Backwoods, hillbilly, anti-Catholic fundamentalist?

My old blogging routine was to post articles Monday thru Saturday, but when I returned back to work in early-January I cut back to only four days per week. A recent cold meant A LOT of couch duty and time to ruminate and write some extra posts. So, in order to relieve the “glut,” I’ve decided to publish today and Friday.

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I was a Roman Catholic for my first twenty-seven years, until 1983 when I trusted in Jesus Christ as my Savior by faith alone. The Lord then put it in my heart to earnestly study my former religion and the many incompatible, irreconcilable doctrinal differences between Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity. Over the past five-and-a-half years of blogging, I’ve published many posts examining those differences. The prime difference between Catholicism and Gospel Christianity is in regards to how a person is saved. The Catholic church teaches that salvation is obtained by participating in its sacraments, whereby graces are allegedly received, supposedly enabling the Catholic to better obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!), in order to hopefully merit eternal life at the moment of death. Gospel Christians believe in salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The theologies are diametrically opposed and cannot be reconciled. One is right and one is wrong. They cannot both be right.

One of the most disturbing things I’ve seen over the past thirty-eight years is how Gospel Christians have increasingly embraced my former religion, the false Roman Catholic church, as a Christian entity. Sixty-years ago, evangelicals rightly knew that the Roman church taught a false gospel. Since then, accommodators and compromisers within have chipped away at theological discernment. A consensus emerged and grew that proclaimed that, although the RCC had some quirky, un-Biblical beliefs, they got the basic Gospel right because they also talk about Jesus, “grace,” and “faith.” The rising tide of secularism motivated many undiscerning believers to dismiss doctrinal distinctives and to embrace Roman Catholics as “brothers in Christ” in an effort to present a semi-united “Christian” front in the culture/morality wars. Some evangelicals were also attracted to Catholic “intellectualism” and the false church’s ornate ritualism and ceremony.

These days, it appears* that the majority of those who identify as “evangelical” embrace “practicing” Roman Catholics as fellow-Christians. The consensus is that those who do not support ecumenism with Rome are akin to embarrassing, repugnant, anti-intellectual, backwoods, bigoted, unsophisticated, hillbilly fundamentalists of a bygone era. But Rome has not changed any of its major doctrines since 1960 and Catholics unabashedly admit that their church teaches salvation by (sacramental) grace and works. So what is the problem? Why did evangelicals cave when it came to Roman Catholicism, but still resolutely (at least for now) reject the Latter Day Saints and the Watchtower Society as false churches? Accommodating evangelical apologists (e.g., Norman Geisler, William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, Josh McDowell, etc.) readily admit that Roman Catholicism teaches a heterodox view of justification, but still dichotomously embrace it as a Christian entity. For ecumenical evangelicals, it is easier on their psyche to hold to a totally incongruous view (i.e., works-righteousness Catholicism is Christian) rather than swim against the tide and be thought of as an anti-Catholic fundamentalist.

In summary, a general consensus developed within evangelicalism over the past sixty years that says that Roman Catholicism teaches the genuine Gospel or something “close enough” EVEN DESPITE the RCC’s own unapologetic testimony to the contrary and despite evangelical theologians’ and apologists’ acknowledgement that Rome’s version of justification (baptismal regeneration, works righteousness) is heterodox and does not lead to salvation.

Because I point out that Rome teaches a false gospel, many evangelicals who visit my blog are embarrassed by my content, which doesn’t agree with the popular consensus/paradigm. In their eyes, I am a bigoted, anti-Catholic fundamentalist. They have been conditioned to be repulsed by those who say anything critical of Roman Catholicism. Warning Catholics and Christians of Rome’s false gospel is now viewed as distasteful and something akin to forcing people to sit at the back of the bus.

“If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema.” – Council of Trent, Canon 14

“None of us can say…I am already saved.” – pope Francis, December 11, 2015

What Does the Roman Catholic Church Believe About Justification? by R.C. Sproul

*A 2015 Lifeway Research survey revealed only 23 percent of evangelical Christian pastors disagreed with the statement that the pope is a fellow Christian and a “brother in Christ” (see here).

A Look Back at “Up With People!”

The funny thing about being older (I’m 64.5 YO) is I can remember a lot of things from my childhood better than I can remember last week.

In Catholic grammar school back in the 1960s, the nuns really loved for us young students to sing songs. Ach! There were plenty of Catholic religious songs and also secular songs. The nuns always chose the smartest and most popular girl in our class, Ann C., to come up to the front of the classroom and lead the singing. Well, singing was never one of my fortes and, truth be told, I thought Ann was pretty cute and I was much more interested in watching her sing than singing any of the songs myself. But I digress.

One of those old songs turns up in my head occasionally. A musical troupe called “Up With People” was founded in 1965* as an organization for young adults “that enabled them to interact with the world through positivity and music.” It was clearly a “healthy,” establishment-sanctioned alternative to the burgeoning, counter-culture, hippie movement. The ensemble’s signature “sing-out” folk song, “Up With People!,” was featured on many television variety shows at the time. It was a cultural phenomenon. Many adults breathed a sigh of relief. “Ah, not ALL youth are going down the toilet,” they consoled themselves. While our parents loved the song, it was waaaaaay too square for us nine-year-old hipsters who were already listening to the Beatles and the Byrds. Regrettably, the nuns at our parochial school also loved the song and forced it upon us along with all of the requisite corny body motions (see video below).

I was thinking about the “Up With People!” song recently and it strikes me now that some of the lyrics are antithetical to the Gospel. Let’s take a look, shall we?

(Verse 1)
It happened just this morning, I was walking down the street
The milkman and the postman and policeman I did meet
There in ev’ry window and ev’ry single door
I recognized people I’d never noticed before

(Chorus)
Up! Up with people!
You meet ‘em wherever you go
Up! Up with people!
They’re the best kind of folks we know
If more people were for people
All people ev’rywhere
There’d be a lot less people to worry about
And a lot more people who care
There’d be a lot less people to worry about
And a lot more people who care

(Verse 2)
People from the south-land and people from the north
Like a mighty army, I saw them coming forth
‘Twas a great reunion, befitting of a king!
Then I realized people are more important than things

(Chorus)

(Verse 3)
Inside everybody there’s some bad and there’s some good
But don’t let anybody start attacking people-hood
Love them as they are, but fight for them to be
Great men and great women as God meant them to be

(Chorus)

Yup, you spotted it. Verse 3 is a problem. It propagates a Christ-less universalism and civil religion. Everybody has some good in them, it says, and we all have to help each other reach the greatness potential that the nebulous, inter-faith deity allegedly desires for us. Every works-religionist can subscribe to this song. No wonder the nuns loved it. Hey, it just occurred to me that this song is very similar to a Joel Osteen “sermon.”

In contrast, the Bible declares there is none righteous, no, not one. We are all sinful beings and we all deserve eternal punishment. But Jesus Christ, God the Son, was punished for our sins on the cross of Calvary. He defeated sin and death by rising from the grave and offers eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who trust in Him as their Savior by faith alone.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

Positivity won’t cleanse your soul, cure the evils of the world, or get you to Heaven! Jesus Christ alone is the Way to Heaven.

*After a little digging, I discovered the Up With People organization had its roots in the ecumenical, inter-religious “Moral Re-Armament” (MRA) movement, which began in 1938. See the Wiki article here.

Addendum: We were subversive little nine-year-old rascals and I remember myself and a few buddies conspiratorily changing the last lines of the chorus from…

There’d be a lot less people to worry about
And a lot more people who care

to

There’d be a lot MORE people to worry about
And a lot LESS people who care

But we didn’t sing the rebellious alternate lyrics loud enough for the temperamentally volatile nun to hear us.

Up With People lingered on after its 1965 peak and actually appeared as the marquee halftime act at Super Bowls X (1976), XIV (1980), XVI (1982), and XX (1986). A scaled down Up With People is still in existence, continuing to crusade for the cause of worldwide brotherhood (see website here).

Throwback Thursday: What “gospel” does apologist Ravi Zacharias proclaim?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on March 3, 2016 and has been revised. As an introduction, Ravi Zacharias was a very popular evangelical apologist who died on May 19, 2020. Disturbing reports of predatory sexual abuse involving Zacharias have come to light in recent months. Also disturbing was Zacharias’ long history of promoting ecumenism with Roman Catholicism.

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During my lunch break today, I took a quick trip to the post office and tuned into The Word, WZXV, 99.7 FM, Christian radio station here in Rochester, New York. Every day at 11:00 a.m., the station plays the daily message from popular evangelical apologist, Ravi Zacharias.

Zacharias is widely considered to be one of evangelicalism’s leading apologists. He’s an excellent speaker – the words flow out of his mouth like honey. But beware, Zacharias’ messages are sometimes dangerous.

Today, the station broadcast one of Zacharias’ messages from his “Memories of Muggeridge” series (see far below for the link). Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990) was a highly respected British author and journalist and a longtime agnostic and eventual convert to Roman Catholicism.

In the message, Zacharias spoke about Muggeridge’s growing disillusionment with politics, journalism, commerce, education, entertainment, and religion. He was allegedly searching for the ultimate truth. Muggeridge was subsequently baptized into the Roman Catholic church at the age of 79 in 1982. It was Muggeridge who first introduced the world to Mother Teresa and thrust her into the spotlight as THE standard of “Christian” charity.

As a Roman Catholic, Muggeridge believed in salvation by sacramental grace and merit. He believed, as do all Catholics faithful to their church’s teaching, that one must be in a sinless “state of grace” at the moment of death in order to merit Heaven. For Catholics, justification comes from obeying the Ten Commandments perfectly (impossible!). If they break the Law, Catholics must confess all of their “mortal” (deadly/major) sins and be absolved by a priest before death or they are taught they will go to hell.

So why would Zacharias, one of evangelicalism’s leading apologists, hold up Muggeridge and Mother Teresa, who both believed in salvation by works, as shining Christian examples? I also heard Zacharias praising St. Francis of Assisi in a different broadcast. Is it that Zacharias is just totally ignorant of Catholic doctrine?  Is it that he believes the differences in salvation theology between Gospel Christianity and Roman Catholicism are not important? What goes through the mind of Ravi Zacharias? Either the Gospel is salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone or it is salvation by sacramental grace and obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) as Rome teaches. It is either one or it is the other. It cannot be both!

A number of evangelical leaders are dismissing right doctrine and embracing those who teach works-salvation as “brothers and sisters in Christ” in the cause of “Christian unity.” I would ask them, is the Gospel the Gospel or isn’t it? Make no mistake; there are absolutely no Catholic apologists on EWTN Catholic radio singing the praises of Wycliffe, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Tyndale, Spurgeon, Moody, Lloyd-Jones, etc. like Zacharias fawns over Muggeridge, Mother Teresa, G.K. Chesterton, and St. Francis. So why are evangelicals like Zacharias so deferential? Why are evangelicals so blind?

By embracing error as truth, Zacharias betrays the Gospel and misleads those who admire him.

“For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” – Galatians 3:10-13


Memories of Muggeridge, Part 4 of 5
Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)
Broadcast 3/3/2016

Note: In this Throwback Thursday installment, I removed the link to the broadcast/podcast referenced above because RZIM no longer provides free access to that particular episode (#4) of the “Memories of Muggeridge” series or to episodes 2, 3, or 5 either. However, part 1 of the series can be accessed here.

See my earlier post on Ravi Zacharias’ dalliance with Roman Catholicism here.

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.

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.

“Beware of ‘those’ false teachers, but ‘these’ false teachers are okay.” Huh?

One of the more enjoyable aspects of Christian blogging is being able to read the inspiring, informative, and creative writing of my fellow believing bloggers. However, I purposely limit the number of bloggers I follow because I try to read all of the incoming posts and there’s only so many hours in the day.

I’ve followed and subsequently unfollowed many bloggers over the years. I realize that few if any Christian bloggers are going to align exactly with all of my beliefs on secondary and tertiary doctrines, but there are some things that I can’t abide with and I can’t lend my support to by following a Christian blogger who propagates such things.

Case in point. I recently began following a blogger I’ll name “Mike” who I came across while reading the comments section of a post by another blogger. Back in mid-November, Mike posted an article warning about false teachers and false teachings, specifically citing the name-it-and-claim-it prosperity gospelers, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Olsteen, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, and Paula White. Amen! Yup, all five individuals are definitely false teachers.

A week later, Mike published another post decrying denominational divisions and the lack of unity amongst “Christians.” Hmm. I hold the view that genuine believers are quite united by our faith in Jesus Christ and the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone despite secondary and tertiary differences. I see that unity demonstrated every day here at WordPress. I’m wary of Christians who decry doctrinal distinctives and appeal to a shallow unity according to a nebulous “We all just love Jesus” bottom line.

A couple of days after that, Mike published another post criticizing Christian sectarianism generally and “prejudice” against Catholics specifically. I certainly don’t support hatred or dislike of Catholics. I was a Roman Catholic for twenty-seven years and most of my family and friends still are Catholic. However, the Roman Catholic church unabashedly and unapologetically teaches a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit and Gospel Christians should never accommodate the RCC or compromise with it. Lest anyone think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill regarding the aforementioned posts, I searched Mike’s archives using the word, “Catholic,” and immediately found a post from August 15th extolling full-bore ecumenism with the RCC.

It’s very clear that Mike views the RCC as a Christian entity. His mid-November post warning about false teachers is ironic and incongruous in retrospect, seeing that he easily embraces the false teachers of Roman Catholicism. Why the disconnect? The acceptable group-think/herd-mentality consensus within conservative evangelicalism these days is that, yes, the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the prosperity shysters preach false gospels, but somehow the RCC’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit is fine and any objection is a sign of uncharitable “sectarianism.” This lack of discernment within evangelicalism is beyond alarming.

I unsubscribed to Mike’s blog because I can’t support his ecumenical propaganda. That kind of tolerance and acceptance of RC error is a misguided and ill-informed leaven that’s rampant throughout evangelicalism these days. Nope, I’m not trying to be the “who you can and can’t follow” blog police. Every Christian blogger must decide for themselves what they can and can’t support by “following” a particular blogger and “liking” their error-filled posts.

Postscript: I noticed that a staunch Roman Catholic blogger whom I have debated several times in the past lent her hearty “Amen” to the first three posts referred to above. If you’re an evangelical blogger and Roman Catholic bloggers are consistently “Amen-ing” your posts, then you’re not enunciating the Gospel clearly enough.

Ecumenist Norman Geisler Strikes Again

Is Rome the True Church?: A Consideration of the Roman Catholic Claim
By Norman Geisler and Joshua Betancourt
Crossway, 2008, 235 pp.

2 Stars

One of the strangest books I ever read in my entire life was “Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences” (1995) by Norman Geisler (d. 2019) in which the evangelical theologian clearly defined the irreconcilable doctrinal differences between Gospel Christianity and Roman Catholicism, including the opposing views on justification, and yet still concluded the RCC was a Christian entity! See my associated post here.

In this book, published thirteen years later, Geisler specifically focuses on Catholicism’s claim to be the “one true church” based upon the notions of Petrine primacy, apostolic succession, and papal infallibility. Geisler examines Scripture, the writings of the church “fathers,” and to a lesser degree, church history, to make a very substantial case against Rome’s false claims. Adopting the Roman-Caesarian imperial model, the bishops of Rome sought to secure and consolidate their advantages and privileges.

The reader will repeatedly have a sense of déjà vu while reading this book as Geisler often uses the same references to counter different claims. But his arguments are substantive and convincing. As with his previous book, Geisler once again strangely concludes that the Roman Catholic church is a Christian entity despite the fact that it teaches a subjective, intrinsic view on justification and a salvation system based upon sacramental grace and merit. All ecumenical evangelicals must “leap frog” over this irreconcilable incongruity. Sadly, Geisler mentored a bevy of ecumenically-minded, pop-apologists (i.e., McDowell, Craig, Zacharias, Strobel, Turek).

Contents

  1. The Roman Claim to Be the True Church
  2. The Historical Development of the Roman Primacy Structure
  3. The Roman Argument for the Primacy of Peter: Stated and Evaluated
  4. The Roman Argument for the Infallibility of Peter: Stated
  5. The Roman Argument for the Infallibility of Peter: Evaluated
  6. The Roman Argument for Apostolic Succession
  7. Is Rome the True Church?
  8. Why Some Protestants Convert to Rome

Appendices

  1. Irenaeus on the Alleged Authority of the Church
  2. A Chronological List of Popes and Antipopes
  3. The Relation of Tradition to Scripture
  4. Sola Scriptura
  5. Irenaeus on Scripture and Tradition

Alistair Begg: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Back in August, my wife and I were in a position where we needed to find a new source for livestream Sunday morning church services. I chose the services at Parkside Church in Chagrin Falls, Ohio (near Cleveland) with Pastor Alistair Begg (photo above). Yup, I had my misgivings about Pastor Begg because of his penchant for quoting C.S. Lewis (ecumenist) and G.K. Chesterton (Roman Catholic) and because of one particular incident that I posted about last year in which he favorably cited a book written by a Catholic cleric (see here). But I decided to give Pastor Begg another try because, well, he is such an enjoyable and inspirational speaker to listen to. Ach. I can be a real dummy sometimes.

My wife and I were pleased, make that VERY pleased, with the subsequent services UNTIL we watched the video of the Sunday, November 1st evening service. Begg had preached an excellent sermon earlier that morning on 2 Samuel 2:1-11 and the anointing of David as King of Israel at Hebron, which was followed by the insurrection of Abner and his installation of Saul’s son, Ish-Bosheth, as the competing king. Begg continued the message in the evening service, preaching on 2 Samuel 2:12-32 and the battle at Gibeon between the military forces of Abner and the forces of David, led by Joab. In the course of both sermons, Begg made the connection between the circumstances surrounding David’s anointing and the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Begg’s point was that all temporal political systems and nations are ultimately destined to fail because multiple forms of advancing corruption bring them down. Begg’s message was that believers should focus on Jesus Christ and the Gospel, not on political solutions and nationalism. Excellent! Here, here! Bravo! Amen! However, at the 37:35 mark, Begg made a disturbing tie-in reference to “the church”:

“(David) came to Israel, and the tribes lined up under Ish-Bosheth, to stand against God’s anointed king. The story incidentally of the development of the history of the church may be understood in these terms, too. I listened to a very fine address by a Roman Catholic priest just yesterday in order to help me in my life. And it was a political address and it was jolly good. And I was paying very careful attention. And he explained at one point that the organization and the commitment of the church runs all the way, he says, from pope Pius IX (papal reign, 1846-1878) to Benedict (XVI). I said to myself, Oh, so what happened to Francis? (That’s) exactly what happened to him!”

Huh? I replayed the remarks several times to make sure I had heard correctly. First, Begg favorably cites to his congregation an address by a Roman Catholic priest to “help me in my life.” He then notes that the priest favorably commented on the papacies of Pius IX* to Benedict XVI, while purposely omitting the controversial current pope, Francis. Begg presents this as a parallel example of how the condition of “the church,” like the nation, is also deteriorating.

Please catch the irony in this circumstance, folks. Begg is bemoaning the deterioration of “the church,” while he himself is contributing to the declining state of evangelicalism by his embracement of Roman Catholicism. What to make of this? I’m certainly not implying that Begg, by his comment, is endorsing the RCC on a wholesale basis, but his remarks here are beyond disturbing. What goes through his head?

Ach. I was disappointed, but not surprised. What a dummy I am. I should NOT have given Begg a second chance. No more listening to Alistair Begg for me. No third chances. Brothers and sisters, this kind of ecumenical accommodation and compromise is rife within evangelicalism.

Below is a link to the sermon in question. Begg’s remarks regarding the address by the Catholic priest begin at the 37:35 mark.

David anointed and opposed – part two (2 Samuel 2:12-32), Sunday evening, November 1st

*It was Pius IX who had himself and other popes declared infallible at the First Vatican Council in 1870. All popes and priests teach Rome’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Update: Brother Billy at the excellent “Soul Refuge” YouTube channel created a video based upon the above post. See below:

An awkward title, but an informative book about evangelical compromise

New Neutralism II: Exposing the Gray of Compromise
By John E. Ashbrook
Here I Stand Books, Second Printing, 2002, 110 pp.

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I’ve recently reviewed a couple of excellent books about the sad history of evangelicalism’s slow and steady journey towards compromise and accommodation with Roman Catholicism and other errors. See my review of “Promise Unfulfilled: The Failed Strategy of Modern Evangelicalism” by Rolland D. McCune here and my review of “We Gather Together: The Religious Right and the Problem of Interfaith Politics” by Neil J. Young here.

Fundamentalist pastor, John E. Ashbrook (d. 2011), expanded upon the themes of the 1958 booklet, “The New Neutralism,” written by his pastor father, William Ashbrook, to produce this short book, which was first published in 1992. By “neutralism,” the author is referring to compromise with error and religious unbelief. As with “Promise Unfulfilled,” Ashbrook examines the rise of “New Evangelicalism” and its wayward journey. New Evangelicalism was the brainchild of Harold Ockenga, Carl Henry, and Billy Graham. They determinedly broke from fundamentalist separatism in the late 1940s and plotted a course that would be more accommodating in relationship to modernists and Catholics. The initial idea was that “dialogue” would win more souls than confrontation, but, as might be predicted, accommodation with error gradually turned into acquiescence to error.

Ashbrook names many names and doesn’t pull his punches. His tone is angry, strident, and sometimes even sarcastic as befits a fundamentalist pastor with an ax to grind, but it’s hard to argue with much of what he’s written here. One need only turn on TBN to see the heterodox bitter fruit of Ockenga, Henry, and Graham’s “New Evangelicalism” vision.

Chapters:

  1. Why the New Neutralism?
  2. Separatism, Acceptance, and the Social Gospel
  3. The NAE, the WEF, and Camels
  4. Fuller Seminary – Exhibit A
  5. Billy Graham – The Mouthpiece of New Evangelicalism
  6. Billy Graham’s Catholic Connection
  7. Mr. Revolutionary (Bill Bright) and Campus Crusade
  8. Intellectuals in Residence
  9. The Popularizers
  10. Explos and Extravaganzas
  11. Jerry Falwell and the Gnu Evangelicalism
  12. The Institutions
  13. A View From the Top of the Hill