A couple of weeks ago, there were multiple headlines focusing on U.S. Senator, Dianne Feinstein’s grilling of President Trump’s nominee to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Notre Dame professor, Amy Coney Barrett, regarding her religious beliefs. The news reports said Barrett is an active member of the Catholic Charismatic Movement and Feinstein was worried that the nominee’s religious views precluded her from supporting any portion of the Democratic National Party’s platform. That’s a very fair assumption on Senator Feinstein’s part, but religious tests are supposedly verboten in the public sector and most of the private sector.
I didn’t pay too much attention to the story initially, but yesterday I decided to do a little research on Professor Barrett’s beliefs. I found that not only is she a charismatic Catholic, she’s also a member of a tightly-controlled charismatic community called “People of Praise.” This group was founded in 1971 and is described as an “independent Christian interdenominational charismatic “covenant community” with no ecclesial affiliation,” although approximately 90% of the 3000 members are Roman Catholic. One of the main purposes of the group is to promote ecumenism between the Catholic church and the Protestant “faith communities” (see articles below).
Catholic charismatics reach out in fellowship to Pentecostals and evangelical charismatics based on their shared experiences involving the gifts of the spirit, including prophecy, glossolalia or speaking in tongues, and healing (full disclosure: I personally believe the apostolic sign gifts ended with the apostles). But what do Catholic charismatics like Barrett believe that distinguishes them from evangelicals? If Barrett is a faithful Catholic, as she claims to be, she must believe the following:
- Baptism washes away original sin.
- Priests turn bread wafers and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ and (h)e is offered as a sacrifice for sins hundreds of thousands of times daily at Catholic masses.
- Priests forgive sins in the confessional in persona Christi.
- Mary is the sinner’s advocate and mediatrix and all of God’s grace’s flow through her. Thousands of other dead “saints” canonized by the church can also be prayed to as spiritual intercessors.
- Purgatory is a spiritual way station where the stain of minor sins and any remaining temporal punishment for mortal sins forgiven in the confessional are cleansed away. Time in purgatory can be lessened via church-prescribed indulgences.
- The pope is infallible in guiding the church in all matters of faith and morals.
- Most importantly, Catholicism teaches salvation is attained by receiving grace from the church’s sacraments so that the supplicant may avoid sin so as to remain in a “state of grace” and merit Heaven at the moment of death. That is definitely NOT the Gospel.
Aside from the irreconcilable doctrinal differences between Rome and Scripture, I’m also very leery of any and all “covenant communities,” which try to replicate the circumstances in Acts 2:42-47. The potential for abuse is extreme.
Catholic charismatics like Barrett praise the Lord with gusto and refer often to “grace,” “faith,” and Jesus their “Savior,” but behind the veneer is their devotion to the Catholic church’s complicated works religious system, which is dependent on participating in the sacraments and “cooperating with grace” by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!). The gospel that Barrett and other Catholic charismatics adhere to is NOT the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Pope Francis has lavished great praise on Catholic charismatics for building a bridge of experientialism between Catholics and evangelicals. See here. Professor Barrett and People of Praise have devoted themselves to the cause of uniting all (c)hristians under Rome’s banner.
It’s unfortunate Ms. Barrett was scrutinized by Senators Feinstein, Al Franken, and Dick Durbin for her religious beliefs, but she needs to forsake her religion and accept Jesus Christ as her Savior by faith alone.
“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” – Romans 10:1-3
People of Praise – Wikipedia article:
People of Praise official website:
Below, an interesting snippet from Barrett’s nomination hearing:
Senator Dick Durbin: There are many people who might characterize themselves (as) orthodox Catholics who now question whether pope Francis is an orthodox Catholic. I happen to think he’s a pretty good Catholic.
Barrett: I agree with you.
SDD: Good. That’s good common ground for us to start with.