Throwback Thursday: Evangelical Exodus?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on July 6, 2016 and has been revised.

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Evangelical Exodus: Evangelical Seminarians and Their Paths To Rome
Edited by Douglas Beaumont
Ignatius Press, 2016, 286 pages

1 Star

I returned to the Lord in 2014 after a two-decade prodigal “hiatus.” One of my first priorities was to find an evangelical, Gospel-preaching fellowship, but I wanted to avoid the kind of legalism we encountered at the independent fundamental Baptist church we had attended way back in the 1980s. I found a Southern Baptist church in our area that we liked a lot initially. It was a small church and the members were warm and welcoming. Our first Sunday was also the first Sunday for the new pastor; a young guy in his early-thirties, fresh out of seminary. His sermons were more about God’s grace and mercy than about shame, guilt, and accusations of not measuring up to God’s Holiness, which was what I had been used to. It was a balm to my soul.

But there was also a troubling aspect to this pastor. He wasn’t just “interested” in Roman Catholic writers and theologians, he was completely enamored with them. Over the course of the year we heard about his admiration for such Catholic figures as Thomas Aquinas, Blaise Pascal, G. K. Chesterton, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Peter Kreeft. I pointed out to him that all of those people supported a religious system which taught salvation was through the Catholic sacraments and obedience to the Ten Commandments and church rules. He off-handedly dismissed my objections as one would who has been steeped in institutional education and must condescend to the level of the “unlearned.” Because of that issue and a few others we decided to leave the church in June 2015.

I was eager to read “Evangelical Exodus” after my experiences with that young pastor. What exactly are they teaching in evangelical seminaries these days? Editor Doug Beaumont recounts his story and the stories of eight other young men who attended Southern Evangelical Seminary in Matthews, North Carolina. The seminarians allegedly all began as “evangelicals,” but ended up as members of the Roman Catholic church. How does that work? The founder of the seminary, evangelical theologian, Norman Geisler (d. 2019), is an unabashed admirer of Thomas Aquinas. Because of Geisler and his like-minded professors, the curriculum at SES was heavy on Thomist philosophy and theology. Some students naturally conjectured, “If Aquinas is so commendable for his non-Catholic-specific teachings, let’s check out his Catholic-specific teaching as well.” And one thing led to another. As I pointed out earlier in a review of one his books (see here), Geisler defies rationality. On the one hand, he fully supports the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, and also acknowledges that Catholicism teaches a skewed gospel of salvation by sacramental pseudo-grace and merit. Yet he also dichotomously embraces Catholicism as a Christian, albeit misguided, entity. It’s clear from “Evangelical Exodus” that Geisler’s schizophrenic infatuation with Aquinas has led many astray.

What about the nine ex-seminarians who contributed to this book? They all claim to have been blood-bought, born-again believers prior to converting to Catholicism, but how could a sinner saved by grace and a child of God take upon themselves the chains of spiritual slavery and try to once again earn their own salvation through the “beggarly elements”? It’s clear that the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone had only been intellectual head knowledge for these nine men. There was no genuine saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

“But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” – Galatians 4:9

Each ex-seminarian presents the Roman Catholic church’s long (and checkered) history, sacraments and liturgies, and claims to apostolic authority as arguments in favor of Catholicism. All of these points have been critiqued by knowledgeable evangelicals and shown to be deficient. See my list of books here which compare Catholicism with God’s Word. The ex-seminarians liberally quote the “church fathers” to support their viewpoint, but honest Catholic scholars will admit that the “fathers” present as many challenges to current Catholic dogma as they do affirmations.

Our former, Aquinas-loving pastor studied at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Southern Baptist), which is located in Wake Forest, North Carolina, just three hours from SES. I surmise Geisler’s obsession with Thomism also made its way up Route 85 to SEBTS.

Doug Beaumont and Ignatius Press demonstrate a lot of wishful thinking by titling this book, “Evangelical Exodus,” but as thousands of near-empty Catholic churches attest, the overwhelming exodus between Catholics and evangelicals has been the journey of millions of ex-Catholics out of religious legalism and ritualism to the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

This book was extremely hard for me to read. My heart breaks for Roman Catholics who are attempting the impossible task of trying to merit their way to Heaven. The Catholic church proclaims Christ is the “Savior,” but then teaches its members that they must merit their salvation by participating in the sacraments and obeying the Ten Commandments perfectly (impossible!). I couldn’t obey the Ten Commandments for a single day and neither can anyone else. A Catholic can never say they are “saved” (that would be the “sin of presumption”) because their salvation depends on if they can remain obedient and faithful to their church’s teachings right up until the moment of their death.

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” – Galatians 2:21

Catholic friend, accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches the genuine Gospel without compromise. Find your salvation and rest from religious strivings in Jesus Christ.

http://www.gotquestions.org/sinners-prayer.html

Note from 2021: Many evangelicals misguidedly view Roman Catholics as “brothers in Christ” and view outreach to Catholics and debates with Catholic apologists as unnecessary and “divisive.” Yet, as exemplified by this book, Catholic apologists have no problem denigrating evangelicalism and the genuine Gospel.

Throwback Thursday: “Top ten misconceptions that Catholics have about Catholicism”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on July 12, 2016 and has been revised.

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This morning, I listened to the 6/3/16 and 6/10/16 podcasts of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show on the Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, out of Buffalo, NY, with host, Mike Denz, and Catholic priest, Dave Baker, taking questions from the listeners.

Over the course of the two shows, priest Baker responded to Denz’s personal list of the “Top Ten Misconceptions That Catholics Have About Catholicism.” I’ve listed the items below along with my own comments.

1) “Jesus is the Son of God, but He is not God.”

The Catholic church has a lot of unscriptural beliefs, but at least it teaches that Jesus is God (with the caveat that Catholicism’s Christology is erroneous in several respects, including its faux Jesus wafer). However, the average Catholic in the pew is woefully ignorant regarding spiritual matters. They attend the Catholic rituals and they have certain prayers memorized, but they only skim the surface when it comes to RC doctrine. I had a very “devout” Catholic friend who said the rosary every night with his family, but during one of our discussions he passionately argued that Jesus wasn’t God.

2) “The eucharist is a symbol.”

The Catholic church teaches that their priests change bread wafers and wine into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ at every mass. This belief, the core of Roman Catholicism, stems from a serious misinterpretation of John 6 and the Last Supper passages in the Gospels. Research shows that 70% of Catholics don’t believe the communion elements are literally changed into Jesus by the priest. Baker blamed some of this “confusion” on Protestant influence. Genuine evangelical Christians receive Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith alone, NOT by physically eating Him!

3) “Purgatory is no longer believed by the church.”

Baker blamed Catholics’ dismissal of purgatory on wishful thinking. At Catholic funerals, friends and relatives commonly refer to the deceased as being in Heaven while the reality, according to Catholic teaching, is the person is probably in purgatory if not Hell. Contrary to Catholic doctrine, there is no mention of purgatory in the Bible.

4) “Most of the Bible is symbolic.”

The majority of Catholics either haven’t read the Bible or have only read a very small portion. Their church never encouraged them to read the Bible. It’s a closed book to them, full of stories and parables (some would say myths and legends) they cannot understand. “Better just to stick with what the priest tells me to do,” is the rule for most. Catholicism declares the Bible is God’s Word, but then pushes it aside for its own traditions. Where the Bible contradicts Catholic tradition, tradition wins. Many Catholic prelates, priests, and theologians believe various events described in the Old Testament are myths and fables.

5) “Anyone can get an annulment if they have enough money.”

Baker countered by saying there is now no charge for annulments. But is there really any doubt that wealthy Catholic families in the past were able to procure an annulment via a generous gift to the church? But let’s be honest, annulments are just a slippery and unethical way of getting around divorce.

6) “No one believes in angels anymore.”

Baker replied by saying people are less-inclined to believe in spiritual things in general these days.

7) “Everyone sins and God loves everyone so there is no one who should not be able to receive communion.”

Catholicism teaches only Catholics can receive the consecrated Jesus wafer and only those Catholics with supposedly no mortal sin on their soul. Many of the Catholics who still bother to attend church on Sunday come forward to receive communion, but most of them have not obeyed other mandatory church rules (e.g., only 26% of Catholics participate in the sacrament of reconciliation/confession at least once a year as mandated).

8) “There are many contradictions in the Bible so we don’t really know what to believe.”

See my response to #4.

9) “If the words of the mass can change and eating meat on Fridays can change then things like women priests and use of articles of conception [sic – contraception] can change too.”

Baker said some teachings can never be changed, but some can change with the times. Who decides which is which? It used to be taught that Catholics committed mortal sin if they ate meat on non-Lenten Fridays, but that changed in 1966 in the USA. Were Catholics who ate meat on a non-Lenten Friday prior to 1966 and didn’t confess it and went to hell given a pardon?

10) “We should not judge people’s sins because God loves everyone.”

Baker responded that Catholics “are not permitted to judge a person’s character, ever,” but they should judge a person’s actions.  Unfortunately, Catholics see themselves as “good” people who obey the Ten Commandments for the most part and don’t see themselves as sinners in need of the Savior.


Catholics are generally ignorant of their church’s doctrines, but all Catholics will agree that attaining Heaven involves “being good” and “doing your best.” The Roman Catholic church teaches that other religionists such as Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and even atheists may also merit Heaven if they’re sincere in their beliefs and “good,” so there’s little motivation for members of the RCC to learn the particulars of Roman Catholic theology that Denz stresses over. In none of Denz’s and Baker’s long discussion did I hear the genuine Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Throwback Thursday: James White: What goes through Ravi Zacharias’ head?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on July 14, 2016 and has been revised. Ravi Zacharias was a very popular Christian apologist who was highly revered by many evangelicals. Following his death in May 2020, it was discovered that Ravi had led a double-life for many years, preying on women as a serial adulterer and as a serial sexual predator. But Ravi had been openly engaged in spiritual adultery for decades, suggesting to his many admirers that Roman Catholicism with its false gospel was a Christian entity.

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Back in October of last year, I ran across a You Tube video of Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias (photo left), speaking at a seminar. At the start of the video, a young street evangelist asks Ravi if Roman Catholicism is a cult or an apostate church? For five minutes, Ravi dances around the question without giving the young man a forthright answer. I was angered. Does Rome teach the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone or does it not? Why was Ravi so reluctant to be straightforward? Why the hesitancy? Why the deference to Rome? Meanwhile, Catholic apologists do not hesitate to proclaim their church is the one true church and that its gospel of sacramental grace and merit is the only authorized way to God.

For Ravi’s video and my reaction, see here.

Praise God, I see that I’m not the only one who was flabbergasted by Ravi’s non-reply to the street evangelist! Yesterday, I stumbled across Christian apologist, James White’s (photo right) 2/3/15 reaction to the very same video. Click on the link below. White’s critique of Ravi’s comments begins at the 29:40 mark and ends at the 47:37 mark.

Roman Catholicism

I can personally attest to the fact that Ravi has referred to several Roman Catholics with great praise and admiration in his talks and writings including St. Francis, G.K. Chesterton, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Henri Nouwen. I would not be surprised if there have been many others. I see Ravi’s also scheduled to appear at the “Together 2016” ecumenifest this weekend, which will also include a video from pope Francis.

Ravi is a wonderful speaker and he’s pointed many to Christ but, unfortunately, he’s also muddied the Gospel of grace by embracing as Christians those who teach salvation by sacramental grace and obedience to the Ten Commandments. But there is only one Gospel. No one benefits when evangelicals turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the deadly errors of Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Praise God for James R. White and other evangelical apologists who are still able to discern a false gospel from the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Throwback Thursday: Patriotic saint or fascist collaborator?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on July 25, 2016 and has been revised.

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Over the past several years, we ‘ve seen many challenges to religious freedom. Individuals and groups have made headlines in their opposition to federal mandates which interfere with religious beliefs. We’ll undoubtedly see further assaults on religious freedoms in the future.

The Catholic church has been an outspoken defender of religious freedoms during this current controversy. The relics of saints Thomas More and John Fisher recently concluded their tour of several U.S. cities as part of the church’s “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign. More and Fisher were executed by King Henry VIII in the 16th century because of their refusal to acknowledge the king as the leader of the breakaway Church of England. But the Catholic church conveniently forgets to mention that in the same era when More and Fisher were killed, hundreds of thousands of Protestants were put to death as heretics by civil authorities in league with the church in countries where Catholicism dominated. While he was Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, Thomas More zealously persecuted Protestants. When Donald Trump first made his negative remarks regarding Muslims last December, journalists were quick to remind us that Catholic immigrants had once been the target of nativist Protestants in 19th and 20th century America. What the pundits failed to mention was that anti-Catholicism in the United States was at least partially a reaction to the suppression and persecution of non-Catholics in Catholic countries. See my earlier post here.

Several days ago, I saw the article below about Croatia overturning the 1946 conviction of Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac as a fascist, pro-Nazi collaborator. No one can deny that Stepinac was an early supporter of the murderous Catholic Ustase. Few Americans are familiar with the story of the bloody Ustase and their alliance with Nazi Germany. See here. But Croatians who currently campaign for Stepinac’s canonization view him as a patriot and supporter of Croatian independence rather than as a patron of fascist intolerance. Survivors of the Ustase and their families are understandably outraged at the canonization efforts on behalf of Stepinac.

But Stepinac and the Ustase weren’t alone. There were many other fascist movements in 20th century Europe that had the full and enthusiastic support of the Catholic church including:

  • Francisco Franco and Nacionalcatolicismo in Spain
  • Antonio Salazar and Estado Novo in Portugal
  • Benito Mussolini and the Partito Popolare Italiano in Italy
  • Engelbert Dollfuss and Austrofacism in Austria
  • Jozef Tiso and the Slovak People’s Party in the Slovak Republic
  • Leon Degrelle and the Rexists in Belgium
  • Philippe Petain and Vichy France
  • The Endecja and post-Pilsudski Sanacja in Poland

For the purposes of this post I won’t digress into Catholic falangism that sprouted up throughout all of Latin America.

The church used its strong connections with fascist, pro-Catholic regimes to restrict and oppress non-Catholic religious groups, but only seventy-years after the peak of clerical fascism in Europe, the Catholic church portrays itself as the defender of religious freedom. Yes, European clerical fascism is water over the dam at this point, but there’s an irony here that should not be missed or forgotten.


Croatia overturns conviction of WW2 ‘collaborator’ Cardinal Stepinac
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36866939


Note from 2021: Cognizant of the inevitable PR backlash, pope Francis has pragmatically blocked the repeated efforts of Croatian Catholics to canonize fascist collaborator, Aloysius Stepinac.

Throwback Thursday: Arguing about God over dinner

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on July 26, 2016 and has been revised.

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I’ve mentioned in a few other posts that I have five older sisters and no brothers. Yes, I was the “baby” of the family and the apple of my Mom’s eye. 🙂 All six of us children were sent to Catholic parochial school and Catholic high school, but my sisters currently claim to be agnostics or atheists.

My Mom died two years ago (2014) and my Dad died last summer (2015). Sister #4 never attends Catholic church…ever…but she felt compelled to have a mass said for our mother last year on the anniversary of her death. This month she arranged to have a mass said for our father. Catholics are taught that they can contact their local parish office and request that a mass or masses be dedicated to a deceased loved one. A stipend is usually involved. Catholics are taught that masses dedicated to a deceased person bestow grace and shorten the person’s time in Purgatory. However, God’s Word doesn’t speak about Purgatory. Those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone have all of their sins forgiven. Praise God!

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” – 2 Cor. 5:6-8

The sale of indulgences and masses for those in Purgatory was a huge moneymaker for the Catholic church. St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the center of Catholicism, was largely built through the sale of indulgences.

My wife and I had Sisters #2 and #4 over for dinner last Saturday. The discussion around the table eventually turned to spiritual matters. Sister #4, an agnostic who nevertheless still buys masses for my parents, made it clear that she doesn’t have any respect for the Bible. She quoted a quasi-documentary on cable television which disparaged the Bible. The show claimed the Israelites had plagiarized much of their religion from the beliefs of other ancient nations. The show also claimed that the New Testament manuscripts were manipulated by devious and self-serving popes. I countered that many scholars have researched the Bible and have attested to its trustworthiness. My sister has never actually read the Bible for herself and she has no intention of doing so. She stated the producers of the cable show and other likeminded atheists had more credibility in her eyes than any group of “Bible scholars” that I could come up with.

Sister # 4 exemplifies many Roman Catholics. They don’t participate in the church’s mandatory sacraments of mass and confession. They don’t read the Bible and may ridicule those who do. Rather than having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, they may doubt if God even exists. But at life’s important milestones (infant baptisms, weddings, serious illnesses, funerals), they enjoy the comfort of familiar Catholic rituals. Although they are Catholics in name only at best, they’ll vigorously contend for their religious system if challenged.

As I began to defend the Bible and the conversation became increasingly heated, my wife calmed things down by interjecting, “Well, you’re either looking for God or you’re not.” That stopped the argument. Right, no sense in arguing with a person who would rather go by their own thinking than trusting in what God has revealed to mankind through His Word and through His Son.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” – Proverbs 16:25

Dear Father God, I am soooooo grateful that You opened my blind eyes to the GOOD NEWS of salvation by Your grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Thank You for Your Word. Help us to give out the Gospel to those who are hoping they can merit Heaven by obeying the Law and by being “good.” Help us also to know when to stop arguing about spiritual matters with people who aren’t really interested.


What does the Bible say about Purgatory?
http://www.gotquestions.org/purgatory.html

Throwback Thursday: Deception Calling

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on July 27, 2016 and has been revised.

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Several months ago, a person gave a book to my sister-in-law titled, “Jesus Calling,” written by Sarah Young (above photo, right). My wife asked me about the book, but I wasn’t familiar with it other than I had seen it prominently displayed at the local Christian bookstore. I did a little digging and found out that Ms. Young claims Jesus regularly visited her and gave her alleged direct revelations, which she recorded and compiled into this “devotional.” Say what? Are you kidding me!?!? Young qualifies her revelations, saying they aren’t inspired, infallible, and inerrant like the Bible and yet she claims they are messages given to her directly from God. So why wouldn’t they also be inspired, infallible, and inerrant? They’re either from God or they’re not.

But many Christians have no problem with Young’s supposed messages from God. The publisher boasts “Jesus Calling” has sold more than 16 million copies since it was first published in 2004. There’s a large segment of evangelical Christianity where many people claim to receive direct revelation from the Lord. “The Lord gave me this message to give to you” and “The Lord revealed to me that He desires for you to (do such and such).”  The flesh being what it is, I’ve noticed those claiming to be a modern-day prophets tend to “lord it over” those without the “gift.”  Catholicism has many examples of this kind of supposed direct revelation, including the popular “Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska.”

Don’t get me wrong. I feel the leading of the Holy Spirit every day. There are times when I feel the Lord wants me to do something and there are times when I feel the Lord leading me away from sin. The Holy Spirit regularly uses God’s Word to direct me. But God doesn’t put His thoughts into my head to write to paper (or to type on my Chromebook) as He used the writers of the books of the Bible!

This is a bad precedent, folks. Every misguided and deceitful snake oil salesman can claim Jesus is speaking to them through direct revelation. There is only one Word of God. Call Young’s book a “devotional.” Call it what you want. I call it garbage. Jesus is not writing any books through Sarah Young or anyone else. Throw it in the refuse can where it belongs. I see there are now a VERY LARGE number of “Jesus Calling” spinoff books and products. It’s become quite a lucrative “cottage industry” for Ms. Young.

“But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” – 2 Timothy 3:13

Book Review of Jesus Calling
https://carm.org/book-review-jesus-calling

10 Serious Problems with Jesus Calling
http://www.challies.com/articles/10-serious-problems-with-jesus-calling

Throwback Thursday: IFB Memories #5: Chick Tracts

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 1, 2016 and has been revised.

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Jack Chick, d. 2016

I attended an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church from 1983 to 1991. Back in those days it was very common to see tracts from Jack Chick Publications in fundamentalist Baptist circles. Chick tracts were usually spread out on the information table of our church lobby, available for visitors and members. The tracts were illustrated like small comic books, but there was nothing comical about them.

Tracts, comic books, and books from Chick Publications contained information that was extremely critical of Roman Catholicism. I bought several comic books and books from Chick Publications, but many of the claims appeared to be outrageously irresponsible and without any foundation. According to Chick and the mysterious, alleged ex-Jesuit priest, Alberto Rivera, the author of several of the publications, every calamity that ever beset Western Civilization could be traced back to the Jesuits or a pope. This was going way too far.

Alberto Rivera, d. 1997

Unfortunately, Jack Chick’s sensationalistic half-truths and conspiracy theories (presented as fact) hurt the efforts of credible Christian outreach ministries to Roman Catholics. There is more than enough verifiable material regarding Roman Catholic doctrine and history to critique without resorting to exaggeration and fanciful and fraudulent extrapolations. Christians unfortunately began to lump together responsible witness to Roman Catholicism with Chick’s extremism. Chick was also a propagator of take-no-prisoners KJV 1611-Onlyism.

See Victor’s excellent post below for more details regarding Chick Publications.

Just as an image formed on a plane mirror is a duplication or reflection of the object placed directly opposite its surface, there is also a dangerous condition that can affect Christians contending for the faith which can make them start to reflect what they are contending against. A person opposed to a set of […]

via The “Mirror Image” Syndrome — The Kindled Flame Blog

Postscript: Chick Publications still offers its “Alberto Series” comic books, perhaps the focus of a critical review project in the future.

Throwback Thursday: James White on Roman Catholicism

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 3, 2016 and has been revised.

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The Roman Catholic Controversy: Catholics and Protestants – Do the Differences Still Matter?
By James R. White
Bethany House Publishers, 1996, 268 pages

5 Stars

The release of the first declaration from Chuck Colson’s Evangelicals and Catholics Together ecumenical project shook the evangelical church. The 1994 declaration basically recognized Roman Catholicism as a genuinely Christian institution and advised that evangelicals and Catholics should mutually end all evangelization efforts aimed towards the other camp. Several evangelicals signed the declaration and many applauded it. But many other evangelicals shouted, “Not so fast!”

Despite the enthusiastic ecumenism of some, evangelicals and Catholics widely disagree on a great number of doctrines; most importantly, on how a person is saved. Although the Catholic church often refers to “grace” and “faith,” what they actually teach is the dispensation of grace through its sacraments, administered by its priests. It’s required of Catholics to participate in the obligatory sacraments so they can receive grace, which allegedly enables them to obey the Ten Commandments and church rules. They refer to this as “cooperating with grace.” Despite the references to “grace” and “faith,” Catholics are taught they cannot have any “mortal” (grave) sin on their soul at the moment of their death in order to merit Heaven. The bottom line for Catholics is they must merit their salvation. That is NOT the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. I can’t perfectly obey the Ten Commandments for even one, single day let alone a lifetime. The Ten Commandments only reveal that we are all sinners in need of the Savior. Trying to obey the Ten Commandments in order to merit salvation as the Catholic church teaches is NOT “Good News.” In fact, it’s VERY BAD news because it’s an impossible task.

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” – Romans 3:20

Several books were written by evangelical apologists in the 1990s in reaction to Evangelicals and Catholics Together, including “The Roman Catholic Controversy” by James White. In this book, White examines several of the important differences between Catholics and evangelicals in regards to Catholicism’s perpetual sacrifice of the mass, purgatory, the papacy, the mediatorship of Mary, and justification via works, but he especially focuses on the evangelical doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone). Catholics argue that their teaching magisterium (the pope in union with the cardinals and bishops), and their ever-developing traditions are on equal par with Scripture. For Catholics, whatever their pope declares regarding faith and morals today carries the same weight as what the Holy Spirit revealed to the writers of the Bible manuscripts 2000 years ago. White does a very thorough job of examining the arguments both for and against Sola Scriptura, perhaps drifting into theological academese now and then. This is some challenging reading at times, but it’s well worth the effort.

Chapters:

  1. I Can’t Believe He Did That
  2. Cutting Through the Fog
  3. The Essential Issue: The Gospel of Peace
  4. Who Defines the Gospel?
  5. Sola Scriptura: God Speaks Clearly
  6. The Thousand Traditions
  7. Sola Scriptura vs. Sacred Tradition
  8. The Claims of the Papacy
  9. Justified Before God: Rome’s View
  10. Justified Before God: By Grace Through Faith Alone
  11. What of the Mass?
  12. The Divine Waiting Room
  13. When Sola Scriptura Is Rejected
  14. Sola Gratia

Since “The Roman Catholic Controversy” was published twenty years ago, more and more evangelicals have been fooled by Catholicism’s references to “faith” and “grace” and have purposely overlooked Rome’s anti-Biblical doctrines calling for “cooperation with grace” (aka merit) for salvation, the absolute necessity of priests, the perpetual sacrifice of the mass, transubstantiation of the bread wafer and wine, purgatory, the confession of sins to a priest, praying to Mary and the saints, and the elevation of the pope to the very seat of Christ.

But most Catholics are woefully ignorant of their own church’s teachings. If you were to ask 100 Catholics how a person gets to Heaven, I would hazard that 90% would respond with something like, “By being good” or “By obeying the Ten Commandments” or “By trying your best.” None of those responses is the Gospel. The relatively small percentage of pious Catholics who actually know their religion might answer, “By being baptized, receiving the sacraments, cooperating with grace, and having faith.” Faith? Faith in what or in whom? Faith in Mary and the church to help live a holy, perfectly sanctified life so that you can merit Heaven? That’s not the Gospel either.

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches the VERY “Good News.” You can’t POSSIBLY merit your way to Heaven, but Jesus Christ paid for your sins and offers you the the gift of eternal life and fellowship with God through Him.

http://www.gotquestions.org/got-forgiveness.html

“The Roman Catholic Controversy” is still in print and available from Amazon. See here.

Throwback Thursday: If you focus on the weekend, you’ll miss the week

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 9, 2016 and has been slightly revised.

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Tomorrow is Friday and I’m definitely looking forward to it. On Fridays I get to WFH – work from home – which makes for a more relaxing day. But Fridays don’t have the same appeal when you’re walking with the Lord. What? You don’t believe me? Let me explain.

Most unbelievers are living from weekend to weekend. They dislike or hate their jobs and see the work week as something they have to tolerate at best so they can get to the weekend so they can relax and do what they want. They revel in Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday until Sunday evening when they begin contemplating the approaching dreaded work week. And then the cycle starts all over again, week after week, year after year.

After you accept the Lord, Jesus Christ, as your Savior, He pulls you out of that cycle. Every day is a day in the Lord. My job? I don’t always love it, but I appreciate it so much. He blesses me every day throughout the week. When you accept Christ and begin to walk with Him, it’s kind of like He pulls you up out of the frustrating details of daily living and allows you to see some of the bigger picture. Ah, I get it! No need to get all angry, frustrated, and disappointed with this or that annoying circumstance. The Lord has got it under control. Every day becomes a little bit more like a weekend day the closer you’re walking with Him. Jesus becomes our goal, our rest, and our satisfaction, NOT the two days away from the office.

Yes, I’m glad tomorrow’s Friday, but the Lord gives me tremendous blessings throughout the week. Instead of eagerly anticipating the weekend, focus on Jesus Christ and every day will be Friday. Thank you, Jesus! All praise to You!

“I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.” – Psalm 145:1-2


Trivia corner: The days of the week are named after pagan gods. Can you identify them?

  • Sunday is devoted to the sun god. One of the most famous sun gods of the ancient pagan world was the Egyptians’ Ra.
  • Monday is named after Máni, the Norse moon god.
  • Tuesday is named after the Germanic god, Tiu.
  • Wednesday is dedicated to the Norse god, Woden or Odin.
  • Thursday honors the Norse god, Thor.
  • Friday memorializes Freya, wife of Woden.
  • Saturday is devoted to the Roman god, Saturn.

Christians use these day names that honor pagan gods without even thinking about it. Of course, it’s the same thing for the months of the year. But there’s no need to freak out about it. Believers are in the world, but not of the world. Our work for the Lord is not dependent on what the unbelieving world names its days and months. Let’s focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Note from 2021: What a change from when I wrote this post five years ago! After being laid off from Kodak Alaris in September, 2019 and unemployed for fifteen months, I got a job with a defense contractor in January 2020. My work schedule is Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, twelve-hours per day. I plan on retiring at the end of November, 2022.

Throwback Thursday: IFB Memories #6: Thou shalt not drink!

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 12, 2016 and has been revised.

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My wife and I attended an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church from 1983 to 1991. The pastor of our church, like all independent fundamental Baptist pastors, passionately disapproved of Christians drinking alcoholic beverages. I’m not 100% positive, but he may have preached against the “sin” of consuming alcohol more than any other “sin.”

I’ve read through the Bible many times and I’m very aware of the many verses that warn against abusing alcohol and drunkenness. But I’m also aware of the many passages that seem to permit moderate consumption of alcohol. The Jews grew grapes and made wine. Wine was a big part of ancient Jewish culture. Well water was often unsafe to drink and Jews used wine as their standard beverage. Our pastor claimed good Jews only drank unfermented grape juice, but there are many Bible passages that contradict that claim. Even Jesus referred to the danger of fermenting new wine in old wineskins (Matthew 9:16-17). It’s very doubtful Jesus changed water into unfermented grape juice at the wedding feast at Cana (John 2:1-12). Would the master of ceremonies have marveled at the excellence of the beverage if it were grape juice? I can’t tell the difference between Welch’s grape juice or the generic brand.

Complete abstention from alcohol was the absolute standard at our church and it was a litmus test of spirituality. If you drank ANY beer, wine, or liquor, you were deemed to be an immature believer. I enjoyed the taste of a cold beer on a hot summer day, so I asked an older brother in the Lord if it was okay to drink non-alcoholic beer (0.5% alcohol). He said drinking NA beer gave the appearance of sin and advised to abstain from that as well. Hmm.

I knew Christians who would walk fifty-miles barefoot before they would allow a drop of beer or wine to touch their lips, but I saw some hypocrisy in that. What about coffee? That’s right, no one ever got drunk on coffee, but caffeine is addictive and it alters behavior. Is drinking coffee a sin? Also, a Christian might forsake a bottle of beer but enthusiastically chow down a half-dozen cream-filled donuts. Wouldn’t addiction to sugar also be a sin? Many of the congregants at our IFB church who shouted out hearty “Amens” when the pastor preached against alcohol were seriously overweight. They proudly never touched a glass of wine, but they were addicted to food. The pastor himself was obese. Which is worse, “defiling” your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, with a single glass of wine or with a greasy Big Mac and fries?

I totally agree; Christians should never be drunk or allow themselves to become addicted to alcohol. The Bible is clear on that. But moderation in all things. Too often churches get siderailed on the standard “pet” sins and behaviors and avoid addressing others. Yes, I’m very aware of the damage alcohol abuse has done in the lives of many people and their families. Some individuals can’t stop at one drink. They should obviously avoid alcohol altogether.

I realize many Christians will disagree with me on this issue. It’s up to each believer to do what is right according to their beliefs as the Lord leads. But for me, enjoying a single cold beer after mowing the lawn on a hot summer day is not a sin.


What does the Bible say about drinking alcohol / wine? Is it a sin for a Christian to drink alcohol / wine?
http://www.gotquestions.org/sin-alcohol.html

Is it okay for Christians to drink alcohol?
https://carm.org/questions/is-it-okay-for-christians-to-drink-alcohol/?highlight=alcohol