Throwback Thursday: Are Catholic street proselytizers giving out good news or very bad news?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on December 2, 2016 and has been revised.

capture30

The American Catholic church put very little effort into proselytizing until recent years. The thinking was that new members were constantly being added to the church anyway as infants were born into Catholic families, but with the number of practicing Catholics declining in the U.S., mainly because of the indifference of its own membership, the church is beginning to make proselytizing a priority.

One church-sponsored proselytization organization is St. Paul Street Evangelization (SPSE) which started in Portland, Oregon and now has over 200 teams worldwide. Members gather in public places and hand out pamphlets, rosaries, and religious medals bearing the image of “the blessed virgin, Mary.” The SPSE team here in Rochester N.Y. regularly meets at the downtown Public Market on Saturdays (see photo above).

Members of SPSE say they’re giving out the Good News!, but let’s examine just how “good” the SPSE’s news is with this hypothetical street exchange below between an SPSE member and a skeptic:

SPSE Member: Good morning, sir! Could I give you a free pamphlet with information about God’s Good News?

Skeptic: What’s the Good News?

SPSE Member: God loves you so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for your sins so that you can possibly go to Heaven.

Skeptic: So what do I have to do?

SPSE Member: You will have to attend RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) classes for about a year to learn all the details of the Catholic religion before you can be baptized. After you’re baptized you must attend obligatory mass every Sunday to receive the eucharist and obtain graces so you can avoid committing mortal sin.

Skeptic: What if I mess up and sin anyway?

SPSE Member: You’ll have to confess every mortal sin to a priest. If you neglect to go to confession, that’s another mortal sin. If you die with even one unconfessed mortal sin on your soul you will go to hell.

Skeptic: So what you’re telling me is, I can go to mass every single day and live like a hermit monk for thirty years, but if I stay up late one night and watch porn on my computer just as a meteor crashes through the roof and kills me, then I’m going to go to hell?

SPSE Member: That’s right.

Skeptic: So when are you going to start telling me about the Good News???

While the above hypothetical exchange accurately represents Catholic doctrine, there’s no doubt that the actual language used by SPSE workers would be much more circumspect.

Catholics may talk about “grace” and “faith” and the “Good News,” but what they offer is VERY BAD news. The bottom line for Catholics is they must attempt to obey the Ten Commandments and church rules perfectly right up until their final breath in order to hopefully, not assuredly, merit Heaven. That’s not Good News, that’s absolutely impossible! I can’t even go a single day without breaking God’s commandments in thought, word, deed, or by omission.

“Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” – Galatian 2:16

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

Catholic friend, say a prayer to the Lord. Repent of your rebellion against God and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. Then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches God’s Word without compromise.

https://gotquestions.org/prayer-of-salvation.html

Postscript: Catholics who participate in SPSE have to ask themselves why they bother trying to attract anyone to their religion because their church officially teaches all non-Catholic religionists and even atheists may also possibly merit Heaven if they “sincerely follow the light they are given” and are “good.”

Throwback Thursday: Bad advice regarding where the tire meets the road

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on December 2, 2016 and has been revised.

capture30

Husband: “Hey, Dear. I’m sorry, but I was lusting after that pretty news anchor on television again.”

Wife: “Again?!?! For crying out loud. Turn it to C-SPAN…right NOW!”


John Piper is highly regarded in some evangelical circles. I was even a little taken aback by the level of Piper’s popularity when I returned to the Lord in 2014. When Piper has something to say, a segment of evangelicalism is listening.

Yesterday, I came across the article far below in which Piper advises husbands to confess their lustful desires for other women to their wives. Huh? Say what?

Please allow me to chime in on this issue with some frankness and I hope no one is offended. I’m a 66YO male and my body still produces testosterone (although obviously nowhere near the levels it did thirty or forty years ago). Males are biologically “hardwired” to procreate. When we see an appealing member of the opposite sex, we are attracted. At that point, Christian men can either wallow in the attraction and escalate the desire – lust – or we can fight the desire using any of several methods: escape, prayer, attempting to see the person through the Lord’s eyes, striving to honor the Lord and our wives in all that we think and do, etc. I’ll readily admit that I haven’t always fled temptation. Multiple industries exploit and are banking on men’s propensity to lust, or is it just a coincidence that just about every female news anchor on CNN and FOX looks like a Miss Texas? I’m so grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ, who died for all my sins and beckons me down a better road of unselfish love. When I fail, I can always run to the cross for grace and forgiveness.

Now back to Piper’s comments. Is it expedient for husbands to confess their lustful thoughts and desires to their wives? What’s your opinion? I don’t think the struggle against lust is a battle a man ever “wins.” We’ve heard MANY stories of pastors who were scandalously caught in adulterous relationships. In this culture, with its ever-growing emphasis on sex, the struggle is ongoing unless the husband lives a hermit’s existence. Maybe a man can tell his wife, “Yes, I struggle with lust now and then,” and leave it at that, but he shouldn’t be confessing the details to her on a regular basis. What good would that serve? It would just feed her insecurity with no end in sight.  She’ll think, “What? He was lusting after my best friend again?! Sheesh! I’m leaving him at home from now on,” or “Hmm, maybe I better start looking for a man who respects me and who I can trust rather than somebody who admires every pair of yoga pants that walks by and thinks he’s still 25-years-old.”

If a man senses he’s being drawn deeper and deeper into lustful desires, he should probably seek counsel from his pastor, or partner up with a male friend at church for prayer, support, and accountability, but rare is the woman who is going to tolerate this kind of ongoing confession objectively. There is such a thing as TMI – too much information – even between husband and wife.

Ladies, I know it’s not all lily white on your side of the biological fence, either. I happen to know a married Christian woman who automatically stops and lingers over every movie featuring Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, or Mel Gibson while channel surfing!

Thoughts? Agree? Disagree?


John Piper: Men, Confess Your Lust for Other Women
http://www.christianpost.com/news/john-piper-men-confess-your-lust-for-other-women-171785/

Throwback Thursday: Should evangelical Christians yoke together with Roman Catholics in marriage?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Should an evangelical Christian marry a Roman Catholic? The question seems jarringly anachronistic in this current era of undiscerning ecumenism. However, there are very real concerns as we’ll see in this post that was originally published back on December 15, 2016 and has been revised.

capture30

Should Protestants and Roman Catholics Intermarry?
By John Carrara
Zondervan, 1963, 32 pages

5 Stars

Brad was fourteen-years-old when he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone at a youth event sponsored by his parents’ evangelical church. He loved reading God’s Word and following the Lord, but soon he was off to college and a busy schedule of studies and sports. Brad met Sara in one of their senior classes and was smitten with the attractive and outgoing young woman. Their relationship grew and after graduation the couple became engaged. Sara was a Roman Catholic, but that “didn’t seem” to be a big problem. She talked fondly about her church and mentioned Jesus. Brad’s parents were a little concerned that Sara was Catholic, but Brad assured them that she also loved Jesus and pointed out that Billy Graham and some other popular evangelicals embraced Catholics as fellow-Christians.

When it came time to make their wedding plans, Sara said she was required to get married at her church. Brad was fine with that. They sat down with the parish priest and discussed the arrangements. The priest asked Brad to sign an agreement promising that he would not interfere with Sara’s religious beliefs and that any children they had together would be raised in the Catholic faith. Brad was weirded out by all that, but perceived the document as just one more hurdle to jump over on his way to wedded bliss.

The couple was finally married and settled into their new home. Brad didn’t have much time for the Lord in college or during the engagement-wedding process, but began to follow Him closely again. He found an evangelical church in their area and Sara attended a few times with him, but said she was more comfortable going to mass. Brad attended mass several times with her and noticed a lot of ritual and ceremony, but he never heard the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The more Brad talked with Sara about God, the more he learned how different her beliefs were in comparison to his. Sara believed God granted salvation to those who participated in the Catholic church’s sacraments and obeyed the Ten Commandments and church rules. Brad was shocked! He was no theologian, but he knew from God’s Word that no one could possibly merit their salvation by obeying the commandments. Brad ordered a few books about Catholicism from evangelical authors to learn more and was amazed at the many differences between evangelical Christianity and Roman Catholicism.

Brad began praying that Sara would accept Christ as Savior by faith alone while she prayed that he would convert to Catholicism. One day Sara came to Brad with news that she was pregnant. Brad was overjoyed, but in the back of his mind he was thinking he did not want this child or any other children they might have to be raised as Catholic. Brad regretted jumping into an unequal marriage without seriously considering the spiritual ramifications.

In this 1963 booklet published by Zondervan (Yes, Zondervan! My, how things have changed.), evangelist John Carrara breaks it all down and includes a copy of the 4-page document Protestants must still sign* before a priest before marrying a Catholic. In our current era of ecumenical accommodation and compromise, a booklet such as this would be viewed by most as sectarianism at its worst, but Biblical truths are no less valid today than they were in 1963. While the Catholic church doesn’t encourage interfaith marriages, it doesn’t prohibit them either, as long as strict guidelines are followed. That might seem a lot more magnanimous than Carrara’s warnings, but don’t forget that the Catholic church also teaches that everyone, even atheists, can also merit Heaven if they “sincerely follow the light they’ve been given” and are “good.” That’s not Christianity.

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14-16

*For an update on the document in which the Protestant marriage partner was required to promise to raise any children as Catholics, see here.

Throwback Thursday: 5 Reasons I’m Not Catholic

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on December 19, 2016 and has been revised.

capture30

I appreciate the good article below that was published on the Christian Post website a few days ago. The only thing I would add is that Pastor Idleman is being irenic to a fault by stating that he has Catholic friends “who are devoted to God.” This brings to mind Romans 10:2: “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.”


5 Reasons I’m Not Catholic
By Shane Idleman
The Christian Post
12/15/2016

I recently had the privilege of meeting a priest of a large parish in Southern California. The purpose of our conversation was to discuss the role of tradition in light of Scripture. Granted, some tradition is beneficial if it lines up with Scripture.

I have Catholic friends who are devoted to God — they are pillars in our community. I attended a Catholic High School and loved the faculty. I desire peace with all men, but the Bible also encourages me to boldly and confidently present a scriptural basis for truth.

To continue reading the article, click on the link below…

http://www.christianpost.com/news/5-reasons-im-not-catholic-172119/

Throwback Thursday: Uh-oh. I don’t think I’m going to make it.

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on December 30, 2016 and has been revised.

capture30

It’s hard for me to believe, but I’ve been working at Eastman Kodak Company for close to 41 years.* When I started there in 1976, Kodak was still a Dow Jones dynamo with 60,000 people employed locally. Back then, cameras and film flew out the dock door faster than we could re-supply them. My, things certainly have changed! Goodbye film and cameras! Hello smartphones! The company is now just a shell of itself with only about 1000 employees in the Rochester area.

I started in the company with a guy named Doug S. who was a few years older than me. After working at Kodak for about a year, Doug got the idea of joining the Marine Corps and going to law school on their dime. However, I sensed a problem. Doug didn’t strike me as someone who could survive 13-weeks at Parris Island boot camp, but I kept my mouth shut. On his last day, the department threw a big going-away bash for Doug at a local restaurant. There was toast after toast. Back in the 1970s, with money coming in hand over fist, they didn’t need much of an excuse at Kodak to throw a work party.

Well, after several weeks, there was Doug, back at the time clock punching in again, a little slimmer and with a Marine crew cut. Nothing needed to be said and nothing was said. The look of shame and embarrassment on his face said it all. He obviously didn’t make it through the agony of boot camp.

The Marine Corps has some pretty high standards. Not every Tom, Dick, and Harry (or Mary) can waltz in off the street and make the grade. But when I read God’s Word several years later, I began to understand how impossibly high God’s standards are. Parris Island is a cakewalk in comparison. God is absolutely perfect. God is holy even beyond our comprehension.

“Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts! – Isaiah 6:5

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48

Me? Oy vey! I fail God every day in either thought, word, deed, or by omission. I could never measure up to God’s holy standard, not in a million years of trying. Only one person in the history of mankind ever met God the Father’s holy and perfect standard and that was His Son, Jesus Christ. God knew we could never cut it on our own, but He loves us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to this world to live a perfect life and then take the punishment for our sins by dying on the cross. But Christ didn’t stay dead. He defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave. He offers eternal life and fellowship with God to all who repent and ask Him to save them by faith alone. Won’t you pray to Him today?

Last week I was driving home from work and I tuned into the local Catholic radio station. Talk show host, Al Kresta, and his guest were talking about Islam. Al stated that he felt sorry for Muslims because they had no joy. Allah seemed so stern and demanding, unlike the (c)hristian’s God. But Catholics don’t have any true joy in the Lord, either. Not really. They have been taught they must constantly receive grace from the sacraments and then obey the Ten Commandments and church rules perfectly right up until the moment of their death. They can never be sure of their salvation because it all depends on how well they perform. Catholics are even taught that if they think they’re going to Heaven they commit the “sin of presumption.” They’re like Doug at boot camp; trying hard to make the grade, but constantly worrying if the demanding drill instructor is going to send them away in defeat and humiliation.

I tried and tried, but I couldn’t meet God’s holy standard. The Ten Commandment DIs were all over me: Not good enough. Too soft. No discipline. Caves easily to temptation. Disgusting. Shameful. A failure. Arrrgh!

I’m sooooooo happy my Savior stepped in and unlocked my fetters and pulled me out of the chain gang. Jesus imputed His perfect righteousness to me, the last person who deserves it, when I accepted Him as my Savior by faith alone. I can offer no plea, no righteousness of my own, only the perfect righteousness of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Thank you, Jesus, for saving me!!! Now that’s true JOY!!!

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21

*Note from 2023: I was laid off from Kodak Alaris in 2019, was unemployed for one year, worked at L3Harris Technologies for two years, and retired at the end of October 2022.

Throwback Thursday: Moses and Hobab: Sin or obedience?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on November 4, 2016 and has been revised.

capture30

God’s Word is rich beyond measure. We are so blessed that we can feast upon God’s Word daily. But sometimes I get a little lackadaisical in my approach to the Word. In my haste to complete my daily Bible reading, I can sometimes overlook some very profound truths and admonitions from the Lord. Slow down, Tom! It’s quality, not quantity. “Lord, speak to me!” But there are also times when I come across some verses/passages that I can’t completely understand and I end up scratching my head. “Lord, what does this mean?”

Case in point: My wife and I have recently been reading through the Book of Numbers together. In chapter 9, the Lord revealed to Moses that He would lead Israel through the wilderness to the Promised Land by the pillar of cloud during the day and by the pillar of fire during the night. There obviously could not be a more perfect guide than the Lord God Almighty.

Yet in chapter 10 we read that Moses entreated his brother-in-law,* Hobab, to act as a guide for the Israelites:

29 And Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place of which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us, and we will do good to you, for the Lord has promised good to Israel.” 30 But he said to him, “I will not go. I will depart to my own land and to my kindred.” 31 And he said, “Please do not leave us, for you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will serve as eyes for us. 32 And if you do go with us, whatever good the Lord will do to us, the same will we do to you. – Numbers 10:29-32

Why would Moses ask Hobab for his help as a guide when the omniscient Lord God Almighty was already leading the Israelites? Was Hobab, a Midianite, even a follower of the Lord at that point? One commentator suggests that, in His providence, the Lord sent Hobab to Moses and the Israelites because of his practical knowledge of wilderness survival, e.g. locating water wells and oases, camp protocol, etc.

So couldn’t the Lord, the perfect guide, have led the Israelites to the very best possible campsites? Why would they have needed Hobab? Here’s three possible interpretations of the passage that I came across:

(1) By turning to Hobab for help, Moses was doubting in the care of the Lord. Moses was trusting in the arm of flesh rather than the Lord. This passage is recorded in God’s Word to show us, once again, that even Moses had his failings and was an imperfect sinner. (2) Moses saw Hobab, a seasoned veteran of wilderness living, as a help provided by the Lord to assist the Israelites in their journey. (3) Moses was only flattering Hobab in an effort to persuade him to accompany the Israelites so that he might eventually also trust in the Lord.

Anyone have an opinion on this passage? We probably won’t resolve this one conclusively this side of eternity.

*Bible scholars are still debating whether “Hobab” refers to Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro/Reuel, or his brother-in-law, although recent scholarship seems to favor the latter view.

Throwback Thursday: Is it a sin for a born-again Christian to remain in the Roman Catholic church?

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

capture30

Every Christian’s story on how they came to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior is different. Some testimonies are dramatic, others are sweetly simple.

My five sisters and I were raised in Roman Catholicism and attended Catholic grammar school and high school. In all those years we never once read the Bible at school or at home. None of my friends read the Bible, either. I walked away from the church completely as soon as I graduated from high school, but felt compelled to return after my wife and I married and our sons were born. I thought I should be a responsible father and raise our boys in the Catholic religion just as I was raised. In my return to Catholicism, the Lord put it in my head to buy a Bible and I began reading it, voraciously. Uh-oh. While reading the New Testament I kept coming across teachings that opposed what I had been taught as a Catholic. Over a span of a couple of years I left the church and eventually accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior by faith alone.

As I said, every Christian’s testimony is different. There are some people who are members of Catholicism who accept Christ as Savior, but stay in the church for a period of time. But it’s difficult for me to understand how a person could accept Christ and be born-again and yet stay in a church that teaches a gospel of sacramental grace and merit. How does one reconcile God’s Word with the mass and the eucharist, Mary, the saints, penance, purgatory, the pope, priests, relics, attempting to obey the Ten Commandments to merit Heaven, etc., etc.? It can’t be done. It’s my belief that a person who has genuinely accepted Christ will eventually come out of an institution that anathematizes the Gospel of grace. Sin, fear, and the enemy may slow them down, but, with the Holy Spirit’s help and guidance, they are on their way out.

Above is a six-minute video of the late evangelical theologian, R. C. Sproul, expounding on some of the important differences between Biblical Christianity and Roman Catholicism and the sin of remaining in Catholicism after a person has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone.

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14

“Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues.’” – Revelation 18:4

Throwback Thursday: Why the Reformation Still Matters

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

capture30

Why the Reformation Still Matters
By Michael Reeves and Tim Chester
Crossway, 2016, 223 pages

5 Stars

Michael Reeves previously wrote an excellent book on the history of the Reformation for non-academics titled, “The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation” (2010). See my review here.

Now Reeves and Tim Chester have written this book which deals more with the theology of the Reformation rather than with its history. Once again, the material is aimed at non-academics like myself, so those who break out in a rash when they pick up a theology treatise can take comfort.

I would guess most evangelicals know very little about the Reformation and don’t care to know. A large number of WordPress evangelical bloggers will undoubtedly see the title of this post and hastily skip over it as quickly as they can. In our era of growing ecumenism, doctrine is becoming less and less important to people. But Reeves and Chester point out why the Reformation is still extremely important 505 years later. Mainline Protestant churches and even some evangelical leaders are lining up to sign ecumenical accords with the Catholic church. But Rome opposes the Biblical Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone today just as it did in 1517.

This is a short, easy-reading book that the reader should complete in three or four sittings. When they finish they’ll have a better understanding of what the fuss was all about in the 16th century and why it still matters in our day.

Chapters

1. Justification – How Can We Be Saved?
Unfortunately, much of the Protestant literature of the past that examined Roman Catholicism spent more time examining secondary issues (Mary, Purgatory, the papacy, etc.) than the primary issue of justification; how a person is made righteous before a Holy God. Luther said, “Justification is the article by which the church stands or falls.” The authors correctly give priority to the examination of the two opposing views of justification.
2. Scripture – How Does God Speak to Us?
3. Sin – What Is Wrong with Us?
4. Grace – What Does God Give Us?
5. The Theology of the Cross – How Do We Know What Is True?
6. Union with Christ – Who Am I?
7. The Spirit – Can We Truly Know God?
8. The Sacraments – Why Do We Take Bread and Wine?
9. The Church – Which Congregation Should I Join?
10. Everyday Life – What Difference Does God Make on Monday Mornings?
11. Joy and Glory – Does the Reformation Still Matter?

Order from Amazon here.

Throwback Thursday: We’ve all heard of “good Catholics” but are there “good Christians”?

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

capture30

Yesterday, I was listening to Catholic talk radio and I heard a phrase that’s quite common within Catholicism: “He’s (or she’s) a good Catholic.”

What is meant by a good Catholic? A good Catholic is someone who obeys all of their church’s requirements. They go to mass and receive the eucharist every Sunday and the holy days of obligation. They go to confession regularly. They are able to recite all of the prescribed prayers by memory. They don’t eat meat on Lenten Fridays. They were married in the church and their spouse is probably Catholic also. Their children were all baptized as infants and if they’re unable to send them to expensive Catholic schools they at least make sure they attend CCD/CCE classes. There’s usually more than a few sacramentals (blessed statues, rosaries, candles, palm fronds, etc.) situated around their home.

Catholics use the term, “good Catholic,” to distinguish practicing members from the majority, non-practicing members who only show up at church for weddings, funerals, Christmas, and Easter; otherwise known as “cultural” or “cafeteria” Catholics.

Calling someone a “good Catholic” is congruent with Catholic belief. Roman Catholicism teaches salvation comes through grace dispensed through its sacraments which allegedly enables the partaker to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules so they can merit their way to Heaven.

“Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 2010.

So Catholics who follow the rules are “good” and those who don’t are “bad” or more graciously referred to as “lapsed.” Catholics generally believe that “good” people, good Catholics and good non-Catholics, will merit Heaven.

How does all of this compare with Biblical evangelical Christianity? Do we call someone a “good” Christian? Well, that seems a bit incongruous, doesn’t it? A Christian is someone who realizes they are not good; that they are a sinner in need of the Savior, Jesus Christ. After they have accepted Jesus as Savior, a Christian understands that any goodness they possess is from the Lord. There is no good in my flesh. Any good I do is from God. I am not good. I am saved by Jesus Christ.

“And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.’” – Luke 18:19

But now I try to please and obey Him because He saved me. My faith is in Jesus Christ and His perfect, imputed righteousness, not in my own sorry efforts.

Catholic friend, you cannot merit your salvation. None of us are good. Only God is good. We all deserve eternal punishment. But Jesus Christ, God the Son, lived a perfect life and died on the cross to pay for your sins. But He rose from the grave, conquering sin and death, and offers eternal life and fellowship with God to all who accept Him as Savior by faith alone. Repent (turn from your rebellion against God) and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. Then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches God’s Word without compromise.

“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” – Romans 7:18-25

Throwback Thursday: Rising tensions within Catholic hierarchy over “Amoris Laetitia” could lead to crisis

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

capture30

We’re currently witnessing a struggle of historic proportions within the Roman Catholic hierarchy, although most Catholics and evangelicals aren’t even paying attention.

At the center of the controversy is the mass, the centerpiece of the Catholic religion. Catholics are obligated to attend mass every Sunday where priests allegedly change bread wafers into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Supplicants consume the Jesus wafer believing they receive graces, which supposedly help them avoid mortal sin, so that they are hopefully able to merit Heaven at the moment of death.

For century after century, the popes and Catholic hierarchy taught that Catholics who had divorced and remarried without an annulment of the first marriage were living in a state of open adultery and were forbidden from receiving communion and the other sacraments. That wasn’t a problem when divorce among Catholics was relatively rare, but in current times, with Catholic divorce rates at 38%, the restrictive communion policy was alienating a large portion of the membership and many were dropping away.

In an effort to stanch the exodus, pope Francis the pragmatist issued the Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) apostolic exhortation last April, which, among other things, ambiguously left it up to parish priests to decide whether a remarried Catholic could receive communion or not, thus countermanding a doctrine that had been taught by other equally “infallible” popes for over a millennia. Francis guilefully rolled out the controversial new teaching in footnotes #s 329 and 351 of Amoris rather than presenting the change in the main text.

Opposition to the pope’s new teaching has been swelling within the ranks of conservative cardinals, bishops, priests, and laity for the past eight months. Recently, four cardinals, including American cardinal, Raymond Burke (photo above), formally requested that Francis “clarify” his remarks in Amoris Laetitia in light of previous infallible church teaching. The pope has declined to respond to the cardinals’ appeal. Burke is now suggesting the cardinals could possibly issue a “formal act of correction,” a declaration that Francis is teaching heresy (see articles below).

As I stated previously, most Catholics are oblivious to the dramatic tug-of-war taking place between Francis and his allies and church conservatives over Amoris Laetitia and other reforms. What’s at stake is Catholicism’s claim to the infallibility of popes on teachings involving faith and morals. The great irony here – don’t miss this – is conservatives are willing to concede the current pope is fallible and in error in order to preserve the teaching of previous infallible popes! Francis winks at “infallible” doctrines in an effort to keep people in the pews.

All men are fallible. Even casual students of Catholic church history are aware of the tragic failings of popes and other high church officials down through the ages. The only Rock we have is Jesus Christ. Accept Christ as your Savior by faith alone and then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches God’s Word without compromise.

Is papal infallibility biblical?

Note from 2022: The controversy over Amoris Laetitia was perhaps the RCC’s biggest internal crisis since French archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre, broke from the church in 1970 over the reforms of Vatican II and founded the Society of Saint Pius X. Francis wore down his opponents by not responding to their angry objections. A deepening of the crisis was averted because conservative Catholic clergy were in a Catch-22. Absolute fealty to the papacy is one of their most cherished tenets. Opposing Francis’ new heretical teaching meant that they were themselves heretics. Moderate and progressive bishops and priests had been distributing Jesus wafers to remarried divorcees prior to Amoris Laetitia and were pleased to see the practice formalized. The RCC is a hierarchical institution and open opposition to Francis’ Amoris Laetitia reform has largely been stifled. However, some conservative prelates and priests continue to resist Francis’ doctrinal change on the QT.