Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 1/25/20

Welcome to our roundup of this week’s news!

The term, “born again,” has become trivialized and has lost its Biblical meaning in American society. Twenty-eight percent of American Catholics now claim to be “born again,” although they unabashedly believe in salvation by merit as their church teaches.

We’re seeing a resurgence of anti-Semitism in the United States and Europe. Pope Francis condemns the hatred, but the Roman Catholic church had a very long history of fomenting anti-Semitism. An upcoming Throwback Thursday installment will address this irony.

What “good news” does a Catholic evangelizer have to share? That a person must constantly avail themselves of the sacraments and obey the Ten Commandments perfectly (impossible!) in order to hopefully merit Heaven? That’s not good news, folks! That’s very bad news because no one is able to merit their salvation. Jesus Christ is the answer, not the Catholic religious treadmill. Some deluded souls are attracted to the pomp and ritualism of the RCC, but that doesn’t save.

Buffalo Catholic bishop and abuse-enabler, Richard Malone, was finally forced to resign last month, but the nearby Buffalo diocese is headed for bankruptcy due to the mounting claims filed there by survivors of priest abuse. The Rochester diocese filed for bankruptcy in September. It’s ironic that the bishop assigned to investigate Malone’s wrongdoings, Nicholas Di Marzio, is now being investigated himself by the Vatican for sexual abuse.

The German Catholic bishops are some of the most liberal/progressive in the RCC. Conservative Catholics are worried that the “German synodal process” that’s underway, spearheaded by the bishops and progressive laity, will introduce reforms that are too liberal even for pope Francis.

Many branches of Lutheranism veered into Bible-denying modernism/liberal apostasy generations ago and have no compunctions about linking up with Rome.

Doomsday eschatologist, Jack Van Impe, was once a very popular figure in independent fundamental Baptist circles. He ended up embracing Rome. I’m currently drafting a separate post about Van Impe.

While this article refers to a church in the apostate United Methodist denomination, there’s mounting discrimination against senior members at non-denominational hipster mega churches where skin-tight skinny jeans (on men no less) with holes in the knees and $100 swag haircuts are de rigueur.

Our humble city of Rochester N.Y., the former “Imaging Capital of the World,” doesn’t have much to boast about these days with the demise of Kodak and Xerox, but we do get more snow than any other city in the U.S. due to our unique location near Lake Erie and on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #8: “Scripture Makes the Man of God Complete”

Today, we continue our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. The Catholic apologist continues his five-part section on Scripture and Tradition with this next chapter countering Protestants’ arguments against Catholicism’s “Sacred Traditions” by which Protestants argue that, “Scripture Makes the Man of God Complete.”

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As we discussed last week, Catholics believe that their “Sacred Traditions” are as authoritative as the Bible. Evangelical Protestants believe only the Bible is authoritative; the principle of Sola Scriptura. Broussard states that Protestants use 2 Timothy 3:16-17 to defend their position;

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 

Broussard counters by arguing that the passage by itself doesn’t necessarily discount tradition. He agrees with the passage that, yes, Scripture is “profitable,” but not altogether sufficient. He devalues the word, “complete,” in this passage by using an analogy of a stamp collector seeking one specific stamp to “complete” her personal collection, although it’s understood that millions of unique stamps have been issued that are outside of her particular collection. Broussard then points out that Paul is necessarily referring to the Old Testament in his letter to Timothy because the New Testament had not been compiled when the epistle was written. He posits that Protestants are confounded in their own argument of Biblical exclusivity because they rightly accept the New Testament as authoritative in addition to the Old Testament Scripture that Paul is referring to.

God’s Word attests of itself that it is “God breathed” and divinely authoritative. Nowhere in the Bible do we find anything vindicating specious traditions as “God breathed” and equal to Scripture. As we discussed last week, the Pharisees had elevated their traditions (later to be collected as the Talmud) above Scripture, a practice which Jesus had condemned. Roman Catholicism has done the same with its “Sacred Tradition.” To Broussard’s point that Paul in the passage was referring only to the Old Testament, I would argue that the Holy Spirit, the divine Author of all Scripture, certainly had the entire Bible “in mind” when He inspired Paul to write this passage. The Bible attests of itself that Paul’s letters were inspired (2 Peter 3:15-16). Therefore, Timothy could be complete and equipped with the Old Testament Scripture he had available at the time, and the Lord has provided us in our era with the entire canon of Scripture so that we are able to be even more thoroughly equipped in doctrine. Praise God!

By untethering itself from the sole authority of Scripture, the Roman Catholic church has systematically introduced teachings and practices under the umbrella of “Sacred Tradition” that either defy or subordinate God’s Word. We’re all aware that most of the major cults appeal to an extra-Biblical source as an authority equal to Scripture (e.g., the Book of Mormon, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the writings of Ellen White, etc.), and Catholicism has done the same with its “Sacred Tradition.”

As with his previous section on Church Hierarchy and Authority, Broussard has as yet made no mention of how pope Francis and his allied progressive prelates are reforming various “Sacred Traditions” in defiance of the teachings of previous popes and prelates to the dismay and disdain of conservative and traditionalist Catholics. By demonstrating that Catholicism’s “Sacred Traditions” are not inviolable, Francis undermine’s Broussard’s and other Catholic apologists’ arguments that they are authoritative. Broussard unscrupulously conceals the current crisis within the RCC over Francis’ papacy to his readers.

Should Catholic tradition have equal or greater authority than the Bible? – Got Questions
https://www.gotquestions.org/Catholic-tradition.html

Next up: “The Noble Bereans”

Throwback Thursday: No Meat On Friday Nonsense

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, is only a month away, so for this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment I thought it would be appropriate to revisit this post that was originally published back on August 2, 2015 and has been revised.

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Back when I was a young tyke growing up in the early-1960s, the Catholic church prohibited eating meat on Fridays throughout the entire calendar year. The obligatory abstinence had something to do with Jesus dying on a Friday and the restriction on eating the meat of warm-blooded animals was supposedly a commemoration of His sacrifice. Disobeying the church and eating meat on Friday was a “mortal” sin that would stain your soul and send you to eternal damnation, no excuses. Even just one bite of a cheeseburger meant an eternity of perpetual torment! We “good” Catholics were scandalized when we heard about a Catholic neighbor who defied the church and barbequed hot dogs on the grill on a Friday. My Dad often picked up a big batch of very tasty fried whitefish and french fries at Karl’s Fish Store at 1314 Culver Road (see photo below) on Fridays so it wasn’t like we felt any kind of deprivation. I actually preferred the store-bought fried fish to Mom’s meat dishes the rest of the week.

However, all of this changed in 1966 (Sorry, Karl!) when pope Paul VI, in his PAENITEMINI document, left it up to the national bishops to determine abstinence policy in their particular country. The U.S. bishops ruled on November 18, 1966 that Catholics were able to eat meat on Fridays except during Lent.

Most Catholics are unaware that the Canon Laws prohibiting meat on Fridays throughout the year are still on the books (see Canons 1250-1252) with the provision that the national bishops are able to “determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety” (Canon 1253).

So the MONUMENTAL question is, What about all the U.S. Catholics who died before 1966 who had disobeyed the church and ate meat on non-Lenten Fridays without ever confessing this “sin?” Are they still in Hell or did the pope give them a “Get Out of Jail Free” card in 1966 in light of the new policy? Skeptical Catholics should definitely smell a rat with this one.

In contrast, the Bible is pretty clear on this abstention-from-meat business:

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” – 1 Timothy 4:1-5.

So eating meat on Friday is definitely NOT a sin according to the Bible, but the rule to abstain from meat is a man-made commandment subject to whimsical alterations (with *unexplainable complexities) as we saw in 1966. Are we to believe the Bible or the Catholic church?

“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” – Matthew 15:9

Regrettably, Catholics are taught they must merit their salvation by jumping through legalistic religious hoops such as refraining from meat on Lenten Fridays. Praise the Lord for His Word and for His salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE!

*Postscript 1: Let’s suppose that in 1967 an American Catholic traveled to a foreign country where he knew the national Catholic bishops dictated the abstention from meat on non-Lenten Fridays was still in effect. If the American traveler ate a cheeseburger in that country on a non-Lenten Friday did he commit a soul-damning “mortal” sin? Oy vey!!! Just give me Jesus!

Postscript 2: We’ll soon be rolling out our annual posts on the inanities of Lenten dietary restrictions including “Is it OK to eat Chicken in a Biskit crackers on Fridays during Lent?” and “Lent is no match for Super Rodent!” Also, there may be a new post this Lenten season called “Muskrat Love.”

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The retail space to the right, above the arrow, was once Karl’s Fish Store. Meat-abstaining Catholics in our neighborhood used to dutifully queue up in front of the building and along the sidewalk every Friday afternoon throughout the year to buy Karl’s fried whitefish, french fries, and coleslaw.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 1/18/20

The Catholic church boasts that it gave the world the Bible, but history reveals that it kept the Bible from the laity for as long as possible until brave Reformers and the printing press put the Bible into the hands of plowboys. I was a Roman Catholic for 27 years and in my 12 years of Catholic schooling, I was never once encouraged to own a Bible and read it. The RCC now makes half-hearted endorsements of Bible reading as a concession to the influence of evangelical “Bible-bangers” (as militant Catholic apologists refer to us), but Catholic Bibles are full of notes that try to keep the reader in line with official church teaching. Catholicism claims to reverence the Bible, but has supplanted God’s Word with its man-made “sacred traditions.”

Catholics in Karnataka, India figure that if their Hindu neighbors can let cows roam freely through the neighborhood, they can build a 114-foot tall statue of Jesus! In all seriousness, this proposed statue is good example of how Catholicism focuses on the temporal/physical rather than the spiritual. See my review here of a book detailing the dispute over a Catholic statue in 19th-century Connecticut.

The Catholic media was in a tizzy this week when it was revealed that pope-emeritus Benedict XVI undermined pope Francis by co-authoring a new book with conservative cardinal, Robert Sarah, which calls for the continuation of the rule of mandatory celibacy for priests. Francis is currently weighing whether he will allow married men to be priests in remote regions such the Amazon Basin. This is a good example of how the RCC is increasingly splitting into traditional/doctrinal vs. progressive/pragmatic camps.

Conservative Catholics were mortified when communion rails and kneelers were removed from churches after Vatican II and supplicants were allowed to receive the consecrated Jesus wafer in the hand while standing up. They view this laxness as irreverence and even desecration. But what about after the Jesus wafer is consumed, digested, and particles are expelled and end up in the public sewer system? Isn’t that some serious desecration? Oh, that’s right. Catholic clerics and apologists assert that wafer Jesus remains in the guise of bread particles/molecules for only about 15:00 minutes after consumption and conveniently de-transubstantiates and returns to Heaven before the situation starts getting really nasty.

Pragmatic Catholics recognize pope Francis is taking the church down a different path, but conservatives, like cardinal Burke, insist their version of Catholicism is the only authentic form. Yet, the popes of 100-years ago would have known nothing of contemporary Catholicism’s concessions to interfaith rapprochement and ecumenism.

Roman Catholicism officially teaches that baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation but there’s now so many loopholes, with the church deeming that EVERYONE can merit salvation, that it’s increasingly viewed as a “just in case” tradition/formality rather than a necessity. It’s certain that Francis, like all Catholic progressives, doesn’t personally view baptism as a hard-stop requirement for salvation, but he can’t afford to further alienate conservatives.

Protestants in 19th-century America didn’t like the idea of their tax dollars funding private Catholic schools and passed Blaine Amendments to their state constitutions prohibiting the notion. Of course, they were fine with public schools teaching/reinforcing quasi-Protestant, civil religion. The state should stay totally out of religion and not one penny of my tax dollars should go to supporting Roman Catholic schools.

The entire east side of nearby Buffalo was once almost-solidly Polish-American, but the Poles began the migration to the suburbs following WWII, leaving behind their massive Catholic church edifices built by their parents and grandparents. Some still operate, barely, but three mentioned in this article have been transformed into mosques and one into a Buddhist temple. Some see this as tragic, but the Gospel was never preached inside of these four former-churches or any other Catholic churches.

Truth!

Rebutting a Catholic apologist, #7: “Traditions Nullify God’s Word”

Today, we continue our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. The Catholic apologist begins a new, five-part section on Scripture and Tradition with a chapter countering Protestants’ arguments against Catholicism’s “Sacred Traditions” by which Protestants state, “Traditions Nullify God’s Word.”

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Roman Catholicism contends that many unwritten teachings were passed down orally from Jesus and the apostles and comprise the church’s extra-Biblical, “Sacred Tradition.” The Roman church claims that the teachings that comprise its “Sacred Tradition” are as divinely authoritative as Scripture. The early Reformers broke from Rome and proclaimed the truth of Sola Scriptura, that Scripture alone is authoritative. As Broussard points out, Protestants cite Mark 7:8-13 in which Jesus condemned the Pharisees’ elevation of their traditions over Scripture as an argument against Rome’s “Sacred Traditions”:

“‘You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God) then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.’”

Broussard counters that the passage condemns only traditions that contradict Scripture, a principle he alleges the RCC agrees with. The Catholic apologist then presents three Bible verses that he contends affirm Catholic “Sacred Tradition”: 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, and 1 Corinthians 11:2. In these verses, the apostle Paul is simply exhorting the believers at Thessalonica and Corinth to follow his paradoseis/paradosin (Greek) teachings/teaching. He is not referring to tradition/teaching as some vaunted gnostic repository in the Roman Catholic sense.

Scripture makes exclusive claims for itself that it is the sole authority for matters of faith and practice (see the article far below). Protestants certainly have their own traditions (e.g. the format of Sunday worship service), but these must be subordinate to Scripture.

Again, the RCC claims that its “Sacred Tradition” is comprised of those teachings that were communicated by Jesus and the apostles orally and have been passed down. However, if you walk into a Roman Catholic bookstore, you won’t find a compendium titled “Sacred Traditions of the Catholic Church.” Why not? One would think that after two-thousand years, someone would have collected all of these alleged oral traditions that were passed down from one generation of clerics to the next. The myth of “Sacred Tradition” is actually Roman Catholicism’s “wild card.” This device has allowed the RCC to contrive a myriad of extra-Biblical doctrines and then appeal to the “Sacred Tradition” wild card for their legitimacy. Within this framework have been hatched such extra and anti-Biblical teachings as the immaculate conception of Mary, papal infallibility, the assumption of Mary, praying to “saints,” the confessional, abstention from meat, interfaith initiatives, etc.

Untethered from sacred Scripture as the sole authority for faith and practice, the Roman Catholic church has elevated its traditions above Scripture to a degree even greater than that of the Pharisees in Mark 7:8-13. Rather than being the source and guardian of Scripture, as the Roman church claims to be, the RCC subordinates Scripture to its man-made doctrines.

For more on Catholicism’s “Sacred Tradition,” see the article below.

Should Catholic tradition have equal or greater authority than the Bible?
https://www.gotquestions.org/Catholic-tradition.html

Next up: “Scripture Makes the Man of God Complete”

Throwback Thursday: Why would someone leave Catholicism’s “well-balanced meal” for evangelical “junk food”?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on November 21, 2015 and has been revised.

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In the article far below, Catholic columnist, Patti Maguire Armstrong (photo above), sadly ponders why a friend and her family have left the “one, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church” for an evangelical church. She bemoans that her friend chose the “feel-good” vibrancy of the evangelical fellowship over the Catholic liturgy with it’s “Real Presence.” She concludes that her friend has chosen evangelical “cotton candy” over Catholicism’s “well-balanced meal.”

The “cotton candy” metaphor is used frequently by conservative Catholic proselytizers and apologists to denigrate evangelicalism and the Gospel of grace. It’s a shame that mealy-mouthed, ecumenical-leaning, evangelical pastors and apologists don’t boldly stand up for the Gospel of grace the way Catholic apologists stand up for their false gospel of merit.

American Catholics like Ms. Armstrong obviously struggle to comprehend why members are leaving their church in droves. Three million Catholics left their church from 2007 to 2015 (and it’s certain millions more left the RCC since this post was originally written due to the 2018-2019-2020 priest abuse scandal tsunami – Tom) and more than a few joined evangelical churches. Why?

Let me tell you why I left Catholicism and it wasn’t because I was seeking a “warm-fuzzy” fellowship experience. It was ALL about Jesus and NOT about membership in a religious institution.

Like a great number of Catholic teenagers, I walked away from the church because I thought religion wasn’t “cool.” Obligatory Sunday mass, with its repetitive, liturgical ritualism was the dreariest hour of the week. I returned to the church after I became a father and felt obligated to raise my children in the Catholic faith. For some Godly reason (😊 🙏🏻) , I also purchased a Catholic Bible and began reading it voraciously. Catholics aren’t generally encouraged to read the Bible and I soon found out why. What I was learning from Scripture contrasted with the Catholic religion so I stopped attending mass. The Lord continued to use His Word and several Christian individuals and resources to bring me to a point where I understood His Gospel:

  • We are all sinners.
  • Sinners deserve hell.
  • God loves us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross, paying the penalty for our sins.
  • Jesus rose from the grave, conquering sin and death.
  • The Lord offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life with Him to all those who repent (turn from their rebellion against God) and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone.

I hesitated and hesitated, but I FINALLY prayed to Jesus and asked Him to save me and be my Lord. All of my sins – past, present, and future – have been paid for by my Savior. I could NEVER be “good enough” to merit salvation as the Catholic church teaches. My Savior imputed to me His perfect righteousness. I have no plea of my own. My Lord isn’t a consecrated bread wafer sitting upon a Catholic altar. He indwells me. He guides me. He corrects me. He is my Shepherd. He is my Friend. He is my Rock. In her article, Armstrong appeals to Catholicism’s long history (in reality, not flattering) and catalog of specious traditions. I appeal to the simple Gospel of the early church as found in the New Testament.

I’m sure there are some who left Catholicism for a superficial warm and welcoming “fellowship” as Armstrong speculates. But many of us ex-Catholics left the legalism, ritualism, and religious formalism of Catholicism for the GOOD NEWS of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. I hope that was the case for Ms. Armstrong’s friend who apparently wasn’t able to clearly articulate the Gospel according to this account. Or maybe Armstrong’s friend was afraid to present the Gospel. Or maybe Armstrong wasn’t listening.

Ms. Armstrong continues to toil away, attempting to earn her salvation like all “good” Catholics. She feels sorry for her friend, however she is the one who needs the Savior.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

“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

Postscript: I’m always puzzled by conservative Catholics like Armstrong who contend so earnestly for their works religion even though their own pope and prelates grant that Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and even atheists are also able to merit their salvation. To call Catholicism’s false gospel spiritual “junk food” would be too complimentary, it’s actually spiritually deadly poison.

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Ex-Catholics Seek Happiness Without the Holy Eucharist
By Patti Maguire Armstrong
National Catholic Register
11/20/15
http://www.ncregister.com/blog/armstrong/ex-catholics-seek-happiness-without-the-holy-eucharist

Pope Tells “Christians” to NEVER Try to Convert Unbelievers

The Roman Catholic church has always taught, contrary to the Bible, that salvation is attained via sacramental grace and merit. Back in time, the Catholic clergy taught that only baptized Catholics could possibly merit Heaven, but in the modern era, that stance has softened, and the RCC now grants that all “good” and sincere religionists – Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. – can also possibly merit Heaven. Pope Francis has said on several occasions that even “moral” atheists can merit Heaven.

Last month, Francis met with a group of Italian high school students and advised the (c)hristians among them to NOT to try to convert* those of other faiths. Below are some quotes from Francis’ remarks:

  • [Speaking of having Jewish and Muslim friends]: “We are all the same, all children of God.”
  • “It didn’t occur to me, and it doesn’t have to be like, saying to a boy or a girl: ‘You are Jewish, you are Muslim: come, be converted!'”
  • “We are not in the times of the crusades.”
  • “In front of an unbeliever the last thing I have to do is try to convince him. Never.”
  • “But listen: Never, never bring the gospel by proselytizing.”
  • “If someone says they are a disciple of Jesus and comes to you with proselytism, they are not a disciple of Jesus.”
  • “The Church does not grow by proselytism.”

None of the above is surprising in light of Catholicism’s wide-is-the-way teaching that EVERYONE is a child of God. Contrary to what the pope claims, God’s Word declares that only those who trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone and are born again spiritually in Christ become God’s children:

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” – John 1:12

Should we believe the pope or God’s Word?

Let’s see what evangelist, Ray Comfort, has to say about the pope’s un-Biblicalness in the 15-minute video below:

For more information, see the news article here.

*Please, no angry letters. I readily agree that it’s the Holy Spirit Who converts, not Christians, who merely sow the Gospel seed. I’m only conveying the pope’s words.

“Messiah” on Netflix: Use discernment ⚠️

Messiah – Season One
Produced by Michael Petroni, Mark Burnett, and Roma Downey
Featuring Mehdi Dehbi, Michelle Monaghan, Tomer Sisley, and John Ortiz
Netflix, 2020, Ten episodes

3 Stars

A fellow-blogger recently re-blogged a cautionary post about a new Netflix series called, “Messiah.” Curious, I did a little digging and discovered the new series is about the rise of the end-times messiah, er, or is it the end-times anti-Christ? I’m not big into eschatology, but decided I would give this new series a spin. My wife and I watched the ten episodes of the series in successive evenings, an anomaly when it comes to me and television. The summary below by necessity leaves out a lot of details.

Plot (spoiler alert)

A young man (Dehbi) miraculously brings peace to war-torn Syria and then treks to Israel with his growing group of followers. On the steps leading to Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the enigmatic al-Masih (“the Messiah”) announces he is going to usher in an era of peace into the world. The CIA becomes concerned about this religious rabble rouser and a top agent, Eva Geller (Monaghan), begins to investigate. Al-Masih next shows up in Texas, seemingly saving a church from a tornado. The pastor (Ortiz) is convinced the reticent al-Masih is the second coming of Jesus. Seekers from across the nation flock to Texas to get a glimpse of the messiah. Pastor Felix leads al-Masih and a caravan of credulous followers to Washington D.C.. Al-Masih subsequently shocks the city and the nation when he seemingly walks on top of the water of the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Monument. The President of the U.S. consults with al-Masih who advises him to withdraw all military personnel throughout the world as part of the new era of peace. CIA agent, Geller, isn’t buying al-Masih’s schtick. She discovers he is actually an Iranian named Payam Golshiri, whose dossier includes an apprenticeship as a magician, studying in college under an anarchist professor, and being treated at a psychiatric facility for a “messiah complex.”

Just when al-Masih is to appear on national television, he is abducted by a Shin Bet (Israeli internal intelligence) agent (Sisley). Simultaneously, a White House official who fears the President is falling under al-Masih’s spell leaks the CIA’s classified dossier on Payam Golshiri to the media. Feeling he’s been duped, the disillusioned pastor Felix returns to Texas and burns down his church. The plane bringing al-Masih to Jerusalem crashes, but the enigmatic young man “miraculously” survives. Viewers are left to wonder whether al-Masih is the genuine Messiah, the anti-Christ, or a self-deluded megalomaniac. The cliff-hanging ending is served up as incentive to watch a (possible) second season.

Comments

Christians who know their Bibles will know right away that the al-Masih character has no connection with the Scripture prophecies regarding the second coming of Jesus Christ:

“For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” – Matthew 24:27

We know that the Bible foretells the coming of the anti-Christ at the end times, but many do not know that Islam also teaches the coming of al-Masih ad-Dajjal, a false messiah who will eventually be defeated by Jesus Christ. This series seems to incorporate elements from both the Bible and Quran regarding the anti-Christ.

There was some initial concern among both Christians and Muslims as to the identity of the mysterious al-Masih character. The show’s producers and Netfilx were banking on the uncertainty to generate interest. Some Muslims jumped the gun and mounted a petition calling for subscribers to boycott Netflix for its provocative “anti-Islamic propaganda.” After watching the series, it’s clear the show’s creators don’t intend for the al-Masih character to be Jesus Christ returned because it’s revealed that he’s actually Iranian Payam Golshiri with an unflattering past. So the question is whether he’s the anti-Christ or a mentally-unbalanced imposter. The show is interesting because it does demonstrate how the anti-Christ could possibly rise up and gain the allegiance of people worldwide, including both nominal (c)hristians and Muslims.

I don’t think Gospel Christians need to be overly alarmed by this series, but we should be discerning. One of the producers, Roma Downey, is a Roman Catholic New-Ager who, with her husband, Mark Burnett, has given us such Biblically-challenged television series as “Touched by an Angel,” “The Bible,” and “A.D.” We definitely shouldn’t be getting our theology from Downey and must remain ever-cautious and discerning, but we can view this series strictly as entertainment material and, yes, even use it as an opportunity to evangelize. Our unbelieving oldest son who lives here in town would not be caught dead reading the Bible, but he’s expressed interest in watching “Messiah.” We’ve already had a few discussions with him about the series and the coming anti-Christ.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 1/11/20

Welcome, my friends, to this week’s news roundup!

The announcement that the United Methodist Church is going to split over the LGBT affirmation question made national news this past week. The UMC drifted into Bible-denying modernism long ago. All of the old mainline Protestant denominations have pretty much succumb to the “inclusivity” ideology and it’s seeping into nominal evangelical churches as well.

Courting Islam is one of pope Francis’ highest priorities. Last year, he signed the “On Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” accord with Grand Imam, Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb, which states that “pluralism and the diversity of religions…are willed by God in His wisdom.”

The German bishops are among the most progressive in the Catholic church. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the establishment of joint Catholic-Lutheran parishes in Germany within the next decade.

The local Rochester Catholic diocese filed for bankruptcy back in September in reaction to the large number of legal claims after the passage of the 2019 NYS Child Victims Act. Twenty U.S. dioceses have filed bankruptcy to date and many more are considering the option in order to “protect their assets” from the victims of priests and the prelates who enabled them.

I’m not a big fiction reader, but this novel about abuse in the Catholic church caught my attention and I placed a hold at our local library. It’s interesting that this review appears in the (progressive) Jesuit’s national magazine. You won’t find a review of this book at EWTN.

Roman Catholics in various parts of the world go bonkers over their local icons. Some of the participants in these “celebrations” are “whipped into a frenzy” of religious hysteria. All of this is blatant fetishism.

Francis Chan was once viewed as a solidly trained (Master’s Seminary) evangelical pastor who also had a bit of an edge. Over time, Chan’s hipster edginess has overwhelmed his orthodoxy and he now cavorts with NAR charlatans and has recently made some ill-informed and ecumenically-friendly statements about Roman Catholicism and transubstantiation. Run don’t walk from Chan and his heterodoxy.

The removal of U.S. cardinal, Ted McCarrick, in June 2018 due to sexual abuse was the beginning of the scandal tsunami that has racked Catholicism ever since. McCarrick had previously “greased the palms” of popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI and several other prelates with some very hefty “gifts.” Was the money an attempt to discourage inquiries into his “indiscretions”? More to follow on this smoking gun.

Leave it to the Babylon Bee to take society’s preposterousness to its illogical extreme.

Rebutting a Catholic apologist, #6: “The Anointing Teaches Us”

Today, we continue our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this chapter, the Catholic apologist completes his six-part section on church hierarchy and authority by countering Protestants’ assertions that they have no need for the Catholic church’s Magisterium to guide them because “The Anointing Teaches Us.”

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Catholics claim that their “Magisterium,” the teaching office of their church comprised of the pope and his 5839 bishops, is divinely authorized and divinely guided. Catholic apologist, Broussard, claims that some Protestants cite 1 John 2:27 as a Scriptural confutation of the Magisterium:

“But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.”

Broussard then presents several other Bible passages to prove that Jesus and the apostles, including John, certainly intended for teachers to guide the church doctrinally. He suggests that in the context of the entire passage of 1 John 2:18-27, John is using hyperbole in verse 27 to warn against heeding false teachers.

Broussard is once again presenting a straw man logical fallacy by implying Protestants reject any and all teaching authority within the church. Evangelical Protestants are fully aware of such Scripture passages as the following:

“And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers…” – 1 Corinthians 12:28

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” – Ephesians 4:11-12

The Holy Spirit calls individual men to lead and teach in the local church, using God’s Word, the Bible, as their sole authority.

Catholics claim that their allegedly divinely-guided Magisterium is absolutely necessary to preserve and protect doctrinal truth, but history, past and recent, reveals the absolute and undeniable fallaciousness of that claim:

  • Throughout the centuries, Catholic popes, in league with their bishops, regularly introduced “Sacred Traditions” into church teachings; traditions which supplanted Biblical truths. Instead of preserving and defending God’s Word, the Magisterium nullified God’s Word. “You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things” – Mark 7:13.
  • Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have all apologized for the policies and practices of previous popes and prelates including such things as the Inquisition, the Crusades, systematic anti-Semitism, forced baptisms, persecution of Protestants, etc. If it’s claimed that the Magisterium guides the church by divine inspiration, then why do the modern popes have to apologize for the edicts of popes and prelates of previous centuries?
  • Pope Francis is a pragmatic progressive who has introduced several doctrine-bending reforms since being elected in 2013. Many conservative Catholic leaders have advised their followers to ignore Francis’ novelties while the most audacious among them publicly proclaim the pope to be a heretic. Broussard dishonestly omits any mention of the current crisis within Catholicism regarding the controversial papacy of Francis in this chapter or the previous five concerning authority. It’s blatantly unscrupulous for Broussard to parade an idealized Magisterium before the reader when he is fully aware that Francis has thrown the church into a state of doctrinal “confusion” as conservative Catholics accuse him of doing.

Catholics look with askance at the patchwork quilt of evangelical Protestantism. They ask, how can truth be preserved and defended in such an uncentralized mishmash? Yet, it is precisely in and through the spiritual network of evangelical Protestant local churches, with all of their faults and problems, that the Holy Spirit has done His salvific, Gospel-spreading work, as those churches seek to follow God’s Word as their sole authority.

Next up: Traditions Nullify God’s Word