Evangelicals and Catholics see justification differently…and it matters

Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of JustificationFA
By R.C. Sproul
Baker Books, 1995, 219 pages

I’ve discussed several times how I accepted Jesus as my Savior back in 1983 and worshipped at an independent fundamental Baptist church until 1991 when I could no longer take the Falwellian hyper-patriotism and anti-homosexual harangues. Well, I walked away from the Lord for 23 years but finally returned to Him last year. I was quite startled at how snug some Evangelical pastors and para-church leaders had become with Rome in my absence. Even the young pastor at the Southern Baptist church where we began attending frequently expressed his admiration for several Catholic theologians.

I began reading material on the festering Evangelical compromise with Rome including Chuck Colson’s Evangelicals and Catholics Together ecumenical project, which released its first joint declaration in 1994. ECT argued that, despite some secondary differences, Catholics and Evangelicals shared a belief in the primary doctrine of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ so unification was not only possible but desirable in the face of the mounting opposition to Christian “morality” from an increasingly secularized society. See my review of ECT’s first book here.

There were many prominent Evangelicals who vigorously opposed ECT including Reformed theologian, R.C. Sproul. Sproul’s “Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification” is a thorough rebuttal of ECT’s betrayal of the Gospel and the Reformation. The Catholic church concedes that God initiates salvation by the grace provided through its sacraments but it’s then up to Catholics to “cooperate with grace” and do their part to merit their salvation. So Catholics can also say they believe in “justification by grace through faith” BUT they can’t and they won’t say they believe in justification by grace through faith ALONE. Catholics believe they must perfectly obey the Ten Commandments to merit Heaven (and go to confession when they fail – repeat cycle). Every born-again believer knows that trying to obey your way into Heaven is a sheer impossibility and denies Jesus’ office as Savior.

Sproul gets deep into the theological nitty gritty and dissects both sides with precision and charity. If you don’t care for theological arguments you won’t care for this book. But every blood-bought Christian must at least believe in the core doctrines of Christianity found in God’s Word. Seeker-emerging-purpose driven churches desire everyone to just hold hands and tell each other how much “we all love Jesus” but no one can really love and follow Jesus if they don’t know what He taught. If anyone believes all or part of their justification relies on being “good” then they have an incorrect (and spiritually moribund) understanding of why Jesus came and what He accomplished through His death and resurrection.

Praise the Lord for R.C. Sproul and many other Evangelicals who raised a red flag when Judas Colson and the other Evangelical signers of ECT (Land, Lewis, Packer, Bright, Guinness, Noll, Robertson, etc.) betrayed the Gospel of grace.

Any Catholics who might be interested in the Evangelical view of justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ ALONE would do well to start with this book.

The 5 Solas Series: What the Reformers Taught…and Why It Still Matters

As early Christianity transitioned into the state religion of the Roman Empire, simple,FiveS personal faith in Jesus Christ devolved into religious legalism administered by an increasingly powerful and autocratic church hierarchy with their ever-expanding catalog of traditions, rules, and rituals.

Through the inspiration of God’s Word and the working of the Holy Spirit the 16th-century Reformers sought to return the church back to the simple faith and practices found in the New Testament. The biblical principles that galvanized them and that were subsequently anathematized at Trent later became known as the Five Solas:

  • Sola fide (“by faith alone”)
  • Soli Deo gloria (“glory to God alone”)
  • Sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”)
  • Sola gratia (“by grace alone”)
  • Solus Christus (“through Christ alone”)

Yesterday, I was excited to learn that Zondervan is publishing the following five books on the individual solas in commemoration of the approaching 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017:

  • Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification, by Thomas Schreiner (September, 2015)
  • God’s Glory Alone: The Majestic Heart of the Christian Faith and Life, by David VanDrunen (December, 2015)
  • God’s Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture, by Matthew Barrett (September, 2016)
  • Grace Alone: Salvation as a Gift of God, by Carl Trueman (December, 2016)
  • Christ Alone: The Uniqueness of Jesus as Savior, by Stephen Wellum (2017)

Today I ordered the first in the series, Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification, from Amazon and I’ll be ordering the rest down the road.

Especially in these days of seeker/emerging/purpose-driven churches where doctrine has been replaced by ecumenical, “We all just love Jesus,” kumbaya hand-holding, these books are necessary and vital. Too many brothers and sisters suffered and died defending these Gospel truths to see them flushed down the toilet by evangelical Judases.

See the stories here and here.

Zzzzzzz. Catholic teens catch 40 winks during religious ed class

The Catholic religious ed. teacher in the article below bemoans the fact that all of herdownload (1) teenage students are totally indifferent to her lessons. But who can blame those Catholic kids for being apathetic about their religion? According to church sources, 76% of their parents don’t attend mass on Sunday. And who can possibly blame those parents? Their pope has said even atheists will go to Heaven if they’re “good” so why bother with all of that boring, liturgical rigmarole?

I feel sorry for those Catholic teens. I used to be one of them. Instead of being taught they are all sinners facing eternal judgement BUT that God the Son, Jesus Christ, came to this world to save all those who accept Him by faith, they are taught religious ritualism and how to earn their own salvation by trying to obey the Law and by being “good.”  Yet, God’s Word says many times that NO ONE is good. Christ came to save sinners, not the self-righteous “good.” The overwhelming majority of Catholic teens will abandon their religion the first chance they get but I would argue they’ll be no worse off than zealous Catholics who attend mass every day trying to earn their way to Heaven.

Take a browse through this article and then decide if you’re doing a “good enough” job obeying God’s commandments.

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My Students, See Future Ex-Catholics

By Mary Deturris Poust

Aletia

October 23, 2015

http://aleteia.org/2015/10/23/i-look-at-my-students-and-see-our-future-ex-catholics/

60% of Catholics: “It is not possible to have a personal relationship with God.”

This afternoon I was listening to a podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” radio call-inJes show, originally broadcast on March 13, 2015 on the Station of the Cross, WLOF 101.7FM out of Buffalo, New York. “Father” Dave Baker and moderator, Mike Denz, were mulling over Catholicism between phone calls and complaining that 60% of Catholics agree with the survey statement, “It is not possible to have a personal relationship with God.”

“Fr.” Dave said he introduced a course at his parish to show people how to have a personal relationship with God. He even sets up special sessions of eucharistic adoration for those taking the course so they can “REALLY” get to know God.

What can I say? For centuries Catholics were never taught by their church they needed to have a personal relationship with God. Receiving God meant being baptized and consuming the communion wafer. For Catholics, God was Somebody to be feared. Every detail of their belief system and ritual were meant to assuage a God who demanded and expected perfect obedience. If you wanted some sympathy and mercy you were told to pray to Mary. Most Catholics hoped that when they stood before God their “good” would at least outweigh their bad. But all this Evangelical talk about having a “personal relationship” with God has Catholicism in a dither.

Every sinner who has accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior has a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. We can confidently call the all-powerful God of the Universe our Father only because the blood of His Son washed ALL of our sins away – past, present, and future. We can stand confidently before God clothed in the perfect righteousness of His Son. Halleluiah!!!

I walk with Him daily as I journey through this life. He knows me intimately. He protects me. He sustains me. He indwells me. He gives me my next breath. He is my Rock. He is my All. I am nothing without Him. I love Him beyond words. He pulled me out of the deep, dark abyss into the bright sunshine. He grabbed me and pulled me out of the icy sea when I had no strength or breath left. He suffered and died for ALL my sins. He took them all upon himself. Oh, my Lord! Not to have a relationship with Him? There could be NOTHING worse.

Kneeling before a bread wafer is NOT a personal relationship with God. Getting more deeply involved with your religion is NOT a relationship with God. You sit in front of a TV screen and passionately cheer on your favorite football team every Sunday but you can’t be bothered about the eternal salvation God offers you freely through Jesus and the opportunity to have the God of the Universe as your Redeemer, Father, Friend, and the Rock of your life???

Accept Jesus as your Savior. Seek out an Evangelical church where the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ is proclaimed. Devour His Word like your three daily meals. Inhale His Word like oxygen!

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:15

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” – Galatians 4: 4-7

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for saving me!!!

The Gospel or the “gospel”

People of many denominational persuasions refer to the Gospel (Good News!) of JesusGN Christ. But what is the Gospel? In 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul gives us a summary:

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” – 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

So Paul’s succinct Gospel message is that by “believing” that Jesus, the Christ, God the Son, died for your sins, was buried, and was resurrected you can be saved from the penalty for your sins and have eternal life through Him. Of course, Paul isn’t referring to just an intellectual belief. He’s talking about acknowledging that one is a helpless sinner without one plea before a Holy God and then accepting Jesus as Savior by faith. Evangelical churches preach this genuine “Good News,” that salvation is by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

But that is not the gospel taught by the Catholic church. Catholicism’s gospel is quite different. The Catholic hierarchy teaches that one must be baptized to be saved. Then one must strive towards absolute holiness by participating weekly in the sacrament of the mass. One must also obey the Ten Commandments perfectly (a ridiculous impossibility) and each time one disobeys they must confess their “mortal” sin to a priest in the sacrament of reconciliation only to start the cycle all over again, etc., etc., round and round.

Catholics believe they must perfectly obey the Ten Commandments and church rules in order to merit Heaven. They believe that, at the moment after their death, if they have even one unconfessed “mortal” sin staining their soul they will go to hell. Catholics talk about Jesus the Savior and God’s grace but ultimately it’s all about if they “cooperated with grace” and merited their salvation. Me? I break the Ten Commandments either in thought, word, or deed every single day and I’m not embarrassed to admit it.

A religious system which mandates you must earn your salvation is definitely NOT talking about “Good News.” Catholics chide Evangelicals because we say we KNOW we have eternal life because our salvation is based upon the imputed perfect righteousness of our Savior. Catholics believe no one can be sure they are saved because their salvation is based upon if a person perfectly obeys God (an impossibility) and His Catholic church and that can’t be determined until the moment after they die. But there is absolutely nothing “good” about that news. There’s nothing to rejoice about in that religious treadmill of works.

Well, the New Testament makes it clear there are none who are good. None of us are obedient. None of us have a plea. Christ came to save sinners who reach out to Him in faith, without one plea other than Him, like the tax collector in Luke 18. In contrast, Catholics are like the self-righteous Pharisee who think they are doing a decent job obeying the Ten Commandments. THEY’VE never killed anyone or cheated on their spouse! Their own “obedience” and “goodness” are their plea.

The Gospel of Evangelical Christianity is NOT the ‘gospel” of works-righteousness Catholicism.

“America’s dark and not-very-distant history of hating Catholics”

Contrary to some of the comments I’ve received since beginning this blog, I certainlyrg don’t hate Catholics. Many of my close family members and friends are Roman Catholics. However, as one who came out of Catholicism and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I object to all religious systems, whether they call themselves “Christian” or not, which teach that salvation must be merited. Catholicism is especially wily because it refers to Jesus as Lord and Savior and gives lip service to “salvation by grace through faith” but every Catholic is required to “cooperate with grace” and ultimately merit their salvation.

I found the article below from a British newspaper in anticipation of pope Francis’s visit to the USA to be quite interesting, more for what it doesn’t say than for what it says. There’s absolutely no doubt that a degree of hatred and prejudice toward Catholics existed in America. But let’s dig a little deeper. Did this anti-Catholic prejudice appear out of thin air as this article implies or was the hatred a reaction to other historical forces?

The history of Catholicism in the Middle Ages and beyond was marked by intolerance, often extremely brutal, toward “schismatics” and “heretics.” Early Americans were well aware of the church’s harassment and persecution of non-Catholic minorities in alliance with civil governments in those countries where Catholics held the majority. Crusades? Inquisition? Catholic hegemony often meant oppression for Protestants in Europe and South America well into the mid-twentieth-century (see Italy, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, interwar Poland, and the Latin American nations controlled by the clerical falangists).

The Catholic hierarchy wasn’t shy about its alleged right to forcefully subdue non-Catholics. Pope Leo XIII went on record defending the Catholic church’s right to suppress Protestants in alliance with civil governments: “Justice therefore forbids, and reason itself forbids, the state to be godless; or to adopt a line of action which would end in godlessness—–namely, to treat the various religions (as they call them) alike, and to bestow upon them promiscuously equal rights and privileges. Since, then, the profession of religion is necessary in the state, that religion must be professed which alone is true, and which can be recognized without difficulty, especially in Catholic states, because the marks of truth are, as it were, engraven upon it” (Encyclical Libertas, 1888).

Yes, Catholics also have a “dark and not-very-distant history” of hatred and to a much greater degree. By the way, the Tridentine anathematizations of the Reformers and everyone else who believes in salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone have never been officially rescinded.

There obviously is no danger of a “papist coup” in Washington D.C any time soon. Pope Francis can’t even get the majority of his members to go to mass on Sunday morning. The real danger to Evangelicalism began with the culture battles of the 80s and 90s when Evangelicals began embracing Catholics as co-belligerents in the fight for “morality” in America, which transitioned into compromising the Gospel of Jesus Christ and embracing works-righteousness Catholics as fellow Christians (see Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Chuck Colson, James Dobson, etc.).

Up until recently, Evangelical Protestants were keenly aware that the Catholic gospel of sacramental grace and merit was at odds with the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. But the ecumenical push by some Evangelicals to dispense with doctrine and embrace Catholics as “brothers and sisters in Christ” because “they love Jesus, too!” (see Rick Warren) casts those who would defend the Gospel of grace as “haters” and the “fringe.”

Catholics impossibly strive to live a sinless life so that at the time of their death they are in a “state of grace” with no “mortal” sin staining their souls. In contrast, Evangelicals believe no one can possibly live a sinless life and that all must accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and His imputed righteousness to be saved. Why are so many Evangelicals now overlooking the difference? Is it charitable to not say a word to Catholics as they continue to strive 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.

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“America’s dark and not-very-distant history of hating Catholics”

by Rory Carroll

the guardian.com

September 12, 2015

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/12/america-history-of-hating-catholics

“Catholics Come Home” to Chains

The Catholic church blows the trumpet and loudly bangs the drum on EWTN’s “Catholics Come Home” and “The Journey Home” shows for “Separated Brethren” who converted to Catholicism Vatican Pope New Year_Schu(2)but what’s the reality?

A recent study from Pew Research (see link below) finds that 2 percent of people coming from an Evangelical background wind up as Catholics while 10 percent of people raised Catholic end up identifying as Evangelicals.

But Catholics in the Northeast, once a Catholic stronghold, already have a strong sense of the reality of the situation as they look around and see their sparsely attended churches either merging or closing while non-denominational Evangelical churches are sprouting up all over. Every Catholic family has a member who became one of those “born-again people” and left the church. What’s going on?

I’ll be the first to agree that church attendance does not redeem anyone (in contrast to Catholic teaching). Sitting in a pew every Sunday does not equal salvation. Genuine Christianity is a personal relationship with Christ. It’s repenting of sin and accepting Jesus as Savior. It’s then following Him as Lord. Catholicism talks about Jesus and God’s grace but every Catholic is taught they must ultimately merit their way into Heaven by participating in the sacraments and obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules.

Sitting in a pew at an Evangelical church won’t make you a Christian. But there’s more than a good chance you will hear the Gospel while sitting in an Evangelical service and be invited to accept Christ. There’s absolutely zero chance of ever hearing the genuine Gospel in a Roman Catholic service. For Catholics it’s all about worshipping a wafer and trying your hardest to be “good” enough to merit Heaven.

The Holy Spirit continues to reach out to the Catholic lost in amazing ways.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/evangelical-protestants-are-the-biggest-winners-when-people-change-faiths/