The idolatry of “Thomism” among some evangelical intellectuals

I like to tell people I’m a Theology 101 kind of guy. Praise the Lord that His Good News! is so simple even a child can understand it. But I appreciate the work that godly theologians have done over the years and I have picked up a few things here and there.

One thing that bothers me, though, is how some evangelical theologians are enamored with Roman Catholic medieval theologian, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). Those who specialize in studying Aquinas proudly dub themselves as “Thomists.” Three very influential evangelical theologians who embraced Thomism are Norman Geisler, and the late John Gerstner and R.C. Sproul.

R.C. Sproul passed into Heaven only a couple of months. I really appreciated R.C.’s ministry and his fidelity to the Gospel of grace. Every once in a while, I’ll listen to the daily broadcast from R.C.’s Ligonier Ministry, “Renewing Your Mind,” and this morning the topic was “Why Didn’t Jesus Know?” (see link below) in which R.C. explained why Jesus didn’t know the time of the Second Coming as it’s written in Matthew 24:36. R.C. explained that Thomas Aquinas had a wrong understanding of the verse, but emphatically qualified that statement with the following:

“I respect Saint Thomas Aquinas as much or more than any other theologian that’s ever lived. I think Saint Thomas was astonishing in his brilliance and in his consistent understanding of the things of God.”

[Pausing wearily]

As I said, I’m certainly not a theologian, but I do know several things about Thomas Aquinas. The Catholic church considers him their preeminent theologian. He promoted and defended the teachings of baptismal regeneration and sacramental grace, auricular confession of sins to a priest, purgatory and indulgences, the invocation and intercession of the saints in Heaven, and papal primacy. Borrowing heavily from Aristotelian philosophy, Aquinas defined, among other things, the spiritually deadly false dogma of eucharistic transubstantiation.

Thomas Aquinas was certainly no friend of the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace though faith in Jesus Christ alone. Many of the other doctrines he promoted, defended, and defined were un-Biblical and even anti-Biblical. What is it exactly that attracts these evangelical theologians to Aquinas?

I love R.C. Sproul and I’m grateful for his ministry in my life. I am not trying to besmirch the reputation of a departed brother who was faithful to the Gospel in many other ways, but I am very disappointed by R.C.’s unqualified great praise of Thomas Aquinas in today’s taped radio message and elsewhere. R.C. wasn’t perfect. This infatuation with Thomas Aquinas and Thomism among some evangelicals is a spiritual blind spot that I believe is rooted in intellectual pride.

In all things, we must always follow the Lord, Jesus Christ and His Word, rather than men. If Christian teachers, even otherwise solid Christian teachers, depart from the truth, we must follow the Lord.

“It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.” – Psalm 118:8

“Why Didn’t Jesus Know?”


Many claim to be “evangelical,” but what is an evangelical?

Lately, I’ve been commenting on how the labels “Protestant” and “evangelical” have become pretty much meaningless these days. A recent Pew Research poll (see here) showed that 52% of those who identified as “Protestant” and 33% of those who identified as “evangelical” believe salvation is attained through a mixture of “faith” and works, just as Catholicism teaches. Those are disturbing statistics but not surprising given the rampant ecumenism and minimization of doctrine in the church today.

The other night, I was scanning through the news and came across this timely article from Will Graham at Evangelical Focus that summarizes basic evangelical belief into thirteen points, based upon a 1971 address by pastor, Martyn Lloyd-Jones. There are many so-called “evangelical” pastors and para-church leaders out there today who are blurring the Gospel of grace. Let’s pray that the Lord raises up Christian leaders who will continue to defend the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and genuine Biblical Christianity despite the compromise and betrayal of so many.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: What is an Evangelical?
By Will Graham, Evangelical Focus
September 2, 2017

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (MLJ) is perhaps best-known as Britain’s leading biblical expositor throughout the twentieth century. Today we are going to hone in upon the second of his three addresses at the 1971 International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) Conference in which he outlined thirteen key characteristics of evangelicals.

1.- An evangelical is Bible-centered

Evangelicals are committed to the supreme authority of Scripture in all questions of doctrine and conduct. They too, like John Wesley, are men “of one book.” As MLJ put it, “He is a man of one book; he starts with it; he submits himself to it; that is his authority. He does not start from any extra-biblical authority. He confines himself and submits himself completely to the teaching of the Bible.”

To continue reading the article, click on the link below:

Amoris Laetitia: A potentially catastrophic crack in the dam or a glorious step towards “Christian unity”?

My mother-in-law died a slow, excruciating death from emphysema way back in theal early 1980s. I had accepted Christ about one year prior to her death and was able to witness to her several times before she accepted Jesus as her Savior. But the funeral services had already been arranged by members of the family including a Catholic mass. When it came time during the mass to receive communion, the priest invited everyone in attendance, Catholics AND Protestants, to participate. That was radical stuff back in 1984! The bishop of Rochester at the time, Matthew Clark, was a very liberal fellow who often turned a blind eye to deviations from Catholic orthodoxy (and perhaps encouraged them).

Roman Catholicism teaches its priests change bread wafers into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ at the mass. The priest then offers up the Jesus wafers to God the Father as a sacrifice for the sins of the congregants. People then line up to consume the Jesus wafer, believing it will impart grace so that the recipient will be better able to avoid sin and thereby merit Heaven. Rome teaches that only Catholics and members of Eastern Orthodox churches may receive its communion.

The church also theoretically only allows communion to those in a “state of grace” (without any mortal sin on their soul). Catholics who have divorced and remarried without an annulment of the first marriage were considered to be living in an ongoing adulterous relationship, a mortal sin, and were prohibited from receiving communion. That was the infallible teaching of the church for a millennia. But with divorce rates soaring among Catholics, and many divorced-and-remarried Catholics feeling alienated and falling away from the church, Pope Francis issued his Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) encyclical last April, which seems to pragmatically allow priests the ability to decide if remarried Catholics can receive communion on a case-by-case basis.

Traditionalists rightly see Amoris Laetitia as an assault on the infallible teaching  of all previous popes and hence the current standoff between conservative cardinals and Francis. But Amoris Laetitia is only the first crack in the dam. Liberal Catholic prelates such as German cardinal, Walter Kasper, mentioned in the articles below, anticipate the day when Catholics will share communion with Protestants as official practice. Kasper and others are like sharks who smell blood in the water with the publication of Amoris Laetitia and will be relentless in their demand for open communion, which will be a major step in recovering the “separated brethren” under the wings of Rome.

But what about Rome’s claim that its infallible teachings can’t be abrogated? Pope Francis winks at that dogma. He “bent” the rule for divorced remarrieds by using ambiguous language in this encyclical. How will he (or his successor) specifically get around no-communion for Protestants? I don’t know but rest assured it’s coming.

Could Non-Catholics Share Communion With Catholic Spouses At Last? This Cardinal Thinks So

Cardinal Kasper: Pope’s ‘next declaration’ should allow ‘shared Eucharistic communion’ with Protestants

5 Reasons I’m Not Catholic

I appreciate the good article below that was published on The Christian Post web site apf few days ago.

5 Reasons I’m Not Catholic
By Shane Idleman
The Christian Post

I recently had the privilege of meeting a priest of a large parish in Southern California. The purpose of our conversation was to discuss the role of tradition in light of Scripture. Granted, some tradition is beneficial if it lines up with Scripture.

I have Catholic friends who are devoted to God — they are pillars in our community. I attended a Catholic High School and loved the faculty. I desire peace with all men, but the Bible also encourages me to boldly and confidently present a scriptural basis for truth.

To continue reading the article, click on the link below…

Sin: “Mortal” or “Venial”?

How do we define “sin”? That’s pretty easy. Sin is rebellion against God. A Bible Christianmv would rightly say that any thought, action, or act of omission that defies God’s will as revealed in His Word is a sin.

But Roman Catholicism draws a distinction between major or “mortal” sins and lesser or “venial” (Latin: venialis – pardonable) sins. If a Catholic dies with any unconfessed mortal sin on their soul, they are told they will be sent to Hell. If they die with only venial sins, they will be sent to Purgatory to be cleansed before proceeding to Heaven.

So what’s the difference between mortal and venial sins? Catholicism teaches that for a sin to be mortal it must meet the following three conditions:

  • Its subject must be a grave (or serious) matter. The Ten Commandments define grave matter.
  • It must be committed with full knowledge, both of the sin and of the gravity of the offense.
  • It must be committed with deliberate and complete consent, enough for it to have been a personal decision to commit the sin.

Examples of mortal sins include premeditated murder, purposely missing obligatory mass on Sunday, adultery, and stealing a large sum of money.

Examples of venial sins would be saying the Lord’s name in a fit of anger, nagging a spouse, smoking cigarettes, and stealing an inexpensive item.

Of course, the distinctions between mortal and venial sins get very hazy, very quickly. At what dollar amount does an inexpensive item become an expensive one? At what point does nagging become psychological abuse? When watching an R-rated movie with nudity, when does more-than-casual interest drift into unmitigated lust?

So, why does Catholicism distinguish between major and minor sins? Church father, Tertullian*, introduced the distinction between mortal and venial sins in the latter half of the second century. As the early church became increasingly institutionalized, simple, saving faith in Jesus Christ as Savior devolved into ritual and religious legalism controlled by the increasingly powerful clergy and corresponding changes in doctrine were required. If ALL sin was deadly to the soul, as the Bible teaches, then no one could possibly earn their salvation. By grading sin, it was postulated that people could successfully merit their way into Heaven with the help of the clerics. Over time, sin became even less deadly. The Jesuits are infamous for introducing the concept of “casuistry.” Using this intellectual sophistry, a person could commit even a mortal sin without any guilt if they had made a reservation in their mind that the sinful action would result in a moral good. Needless to say, Catholics flocked to Jesuit confessors because much of their mortal sin could be rationalized away.

In contrast to Rome’s teaching, the Bible teaches ALL sin is deadly. We aren’t sinners because we sin, we sin because we’re sinners. Yes, all of us are sinners and we all deserve eternal punishment. But God loves us so much He sent Jesus Christ, God the Son, to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross. But He rose from the grave, defeating sin and death, and offers eternal life and fellowship with God to all who accept Him as Savior by faith.

But aren’t there some Bible verses that talk about the “sin unto death”? Yup, but they’re not talking about the “mortal” sin of Catholicism. See here. But doesn’t the Bible talk about some sins being worse than others and meriting greater punishment? Yup, but sin is still sin. See here.

Catholics are walking a religious tightrope and are hoping by their efforts they can merit Heaven. The Catholic doctrine of mortal and venial sin gives Catholics the false hope that they can earn their way into Heaven. Because of this system, many Catholics seek to justify themselves, declaring something along the lines of, “I might not be perfect but at least I’ve never killed anyone or sold drugs to children.” But God’s Word declares all of us are sinners to the core and none of us can possibly earn Heaven. Even the good things that we do are often motivated by sinful intentions.

“As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’” – Romans 3:10-12

Like the thief on the cross without a single plea, accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith. Once you have repented of your sins and accepted Christ, then you can follow Him as Lord of your life.

“Whoever believes (Greek: pisteuo – to believe, put one’s faith in, trust, with an implication that actions based on that trust may follow) in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” – John 3:18

* Webster, William. The Church of Rome at the Bar of History (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2003), p. 104.

Just how painful is “Purgatory” supposed to be?

Christians believe in a literal Heaven and Hell. Those who accept Jesus Christ as theirPG Savior in this lifetime will go to Heaven to be with their Lord. Those who do not accept Christ will go to Hell, which was made for Satan and his demons.:

Roman Catholicism teaches a third after-life destination called Purgatory. Catholics are taught their salvation depends on participation in the sacraments, which bestow grace, which enables a person to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules so they can be in a perfect “state of grace” when they die, so they can merit Heaven.

People being people, the church teaches that most won’t be able to achieve a sinless “state of grace” – there’s all those pesky unconfessed “venial” sins and the residue of unmeted temporal punishment for “mortal” sins absolved in the confessional – so God allegedly created Purgatory so imperfect souls can be cleansed before they enter Heaven. The justification for Purgatory comes mainly from the apocryphal 2 Maccabees 12 where Jews offered sacrifices for the souls of dead soldiers. The problem is the dead soldiers were blatant idolaters, a mortal sin, which made them ineligible for Purgatory.

I don’t want to go too deep into this Purgatory business. It’s irresponsible exegesis and just another facet of a works salvation system. But what I do want to clarify is what exactly Catholicism teaches regarding the suffering involved in Purgatory. If souls must be purified in Purgatory, how much pain is involved? I was listening to the 7/3/14 podcast of the Calling All Catholics talk radio show (Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) today and “father” Dave Baker dismissed the notion of suffering in Purgatory. “(Purgatory) is a rest stop on the way to Heaven…I don’t think they’re suffering pain. It’s more they can hear that there’s a big party down the hall in Heaven and they can’t get there yet. So that’s the source of suffering,” reasoned Baker. I’ve heard another priest, “father” Rick Poblocki, make similar dismissive statements on the show regarding the notion of painful suffering in Purgatory.

This comfortable “waiting lounge” version of Purgatory might appeal to post-modern sensibilities but I must protest. Wait a minute! Not so fast! In the past, Catholic theologians taught that the cleansing fires of Purgatory were EXTREMELY painful. Saint Thomas Aquinas, a Doctor of the church, declared, “It is the same fire that torments the reprobate in hell, and the just in purgatory. The least pain in purgatory, surpasses the greatest suffering in this life. Nothing but the eternal duration makes the fire of hell more terrible than that of purgatory.” Many other notable Catholics of the past claimed the sufferings in Purgatory equaled those of Hell.

3 Sobering Visions of Purgatory from the Saints

So when it comes to the alleged suffering in Purgatory, are Catholics supposed to believe saint Thomas Aquinas or fathers Baker and Poblocki? The Catholic church changes its mind on these kinds of details all the time but nobody seems to ever bat an eyelash.

Instead of trusting in man-made religious doctrines that forever change, put your trust in the Rock, Jesus Christ. I’m so grateful the Lord led me out of legalistic religion and opened my eyes to His Good News of salvation by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. My Jesus paid the penalty for ALL of my sins and covered me in His perfect righteousness. I have no plea other than Him!

Where are the Lloyd-Jonses and Spurgeons of today?

These days, messages about correct doctrine won’t generally be received by evangelicals with anySPUR measure of approval. That applies not only to WordPress blogs but also to evangelical pulpits. Sermons today are written with the goal of not offending anyone. Doing so would negatively impact the numbers. What we now have in evangelicalism is a watered-down brand of christianity that’s long on feel-good emotionalism but short on content. “We all “believe” in Jesus and that’s good enough,” is the message people want to hear. More often than not, that’s what they get. I understand there are many secondary differences among evangelicals that won’t be resolved this side of glory but the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE should never be compromised. Religious error that opposes or confuses the Gospel of grace should never be accommodated or cooperated with. But that message doesn’t play in Peoria.

The article below examines the similarities between Charles Spurgeon and Martyn Lloyd-Jones, two men of God from the past who weren’t afraid to point at heresy and call it heresy. Where are the Spurgeons and Lloyd-Joneses of today? Some free will believers may object to Spurgeon’s and Lloyd-Jones’s strong Calvinism but let’s not quibble over secondaries.

Lord, raise up pastors and Christian leaders who are faithful to You and Your Word rather than crowd pleasers.

10 similarities between Charles Spurgeon and Martyn Lloyd-Jones: What do Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Charles Spurgeon have in common?
By Will Graham
Evangelical Focus
January 23, 2016

Against all odds, two deceased British preachers are coming back into fashion in our days, and not just in the English-speaking world. Thanks to a great resurgence in the Protestant faith throughout the Hispanic world, the nineteenth-century “Prince of Preachers” Charles Spurgeon and the twentieth-century “Prince of Expositors” Martyn Lloyd-Jones are selling hundreds of thousands of books every year. Due to the renewed interest in these two defenders of the Gospel, this article will draw out ten similarities between Spurgeon and Lloyd-Jones so that we may know them better and follow their example of faithfulness to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…

To read the rest of the article click on the link below:

What’s the difference between Evangelical Christianity and Roman Catholicism?

These days, many people lump evangelicals and Roman Catholics together under theBBB “Christian” label. But there are many distinct and vitally important differences between evangelicals and Catholics. Take a listen to this sermon from the pastor of the evangelical church I attend:

What’s the Difference? The Roman Catholic Church
Pastor David Whiting
Northridge Church, Rochester, NY
June 15,2008