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:

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!


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

Betraying the Gospel for the sake of “Christian unity”

Evangelical, Nick Hall, and his team are working out the final details of “Together 2016,”TG which will be held tomorrow, Saturday, July 16, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The stated purpose of this ecumenical gathering is to “empower the church and awaken the culture to Jesus.” Hall is expecting one million people to attend the event.

Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic church, has been invited to provide a video message to the crowd. As far as I’m aware, “Together 2016” will be the very first public event organized by evangelical Christians in which a pope has been invited to address the audience.

But for many evangelicals, the “elephant on the National Mall” will be that the pope teaches the Catholic gospel of sacramental grace and merit, as opposed to the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. How do Hall and Co. reconcile the two? They don’t. Like all ecumenically-minded evangelicals, they hear Catholics speak of “Jesus” and “grace” and “faith” and declare, “Close enough.”

Can a person actually be saved through the standard Catholic theology of sacramental grace and obedience to the Ten Commandments and church rules? Yesteryear’s evangelicals answered with a resounding “No!” while many of today’s evangelicals answer, “No need to get hung up on theological details; we all love Jesus and that’s the important thing.” Yet, Pope Francis has declared even atheists will merit Heaven if they follow their consciences and are “good.” But there’s nothing surprising about that. It’s the logical extension of a works gospel. But how does that teaching sit with you, evangelical friend?

The spirit of accommodation, cooperation, compromise, and betrayal prevails in this day, all in the name of Jesus. It’s a strange thing; today’s compromising evangelicals don’t get angry at the pope’s gospel of works, they get angry at those who point it out.

Together 2016: 1M Christians, Francis Chan, Hillsong United, Pope Francis Will Pray for Revival This Saturday