Throwback Thursday: The everlasting ignominy of ECT

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on February 4, 2017 and has been revised.


Evangelicals and Catholics Together at Twenty
Edited by Timothy George and Thomas G. Guarino
Brazos Press, 2015, 187 pages

1 Star

When I returned to the Lord in 2014 after a prolonged prodigal absence, I noticed things had changed quite a bit within evangelicalism. I had to quickly educate myself regarding the widespread phenomena of the seeker, church-growth, mega-church movement where doctrine is often dumbed-down to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Some of the resulting changes were seemingly harmless, like the switch from jackets and ties at Sunday worship service to jeans and flannels. Other changes were not so innocuous.

One of the most disturbing changes was in regards to evangelicalism’s approach to Roman Catholicism. Evangelical churches have always proclaimed the Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, while the Catholic church has always proclaimed its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit and “never the twain shall meet.” But there were determined efforts on the part of Rome and some evangelicals led by the example of Billy Graham as far back as the early 1960s to bridge the unbridgeable chasm. When I walked away from the Lord in 1991 I could see the ecumenical train coming down the tracks, but it was still a long ways away. Twenty-three years later, in 2014, meetings between the pope and big-name evangelicals at the Vatican were commonplace. What had happened?

Since returning to the Lord, I’ve become very familiar with Evangelical and Catholics Together (ECT), an ecumenical initiative which was launched in 1994 by evangelical, Chuck Colson (d. 2012), and Catholic priest, Richard John Neuhaus, to bridge the gap between both camps. Over the course of twenty-three years, ECT has issued nine statements on various topics. Certainly, most “laypersons” are not at all familiar with ECT, but the group was a vanguard influence on theologians and church leaders and contributed a great deal to our current state of compromise, betrayal, and false unity. There was considerable outrage from conservative evangelicals at the time ECT released its first statement in 1994 – most notably from John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, James Kennedy, and John Ankerberg – but since then opposition to advancing ecumenism with Catholic error has become increasingly muted. Those who still oppose ecumenism with Rome are viewed as sectarian “isolationists,” as ECT member, J.I. Packer, deridingly refers to us in the preface of this book.

In “Evangelicals and Catholics Together at Twenty,” the ECT alliance re-presents its nine statements with some brief commentary. It’s sad reading, folks. Very sad. The pre-supposition heading into the first statement is that evangelicals and Catholics are brothers in Christ and preach, at its core, the same Gospel. It then becomes an issue of trying to force a square peg through a round hole. Salvation by sacramental grace and merit is NOT the same as salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Throughout these statements, differences are (somewhat) acknowledged and then immediately glossed over in deference to ecumenical “unity.” The scandalizing accommodation, cooperation, compromise, infidelity, and betrayal of the Gospel in these pages on the part of participating evangelicals has its precedent in the Old Testament as the Israelites mixed with the pagan Canaanites and “relaxed” their fidelity to Yahweh and His Word for the ecumenical worship of Baal (“Lord”). Even more foretelling were Paul’s many clear warnings to the New Testament churches of the encroaching “Judaizer” legalists.

I thought about listing each of the ECT statements and commenting on them individually, but I feel like I’ve already devoted far too much time and energy reading the book and writing this sorry “review.” My heart is deeply saddened by this ongoing betrayal of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and His Gospel, but I am encouraged to know the Lord is still on His throne and a remnant remains faithful to the uncompromised Gospel of grace!

Throwback Thursday: Is Jesus sacrificed 350,000 times every day on Catholic altars or is He seated at the right hand of God the Father interceding for those who trust in Him as their Savior by faith alone?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on February 9, 2017 and has been revised.


The Roman Catholic church boasts that its mass is the New Testament fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrificial system. Under the Mosaic Law, Hebrew priests offered daily animal sacrifices to God. Priests were clothed in specific attire that was full of symbolism. At the mass, Catholic priests also claim to offer up a sacrifice to God. They don’t sacrifice animals as was done in Old Testament times, but they claim they change bread wafers and wine into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. The Jesus wafer “host” (Latin hostia, “sacrificial victim”) is then offered up to God the Father as a sacrifice for the venial sins of the congregants and for anyone else who is mentioned. Catholic priests also wear an array of ritualistic garments at mass in quasi-imitation of Old Testament priests (see illustration above). Various sources have estimated the number of Catholic masses around the world to be around 350,000 daily. Catholics claim Jesus isn’t re-sacrificed at every mass, but that His sacrifice at Calvary is mystically “re-presented.”

Is Jesus really sacrificed 350,000 times worldwide each day? What does God say about the mass?

Have you ever read the Book of Hebrews in the Bible? It declares there is no more sacrificial priesthood or daily sacrificial offerings. Jesus offered Himself up ONCE as a sacrifice for all sins. He is now seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for all those who receive Him as Savior by faith alone. He is NOT a victim on Catholic altars offered up 350,000 times daily across the globe by Catholic priests. The mass is the most important part of the Catholic religious system, which teaches its members must receive graces from the sacraments so that they can obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules to be able to possibly merit salvation. I say “possibly” because a Catholic can never be sure they’ve done enough to merit their salvation. The mass and the entire Roman system makes Catholics entirely dependent on the clergy for their salvation. That’s no accident.

The Book of Hebrews, especially chapter 10, is a clear refutation of the Catholic mass. Are you going to believe the Bible or the Catholic church?

The genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone is so simple a child can understand it, unlike Rome’s complex and convoluted system of sacramental grace and merit.

The Catholic priest must wear specific attire during the mass as presented in the illustration. Did the apostles and pastors of the New Testament church wear such robes and elaborate finery? The priest must say specific rote words in exact sequence (the “liturgy”) for the mass to be “valid.” Were the Christians of the New Testament church slaves to such formal ritualism?

“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

Read the Book of Hebrews. Back when I was a Catholic searching for the truth in the 1980s, the Holy Spirit used the Book of Hebrews to reveal to me that Roman Catholic priests and the sacrifice of the mass were frauds and heresies. Repent of (turn from) your rebellion against God and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. Rituals and religious legalism don’t save.

Note from 2023: It’s shameful that some evangelical Christians deferentially refer to the Catholic priesthood with a great degree of respect as just another version of a Christian minister. The sacerdotal priesthood was done away with by Jesus Christ. Priests are frauds and imposters. The word “priest” as it applies to Catholic priests should leave a bitter and foul taste in the mouth of every believer who utters it.

Exposing the Heresies of the Catholic Church: The Mass

Throwback Thursday: Catholic calisthenics: Sit, stand, kneel, sit, stand, kneel…

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on February 27, 2017 and has been revised.


The Roman Catholic mass is a mystery to most evangelicals. If an evangelical attends a Catholic church for a wedding or a funeral and a mass is performed they’ll witness many things they’re not used to.

During the mass, the Catholic priest goes through an elaborate liturgical ritual in which he prays specific prayers in a specific order and the attending Catholics respond in rote exactly as they’ve been directed. You can visit Catholics churches in twenty different countries and the ritual is exactly the same. The ultimate focus of the mass is when the priest allegedly changes bread wafers and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. The priest then offers up the immolated Jesus wafer to God the Father as a sacrifice for the venial sins of the congregation and anyone else who is named. The Catholic attendees then line up to receive the Jesus wafer from the priest and consume it, believing as they’ve been taught that the Jesus wafer will impart graces enabling them to avoid sin so they can merit Heaven. If the priest did not follow the prescribed liturgical formula exactly, the mass could be completely invalid.

One thing that often makes a big impression on evangelical visitors to a Catholic mass is how often the attendees are required to change their posture; from sitting, to standing, to kneeling, etc. It’s all part of the elaborate ritual and is not to be deviated from. During the course of the mass the Catholic is required to assume the following postures in this precise order:

  • Stand
  • Sit
  • Stand
  • Sit
  • Stand
  • Sit
  • Stand
  • Kneel
  • Stand
  • Kneel or Stand
  • Stand
  • Sit or Kneel
  • Stand*

Up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down. The slavish ritualism is striking to behold. I assume much of this posture-changing was instituted to keep attendees awake during the numbing rote ritual.

I was an altar boy from 5th grade through 8th grade. After having to memorize all the spoken responses in Latin, the church changed the rote prayers of the mass to English. Argh! Once I became comfortable with the routine again, one of my favorite things to do as an altar boy was to observe the mass attendees. A large percentage looked like mass was the last place they wanted to be. Catholics are told by their church that if they miss weekly mass on Sunday it’s a “mortal” sin and they’re going to hell and many of those who still bother to attend mass (only 22% of American Catholics attended obligatory weekly mass in 2016) are there strictly because of this threat.

But there were some people at mass who were very enthusiastic about the ritual and those tended to be older women. They were the first to stand, the first to kneel, and the first to sit down. They were also the first and the loudest in saying the responses. Their demeanor seemed to express to the rest of the congregation, “You poor, unpious saps need to refer to the missalette, but look at me! I’m such an outstanding religious person that I’ve got this whole thing down pat and I know it even better than Father (the priest).” If a priest deviates from the ritual by even one iota, one of these self-appointed holier-than-thous will be on the phone to the bishop’s office the following day. Yes, God said even the things we do that we think are good deeds are like filthy rags in His sight.

God’s Word says there’s no need for priests and sacrifices any longer. Jesus did away with the Old Testament sacrificial system and precluded the ersatz Catholic sacrifice of the mass when He cried, “It is finished” on the cross. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and High Priest. He is the only Mediator between God and men. Accept Christ and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches God’s Word without compromise.

“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

*Postures and Gestures at Mass

Throwback Thursday: “Martyrs” or deluded victims of religious error?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on February 28, 2017 and has been revised.


This past weekend I was watching the local news and I saw the story far below about a large group of Rochester Catholics, led by the area’s bishop, who gathered to honor the memory of a priest and a nun – George Weinmann, 77, and Lilian Marie McLaughlin, 26, (pictured) – who both perished fifty years ago on February 20, 1967 when they went into a burning church building to “rescue” communion wafers.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The priest and nun died trying to “save” communion wafers.

The Catholic church teaches its priests change bread wafers into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Catholics line up at mass to consume the Jesus wafers, believing as they are taught that eating the Jesus wafer confers graces that will enable them to resist sin and merit Heaven. Priests store any leftover Jesus wafers in a locked box called a tabernacle where they are reverenced and worshiped as the physical Son of God. Weinmann and McLaughlin entered the burning church to “rescue” the Jesus wafers aka the Blessed Sacrament from the flames.


I’m saddened for Weinmann and McLaughlin, that they believed the bread wafers were actually Jesus and perished trying to “save” him. I’m saddened for all Roman Catholics, represented by the people who gathered together in this news story, who follow their church’s deadly literalist misinterpretation of John 6 and the Last Supper passages in the gospels and believe receiving Jesus means literally eating him followed by trying to obey the Ten Commandments to merit salvation, rather than accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone.

So sad.

Service Honors Rochester Fatal Church Fire Victims

Above: The needlessly fatal fire at St. Philip Neri Catholic church in Rochester N.Y. on February 20, 1967

Throwback Thursday: Nail-biters doomed to hell?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on January 2, 2017 and has been revised. As this case illustrates, Roman Catholic legalism leads to questions and unsatisfactory answers in the burrowing down into ever-deepening rabbit-holes.


It may seem a little quirky for a guy who writes a blog titled, “excatholic4christ,” to regularly listen to Catholic talk radio, but that’s what I do. It’s part of my daily routine. I listen to podcasts of a daily talk show called “Calling All Catholics,” which is broadcast out of nearby Buffalo, New York on WLOF 101.7 FM and features Catholic priests responding to questions from listeners. It’s sadly entertaining to me. The priests give out information that is mostly unscriptural, but it keeps me on my toes and periodically gives me fodder for this blog.

My favorite priest to listen to by a large margin is Rick Poblocki who appears on the show Tuesdays and Thursdays. Rick is an old-fashioned, blustering priest who sticks to the rule book and makes the proverbial bull in a china shop look like a graceful ballerina.

A couple of weeks ago, Rick took a call from a mother who was very concerned about her daughter receiving communion. Just to give you a little background, when I was a young Catholic we were taught that we had to fast from all food and drink, with the exception of water, beginning at midnight prior to receiving communion on Sunday morning. For Catholics who went to 11 a.m. or 12 noon mass on Sunday, that was a long stretch and more than a few people became weak-kneed or even fainted during mass. Catholics are taught that the priest changes the bread wafers into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ and they didn’t want people eating the consecrated wafer and making Jesus swim in a pool of masticated bacon, eggs, toast, and orange juice in their stomachs. We were taught that it was a “mortal” sin to eat anything after midnight before receiving communion the following day.

On November 21, 1964, pope Paul VI changed the fast period from midnight to only one hour before receiving communion. But what about all the people who went to hell prior to 1964 because they had violated the midnight fast? Did they all receive a “Get Out of Hell Free” card from the pope? Yes, I’m being slightly facetious, but, seriously, how does one explain the far-reaching consequences of such a change? How could one infallible pope abrogate the binding law of previous infallible popes in a matter of eternal significance?

On several of his shows, I’ve heard priest Rick talk about the 60-minute fast prior to receiving communion. According to Rick’s brand of old school Catholicism, 60 minutes means exactly 60 minutes. Unscrupulous Catholics who try to cut corners and eat something 50 or 55 minutes before receiving communion commit “mortal” sin and are doomed to hell unless they confess their sin to a priest. Stopwatch anyone? What about 59 minutes? Can 59 minutes be rounded up, Rick? Nope, Rick says 60 minutes MEANS 60 minutes.

Okay, now let’s return back to the anxious mother who called the show. The poor woman was distressed because her daughter was a nail-biter and she was worried the nail fragments her daughter swallowed less than one hour prior to receiving communion were a violation of the 60-minute fast resulting in “mortal” sin and eternal damnation. Rick assured the woman that finger nail fragments were not digestible and were not classified as food by the RCC, so her daughter was okay. As another example of this ritualistic legalism, there are Catholics who think chewing gum before receiving communion is allowable since they don’t actually swallow it. Not so fast! The church specifies (see here) that, “Chewing gum as such would not break the fast, but swallowing the juices and flavors released by the chewing process would do so.” Got that?

I am so grateful to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for freeing me from the chains of Catholic legalism and saving me. Repent (turn from your rebellion against God) and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. The religious treadmill does not save.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

Throwback Thursday: Pop Quiz!

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on January 4, 2017 and has been revised.


Yes, it’s time for a pop-quiz! Please close your books and see if you can answer the following question:

What do the ten people below have in common?

  • Mother Teresa
  • G. K. Chesterton
  • Peter Kreeft
  • Malcolm Muggeridge
  • Thomas Aquinas
  • Thomas a Kempis
  • Blaise Pascal
  • Teresa of Avila
  • Henri Nouwen
  • Thomas Merton

1) If you guessed they were all Roman Catholics you would be correct. And because they were all Roman Catholics (Kreeft is still living) they were all obliged to believe salvation is achieved by sacramental grace (baptism, the eucharist, penance, etc.) and by obeying the Ten Commandments and their church’s rules (aka merit). But God’s Word proclaims the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Salvation is either by sacraments and merit as these ten believed and defended or it’s by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The two gospels are irreconcilable. They are not the same.

2) The other thing these ten folks have in common is some evangelicals refer to them as exemplary Christians and as people evangelicals should emulate. Many evangelical pastors misguidedly name-drop these works-righteousness Catholics in their sermons.

So, I would sincerely like to know how evangelicals, who supposedly believe in salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, could praise and lift up as examples people who unabashedly and unapologetically propagated a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit? Does not compute.

“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” – 2 Corinthians 11:3-4

Throwback Thursday: Spiritual Lessons from Spring Clean-up!

Above photo: Gracie and I were hard at work in the backyard last year

I’m currently in the middle of my Spring yard cleanup campaign, which involves A LOT of raking. So I thought it would be appropriate to republish this post from March 28, 2022, which has been revised.


Followers of this blog know that every Fall, I whine on and on about my arduous Leaf Collection Campaign. Every November and the first couple of weeks of December, much of my spare time is consumed with collecting all of the leaves that fall from the oak trees in our yard and from those in neighbors’ yards bordering our property (Argh!). This last campaign, I hauled 50 tarpfulls of leaves to the curb, which was lower compared to my usual 60.

Anyway, I had 3 months to convalesce and now I’m in the middle of the Spring Clean-up Campaign. That entails:

  1. Collecting all of the large branches and twigs that fell throughout the Winter.
  2. Picking up all of our dog’s droppings from the last 3 months.
  3. Raking the lawn thoroughly with a metal rake to remove small twigs, acorns, dead grass, “snow mold,” and all leaves leftover from the Fall.
  4. Using a metal rake to carefully remove all of the leaves that accumulated in the ivy and pachysandra patches in the yard.

I’ve completed steps #1 and #2 and I’m methodically still working on #3 and #4. Our lawn is about 1/2 acre and raking the entire area is a lot of work for a senior citizen. So far, I’ve brought 9 very full paper lawn bags to the curb. I collected most of the leaves in the ivy and pachysandra last Fall so there’s not a lot to collect this Spring.

The good thing about Spring Clean-up is I get to be outside and breath lots of fresh air after being cooped up inside for three months. I also get to listen to good sermons via my iPhone and earbuds while I’m working.

A spiritual lesson often comes to mind when I’m raking in the Spring. As I drag the metal rake over the grass, it removes unwanted objects, but it’s also stressful on the grass. I’m not one who credits plants with having feelings, but if they did those grass blades would be letting out a big “Ouch!” every time I dragged that metal rake over them. While the raking is stressful to the grass, in the big picture it’s very helpful as I’m removing dead grass (dethatching) and exposing more of the soil to air and moisture for a healthier lawn.

The Bible says that God has us go through difficulties and trials to refine us to be more like Jesus Christ. We often accumulate bad habits and attitudes in our lives that need a good cleaning out. When the negative attachments are removed, our spiritual walk with the Lord becomes sweeter and healthier.

The Lord’s discipline may be uncomfortable and even painful in the short term, but in the big picture we will praise the Lord for His wise and perfect care.

In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. – Hebrews 12:4-11

2023 Postscript: I caught COVID after I finished raking the backyard. I think I pushed myself too hard with the raking. So, for the past week I’ve been resting and recuperating. I still need to do the sides and front.

Throwback Thursday: Back before they muddied the Gospel

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on January 16, 2017 and has been revised.


Why a Preacher and Not a Priest: A Biography of Evangelist John Carrara
By Harriet Hamilton Cowell
Zondervan, 1953 (Ninth Edition), 160 pages

5 Stars

Way, way back in the day, pastors of evangelical and fundamentalist churches used to regularly invite itinerant evangelists to their churches for several days of “revival.” These fellas preached the Gospel with passion and the Holy Spirit, often resulting in many souls accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and believers rededicating themselves to the Lord. One such evangelist was John Carrara (1913-2008) of Fairview, New Jersey.

Carrara was born into a Roman Catholic family and as a young teen even thought about becoming a priest. When he was fifteen, Carrara attended a Protestant service unbeknownst to his parents and was stirred by the sermon and the Bible verse displayed on the church wall: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). John was convicted by God’s Word and eventually accepted Jesus Christ as His Savior by faith alone at a following service. He faced significant persecution from his family and friends for rejecting the Roman Catholic church and its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. During a savage beating, his father struck him so hard with a broomstick that one of his shoulders became separated. The Lord soon called him to be an evangelist and John immersed himself in God’s Word in preparation. Despite the many obstacles, young John began preaching before people at the age of sixteen and over the course of his ministry he preached the Gospel in churches and assemblies in 40 states and Canada.

I enjoyed this biography of Carrara tremendously once I got used to the flowery prose of its time. The book was very popular resulting in Zondervan publishing twelve editions between 1937 and 1967. The author only lightly touches upon the many secondary differences between Roman Catholicism and Bible Christianity, but great emphasis is given to the most important difference – justification. Is a person made righteous through the Catholic sacraments (baptism, confirmation, the eucharist, confession, and last rites) and by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules as Rome teaches or is a person made righteous solely by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone and receiving Christ’s imputed perfect righteousness? I imagine many born-again believers presented this popular book with its clear, uncompromised message to Roman Catholic friends and family members back in the day.

Rarely will you encounter a book like “Why a Preacher and Not a Priest” on the shelves of Christian book stores these days. John Carrara was born in 1913, back when most evangelicals knew the difference between the Gospel of grace and Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Another traveling evangelist, Billy Graham, was born just five years after Carrara in 1918. While many accepted Christ because of Graham’s ministry, few did more to muddy the irreconcilable differences between the genuine Gospel and Rome’s false gospel. Graham counseled Catholic men and women who, like Carrara, were drawn to the Gospel, to remain in the Catholic church, errantly claiming that it too proclaimed the Gospel. Many evangelical pastors and para-church leaders have followed Graham’s lead. 

“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” – Luke 6:26

The world still reveres Graham who died in 2018, but has forgotten about John Cararra and the other evangelists of a generation or two ago who faithfully preached the pure Gospel of grace.

Used copies of “Why a Preacher and Not a Priest” are readily available through


Throwback Thursday: “If I take off my scapular prior to surgery and die on the operating table, will I still go to Heaven?”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on January 17, 2017 and has been revised.

Note: “If I take off my scapular prior to surgery and die on the operating table, will I still go to Heaven?” is this blog’s third most-viewed post, all-time, with 6556 hits to date. I’ll tell you the reason why that is the case at the end of the post.*


This morning I was listening to the 1/13/17 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show broadcast on the Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY, with Catholic priest, Dave Baker, and moderator, Mike Denz, taking questions from listeners.

Towards the end of the show, Mike read a question sent in from “Kim” in Rochester, NY regarding the brown scapular. But first, a little background:

Catholic tradition posits that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Carmelite friar, Simon Stock, in Aylesford, England in 1251 and presented him and his religious order with a brown scapular (a ceremonial apron), proclaiming, “the one who dies in it will be saved.” A mini-version of the scapular, basically two strings with patches of wool on each end that is draped over the head and rests on the shoulders (see photo above), was created in the late-1500s so that lay people could also benefit from the scapular. A priest must first bless the scapular in order for it to transmit its advantages to the wearer. Untold millions of Catholics have worn the small, brown scapular over the last 430 years, believing that wearing the sacramental would earn or help earn their salvation as the Marian apparition had allegedly promised.

Okay, now let’s get back to Kim’s question. She asked, “If you have the brown scapular, but you are having surgery and aren’t allowed to wear it, do the protections and benefits that it provides still apply if something happens?”

Priest Dave and Mike discussed the question for several minutes and concluded that while it’s extremely important to wear the scapular in order to gain Mary’s promise of salvation, there are probably some circumstances when it’s permissible to remove it temporarily such as during surgery, taking a shower, or while swimming. However, they acknowledged that some priests would advise that the benefits of the scapular would only be in effect if it was being worn. Dave and Mike also made sure to add that the scapular wouldn’t do a person any good if they weren’t following the other teachings of the church. Dave also said that if a scapular becomes worn out, it can be replaced with a new one, which does not need to be blessed. Apparently, the blessing of the previous scapular is grandfathered to the new. But hold on! If the wearer of a brown Carmelite scapular switches to a different color scapular (red, black, blue, white, or green), Dave said they will need to have a priest bless the new one because each of the different colored scapulars has its own distinct protocols. Got that? Are you dizzy yet?

Can this ex-Catholic and born-again follower of Jesus Christ ask just a couple of questions?

1) Dave and Mike said a person needs to be following the prescribed teachings of the church for the scapular to be effective, but if a Catholic were already following the teachings of the church  – receiving the sacraments and obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules – why would they need a scapular? Well, in works-righteous Catholicism where salvation is never assured, the thinking goes that every little bit helps.

2) Dave opines that an individual who dies without the scapular can still earn the promise of salvation if it was removed for a “legitimate” reason (surgery, swimming, showering, etc.), but other priests disagree and say the promise is null and void as soon as the scapular is removed. Who is right?

If you’re a blood-bought, born-again follower of Jesus Christ, you know all of the above is sheer anti-Scriptural superstition. But to a Roman Catholic trying to merit their way to Heaven, it all makes perfect sense.

“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:6-8

Come out of religious legalism, ritualism, and superstition and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone.

*The reason for this post’s high number of hits is because Catholics regularly query the internet, asking if they can remove their scapular for such occasions as surgery and still go to Heaven.

Throwback Thursday: Is it really, “Whatever works for you”???

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on January 26, 2017 and has been revised.


Unbelievers look around at all the various “Christian” denominations and groups and shake their heads in bewilderment. There’s Roman rite and Eastern rite Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, thousands of mainline Protestant and evangelical groups, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many more smaller groups. They all claim to teach the truth about God and spiritual matters, but they can’t all be right. How can a person sort through this tangled mess? The answer is easier than you might think.

Evangelical Christians are unique in a couple of important ways. Evangelicals believe the Bible is God’s authoritative Holy Word and that it teaches everything necessary regarding spiritual matters. The other groups either do not genuinely accept the Bible as God’s Word (most old, mainline Protestant denominations these days) or they attempt to add to God’s Word with their own traditions or with additional “scripture.”

Evangelicals also believe, as God’s Word proclaims, that salvation is only by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The other groups all teach salvation depends upon following their religious protocols, beginning with baptism into their specific group, followed by participation in various sacraments/rites and then by obedience to religious laws. Evangelicals believe we are justified by faith in Christ alone and then sanctified by the Holy Spirit to walk more closely with Jesus, our Lord and Savior. The other groups teach the reverse; that sanctification (impossibly trying to live a “holy” life) is rewarded with salvation.

Every group uses the Bible, so why do evangelicals read the Bible differently than the other groups? Great question!

“Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” – John 5:28-29

There are many verses and passages in the Bible, like the one above, that works-righteousness, pseudo-Christians use as proof-texts for their errant theology. However, passages in the Bible must be understood in context. Text without context is pretext. Scripture clarifies Scripture. A few verses before the above passage we read:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes (pisteuo, Greek: to believe, put one’s faith in, trust) him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” – John 5:24

Those who trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone pass from death unto life. After a person is saved, they will follow the Lord in obedience with good works, but works do not save,

“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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:8-10

The theme of the entire Bible – Old and New Testament – is Jesus Christ. We are all sinners and we all deserve eternal judgement. We could never become good enough to meet God’s holy standard. But God loves us so much he sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross. Jesus conquered sin and death when He rose from the grave and now offers the free gift of eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who repent/turn from their rebellion against God and accept Christ as their Savior by faith alone. The Lord imputes His perfect righteousness to us when we accept Him. We have no righteousness of our own.

Most counterfeit forms of (c)hristianity insist you must join their group and follow their rules so that you may “possibly” merit Heaven. That’s very, very bad news because no one can merit Heaven. Genuine Christianity teaches you can’t merit Heaven because you disobey God every single day, but Jesus Christ died for your sins and offers you forgiveness for all your sins, eternal life, and fellowship with God. That’s VERY good news. In Bible-based, evangelical Christianity, it’s ALL about Jesus Christ. But wait, you say. Why are there so many different evangelical churches? Evangelicals may differ on secondary issues, but we are united in our belief in the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. But aren’t Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy much older than evangelical Protestantism? The early church gradually became institutionalized and fell into compromise and heresy, but there have always been those who upheld the Gospel of grace. The Holy Spirit used the Reformation to return the church to the Gospel of grace proclaimed by the New Testament early church.

No, not all “Christian” groups are the same. Most say “our way,” but genuine Christianity proclaims faith in Jesus Christ alone is the ONLY way.

Pray to Jesus today and ask Him to save you. Then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that proclaims the Gospel without compromise. What are you waiting for?