An evangelical writes to “Your Holiness,” the pope

In yesterday’s Weekend Roundup, I briefly commented that President Trump’s evangelical advisory board had requested an urgent meeting with pope Francis to discuss the recent, Vatican-approved article in the La Civilta Cattolica journal, which had severely criticized the collaboration of right-wing, Trump-supporting “Catholic Integralists” and “Evangelical Fundamentalists” as being an “ecumenism of hate.” The article also made reference to Trump’s religious supporters as Christian “jihadists.”

Yesterday evening, I came across a couple of articles that shed more light on the controversy (see links far below).

Johnnie Moore, the former vice president of communications for Liberty University and former assistant to university president, Jerry Falwell, Jr., penned the letter to Francis on behalf of the other members of Trump’s evangelical advisory board. He begins the letter by addressing the pope as “Your Holiness.” He then tells Francis that evangelicals “have looked upon your appointment with great gratitude to God and with great optimism for the new spirit that you have brought to the Catholic Church.” He further flatters the pope by writing that Francis’ “efforts to build bridges and to spread the doctrine of mercy around the world have been a light and hope to us all.” Moore then gets down to business by requesting a meeting to discuss the troubling article. He ends the letter by claiming “God put it on [his] heart” to write the pope and concludes with the following: “With all the respect in the world and with love for Christ’s Church and every corner of it, I’ll earnestly await your reply.”

Moore’s letter to the pope is a sad commentary on the current state of evangelicalism. The pope heads a 1.2 billion-member religious institution, which propagates a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit and yet Moore addresses him as a fellow believer and a great Christian leader. Obviously, Moore has no understanding of comparative theology and has no clue what happened during the Reformation. But like many politically-focused, conservative evangelicals, Moore is more concerned with preserving “Judeo-Christian” moral values in this country than with correct doctrine and reaching conservative (and liberal) Catholics with the Gospel.

Commenting on Moore’s letter, Mike Gendron, ex-Catholic and director of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries, a Gospel outreach to Roman Catholics, said:

“Moore’s attempt to unite Evangelicals and Catholics is playing into the pope’s agenda to rebuild the religious tower of Babel. Our sovereign and omnipotent Lord does not need the help of unbelievers to fight the social and cultural wars. There is something much more important at stake and that is the purity and exclusivity of the Gospel. More than ever we need to contend for the faith because divine division in truth is far better than satanic unity in error.”

Accommodation and cooperation with religious error and compromise and betrayal of the Gospel are rampant in the church today.


Former Liberty University VP Raises Concern After Calling for Meeting With ‘Your Holiness’ to Unite Evangelicals, Catholics
https://christiannews.net/2017/08/11/former-liberty-university-vp-raises-concern-after-calling-for-meeting-with-your-holiness-to-unite-evangelicals-catholics/

Dear Pope Francis: An Evangelical Christian’s letter to the Holy Father
http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/08/09/dear-pope-francis-evangelical-christians-letter-to-holy-father.html

Roman Catholic Ecumenical and Interfaith Outreach – Established 1964

Did I get your attention? Some may find the photo and caption above to be slightly heavy-handed, but the very real danger of ecumenism with Rome far eclipses any Hollywood nightmare.

“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,Assisi 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 Unitatis Redintegratio (Latin for “Restoration of unity”), promulgated by pope Paul VI on 21 November 1964, as part of the proceedings of the Second Vatican Council

Coming soon to a Protestant church near you: the “Ecumenical Rite of Mass”

If you’re at point A and you want to get to point B, what must you do to achieve your goal?

The Catholic church has been in protracted discussions with several Protestant groups for decades, trying to find an acceptable pathway to reunion. Pope Francis’s ingenious sleight of hand in last year’s “Amoris Laetitia” document, which subtly reversed infallible dogma and opened the door to communion for Catholic remarrieds, prompted liberal German cardinal, Walter Kasper, to anticipate hopefully that the next papal document would allow “shared Eucharistic communion” with Protestants (Avvenire, December 10, 2016).

But what exactly would the steps be to “shared Eucharistic communion”? Differences would have to be overcome. Protestants, for the most part, believe the elements of the Lord’s Supper, bread and wine/grape juice, symbolize the body and blood of Jesus Christ while Catholicism teaches its priests transform the bread and wine into the literal body and blood of Christ. But some Protestant views on communion are closer to Catholicism’s than others. While Anglicans and Lutherans don’t believe in the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, the literal changing of the elements, they do believe in the “real presence” of Christ in the elements, what they term as “consubstantiation.” It would make sense that Catholicism would initially target those two denominations for shared communion.

The news article below from a Catholic source reports of rumors that the Vatican is working with representatives of the Anglican church and liberal Lutheranism to create an “Ecumenical Rite of Mass” that would be acceptable to all three groups. Portions of the rite would be said in silence by the respective parties in order to accommodate the differences in belief. The article points out that cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, “a close collaborator of pope Francis and currently the President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts,” has already primed the pump by suggesting the sacraments may be more malleable than previously taught. Watch as Francis works more of his magic.

Ecumenism is making deep inroads into evangelicalism. Some pastors and para-church leaders now openly embrace Catholicism as a Christian church EVEN THOUGH Rome still teaches the same false gospel of sacramental grace and merit that it has always taught. Neither Catholics or evangelicals benefit by the muddying of the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Ecumenism will advance. An “ecumenical rite of mass” is certainly in the works and will come about.

Lord Jesus, come quickly!


Vatican reportedly working on “Ecumenical Rite of Mass” for joint worship with Protestants
https://catholiccitizens.org/news/71788/vatican-reportedly-working-ecumenical-rite-mass-joint-worship-protestants/

Solving the “Willis Weatherford” Caper

I thought some might enjoy this very unusual tale of how and why I began this blog two years ago, so here goes:

During my “prodigal” years away from the Lord, I attempted to fill my spiritual emptiness by reading and posting reviews of books on Amazon; mostly historical non-fiction dealing with Poland and Polish-Jewish relations. I continued posting reviews after I returned to the Lord but the books that I was reading after my “homecoming” were mostly related to Christianity. Among the books I reviewed was one which criticized the mixing of Christianity with nationalism, a topic dear to my heart as readers of this blog are aware. But mainly I reviewed books which examined Catholicism, including *Norman Geisler’s disappointing ecumenical treatise, “Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences.”

One day the pastor of our Southern Baptist church and I were discussing Christian nationalism and I mentioned the book referred to above. A short time later I started receiving rebuttal comments on my review of Geisler’s book from a “Willis Weatherford” who used words and phrases that were uncannily similar to what I was accustomed to hearing from our pastor. I immediately suspected the pastor had gone to Amazon to check out the Christian nationalism book, saw my review, and followed my profile to the Geisler review. After I mentioned to “Willis Weatherford” that his writing was oddly similar to our pastor’s phraseology, the comments stopped. Out of curiosity, I googled “Willis Weatherford” and discovered the gentleman is widely revered as a Christian folk hero down in Tennessee and North Carolina where our pastor grew up and attended seminary. But nothing was ever said between the pastor and I about this episode because I wasn’t absolutely sure of my suspicions.

Our pastor’s ecumenical attitude regarding Catholicism was very much in line with Geisler’s. Over the course of a year he had approvingly referred to such notable Catholics as Thomas Aquinas, Blaise Pascal, G.K. Chesterton, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Peter Kreeft, all of which was becoming increasingly problematic for me. When I confronted him about his admiration for Aquinas, the pastor quickly brushed aside my objections.

Several months later, I was involved with the church’s name change committee and when there was a need for a lengthy article to be written, the pastor immediately piped up, “Give it to Tom, he likes to write.” Wow. One of the deacons, a close friend of the pastor, then turned to me and said something to the effect of, “You like to write so much, you ought to start a blog.” Double wow. I sat there with a knowing smile on my face. The thing was I had NEVER mentioned my Amazon reviews to either one of those guys, thus confirming my suspicions.

But I still didn’t confront the pastor with the “Willis Weatherford” incident because I was already anticipating leaving the church due to his ecumenism (as well as a few other reasons). But the deacon’s comment is what gave me the motivation to eventually start this blog. A month after we left the church, excatholic4christ was born. It had become very clear to me after one year in that church that another voice was needed warning against ecumenism with Rome and inviting Catholics to accept Christ.

If anyone is interested in reading the exchange between “Willis Weatherford” and myself regarding the ecumenical compromise of Norman Geisler and others, I’ve posted it in the comments section.

*Ecumenical theologian, Norman Geisler, has mentored notable apologists, Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, and Lee Strobel, who also espouse ecumenism with Rome.

A regrettable decision to “dialogue” with spiritually deadly error

Thanks to Chris at Wings of the Wind for his indirect contributions to this post.

In my last “Weekend Roundup” post, I commented on a recent “dialogue” session held in Idaho featuring evangelical and Mormon apologists. The purpose of that dialogue was to promote understanding between the two “parties” and find common ground. Argh! I’m definitely of the opinion that evangelical apologists should debate false religionists rather than dialogue with them. Accommodation and cooperation with error are slippery slopes that always lead to compromise and betrayal of the Gospel. Try to imagine the apostle Paul endeavoring to dialogue with the priests of 1st-century Roman paganism in order to benefit “mutual understanding and respect.” Imagine, if you can, Charles Spurgeon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John R. Rice, or James R. White having dialogue sessions with clerics of false religions. Stop the tape! James R. White? I should definitely rewind that statement in light of recent events.

I truly appreciate the ministry of evangelical apologist, James R. White. He’s done some excellent work examining Roman Catholicism and other non-Christian groups. I have favorably reviewed several of his books on this blog. Where other popular apologists have accommodated and compromised, White has stood firmly on the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. I can’t think of another apologist who has engaged in more debates with false religionists than James White. There are those who have criticized White for his sometimes brash approach but perhaps a debater needs a bit of a thick skin.

This past January, White inexplicably chose to hold two dialogue sessions with Dr. Yasir Qadhi, “one of the most influential conservative clerics in American Islam.” One of the sessions was held at an evangelical church and the other at a mosque. The purpose of the project was to increase understanding between Christians and Muslims. It appears that one of the specific goals of the dialogues was to convince the Christian audience that the extremist views of Al-Qaeda and ISIS are not representative of the majority of Muslims in this country.

Dr. White is currently catching a lot of flak from some concerned Christians for organizing the dialogue sessions with Dr. Qadhi. They wonder why a Muslim apologist was allowed to promote Islam in a church setting. They wonder why White felt obligated to help Muslims counter the general public’s negative perception of Islam due to jihadist terrorism. Is that White’s responsibility?

I believe Christian apologists should be debating false religionists, not dialoguing with them. Certainly, individual Christians “dialogue” all the time with unsaved friends, family, neighbors, and acquaintances in order to ultimately lead them to salvation in Jesus Christ. But dialoguing with clerics of false religions in front of audiences in an effort to “increase mutual understanding and respect” is definitely not the mission of apologists of the Gospel. Despite this recent breach of prudence, I honestly don’t believe James White would participate in a dialogue session with Roman Catholic clerics. How then did he see clear to organizing friendly dialogue sessions with a Muslim cleric?

I believe Dr. White made a mistake in this case, a rather large one. But nobody’s perfect. We all have spiritual blind spots. We must pray for Dr. White as he deals with the repercussions of his regrettable choice. Unfortunately but predictably, some of the objections to Dr. White’s misjudgment are being posted on the internet in the form of ad hominem attacks.

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” – Ephesians 5:11


Christian Muslim Dialogue Pt.1 | Dr. James White & Dr. Yasir Qadhi

Christian Muslim Dialogue Pt.2 | Dr. James White & Dr. Yasir Qadhi

White’s defense of his dialogues with Yasir Qadhi begins at the 27:50 mark of the video below:
https://www.aomin.org/aoblog/2017/06/19/epiphanius-bodily-assumption-facts-observations-continued-misrepresentations-yasir-qadhi-dialogue/

Catholics, Charismatics, and Pentecostals unite in Rome for week-long celebration

News sources (see far below) are reporting that Catholic Charismatics, evangelical Charismatics, and Pentecostals are gathering in Rome this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, which had its beginnings at Duquesne University in 1967, when the Holy Spirit allegedly fell upon a group of teachers and students.

Fair notice: I’m a “cessationist,” which means I believe the apostolic gifts ended with the apostles. I don’t usually bring up my viewpoint on this secondary difference in deference to my Charismatic and Pentecostal brothers and sisters, but these news reports require a response.

300 Charismatic evangelical and Pentecostal leaders are expected to gather with pope Francis, 50 Catholic bishops, 600 Catholic priests, and 30,000 Catholic Charismatic laypersons from May 31 to June 4 to celebrate the anniversary. The biggest events will be a gathering at the ruins of the ancient Roman Circus Maximus on Saturday, June 3, and a Pentecost mass in St. Peters Square on Sunday, June 4.

Yes, I realize that many non-Charismatic/Pentecostal evangelicals also embrace Rome (e.g., Billy Graham, Chuck Colson), but these shared gifts of the spirit have created an especially strong bond between some Charismatic evangelicals and Pentecostals and Catholic Charismatics. It seems to make no difference that the 50 bishops and 600 priests who attend this event proclaim a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. The important thing is that they manifest the requisite “gifts of the spirit” and so fidelity to biblical doctrine is of no priority. So exactly how does the Holy Spirit indwell Catholic bishops, priests, and laity who proclaim and propagate a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit? It’s puzzling that pope Francis, the alleged Vicar of Christ, hasn’t received the “gifts of the spirit” himself, although he has stated several times that he truly appreciates how the charismatic movement has advanced the cause of ecumenism.

In 2013 it was reported the Catholic Charismatic Renewal had over 160 million followers. I could not find an estimate for the number of Catholic clergy involved but I’m guessing it’s in the tens of thousands.

In Rome, Catholic Charismatic Renewal to celebrate 50 years

Charismatic Catholics arrive in Rome for Spirit-filled week

WCC hosts historic ecumenical meeting on ‘greater oneness in Christ’

Pop Quiz!

pq

Yes, it’s time for a pop-quiz! Please close your books and see if you can answer the following question:

What do the ten people below have in common?

  • Mother Teresa
  • G. K. Chesterton
  • Peter Kreeft
  • Malcolm Muggeridge
  • Thomas Aquinas
  • Thomas a Kempis
  • Blaise Pascal
  • Teresa of Avila
  • Henri Nouwen
  • Thomas Merton

1) If you guessed they were all Roman Catholics you would be correct. And because they were all Roman Catholics (Kreeft is still living) they were all obliged to believe salvation is achieved by sacramental grace (baptism, the eucharist, penance, etc.) and by obeying the Ten Commandments and their church’s rules. But God’s Word proclaims the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Salvation is either by sacraments and merit as these ten believed and defended or it’s by grace through faith, it cannot be both.

2) The other thing these ten folks have in common is some evangelicals refer to them as exemplary Christians and as people evangelicals should emulate.

So I would sincerely like to know how evangelicals, who supposedly believe in salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, could praise and lift up as examples people who believed a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit? Does not compute.

“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” – 2 Corinthians 11:3-4

A Catholic bishop’s favorite growth consultant

On the drive home from work I enjoy listening to sermons from local evangelical pastor, David Crespo,Rick Warren, Kevin William Vann on the radio. David’s messages are very simple and straightforward, and always with practical life applications. Unfortunately, the station hasn’t played David’s sermons the past couple of weeks so I’ve resorted to listening to Al Kresta’s talk show on the local Catholic station. I already listen to Catholic talk radio at work every day for at least one hour, to get the Catholic slant and to keep abreast of what’s going on, so I don’t relish hearing more of the same on the drive home. But there’s no other evangelical preaching on the air at 4:30. Maybe I’ll start bringing the many John MacArthur CDs that I have but haven’t listened to yet for the drive home. Yup, that’s the ticket!

Anyway, I was listening to Kresta the other day and he had a priest as a guest on the show. Sorry, I don’t recall his name or where he was from. This priest said that the churches in his diocese have been experiencing significant drops in attendance so the bishop turned to a famous evangelical pastor with a growing mega-church for advice on how to bring the membership back and even attract new converts. Who was this evangelical pastor? Of course, it was Purpose Driven, Rick Warren. Rick flew out to this diocese and conducted a seminar to help the bishop and his parish priests boost their numbers. I drove down the road shaking my head but I wasn’t at all surprised. Warren has shown many times in the past that he is a very good friend to Rome. Can anyone imagine a Spurgeon or a Lloyd-Jones or a John MacArthur acting as a consultant to a Catholic bishop? Oy vey! Catholicism teaches a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. The only consulting those gentlemen would have done would have been to advise the priests and remaining pew sitters to repent of their sins, accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith, and remove themselves from Roman error. The priest said those in attendance were excited by Warren’s advice and looked forward to putting it into practice.

Warren and many other mega-church pastors bow down to the idol of numbers. It’s all about growing attendance. Is there any place for right doctrine and right salvation theology? Naw, just turn the service into a rock concert and preach a lowest-common-denominator message and they will come! No need for divisive doctrine because “we all just love Jesus!” Isn’t that right, Rick?

Is our goal religious morality or Jesus Christ?

Yesterday I was listening to the 10/11/16 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radiocappy show  (Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) featuring priest, Rick Poblocki, and moderator, Steve Quebral. A Catholic listener called in with concerns about advancing secular liberalism, especially in regards to the expected outcome of the current presidential election, and father Rick responded with the following:

“Catholics, evangelicals, we need each other. Catholics, other Christians of other traditions that feel and see the same way, we’ve got to unite. We’ve got to put behind us the doctrinal differences and stuff because what’s going to happen is that Christ will forge a one church. He prays that they all may be one. It will be forged by a conflagration and a battle; an apocalyptic battle. John Paul II already says, we are in a battle between good and evil and we’re caught between it. What side are we going to take?”

In the quote above, Rick urges evangelicals to drop their doctrinal distinctives. He’s implying that evangelicals must abandon their own doctrines and return to Rome. Rick is simply toeing the party line. For Catholicism, ecumenism and unity have always meant returning to Rome. I agree with Rick that there is a battle going on, but it’s not a battle between religious morality and secular immorality. No, the battle is for men’s souls. The Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone is on one side and everything else – false religion (including Catholicism with its gospel of sacramental grace and merit), secularism, atheism, etc. are on the other side. Our goal is not religious morality but to lead souls to Christ.

Some evangelical pastors and para-church leaders have succumb to Rome’s plea to unite in battle against secularism and are betraying the Gospel and leading the sheep astray.

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help
and rely on horses,
who trust in chariots because they are many
and in horsemen because they are very strong,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel
or consult the Lord!
And yet he is wise and brings disaster;
he does not call back his words,
but will arise against the house of the evildoers
and against the helpers of those who work iniquity.
The Egyptians are man, and not God,
and their horses are flesh, and not spirit.
When the Lord stretches out his hand,
the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall,
and they will all perish together. – Isaiah 31:1-3

Is ecumenism biblical? Should a Christian be involved in the ecumenical movement?

Opposition from without and within

These are unusual times for evangelical Christians who share the Gospel with Romancolson-and-pope Catholics. Not only must they labor to bring the Good News of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone to Catholics, but they must also contend with other evangelicals who embrace Catholicism as a genuine Christian denomination.

Fifty years ago, the vast majority of evangelicals fully understood that the Gospel was not preached in Catholic churches. Unfortunately, through the efforts of men like Billy Graham, Harold Ockenga, Carl Henry, Bill Bright, James Dobson, and Chuck Colson (pictured), doctrinal differences (like, oh, how to be saved for one) were watered down or ignored altogether. Because Catholics spoke about “faith” and “grace,” that was good enough for many ecumenically-minded evangelicals, who saw any resistance to Catholic-evangelical unity as divisive, sectarian, fundamentalist reactionism.

Today, evangelical pastors and Roman Catholic priests share the platform at mega-church events, embracing arm-in-arm as they “praise the Lord” together. Of course, God’s Word tells us there’s no more need for a sacrificial priesthood or human mediators and that salvation cannot be earned by obeying the Ten Commandments as Rome teaches. But I guess none of that matters anymore since the most important thing today is that we all “just love Jesus.”

The Bible says in the later times there will be great falling away within the church and many will embrace Catholicism (1 Timothy 4:1-3) so none of this is surprising.


America’s Pastor, Rick Warren’s comments on Roman Catholicism
https://carm.org/rick-warren-and-catholicism