.

Time Between: My Life as a Byrd, Burrito Brother, and Beyond
By Chris Hillman
BMG, 2020, 238 pp.

With the arrival of the British Invasion and “Beatlemania” in 1964, folk musicians, Jim McGuinn (twelve-string, lead guitar), Gene Clark, and David Crosby (rhythm guitar) saw the writing on the wall and united to form a rock n’ roll band. Chris Hillman, (bass guitar) and Michael Clarke (drums) were added and the Byrds were born. The band had phenomenal success right out of the gate with their first recording, “Mr. Tambourine Man,” going to #1 on the singles charts and their same-titled album, released in June, 1965, peaking at #6 on the album charts. The Byrds’ unique sound, a melding of folk music and rock n’ roll, influenced a generation of songwriters and musicians.

In this very enjoyable memoir, Chris Hillman recounts his career, beginning with his boyhood years growing up in Rancho Santa Fe, California, his development as a country-bluegrass musician, and his unlikely recruitment into the Byrds at the tender age of nineteen. After several personnel changes, Hillman’s role in the Byrds grew, and he and new recruit, Gram Parsons, steered the band into country music with the pioneering album, “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” (1968). Parsons and Hillman then broke away from the Byrds and founded the influential country-rock band, the Flying Burrito Brothers (1968-1972).

Following the Burritos, Hillman was involved in the following notable ventures while continuing to hone his skills as a musician, singer, and songwriter:

  • Manassas with Stephen Stills (1971-1973)
  • Byrds’ founding members’ reunion album (1973)
  • Souther-Hillman-Furay Band (1973-1975)
  • Solo albums, Slippin’ Away (1976) and Clear Sailin’ (1977)
  • McGuinn, Clark, and Hillman (1977-1981)

Following MCH, Hillman returned to his country-bluegrass roots with three, small-label albums, leading to the formation of the Desert Rose Band (1985-1994), where he enjoyed his most satisfying professional success as the leader and frontman of the popular country music band.

After DRB folded, Hillman kept busy with a number of small-label releases, always including friend and ex-DRB bandmate, Herb Pedersen.

Hillman intermixes his professional history with many personal reflections including the inevitable internecine squabbles with bandmates. Hillman was sixteen when his father committed suicide in 1961, which scarred the boy and fueled ugly rages throughout his life. Hillman claimed to have accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior in 1973, through the witness of Christian bandmate, Al Perkins, but would eventually “convert” to the legalistic sacramentalism of his wife, Connie’s, Greek Orthodox church.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Being a long-time fan of the Byrds and their offshoots, I already knew many of the stories, but Hillman does provide some fresh insights. The preliminaries are a bit too long for my taste. Hillman doesn’t actually document his initiation into the Byrds until page 67, nearly one-third of the way through the book, but that’s a minor criticism. The takeaway is the interesting story of a very shy, young musician of limited abilities, who, despite plenty of adversity, determinedly persisted and made himself into a remarkable talent and showman. No one in attendance at those early Byrds concerts in 1965, including his bandmates, would have guessed that the shy bass player with his back to the audience would go on to carve out a distinguished, fifty-five-year career. Those in the know recognize Chris Hillman, now age 75, as one of the principal pioneers of the country-rock sound, which would later be successfully commercialized by the Eagles.

Chris Hillman today

Status of the other founding members of the Byrds: Gene Clark (d.1991) and Michael Clarke (d.1993) died from drug and alcohol abuse. After achieving fame and success as a member of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, David Crosby nearly ended his life due to drug addiction before spending five-months in prison and drying out in 1986. He continues making albums and touring. Jim (later Roger) McGuinn also became heavily involved with drugs. In 1977, with his life spiraling out of control, McGuinn accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. He also continues to record and tour and publicly profess his faith. See my post about McGuinn here. For my reviews of all twelve of the Byrds’ albums, see my index here.

Below: The Byrds’ recording of “Time Between,” written by Chris Hillman, from the 1967 album, “Younger Than Yesterday.” That’s guest artist and future Byrd, Clarence White, masterfully delivering some very tasty country guitar licks. Nope, that’s not a pedal steel guitar Clarence is playing, it’s a 1954-model Fender Telecaster modified with a B-Bender.

Throwback Thursday: “The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Catholic”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a short post that was originally published back on March 22, 2016 and has been revised.

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The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Catholic
By Ron Rhodes
Harvest House Publishers, 2002, 128 pp.

In this short book, evangelical apologist, Ron Rhodes, examines Roman Catholicism in comparison to God’s Word and suggests ten topics of conversation when witnessing to Catholics:

  1. The apocryphal books are helpful historically, but they do not belong in the Bible.
  2. The Bible alone is authoritative, not tradition.
  3. Peter was one of the leading apostles, but he was not the first pope.
  4. The pope, the bishops, and the magisterium are fallible.
  5. Mary was the mother of Jesus, nothing more.
  6. Justification is instantaneous, once-for-all, and entirely by grace.
  7. The sacrament of the mass does not appease God.
  8. The sacrament of penance does not absolve sins.
  9. There is no purgatory, nor is it needed.
  10. Jesus has changed my life forever.

The genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone is radically different from the false gospel Catholics have been taught. They have been told by their church that salvation comes through participating in its sacraments and then by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules.

This little book is a valuable resource for evangelicals wishing to learn about what Roman Catholicism teaches without having to read a long tome and for Catholics who wish to learn more about the Gospel of grace. It can be ordered from Amazon.com for only $9.79 here.

Ron Rhodes’ website can be found here.

Additional books about Roman Catholicism from Harvest House Publishers can be found here.

Jesus Christ in the Old Testament?

The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament
By Edmund P. Clowney
P&R Publishing, Second edition, 2013, 220 pp.

I remember reading the Old Testament for the first time as a new believer thirty-seven years ago. It was quite challenging, especially such portions as Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. But in his sermons, our pastor at the time would occasionally point out “types” or foreshadowings of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Ah, that was VERY cool. I remember subsequently reading a couple of books specifically about Biblical Typology. The first thirty-nine books of the Bible are full of veiled references to the coming Messiah. I subsequently read the Old Testament with a new appreciation for the many symbols and foreshadowings of Jesus Christ contained within.

This book about OT types recently caught my eye and I gave it a read. Below, I’ve listed the chapter titles and the respective Old Testament characters examined, who, as Clowney demonstrates, foreshadowed Christ in some form or fashion. “The Unfolding Mystery” is a very good introduction to Typology.

Chapters

  1. The New Man (Adam)
  2. The Son of the Woman (Abel & Seth)
  3. The Son of Abraham (Isaac)
  4. The Heir of the Promise (Jacob & Joseph)
  5. The Lord and His Servant (Moses)
  6. The Rock of Moses
  7. The Lord’s Anointed (Joshua, Samson, Samuel, David)
  8. The Prince of Peace (Solomon)
  9. The Lord to Come (the Prophets)

Throwback Thursday: Well, of course Catholics are Christians! Aren’t they?

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

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Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism
By R.C. Sproul
Reformation Trust Publishing, 2012, 130 pages

Are Catholics Christians? “Well, that’s an ignorant question right out of the 1950s,” some “open-minded” evangelicals would annoyingly respond. “Of course they’re Christians! They also believe in God, the depravity of man, and Jesus Christ,” they would argue. Especially in our post-modern era of tolerance, inclusiveness, relativism, ecumenism, and doctrinal carelessness and indifference, it’s seen by some as unacceptable, impolite, and overtly sectarian to exclude anyone who names the name of Jesus Christ. Yes, Roman Catholicism also teaches about God, Jesus, sin, “faith,” and “grace,” but upon closer examination we find that the gospel taught by the Roman Catholic church is NOT the same Gospel taught in the New Testament and preached by evangelicals. For faithful Catholics, the gospel equates to participating in their church’s sacraments administered by their priests, followed by “cooperating with (sacramental) grace” by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules in the hopes of meriting salvation. All of that is in contrast to the genuine Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. That is not a minor, picayune difference. It’s actually the difference between being saved or not. Now, there’s probably some Roman Catholics who have genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and are trusting in Him by faith alone, but in doing so they are defying their church’s standard theology.

“None of us can say …I am already saved.” – Pope Francis, Saint Peter’s Square, December 6, 2015

Over the years, Reformed pastor and theologian, R.C. Sproul,* has been vigilant in clarifying the irreconcilable differences between Catholic teaching and the genuine Gospel of grace. Sproul previously wrote “Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification” (1995) and “Getting the Gospel Right: The Tie That Binds Evangelicals Together” (1999) in response to the ecumenical efforts of Chuck Colson and several other misguided evangelicals to disingenuously “bridge the gap” between evangelical Christians and Catholics, especially in regards to the primary issue of justification/salvation.

In “Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism,” Sproul continues his defense of the Gospel of grace, providing a concise analysis of the major differences between the teachings of Roman Catholicism and Biblical Christianity. Chapters examine the opposing views on Scripture, justification, the role of the church, sacraments, the papacy, and Mary. In the past, some evangelical and fundamentalist Protestant critiques of Catholicism were unnecessarily belligerent in tone and did not always accurately present official Catholic teaching. Sproul’s tone is charitable throughout (almost to a fault for this ex-Catholic) and he carefully cites Catholic doctrine as it’s officially defined by Rome. Readers won’t find any “straw man” arguments in this book.

If you’re a Catholic who sincerely seeks to understand the differences between your church’s teaching and the Gospel of grace or if you’re an evangelical who suspects today’s popular view, “We all just love Jesus and that overcomes all differences,” may not honor the truths of the Gospel or be helpful to the religious lost, this short book would be an excellent starting point. It’s readily available from Amazon.com. See here.

Postcript: R.C. Sproul went home to the Lord in 2017.