Troubling accommodation, compromise, and betrayal at an SBC church

A few days ago, I was thinking about our one-year (May 2014-June 2015), increasingly troubling stay at a small Southern Baptist church in town and I thought I’d write a short post about the experience.

I’ve referred many times to my very long prodigal “season” away from the Lord after I had become exasperated with the teaching at our first Bible-preaching church. However, the Lord kept calling me back to Him and when we became reconnected with some old Christian friends and they invited us to their evangelical Free Methodist church, I finally returned to the Lord.

Hallelujah!

However, we were prevented from continuing at our friends’ church because of differences involving some important secondary belief issues, so after some searching, we finally settled on a small Southern Baptist church (photo above) about four miles from our house. Our first Sunday in attendance was also the first service for the newly hired pastor; a young guy (35), fresh out of seminary, with lots of enthusiasm for the Lord. I very much appreciated that, in his sermons, he emphasized God’s grace. That was a balm to my soul in comparison to the heavy guilt-trips that were regularly laid upon the members at our first church. Sign me up!

Everything was going fine initially, but then the pastor began to reveal a disturbing fondness for Catholic theology. Here’s some specific examples I can remember:

  • In casual conversation, the pastor said that he desired to set up a men’s discussion group that would bandy about theological topics in the same tradition as English intellectuals, Anglican C.S. Lewis and Roman Catholic G.K. Chesterton. Well, Chesterton was actually of the generation preceding Lewis’s, but his books had a profound effect on Lewis’s openness to ecumenism. The pastor’s penchant for Lewis and, especially, Chesterton, was troubling.
  • A men’s group was subsequently started and the pastor chose “The End of Christendom” (1980) written by Malcolm Muggeridge as our first study material. Muggeridge was a British journalist and a convert to Catholicism who was largely responsible for turning Mother Teresa into an international celebrity. After finishing the Muggeridge book, the pastor began showing segments of Francis Schaeffer’s film series, “How Should We Then Live.” Both materials were inappropriate for a casual, non-academic men’s church group, especially Muggeridge’s book for its Catholic connections. I inquired of the pastor about Muggeridge’s Catholic affiliation, but was brushed off.
  • During one of the men’s get-togethers, the pastor referenced Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) as his “favorite theologian.” Huh? Aquinas is venerated as Catholicism’s premier theologian and his “Scholasticism” (a system of theology and philosophy based on the syncretism of Aristotelian logic and the writings of the early church fathers) was the dominant theological viewpoint of the Catholic church for seven-hundred years. I questioned the pastor on how he could admire Aquinas when the theologian propagated all of the major doctrines of Catholicism (e.g., the priesthood, transubstantiation, the sacrifice of the mass, purgatory, the papacy, indulgences, salvific merit, auricular confession, etc., etc.). Again, I was brushed off.
  • The pastor was also a strong admirer of Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) and frequently referenced his “Pensées.” Pascal was a Catholic, but also a member of the heretical (according to the popes of that era) Jansenist movement.

I liked the pastor personally and I appreciated most of his sermon messages, but all of these accommodations and positive references to Roman Catholicism increasingly troubled me and I began to seriously contemplate leaving the church.

  • The last straw came when, from the pulpit, the pastor cited Peter Kreeft as his “favorite philosopher.” Kreeft is a convert to Catholicism and, as one of that church’s most popular apologists, has written many books promoting the Catholic gospel of sacramental grace and merit. I knew at the moment the pastor recommended Kreeft to the congregation that I had to find a new church home for my wife and I.

We stayed at that church for a year, but, looking back, we should have left sooner than we did. The pastor was so enamored with and so deferential to Roman Catholicism, he would have been more consistent in his beliefs had he just padlocked the doors of his SBC church and told the 30-some adults in the congregation to transfer to the RC Church of the Transfiguration just a half-mile down the road.

The Southern Baptist Convention is a wide umbrella and certainly not all SBC pastors are enmeshed in ecumenical compromise and betrayal of the Gospel the way this young pastor was. Some Southern Baptist pastors and para-church leaders shun unity with Rome, but others, like the names that follow, are not only open to ecumenism with Rome, they even pursue it: Ronnie Floyd, Timothy George, Franklin Graham, Richard Land, Beth Moore, and Rick Warren.

See my previous post here about how the pastor and his deacon friend inadvertently motivated me to begin this blog.

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Another betrayal of the Gospel in the push for “unity”

Justified in Christ: The Doctrines of Peter Martyr Vermigli and John Henry Newman and Their Ecumenical Implications
By Chris Castaldo
Pickwick Publications, 2017, 234 pages

I’m already acquainted with the author of this book, evangelical pastor Chris Castaldo. I’ve reviewed two books he wrote and one he co-wrote previously about Gospel outreach to Roman Catholics (see here, here, and here). I welcomed those efforts because there are very few books dedicated to outreach to Catholics published by major (c)hristian publishers these days. But the books were also disturbing because they came across as a bit too soft on Catholicism. It was as if, in the final analysis, Castaldo was saying to Catholics, “Yes, your church is legitimate to a degree, but evangelicalism is a better way.” Castaldo shares that kind of accommodating and compromising attitude with other notable evangelical pastors and para-church leaders. This new book is even more disturbing as it appears Castaldo is determined to formulate a “middle way” theology on justification that is acceptable to both Catholics and Bible Christians.

There are many irreconcilable differences between Catholicism and Biblical Christianity, but the most important difference is in regards to the doctrine of justification. Martin Luther rightly said that justification is the doctrine on which the church stands or falls.

In brief, Catholics believe they are initially justified by their infant baptism and that they must continue to receive their church’s sacraments in order to receive graces so that they may successfully obey the Ten Commandments and church rules so as to hopefully merit Heaven at the moment of their death. Catholics believe they can become subjectively, intrinsically righteous through the infused grace of the sacraments and the merit of obedience and good works.

In contrast, Bible Christians believe they are justified by repenting of sin and accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. They believe that they become objectively, extrinsically, forensically righteous before God solely because of Jesus Christ’s perfect righteousness that was imputed to them the moment they accepted Him as Savior. Bible Christians believe good works are the fruit (verification) of justification in Christ, not the basis of it.

The two views are diametrically opposed. One is wrong. One is right. They cannot both be right.

In this book (which was actually the author’s doctoral thesis), Castaldo presents two theologians from the past, one an Italian Protestant Reformer, Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499-1562), and the other a famous convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism, John Henry Newman (1801-1890).

Castaldo attempts to find some agreement between the two theologians as a basis for ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and evangelicals. Vermigli taught that the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ was the “formal cause” of justification, however he also taught that God also “accepts and rewards Christian works as a necessary constituent of final justification.” Castaldo labels this as “double-righteousness” or “double-justification.” So Vermigli gave more credence to good works in salvation than Bible Christians would allow.

Over the years, Newman shifted in his theology from an “evangelical” to a high-church Anglican, to a Roman Catholic. Castaldo references Newman’s writing at the time he was an Anglican, when he still allegedly held to the imputation of Christ’s righteousness as a “factor” in justification, while concurrently holding to baptismal regeneration and progressive sanctification as other contributing factors. Later, after he converted to Catholicism, Newman rejected his previous opinions about imputed righteousness and embraced Catholicism’s notion of sacramentally infused grace and subjective, intrinsic righteousness.

I’m only a Theology 101 type of guy and I don’t normally seek out theology texts that are loaded with Latin phrases to impress academicians like this book does, but I am well-versed in the Protestant-Catholic debate over justification and was able to follow Castaldo’s arguments pretty well. The attempt to blaze some kind of middle-road between evangelicalism’s and Catholicism’s views on justification using Vermigli and pre-Catholic Newman falls totally flat and the differences remain.

It’s sad that Judas evangelicals like Castaldo seek to advance unity with Rome through accommodation and compromise of the Gospel of grace. In the acknowledgements, the author credits Timothy George, one of the principals of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT), as a strong supporter of this effort as well as three Roman Catholic priests. Save your time and your money.

An accommodation here, a compromise there, aka “a little leaven leavens the whole lump”

Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) has a lengthy roster of televangelists in its stable, but the only one who I would recommend to anyone is Charles Stanley. Ol’ Charles faithfully teaches the Gospel of grace year after year. My wife and I recently began using his monthly devotions booklet as part of our daily devotions time and that’s working out just fine.

The other day, I received a complimentary, 2019 calendar booklet from Stanley’s “In Touch Ministries” featuring full-page color photographs that were taken by Stanley himself in Italy.  The month of October features the photo above with the caption, “At a monastery in San Gimignano, an outdoor retreat with a fresco depicting two monks offers a peaceful place to take a few moments in prayer. When we reflect on the examples of the people of faith who’ve gone before us, we find encouragement to continue on our Christian path, no matter how difficult.” Huh? Monks? Monastery? People of faith? Which faith? Three other photos in the booklet display Roman Catholic churches as their subjects and another photo features the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which is the free standing bell tower of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary in Pisa, Italy.

At NONE of the religious sites featured in the five photographs is the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone preached. Rather, the Roman Catholic false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit is preached. Doesn’t Stanley know this? Isn’t he aware of the Reformation?

Catholicism has not changed any of its main doctrines since the time of the early Reformers. So then, why would a preacher of the Gospel, like Stanley, include five photos of Catholic religious buildings in a publication sent to his evangelical audience?

We’re seeing this kind of accommodation and compromise with ecumenism from many “good, solid” pastors and para-church leaders these days, with such examples as Stephen J. Nichols citing Jesuit co-founder, Francis Xavier, as a “hero of the faith,” John MacArthur favorably quoting G.K. Chesterton in a recent book, the late R.C. Sproul’s penchant for Thomas Aquinas, Carl R. Trueman’s regular contributions to the Catholic ecumenical journal, First Things, and the many, many evangelical pastors who quote Universalist, C.S. Lewis, in their sermons.

I’m not condemning Stanley or these other men, but there’s something very insidious about these kinds of “small” accommodations and compromises. Again, what would prompt a faithful preacher of the Gospel to send out a booklet in which five of the twelve photos feature buildings belonging to a church that preaches a false gospel? What would an uninformed and undiscerning Christian conclude from the inclusion of these photos and their very complimentary captions? Most would mistakenly conclude that Roman Catholicism teaches the same Gospel that Stanley preaches, which is definitely not the case.

Thirty years ago, a conservative evangelical ministry such as “In Touch” would have known better than to send out a booklet with photographs like this. Next year, is Stanley going to send out a calendar booklet with photos of the magnificent Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah and the impressive new Watchtower Society Headquarters in Upstate New York?

Spiritual blindness abounds in the church these days, my friends.

Rome: Opponent or Partner?

The Rochester/Monroe County library system only has a small number of books which critically examine Roman Catholicism. I thought that this volume, which was published during the final year of Vatican II, might be an interesting historical example of mainline Protestant attitudes towards “dialogue” with post-conciliar Rome.

Rome: Opponent or Partner?
By Rudolf J. Ehrlich
The Westminster Press, 1965, 296 pages

At its Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the Roman Catholic church declared that it would be changing direction with regards to Protestantism. Militant opposition and confrontation would be replaced by rapprochement and ecumenical dialogue towards the goal of eventual reunification.

The results of the council were met with great enthusiasm by many Protestants. In this book, published during the last year of the council, Church of Scotland pastor and theologian, Rudolf J. Ehrlich, examines the major differences between Rome and Protestants (although most of the discussion is focused on justification) and ponders whether unity is a realistic possibility.

Ehrlich begins by examining the writings of Catholic theologian, Louis Bouyer (1913-2004), who in his pre-Vatican II book, “The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism” (1956), defended the Tridentine Catholic gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit and attacked the Biblical Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone that had been recovered by the Reformers.

In brief, Catholicism teaches that its sacraments infuse grace into the supplicants soul, giving them the ability to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and to become increasingly intrinsically/subjectively holy so as to hopefully merit Heaven at the moment of their death. Biblical Christianity teaches man is totally depraved, but by repenting of sin and trusting in Jesus Christ as their Savior, Jesus’ perfect rightousness is imputed to a believer. They are extrinsically/objectively righteous because of Christ. A genuine believer will then strive to follow the Lord in obedience, albeit imperfectly. A Christians’ good works won’t save them, but are the fruit of their faith in Christ.

Throughout his presentation, Ehrlich cites “Neo-Orthodox” Protestant theologian, Karl Barth (1886-1968), as the “true heir of the Reformation,” which is problematic from a conservative evangelical point of view. More on that later.

The author then presents the writings of Catholic theologian, Hans Küng (1928- ), who takes a much more conciliatory approach to Protestant belief than Bouyer. He argues that the Reformers and the Council of Trent basically had the same view on justification, but they approached it from different paradigms. Ehrlich politely concludes that Küng is employing sophistry and that the issue of justification still divides Roman Catholics and Protestants.

Additional thoughts:

  • Ehrlich’s Church of Scotland was already drifting into modernism when this book was written. Fifty-years later, we wonder if the genuine Gospel is preached in any of its churches? John Knox would grieve if he could see the Church of Scotland today.
  • Swiss theologian, Karl Barth, was considered at the time of this book’s writing a conservative in comparison to most European Protestant theologians, but he was a Universalist and disagreed with Biblical inerrancy.
  • Liberal theologian-priest, Hans Küng, was a rising star in Catholicism before he became a persona non grata within the church in the late-1960s when he publicly challenged the notion of papal infallibility.
  • In answer to the book’s title, Ehrlich identifies post-Vatican II Catholicism as a Christian entity and the “partner” of Protestantism. However, he also concludes that post-conciliar Rome’s teaching on justification via sacraments and merit is the same as was propagated at Trent and is anti-Biblical. So if Rome still preaches a different gospel, how can it be a partner of Gospel-preaching churches? It’s frustrating to have the irreconcilable issue of justification/salvation sidestepped in the pursuit of false unity. Today, we have people like Geisler, Zacharias, Strobel, and Lane Craig holding to the same impossibly dichotomous view.
  • This book was a difficult read with much more theological jargon than I’m comfortable with. There is also a plethora of Latin quotations with no translation, which I view as a blatant form of intellectual snobbery. Argh!

Catholic apologist claims the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone cannot be found in the Bible

Whenever compromising evangelicals and Roman Catholics gather together for ecumenical events and projects, everyone is accommodating and polite, and doctrinal distinctives are swept under the rug in the interest of fostering a spirit of cordiality and false unity. In marked contrast to these mutual admiration meetings and projects, are Roman Catholic apologists who are strongly committed to promoting and defending their religious institution and its false gospel and have no qualms about disparaging evangelicals and the Gospel of grace.

Let’s take a look at just one recent example. The other day, I was listening to the 7/25/18 podcast of the “Called to Communion” Catholic talk radio show featuring moderator, Tom Price, and host, David Anders (photo above). The stated purpose of the show is to convince Protestants to convert to Catholicism.

At the 12:00 mark, Teresa, a Catholic from Louisville, Kentucky, called in with a concern. She relates that her daughter became involved with the evangelical para-church organization, Campus Crusade for Christ (now known as “Cru”), when she attended college. While Teresa is relieved that her daughter is “still a very committed Christian,” she is bothered because her daughter “doesn’t agree with some of the Catholic teachings, one of which is transubstantiation.”

Anders then spends the next eight minutes defining and defending the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation; the belief that priests change bread wafers and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ.

At the 20:28 mark, Anders turns from his defense of transubstantiation to attacking the Gospel of grace and evangelicalism:

“Is (transubstantiation) the only mystery we’re asked to believe in the Christian faith? I guarantee you Campus Crusade asks of their adherents to believe in all kinds of mysteries. None is more important to Campus Crusade than the belief that if a person entrusts their life to Christ and exercises an act of faith, that Jesus has forgiven their sins and that they’re saved by faith alone. That’s a characteristic doctrine of Campus Crusade for Christ, that a transaction takes place in the eternal order and that person can be assured eternally of their salvation with Christ. Now that’s a very un-Biblical doctrine. Nowhere in the Bible is that doctrine taught. Okay? And the doctrine of the eucharist is much more Biblical than the Campus Crusade doctrine on conversion.”

Catholic apologist, David Anders, forthrightly acknowledges that the Gospel that is proclaimed by Campus Crusade, the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, is NOT the gospel of Catholicism, whereby salvation is allegedly merited via sacramental grace and good works.

It should be noted that Bill Bright (d. 2003), the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, was an enthusiastic supporter of ecumenism with Rome and was one of the charter signatories of the 1994 ecumenical “Evangelical and Catholics Together” document.

Bill Bright allowed himself to become a dupe for Rome, a “polezni durak,” a useful fool. While Bright, Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, and other Judas evangelicals were busy extending olive branches to Rome, David Anders and other Catholic apologists have been busy ridiculing evangelicals and the Gospel of grace and trying to convert Protestants to Catholicism.

Contrary to Anders’ fallacious and spiritually deadly claim, the Bible DOES teach that a person is saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

See the article below for many more examples:

Verses Showing Justification by Faith
https://carm.org/verses-showing-justification-by-faith

Pop-evangelicalism’s sorry infatuation with Catholic contemplative prayer

In her latest book, “Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again” (June, 2018), popular liberal (c)hristian millennial, Rachel Held Evans, cites the Catholic practices of “Lectio Divina” and “Ignatian Meditation” as important rituals in her “spiritual life.” Held Evans is not alone. Many pop-evangelicals have recommended or sponsored “Lectio Divina,” “Ignatian Meditation,” or some other form of Catholic “contemplative spirituality,” including Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, Beth Moore, Tim Keller, and Priscilla Shirer.

If you’re out of the pop-evangelical loop, you might be wondering what exactly are “Lectio Divina” and “Ignatian Meditation”? Let’s take a brief look:

Lectio Divina (Latin for “Divine Reading”) is a monastic, contemplative practice with roots going back to the 6th century and “saint” Benedict (above photo, left). The basic steps of Lectio Divina are as follows:

  • Read – Read a very short passage of Scripture
  • Meditate – Ruminate deeply upon the text, seeking to take from it what God wants to teach.
  • Pray – By gently repeating a “prayer word” or brief phrase (aka “centering prayer” aka “mantra”) over and over, leave thinking aside (my italics) and communicate with God on a mystical level.
  • Contemplate – Listen to God as He speaks with a still small voice and become gradually transformed from within.

Ignatian Meditation is a contemplative practice developed in the 16th Century by founder of the Jesuits, “saint” Ignatius of Loyola. The steps of Ignatian Meditation include:

  • Prepare for the meditation by becoming aware of the presence of God, asking for God’s help to pray well.
  • Visualize in-depth the mystery (e.g., a scene from one of the Gospels) on which you are meditating in your imagination.
  • Considerations – Stop and ponder any particular thought that strikes you during the meditation, for as long as necessary.
  • Affections – Either during or after the considerations, pause to experience any emotions that may result. These emotions, called “affections,” take priority over the considerations. (my italics)
  • Resolutions – You may wish to form some resolution as a result of the affections. In this way, you take advantage of the inclination of your will that has been produced through meditation as an opportunity to clarify and commit yourself to the actions that should follow.

We see that in both methods, the supplicant is encouraged to experience in their mind, an altered “mystical” state, in the first case through the repetition of a prayer mantra, in the second case through visualization and the contemplation of the imagined “sights, sounds, tastes, smells, movement, and tactility” of specific scenes from the Gospels. This kind of visualization and sensory imagination is known as “affective meditation.”

Through either method, the supplicant seeks an experience, a “spiritual high,” that is beyond normal knowledge and cognizance.

Prior to accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1983, I dabbled in Eastern spirituality including the practice of Yoga and Transcendental Meditation (TM). Cardiologist, Herbert Benson, brought the “benefits” of Hindu guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s (above photo, right) transcendental meditation to the American masses via his book, “The Relaxation Response”Capture11 (1975). By following Benson’s simple instructions, a practitioner was able to quickly learn, through the use of a simple, repetitive mantra, to enter a meditative state; an altered state of consciousness. Once learned, it’s like riding a bike. Forty years later, I am still able to consciously elicit the meditative/relaxation response in my brain in only a matter of minutes or even seconds. Even talking or writing about the phenomenon triggers a partial response.

What are the spiritual benefits of Lectio Divina and Ignatian Meditation? I believe we should be asking about the dangers rather than any alleged benefits. Practitioners indulge in these meditative experiences to feel amazingly pleasant sensations, both physical and psychological, but they have nothing to do with a relationship with Almighty God based upon faith in Jesus Christ and His Word. The practice of contemplative prayer is a “spiritual” drug and practitioners are in a sense, junkies. God’s Word admonishes us not to chase after mystical experiences and sensualism, but to be sober and vigilant.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8

“So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8

Contemplative prayer is an ecumenical tool, drawing unwary evangelicals away from true knowledge of God through His Word and closer to Roman Catholicism and its false gospel of sacramental grace and merit with its heavy emphasis on mysticism and experientialism. By repressing their reason and mental focus and surrendering themselves to sensualism, undiscerning evangelicals are inviting calamity into their lives and into the church.

Main references:

http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/what-lectio-divina

https://www.osv.com/RSS/365DaysToMercy/TabId/2752/ArtMID/21013/ArticleID/10344/What-Is-Ignatian-Meditation.aspx

The Lighthouse Trails Research Project discernment ministry, link below, specializes in exposing pop-evangelicalism’s dalliance with Catholic contemplative prayer and is a great resource, although I do not endorse all of their views in regards to some secondary beliefs.

https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com

For a review of the introduction to “Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again” by Rachel Held Evans, see SlimJim’s post here.

A pope venerated during an evangelical worship service and nobody says a word?

I’ve mentioned before that my wife and I are both big ol’ square pegs when it comes to evangelical church membership. We’re too “liberal” for flag-waving fundamentalist churches where we started out as new believers decades ago, and too “conservative” for progressive mega-churches, which are generally well-on-the-way to ecumenical compromise and betrayal.

Two-and-a-half-years ago, we began attending a large non-denominational church, which leans much more towards a contemporary than a traditional worship-style, but, and this is huge for us, politics are never mentioned from the pulpit and there have been no overtures toward Rome. Phew! Until now. What?!?!

A couple of Sundays ago, we were sitting in the “sanctuary” and listening to the pastor finish a fine sermon on resting in the Lord. Immediately after the sermon, the worship band came out and performed a song called “Rest In You.” As the band played, a video was displayed in the background, which included both exterior and interior shots of what would clearly be manifested to be a Roman Catholic church. The video scenes included among other things:

  • A statue of a smiling pope wearing the three-tiered papal tiara (photos above and below)
  • Votive candles being lit (votive candles are often used in connection with prayers to Mary and the “saints”)
  • Statues of unidentified Catholic saints
  • A statue of Jesus exposing his “sacred heart”
  • The church interior showing the Catholic altar

The above images looped through the video twice while my wife and I sat there with our mouths wide open in disbelief. Watch the very same 5-minute video for yourself far below.

We went home and composed a letter to the pastor expressing our deep dismay and emailed it Monday. The pastor responded the next day. I don’t wish to publish the details of our private correspondence other than to say we were pleased with the pastor’s gracious reply.

But one has to ask oneself, how does a big evangelical church with a large staff and many eyes permit something like that video to slip through? C’mon! A statue of a pope?!?!?! Forty years ago, if such a video had been shown at an evangelical church service, the entire congregation would have rightly demanded an explanation from the elder board. But in this era of ecumenism and growing doctrinal ignorance, at a church with an average Sunday attendance of over 2000, we were told we were the only ones who raised a concern.

Capture27

I did a little research and found out the song, “Rest In You,” and the accompanying video were created by a now-defunct band named All Sons & Daughters, which was led by Leslie Anne Jordan and David Alan Leonard, the former worship co-leaders at Journey Church in Franklin, Tennessee. Their final album, “Poets & Saints” (2016), includes the song in question as well as “You Are Love & Love Alone,” which the band claimed was inspired by Catholic nun and saint, Thérèse of Lisieux. An article (see here) from a Catholic news source triumphantly cites “Poets & Saints” as a “Protestant album” that “finds some very Catholic inspiration.”

The Gospel is getting very muddied out there, brothers and sisters! Why don’t these accommodating and compromising Judas ecumenical evangelical ministers just padlock their church’s doors and send everyone a mile down the road to the local Catholic church?

“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” – Luke 18:8

 

“You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!” – Galatians 5:7-12

Rampant ecumenism in the news

Accommodation, compromise, and tolerance are sometimes good things, but not in connection with fidelity to the Gospel. The four recent news stories below illustrate how Protestants are being pulled deeper and deeper into the ecumenical vortex.

Emboldened by pope Francis’ lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees, cardinal Reinhard Marx (photo left) and other liberal German prelates announced a couple of months ago that they were preparing to allow communion to Lutheran spouses of Roman Catholics. Frazzled conservative bishops sent a letter of objection to the Vatican. Today, Marx and others will meet with archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to discuss the advisability of intercommunion with Protestants at this time. Make no mistake, Francis would gladly welcome intercommunion with Protestants, but it may be too much, too soon with the controversy still raging over his lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees. Stay tuned.

Personally, I have absolutely no desire to partake in the anti-Biblical sacrifice of the mass or to receive the allegedly transubstantiated Jesus wafer. The Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone is not preached in Catholic churches. If any Roman Catholics are saved, they are saved in spite of their church, not because of it. Roman Catholics are a mission field, but I’m sure there are many Judas evangelicals who would gladly partake of the Jesus wafer from a Catholic priest.

“Evangelical,” Nick Hall (photo middle with pope Francis), brokered the Together 2016 ecumenical “happening” in July 2016 in Washington D.C., which featured a video greeting from pope Francis along with speeches from unabashed ecumenists like Ravi Zacharias, Francis Chan, and Ronnie Floyd. Catholic Matt Maher was one of the featured musical performers. Hall is planning another one of his many ecumenical “Pulse” events for St. Paul-Minneapolis on Friday, May 18th, which has the enthusiastic support of the local Catholic diocese (see article). Hillsong Young & Free will be one of the performers. Hall is also planning the Together 2018 ecumenical “happening” this coming October 20-21 at Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. Scheduled speakers include Zacharias, and TBN regulars, Priscilla Shirer, Tony Evans, Brian Houston, and Banning Liebscher from the aberrant Bethel Church of Redding, California, along with music from Hillsong United and Jesus Culture from Bethel Church. Will pope Francis also be sending a message to Together 2018?

Andy Stanley (photo right) ranks right up there with Bill Hybels and Rick Warren as a pioneer of the burgeoning seeker-sensitive, mega-church movement. Right doctrine is not only expendable in the eyes of the church-growth guys, it’s seen as a negative. I may disagree with my blood-bought, born-again brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ over doctrinal secondaries, but we are united in the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Messrs. Stanley, Hybels, Warren, and their disciples are so antagonistic toward right doctrine in the cause of false unity that just about anyone who names the name of Christ is fine with them, including the Gospel-defying pope of Rome.

Pope Francis will be visiting the headquarters of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland on June 21st to participate in the commemoration the 70th anniversary of that organization. None of the 348 denominations affiliated with the WCC preach the Gospel any longer. The Roman Catholic church is not a member of the WCC but the two entities maintain warm relations.

National Day of Prayer?

Next Thursday, May 3rd, is the annual National Day of Prayer, so I thought it would be appropriate to trot out the archived post below.

The National Day of Prayer advances the causes of ecumenism and Civil Religion (see here), NOT the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Please read the rest via National Day of Prayer?

Quasimodo pleads for “Sanctuary,” but finds none at Notre Dame

As I’ve related several times before, I had walked away from the Lord for a very long “season” after we left our first church in 1991. But the Lord is merciful and patient beyond measure and kept drawing me back to Him. Toward the end of that pitiful “journey,” my wife had reconnected with old friends, an evangelical Christian couple from our old neighborhood. They invited us to their church for Sunday worship four years ago and it was at that service that I returned to my Abba Father who had been watchfully and lovingly waiting for His prodigal son. But we didn’t consider attending our friends’ church following that Sunday because it upholds several secondary doctrines that we don’t believe are Biblical, which I mention in all humility.

We have spent a lot of time with this sweet couple over the last four years: sharing meals at our homes and at restaurants, traveling, seeing movies, visiting each other during sickness, and just hanging out together. They love the Lord and try to serve Him with their lives. However, one of the things that we don’t see eye to eye on is in regards to ecumenism. They are of a viewpoint that Roman Catholicism is a Christian entity and that it preaches the genuine Gospel. Argh! I’m sure this is what they unfortunately receive from the pulpit of their church. We have had many brief, polite discussions about this, but they attribute our “attitude” to being disgruntled, former members. No, Rome’s gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit is NOT the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through in Jesus Christ alone. Despite what Billy Graham and other ecumenists say, it’s impossible to fit the square Roman peg through the round Gospel hole. Our discussions on this issue have been brief and polite, but I’ve noticed their eyes tend to glaze over when we present our arguments.

Last Saturday, we went out to dinner with this couple at an Italian eatery (linguini and red clam sauce is one of my go-to dishes) and then attended a local high school production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”* The musical dramatization is based on Victor Hugo’s famous 1831 novel. Hugo (1802-1885) was a French politician and one of country’s most celebrated writers. He was a deist and strongly anti-clerical and anti-Catholic. The villain of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is the pathologically conflicted character, Archdeacon Claude Frollo, who represents the rigid, legalistic religiosity that Hugo abhorred. Is there a sadder figure in fiction than the forlorn hunchback, Quasimodo,** rejected by all? Too bad Hugo did not know the Lord.

We all enjoyed the show. The high school kids put on a tremendous performance far beyond their years. As we were all riding home in the car together, I half-jokingly mentioned that the moral of the play was never to trust a priest. Everyone shared a good guffaw, but then the wife friend commented with something to the effect of, “It’s just too bad the good priests have to deal with all the bad publicity from the bad-apple pedophiles.”

Huh? Good priests? Again and again we encounter this unscriptural understanding from our friends. Over and over. Patience, Lord, patience.

My wife quickly responded by saying that, according to Scripture, there is no longer any need for priests or sacrifice.

[Crickets]

That was the end of that particular exchange, but the debate is never-ending as evangelicals and evangelicalism continue to march onward toward Rome.

“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” – Hebrews 10:11-14

*Notre Dame in Paris is probably the second-most famous Catholic church in the world after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Many Americans don’t know that “Notre Dame” means “Our Lady.”

**The GIF clip above shows Charles Laughton as Quasimodo in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,”  RKO Radio Pictures, 1939. The name, Quasimodo, comes from a Latin phrase, “quasi modo,” which translates as, “Almost merely” or “Merely almost.” The name refers to Quasimodo’s several deformities and that he supposedly “almost” looked like a human or was an approximation of a human. The meaning “half-formed” isn’t correct, but that’s the right idea. Society has gone backwards in many respects recently, but at least there is much more respect shown to those with disabilities and disfigurements. Quasimodo, you are not alone! We are all spiritually disabled and disfigured by sin and we all, every single one of us, need salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Jesus Christ is REAL sanctuary for sinners!!! Why won’t you repent of your sins and trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior today? What are you waiting for?