Throwback Thursday: Watch Your Teaching! A warning from 49 years ago that was ignored by many

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on October 19, 2016 and has been revised.

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Watch Your Teaching!: A Comparative Study of Roman Catholic and Protestant Teaching Since Vatican Council II
By Stuart P. Garver
Christ’s Mission, 1973, 167 pages

5 Stars

If you are/were a Roman Catholic born during the 1950s or earlier, you can certainly remember the dramatic surface changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Pope John XXIII initiated the council to “open the windows (of the church) and let in some fresh air” of reform. Some of the alterations introduced by the council that I remember the most included the change of the liturgy of the mass from Latin to English, the priest facing the people during the mass instead of the altar, nuns’ habits (outfits) being modernized, the lifting of the ban on meat on non-Lenten Fridays, and some familiar saints being scrubbed from the church’s calendar. But perhaps the most significant change was the church’s switch from its confrontational approach to Protestantism and to the other religions of the world. After the council, Catholicism would take an ecumenical/interreligious approach, especially with Protestants, with the aim of eventually recovering the “separated brethren.”

In this book, published in 1973, Stuart Garver, director of Christ’s Mission, a ministry to Roman Catholics, evaluates Catholicism in light of the reforms of Vatican II. His conclusion: despite the many superfluous changes to its window dressing, Catholicism’s erroneous doctrines remained largely intact. Most importantly, Rome’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit continued just as before. In the chapters listed below, Garver compares the beliefs of post-Vatican II Catholicism with Biblical Christianity:

  1. The Church
  2. The New People of God (Clergy and Laity)
  3. The Pope
  4. The Priest and the Priesthood
  5. The Sacraments
  6. The Mass
  7. Penance
  8. The Rule of Faith and Practice
  9. Mary
  10. Mixed marriages
  11. Ecumenism
  12. Education
  13. Church and State

Following Vatican II, many Protestants praised Catholicism’s new willingness to “dialogue,” but sixty years after the council, it’s crystal clear that while some evangelical Protestants have done quite a bit of accommodating, cooperating, compromising, and outright betraying the Gospel in their efforts to court the pope and Rome, Catholicism remains dedicated to its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit and is resolved in its efforts to eventually recover all Christian “ecclesial communities.” Sadly, many evangelicals are more interested in ecumenical unity based on deadly-shallow theology rather than heeding any warnings to “Watch Your Teaching” and defend correct doctrine and the genuine Gospel.

This informative, short book is still quite relevant for today’s Catholics and evangelicals. Stuart Garver served as executive director of Christ’s Mission from 1960 to 1977. The mission began in 1879 in New York City as a Gospel outreach ministry to Catholic priests and ex-priests, but eventually shifted its outreach to Roman Catholics in general. It ceased operations in 1984.
http://www2.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/GUIDES/276.htm

Defying Roman Catholicism

Defy Roman Catholicism
By Sonny L. Hernandez
Independently published, July 2022, 110 pp.

4 Stars

Pastor Sonny Hernandez was raised as a Roman Catholic, but eventually accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone and renounced his membership in the RCC. He currently serves as as pastor of Trinity Gospel Church in Shelbyville, Kentucky.

In this short book, Hernandez addresses the major anti-Biblical doctrines of Roman Catholicism: the papacy, Mariolatry, and, most importantly, Rome’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Throughout the book, Hernandez compares the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) with Scripture and notes the irreconcilable differences.

There’s some excellent information here from Pastor Hernandez. He’s admittedly blunt and a bit “rough around the edges” with his forthright, polemical approach, which some might view as a drawback. However, remember that the Reformers had no qualms about “calling a spade a spade” when it came to the RCC.

Contents

  • Introduction: Defy Roman Catholic Dogma
  • Defy the Pope: Anti-Christ, not authentic Christian
  • Defy Mariology Myths
  • Defy Rome’s False Gospel

“Defy Roman Catholicism” can be ordered from Amazon here.

The Spawning of Catholic Charismaticism

I realize I’m stepping on some toes with this post. I’m not trying to be mean or antagonistic, just stating my views according to my understanding of Scripture.

As By a New Pentecost: The Dramatic Beginning of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal
By Patti Gallagher Mansfield
Proclaim Publications, 1992, 119 pp.

1 Star

I don’t usually make an issue of it in this blog, but I’m a “cessationist,” meaning I believe the apostolic sign gifts (languages, prophecy, healing, raising from the dead, recovering from deadly poison) ceased after the apostolic era. The originators of Pentecostalism claimed these gifts were restored, beginning in Topeka, Kansas in 1900* and continuing to the Azusa Street Revival in 1906 and beyond. Pentecostalism grew, but took a backseat within “mainstream” evangelicalism. However, in 1960, Dennis J. Bennett, rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Van Nuys, California claimed he received the gift of tongues/glossolalia and the Pentecostal gifts swiftly seeped into mainline Protestant denominations under the label of “Charismatic.”

A small number of Catholics at Notre Dame University (South Bend, Indiana) and Duquesne University (Pittsburgh) were intrigued with Pentecostalism/Charismaticism and sought mentoring from Protestant continuationists. David Wilkerson’s “The Cross and the Switchblade” (1962) and John Sherrill’s “They Speak With Other Tongues” (1964) were their training manuals. A group of 25 Duquesne University Catholic students went to the nearby Ark and Dove Retreat House on the weekend of February 17-19, 1967, eagerly hoping to manifest the Pentecostal gifts and many predictably did. Since then, the number of Catholics who claim membership in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) has grown to 160 million worldwide, including tens of thousands of priests and nuns. Patti Gallagher Mansfield was one of the 25 students who participated in the “Duquesne Weekend” and recounts the origins of the CCR in this book.

Protestant Pentecostals and Charismatics have a dilemma. Mansfield and the other CCR Catholics continue to uphold the RCC’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. In fact, they generally demonstrate a greater zeal for the un-Biblical sacrifice of the mass and the worship of Mary than prior to receiving the gifts. They are unsaved religious zealots. So, how can people receive the Pentecostal gifts of the Spirit when they have not genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone? Does not compute. This incongruity raises additional questions regarding the experiential Topeka/Azusa gifts. I submit that CCR has inclined Protestant Pentecostals and Charismatics to overlook RC-ism’s false doctrines because, well, CCR-ites manifest the requisite experiential gifts, so that’s “good enough.”

Mansfield and other CCR-ites present Catholic Charismaticism as the ultimate in Catholic spirituality, yet, not one single pope has ever manifested these sign gifts. Why isn’t the “Vicar of Christ” a charismatic if it’s the ultimate in Catholic spirituality? Pope Francis has confessed that he dismissed CCR-ites as deluded fanatics when he was a young cleric (see here), but has pragmatically come to embrace the movement as a useful tool in the quest for RCC-led ecumenism.

Because unregenerated CCR-ites manifest these Topeka/Azusa gifts and pope Francis endorses the movement, I’m less-than-skeptical of the whole business. It is not my desire to “attack” genuine Christians who hold to Pentecostal/Charismatic practices, which is why I don’t generally “soap box” my cessationist views, however, this CCR movement raises questions that cannot be ignored. As a former French-major student, Gallagher-Mansfield claims in this book that she witnessed two Catholic Charismatics speaking perfect French who had no previous knowledge of the language. I know of no documented evidence of a Pentecostal or Charismatic speaking fluently in an actual foreign language unknown to them. Most Pentecostals and Charismatics claim their unintelligible gift of tongues/glossolalia is angelic language (1 Corinthians 13:1) rather than an actual foreign language. I have seen video clips of newbie Pentecostal supplicants being instructed on how to speak in tongues. Indoctrination does not strike me as being a divine gift. Acts 2:1-13 records the apostles being granted the gift of speaking actual foreign languages for the purpose of evangelization.

Humans tend to view truth subjectively and myopically, i.e., “I experienced it, so I know it’s true.” However, speaking in ecstatic utterances is a common practice in many, many pagan religions. A number of Pentecostal groups use speaking in tongues as a litmus test of salvation, i.e., a genuinely born-again person will necessarily manifest this gift, however CCR Catholics do not hold that non-charismatic Catholics are not Catholic.

This 1-star book was valuable only in that it shed some light on the historical “Duquesne Weekend” origins of the CCR.

Postscript: Catholic traditionalists generally dismiss the CCR with its Pentecostalism/Charismaticism sign gifts as a misguided step-child of heretical Protestant novelties. Although anecdotal, unsubstantiated claims are often made, I know of no medically documented cases of a dead person being brought back to life by a Pentecostal or Charismatic healer.

*The roots of Pentecostalism go back further to the ecstatic swoonings often manifested at 19th-century Wesleyan-holiness tent revivals and even during the First Great Awakening of the 18th-century.

Above: Pope Francis and Patti Gallagher Mansfield lifting hands in 2017 in celebration of 50 years of CCR. Mansfield has been a leader in Catholic Charismatic Renewal – New Orleans (CCRNO) for decades
Above: The Ark and Dove Retreat Center in Gibsonia, PA. Many Catholic Charismatics visit here as a “spiritual pilgrimage.”

After the Fall

Making the Fall: An intimate account of Elia Kazan and Arthur Miller working together on After the Fall, Miller’s play about Marilyn Monroe
By Richard D. Meyer
CreateSpace Publishing 2013, 191 pp.

5 Stars

Today’s Broadway theater fare is almost exclusively musical extravaganzas, but back in the 1940s and 50s, Broadway drama was a vehicle for critical social analysis and for pondering the “human condition.” America’s most distinguished playwright of that era was Arthur Miller (1915-2005 – “Death of a Salesman,” 1949, “The Crucible,” 1953), and the nation’s most revered director, both on Broadway and in Hollywood, was Elia Kazan (1909-2003). The two had collaborated on well-received plays and became good friends. However, Kazan’s friendly testimony in front of HUAC in 1952 during the Red Scare alienated Miller and many more of Kazan’s friends on both coasts. However, when it was proposed that a national Repertory Theatre company be founded at the new Lincoln Center in New York City, Miller and Kazan put bygones aside and agreed to write and direct, respectively, the company’s first play. Miller’s semi-autobiographical “After The Fall,” was mainly about his first two failed marriages. His second wife, from the years 1956-1961, had been the popular movie actress and celebrity icon, Marilyn Monroe. The play premiered on January 23, 1964, just five months after Monroe’s suicide. Audiences were ambivalent regarding Miller’s thinly-veiled, unsympathetic portrayal of Monroe as a psychologically-troubled alcoholic and prescription meds addict.

Theater professor, Richard Meyer, visited Kazan in 1963 while on sabbatical and requested that he be allowed to document the beginnings of the Repertory Theatre. This book, published independently 50 years later, is the result. Kazan fans will very much appreciate “Making of the Fall” for its interesting, first-hand insights regarding the director’s methods on the theater stage. Kazan resigned from the Repertory Theatre after the critically-lambasted play’s five-month run and never directed a play again.

The three main protagonists of the “After the Fall” on-stage/off-stage drama, Miller, Kazan, and Monroe were “extremely successful” people, but were also deeply troubled. Kazan and Miller were both atheists, Miller a notably radical God-denier. Monroe, although “admired” (i.e., lusted after) by literally tens of millions of men around the world, was as mentally unstable as Miller had portrayed her. What to make of this “After the Fall” quagmire? The three were spiritually lost people looking for happiness and truth outside of Jesus Christ and God’s Word.

I’ve enjoyed studying Kazan and his 19 films over the years because the director had an excellent knack for tearing down society’s facades of “goodness” and “respectability.” He was actually very close to Part A of the Gospel message: man’s depravity/sinfulness. He missed Part B: the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Below: High-brow theater, low-brow soap opera, or the human (sin) condition?:

  • “After the Fall” is an allusion to the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis. Clearly, Miller’s marriages weren’t the “paradise” he had hoped for.
  • Miller unfavorably portrayed Kazan in the play as the character, Mickey.
  • Monroe had been Kazan’s mistress for a period of time prior to her marriage to Miller. In his autobiography, Kazan confided that he continued to have relations with Monroe even after she was engaged to Miller.
  • Actress, Barbara Loden, portrayed Maggie (Monroe) in the play. She was Kazan’s mistress in real life. Hence, she was the mistress portraying the former-mistress. Kazan married Loden in 1967, but the two were headed for divorce before Loden died of cancer in 1980.
  • Kazan confessed in his autobiography that as a successful and powerful director, he purposely targeted beautiful, blonde WASP actresses for adulterous relationships because such women were totally inaccessible to him as a very “ethnic-looking” young man coming from a financially-strapped family. It’s interesting how the wounds/deprivations of our younger days continue to drive us as adults. Monroe’s pathological insecurities stemmed from being “orphaned” as a very young child (her mentally-ill mother had been institutionalized).
  • Kazan’s faithful wife, Molly, died of a brain aneurysm at the age of 56 in December 1963, while “After the Fall” was being rehearsed.
Above: Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller while honeymooning in Jamaica in January, 1957.

Bill Gothard and the Institute of Basic Life Principles

A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard & the Christian Life
Don Venoit, Joy Venoit, and Ron Henzel
Midwest Christian Outreach, 2003, 384 pp.

4 Stars

I think I first became aware of Bill Gothard (1934- ) and his Institute of Basic Life Principles (IBLP) when I began watching the cable television show “17 Kids and Counting” featuring independent fundamental Baptists, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, and their large brood of children. The Duggars were disciples of Gothard and IBLP. The institute is a para-church organization founded by Gothard back in 1961. Its goal is to train Christians to live an increasingly sanctified and obedient life according to the principles spelled out by Gothard. Among other things, disciples are taught strict obedience to authority, proper hair length for men and women, no pants for women, no secular entertainment, no contraceptives, no alcoholic beverages, and wariness of all medical professionals. Circumcision and other Mosaic Law tenets are taught as being obligatory for obedient Christians. This type of rigorous legalism is extreme even for most independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) congregations, however, Gothard and the IBLP attracted many followers within the IFB movement.

I was perusing Amazon and stumbled across this Kindle ebook and gave it a whirl. The Venoits and Henzel of Midwest Christian Outreach wrote this informative exposé of Gothard and IBLP back in 2003. One new item I learned about Gothard from this book was his twisting of the doctrine of grace. Gothard taught that those who received God’s grace necessarily possessed qualities that merited God’s favor. Hence, Gothard’s legalistic doctrine of grace was similar to Romanism’s teaching that grace is merited.

The authors get into the weeds a bit with some overextended personal accounts by former-IBLP associates. Also, there’s little mention of examples of the specific legalities mandated by Gothard until the mid-point of the book, so the reader is wondering what all of the fuss is about for an unnecessarily long period of time.

As a former-IFBer, this book brought back a lot of cringe-worthy memories. Gothard and the IBLP had many cultish, controlling qualities. Disciples marched to the beat of IBLP’s training seminar manuals rather than following God’s Word. The authors reported that a number of fundamentalist churches split because of the militancy of those members who were also Gothardites.

“A Matter of Basic Principles” was published eleven years before Gothard was forced to relinquish leadership of the IBLP in 2014. Wikipedia relates that Gothard “stepped down from the IBLP after 34 women accused him of sexual harassment and molestation, with some incidents allegedly occurring when the victims were minors.” The Duggars followed another homeschooling para-church svengali, Doug Phillips, president of Vision Forum, who was forced to resign in 2013 because of a scandal involving alleged predatorial grooming and sexual abuse of the family’s babysitter/nanny beginning when she was 15YO.

Bill Gothard in 2002, age 67.

Billy Graham and His Friends

Billy Graham and His Friends: A Hidden Agenda
By Cathy Burns
Sharing, 2002, 788 pp.

4 Stars

Billy Graham is widely recognized as “the greatest evangelist of the 20th century,” but the history of Billy Graham is a history of paradoxes. Graham began his ministry as a Baptist fundamentalist, but he and like-minded cohorts, Carl Henry, Harold Ockenga, E.J. Carnell, etc., determined they would break from insular fundamentalism and set a new course that would be more open to cooperation with leaders of mainline Protestant denominations and even with Roman Catholics. Graham would eventually seek the cooperation of the local Catholic bishop/s in the planning of his crusades. When Catholics “came forward” at a Graham crusade they were followed-up by Catholic workers who explained that their acceptance of Christ as Savior was just a reaffirmation of the infant baptism and confirmation.

In this thick tome, Cathy Burns examines Graham’s friendly associations with liberal “Protestant” churchmen such as Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, and James Pike. Burns also documents Graham’s very friendly relations with the National Council of Churches and its parent World Council of Churches. The genuine Gospel can’t be found in either apostate organization. Instead there were/are appeals to socialism and interreligious cooperation. Many of the leaders of the NCC and WCC were/are openly sympathetic to Marxism. At his crusades, Graham often had NCC leaders seated prominently on the dais and many were invited to give the opening invocation. Burns also documents Graham’s very positive view of Roman Catholicism.

The author gets into the “conspiracy weeds” at times. As just one example, she points to Graham’s wedding on the evening of Friday, August 13th, 1943, replete with a full moon, as a possible link to Satanism (p. 354). There’s also A LOT of discussion about how many of the NCC and WCC types were linked either directly or indirectly to one-worldism. Yup, I get it. The world is gradually moving towards one government and one religion as the Bible foretells. Overreaches aside, Burns has thoroughly documented the fact that many of Billy Graham’s “friends” were adversaries of the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Yes, Billy Graham was a paradox. While he preached the genuine Gospel at his crusades, he pioneered evangelical ecumenism with Rome and eagerly accommodated apostate churchmen.

Throwback Thursday: An evangelical looks at the “fathers”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on September 16, 2016 and has been revised.

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The Church of Rome at the Bar of History
By William Webster
The Banner of Truth Trust, 2003, 244 pages

4 Stars

The Roman Catholic church boasts that it has taught the same doctrines since the apostolic era through an unbroken line of papal succession. One of the church’s mottos is Semper Eadem, “Always the Same.”  But even casual students of Catholicism know the church’s doctrines have been constantly evolving. As the early church became increasingly institutionalized, the preaching of personal, saving faith in Jesus Christ as found in the New Testament, devolved into sacramentalism, impersonal rituals, ceremony, and religious legalism. When did the drift from orthodoxy start? In his letters to the 1st century churches, apostle Paul warned the believers of false teachers and works religionists creeping in even back then.

Rome often appeals to the writings of the “Church Fathers” to support its doctrinal claims. But anyone who has studied the fathers knows its a very mixed bag. The fathers include a long list of individuals writing from many locations over a four-century time frame. Their writings can often be interpreted various ways and have been used to support both Catholic and Protestant viewpoints.

In this book, evangelical William Webster compares the writings of the fathers to the theology of the Catholic Tridentine and Vatican Councils. Not being a historian or theologian and disinclined to personally sift through the writings of the fathers myself, I appreciated Webster’s efforts. Catholic apologists are faced with the dilemma that much of what passes for Catholicism today cannot be found in the writings of the early fathers. On the other hand, evangelicals would find some of the fathers’ theology, especially the later fathers, to be drifting into unorthodoxy and heresy, an issue Webster avoids. The moral of the story: Get your theology from God’s Word, not from the fathers.

Chapters

  1. The Authority of Scripture
  2. Scripture and Tradition
  3. Tradition and Roman Catholicism
  4. The Papacy and the ‘Rock’ of Matthew 16
  5. Papal Authority and Infallibility: The Test of History
  6. Marian Dogmas
  7. Salvation and the Sacramental System
  8. The Eucharist
  9. Faith and Justification
  10. Truth: The Defining issue

Throwback Thursday: Billy Graham – Part 2

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on September 21, 2016 and has been revised.

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Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000
By Iain H. Murray
The Banner of Truth Trust, 2000, 342 pp.

5 Stars

For part one of this post, please see here.

German higher biblical criticism came to the U.S. in the later-19th-century and was a swift-spreading cancer in seminaries and mainline Protestant churches. Believing churchmen drew a line in the sand with a series of 90 essays on the basics of the Christian faith, published between 1910 and 1915, and known as “The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth.” Bible Christians rallied around the cherished doctrinal truths, but as mainline liberalism gained wider support, the fundamentalist movement increasingly adopted a circle-the-wagons, bunker mentality.

Billy Graham began his ministry in 1947 as a fundamentalist, but he and others recognized that fundamentalism took the opposite approach to Jesus’ exhortation to be in the world, but not of the world. Graham and like-minded friends (Carl Henry, Harold Ockenga, Edward Carnell, et al.) reasoned they could more effectively reach souls for Christ by cooperating with mainline liberals and religious unbelievers rather than by separating from them. But just as fundamentalism had its unhealthy sectarian extremism, Graham’s “New Evangelicalism” had its own pitfalls. Cooperation works both ways and Graham’s cooperation with unorthodoxy and unbelief led to accommodation, compromise, and eventually, betrayal of the Gospel. Graham sacrificed right doctrine on the altar of numbers, popularity, and ecclesiastical “respectability” and set a precedent for generations of pastors and para-church leaders to come.

In “Evangelicalism Divided,” Iain Murray, a former close assistant to D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, documents the rise and fall of Graham and New Evangelicalism. The larger portion of the book is devoted to circumstances in Britain, which closely mirrored those in the United States. Swimming against the rising tide, Lloyd-Jones called upon evangelicals to break ties with mainline liberalism and religious unbelief. When Graham began organizing crusades in Britain, he asked Lloyd-Jones, the nation’s most notable evangelical, to lend his support. Lloyd-Jones refused due to the many liberal churchmen aka religious unbelievers involved in Graham’s crusades. In opposition to Lloyd-Jones, Britain’s New Evangelicals, led by John Stott and J. I. Packer, rationalized that believers would be far more effective if they worked within the Anglican church. Not surprisingly, Packer would go on to be one of the charter signers of the ECT – Evangelicals and Catholics Together – ecumenical accords. Stott also fully embraced Roman Catholicism as a Christian entity. As for the current state of Anglicanism, is there even one Bible-believing minister within the entire denomination?

Murray may wander a bit, but overall this is an excellent book. There were so many passages I wanted to quote, but where to stop? I would have ended up quoting half the book. For everyone who wonders HOW and WHY Graham and company ended up eventually betraying the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, this book is a sad but necessary eye-opener.

“The reason why the BGEA (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) decided to co-operate with liberals and other non-evangelicals (such as Roman Catholics – Tom) was never set out in terms of principle. The fact is that the policy was seen as a neccessary expedient designed sincerely for the best end, namely to gain a wider hearing for the gospel. Crusades depended on crowds and in the Graham story there is an almost ever-present concern for maintaining and increasing numbers. ‘Keeping an eye for maximum public impact’ and ‘trying always for the largest possible crowds’ was a settled part of the Billy Graham Association’s strategy.” pp- 58-59.

“We may be small in numbers but since when has the doctrine of the remnant become unpopular among evangelicals? It is one of the most glorious doctrines in the whole Bible. We are not interested in numbers. We are interested in truth and in the living God. ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ …If we stand for God’s truth we can be sure that God will honour us and bless us.” – a quote from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, p.293.

“Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000” is available at Amazon here.

Catholic Myths

Catholic Myths: A Biblical Examination into the Myths, Rituals, Relics, Superstitions, and Inventions of the Roman Catholic Church
By Charles A. Zonca
Independently published, 2020, 227 pp.

3 Stars

With “Catholic Myths,” author Charles A. Zonca (Word of Victory Tract Ministries) has done a decent job examining many of the mythical elements of Roman Catholic theology (see chapter headings below). The RCC’s doctrines are based more upon the church’s spurious “sacred traditions” than upon the Bible. Many of the traditions have their roots in paganism.

However, there are a couple of problems with this book. 1) Zonca relies heavily upon Alexander Hislop’s “The Two Babylons” (1858) and Ralph Woodrow’s “Babylon Mystery Religion” (1966), which drew directly from the former. Historians have shown that Hislop overreached with some of his postulations regarding Babylonian paganism. Woodrow later reconsidered and disavowed his previous book with the publication of “The Babylon Connection?” in 1997. 2) Zonca is a purveyor of KJV 1611-Onlyism and presses that view.

“Catholic Myths” has a lot of very good, detailed information about popular, superstition-tinged Catholic beliefs and practices that the more academically-inclined evangelical writers like Gregg Allison and Leonardo De Chirico tend to avoid, but the problems mentioned above prevent me from recommending this book as a resource.

An excellent examination of Roman Catholicism as it compares to Biblical Christianity is “The Gospel According to Rome” by James G. McCarthy, available at Amazon here.

Contents

Myths

  • Bible Versions
  • The Rock
  • Apostolic Succession
  • Peter – Bishop of Rome
  • Limbo
  • Purgatory
  • Transubstantiation
  • Sacrifice of the Mass
  • Forgiveness of Sins
  • Mary – Mother of God
  • Assumption
  • Immaculate Conception
  • Mary Worship
  • Worship of Saints
  • Celibacy
  • Priests and Nuns
  • Sainthood Canonization
  • Fasting from Meat
  • Gambling and Drinking
  • Many Ways to Heaven
  • Muslims
  • Chrislam
  • Papal Infallibility
  • Charismatic Movement
  • The Magi

Rituals

  • All Saints Day
  • Holy Stairs in Rome
  • Indulgences
  • Infant Baptism
  • The Host
  • Worship of the Monstrance
  • Pope’s Tiara
  • Mitre
  • Kissing the Pope’s Ring
  • Kissing Statues
  • Priestly Clergy Garments
  • Processions
  • Praying the Rosary
  • Pilgrimages to Shrines
  • Votive Candles
  • Catholic Santería Voodoo Rituals
  • Epiphany Door Blessing Ritual

Relics

  • Relics of Romanism
  • Our Lady of Clearwater
  • The Nun Bun
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe

Superstitions

  • Apparitions
  • Amulets

Good News

  • The Bible – Man’s Only Hope

The Rise of Catholic Indifference

Deadly Indifference: How the Church Lost Her Mission and How We Can Reclaim It
By Eric Sammons
Crisis Publications, 2021, 304 pp.

1 Star

The Roman Catholic church has always taught baptismal regeneration and the complementary doctrine of extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (Latin: “outside the Church [there is] no salvation.” Two exceptions were added to these doctrines, those being baptismus sanguinis (“baptism by blood”) and baptismus flaminis (“baptism by desire”). The former declared that those who were martyred before they were baptized could be saved, while the latter declared that those who desired to be baptized, but died before the sacrament could be administered, could also be saved. Those two exceptions were historically understood as “rare” occurrences, but today the Catholic church teaches that Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and even atheists can be saved implicitly through baptismus flaminis/baptism by (unconscious) desire. How did this teaching evolve? In “Deadly Indifference,” traditionalist Catholic editor, Eric Sammons (“Crisis” magazine), examines the history of the expansion of baptismus flaminis and the implications for the declining RCC.

Beginning in the Middle Ages, some Catholic theologians and philosophers began to mull over the spiritual status of those pagans in distant lands who had never heard the Catholic gospel. The notion of “invincible ignorance” was born, which stated that “some” pagan souls might desire baptism if they were aware of it, and that they could also be saved via the baptism by desire exception. The teaching was bandied about by Catholic theologians for centuries and even gained papal approval in the Singulari Quadam allocution issued by Pius IX in 1854: “It is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, are not stained by any guilt in this matter in the eyes of God.” Invincible ignorance was popularly viewed as the theoretical exception rather than the rule as Catholic missionaries determinedly continued their efforts to convert non-Catholics across the globe.

However, as modernism/liberalism took hold in Catholic academia and episcopacies in the twentieth century, “invincible ignorance” and baptismus flaminis gradually became the standard regarding non-Catholics and were codified in the Second Vatican Council declarations, Unitatis redintegratio (1964) and Nostra aetate (1965). It took some time for this new liberal paradigm to filter down to the seminaries, rectories, convents, and pews – as a young Catholic grammar school student in the early and mid-1960s, I distinctly remember being taught by the priests and nuns that Protestants and all non-Catholics were destined for hell – but filter down it did. Sammons uses a “salvation spectrum” to demonstrate the current range of Catholic teaching/belief regarding extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. There is the absolutist on one extreme, who rejects the aforementioned exceptions. This view was infamously espoused by Jesuit Leonard Feeney (see here). Sammons states that, unlike Feeney, he is not an absolutist, but an exclusivist. He concedes the exception of baptismus flaminis as legitimate, but only in “rare” cases. Sammons posits that modern popes, John XXIII, Paul VI, JP II, Benedict XVI were in the middle “inclusivist” range in varying degrees, but that Francis is at the opposite extreme as a pluralist bordering on universalism.

The result of the expansion of baptismus flaminis and “invincible ignorance” is that there is no incentive for Catholic missions, since it is now taught that it’s possible for every non-Catholic religionist and even atheists to merit Heaven. Another result is an ever-increasing number of cradle Catholics are dropping away from the church because of the prevailing indifferentism. Their thinking: “If non-Catholic religionists and atheists have a good shot at Heaven, it makes no sense to have to suffer through an hour of boring mass every Sunday.”

Traditionalist Sammons, would like to return the Catholic church to pre-conciliar militancy, when baptismus flaminis and “invincible ignorance” were understood as the “rare” exceptions rather than the rule. He desires that Protestants be once-again categorized as “heretics” and that they be targets for proselytization by Catholic missionaries along with all other non-Catholics. Sammons also pines for the day when “religious freedom” is a memory and the Catholic church once again rules hand-in-glove with civil governments (pp. 50-51). Nope, I’m not kidding. How does Sammons put the horse back in the barn? He encourages fellow traditionalists to turn the clock back to pre-conciliar militancy, parish by parish.

We’re seeing signs that this rad-trad militant Catholicism that Sammons espouses is gaining traction and getting some internet notoriety, but the reality is that it’s still a small minority among Catholics.

Postscript: This book was valuable to me only in that it details some of the historical expansion of baptismus flaminis that I wasn’t aware of. In contradiction to all of this Catholic internecine squabbling over legalistic details (i.e., if baptismus flaminis is only rarely legitimate, how rare is rare? 0.1% of non-Catholics? 1%? 5%? 10%?) is the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Neither Francis’ progressive pluralism or Sammons’ militant traditionalism have any connection to the genuine Gospel of grace. Some might be surprised that evangelical darling, Billy Graham, also embraced the teaching of “invincible ignorance.” Watch Graham unabashedly propagate the heresy of invincible ignorance in a 1:30 minute video here.