Yet another book about pope Francis’ heresies from a Catholic author

The Dictator Pope: The Inside Story of the Francis Papacy
By Marcantonio Colonna* (aka Henry Sire)
Regenery Publishing, 2018 Revised Edition, 232 pages

After cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected to the papacy on March 13, 2013, many were immediately impressed by his seemingly humble, pastoral approach, which was a noticeable contrast to the rigorous doctrinalism of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. When pope Francis’ off-the-cuff, theologically liberal remarks began making headlines, conservative Catholics attributed them to media misrepresentation, but after a short span it became entirely clear that Francis did not share their agenda.

We’re now seeing a growing number of conservative Catholic critics publicly voicing their deep displeasure with Francis. In this updated version of his controversial 2017 bestseller, historian, Henry Sire, examines Bergoglio’s past and the most eyebrow-raising aspects of his papacy.

When the college of cardinals elected Bergoglio in 2013, few were aware of his liberal proclivities, but an influential, progressive cadre had groomed the Argentinian as their candidate several years previous.

Francis and his progressive allies saw the unbending doctrinal rigidity of JPII and Benedict XVI as impediments to the church’s survival, and they seek to move the church away from doctrinal emphasis to a more pragmatic, “pastoral” approach. Sire devotes much space to Francis’ engineering of the lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees via the 2014 and 2015 synods and his guileful 2016 Amoris Laetitia encyclical. Conservative prelates who oppose his “reforms” are swiftly divested of their positions or influence (hence, the title, “The Dictator Pope”). Religious orders that cling to the Latin mass or other forms of traditionalism are targeted for “correction.” This revised edition was published before Francis’ latest airplane-aisle press conference in which he declared that individual bishops could decide on the issue of intercommunion with Protestants in their diocese.

Francis and his allies will continue to advance such progressive causes such as ending the rule of celibacy for priests, affirming sexually active homosexuals and blessing same-sex unions, and ending the ban on non-abortifacient contraceptives. The author points out that, despite his reputation as a reformer, Francis has kept at arms-length such glaring problems as the much-needed reorganization of the entrenched Curia (the Vatican bureaucracy), the ongoing priest pedophile scandal, and the murky and teetering Vatican finances.

Catholic conservatives are hoping that Francis’ reign ends quickly, but in the meantime Francis is busy “stacking the deck” by appointing new cardinals who share his views to ensure his successor carries forward his progressive reforms.

It’s satisfying to see these critical exposés of Francis from Catholic sources. Catholics once boasted that their pope, under divine guidance, could never lead their church into doctrinal error, but Francis has “reformed” that claim as well.

Catholic friend, what should you do now that your foundation is crumbling? Repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. Jesus is the only Foundation worth standing on. After you have accepted Christ, then ask Him to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise.

*Historian and Vatican expert, Henry Sire, sought to cloak his identity by using a nom de plume, Marcantonio Colonna, when the first edition of this book was published in November 2017. When his identity was later uncovered, his membership in the Knights of Malta, a Catholic lay religious order, was suspended.

Click on the links below to see my reviews of other books written by Catholic authors that are extremely critical of Francis:

“The Political Pope: How Pope Francis is Delighting the Liberal Left and Abandoning Conservatives” by George Neumayr

“Lost Shepherd: How Francis is Misleading His Flock” by Philip Lawler

“To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism” by Ross Douthat

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The Legion’s Greatest Tale – Part One

Beginning with young Jim Shooter’s writing debut in Adventure Comics #346, we’ve seen him make fantastic strides. With his next story, the two-issue saga, “The Fatal Five” and “The Doomed Legionnaire,” Shooter would create what still remains, fifty-one-years later, as the Legion of Super-Heroes most memorable adventure.

The Fatal Five!
Adventure Comics #352, January, 1967
Writer and Layouts: Jim Shooter, Penciller: Curt Swan

Plot

In deep space, a lone sentinel sounds the alarm as he detects the approach of the galaxy’s most feared entity, initially described with great dread only as the unmentionable “it.” Meanwhile, a small contingent of Legionnaires, including Cosmic Boy, Ferro Lad, Princess Projectra, Sun Boy, and Superboy, watches a rogue’s gallery documentary showing the five most dangerous criminals known to the Science Police: the Persuader, who wields an atomic axe, capable of slicing through anything, including energy; Tharok, once a common criminal whose entire left side was replaced with robotic members after an accident, with his half-robotic brain increasing his intelligence exponentially; the Emerald Empress who took possession of the Emerald Eye of Ekron, which has almost unlimited power; Validus, a mammoth being with incalculable strength and a hair-trigger temper; and Mano, a mutant from a strange world, who can annihilate anything, even an entire planet, with the touch of his unshielded right hand. The police have labeled these super criminals as “The Fatal Five.”

Later that evening, the Legion receives a direct emergency call from the President of the United Planets Inner Council. The “it” mentioned previously turns out to be the dreaded Sun-Eater, a large, cloud-like entity wandering through the universe and devouring the energy from the stars in its path, wiping out solar system after solar system and galaxy after galaxy and now headed toward the Sun.

With the other nineteen Legion members detained on a mission in “Dimension QK-51,” Superboy and the others desperately plead with superheroes scattered throughout the galaxy to come to their aid, but to no avail. Cosmic Boy then comes up with the idea of appealing to the Fatal Five for their assistance, hoping their own sense of self-preservation will make them agreeable.

The five Legionnaires travel to the ends of the galaxy in search of the Fatal Five and must intervene to save three of the criminals who are on the verge of being executed for their horrific crimes. The Legionnaires arrive back on Earth with the Fatal Five in tow as the Sun-Eater approaches the Sun. Will the combined powers of the small Legion contingent and the Fatal Five be enough to stop the dreaded Sun-Eater and save the Sun and the Earth? Find out in a few weeks when I review Adventure Comics #353 and “The Doomed Legionnaire!” Uh-oh, that title definitely sounds ominous.

Commentary

This is simply a fantastic story with the five Legionnaires improbably paired with the five most powerful criminals in the galaxy against the most dangerous threat the Legion has ever faced. Shooter outdid himself with the creation of the five impressive villains. The quintet would resurface in Legion lore many times in the future. I’ll have many more superlatives to add regarding this classic tale in my review of the conclusion.

Flubs

I would seriously like to know what was so important in Dimension QK-51 that prevented the other 19 Legionnaires from helping to stop the Sun-Eater from destroying the solar system? Also, this isn’t really a flub, but I would like to know how Ferro Lad is able to function biologically when he transforms his entire anatomy into iron? Does not compute.

Postscript: My last laugh!

As a boy, my Dad tried to break me of my comics addiction by telling me that reading comic books wouldn’t get me anywhere in life. Really, Dad? I was only eleven. It wasn’t like I was hanging out in dark alleys at night. Argh! Time passed and one day I was sitting at my desk in sixth grade, taking a science test and not doing very well. One of the questions on Mrs. Ellis’ test asked for the Latin name of the “most useful” star in the galaxy. The correct answer was “Polaris” for the North Star. I knew what Mrs. Ellis was fishing for, but having forgotten the correct answer, I substituted “Sol,” the Latin name for the Sun, which I had learned on page 10 of this very issue (see below). Chagrined, Mrs. Ellis had no choice but to accept my clever substitute answer, which gave me just enough points to score a passing grade of 75 on the test! Take that, Mrs. Ellis! You too, Dad!

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But doesn’t Scripture call homosexuality a sin? No problem. Just avoid all of those “problematic” Scripture passages.

Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship, of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity
By James Martin, SJ
Harper One, 2017, 150 pages

For decades, the progressive wing of the Roman Catholic church has been pushing for acceptance and “affirmation” of the church’s active LGBT members. Given the amount of headlines I’m seeing in the Catholic press, there are signs that this crusade is moving toward a critical, watershed moment. Jesuit priest, James Martin (photo left), serves as the unofficial point man for the pro-Gay movement within the church and his name is increasingly mentioned in related articles and news stories, both pro and con.

In this short but very influential book, Martin makes his case for the church to accept and affirm active LGBT members. In Martin’s viewpoint, it’s not a matter of homosexuality being sinful. Not at all. He starts from the premise that God made homosexuals just the way they are, therefore sin cannot be connected to their behavior. In this book, homosexuality is presented as a gift from God that the church must respect like any other. Martin calls for the church to repent of its bigoted past attitude towards active LGBT members, just as he calls upon active LGBT members to repent of their disrespectful attitudes towards the church’s “overburdened” and formerly intolerant hierarchy.

Although there are several references to Scripture passages that appeal to love and acceptance, the Bible passages that identify homosexuality as a sin are noticeable by their absence.

All of the above is essentially a moot point because Roman Catholicism does not teach the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. But as a Vatican observer, it’s interesting to watch the liberal and conservative factions of the church jostling for advantage in this mounting controversy. Pope Francis has already overturned church dogma by lifting the ban on communion for remarried divorcees and by leaving the question of intercommunion with liberal Protestants up to each bishop. Will Francis also be able to overturn the church’s teaching on same-sex relationships and marriages or is the 81-year-old pontiff pragmatically preparing the way for his successor?

I don’t recommend this book to anyone. My interest was merely to get a clearer understanding of progressive Catholics’ views on homosexuality and all of my questions were answered.

Postscript: Martin suggests elsewhere that 30% of Catholic priests are homosexuals.

Ecumenical confusion

Alter Girl: Walking Away From Religion Into the Heart of Faith
By Andrea Syverson
Lifetree Publishing, 2017, 230 pages

A few weeks ago, I was taking my periodic stroll through our local (c)hristian bookstore (aka spiritual minefield) and “Alter Girl” caught my eye. What’s this? A book about a woman who accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior and came out of Catholicism? Well, not exactly. As I skimmed through the book while standing in the aisle of the bookstore, I quickly determined that it had some problems, but bought it anyway to see how “hip” evangelicalism views Roman Catholicism.

Andrea Syverson was born into a devout Catholic family in New Jersey and attended Catholic schools all the way up through graduate school. She cautiously began dating an evangelical Christian, Dean, and one thing led to another until they finally married. As a compromise between Andrea’s liturgical Catholicism and Dean’s nondenominational evangelicalism, they became members of a Lutheran church (Dean came from a Lutheran background) and Andrea warmed to many of the beliefs of Protestantism. After several years, the couple felt increasingly restricted at the Lutheran church and joined a loosey-goosey, nondenominational, seeker-sensitive church. As that church gradually became more institutionalized, the couple opted out and now celebrate being non-affiliated lone rangers.

In this book, there’s lots of talk about God’s love and about Jesus becoming a person’s best friend, but as the author moved from Catholicism to Protestantism to evangelicalism, there’s nothing in her testimony about personal repentance of sin and accepting Jesus Christ as her Savior by faith alone. Andrea looks back at her time in Catholicism with a good degree of gratefulness, and alleges that the Catholic church teaches the genuine Gospel (“We’re all celebrating the same Good News” – p. 186), but has found that, for her, evangelicalism is a better way.

This book reflects the unfortunate inclusive, ecumenical thinking embraced by many evangelicals, but Catholicism’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit is radically different from the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Syverson uses Eugene Peterson’s half-baked “The Message” (it can’t even be called a paraphrase like the NLT) as her Scriptural reference throughout, which is problematic in itself. She also quotes or refers approvingly to Catholic clerics and apologists, promoters of emergent church philosophy, and ecumenists including (fasten your seatbelt) C.S. Lewis, Henri Nouwen, Priscilla Shirer, Father James Martin, Brennan Manning, Mother Teresa, Sister Joyce Rupp, Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, Father Michael Marsh, G.K. Chesterton, Father Richard Rohr, Richard Foster, Tim Keller, Thomas Merton, Father George Montague, and Dallas Willard.

Is Andrea Syverson a blood-bought, born-again follower of Jesus Christ? It’s EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to tell from reading this book. But it’s VERY CLEAR that she is an enthusiastic disciple of the “We All Just Love Jesus” ecumenical movement.

Not recommended.

What became of the Legion’s “Outcasts”?

I apologize for keeping everyone dangling in suspense for three weeks! It’s time to finally find out what happened to Legion outcasts, Superboy and Supergirl, in…

The Forgotten Legion!
Adventure Comics #351, December, 1966
Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciller: Curt Swan

Plot

The previous issue ended with Superboy and Supergirl being discharged from the Legion because of a deadly Kryptonite dust cloud encircling Earth, Lightning Lad being kidnapped by Evillo, and the disguised Sir Prize and Miss Terious taking the place of the Super cousins on the Legion roster.

Invisible Kid prevents Ultra Boy from determining the identities of the two new members while a small Legion contingent heads to the private planet of the Legion’s benefactor, R.J. Brande, in response to an emergency summons. Once there, they encounter the Hag, one of Evillo’s “Devil’s Dozen,” who begins to work her black magic on the group. Miss Terious leads the team in a hasty retreat and declares they need to counteract the power of the Hag with a spell of their own, requiring the hair from a magician and the print of an enchanted shoe.

In the meantime, the kidnapped Lightning Lad regains consciousness at Evillo’s lair, and the villain tries to brainwash him into becoming the fifth member of his Devil’s Dozen crime gang. Lightning Lad is able to successfully resist, but remains a prisoner. Another member of Evillo’s gang, Sugyn, travels to Earth and kidnaps Bouncing Boy, who had previously lost his powers. Displeased that Sugyn captured a powerless Legionnaire, Evillo kills him because of his incompetence.

A group of Legionnaires travels back in time to 20th-century Smallville and Element Lad changes the Kryptonite pellet that was implanted in Superboy’s brain to helium, restoring his memory. Superboy and Mon-El then travel to the Fifth Dimension and obtain some hair from the magician, Master Mxyzptlk. The Legion of Substitute Heroes is called into action to obtain the hoof prints of Comet, Supergirl’s enchanted horse.

Possessing the required ingredients, Miss Terious creates a counter-potion, which transforms the Hag back into her original identity, the “benevolent” White Witch of Naltor. Miss Terious then reveals she is Dream Girl, sister of the White Witch. Dream Girl had previously left the Legion after joining under false pretenses. Sir Prize reveals himself to be Star Boy, who was discharged from the Legion after accidentally killing a criminal (Adventure #342). Invisible Kid invites the two to rejoin the Legion.

The team then travels to Evillo’s planet and discovers that another of the villain’s prisoners, Dr. Zan Orbal, has restored Lightning Lad’s arm and Bouncing Boy’s powers and cured Matter-Eater Lad’s obesity. A fight ensues with the strengthened Legion defeating Evillo and his gang, which includes the Wild Huntsman, Apollo, and a number of henchmen. Superboy and Supergirl are able to return to 30th-century Earth and rejoin the Legion because Color Kid of the Legion of Substitute Heroes changed the deadly Kryptonite green dust cloud to blue, rendering it harmless.

Flubs

There is no explanation as to how Matter-Eater Lad ended up at Evillo’s lair after being part of the contingent that confronted the Hag on Brande’s planet.

Commentary

There’s A LOT going on in this issue including a fairly discombobulated plot and almost a full roster of regular Legionnaires along with the Legion of Substitute Heroes and the Legion of Super-Pets. I’m guessing that writer, E. Nelson Bridwell, was tasked with creating a two-part story, which included every Legionnaire.

Legion roster: Bouncing Boy, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dream Girl, Duo Damsel, Element Lad, Ferro Lad, Invisible Kid, Lightning Lad, Light Lass, Matter-Eater Lad, Mon-El, Phantom Girl, Princess Projectra, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Sun Boy, Superboy, Supergirl, Ultra Boy

Legion of Substitute Heroes: Chlorophyll Kid, Color Kid, Fire Lad, Night Girl, Polar Boy, Stone Boy

Legion of Super-Pets: Comet (horse), Krypto (dog), Streaky (cat), Beppo (monkey)

Disclaimer: There are many references to “good” and “evil” sorcery/witchcraft in this story, another example of secular entertainment delving into the “mystical” with no Biblical foundation. It’s interesting that Evillo (below) is presented as a stereotypical devilish character replete with horns.

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So what was a ten-year-old Catholic boy thinking when he was presented with all of these references to sorcery and witchcraft in this particular Legion saga? It was par for the course for all forms of entertainment at the time and continues today. The irony is that the FAR GREATER spiritual danger for me was veiled behind the pious “holiness” and ritualism of my (then) Roman Catholic religion.

Next up: Writer Jim Shooter returns and pens a two-issue story that has endured for fifty-two years as the Legion’s greatest tale.

“The Shack” author continues to push Universalism, but don’t object or you will be labeled a “book burner”

Anyone remember “The Shack,” both the book (2007) and the film adaptation (2017)? Of course you do! Many evangelicals were smitten with the story of (g)od’s love and “redemption.” I didn’t read the book or see the movie, but I had read quite a bit about them and wasn’t pleased. The biggest problem with “The Shack” wasn’t the portrayals of God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, although they were certainly objectionable. No, the most outrageous problem with “The Shack” was that it pushed author William Paul Young’s Universalist heresy.

Below are some quotes from the book with comments from Albert Mohler from the article below:

Jesus tells Mack that he is “the best way any human can relate to Papa (God the Father) or Sarayu (the Holy Spirit).” Not the only way, but merely the best way.

In another chapter, “Papa” corrects Mack’s theology by asserting, “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.” Without doubt, God’s joy is in the atonement accomplished by the Son. Nevertheless, the Bible consistently reveals God to be the holy and righteous Judge, who will indeed punish sinners. The idea that sin is merely “its own punishment” fits the Eastern concept of karma, but not the Christian Gospel.

The most controversial aspects of The Shack‘s message have revolved around questions of universalism, universal redemption, and ultimate reconciliation. Jesus tells Mack: “Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions.” Jesus adds, “I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, my Beloved.”

Mack then asks the obvious question — do all roads lead to Christ? Jesus responds, “Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.”

Given the context, it is impossible not to draw essentially universalistic or inclusivistic conclusions about Young’s meaning. “Papa” chides Mack that he is now reconciled to the whole world. Mack retorts, “The whole world? You mean those who believe in you, right?” “Papa” responds, “The whole world, Mack.”

The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment
https://albertmohler.com/2017/03/06/shack-missing-art-evangelical-discernment/

Those who objected to The Shack and its message of Universal redemption were labeled by many undiscerning evangelical Christians as sectarian book burners.

Like spots on a leopard, William Paul Young continues to promote Universalism as per the recent article below, but you may not want to object because you will be labeled a “book burner” in today’s evangelicalism.


‘The Shack’ Author Disputes Christian View That Those Who Die Without Jesus Can’t Achieve Salvation
https://www.christianpost.com/news/the-shack-author-disputes-christian-view-that-those-who-die-without-jesus-cant-achieve-salvation-225191/

A couple of major problems with this book

Back in May, I posted on a very good book on Roman Catholicism, “Test All Things: An Invitation to Examine Your Catholic Faith in the Light of Scripture” by Joe Mizzi. See my review here. As I perused through Mizzi’s website, Just For Catholics, I noticed that he had posted another free downloadable PDF of a book, this one titled “Whose Voice Are You Listening To?” Any book that examines Catholicism and is free to boot is right up my alley, so I downloaded it.

Whose Voice Are You Listening To?: A Comparison of the Catholic Catechism to the Bible?
By Marlene C. Crouch
Tate Publishing, 2009, 310 pages

In this book, the author compares several key Catholic doctrines with Scripture, concentrating mainly on the church’s teachings about Mary and Petrine authority, with a secondary focus on sacramental grace and eucharistic transubstantiation. There’s some excellent information here as Crouch cites many paragraphs from the Catholic catechism and contrasts them with an abundant amount of Scripture to refute the above doctrines. However, there are also some fundamental flaws in this book that cannot be overlooked.

In her introduction, Crouch urges her Catholic readers to “please know that all of (her) efforts in compiling (this information) were born out of love and compassion for (her) Roman Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ – brothers and sisters in Christ who love the Lord and who believe the Gospel’s basic message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, but who are deceived and held in bondage under false doctrines derived from the traditions of man and who are thereby deprived of the freedom and joy of fully experiencing the magnitude of God’s love” (page 14, my italics).

However, throughout the book and especially in the chapter devoted to God’s grace, Crouch makes it clear that Roman Catholicism proclaims a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit in direct contrast to the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Which is it, Ms. Crouch? Can a Catholic be born-again in Christ by following the standard works-righteousness salvation theology of their church or not? Catholics by definition DO NOT believe in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE.

In the chapter on the church, Crouch takes the view that when Jesus died on the cross, He descended into hell and “preached to everyone who had died, from Adam to the thief on the cross” (p. 183). She then claims that, “Those spirits who heard his voice and believed his preaching” were saved (p.181). Crouch is saying the Old Testament souls who had not trusted in the Lord for their salvation prior to their death had a second chance, which is at odds with the general revelation of Scripture. People who believe as Crouch does cite 1 Peter 3:18–20 and 1 Peter 4:6. These are no-doubt difficult verses and require thorough and prayerful study. I know there’s some debate about where Jesus went in His spirit and what He did between the time of His death and resurrection, but this claim that the unrighteous souls who died before Jesus’ death were able to trust in Him as Savior is heterodox. Who wouldn’t trust in Christ at that point if it were possible? Wayne Grudem provides some good analysis of 1 Peter 3:18–20 and 1 Peter 4:6 in the article far below.

Because of these two very serious flaws, I can’t recommend “Whose Voice Are You Listening To?” I’m disappointed that Joe Mizzi includes this book as a free download on his website.

Chapters

Mary’s Consent
Marian Apparitions
Mary’s Immaculate Conception?
Mary, Ever Virgin
The Rosary
Pray Only to God
Keys to the Kingdom and Power of God
Peter, the Rock
Peter’s Brethren
Peter, Son of Jonas
The Church
Grace
Transubstantiation


Did Jesus Really Descend into Hell?
https://zondervanacademic.com/blog/did-jesus-really-descend-into-hell/

My foray into sorcery/shamanism

I’m approaching sixty-two-years-old, so some of the details of my long spiritual journey from Catholic religious legalism to trusting in Jesus as my Savior by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone in 1983 are getting a little hazy.

I do remember that I lost interest in Catholicism during my teen years, even though the Catholic high school I was attending was run by the Irish Christian Brothers (who declared bankruptcy in 2011 after payouts to victims of sexual abuse). On Sunday mornings, I would head out the door by myself, telling my parents I was going to an early mass, and then walk around the neighborhood for an hour, picking up a church bulletin on the way home to “prove” I had been to mass. In my mind, walking outside in the rain and snow was better than sitting through mass. After a while, I stopped that charade and told my parents that I wasn’t going to go to mass, period. They must have thought forcing the issue would have done more harm than good, so they let me stay home (my older sisters had already done some of the trailblazing in this department for me).

My wife and I were married in 1974 shortly after high school by a liberal priest who didn’t ask about our mass attendance. I don’t remember what I was thinking about God at that point, but I definitely had no desire to attend mass and neither did my wife. In 1976, I began working at Eastman Kodak and I started car-pooling with Kevin, a co-worker. He was a long-haired hippie who was stereotypically into jogging, health food, photography, liberal politics, marijuana, and transcendental meditation. We had many interesting discussions on our rides to and from work.

Kevin was always reading strange books and one day he began telling me about his latest book, “The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge” (1968) by Carlos Castaneda. The book was about an anthropology student (Castaneda), who encounters a “powerful” Native American shaman, Don Juan Matus, who uses plant hallucinogens as a catalyst to physically change form (into birds and other animals) and to increase “awareness” and “connection to cosmic energies.” But did Don Juan really change into a bird or did chewing on peyote buttons make him think he had changed into a bird? Well, we all know the answer to that one, but back in 1977 it seemed like fascinating, mystical stuff. I ended up buying and reading Castaneda’s first five books (see below), which were all variations of the same theme: that there is a magical reality hidden beneath the material reality that is accessible to the indoctrinated and it was only in this magical/mystical realm where self-actualization and achieving “oneness” with the Universe could take place. Interestingly, ol’ Don Juan seemed to be perpetually available for whenever Castaneda needed to crank out another book for his credulous audience (he would go on to write seven more books after the initial five). This New Age shamanism/mysticism continues in many forms today. Many Catholics are susceptible to sorcery, divination, necromancy, spiritism, and occultism because of their religion’s heavy focus on mysticism.

Kevin, our workplace guru, quit Kodak in 1977 and began a long career at the county’s library system. After tiring of Castaneda’s shamanism, I drifted back into my Catholic semi-agnosticism, but the Lord would soon give me a desire to start reading His Word.

Are you fumbling around with stagnant institutionalized religion, New Age mysticism, Eastern spirituality, etc., etc. Spiritual fads come and go, but there is the Rock who will never change and who you can follow and trust in eternally, Jesus Christ!

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” – Psalm 18:2

What are the steps to salvation?
https://www.gotquestions.org/steps-to-salvation.html

 

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A priest and nun trust in Christ by faith alone and come out of Catholicism

From Darkness to Light
By Frank and Joan Testa
Xulon Press, 2012, 173 pages

This book is the testimony of Frank and Joan Testa, a former Roman Catholic priest and nun.

Frank grew up in Newark, New Jersey as part of a Catholic family and states that he “came to know the Lord Jesus as (his) personal Savior” in his early teen years, but that he remained in Catholicism out of ignorance. He determined to become a priest and attended seminary in the U.S. and Europe and was ordained in 1964. He quickly became involved with Catholic social agencies and was drawn to urban activism in several New Jersey cities, often earning the disapproval of his more traditionally-minded superiors. But by reading the Bible and through contact with Christians in the communities he was serving, Frank came to understand that many of the doctrines and practices of Roman Catholicism are opposed to Scripture. He resigned from the priesthood and left Catholicism in 1977.

Joan grew up with her Catholic family in Newburgh, New York (sixty miles north of NYC) and entered a convent of the Dominican order in 1955, immediately following her high school graduation. She earned college degrees and subsequently taught in Catholic schools in the States and Puerto Rico. She was drawn to studying God’s word and also became involved in community activism in New Jersey, where she became acquainted with Frank on a strictly professional basis. Through the study of God’s Word and the witness of Christian friends, Joan accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior by faith alone in 1978 and left her religious order and the Catholic church.

Although they were both out of Catholicism, Frank and Joan were still involved in urban activism and their paths crossed regularly. A special friendship developed and the two were married in 1980. Together, the couple founded an urban mission church, ministered to addicts through the Teen Challenge program, and became involved in foreign missions. In 1999, they began their “Repent America” ministry, which involved guest-speaking at churches and street preaching all across the U.S.

While I enjoyed this book, I do have a few qualifications. Firstly, Frank says he entered into a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ as a young teen while reading the book, “God Goes to Murderer’s Row” by “father” M. Raymond, a Trappist monk. I am curious how a person could trust in Jesus Christ by faith alone, and then go through eight years of Catholic seminary and thirteen years as a priest without ever comprehending that Catholicism’s legalistic calculus and ritualism have no connection with the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Perhaps Frank had had a preliminary insight into salvation in Christ as I had as a child in 1967 (see here), although I would not actually accept Jesus as Savior until 1983. Despite the confusion, it appears from his writing that Frank eventually acquired a full understanding of the Gospel and genuinely accepted Christ as his Savior by faith alone.

Secondly, both Frank and Joan are outspoken Pentecostals. I’m a cessationist in regards to the apostolic gifts of the Spirit, so there are several passages in the book that I read with a good amount of skepticism. I generally avoid discussing the apostolic gifts in a general forum such as this because there’s nothing to be gained by debating this topic involving secondary beliefs with my Pentecostal and charismatic brethren, but I do need to point out that in this book, Frank refers to believers who are cessationists in a negative manner.

Despite the above qualifications, I enjoyed this book overall.

Superboy and Supergirl kicked out of the Legion? Well, not really.

Today, we’re going to take a break from theological discussions and continue our series on the classic Legion of Super-Heroes tales from DC Comic’s Silver Age.

The Outcast Super-Heroes!
Adventure Comics #350, November, 1966
Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciller: Curt Swan

Plot

Superboy and Supergirl are summoned to the Legion of Super-Heroes’ clubhouse in 30th-century Metropolis where Brainiac 5 informs them that a dust cloud composed of Kryptonite, an element deadly to the cousins, surrounds the Earth. The Legion attempts to remove or neutralize the threat with their super powers, but to no avail. Legion leader, Invisible Kid, informs the two that they must be discharged from the team for their own safety. Prior to sending Superboy and Supergirl back to the 20th-century, Brainiac 5 coordinates a medical procedure on the pair which removes all of their memories of the Legion in order to keep the team’s secrets out of the hands of potential enemies. In a scene straight out of “Fantastic Voyage” (1966), Shrinking Violet performs non-intrusive brain surgery on Superboy and Supergirl by shrinking to microscopic size and implanting tiny Kryptonite capsules into their brains, specifically affecting only their memories of the Legion. Before the capsules take effect, the Super cousins insist the Legion accept two mysterious persons, Sir Prize and Miss Terious, as their replacements, and Invisible Kid reluctantly accepts their terms.

No sooner are Superboy and Supergirl departed than the two new Legionnaires arrive at the clubhouse door in full-body, identity-concealing armor. But the puzzled Legionnaires are immediately summoned to thwart a bank heist in progress. Prince Evillo rules over a small planet and has assembled a group of criminals, aka the Devil’s Dozen, to wreak havoc in the galaxy. The group includes the Hag, who rides a rocket propelled broomstick, the Wild Huntsman, who resembles a half-man, half-horse Greek Centaur, Sugyn, who we’re told resembles a hero of Welsh tales, and lastly, Apollo, who is supposed to resemble the mythological Greek god. Evillo sends Apollo along with some henchmen to conduct the bank heist.

The Legion overcomes the formidable beasts guarding the bank and interrupts the robbery, which involves some very strange, other-worldly currencies. But Apollo overpowers Saturn Girl with his telepathic charms, thereby luring Lightning Lad into a trap, which was his aim from the beginning. Apollo abducts the unconscious and injured Lightning Lad and the Legion must contemplate it’s next move. Sir Prize and Miss Terious demonstrated some formidable powers in the preceding fracas and some of the Legionnaires conjecture they may even be Superboy and Supergirl in disguise. Unable to stand the suspense, Ultra Boy decides to use his penetra-vision to ascertain the identities of the mysterious new members.

Will Ultra Boy find out who is hiding behind those masks? Will Lightning Lad be rescued? Are Superboy and Supergirl really permanently out of the Legion? Find out in a couple of weeks when we review Adventure #351 and “The Forgotten Legion!”

Commentary

Adventure #350 was my introduction to the Legion. For whatever reason, I picked out this issue from the comics rack at Daw’s Drugs on Empire Boulevard and was immediately hooked. For this two-part “Outcast” saga, recently hired, young writer, Jim Shooter, was spelled by DC veteran, E. Nelson Bridwell. Curt Swan’s artwork is outstanding as usual.

Fumbles

Once again we have a cover that’s completely out of sync with the plot, with Legion members happily ignoring the sobbing “outcasts.” The diameter of the clubhouse portrayed on the cover appears to be only about eight feet wide and Colossal Boy’s shirt is yellow instead of green! Evillo has a “Dirty Dozen” gang, but there are only four members. Why didn’t the Legion travel back in time to the 20th century to alert Superboy & Supergirl of the dangerous circumstances rather than making them jump through hoops? Why did the Legion present the discharged Super cousins with a trailer load of parting commemorative trophies only to take them back because all traces of the Legion had to be removed from their memories? When Superboy’s invulnerable antibodies began attacking Shrinking Violet, why didn’t she just enlarge herself a smidgen? Why didn’t Bridwell anticipate that banks would not be dealing in hard currencies in the 30th century or have bank tellers?

Legion roll call for this issue

Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Duo Damsel, Element Lad, Ferro Lad, Invisible Kid, Karate Kid, Light Lass, Lightning Lad, Matter-Eater Lad, Mon-El, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Superboy, Supergirl, and Ultra Boy.