Throwback Thursday: Spanish evangelicals remember persecution by Catholics

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on February 17, 2016 and has been revised.

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Back in December 2015, I commented on how several journalists had used then-presidential candidate, Donald Trump’s controversial remarks suggesting the banning of Muslims from entering the U.S. to remind readers of anti-Catholicism in America in previous generations. I pointed out that the journalists conveniently reported only half of the story. Protestant Americans of past generations were well-aware of the persecution of non-Catholics in countries where Catholics held the majority. Popes and bishops reserved the “divine right” to suppress Protestants and their worship services wherever Catholics held sway and were able to gain the cooperation of the civil authorities. See my previous post on that topic here.

In the article below, Spanish evangelical Christians recall the persecution they suffered in Spain during the dictatorial regime (1939-1975) of faithful Roman Catholic, Francisco Franco (see photo of fascist Franco posing with Catholic prelates).

“…many Spanish Protestants were incarcerated, beginning with Franco’s victory and until the late sixties. Most of them were brought to the courts by Catholic priests. In 1965, Monroy recalls, private Protestant meetings to pray, sing and study the Bible were approved. But the meetings were only legal if there were less than 20 people. Christians were were fined and even incarcereted. In the public spaces, only Catholic ceremonies were allowed.”

But Protestants were also oppressed in many other Catholic countries during the 20th century including Salazar’s Portugal, Mussolini’s Italy, inter-war Poland, Vichy France, Pavelic’s Croatia, and in many Latin American countries where Catholic clerico-fascism ruled.

Some may respond, “Why bring this up now? It’s all water over the dam. The Catholic church is nowhere near as religiously and politically militant as it used to be.”

The Catholics who still bother to attend mass on Sunday are fed a saccharinized version of their church’s history. Why would anyone think it would be otherwise? But their church’s actual history defies all claims to Spirit-led, infallible leadership. That’s the moral of the story.

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Spain, forty years after Franco’s death
http://evangelicalfocus.com/europe/1173/Spain_Forty_years_after_Francos_death

Throwback Thursday: “Sin” not a popular word in our 21st-Century culture

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

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“There is no holy life. There is no war between good and evil. There is no sin and no redemption.” – Deepak Chopra

“Sin” is a VERY unpopular word in our post-modern society. The general understanding now is that everyone is a law unto themselves; each person makes their own moral laws and follows their own individual conscience. If they “mess up,” no biggie. There are no absolute moral standards and there is no such thing as sin.

This thinking is even creeping into the evangelical church. A very popular pro$perity preacher on TBN, Joel Osteen, has stated that he doesn’t harp on about sin because no one would come to his services or tune into his television show. His messages are all about attaining a “better life.”

The Catholic church mandates its members must confess their “mortal” sins to a priest at least once a year. Only once a year? Failure to do so incurs another “mortal” sin. Yet, research indicates only 26% of Catholics go to confession at least yearly (see article below). That is not surprising since Catholicism generally sets a very low bar regarding “holiness.” Part of Catholic salvation teaching is that people must merit Heaven by obeying the Ten Commandments, which is absolutely impossible.

Most Catholics would say they do a pretty good job of obeying the Ten Commandments. If pressed, they will say they’re not perfect, but at least they’ve never killed anyone or cheated on their spouse. The Catholic church has reinforced the minimization of sin by differentiating between venial (small) and mortal (big) sins and by teaching such things as “mental reservation,” whereby an individual is not guilty of a sinful act as long as there’s a proviso in their mind that the act is for a greater good. Catholics talk about Jesus the “Savior,” but still think they must save themselves by trying to obey the Ten Commandments.

But there is a Holy God Who reveals Himself to the world through His Word. The Lord definitely has absolute moral standards and all of us fall short. None of us could ever possibly obey God’s Law. None of us will be able to stand before Him and present our own “goodness” as justification. When we appear before God we will have no plea of our own. Our lives will be revealed completely; all the private thoughts, acts, and motivations. All of them. No, we may not have actually killed anyone or cheated on our spouse, but Jesus made it clear that physical manifestations of hatred and lust (etc., etc.) are rooted in our sinful hearts. None will be able to justify themselves when their hearts are exposed. None will have an excuse.

“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” – Luke 12:2-3

“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” – Hebrews 10:31

But God loved us so much He sent Jesus Christ, God the Son, to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross. Jesus rose from the grave, conquering death and sin and offers the free gift of eternal life and fellowship with God to all who accept Him as their Savior through faith alone. I have no righteousness other than the imputed, perfect righteousness of my Savior. Will you accept Him, too? Yes, yes, yes, God wants His children to follow Him in obedience, but you must first become a child of God by trusting in His Son by faith alone.

People don’t realize their need for a Savior until they comprehend just how sinful they are in comparison to God’s holiness and that realization only comes by the revelation of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God.

https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/life/entertainment/story/2014/jun/30/good-soul-studies-show-confession-numbers-are-fall/251014/

Throwback Thursday: “Catholicism: East of Eden”

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

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Catholicism: East of Eden: Insights into Catholicism for the 21st Century
By Richard Bennett
Banner of Truth, 2010, 336 pages

In this excellent book, ex-priest, Richard Bennett, provides a compassionate yet uncompromising critique of Roman Catholicism in comparison to God’s Word and Biblical Christianity. Catholicism claims to be the “one true church,” but in each chapter Bennett details how the Catholic church strayed from the genuine Gospel and simple, saving faith in Jesus Christ that was preached by the New Testament church to institutionalized religious legalism and ritualism. As a former Dominican priest for twenty-two years, Bennett’s insights into Catholicism are unassailable.

Chapters

  1. From Tradition To Truth: A Priest’s Story
  2. The Lord Gave His Word: Unshakable Authority
  3. The Mystique of the Catholic Priesthood
  4. The Papacy: An Overview of Its History and Nature
  5. The Papal Claim to Have the Keys of the Apostle Peter
  6. Baptism, Confirmation, and the Anointing of the Sick
  7. Encounters in the Confession Box
  8. The Mass as a Sacrifice
  9. Holy Communion
  10. The Mystic Plague
  11. Images of “Christ” and the Gospel
  12. The Biblical Mary and Tradition
  13. God’s Institution of Marriage and Rome’s Infringement on It
  14. Convent Life
  15. Biblical Unity in the Lord
  16. The Alignment of New Evangelicals with Catholicism
  17. Conclusion

Bennett is founder and director of The Berean Beacon, an evangelical ministry to Roman Catholics. Copies of “Catholicism East of Eden” can be ordered directly from the Berean Beacon or from Amazon.com here.

For a list of over 360 books that compare Catholicism with God’s Word, see my Books tab here.

“Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” – Genesis 4:16

Faithful servant, Richard M. Bennett, was called home by the Lord on September 23, 2019 at the age of 81.

Throwback Thursday: Mary – Another Redeemer?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on February 24, 2016 and has been revised.

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Mary – Another Redeemer?
By James R. White
Bethany House, 1998, 164 pages

5 Stars

This book is a short, evangelical response to the groundswell within Roman Catholicism to dogmatically recognize Mary as “Co-Redemptrix,” with Jesus Christ. “Mary – Another Redeemer?,” by evangelical apologist, James R. White, was written during the papacy of Karol Wojtyla, aka John Paul II, who had completely dedicated himself to Mary. Wojtyla’s official Latin papal motto, “Totus tuus sum, Maria,” is translated as “Mary, I am completely yours.” John Paul II was a strong advocate of formally recognizing Mary as Co-Redeemer, but fifteen years after his death, Mary’s supporters are still waiting. As White points out, some of the Catholic hierarchy hesitate to formally proclaim this belief as dogma because they realize it will dampen efforts to gather in the “separated brethren.” Pope Francis has publicly stated that he is not interested in defining the doctrine as binding dogma. Although the doctrine is not yet official, for all intents and purposes Mary is recognized as Christ’s Co-Redeemer within Catholicism.

How did Catholics come to worship Mary as semi-divine and as Co-Redemptrix when there is absolutely no Biblical basis? White briefly reviews the history of the rise of Mariolatry and compares the simple, Biblical view of Mary to the idolatrous Marian extrapolations invented by Rome. It’s somewhat puzzling that White refrains from any mention of the development of Marian worship as an accommodation by the increasingly institutionalized early church to pagan, mother-goddess worship (e.g., Asherah, Isis, Ishtar, Hera, Venus, Pachamama, etc.), which was clearly the case. See “The Virgin: Mary’s Cult and the Re-emergence of the Goddess” by historian, Geoffrey Ashe, for a thorough examination of Mariolatry’s pagan roots.

Evangelicals are amazed and saddened by Rome’s transformation of Mary from a sinner in need of the Savior, as we all are, to the alleged sinless Queen of Heaven, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Mother of God, Holy Mother, Holy Virgin, Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate. Catholics vehemently protest that they don’t deify and worship Mary, but their practices and attitudes demonstrate otherwise. This book was written as a wake up call to evangelicals who are increasingly embracing Rome, as exemplified by Chuck Colson’s once-influential “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” (ECT) project.

I’m so grateful that I was redeemed by God’s grace through faith in Christ Jesus alone. I pray many Catholics will leave the religious ritualism, legalism, and man-made traditions of their church and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. Christ came to save sinners, not the religious self-righteous who believe they can earn heaven by receiving the Catholic sacraments and by obeying the Ten Commandments. “Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God.” – Galatians 3:11

Biblical perspective on Mary: “As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” – Luke 11:27- 28

The Kindle edition of “Mary – Another Redeemer?” can be ordered from Amazon here.

For a list of over 360 books that compare Catholicism to God’s Word see my Books tab here.

Throwback Thursday: “The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on February 29, 2016 and has been revised.

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The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional
By Charles Chiniquy
Chick Publications, 1979, 144 pages

5 Stars

I don’t normally waste my time with material from Chick Publications because I don’t believe every calamity is attributable to a Jesuit global conspiracy, but I received this book as a gift. This Chick reprint of “The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional” by ex-priest, Charles Chiniquy, preserves a valuable, nineteenth-century Protestant critique of Roman Catholicism’s sacrament of auricular confession. Chiniquy’s book was first published in 1875, followed by many subsequent re-prints.

With overwrought prose typical of his times, Chiniquy warns his readers of the dangers inherent in “auricular” (spoken into the ear of the confessor) confession. Catholics are obligated to confess their “mortal” sins to a priest at least once a year under penalty of incurring yet another “mortal” sin. Since most penitents are extremely reluctant to divulge any embarrassing sexual sins, whether they be thoughts or actions, priests are instructed to thoroughly question the person about such matters to ensure a candid “good” confession. Chiniquy gives many examples of the dangers of celibate confessors (priests) interrogating their female supplicants about such personal matters. The Catholic church acknowledges the pitfalls inherent in its process by defining the use of the confessional for immoral purposes by priests as “solicitation.”

Catholicism teaches that salvation comes by receiving its sacraments, all tightly controlled by the clergy, and by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules. The sacrament of reconciliation, auricular confession, is just another opportunity for the Catholic clergy to exercise control over its members. Chiniquy demonstrates that confession of sins to a priest has no basis in New Testament Scripture and he urges the reader to turn from man-made Catholic legalism and traditions and accept Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. Once a person accepts Christ as Savior, they should confess all sin directly to God, not to a human mediator (Mark 2:7).

“The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional” has been lumped together with similar evangelical Protestant books of the period as anti-Catholic “hate literature” of a bygone era. One could argue the title is a bit salacious and meant to appeal to prurient interests. Likewise, the illustrated cover provided by Chick Publications is mildly sensationalistic. Ex-priest Chiniquy definitely exaggerates his point by claiming the confessional was directly responsible for bringing many Catholic countries down to ruin. These minor objections aside, even the most sectarian Catholic apologist can’t deny the Roman confessional has led to abuse of scandalous proportions.

While Chiniquy was concerned with relationships between confessor priests and their adult, female penitents, news reports over the last thirty years have revealed shocking clerical sexual abuse of children, mainly boys, validating the ex-priest’s warnings regarding the confessional, but going far beyond the improprieties alluded to in this book. In many cases, the abusive relationships between priests and children began in the confessional box. The sacraments of the “eucharist” and confession had been reserved for adults prior to 1910, but that year pope “saint” Pius X issued his Quam Singulari decree, which mandated that Catholic children begin receiving communion and going to confession at age seven. In 2012, bishopaccountability.org reported the number of American priests credibly accused of molesting children since 1950 to be more than 6,100. Over 16,000 victims have been documented although many others surely never came forward. The Catholic church’s cover up of its pedophile priests scandal involved the highest offices of the hierarchy.

In contrast to Chiniquy’s time, Catholics now stay away from the confessional box in droves despite the threat of “mortal” sin. Who can blame them? Catholic sources state that only 26% of the membership participate in confession at least once a year. Evidently the other 74% would rather take their chances with eternity than share a “dark box” with a priest. Additionally, asking penitents to recall all of the times they disobeyed the Ten Commandments in the past year is beyond ludicrous. I couldn’t possibly recall all of my sins against God in either thought, word, deed, and omission for even a single day. Christ reveals in Matthew 5 the utter hopelessness of attempting to obey the law as a means to salvation. The entire business is a religious sham designed to keeps its members totally dependent on the Catholic clergy.

“Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” – Galatians 2:16

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and ask the Lord to direct you to an evangelical church in your area that’s preaches God’s Word without compromise.

Throwback Thursday: The Miraculous Medal

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

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In previous posts, we’ve looked at several Catholic “sacramentals,” including the rosary and divine mercy chaplet, holy water, the scapular, St. Christopher’s medal, and the Agnus Dei locket.

The Catholic church defines sacramentals as “sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.”

Simply, without the ecclesiastical gobbledygook, Catholics believe they will receive great blessings and ward off evil spirits by using sacramentals.

Another popular sacramental is the Miraculous Medal. Catholic tradition has it that Mary visited French mystic, saint Catherine Laboure, in 1830, giving her the precise design for this medal and promising that all who wore the medal would “receive great graces.”

Properties of the medal include:

Front side:

  • Mary stands on a globe, crushing a serpent beneath her feet. Describing the original vision, Catherine said the Blessed Mother appeared radiant as a sunrise, “in all her perfect beauty.”
  • Rays shoot out from Mary’s hands, which she told Catherine, “symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them.”
  • Words from the vision form an oval frame around Mary: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

Reverse side

  • A cross-and-bar surmounts a large, bold “M.”
  • Twelve stars disperse around the perimeter.
  • Two hearts are depicted underneath the “M,” the left lapped with a crown of thorns, the right skewed by a sword. From each, a flame emanates from the top*

The medal is a stark example of how the Catholic church unabashedly replaces the Lord God with Mary in its worship and devotion.

Followers of the Miraculous Medal cult attribute many miraculous healings and blessings to the wearing of the medal. Pope John Paul II was an ardent devotee of the medal.

In his book, “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” (2014, Crossway), evangelical theologian, Gregg Allison, examined the Catholic “nature-grace interconnection,” whereby it is taught that God’s grace is conferred by the Catholic church through nature (priests, sacraments, sacramentals, shrines, relics, etc.). Catholic “faith” is connected to concrete objects and rituals, which purportedly confer grace and enable the owner/participant to better obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules in order to merit Heaven. See my review of Allison’s book here.

The Catholic church readily admits its sacramentals are rooted in pagan talismans and amulets (see here). Citizens of pagan Rome were passionate believers in good-luck charms and the increasingly institutionalized church simply “christianized” the practice. There is no mention of believers using charms or amulets in the Bible.

My Savior, Jesus Christ, paid the entire debt for my mountain of sin. I am so incredibly grateful!!! My Shepherd guides me throughout the day and I lean on Him. I place all my trust in Him. He’s my Rock. My Life. My Everything. The Holy Spirit indwells me and sustains me from moment to moment. My Lord directs my paths. It would never even occur to me to turn to a religious charm or amulet or to someone other than my Lord.

There is no salvation in physical religious ritual. The only way to God’s salvation is by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone.

“But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” – John 1:12

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:23-24

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” – John 6:63

See here for more posts on sacramentals.

*The properties of the medal that are listed here are taken from the Wikipedia article. See here.

Throwback Thursday: Pittsburgh Catholic chapel boasts of more relics than anywhere outside of Rome

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

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Few evangelicals are aware of the extent of Roman Catholicism’s preoccupation with religious amulets, ju-jus, and relics. St. Anthony’s Chapel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania boasts that it has 5000 religious relics, the largest collection of relics in the world outside of Rome. Included in the collection are alleged splinters from Jesus’ cross, a fragment of the column of His flagellation, a stone from the Garden of Gethsemane, a nail that held Christ to the cross, material from Jesus, Mary and Joseph’s clothing, and a piece of bone from each of the twelve apostles. Only a small portion of the alleged relics at St. Anthony’s Chapel are shown in the above photo. Read how Catholic priest, Suitbert Mollinger, amassed the collection in the article far below.

The word “relic” comes from the Latin, “reliquus,” meaning “left behind.” The Catholic church teaches that “relics do not have power in and of themselves,” but that God works miracles in the presence of saints’ bodies/bodyparts or their material possessions or items they came in contact with. Catholics “venerate” relics while praying for physical healings or other blessings.

There was considerable traffic in relics throughout Europe in the Middle Ages as churches competed for these highly prized religious souvenirs. Unscrupulous merchants and dealers were more than happy to satisfy the demand. There is certainly no evidence for the authenticity of many Catholic relics, including some of the more outlandish ones like those mentioned above as well as claims to the thorns from Jesus’ crown, Mary’s breast milk, Jesus’ umbilical cord and foreskin, and the house Jesus grew up in as a child.

Everyone must accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. Venerating/worshiping material objects is idolatry. If I possessed the ENTIRE cross that Jesus died on and it stood in my backyard, it would do me absolutely no good.

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” – John 6:63

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” – Romans 1:25

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:23-24

For more of my postings on relics see here.

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The bizarre tale of 5000 relics finding a home in a Pittsburgh chapel
http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/the-bizarre-tale-of-5000-relics-finding-a-home-in-a-pittsburgh-chapel-92933/

Throwback Thursday: Catholic priest: “Go ahead and leave and NEVER COME BACK!”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on January 8, 2016 and has been revised.

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This morning, I was listening to the “Fathers Know Best” show on EWTN radio featuring Catholic priest, Larry Richards (photo left). Larry is quite a high-strung and animated speaker and always makes for entertaining, although certainly not Scripturally-sound, listening.

Today, Larry was getting QUITE lathered-up while recounting for his radio audience how, as a brand new pastor, he threatened his parishioners to never leave mass before the final blessing.

Catholics are obligated to attend mass every Sunday. Not to do so constitutes a “mortal” sin, which will allegedly doom a Catholic to eternal damnation if not confessed to a priest, although 76% of Catholics routinely miss Sunday mass, anyway.

The remaining 24% of Catholics still take their Sunday obligation seriously, but some try to minimize the pain as much as possible – showing up late and/or leaving early. Some corner-cutting Catholics want to know exactly how much of the mass they are required to be physically in the pew to get credit.* While there is no official statement on required minimum attendance – the church obviously wants its members to be in the pews from start to finish – some lenient priests suggest that if you’re present for the gospel readings and the consecration of the bread wafer and wine you get full credit.

Priest Larry will have ABSOLUTELY NONE of that. In his very first homily, he told his parishioners that they MUST be present from start to finish of mass, unless they became deathly sick. The following Sunday, when some hapless parishioners had the audacity to start heading for the doors well before the final blessing, Larry lambasted them by yelling, “Go ahead and leave and NEVER COME BACK!” Justifying his rage, Larry said no one would think of leaving early if they were invited to dinner with the Queen of England so no one should leave early from the supposed “banquet of the God of the Universe!”

Oh, I am soooooooooooo grateful to my Lord for delivering me from the chains of Roman Catholic legalism and ritualism. There is no need for Catholic priests and their continual sacrifices. No one can earn their way into Heaven by trying to follow a religious to-do list. We are all unrighteous sinners and are totally incapable of making ourselves right before a Holy God. But God the Father loved us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay for all of our sins. I have no righteousness of my own. My Savior, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God without one single blemish, has covered me with His imputed perfect righteousness.

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone today. No one is assured of a tomorrow.

“Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” – Romans 4:7-8. 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

*Note: You won’t want to be anywhere near a Catholic church parking lot near the end of mass on Sunday. About 5 minutes before the prison break…er…I mean, before mass ends, the parking lot transforms into the Daytona 500. At least that’s how it was in the “old days” when Catholic parishes were thriving.

Throwback Thursday: R.C. Sproul thought he could hold ecumenist compromisers’ feet to the fire, but they trumped him instead

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on January 10, 2016 and has been substantially revised.

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Have you ever been involved in a debate/argument where you presented what you thought was an irrefutable point, only to have your opponent turn the tables and cleverly use that point against you? That happened to R.C. Sproul in…

Getting the Gospel Right: The Tie That Binds Evangelicals Together
By R.C. Sproul
Baker Books, 1999, 208 pp.

5 Stars for the contents of this book

1 Star for R.C. Sproul’s naive attempt to hold his compromising, ecumenist friends’ feet to the fire.

Theology? Most people don’t want to discuss theology, right? But it’s extremely important to know what the Gospel of Jesus Christ IS and what it ISN’T.

As the Word of God says…

  • We are all sinners.
  • The wages of sin is death and eternal separation from God.
  • But God the Father so loved us He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to this world to live a sinless life and pay for our sins by dying on the cross.
  • Jesus defeated sin and death by rising from the grave.
  • Jesus offers the free gift of salvation and eternal life.

https://carm.org/what-gospel

But HOW exactly does one appropriate the free gift of salvation? Some claim by baptism. Others say that Jesus only opened the doors of Heaven and that people must do their part by obeying the Ten Commandments and being “good” in order to merit salvation. But what does the Bible, God’s Word, say?

Back in 1994, Chuck Colson and his ecumenical Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) initiative boldly declared that both evangelicals and Catholics believed in the same Gospel. Many evangelicals were rightly shocked by ECT’s claim. Evangelicals believe, as the Bible teaches, in salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, while Catholics unabashedly believe in salvation by sacramental grace and merit. The two views are diametrically opposed and are absolutely irreconcilable.

In 1995, evangelical theologian, R.C. Sproul, responded to ECT with the book, “Faith Alone,” which accurately contrasted the opposing salvation theologies of evangelicalism and Rome. See my review of that book here.

Colson and ECT’s next chess move was to publish their “The Gift of Salvation” declaration in 1998, which reiterated that both evangelicals and Catholics believe in salvation “by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.”

Sproul then countered by writing this book, “Getting the Gospel Right,” in 1999, which critiqued the studied ambiguity of “The Gift of Salvation” and clarified even further evangelicalism’s view on justification and salvation in comparison to Rome’s false view.

Screenshot 2020-08-12 at 12.16.21 PM
R.C. Sproul, 1939-2017

“Getting the Gospel Right” was published in conjunction with the release of  “The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration,” a declaration from Sproul and other evangelical Protestant leaders that defined the Gospel from an evangelical perspective. The STRANGE thing is that Sproul enlisted a couple of the most prominent ECT ecumenists, Timothy George and J.I. Packer, to help draft the declaration (!!!!) and more than a few ECTers subsequently signed it (i.e., Gerald Bray, Bill Bright, Harold Brown, Chuck Colson, Richard Land, Max Lucado, Richard Mouw, and Pat Robertson). Sproul had unwittingly allowed the ECT ecumenists to trump his efforts at delineating the genuine Gospel. Their rebuttal/counter-move could be described as, “Oh yeah, R.C., we believe all that, and WE STILL embrace Roman Catholicism as Christian.”

Sproul obviously had good intentions, but he didn’t think it through. He allowed himself to be “outmaneuvered” by the ecumenical Gospel-compromisers.

This theological “chess match” might seem like a lot of gobbledygook to some Christians, so let’s break it all down to its bare essentials:

Evangelicals believe justification and salvation come before sanctification (being more obedient, more Christ-like). You can’t know God or please Him until you acknowledge and repent of your sinfulness and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. Once you accept Christ and are born-again as God’s child, then you can grow in obedience to the Lord. But “good” works won’t save you.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” John 1:12

Catholics believe the opposite. They believe sanctification comes before justification and salvation. By receiving the sacraments and obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules, Catholics believe they can become intrinsically righteous and justified and can hopefully merit salvation.


Below: A simple summary of the difference between Gospel Christianity and Catholicism:

A. The evangelical position: Justification and salvation in Christ by faith alone, then sanctification.

B. The Catholic position: Sanctification via sacraments and meritorious good works, hopefully leading to justification and salvation.

The two theologies are opposed. They cannot both be right.


The Catholic position is basically the same philosophy shared by natural man and all of the world’s religions, which teach that people must become increasingly “good” in order to possibly merit Heaven, Nirvana, Paradise, etc. R.C. Sproul understood the clear difference between the genuine Gospel and Rome’s false gospel, but he took the wrong tack, an accommodating one, in dealing with the ecumenical, Judas compromisers.

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. Religion won’t save you. Trying to be “good” won’t save you.

“I have not come to call the (self) righteous but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:32

Throwback Thursday: What Every Catholic Should Ask

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

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What Every Catholic Should Ask
By James G. McCarthy
Harvest House Publishers, 1999, 32 pages

5 Stars

This excellent, short booklet introduces Roman Catholics to the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone and answers some basic questions that come up when comparing God’s Word to Catholic tradition.

Chapter headings:

  • A Close Friendship with God
  • Can Anyone Know? (that they have eternal life)
  • How Does God See Me?
  • What Went Wrong?
  • Is There a Way Back to God?
  • God’s Will or Mine?
  • Why Did Jesus Come?
  • Why Did Jesus Die?
  • What is God Offering?
  • What Must I Do?
  • What Happened to the Good News?
  • God’s Word or Man’s Word?
  • How Shall I Worship Christ?
  • Who Is the Real Mary?
  • Where Do I Go From Here?

This nicely designed booklet would be a blessing to Catholic friends and family. Used copies are available at Amazon.com. Order here.

Evangelical minister and ex-Catholic, James G. McCarthy, has written several additional books dealing with Roman Catholicism and all are available from Amazon:

  • The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God (1995). This 408-page book presents a detailed comparison of God’s Word and Catholic tradition. Highly recommended.
  • Roman Catholicism: What You Need to Know (Quick Reference Guide pamphlet) (1995)
  • Letters Between a Catholic and an Evangelical (2003). McCarthy dialogues with a Catholic priest
  • Talking with Catholic Friends and Family (2005)

For Harvest House Publishers’ current offerings on Roman Catholicism, see here.

For my list of over 360 books that compare God’s Word with Roman Catholicism, see here.