Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads and Granddads out there!

I’m grateful for my Dad who passed away two years ago. Our relationship was a mixed bag as is the case with many fathers and sons. Dads, don’t push your sons too hard.

I’m very grateful for my wife and our two sons and their families which include our three grandchildren. And I’m so grateful for my Heavenly Father, for Christ my Savior, and for the Holy Spirit who indwells and seals me.

Our oldest son who lives here in town is coming over for dinner this afternoon with our two granddaughters and I’ll also be looking forward to a phone call from our other son stationed down in Texas. I hope all you Dads out there have an enjoyable day with your loved ones! Family is a great gift.

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” – Romans 8:14-16

What’s going on with the Southern Baptist Convention?

News sources have recently reported that well-known Calvary Chapel pastor and evangelist, Greg Laurie, has decided to align with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).  See the article below. I had wanted to write a post on the SBC at some future date, especially in light of reports about declining membership, but the news about Laurie got the ol’ brain synapses firing.

After my wife and I trusted in Christ in the early 80s, we attended an independent fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church for eight years. I subscribed to an IFB newspaper for awhile and one of its favorite targets was the “liberal” Southern Baptist Convention. I became increasingly unhappy with the legalistic preaching at our church and eventually walked out. Sadly, I allowed the experience to turn me away from the Lord.

The Lord graciously took me back three years ago and where did we start attending church? You guessed it! At an SBC church! I know I was purposely looking for a fellowship that didn’t resemble our previous one.

The small SBC church was a breath of fresh year because the new pastor just out of seminary emphasized God’s grace and mercy as much as His holiness. Regrettably, he was also very ecumenically-minded and often praised Catholic theologians, which is why we left after one year and began attending our current non-denominational church (with Baptist roots) about 20 months ago.

The Southern Baptist Convention reports around 15 million members in 47 thousand congregations. After one year in an SBC church, I’m certainly not an expert on the convention but I do have some thoughts on why it’s experiencing a decline in membership:

It’s too conservative

I believe the SBC is not attracting new members because it’s perceived as too conservative. In this era of egregiously hip church names – Resurgence Church, Elevation Church, The Gathering, etc. – having “Baptist” in the church name just doesn’t cut it for many. Research from Lifeway, an SBC organization, shows unbelievers and especially millennial unbelievers have a comparatively low opinion of Baptists. When Hollywood needs an “overly-zealous” religious character, who do they turn to? The character is invariably a Baptist. Then there’s the completely crazy Westboro Baptist Church nightmare in Topeka, Kansas. People also still link the Southern Baptist Convention with the White slave owners of the antebellum South and post-Civil War segregation. The young pastor of our previous SBC church dropped the “Baptist” from the church’s name only one year after he arrived.

It’s becoming too liberal

I believe some people are walking away from the SBC because it’s drifting into liberalism. An intense battle raged between orthodox and liberals over control of SBC seminaries beginning in the 1960s and continuing into the late 1990s with the orthodox eventually claiming victory. But liberalism continues to nibble away at the convention. SBC leaders, Richard Land and Larry Lewis, were initial signers of the 1994 ecumenical document, Evangelicals and Catholics Together. Popular Southern Baptists such as Rick Warren, Steven Furtick (pictured with his polar opposite, Charles Stanley), Beth Moore, Ed Young, and Dallas Willard (d. 2013) continue their assault on Biblical orthodoxy. Former SBC president, Ronnie Floyd, joined with pope Francis at Together 2016. Now, with ecumenically-minded and TBN-favorite, Greg Laurie, joining the SBC, the orthodox/conservative members of the convention have another reason to be concerned.

Too conservative? Too liberal? Is there a Catch-22 going on here or what? The rising number of “nones” (no religious affiliation) nationally is also assuredly affecting the SBC.

I am a Baptist Christian and I love my Baptist brothers and sisters. There’s many excellent, godly pastors and para-church leaders (Charles Stanley, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, and Paul Washer come to mind) and Christ-loving members in the SBC. No doubt about it. But in such situations as we currently see with the SBC, there’s the danger of fidelity to the organization and numbers taking precedence over fidelity to Jesus Christ, the Gospel, and Biblical orthodoxy. My prayers go out to those in the SBC who continue to uphold the Gospel and God’s Word.


Greg Laurie, Calvary Chapel’s Big Crusader, Joins Southern Baptist Convention
http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/june/greg-laurie-southern-baptist-calvary-chapel-harvest-crusade.html

Southern Baptists have lost a million members in 10 years
https://baptistnews.com/article/southern-baptists-lost-million-members-10-years/#.WULHKuvyu1s

Southern Baptist Convention Deploys Theology Referees To Elevation Church (satire)
http://babylonbee.com/news/southern-baptist-convention-deploys-theology-referees-elevation-church/

“The Roman Catholic Church Says I’m Anathema, What About You?”

Thirty years ago it was pretty much understood by most evangelicals that Roman Catholicism preached a different “gospel,” which taught salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Today, Rome still teaches the very same false “gospel” but many evangelicals now gloss over irresolvable doctrinal differences and accept Roman Catholicism as a Christian denomination. What changed? Why are deadly Catholic falsehoods now accommodated as harmless “denominational distinctives” by some evangelical apologists?

Below is a short article from Pulpit & Pen, which points out that evangelical ecumenism with Rome does not compute.


The Roman Catholic Church Says I’m Anathema, What About You?
By Seth Dunn
Pulpit & Pen
6/13/17

Frequently, we receive email at Pulpit & Pen chastising us for our position that those who believe Roman Catholic doctrine are not Christians.* This is a plainly biblical position and its quite frustrating to see it constantly challenged by Roman Catholics and Protestants alike. So, I thought it would be prudent to present a short argument that demonstrates that Roman Catholicism is not Christianity. Examine the following propositions:

To continue reading, click on the link below:
http://pulpitandpen.org/2017/06/13/the-roman-catholic-church-says-im-anathema-what-about-you/

Must you still sign your kids away?

Back in December, I posted a message regarding marriages between Protestants and Roman Catholics under the auspices of the Catholic church (see here). I stated that in such a marriage, the Protestant party was required to sign a document in which they promised they would not attempt to convert their Catholic spouse and that any children from the marriage would be raised in the Catholic religion.

Yesterday, I was listening to the 06/02/17 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF (Our Lady of Fatima) 101.7 FM, Buffalo, N.Y.) featuring moderator, Mike Denz, and host, priest Dave Baker. Toward the end of the show, an anonymous listener called in with a question about inter-faith marriages. In the conversation, priest Baker mentioned that only the Catholic party was required to sign a document promising to remain faithful to the church and that any children would be raised as Catholic/s. The caller was as surprised as I was because she was also under the impression that the non-Catholic party was also required to sign a document.

So what exactly is the current protocol? I did a little research and learned the following:

The 1917 Code of Canon Law did require the Protestant individual to sign the agreement that I cited. But in 1970, in deference to burgeoning ecumenism, pope Paul VI dropped the requirement. The change was incorporated into the 1983 Code. For details, see the article below.

So, I definitely stand corrected. One must constantly stay alert to the changes in the church that boasts that it never changes – “Semper edem” (Always the same). If you’re a believer and plan on marrying a Roman Catholic, you’ll have a big problem on your hands once the thrill of the wedding and honeymoon wear off. Your future spouse may talk about “grace,” “faith,” and “Jesus Christ the Savior,” but how they define those terms is incompatible with the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Being in a marriage with an unbeliever, whether religious or atheist, is not an easy road. Are your children going to learn the Gospel or are they going to learn religious legalism with a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit?


Do Catholic Parents Have to Raise their Children as Catholics?
http://canonlawmadeeasy.com/2009/01/22/do-catholic-parents-have-to-raise-their-children-as-catholics/

Argh! Picked last for gym class AGAIN!

We’re currently studying through the Book of James at church and yesterday the pastor was expounding on James’ admonition in chapter 2:1-13 for believers not to show partiality. We’re really bad at this, right Christians? We’re trained by our culture to show partiality to the richest, the strongest, the prettiest, the smartest, etc. For some reason, I remembered something from my past that ties into this.

Growing up in a home with five older sisters, no brothers, and an emotionally distant father, I didn’t have much in the way of masculine role models. I began to have problems in fifth grade when the previously co-ed gym class was split into separate sessions for boys and girls. Most of the other boys at that age were starting to get rough and physical and gaining athletic prowess but that wasn’t my world yet.

Each year the gym teacher, Mrs. Miller (what a memory – like a steel trap!), picked two of the most athletic boys to be captains and every time we were to play some type of team sport, the captains would alternate picking from amongst the other boys to fill up their teams and I was always one of the last to be chosen as the gym teacher looked on approvingly. Sadist! Boy, that was humiliating! I used to wonder, “Why in this supposed Catholic (c)hristian school, would the gym teacher encourage something like this?” The torture continued for several years. Argh! By eighth grade I was starting to fill out a little and also trying hard to at least be somewhat competent when playing pickup football, baseball, and basketball games. I actually played football in my second year in high school although I was in way over my head.

So why harp on about a hurt from fifty years ago? I think we all have deep hurts from our past that we still think about. Maybe we were passed over because of our looks, or our dismal report cards, or our family’s lack of money, or our race or ethnicity, etc., etc. Kids can be very mean and so can adults.

I am so glad the Lord our God doesn’t show partiality. In fact, the Lord often uses the “weaker” people for His glory. The rich, powerful, and popular actually have a much harder time finding the humility to accept the Lord as their Savior than those of us who know what it’s like to be picked last.

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

Thank you Lord, for choosing me!!! If I boast about anything, let me always boast about You!!! (1 Corinthians 1:31)

Testimony of Charo Washer — Biblical Beginnings

Thanks to “Inhereford” at Biblical Beginnings for this post.

Charo Washer gives a sobering testimony in the attached nineteen-minute audio. She attended Christian school beginning as a young teen, went on to become a missionary, and married a notable missionary and evangelist, Paul Washer. There was only one problem; she had never genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior.

There are no second-generation Christians. People accept the Lord and go to church and dutifully get their children involved. Our two boys went to church with us and attended four children’s services a week for eight years. They raised their hands that they had accepted Jesus like all the other kids. They bowed their heads and sang the songs on cue. They didn’t want to stick out. But they had never genuinely accepted Christ. I assumed that they had, which is why I didn’t spend a lot of time acknowledging the Lord in our day-to-day lives. I assumed they were already getting more than enough of “that” at church.

Charo even had her evangelist husband fooled for eleven years, but as she admits in this audio, she couldn’t hide her heart from the Lord. Praise God!

I guess the lesson here is that we should never assume that just because someone grew up in the church or attends church that they ever genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Tom


This was a very difficult testimony for me to watch, as it is so very similar to my own conversion story. My greatest fear is that there are so many more people sitting in church wearing themselves out, unregenerate, and unaware of the eternal consequences. The lie that saying a quick prayer can get you […]

via Testimony of Charo Washer — Biblical Beginnings

In praise of Catholic cathedrals?

There are a few days here and there when the Lord doesn’t give me any ideas to write about, but I usually have one idea every day. On very rare days I have multiple ideas, like today! I’ll try to be brief…

One

On my drive-in to work this morning, I was listening to my usual local Christian radio station and Joni Eareckson Tada (pictured) was giving her 5-minute inspirational message for the day. Joni was expounding about a previous visit to Paris and her joy in visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral, with its “harmony of unspeakable splendors,” although she used the grime that had accumulated on the building as an analogy for the worldly attachments and attitudes that accumulate in a Christian’s life. Is Joni so ignorant of Reformation history and comparative theology that she doesn’t know that the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone was never preached inside Notre Dame (“Our Lady”)? The mammoth cathedral was constructed between 1163 and 1345 on the backs of medieval peasants who were never shown the way to Jesus Christ. It stands as a monument to institutional legalistic religion with its grandiose but empty splendor. Joni should know better but this isn’t the first time she’s tread these ecumenical roads. Back in 2015, I posted about Joni’s endorsement of a Catholic journal. See here.

Two

The book I’m currently reading refers to the very popular Catholic tract, “My Ticket to Heaven,” written by father Joseph Bernard of Patton, Pennsylvania. Over five-million copies have been distributed to date. Following are a few quotes from the tract which should give pause to evangelicals who embrace Catholicism as Christian:

  • “Now, in this job of getting myself to those gates of heaven, I have everything going for me…”
  • “And if I maintain always . . . . . this determination . . . . . this disposition of mind and soul . . . . . I can be sure of never committing sin.”
  • “I refuse to do anything that is against God’s will. With God as my helper I absolutely refuse to commit sin. Therefore I refuse to go to hell. It’s as simple as that.”
  • “If I do my part, God will do His part.”
  • “God gave me the job of getting myself to heaven.”

http://thekeysofheaven.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/T0-1aaa-MY-TICKET-TO-HEAVEN-a-Roman-Catholic-pamphlet.pdf

Obviously, there’s not one single mention in this tract of accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, it’s all about a person saving themselves through sheer determination not to sin!

Catholics give lip service to “faith” and “grace” but the salvation bottom line for them is receiving the sacraments and “cooperating with grace” by obeying the Ten Commandments (absolutely impossible!) and church rules. They can only “hope” they’ve done enough to merit Heaven, but there’s zero hope for anyone trying to merit their salvation.

“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20

Three

This morning, I was listening to the 5/25/17 podcast of the Calling All Catholics talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) featuring moderator, Steve Quebral, and priest-host, father Kevin Barrett. A listener, Ron from Syracuse, N.Y., called in with a question about “Gregorian” masses for the suffering souls in purgatory. I had never heard of Gregorian masses before so I did a little research. Catholics are taught that masses said for the dead will shorten their stay in the painful fires of purgatory and what pious Catholic would want their deceased loved ones to suffer? The church says it doesn’t actually “charge” for masses but suggests an offering, usually at a dollar value of $10-$15 per mass. According to Catholic tradition, a series of masses called “Gregorian” masses can also be said for the deceased. Gregorian masses are 30 regular masses offered on consecutive days with a suggested donation of $150-$300, depending on the priest. Cha-ching, cha-ching! It’s believed by many Catholics that a series of 30 Gregorian masses may actually free a soul from purgatory based on the following tradition:

”During the 6th century, a deceased monk from St. Andrew’s Monastery in Rome (founded by St. Gregory) reportedly appeared to a friend and requested that 30 Masses be said to release his soul from purgatory. After the Masses were completed, the monk appeared again to declare he had entered heaven. Since that time, Catholics have continued the tradition of celebrating 30 consecutive Masses for one person to free his or her soul from purgatory.”
– from http://www.cnewa.org/donations.aspx?ID=1378&sitecode=hq&pageno=1

Purgatory? Masses for the dead? Gregorian masses? It’s all unbiblical, man-made tradition. If all of this were true, then dead Catholics with rich families that could afford hundreds of masses for their deceased loved ones would be at a much greater advantage than poor, family-less Catholics. And let’s not forget about the sale of indulgences! What a money-making racket this purgatory doctrine used to be (although the average Catholic today can’t be bothered with obligatory mass on Sunday let alone shelling out $300 for the soul of Aunt Sally).