Catholic Christmas Calculus

Roman Catholicism is an intricate religious labyrinth with 1752 Canon Laws and 2865 numbered paragraphs in its official catechism. Sometimes, the exacting rules and regulations get so complicated that a Mathematics PhD couldn’t anticipate all the contingencies. Case in point is the news story below. But first, a little background.

Roman Catholics are obligated to attend mass every single Sunday as well as the six yearly Holy Days of Obligation (HDO). If they miss even one required mass, they commit mortal sin and are doomed to hell. Depending on the year, some HDOs may fall on a Saturday or a Monday and in those cases, a dispensation may be granted that allows Catholics to fulfill both obligations when they attend mass on Sunday. Always nice when they let you double-dip!

Are you following along so far? Okay, let’s take a look at the article below.

Christmas is an HDO and it falls on Monday this year, so Catholics are obligated to attend mass on both Sunday and Monday. Because Christmas is such an important day for Catholicism, a dispensation will NOT be granted.

What about the shrewd Catholic who says to herself, “I know how to beat the system! I’ll go to Saturday afternoon “vigil mass” on December 23rd to fulfill my Sunday obligation and then go to mass Sunday morning to fulfill my Christmas obligation, leaving Christmas day free and clear.”

Or some other Catholic eager to “beat the house” might rationalize, “I’ll go to midnight mass on the evening of Sunday, December 24th and fulfill BOTH my Sunday and Christmas obligations.”

Not so fast, my Catholic friends. According to the article below, the U.S. Catholic bishops have stipulated that, “the Sunday obligation for Dec. 24 can be fulfilled on Sunday, or anytime after 4 p.m. on Dec. 23, and the Christmas Mass obligation can be fulfilled on Monday, anytime after 4 p.m. on Dec. 24.” Also, “When consecutive obligations occur on Saturday-Sunday or Sunday-Monday, the faithful must attend Mass twice to fulfill two separate obligations.”

Did you catch all of that or is your head still spinning?

Despite the threat of eternal damnation, church statistics reveal only 20% of Catholics attend obligatory mass every Sunday and only 12% attend all HDOs. What percentage of Catholics will actually attend obligatory mass on both the 24th and 25th? The vast majority of Catholics would rather risk eternity than sit through one boring liturgical service, let alone two in a row. And since pope Francis says even atheists can merit Heaven if they follow their conscience, they think they’ll be just fine by staying home.

The works-righteousness treadmill of the Catholic church with all of its rules and regulations offers no hope. Salvation is not calculus. The Gospel is so simple even a child can understand it. I’m so grateful the Lord freed me from religious chains and opened my eyes to the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone! You’re a sinner like me and you need the Savior, too. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone.

 

Catholic Bishop: Go to Mass on Sunday and on Christmas
https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/go-to-mass-on-sunday-and-on-christmas-bishops-say-32938

What is the gospel?
https://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-the-gospel.html

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“Sometimes good people do bad things”?

This post reflects on some of the same themes I’ve written about recently, but that’s the fallen world we live in.

This morning, I stepped away from work and drove to an ATM to fatten up my painfully thin wallet. For some reason, they won’t accept my smile as payment at the workplace cafeteria. Anyway, as I was driving along, I flipped through radio channels and came across the National Public Radio (NPR) station. They were doing a report on the g-r-o-w-i-n-g list of prominent men who have recently been accused of sexual misconduct, including the widely admired Matt Lauer, co-host of NBC’s Today Show, who was fired just yesterday. In regards to another alleged abuser, U.S. Senator, Al Franken, the comment was made by one of the NPR hosts that “sometimes good people do bad things.” While I’ve already posted on this growing national “frenzy” (see here), this comment got me charged up once again.

There’s two ways of looking at this world and life in general; there’s the unbelieving worldview and the Christian worldview.

The unbelieving worldview incorporates all unbelievers, both secularist and religious. The unbelieving worldview holds that people are basically “good” and generally try to do the right thing according to some type of a secular or religious moral code. The majority consensus is that most people will be rewarded with some type of blissful afterlife following their death (or no afterlife at the worst). According to this viewpoint, there are definitely some people who are “bad,” but such a label is reserved only for those whose behaviors were/are blatantly evil such as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Charles Manson, Idi Amin, and serial child molesters. Many religious organizations promote this “good people go to Heaven” philosophy including Roman Catholicism. While the Catholic church teaches that everyone is born with original sin that needs to be cleansed away with baptism, it also teaches that people are inherently good and can work their way to ever higher states of holiness on their lifelong quest to achieve salvation.

“God (created) humanity in His own image and likeness. This speaks to the nature of the human person as inherently good although damaged by original sin. In the end it is not the sin that wins, but rather the goodness of God with whom each person shares a likeness.” – from “Catholic School Leadership,” by Anthony Dosen and Barbara Riechkoff, 2015, p.69.

In contrast to this wide-is-the-way philosophy are God’s Word and the Christian worldview, which teach man’s total depravity. There is not one righteous person in the world, no, not one. See Romans 3:10-12, Psalm 14:1-3, Psalm 53:1-3. The Christian view is that we are all sinners; Al Franken, Matt Lauer, you, and me. If all of our secret acts and thoughts were revealed, everyone would see that none of us are “good people.” Roman Catholic apologists and others who support the “good people go to Heaven” view attribute the doctrine of total depravity to Reformer, John Calvin, but actually, the message of man’s complete depravity is front and center throughout the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. If you and I could merit our way to Heaven, Jesus would not have had to die on the cross for sin.

Because we have a sinful nature, we can’t possibly merit our way to Heaven. But God loved us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to this world to pay the penalty for sin. We can’t appear before God with our righteousness when we die because we have none. Zero. Zip. Nada. But when we repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith alone, He imputes His perfect righteousness to us.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21

What a gift! Accept Christ by faith alone.

My Mom was a proud Catholic but had no understanding of spiritual things

While growing up, my Catholic family wasn’t excessively religious. Sure, we went to mass every Sunday, and last year’s blessed Palm Sunday fronds were displayed in the living room, but that was about it. Our parents never prayed with us and I don’t recall a Bible ever being in the house. My five sisters (all now atheists or agnostics) and I were baptized as infants and then received the sacraments of first penance, first communion, and confirmation along with our parochial school classmates. Those rituals were required and they were something you just did without even thinking about or questioning. Any talk about “accepting Jesus Christ as Savior” or “having a relationship with Christ” would have been seen as radical and cultish. In other words, religion was somewhat important but not to be taken too seriously unless a baby needed to be baptized, a couple got married, or someone died.

One day, a couple of Mormon missionaries were canvasing the neighborhood and my mother answered the door. Among other things, they told her how the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” cult had been “restored” by God in the early 19th-century. My Mom self-satisfyingly shot back that HER church had been established in the first century so she didn’t need to listen to them and shut the door. She retold this story several times with pride and great relish.

My Mom had no knowledge of church history or comparative theology. Like most Catholics, she could not explain her church’s complicated rituals and doctrines. She went to mass for one hour on Sunday and that was it. She never went to confession, which doomed her to hell according to her church’s dogma. But she was Catholic and proud of it. Her church was the one, true church, “by gravy” (one of her favorite expressions), and that was the end of any debate.

Most Catholics, just like my Mom, take great pride in their church and its claims to its historical pedigree. They boast about their church having been established in 33 A.D., like the bumper sticker above, but they have no knowledge of how the early church devolved from preaching the simple Gospel of salvation by God’s grace though faith in Jesus Christ alone into a worldly institution that became increasingly preoccupied with ritual, wealth, political power, and absolute control of its membership. To put it plainly, the church went off into the worldly-minded weeds and became Catholicism. And age doesn’t count for much. If age were the determining factor for authenticity then Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Confucianism would have the advantage over Christianity.

No, the genuine church is not an institution that was fashioned after the imperial Roman model of ancient times, but rather the church is the spiritual body of Christ that is made up of all those who have repented of their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. This proud and worldly attitude that Catholics have, that they are members of the one, true church, and this affiliation places them in a favorable spiritual position by rights of their baptism, is sadly prevalent.

“And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.” – Matthew 3:9


What was the first / original church? Is the original / first church the true church?
https://www.gotquestions.org/original-church.html

Spiritual lessons from raking leaves???

After a very tumultuous period in our marriage, the Lord miraculously brought my wife and I back together in 2002. We then lived in an apartment for a couple of years and in 2004 we were looking for a new home. We were both in our late-forties at the time. Our two sons were adults and on their own and after having a house and a yard for twenty-two years, I was thinking in terms of a condominium. But my wife and her realtor sister went looking at houses “just for grins” and called me at work one day, saying to come quick and check out the “dream house” they had found. I pulled into the driveway and gulped hard. Argh! The house was on a heavily-wooded lot (13 mature oaks and 3 locust trees) with a long, double-wide driveway. All that meant A LOT of outdoors work ahead for myself at a point when I was contemplating a future living situation with no outside work. My wife was so enthusiastic about the house and property that I knew I was forever going to be the “big jerk” if I said no. But at 48, I reasoned that I still had many years of physical energy left in the tank to deal with the yardwork (and snowblowing) ahead.

My wife and I still joke about the day after we moved into the house. Everything was fine on our moving day, but when I woke up the next morning and looked out the window, I saw that the oak trees had released many of their leaves en masse overnight and the entire back yard was covered. Oy!  Welcoming (gulp) an opportunity for a little exercise, I got out my trusty rake and went to work. And work. And more work. If you’re familiar with oak trees you know the leaves are big and as sturdy as shoe leather. As I dripped with sweat from hours of raking, our next door neighbor shouted out with playful sarcasm, “Welcome to the neighborhood!” Argh!

I raked those leaves from the last week of October to the first week of December for the next 12 years. The raking was hard enough, but I also had to transfer the mounds of leaves I had collected onto a tarp and then drag the tarp to the front yard and deposit the leaves along the curb where our towns’ highway department collected them. With our oak trees plus the neighbors’ oaks that leaned over our property, I ended up collecting and hauling around 50 tarp-loads of leaves to the front every year. Condo anyone? Every year my wife suggested I buy a heavy-duty gas leaf blower, but I couldn’t justify spending $300 when I was getting all that good exercise! Plus, I was proud that I was able to handle all those leaves with only me and a rake in my hands. All of our pitiful neighbor menfolk either had blowers or a leaf removal service. Ha!!!

Well, it was hard to admit but age caught up with me last year and I finally broke down and bought a backpack leaf blower. My boss at work had already done all the research and pointed me in the right direction as far as a good model and dealer. We’ve had 3 of the oaks and all 3 of the locusts removed over the years because of their close proximity to the house, so between that and the leaf blower, I’m still able to contend with the leaves even at my ripe age.

“So what?,” you ask?

Maybe you’re thinking, ♫”You’ve got your troubles, I’ve got mi-ine”♫, as my old friend, Jimmy, used to say? Or how about, “Would you like some cheese and crackers with that whine?”

Well, I do thank the Lord for all those leaves over the years. They got me outside to enjoy the fresh air and provided plenty of exercise. When I finished the leaves every season, I had the satisfaction of completing a difficult job. Now I can praise the Lord for the leaf blower and the great assistance that it provides. What used to take eight hours of raking now takes about one hour with minimal physical effort.

The heavy lawn work is full of spiritual lessons as well. We needn’t bear life’s circumstances and burdens alone. Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit. We have God’s Word to guide us and the constant opportunity to commune with the Lord in prayer. We have the church and fellow believers. We also have good books and Bible resources written by faithful scholars and pastors.

There’s times when we’re plowing for the Lord and starting to feel fatigued (like after tarp # 43). But the Lord provides helpful “tools” to see us through. Are you too proud to seek the Lord’s help as you sojourn through this life?

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

“Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!” – Psalm 30:10

25 Encouraging Bible Verses About Burdens

Postscript: Raking leaves for hours on end also brings to mind another spiritual lesson. Those leaves started as little buds back in the Spring, were full bloom in Summer to catch all the sunshine, and withered and died in the Fall. We were born into this world through corruptible seed, but through Christ we look forward to eternal life!

“Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” – 1 Peter 1:23

Your walk with the Lord: Daily intentionality vs. fits and starts

Along with all the other stuff I’ve had going on recently – painting the house and getting the repairs to our roof finalized – the lease to my car is coming due at the end of this month. I’m definitely not a car guy. For me, a car is something that gets me to work and brings me back home every day. In the three years I’ve had the Volkswagen Jetta, I’ve never washed the outside and I never cleaned the inside. I certainly wouldn’t say the interior of the car was disgusting, although my wife surely would (and has). Three years of dust had accumulated on the dash along with some dead grass strands and gravel embedded in the carpet and the inevitable stray sesame seeds and French fries from a few Extra Value Meal #1s (don’t tell my doctor) wedged into the gap next to the driver’s seat. Yes, there was also some solidified goo from coffee and Coke spills in the beverage holder. Don’t judge me. It sounds worse than it looked.

With the lease due date and inspection approaching, I knew I had to give the car a thorough cleaning, so I spent half the day last Saturday washing the exterior and cleaning the interior. Armed with rolls of paper towels, carpet cleaner, Formula 409, Windex, and our vacuum cleaner, I worked very hard for about four hours. When I was done, the Jetta looked almost as clean as the day I drove it off the lot. A third-party rep inspected the car yesterday and gave it a thumbs up, so I’ll be going back to the dealership very soon to pick out a new vehicle. In the meantime, I’m really enjoying driving around town in my pristine car. Why did I wait so long to clean it?

As I was driving into work this morning in my like-new car, I thought about how we can also approach our relationship with the Lord far too casually. A sorry analogy? Please hear me out. We neglect prayer. We neglect studying His Word. We neglect applying the Word to our daily lives. We seek other things first before Him. Days, weeks, and months go by and before you know it, our relationship with the Lord is a real mess. It then takes a huge effort to get back into the “spiritual groove” and get right with the Lord again. Been there, done that. Bigtime. But if we walk with the Lord intentionally, every day, every week, we can enjoy the sweet intimacy of being close to Him. Why would we not want that? Don’t get me wrong, walking with the Lord doesn’t mean checking a daily “to do” list, but it does mean being intentional about the relationship.

No, I’ll never be a motorhead, but I plan on keeping my next car a bit cleaner (no eating inside!) so I can enjoy it far more. I agree, keeping a car clean may not be the most “appropriate” analogy in this case. Our walk with the Lord is FAR more valuable than maximizing our driving experience in a silly car. But everyday circumstances sometimes do provide spiritual lessons. The Lord has provided all the necessary means – through prayer, the Word, and the lifechanging power of the indwelling Holy Spirit – so that our walk with Him can be sweet and deeply intimate on a daily basis.

“So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” – Colossians 1:10

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17

Seven months later…

On the morning of March 8th, the local television weathermen predicted a substantial afternoon wind storm for the Rochester, NY area. My wife was very nervous before we left for work because our neighborhood is heavily wooded with tall oak trees. I reassured her that not one of those mighty oaks would come down in our lifetime.

That afternoon, as I walked the halls at my workplace, the wind was really howling outside like I had never heard it before. When I returned home, everything looked okay from the driveway, but when I walked into the backyard, argh!, I could see a huge limb from our neighbor’s tree had fallen onto our roof and had done a good amount of damage. Many homes in the neighborhood and in the Greater Rochester area sustained tree damage, some much worse than ours.

Well, here we are almost seven months later and I’m happy to report the repairs on the house were finally completed last week! First off, it was hard getting a contractor because the damage was extensive throughout the county and every roofer and general contractor was immediately booked solid. When we finally did sign with a contractor, we had to wait for an opening in their backed-up schedule. Then, when the contractor was ready to start, they determined the amount of work needed was going to be double what the insurance adjuster originally estimated. So we had weeks and weeks of back and forth negotiations with the insurance company and the contractor.

After a LOT of red tape, everything was FINALLY resolved. The insurance company sent the checks and the contractor completed the work. The contractor will be coming by later today to pick up his money. The total bill for tree cleanup and home repairs was around $14K, just about all paid for by insurance.

You may be wondering, “Why is this guy whining about tree damage to his house in light of the catastrophic hurricane damage in Texas, Florida,* and Puerto Rico?” Yes, we got off relatively lightly compared to many. Some people lost everything in those disasters. But the message is still the same. Nothing this fallen world has to offer is for sure. Circumstances can turn against you in one day, in one hour, in one second. Thousands attended a concert in Las Vegas last night and were thoroughly enjoying themselves, but that all changed in a moment. The only sure thing is Jesus Christ. Repent of your sins and accept Him as Savior today!

I’m so grateful to the Lord that our home is finally repaired. But that pales in comparison to my gratefulness to the Lord for saving me! In the end, if you don’t have Jesus Christ as your Savior, you have absolutely nothing.

“And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” – Luke 12:16-21

*I had posted that two of my sisters living in Naples, FL had to evacuate to Alabama as Hurricane Irma approached. They recently returned to Naples and report no damage to their home other than some landscaping issues. Thanks to all who prayed for them!

Emotional feelings and religious rituals no substitute for genuine faith in Christ and His FINISHED work

When I first began this blog over two years ago, there was a flood of comments from Roman Catholics objecting to my posts. One person, a convert to Catholicism from Judaism, engaged me in a somewhat lengthy debate, which included many individual comments back and forth. I did my best to answer her concerns and felt I made several valid points using Scripture and referencing church history. She ended the exchange by stating that, in the end, any arguments I made were irrelevant because the Lord had unmistakably led her to Catholicism and that was all that mattered.

This same individual was recently featured as a guest on the Roman Catholic EWTN cable television show, “The Journey Home,” which features converts and reverts to Catholicism relating their testimonies. In the interview, the woman stated that she was brought up in Judaism, but eventually “accepted Jesus Christ” at a non-denominational evangelical church. She became very involved in the church, but had a gnawing feeling that something was missing. She states that she had grown up with a vast number of traditions within Judaism, but her non-denominational church regrettably had no traditions or ceremonialism (“no altar,” “no candles,” “no reverence”). The tipping point came when she felt the strong desire to pray in a “chapel setting” during the work week. None of the evangelical churches in her area were open during the day to her great disappointment. A friend suggested she read a book about Jewish-to-Catholic convert, “saint” Edith Stein, aka sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, which led to inquiries into Catholicism and the discovery that many Catholic churches are open during the day for people to enter and pray in. One thing led to another and she eventually went through the year-long RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) training and was baptized into the Catholic religion.

As a person who has gratefully been led out of Catholic legalism to salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, this story was very sad to hear. I must examine this individual’s testimony and ask a few questions and make a few observations.

This person says she “accepted Christ” at an evangelical altar call. What does she mean by “accepted Christ”? If a person genuinely accepts Christ as Savior, they could not possibly join a religious denomination that teaches a person must merit their salvation by receiving the church’s sacraments and obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!). Non-christians, like Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, also use the same religious jargon as evangelicals – e.g., “accept Christ,” “have a relationship with Jesus,” “trust in Christ” – but they also mean something entirely different than what evangelicals understand. If a person genuinely accepts Christ as Savior, they could not affiliate with a religious group that teaches salvation by sacramental grace and obedience to the Ten Commandments (impossible!).

The woman made it very clear that she was attracted to the rituals, ceremonies, sacraments, and traditions of Catholicism, which in many ways mirrored the traditions of her former Jewish religion. A genuine relationship with Christ is based upon saving faith in Him and His finished work. Externals like candles, incense, statues, robes, chanting, holy water, ritualistic motions and postures appeal to the senses and become a substitute for a genuine relationship with Christ. I don’t need to drive across town to pray to my Lord inside a “holy” church building. Many people are attracted to “high church” ritualism and ceremonialism, which have little to do with genuine, personal faith in Christ.

For this woman, subjective feelings and seemingly supernatural experiences overrode doctrinal truth. Converts to the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other non-Christian groups also appeal to subjective truth and being “led by the Lord” into their false religions. Emotions and seemingly supernatural experiences cannot be the basis of genuine faith. We must come to Christ by faith without one single plea of our own as directed by Scripture.

As Christians, our faith rests upon Jesus Christ, His finished work on the cross, and His perfect righteousness that He imputes to all those who trust in Him as Savior by faith alone. Christianity proclaims DONE (in Christ). Catholicism proclaims DO (to try to merit Heaven). One is right, one is wrong. If our friend was truly trusting in Jesus Christ by faith alone, she would not have joined a religion which teaches salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Sad.

But our Catholic friends may never understand that their church does not preach the Gospel of grace if we do not point it out to them.

“Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” – Galatians 2:16

Testimonies from ex-Roman Catholic Priests

“Boy, if I only had $700 million dollars, then I would be happy!”

Seven Elevens and Mom and Pop groceries all across the country are doing a brisk business today as customers queue up to purchase tickets for a chance to win tonight’s $700 million, Power Ball jackpot.

The odds of winning the jackpot are reported to be about 1 in 292 million, but that won’t stop a huge portion of the country from daydreaming about how they’re going to put their winnings to use.

We could never even imagine the deleterious effects such a windfall would have upon a person’s life. Statistics reveal 70 percent of those who win a lottery or get a big windfall actually end up broke in a few years. Not to mention the resulting failed marriages and overall family disharmony.

Lotteries are successful because we are greedy. We want what we don’t have. We think, if only I had a lot of money, THEN I would be happy. But most lottery winners can attest that the opposite is true. And even for the nouveau millionaires who claim to be happy, the money provides pleasure for only so long.

Only the Lord God can bring lasting fulfillment to your life. Trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and then seek the Lord’s will in your life. Your walk with the Lord is the ONLY thing that truly matters, everything else is sinking sand.

“Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” – Proverbs 30:8-9

Unlike the lottery, eternal life and fellowship with God doesn’t cost a thing. Jesus Christ paid for all your sins. All you have to do is repent of your sins and accept Christ as your Savior by faith alone. What are your chances of eternal life after accepting Christ? 100%! That’s right. Jesus promised He would not lose a single person who trusts in Him. $700 million dollars is chump change compared to eternal life in Christ. What are you waiting for? Come to Jesus in prayer. Accept Him as Savior by faith alone.

How Walter Martin sowed the seeds for the current Hank Hanegraaff controversy

Back in early April, I posted the news about Hank Hanegraaff (photo right), the successor to Walter Martin (photo left) as president of the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and host of “The Bible Answer Man” radio show, converting to the Greek Orthodox church. See here. The news caused no small stir among evangelicals, many of whom called for Hanegraaff to step down as the leader of what was always a distinctly evangelical para-church ministry. At least one Christian radio network stopped carrying “The Bible Answer Man.” But Hanegraaff refuses to consider giving up his position and maintains that the core beliefs of Greek Orthodoxy are the same as Bible Christianity.

Walter Martin’s two daughters have taken opposite sides in the ongoing controversy (see article far below). Jill Martin Rische, Martin’s oldest daughter, claims Hanegraaff “stole” the CRI presidency following the death of her father and that Martin definitely did not view Greek Orthodoxy or its cousin, Roman Catholicism, as Christian denominations/churches. See here for Rische’s You Tube video expounding on Hanegraaff’s “conversion.”

Rische makes many valid points comparing Greek Orthodoxy with Bible Christianity, but makes a serious blunder in her criticism of Hanegraaff’s claim that he still supports the core beliefs of Christianity as espoused by C.S. Lewis in his popular book, “Mere Christianity.” Rische states Lewis “might be rolling over in his grave, now,” knowing Hanegraaff was using “Mere Christianity” to support his conversion (7:15-7:22). In actuality, Lewis differed with evangelicalism on several important doctrines and certainly DID view Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy as valid Christian institutions. See my review of “Mere Christianity” here. Rische’s and evangelicalism’s inexplicable love affair with C.S. Lewis actually fosters the kind of accommodation and compromise that leads to “evangelicals” joining works-righteousness denominations as Hanegraaff has done. Question: Why would Rische refer to C.S. Lewis in her argument when Lewis most certainly would have sided with Hanegraaff in this debate? Answer: Spiritual blindness.

In opposition to Rische, her sister, Cindee Martin Morgan, claims her father did recognize Greek Orthodoxy and Catholicism as Christian institutions and supports the continuation of Hanegraaff’s tenure as president of CRI. See her video here. At the 6:21 mark, Morgan inserts an audio recording of Martin as supporting evidence that he believed Catholicism was a Christian entity. In the audio, Martin states that he believes if any Catholics are Christians, “they are Christians not because of the Roman Catholic church, but despite the Roman Catholic church” (9:03-9:22). So far so accurate. But he then goes on to say that Catholicism teaches the basic core beliefs of Christianity including “justification by faith” (10:24-10:30). He continues by saying he believes pope John XXIII was a “sincere Christian” (14:33-14:35). It’s with these two points that Martin stumbles VERY BADLY. Catholicism has ALWAYS taught the doctrine of justification by faith AND works. Even Catholics will admit to that. Question: So how could the evangelical church’s leading apologist and “expert” on cults of a generation ago have been so ignorant of Catholicism’s teachings on justification? Answer: Spiritual blindness.

Martin’s confused and contradictory view of Catholicism helped open the door to future ecumenism with Rome and the current controversy involving  Hanegraaff. Martin’s examination of Catholicism, “The Roman Catholic Church in History” (1960), unexplainably sidestepped the issue of justification (see my review here), and now I know the reason why.


Daughter of CRI Founder Defends Hank Hanegraaff Amid ‘Fake News’ Charges That He Stole CRI Presidency

Catholicism: A spiritual chain gang

Imagine believing that you had to obey the Ten Commandments perfectly in order to be allowed into Heaven. That’s right; no lying, no lusting, no stealing, no envying, no road rage, no gossiping, no pride, always putting God above yourself. And then believing that every single time you messed up and disobeyed God you had to see a priest and confess the sin in order for it to be cleansed away. Repeat cycle. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

1.3 billion people believe the above. They are called Roman Catholics.

Roman Catholics acknowledge that God the Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross of Calvary for their sins, but they also believe they must do their part by receiving the church’s grace conferring sacraments and “cooperating with grace” by perfectly obeying the Ten Commandments. I could not perfectly obey the Ten Commandments for one day let alone a week.

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” – Romans 3:21-25

Go to the Lord, Jesus Christ, in prayer. Repent of your sins and accept Christ as your Savior by faith alone. No one can be saved by trying to obey the Law. He is the only One who lived a life worthy of Heaven. He desires to be your Savior. Won’t you trust in Him by faith alone?

“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” – Galatians 2:21