IFB Memories #13: Peter Ruckman: God’s “junkyard dog”?

After accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior in the early 1980s, my wife and I began attending an independent fundamental Baptist church in the area. All IFB churches are completely autonomous, but from what I could tell back in those days, the majority could be categorized “somewhat” according to if they emulated John R. Rice, Bob Jones, Jr., or Peter Ruckman (photo above). Like-minded pastors networked via seminary affiliation, pastors’ conferences, and missionary support.

Rice was the more moderate of the three and from his camp came Jerry Falwell. Our IFB pastor emulated Falwell and his Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virgina. Young men at our church who desired to attend seminary often ended up at Falwell’s Liberty Baptist College (changed to Liberty University in 1984). Bob Jones, Jr., was a bit more hardcore fundamentalist and separationist than Rice. Bob Jones University didn’t drop its ban on interracial dating until 2000. Peter Ruckman was definitely the most radical of the three. He became the standard bearer of KJV 1611-Onlyism among IFB churches. Neither Rice or Jones, Jr. taught KJV 1611-Onlyism so Ruckman labeled the two and all of their followers as members of the apostate “Alexandrian Cult” (i.e., those who use any other Bible translation besides the KJV 1611).

I had been reading the Bible for several years when a couple of guys at work, Jose and Ray, began witnessing to me. They were members of the very large First Bible Baptist Church in town, which aligned with Ruckman and KJV 1611-Onlyism. Because of their witness, and in addition to other people and circumstances from the Lord, I accepted Christ as Savior by faith alone. Jose and Ray invited me to attend First Bible Baptist, which was pastored by James Modlish at the time. I didn’t care for the sermons with their HEAVY emphasis on Anglo-centric KJV 1611-Onlyism, so I opted for a more “moderate” IFB church, much to Jose’s and Ray’s disappointment.

Peter Ruckman would periodically visit First Bible Baptist and preach primarily on the exclusivity of the KJV 1611 and the dangers of the “Alexandrian Cult.” His sermons from his Pensacola church were regularly broadcast on our local, community cable channel, undoubtably through the sponsorship of the First Bible Baptist Church here in town. Ruckman’s chalk talk sermons – am I the only one who remembers chalk talks? – invariably included railings against the “Alexandrian Cult.” His messages were downright nasty; full of ad hominem attacks and name-calling. But Ruckman never apologized, he proudly claimed to be God’s “junkyard dog.” Turmoil also appeared to be part of his personal life as he was divorced twice and married three times. He admitted to physical abuse and regular heated arguments with his first two wives. See here.

I’m all for teaching Biblical truth even when it hurts or is inconvenient, but some IFB pastors were just downright nasty, arrogant, and obnoxious. Our pastor was much more moderate than Ruckman, but, still, his constant railings against gays and his politicizing from the pulpit became intolerable and we left the church after eight years. But Ruckman took in-your-face Christianity to a whole different level with his constant stream of invectives. Yes, we are to defend the faith with vigor, but we should also mirror the grace and love of Christ. Ruckman died in April 2016, but I’ll never forget those acerbic chalk talks.

The other day I noticed the very sad news article below, which reported that Ruckman’s 58-year-old son had murdered his two boys and then committed suicide. So sadly tragic. Ruckman Jr. and his wife had divorced last year. It would be sheer speculation on my part to connect Ruckman Jr.s’ challenging childhood environment to this tragedy, but neither can it be ruled out.

Final messages from P.S. Ruckman Jr. include cryptic social media posts, emails of his life’s work

In the audio below, Ruckman Sr. defends abortion. It’s an unnerving thing to hear Ruckman’s followers enthusiastically “Amening” his pro-abortion heresy.


Postscript: I realize many of my brothers and sisters hold dearly to KJV 1611-Onlyism and I’m definitely not trying to pick a fight. I usually stay away from debates over secondaries, but that’s not totally possible with a post about Mr. KJV 1611-Only, Peter Ruckman. For my one and only post regarding KJV 1611-Onlyism, see here.


Newsflash: Six-year-old slam dunks her granddad in debate!

Our six-year-old granddaughter spent the night this past Saturday. Part of the festivities included a trip to the movie theater to see “Peter Rabbit.” In today’s children’s movies, they usually slip in enough “color” to keep the adults chuckling, so I actually stayed awake for the entire 90-minutes. After the movie ended, we drove around looking for a bite to eat. Being Saturday evening, every restaurant was packed with a line winding out the door. We eventually passed a submarine sandwich shop that I will call “Cahill’s” for the purpose of this story. But first we need to go back in time a bit for a few important details.

Our oldest son is a junk food connoisseur and knows every hamburger stand and pizza joint in the county. About a year ago, he came over to visit and told us about the great toasted sub he had at Cahill’s, which he incorrectly pronounced as “kuh-HILLS.” The sub shop has been a local institution since I was ten years old so I’m VERY familiar with it. I gently corrected my son and said the name should be pronounced as “KAY-hills.” He doubted me and ended up phoning the sub shop to settle the disagreement. As no surprise, they confirmed the correct pronunciation is “KAY-hills.”

Okay. Back to Saturday night. We’re driving past Cahill’s and our granddaughter says, “Look, there’s ‘kuh-HILLS.’ We could eat there.” Obviously, her Daddy continues to mispronounce the name in her company. For some reason, this ongoing error bothers me. Here’s the ensuing dialogue:

Grandpa: It’s not “kuh-HILLS,” honey, it’s pronounced “KAY-hills.”

Granddaughter: No, it’s “kuh-HILLS.”

Grandpa: Your Daddy and I have talked about this and he knows he was mistaken and that it should be pronounced as “KAY-hills.”

Granddaughter: No, it’s “kuh-HILLS.”

Grandpa: [turning around and making eye contact] I’m not joking around. I’m being serious with you now. The name of the restaurant is pronounced “KAY-hills.”

Granddaughter: No, it’s “kuh-HILLS.”

Grandma: [interjecting] Okay, okay. It doesn’t matter. Let’s all just have a good time!

Grandpa: [mumbling audibly] My, things have certainly changed.

Yes, I agree that a six-year-old boldly defying her grandfather over how to pronounce a word is hardly comparable to some of the drama experienced by families today, but I thought it was a (semi) humorous example of how kids today have fewer and fewer boundaries.

I was brought up in the 1960s and my parents were very strict when it came to us children showing proper courtesy and respect to adults, especially to someone like a grandparent. I wouldn’t have dreamed of talking back to one of my grandparents like that. We raised our two boys the same way. But these days, that’s all gone out the window. Most young children are raised in environments quite different from the “Leave It To Beaver” situation I grew up in. Homes, make that MANY homes, are broken, often with little structure. Children are allowed and often encouraged to speak to adults as peers. They don’t respect adult family members or their teachers the way we were trained. We see this kind of behavior not only in our other grandchildren, but in a lot/most of the children we encounter. Maybe it’s a good thing for children to speak up a little more than the way we were raised, but it’s gone to the extreme.

God’s Word speaks about children having proper respect for elders, parents, and grandparents. This is a fallen world. Society is moving farther and farther away from God’s standards. The traditional family has been under attack for decades. We pray for our granddaughter’s salvation and we will be telling her about Jesus often. The only time she will hear the name, Jesus Christ, within her home will be as a curse word.

“Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” – Proverbs 23:22

“Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” – Job 12:12

Creation or Evolution?

The Ultimate Proof of Creation: Resolving the Origins Debate
By Jason Lisle
Master Books, 2010 Kindle Edition, 256 pages

My brain is wired in such a way that I generally avoid most material dealing with science, technology, mathematics, logic, and such like. But Christians can’t help but encounter the debate over divine creation versus evolution, so it’s helpful for all believers to get some grounding on the topic. This book is one of blogger SlimJim’s favorite resources on the creationist view of origins and he finally talked me into downloading it to my Kindle.

“The Ultimate Proof of Creation” by Jason Lisle of Answers in Genesis (website below) can be broken down into four sections. The first part of the book explains the basic arguments of the creationists and the evolutionists in the origins debate. Each side approaches the debate from their own worldview and presuppositions. Only a worldview based upon the Bible is able to successfully account for the existence of morality, logic, and the uniformity of nature. The atheist evolutionist cannot rationally account for these outside of the Bible. Advice is provided on how to debate with atheistic evolutionists. The evolutionist often resorts to arbitrariness and presents claims that are inconsistent with evolution theory. He/she must also reject preconditions of intelligibility such as the reliability of the senses and memory since these are not dependable sources of information in a strict, hypothetical evolutionist worldview.

The second part of the book deals with logical reasoning. I have seen many of the rules of logic – logical fallicies, begging the question, the straw man argument, circular reasoning, etc. – in various books and articles over the years, so it was very helpful to see this information presented in a systematic manner. But I won’t lie, this was difficult reading for a “right-brain” guy like myself.

In the short third part of the book, Lisle argues that for the creationist debater, a presuppositional approach is superior to an evidential approach. Atheists view all evidence through their worldview, so evidential arguments will not persuade them. Lisle recommends a presuppositional approach, which argues for a literal understanding of the Genesis creation account based upon the Bible as the Word of God right out of the gate. This approach may seem counterintuitive, but the presuppositionalist is able to draw upon the nature and characteristics of God as recorded in the Bible as the basis for morality, logic, and uniformity in nature. Once again, the atheist evolutionist cannot rationally account for morality, logic, and uniformity in nature from their worldview.

The last part of the book includes a large number of actual emails sent to Lisle and Answers in Genesis that attack the creationist view. I found this section to be very helpful. After reading through the somewhat challenging initial material, which detailed the opposing views of creationists and atheists regarding origins, Lisle pulls all of the information together by using actual examples of how to counter the atheist’s faulty reasoning, thereby reinforcing the preceding material.

This was a very interesting book and I recommend it highly. But if you’re new to the origins debate, you may want to get grounded first in something a little more basic. The author assumes the Christian reader already has some familiarity with the fundamentals of the origins debate and means to equip them to be more effective witnesses, and even debaters themselves, for the Biblical account of creation.

Answers in Genesis website

“Living Biblically” misses the main point of the Bible – the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ!

Living Biblically
Created by Patrick Walsh and featuring Jay R. Ferguson, Ian Gomez, Lindsey Kraft, and David Krumholtz
CBS, Monday nights, 9:30 p.m. EST

In the last Weekend Roundup, I mentioned CBS’s new television show, “Living Biblically,” and last night I caught up with Monday night’s pilot episode via on-demand.

The show begins with “lapsed” (non-practicing) Roman Catholic, Chip Curry (Ferguson), who is very troubled by the recent death of his best friend. In the midst of his depression, he decides to start reading the Bible in an attempt to lift himself out of his doldrums and “make sense of it all.” His new “spirituality” consists of endeavoring to live his life in strict accordance with all of the Bible’s precepts. Chip’s local parish priest, “father” Gene (Gomez), tries to humor the zealot into mitigating his rigorous chosen path, while his atheist wife, Leslie (Kraft), is worried her formerly religiously indifferent husband has turned into a fanatical “Bible banger.” Chip takes things too far when he literally “stones” (i.e., small pebble to the forehead) a notorious womanizer who he works with, but his “obedience” seems to be divinely rewarded by a job upgrade at a higher salary. More “comical” clashes between Biblical literalism and secular culture are sure to follow as the series continues.

A couple of moments in the the show really captured its overall spirit:

  • In one of the initial scenes, Chip visits priest Gene in a confessional (photo above) and declares that he’s already a “good” person who desires to be “even better” by following the Bible literally.
  • In the final scene, Chip, Leslie, priest Gene, and Jewish rabbi, Gil (Krumholtz), gather together at a local watering hole and philosophize about Chip’s new “spirituality.” Leslie has just found out she is pregnant and is worried about how Chip’s newfound “faith” will affect their child. The rabbi and priest agree the important thing is that both parents just focus on raising the child as a “loving human being” and everything will be fine.

So what we see in “Living Biblically” is the prevailing gospel of works righteousness with the essential requirement of being a “good” person in order to merit a reward. Jesus Christ was not mentioned once during the entire thirty minutes, which was certainly not a surprise. The Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone is the red thread that runs through the entire Bible, but Chip doesn’t get it and neither do the show’s writers and creators. The letter of the Law is emphasized rather than the Gospel that the Law points to. In future episodes, viewers will no doubt witness many other examples of Biblical precepts pulled out of their context and made to look comically ridiculous just like the faux “stoning” of the adulterer in this pilot episode.

Few Catholics will have an axe to grind with Living Biblically’s view of religion because it’s largely in sync with the notions of popular Catholicism, but Biblical Christians will certainly have a problem with what this show communicates about the Bible. We can only hope that some souls might be inspired by “Living Biblically” to actually start reading the Bible and that the Holy Spirit will enlighten them to the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Lent is no match for Super Rodent!

Most of the topics I write about on this blog are serious matters involving spiritual life and death, but there are occasions when I come across something that can only be categorized as sadly comical. Case in point:

This year, the Catholic church’s Lenten season runs from Wednesday, February 14th to Thursday, March 29th and Catholics are strictly forbidden from eating meat on all six of the Fridays during that span under the threat of committing mortal sin, which they are told will doom them to hell. But getting down to the nuts and bolts of what actually constitutes “meat” can get a little tricky as I alluded to in the infamous Chicken in a Biskit post (see here.)

Well, now we have another very strange twist to this rule regarding abstention from meat during Lent.

A few days ago, I was listening to the 2/21/18 podcast of the “Called to Communion” Catholic talk radio show. Moderator, Tom Price, and host, David Anders, were discussing Lenten abstinence restrictions and Anders unflinchingly mentioned that Venezuelan Catholics are allowed to eat the meat of a capybara on Fridays. Capybara? What’s that? Well, it turns out that capybara (photo above) are the largest living rodent in the world, ranging anywhere from 80 to 150 pounds full grown and they like to hang out near or in water. They are a dietary staple of Central America and some say they taste like pork with a slightly fishy accent. As the tale goes, Padre Sojo, Venezuela’s most influential Catholic cleric at the time, traveled to Rome in 1794 and petitioned pope Leo XII to allow his countrymen to eat the meat of the capybara during Lent because, he argued, the animal spent so much time in the water that it was more like a fish than a warm-blooded mammal. Remember, fish are okay to eat on Fridays during Lent, but not the meat from mammals or birds. Sojo’s absurd argument evidently made an impression on the credulous pope because he granted his request and actually issued a Papal Bull decreeing that Venezuelans were free to eat capybara during Lent without incurring a mortal sin.

So Venezuelan Catholics can gorge themselves on capybara burgers on Lenten Fridays with an absolutely clear conscience, but if an American Catholic takes even one bite of a Big Mac, they are doomed to Hell forever!

But this sinner who was freed from the chains of Catholicism and is saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone has a hypothetical question for my Catholic friends. Let’s suppose an American Catholic travels down to Venezuela on business during Lent. He’s walking the streets of Caracas on a Friday at noon and smells the wonderful aroma of barbecue in the air. In a few minutes, he discovers the source of the olfactory bliss; a sidewalk food vendor who beckons him over to try some of his smokey barbecued capybara. The American, mouth watering, declines with noticeable regret, saying in broken Spanish that he is prohibited from eating meat on Friday during Lent. But the vendor reassures him that the pope himself declared it was okay to eat capybara in Venezuela during Lent and another native walking by confirms the information. The American then hungrily orders a double-plateful of barbecued capybara and eats his fill. The next day, the American begins his journey back to the U.S., but his plane crashes and all aboard perish. Which now brings us to our question: Did the American Catholic go to hell for eating capybara on a Lenten Friday because he was still under the jurisdiction of his American bishop or did Leo XII’s papal bull cover all the bases?

Catholic friend, if you ever get tired of spinning in Catholicism’s legalistic hamster (another rodent) wheel, turn to Jesus Christ. Repent of your sins and ask Jesus Christ to save you by faith in Him alone.

Is Catholicism a false religion? Are Catholics saved?

Postscript: Some may object to my interjection of humor in this discussion, but folks, seriously, I couldn’t have come up with this “capybara dispensation” in my wildest dreams.

Catholic radio priest repeatedly refers to “mindless backwater Baptists”

Friends, it’s time for a little deprecating levity…

Yesterday, I listened to the 2/5/18 podcast of “The Catholic Connection” talk radio show featuring moderator, Jim Havens, and priest-host, David Nix, as they discussed the topic, “Do Catholics Read the Bible Literally?”

Traditionalist priest Nix decried the fact that many Catholic clerics and laypersons do not hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible; that many believe the miracles of the Old Testament (and perhaps even some of the miracles in the New Testament) are mythical stories designed only to teach a moral or spiritual lesson.

Nix then argued for an hour for a literal understanding of the Bible when a literal understanding is called for. Peppered throughout his presentation was his argument that Catholics could embrace Biblical literalism without checking their intellect at the door, unlike “mindless backwater Baptists.” Huh? “Mindless backwater Baptists”? Yes, that is the exact phrase priest Nix used several times in his presentation.

So, when Catholics like Nix embrace the words of Scripture literally, they can do so with intellectual integrity, but Baptists are evidently “mindless” and incapable of such.

Now, I don’t take any personal offense to Nix referring to rural or even urban Baptists as “mindless.” To my way of thinking, it’s always refreshing to hear Catholic clergy take off the namby-pamby ecumenical gloves and communicate with honesty. I’m actually glad Nix reads the Bible and advises his fellow Catholics to read it (most don’t) and trust in it as the Word of God. Perhaps when they read the Bible, the Holy Spirit will also enlighten them to the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and free them from the legalistic chains and ritualism of Roman Catholicism.

“An enraged Pope Paul V, in 1606, told the Venetian ambassador, ‘Do you not know that so much reading of Scripture ruins the Catholic religion?’” – from “The Reformation: A History” by Diarmaid MacCulloch, 1972, pp. 393-394, quoting “La Bibbia Al Rogo: la censura ecclesiastica e i volgarizzamenti della Scrittura (1471-1605),” by Gigliola Fragnito

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthian 1:26-31

Romans 8: Wow!

My wife and I are currently reading through Paul the apostle’s Epistle to the Romans together and we are being thoroughly blessed by God’s Word. Last night we read chapter 8. Wow! My soul sang as we read through the verses. Many commentators over the years have mentioned the magnificence of Romans 8, including 17th century German preacher, Philipp Jakob Spener, who wrote, “If Holy Scripture was a ring, and the Epistle to the Romans a precious stone, chapter 8 would be the sparkling point of the jewel.”

Just a few verses:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – 1

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” – 14-16

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” – 22-23

“For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” -26

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – 28

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” – 31

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” – 35

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – 38-39

Praise the Lord for the Epistle to the Romans and all of His Word. Thank you, merciful Father, for the gift of salvation by your grace through faith alone in your Son, Jesus Christ.

If you haven’t trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior, what are you waiting for?

How to get to Heaven? Evangelicals and Catholics disagree. Both can’t be right.

Catholics and Evangelical Protestants both agree that Jesus Christ, God the Son, died on the cross to pay the penalty for sins, but they disagree on how a person receives the gift of salvation.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:8-10

Evangelical Protestants believe a person must repent of their sins and come to Jesus Christ in prayer and ask Him to save them, without one, single plea of their own. Salvation is completely by faith in Christ. After we accept Christ as Savior, then good works and charity are manifested in our lives as the fruit of our salvation.

Catholics, in contrast, believe salvation is a lifelong process.* They believe a person must firstly have all their sins washed away in baptism. Then they believe a person must participate in the other sacraments to receive graces so they can obey the Ten Commandments, avoid sin, and remain in a mortal-sinless “state of grace” so as to be able to merit Heaven at the moment of their death. Although they believe salvation is merited by obedience, Catholics can claim salvation is by “grace” and “faith” because they say it is through the graces administered through the sacraments that they are able to successfully obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!).

“We must understand that we are saved by grace through the instruments of faith and obedience. That obedience includes keeping the Ten Commandments, but the keeping of the commandments is an instrument—a necessary instrument—through which the grace of God flows and keeps us in Christ, the principle of reward for us. Thus, we have to keep the commandments to be saved, but we understand it is only through grace that we can do so.” – Tim Staples, Catholic apologist

God’s Word certainly speaks about obedience and charity. After we accept Christ we are to follow Him in obedience. But no one could ever possibly justify themselves by their imperfect attempts to follow the Law. The Law shows us that we are all sinners in need of the Savior. We could never obey our way into Heaven. I sin by thought, word, deed, or by omission every single day and so do you. The Lord, Jesus Christ, was the only person who ever successfully obeyed the Law.

“Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:19-20

The only way to salvation is through accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. If any part of your salvation depends upon how well you obey the Ten Commandments, you are lost.

Remember the repentant tax collector in Luke 18:9-14 who asked the Lord to save him, without one single plea of his own? That is how we come to Christ and His salvation.

*While Catholics prescribe their sacramental system as the proper way to salvation, they also grant that non-Catholic religionists (Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Protestants, etc.) may also merit Heaven “if they follow the light they are given.” Pope Francis has said even atheists can merit Heaven if they follow their conscience. None of this is Christianity.

Postscript: Just because a person attends an evangelical, Gospel-preaching church doesn’t mean they’re saved in Christ. Every person must individually repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. Also, not every church that calls itself “evangelical” these days preaches the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone.

The scarlet cord that runs through the entire Bible

My wife and I are currently studying through the Book of Joshua in the Old Testament. The more believers study the Old Testament, the more we comprehend, through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ and His plan of salvation are woven throughout the entire text via symbolism/typology.

Take Joshua, who the Lord chose to be Moses’ successor. Moses had disobeyed God by striking the rock at Kadesh to obtain water for the Israelites rather than speaking to the rock as God had commanded (Numbers 20:2-13). Moses had previously struck a rock at Rephidim to obtain water (Exodus 17:1-7), but a rock was not to be struck again. This is a wonderful typology of Jesus, the Rock, dying only once for sins, and, after that, the living waters of salvation being obtained only through appeal to the Savior by faith and prayer. Because of Moses’ disobedience, God did not allow him to enter the Promised Land. Moses represented the Law. His successor, Joshua/Yeshua/Jesus (meaning “The Lord Is Salvation”), would be the one to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. This is a wonderful typology of salvation only through faith in Jesus Christ rather than through the Law.

Yesterday, in preparation for our next devotion time, I was studying Joshua, chapter 2, which deals with the two spies sent by Joshua to scout the fortified city of Jericho. We all know that it was Rahab* the prostitute who hid the spies from soldiers sent out by the king of Jericho to search for them. The spies made a pact with Rahab, saying if she left a scarlet rope hanging from her window, all those inside would be spared by the invading Israelite army. Scarlet? Why not black? Or blue? Or green? No, the rope was scarlet red because it symbolized the blood of the Savior to come, Jesus Christ, which was also typified by the blood of the guiltless lamb sacrifice smeared on the door posts and lintel of the Hebrew homes in Goshen on the first Passover.

I know many of you are already aware of these foreshadowings of the Lord Jesus, but I just had to stop and praise God for the theme of salvation in Jesus Christ that runs throughout the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation! For centuries, rabbinic scholars have studied the Old Testament day and night, but they were blind to these simple yet profound symbols and types of the Savior Messiah.

*In Matthew 1:5-6 we find that Rahab married Salmon of the tribe of Judah, and that “Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.” Hence, Jesus Christ’s human lineage can be traced back to Rahab, the Jerichoan prostitute. What other religion’s “holy book” would confess such a thing of its founder? The name, Rahab, means “spacious or broad” in Hebrew and some suggest this referred to Rahab’s rather loose morals. Joshua 2:11 says the hearts of all the inhabitants of Jericho melted from fear of the approaching Israelites, but it was only Rahab the prostitute who turned to Yaweh for salvation by faith, calling to mind Luke 5:32, “I have not come to call the (self) righteous but sinners to repentance.”

“You musn’t take THAT Bible passage literally!”

This morning, I was listening to the 10/29/13 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show, broadcast by The Station of the Cross (101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY), featuring priest-host, Rick Poblocki, and moderator, Mike Denz.

About half-way through the show, Trish from Buffalo called in with a concern about her 14-year-old son. The boy’s religion class had been studying a passage from the Old Testament in which God had commanded the Israelites to kill all the inhabitants, including children, of the pagan Canaanite nations they were invading. The boy was upset by the passage and asked his mother, “How could a God who is all-loving, all-merciful, and all-forgiving wipe out a whole nation,” especially the children? The mother didn’t know how to answer, so she called Rick for advice.

Priest Rick explained that when ancient peoples fought over land, they invoked the help of their deities, just as Israel invoked Yaweh. He said the Israelites attributed to God the command to attack the Canaanites and credited Him for all their victories, but that God DIDN’T ACTUALLY command the attacks. Rick went on to say that the Israelites were looking for a way to justify their aggression, so they attributed it all to the will of God. In closing, Rick stated, “So they put then on the lips of God these commands to destroy even to the point of (murdering children),” because they had mistakenly understood that to be God’s will. Trish thanked Rick for his “wise” counsel.

Believers, see anything wrong with priest Rick’s Old Testament exegesis? Yes, God DID command the Israelites through his prophet, Moses, to wipe out the pagan peoples of Canaan. Yes, even children. God is sovereign. He brings new life into the world and takes life away. 150,000 people die each day in this world; men, women, and children. It’s not pretty but that’s the reality in this fallen world. The pots cannot tell the Potter how to manage the pots. God commanded the Israelites to destroy all the Canaanites because He didn’t want them to be ensnared by pagan idolatry. As we know, the Israelites disobeyed the Lord, spared many of the pagans, and did embrace pagan idolatry. But despite the continual disobedience of Israel and its ongoing dalliance with paganism, the Lord’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ prevailed. Praise God!

Like most Roman Catholic clerics, priest Poblocki has a very low view of Scripture. He stands on the traditions of his church, not on God’s Word. If his church’s man-made traditions and philosophies disagree with Scripture, a priest will choose his church over Scripture every time. Speaking of idolatry, just step inside a Catholic church. And speaking of murder, comparatively “enlightened” Roman Catholic prelates persecuted those outside the church right up into the 20th century. There were the crusades, the inquisitions, pogroms, forced baptisms, and murderous Catholic falangists. How does Rick explain all that to the 14-year-old?

“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? – Isaiah 45:9

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” – Matthew 24:35

I had been reading Deuteronomy 20 as part of my daily Scripture reading just yesterday, where God commands the Israelites to exterminate all the Canaanites. Coincidence? Hardly!

Why did God command the extermination / genocide of the Canaanites, women and children included?

Postscript: Old Testament passages that deal with Israel’s fidelity to Yaweh are not dry, useless historical information, but are inspiration for Christians to also remain faithful to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to His Gospel. But as we look around evangelicalism today, we sadly see plenty of accommodation, cooperation, compromise, and betrayal when it comes to false teachers and false gospels.