Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 18, 2016 and has been revised.
Tune into Christian radio for the day and you’re bound to hear a quote or two from C.S. Lewis. Sit in a pew at an evangelical church on Sunday and there’s a very good chance the pastor will quote Lewis during his sermon. But Lewis held many beliefs that were contrary to Gospel Christianity. Why then this infatuation with Lewis among evangelicals? There’s a certain degree of intellectual snobbery in connection with name-dropping the Oxford professor that appeals to some. Others just follow along because quoting Lewis seems to be “the thing to do.” See here for my previous review of “Mere Christianity” and why Lewis’ theology is very problematic for evangelicals.
Why keep banging the drum regarding the problems with C.S. Lewis? Because yesterday I heard Lewis fawningly quoted on Catholic talk radio (argh!) and I also ran across this informative 3-minute video critique of Lewis from No Compromise Radio. Evangelical pastors need to STOP WITH THE C.S. LEWIS QUOTES!
Billy Graham: Prayer, Politics, Power Directed by Sara Colt and written by Keven Mcalester American Experience Series, PBS, 2021, 1:51:41
Billy Graham (1918-2018) is widely revered and beloved as the “greatest” Christian evangelist of the 20th Century. Any criticism of Graham is considered blasphemy by most evangelicals, but I’m definitely NOT a fan for several reasons that will be detailed below.
“Billy Graham: Prayer, Politics, Power” first aired on PBS on May 17th. This biographical documentary spans Graham’s entire life. In 1944, Graham began his career as an evangelist affiliated with Youth for Christ. He eventually branched out on his own and his 1949 Los Angeles tent crusade received a tremendous boost from Roman Catholic media mogul, William Randolph Hearst, who ordered his newspaper editors to “Puff Graham.” Graham alienated his fundamentalist supporters when he ignominiously accepted the backing of liberal clergymen in organizing his 1957 New York City crusade, part of a calculated strategy by Graham and allies, Carl Henry and Harold Ockenga, to create a more ecumenical “New Evangelicalism” movement. Graham eventually enlisted the support of local Roman Catholic bishops in organizing his crusades. Catholics who came forward at Graham’s crusades were referred back to Catholic workers who counseled the seekers that their acceptance of Christ was only a reaffirmation of their infant baptism and confirmation.
To further increase his popularity and influence, Graham forged a close relationship with President Dwight Eisenhower. At the height of the Cold War standoff with atheist Russia, Graham influenced Eisenhower to meld patriotism and religion by directing that “In God We Trust” be stamped on currency and that “…under God” be inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance. American Civil Religion was/is antithetical to Jesus Christ and genuine Christianity because it presents God as a nebulous “Supreme Being” that’s palatable to all American religionists – Catholics, nominal “Protestants,” Muslims, Hindus, Jews, etc. It was the glue that bound patriotic Americans together in the face of advancing Soviet communism. Even today with the steady rise of atheism, Americans of all religious persuasions still join together at ball games and other public events and sing, “God Bless America.” Graham would go on to have an even closer relationship with another president, Richard Nixon, but would afterwards distance himself from politics following the ignominy of the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s resignation. However, Graham’s hobnobbing with presidents set the table for the Christian nationalists who followed, including Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.
Graham began drifting into Universalism in the mid-1970s. At a September 1977 interview session with McCall’s magazine journalist, James Michael Beam, Graham candidly revealed that he no longer believed people in foreign lands who had not heard the Gospel were going to hell. Incredulous? Hear Graham for yourself below in this 1:30 video snippet from 1997 tell “positivity gospel” propagator, Robert Schuller, that he believed all religions and even atheism were legitimate pathways to God.
I appreciated this PBS documentary for its critical examination of Billy Graham. Yes, many souls trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior through Graham’s ministry, however, Graham had several major flaws, including his strong desire for popularity, prestige, and political influence, his trailblazing propagation of ecumenism with Roman Catholicism, and his drift into Universalism. After trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior and leaving Roman Catholicism and its false salvation system of sacramental grace and merit in the early-1980s, I was shocked to discover that Billy Graham, evangelicalism’s favorite son, fully endorsed the Roman Catholic church with its false gospel as a Christian entity. Graham betrayed ex-Catholic evangelicals and Roman Catholics who needed to hear the genuine Gospel. The legacy of Billy Graham is that of a beloved evangelist who actually undermined and betrayed the Gospel on multiple levels. It’s not surprising that Satan would use Graham’s lust for numbers and popularity to subvert the Gospel.
See the PBS Graham documentary for a limited time here.
Postscript: Influential evangelical pastor, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, declined to support Billy Graham and his crusades in the U.K. because of Graham’s ecumenism with liberal, nominal “Protestant” Bible-deniers and Roman Catholic prelates. Lloyd-Jones also objected to Graham’s use of “decisionism” (i.e., the use of the “sinner’s prayer” to affect conversions). Millions of people who attended Graham’s crusades undoubtedly had false conversion experiences based on coming forward at Graham’s invitations without true repentance.
Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. The post below was originally published back on April 15, 2016, but has been revised to reflect the upcoming 2021 National Day of Prayer.
The National Day of Prayer is coming up next week on Thursday, May 6th. Back in 1952, during the Korean War and Red Scare and in response to a groundswell of support sparked by a young Billy Graham, President Harry Truman signed into law the bill which mandated that an annual day of prayer be observed throughout the nation. The observance day was later fixed as the first Thursday in May. On this day, people of all religious faiths in the United States are called upon to pray for the nation and its leaders. Many born-again followers of Jesus Christ will join in “prayer” with Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, New Agers, and followers of various aberrant “christian” denominations and sects including Roman Catholicism and Mormonism.
Many evangelical Christians see participation in the National Day of Prayer as a good thing. After all, doesn’t God’s Word instruct us to pray for the authorities over us, “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)? But the National Day of Prayer also has some critics within evangelicalism, including myself.
The National Day of Prayer is an event that promotes American civil religion (see here), a conflation of religion and American patriotism. Christians should never join with unbelievers in spiritual endeavors. God’s Word is explicitly clear on this:
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.'” – 2 Corinthians 6:14-17
“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.” – Ephesians 5:11
“…holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” – 2 Timothy 3:5
Jesus proclaimed that He is the ONLY way to salvation. That’s definitely not a popular message in our post-modern era of cooperation, pluralism, tolerance, inclusiveness, and relativism. But Christians should NOT join with religious unbelievers as they pray to their false deities. That is cooperation with idolatry. Yes, we Christians must pray for our country’s leaders so that the Gospel can continue to be preached unhindered throughout this land, but we cannot join with religious unbelievers in this ministry.
Some Christian supporters of the National Day of Prayer argue that the event can be used as an evangelism tool, however, compromise works both ways. Cooperation and compromise with unbelief always leads to betrayal of the Gospel. The Old Testament is largely a record of the disastrous consequences of God’s people cooperating with idolatry.
In closing, I would ask born-again believers who regularly read God’s Word to try to imagine the Lord, Jesus Christ, or even the Apostle Paul, joining with the pagan religionists of 1st-century Palestine, Mesopotamia, and Asia Minor in ecumenical prayer. The notion is beyond preposterous and yet many followers of Christ will enthusiastically join with religious unbelievers in the National Day of Prayer. For many evangelicals, shared national citizenship and religious-tinged, patriotic fervor take precedence over fidelity to the Gospel. The pastor of the Southern Baptist church we previously attended encouraged participation in the National Day of Prayer, which was one of several warning signs that we were worshiping at the wrong place. This is pretty cut and dry, folks. The fact that the National Day of Prayer is so popular with American evangelicals is another example of the lack of discernment when it comes to ecumenism and “interreligious” cooperation.
“The Church of Christ is continually represented under the figure of an army; yet its Captain is the Prince of Peace; its object is the establishment of peace, and its soldiers are men of a peaceful disposition. The spirit of war is at the extremely opposite point to the spirit of the gospel. Yet nevertheless, the church on earth has, and until the second advent must be, the church militant, the church armed, the church warring, the church conquering. And how is this? It is the very order of things that so it must be. Truth could not be truth in this world if it were not a warring thing, and we should at once suspect that it were not true if error were friends with it. The spotless purity of truth must always be at war with the blackness of heresy and lies.” – Charles H. Spurgeon
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.
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
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
(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
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
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).
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.
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.
Roman Catholicism: Evangelical Protestants Analyze What Divides and Unites Us John Armstrong, General Editor Moody Bible Institute, 1994, 345 pp.
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.
One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church – Thomas J. Nettles
How Did the Church in Rome Become Roman Catholicism – D. Clair Davis
What Really Caused the Great Divide? – W. Robert Godfrey
Roman Catholic Theology Today – Robert B. Strimple
Mary, the Saints, and Sacerdotalism – S. Lewis Johnson
Is Spirituality Enough? Differing Models for Living – Donald G. Bloesch
Unhelpful Antagonism and Unhealthy Courtesy – Harold O.J. Brown
Evangelical and Catholic Cooperation in the Public Arena – Ronald Nash
What Shall We Make of Ecumenism? – Alister E. McGrath
No Place Like Rome? Why Are Evangelicals Joining the Catholic Church? – Kim Riddlebarger
What Still Keeps Us Apart? – Michael S. Horton
Did I Really Leave the Holy Catholic Church? The Journey into Evangelical Faith and Church Experience – William Webster
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.