Throwback Thursday: Quit Quoting C.S. Lewis

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 18, 2016 and has been revised.

capture30

Tune into Christian radio for the day and you’re bound to hear a quote or two from C.S. Lewis. Sit in a pew at an evangelical church on Sunday and there’s a very good chance the pastor will quote Lewis during his sermon. But Lewis held many beliefs that were contrary to Gospel Christianity. Why then this infatuation with Lewis among evangelicals? There’s a certain degree of intellectual snobbery in connection with name-dropping the Oxford professor that appeals to some. Others just follow along because quoting Lewis seems to be “the thing to do.” See here for my previous review of “Mere Christianity” and why Lewis’ theology is very problematic for evangelicals.

Why keep banging the drum regarding the problems with C.S. Lewis? Because yesterday I heard Lewis fawningly quoted on Catholic talk radio (argh!) and I also ran across this informative 3-minute video critique of Lewis from No Compromise Radio. Evangelical pastors need to STOP WITH THE C.S. LEWIS QUOTES!

Throwback Thursday: IFB Memories #7: Apocalypse now…and I mean NOW!

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 18, 2016 and has been revised.

capture30

After we accepted the Lord in 1983, my wife and I attended an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church for eight years. We were firmly grounded in God’s Word at that church, but the pastor also took the congregation down some strange rabbit holes.

Edgar C. Whisenant

In the early part of 1988, a small booklet was creating quite a stir at our church as well as at thousands of other evangelical and fundamentalist churches. Former NASA engineer, Edgar C. Whisenant, had written “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.” Based on information from the Bible and using his own mathematical calculations, Whisenant had determined the Rapture of the church would occur sometime between September 11th and September 13th of 1988. 4.5 million copies of the booklet ended up being distributed.

Like most IFB preachers, our pastor often taught the Rapture – the taking up of Christians bodily into Heaven prior to the seven-year Tribulation that will engulf the world prior to the second coming of Christ. Most eschatology “end-times” teaching is based on the prophesies from the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation although relevant passages can also be found in many other books of the Bible. The teaching of the Rapture of the church is taught primarily from 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

The little booklet began making inroads into our church and someone even began leaving bulk copies on the information table (right next to complimentary copies of The Sword of the Lord and Our Daily Bread). People were being whipped into a frenzy. Was it true? Were we going to be raptured in September? We turned to Pastor Joe for guidance. In one of his sermons, the pastor said he had studied Whisenant’s information for days and days looking for a miscalculation. His judgement? Pastor Joe said that while he could not endorse the booklet’s predictions completely, he also could not find anything that would contradict Whisenant’s claims. The result? Many people at our church assumed the Rapture would take place during the three days specified by Whisenant. When the days came and went our pastor said, “Well of course, ‘But of that day and hour knoweth no man’ (Matthew 24:36).” Hmmm. Shouldn’t he have been saying that previous to all the frenzy? I don’t mean to justify myself, but some of my disillusionment with the church, which led to me walking away from the Lord for 23 years, was because of this type of nonsense.

Many Christians study eschatology. If it wasn’t important it wouldn’t be in God’s Word. I generally don’t concentrate on it a lot myself, maybe in part because of the Whisenant fiasco, but I do appreciate other bloggers who keep me up to speed. Given all of the INCREDIBLY WEIRD things that are happening in the world recently, I think, yes, we may be approaching the end, but nobody knows for sure. If someone starts giving you dates, RUN, don’t walk, away. In the meantime, let’s be about our Father’s business.

For a PDF copy of “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988,” see here. Oh, the painful memories!

Throwback Thursday: Behind convent doors

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 22nd, 2016 and has been revised.

capture30

My Life in the Convent
By Margaret Lisle Shepherd
Book and Bible House, 1946, 258 pages

Protestant books examining alleged abuse in Roman Catholic convents proliferated in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of these books were written by ex-nuns. Catholic spokespersons naturally categorized these books as “Puritan pornography” meant to appeal to prurient interests and accused the authors of fraud.

Margaret Lisle Shepherd

An example of the genre is “My Life in the Convent” written by Margaret Lisle Shepherd (aka Sister Magdalene Adelaide), first published in 1892. As an English girl living in India, Shepherd learns from her dying mother that her deceased father was a Catholic priest. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, so years later, after she has returned to England, Shepherd herself succumbs to the advances of a determined priest. Father Egan abandons his vocation and the two enter into a common-law marriage, which produces a baby girl. Egan eventually regrets his decision and abandons his family to resume his religious calling. With no means of support, Shepherd turns to thievery. She is apprehended, but it’s too late for the baby who dies from the effects of malnutrition. After a few detours, Shepherd ends up at the penitential Convent of St. Arno’s Court in Bristol, England. It’s already a difficult existence for the contrite nuns, but Shepherd describes how priests “ministering” at the convent occasionally take advantage of their charges. After two years at the convent, Shepherd discovers a Protestant Bible and is shocked to discover the many differences between Scripture and Catholicism and decides to leave. She is given sanctuary by Salvation Army ministers and accepts Jesus Christ as her Savior. She journeys to Canada and the United States, giving her testimony on the Protestant lecture circuit and assisting Christian charitable organizations.

The book’s epilogue circumspectly alludes to the Loyal Women of American Liberty, which Shepherd founded in Boston in 1888. The LWAL was a semi-secret patriotic society which promoted nativism and Protestantism. An internet search of Shepherd and the LWAL revealed Chicago newspaper articles of the period alleging Shepherd’s “deceit and immorality” regarding her account of her previous years, leading to her resignation from the organization in 1891. She wrote this book as an answer to her growing number of Catholic and Catholic-friendly critics. Shepherd continued on the lecture circuit, but faced mounting opposition from Catholic groups. She was arrested in Columbus, Ohio in 1902 on charges of selling “lewd and obscene” books, disorderly conduct, and inciting to riot. All charges were dropped when she agreed to leave the city. Shepherd subsequently traveled to Australia where she continued her lectures on Romanism, but soon found herself sick with cancer. Returning to the U.S., she died alone and penniless in a Detroit hospital in 1903 at the age of 43.

Reprints of “My Life in the Convent” were made available for many years. My 1946 edition was published by Book and Bible House owned by L. J. King, a passionate Protestant nativist. This book may have been slightly scandalous, “adults only,” reading in 1892, but it’s certainly tamer than what we read in newspapers today about pedophile priests.

With the number of Catholic nuns rapidly declining since the 1960s, convents are becoming increasingly few and far between. But were some nuns scandalously abused and mistreated over the centuries as this book and many others claimed? There’s no doubt. The church’s mandatory celibacy discipline for its priests and nuns couldn’t erase their sexuality. Refer to the excellent “The Nuns of Sant’Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent in Scandal” by prize-winning, German historian, Hubert Wolf. Wolf used documentation from the vaults of the Vatican’s very own Office of the Holy Inquisition (the name was changed to the much more PR-friendly “Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office”) for his research. See here for my review. For other verifiable examples of clerical turpitude one need only recall the headlines over the last thirty years dealing with predatory pedophile priests and the subsequent cover-up by the church hierarchy.

At my Catholic grammar school, I was taught by members of the Sisters of Mercy who lived in a convent adjacent to the school. I was very curious about those women who wore stiff, uncomfortable medieval habits and lived together in a strict community with hardly any connection to family. They wore wedding rings as a sign that they were virginal brides of Christ. People point to peculiarities of extreme religious sects, but is there anything more cultish than a convent full of nuns? These women were attempting to merit their salvation through great personal sacrifice and pious religious devotion. But in nine years of schooling, the sisters never once mentioned to us the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone as taught in God’s Word. Instead, they taught us the Catholic formula of salvation through the sacraments administered by the priests followed by obedience to the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules. It was all about ritual, formalism, and religious legalism.

The nuns were not happy women. We students saw a side of them that our parents and adult parishioners were not privy to. There is no peace in religious striving. No one can possibly obey the Ten Commandments. The Law only condemns us as the sinners we are. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. He paid the penalty for your sins and He’s waiting for you to receive Him as Savior.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” – Revelation 3:20

Note from 2021: Emboldened by the #MeToo Movement, many nuns have come forward to report being abused by priests. Watch a 10-minute PBS video on the topic here.

Throwback Thursday: “Holy doors” guaranteed to make your head spin

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 23, 2016 and has been revised.

capture30

Yesterday I was listening to the April 21, 2016 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show on The Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM out of Buffalo, New York with Catholic priest, Rick Poblocki, and moderator, Steve Quebral, taking questions from listeners.

During the show, Kim from Rochester, New York called in with a question regarding the Catholic church’s “Holy Doors.” Before I get to Kim’s question, I need to give my evangelical friends some background on the holy doors. This gets a little complicated so please fasten your seat belts and stay with me.

Generally speaking, the Catholic church has designated specific doors in eight churches – four of the churches are in Rome – as “Holy Doors.” During “jubilee” years, which normally occur every 25 or 50 years, Catholics may walk through the specially blessed holy doors and receive a “plenary indulgence” for their sins. What is a plenary indulgence you ask? Catholics confess their mortal and venial sins to a priest in the sacrament of reconciliation, but what many Catholics don’t even realize is that while the priest may forgive all of the sins in the confessional, not all of the punishment for the sins is remitted. Any remaining (temporal) punishment for sins will be meted out in purgatory after death. How long someone must suffer in purgatory is sketchy business, but Catholic writers in the past spoke about the duration extending to even hundreds of years. But the church grants indulgences – remission of temporal punishment – if the Catholic performs certain acts. Partial indulgences remove some of the punishment while “plenary” (full) indulgences remove all of it. The church claims to be able to issue indulgences from its “treasury of merit” consisting of the superabundant spiritual merit of Jesus, Mary, and the saints. By making a pilgrimage and walking through one of the eight holy doors, a Catholic is granted a full, plenary indulgence.

Please note that the vast majority of Catholics would have no idea what you were talking about if you asked them about “partial and plenary indulgences” for “temporal punishment.”

Pope Francis declared November 2015 to December 2016 to be an Extraordinary Year of Mercy for the faithful. As part of this special jubilee year, church doors in dioceses around the world were designated and blessed as holy doors. Pilgrims don’t have to make the distant trip to Rome or to one of the other four locations this year, they can receive their full indulgence by walking through holy doors in their own diocese. Pictured are some Chicago Catholics waiting their turn to walk through designated holy doors at a local church to receive their indulgence.

Is everyone still with me? Good, now let’s get back to Kim’s question. Regarding the holy doors, Kim asked Rick, “Are you only supposed to walk through the doors once to receive the indulgences?” Evidently, this holy door business is too complicated even for pious Catholics. Rick laughed off the question, commenting that of course you only need to walk through the holy doors once to receive the plenary indulgence. But, he added, a person could make pilgrimages to holy door sites several times throughout the year and thereby keep up with any additional temporal punishment that had accumulated in their spiritual in-basket.

Catholic friend, if the above seems outrageously complicated you would be right. God didn’t make salvation into this kind of religious calculus to be administered by ecclesiastical “experts.” Saving faith is trusting in Jesus with a child-like faith.

“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:2-4

Purgatory, indulgences, temporal punishment, and holy doors are all man-made religious traditions. Walking through doors someone designates as “holy” won’t do a silly thing. Jesus Christ made salvation as simple as the plea of the thief on the cross. God is holy and we are sinners. We deserve eternal punishment for our sins. But God loved us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross. But Jesus rose from the grave and offers the gift of salvation to all who repent of their sin and accept Him as their Savior by faith. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. Religious rituals and traditions don’t save. You can’t merit your way to Heaven. No one is good enough to merit Heaven, that is why Jesus died for us. After you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, ask Him to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches the Word of God without compromise.

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

Evangelical friend, when Catholics talk about Jesus and “faith,” we might get a warm fuzzy thinking we’re all on the same page, but when a Catholic refers to their “faith,” they’re talking about something entirely different from the Gospel we know. When a Catholic talks about faith they’re referring to their religious system which requires participation in church sacraments, obeying the Ten Commandments and church rules perfectly, along with a lot of extremely complicated ritualism such as this holy door practice. That is not the Gospel. A faithful Catholic won’t say they’re saved because – lip service to “grace” aside – they believe their salvation depends on how well THEY “cooperate with (sacramental) grace” and merit their own salvation right up until the moment of their death. That is not the Gospel.


See below for an example of a brochure handed out to pilgrims to one diocese’s holy doors.
http://www.stmatthewscathedral.org/docs/pilgrimage_to_the_holy_door_at_the_cathedral_2015.pdf

Note from 2021: Roman Catholicism has many anti-Biblical and ridiculous rituals, but in re-publishing this post, I can’t think of anything more ridiculous than this walking through designated “holy doors” to obtain indulgences.

Throwback Thursday: I thought I’d seen Someone, Who seemed at last, to know the Truth. I wasn’t mistaken.

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

capture30

In a couple of previous posts, I mentioned that I’d been a huge fan of the rock bands, The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, and Nash way back when I was a teenager. David Crosby was a member of both groups and I liked his music quite a bit. Crosby was an excellent singer and wrote some outstanding tunes. But he was also an atheist and occasionally preached his godless worldview via his songs.

Yesterday, I had Pandora on in the background as I was washing a few dishes and Crosby’s song, “Laughing,” from his 1971 solo album, “If I Could Only Remember My Name,” started playing. I remember I used to love that song. It seemed so full of wisdom at the time. Crosby actually wrote the song in response to ex-Beatle, George Harrison, and his deep involvement with Hindu guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and later, with the Hare Krishna sect.

Check out the song’s lyrics below. Crosby was/is a man searching for truth while denying the truth.


“Laughing”

I thought I met a man,
Who said he knew a man,
Who knew what was going on.
I was mistaken,
Only another stranger that I knew.

And I thought that I found a light,
To guide me through my night,
And all this darkness.
I was mistaken,
Only reflections of a shadow that I saw.

And I thought I’d seen someone,
Who seemed at last,
To know the truth.
I was mistaken,
Only a child laughing in the sun.
Ah! In the sun.


Well, David, I finally did meet the Man who not only knows the Truth but Who is the Truth! His name is Jesus Christ and He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Praise the Lord, I accepted Jesus Christ a decade after filling my head with “Laughing” and similarly-themed existentialism from the high priests of rock and roll.

“Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” – John 6:68-69

“Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” John 18:37-38

Postscript: That’s Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead playing some exquisite licks on pedal steel guitar.

Note from 2021: At an age when most 1960s rockers are either long-retired or dead, David Crosby continues to create albums, completing five in the last seven years. Prominent on the 80-year-old atheist’s albums are songs expressing anxiety over his looming death.

Throwback Thursday: Grace or Truth? Or both?

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

capture30

My Roman Catholic friends often say Protestant churches can’t be of the Lord because there are literally thousands of denominations, all with their differing secondary beliefs and modes of church polity. They say such “confusion” and “disunity” can’t be of the Lord. I would respond that the Lord has done His greatest work amidst this disorganized evangelical patchwork, where He is acknowledged as the Head of the church. The world admires monolithic institutions with well-defined hierarchies, but history has shown that has not been the best channel for the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Protestantism covers a very wide spectrum. At one end are churches that have drifted into liberal modernism and no longer preach the Gospel. At the other end are very conservative, fundamentalist churches where the Gospel of grace sometimes comes in second to a list of rules. There’s always a tension between grace and doctrinal truth. But God’s Word says Jesus was full of grace and truth and we must also strive to find the balance between love and freedom in the Lord and right doctrine.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14

Readers of this blog know how much I admire churches and pastors who uphold sound biblical doctrine. Way too many evangelical churches are downplaying doctrine these days in favor of undiscerning ecumenism, religious sentimentalism, and shared emotional experiences. But on the other hand are those churches and people who emphasize doctrine so much that they lose all their appeal. Their arrogance and lack of humility becomes offensive to everyone: to the unsaved and the brethren. They become harsh. They’re so busy erecting walls to defend and preserve the truth as they understand it that they forget about reaching out to the lost and the brethren. Jesus had a perfect way about Him of not compromising His Truth but also of reaching out to sinners in a loving way. He’s our example.

There have been times when writing for this blog when my zeal for the truth was lacking charity and grace. Lord, help me to lean into your grace more. Help me to keep striving for that balance that You show us in your Gospels.

I began writing this post prior to worship service this morning and I had no idea what the sermon was going to be about. As the Lord would have it, the pastor’s message was on the tension between grace and truth for a believer. It’s still amazing to me how the Lord reaches directly into our lives like that.

This was our pastor’s last message. He’ll be moving on to a different ministry about 1000 miles away. My wife and I will miss him a lot. We were a bit disillusioned after leaving our last church a year ago. My wife would have been happy to never attend church again. But I put my trust in the Lord and asked Him to find us a new church home and He came through BIG TIME. My wife and I look forward to the great blessings we receive at every service, every week. We pray the Lord gives us a new pastor with a similar heart for Him.

Note from 2021: It’s a bit disheartening to read this old post. Following the resignation of the pastor mentioned above, a young pastor was hired and he led our former church into full-scale, skinny-jeans hipsterism.

Throwback Thursday: Hot Stuff the Little Devil and Me

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

capture30

Way, way, way back when I was just a young tyke in the early 1960s, my Dad would periodically bring home comic books for me. Boy, I loved those comic books! My favorite titles were “Sad Sack” and “Hot Stuff the Little Devil,” both published by Harvey Comics (which also published the much more popular but corny “Casper the Friendly Ghost” and “Richie Rich” comic books).

Hot Stuff was a mischievous, diaper-clad, pitchfork-bearing, child-demon who enjoyed playing tricks on humans. He especially enjoyed riling the adult demons by occasionally doing good deeds.

So why would a parent buy a comic book about a playful demon for his very young child? I’m sure my Dad never even thought twice about it. My parents were members of the Roman Catholic church, and like most members of that church, they compartmentalized religion and everyday life. Religion was something you did one day a week: go to mass on Sunday and receive holy communion and then go home and somewhat try to live a “good” life until next Sunday. Absolutely no time was spent in God’s Word during the week. If my parents owned a Bible I never saw it. I don’t remember my parents ever praying, out-loud or privately. No one had a “personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ.” That kind of talk was only for backwoods Bible Belt-ers who took their religion WAY too seriously. Buying a comic book about a naughty, young demon for a young child was perfectly fine in that milieu of religious unbelief. Even back then, the culture was inundated with movies and television shows about witches, vampires, ghosts, etc. Jesus was not real to many people back then, just like He’s not real to many today. People flock in droves to entertainment that focuses on spiritual darkness for the adrenaline rush, but they don’t want to give one second of their time to the Light.

“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” – John 3:19-21

If I had young children, I definitely would not buy them comic books extolling demons, but maybe that playful little comic character was one of the many influences the Holy Spirit used in my life to eventually draw me to my Savior, Jesus Christ. If there are demons and a Hell, then there is a God and a Heaven. When people think of demons, they generally think of the stereotypical horned ogres, but the Bible says Satan appears as an angel of light. His servants appear as righteous ministers (e.g., Roman Catholic priests), but they peddle a spiritually deadly false gospel of works-righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:12-15).

Note: Hot Stuff was created by Illustrator, Warren Kremer, and first appeared in Hot Stuff #1 published by Harvey Comics in October 1957.

Throwback Thursday: Necco wafers and playing the “priest game”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a short post that was originally published back on May 5, 2016 and has been revised.

capture30

Remember Necco candy wafers? Way “back in the day,” us Catholic kids used to take turns pretending we were priests and would pick out the white candy wafers in the multi-color roll and give them to our friends saying, “Body of Christ” and they would answer, “Amen,” right before we put the candy into their mouths. Ach! Necco wafers were nasty tasting except for the brown/chocolate ones, which were at least palatable. But you could only use the white wafers for the priest game.

Roman Catholicism seriously misinterprets John 6 and the Last Supper accounts in the gospels. You don’t receive Jesus by eating a bread wafer that’s allegedly been changed into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus. You accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone.

On special days during the year, all of the children at my Catholic grammar school were brought into the connecting church for mass and everyone got in line to consume the Jesus wafer. But nothing changed. The unkindness and bullying continued just as before. Even with the nuns and lay teachers. No one had really received Jesus. It was all just an empty ritual. Eating the Jesus wafer had the same effect as eating the candy wafer.

Go to Jesus in prayer and ask Him to save you. He paid the penalty for your sins. Receive Him as your Savior by faith alone. If you genuinely accept Jesus Christ as your Savior you won’t have to do it again. Then grow in grace by reading God’s Word daily and going to Him in prayer. Ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches His Word without compromise.

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:23-24

Throwback Thursday: Dreamcatchers?

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

capture30

This morning, I was listening to the January 28, 2016 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show on The Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, out of Buffalo, New York. Catholic priest Rick Poblocki and moderator Steve Quebral were taking calls from listeners when Laura from West Seneca, New York phoned in with a question.

Laura related that her father had recently passed away and, while rummaging through his personal belongings, she came across a wool sweater with a Native American dreamcatcher and wolf’s head design on the front and back and added it to her own wardrobe. She subsequently wore the sweater to mass and received a compliment, but asked Rick if it was appropriate for a Catholic to wear a clothing item with prominent Native American spirituality symbols. Rick responded that wearing such an item was harmless as long as she wore it simply as a memorial to her deceased father and didn’t become enmeshed in Native American spirituality.

Johnnette Benkovic-Williams

Laura replied that she had seen an article by EWTN national talk radio host, Johnnette Benkovic, cautioning Catholics to stay away from dreamcatcher paraphernalia entirely because it could possibly be a gateway to the occult. Priest Rick dismissed Benkovic’s warnings with an uncharitable personal attack on the other Catholic radio host, saying that since she observably uses A LOT of makeup, is meticulously coiffed, and wears expensive suits, then that could possibly demonstrate that she’s a “slave to fashion and the beauty cult and that’s a whole other thing opening up to Satan because it’s vanity.”

Evidently this “dreamcatcher” has become a very popular trinket in our American culture. A Catholic friend of my wife gave her a dreamcatcher several months ago and I understand it’s widely used by the New Age crowd. What is a dreamcatcher? For those outside the loop, here’s a description:

“Dream catchers have long been a part of Native American religion, lore, and art, originating with the Ojibwe, or Chippewa, and the Lakota, a confederation of seven Sioux tribes. Dream catchers are webbed and beaded circles hung with feathers from the base of the circle. As one might suspect, the purpose of a dream catcher is to catch dreams—that is, to trap bad or evil dreams and channel good dreams to the sleeper. Dream catchers are usually placed in a window or above the bed, allowing the good dreams to drip down the feathers onto the sleeper below.”– from gotquestions.org
http://www.gotquestions.org/dream-catcher-Christian.html

Many Christians might argue that dreamcatchers are just harmless fun; no need to get so uptight about it. But my thought is anyone who has genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and seeks to walk according to His Word by the leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit would not want to get involved with the talismans and superstitions of a pagan religion. Let’s put it into perspective. Could anyone possibly imagine Jesus Christ walking around Judea and Galilee with a pagan talisman design on His clothing or having a pagan charm hanging by His bed? You say Jesus is too perfect an example? Okay then, how about the apostle, Paul? The idea is beyond ludicrous. Hey, I don’t want to be the dreamcatcher police, but I also think we Christians are WAY too tolerant of this kind of garbage.

Roman Catholicism adapted many pagan practices and superstitions, so “father” Rick’s coddling of dreamcatchers is simply par for the course.

“Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.” – Acts 19:18-20

Throwback Thursday: IFB Memories #3: “Using public restrooms could be fatal”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on May 11, 2016 and has been revised. Speaking of epidemics/pandemics…

capture30

The AIDS epidemic was already starting to make headlines when my wife and I began attending an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church back in 1983. The death toll was rising every year and would peak at 42,000 deaths in the US in 1995 with no cure in sight. People were frightened. How was AIDS transmitted? Could it be contracted by casual contact? If you were around in the 1980s, you’ll remember that AIDS was scary stuff.

The pastor at our church, Joe B, didn’t meet the crisis lying down. Sermons increasingly began to reference AIDS as being God’s judgement on homosexuality. After a while, it seemed like AIDS and homosexuality were the pastor’s prime focus. As the epidemic continued to ramp up, it became rare to hear a sermon that didn’t include a statement about the sin of homosexuality. I certainly know what the Bible says about homosexuality, but it became an obsession at our church. It became sin #1. But what about all the other sins against God? I got so sick of hearing about homosexuals during church sermons that I can remember getting physically agitated every time another harangue began.

In his sermons, Joe liked to mention that he had worked as a medical lab technician* before entering the seminary and he knew a thing or two about blood. Boy, did he know a thing or two. Sermons that referred to the blood of Christ were usually peppered with incomprehensible medical jargon. With the AIDS epidemic seemingly spreading like wildfire during a California dry spell, the pastor shared his “insider’s” perspective from the pulpit on exactly where the whole AIDS thing was headed; the impending “truth” that the government was too afraid to reveal to the public.

According to our former-medical-lab-technician pastor, men ran the risk of catching AIDS every time they visited a public lavatory. How so? The alarming scenario he laid out began with infected homosexual men using a restroom. When they subsequently flushed the toilet or urinal, the water and waste would naturally swirl together in the fixture, releasing microscopic droplets of infected urine into the surrounding air. Unsuspecting heterosexual men who entered the lavatory would inhale the contaminated vapor and contract AIDS. Yes, that hypothesis was preached as fact from the pulpit of our church to a congregation that was already skittish about the epidemic. For several months after that, I avoided public lavatories like the bubonic plague. It’s funny now, but it wasn’t at the time. The moral of the story is, don’t allow yourself or your family sit under the preaching of a megalomaniac. If there are no checks and balances on your pastor (the pastor is an absolute dictator in IFB churches), there’s a chance he could go off the deep end.

But some of our former pastor’s concerns were legitimate. Things have certainly changed since 1983 regarding homosexuality. In our post-modern, inclusive, pluralistic, tolerant society, sin is “out” and deviancy is “in.” Society has been tipped on its head. The exception is now presented as the norm. Old-school “morality” is pooh-poohed. Same-sex couples are now featured quite prominent in the popular media. Most anything goes these days. Whatever seems good to an individual is “right” for them as long as they don’t infringe upon anyone else. Christians are definitely going to catch increasing “heat” from secular society because of what the Bible says about homosexuality.

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” – Proverbs 21:2

*When I first began attending the church, pastor Joe regularly bragged that he had been a medical student before entering the seminary. A suspicious church member checked out the story and found the claim was untrue. After being confronted, the pastor tearfully confessed before the congregation that he had been a lab technician, not a doctoral student. Years later, the pastor made it known that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was considering him as Billy’s eventual replacement, another pretentious lie.

2021 Update: Pastor Joe B’s rants against homosexuals are beyond ironic in light of the revelation that he was arrested for child sex abuse and pleaded guilty in town court on June 2nd, 2021. See my relevant post here. This post is also sadly ironic because today’s COVID-19 virus is contracted largely via airborne transmission.