Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 9/14/19

Due to the mounting lawsuits filed by former victims of priest sexual abuse, the Catholic diocese of Rochester, N.Y. (where I live) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this past Thursday. Fifty-nine claims have been filed in Rochester in the last month under the state’s 2019 Child Victim Act and another 100-200 are expected before the legal window closes in August 2020. The Rochester diocese is using bankruptcy protection to shield its financial assets from survivors of priest abuse. To date, nineteen other U.S. Catholic dioceses have filed for bankruptcy protection because of priest sexual abuse. Expect many more to follow. Roman Catholicism is absolutely corrupt on multiple levels including its apostate false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

As members fall away elsewhere, the Catholic church is growing in Africa. As this article explains, unwitting new African converts are attracted to the church’s social welfare programs.

On his plane trip to Africa two weeks ago, pope Francis stated that he felt “honored” to be “attacked” by conservative American Catholics. On his return trip to the Vatican this past week, the pope remarked that while he doesn’t desire that church conservatives break away into schism, he’s not fearful of that increasingly possible development. Wow! We live in extraordinary times with the progressive pope addressing the growing rebellion against him, including the possibility of schism.

This past week, conservative Catholics reacted to pope Francis’ remark that he felt “honored” to be “attacked” by them. Next weekend, we’ll see how they react to Francis’ broaching the subject of the potential schism of conservative Catholics.

What must it take for pope Francis to fire the Catholic bishop of nearby Buffalo who was outed eleven-months ago on national television as a serial abuse-enabler? Francis talks about reform, but the foxes in the henhouse still watch out for their fellow foxes.

There have been statues and paintings of Mary allegedly weeping for centuries. This one occurred in a Greek Orthodox church. These phenomena are either outright frauds, the result of natural causes, or manifestations of demonic activity. Thanks to our sister at “I Once Was Lost” for the heads up!

This article from a Catholic media source discourages the use of crystals, but the church’s sacramentals (medals, statues, holy water, and other jujus) and Catholic mysticism predispose the membership to dabble in New Age practices.

Man-buns and girly spandex skinny jeans on men are de rigueur at hipster mega-churches. Well, okay, man-buns are yesterday’s news and have been replaced by one-hundred-dollar swag haircut$.

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Throwback Thursday: One of those old and angry ex-Catholics?

Welcome to this week’s edition of “Throwback Thursday.” For today’s installment, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on October 9th, 2015 and has been slightly revised.

[The information in this post is closely associated with the “Throwback Thursday” post that was published just a few weeks ago. See here.]

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In 1994, Chuck Colson’s and, Catholic priest, Richard John Neuhaus’s ecumenical “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” (ECT) alliance issued its first declaration; “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium.” The gist of the statement was that both camps recognized the other as “Christian” and resolved to join as allies in the culture war against secularism. Several notable evangelicals supported the statement, but perhaps the most surprising signatory was J. I. Packer (photo above), an influential Reformed theologian best known for his book, “Knowing God.” Packer’s endorsement of ECT was met with shock and strong criticism from many evangelicals.

One year later, ECT leadership released “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission,” a collection of articles defending the ECT declaration, written by six of the document’s signers, including Packer. In his article, Packer argued that his endorsement of ECT was not an approval of the doctrines of Catholicism. He stated, in so many words, that if Catholics are saved, they are saved in spite of their church’s standard theology, not as a result of it. But, as I noted in a previous post, as a signatory of ECT, Packer was quite willing to give every Catholic the benefit of the doubt.

In defending himself from his critics, Packer wrote:

“The most poignant expressions of these criticisms come from middle-aged and elderly individuals who found Christ and spiritual life in evangelicalism after failing to find either in the Roman Catholicism of their birth and who cannot believe that Protestants who back ECT know what they’re doing” (p.156).

Packer’s statement is condescending at best and insulting at worst. Well, J. I., who best to comment on a false religious system than one who was once held in bondage by it? Who best to answer whether Christ and spiritual life can be found in Catholicism than ex-Catholics who have accepted Christ and come out of that church with its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit? On the one hand, Packer readily admits that salvation cannot be found in the standard theology of the Catholic church, but then he turns around and backhands the ex-Catholic critics of ECT as being a bunch of bitter, old fogeys! Well, it’s easy to see that J. I. was quite stung by the well-deserved criticism of his participation in ECT and lashed out irrationally and uncharitably.

In some cursory readings, I see Packer was always a bit of an ecumenist, being an ardent admirer of C.S. Lewis, which eventually led to his break with David Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd-Jones! Now there was a man of God who knew the danger of cozying up to Rome and wasn’t afraid to speak about it!  To read Lloyd-Jones’ sermon, “Roman Catholicism,” see here.

It’s been twenty-one years since the first ECT document was published and the fruits of Colson’s, Packer’s and other ecumenists’ efforts are everywhere. It’s a rising tide. A recent survey found that 58 percent of self-identified evangelical Christian pastors agreed that pope Francis was a fellow Christian and a “brother in Christ,” while another 19 percent responded that they were not sure. What that means is only 23 percent of the evangelical Christian pastors who were polled disagreed with the statement that the pope is a fellow Christian and a “brother in Christ.” I shouldn’t be surprised at the rising apostasy. The Bible does speak about it. And, no, I shouldn’t be hateful towards Packer and other misguided evangelicals who embrace the RCC and serve as the Vatican’s “polezni durak” (useful fools). However, I love my Catholic family members, friends, and Catholics in general who endlessly toil to be “good enough” to merit Heaven. Ach! What a rat race they run! They need evangelicals who will confront them with their sinful state and present them with the genuine Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. They don’t need accommodating and compromising evangelicals like J.I. Packer, who betray them and the Gospel.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18

I’m clothed with my Savior’s imputed perfect righteousness. Now THAT’S something to REJOICE about! Yep, I am a HAPPY guy! Repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ and trust in Him as your Savior by faith alone, not in your own efforts or the man-made traditions your church.

A Loving Warning to All Catholics

 

In this short, 7+ minute video, evangelist Ray Comfort reaches out to a Roman Catholic college student with the Gospel of grace. Every Roman Catholic would benefit by watching this video. In addition, every evangelical who mistakenly believes the Roman Catholic church preaches the Gospel would also benefit by watching.

I posted another video of Ray witnessing to a Roman Catholic back on July 2nd. Watch it here.

Back when Bible Christians began making erroneous assumptions about Catholicism – Part 2

Born-Again Catholics and the Mass
By William C. Standridge
Independent Faith Mission, 1980, 32 pp.

5 Stars

Yesterday, we reviewed the 1975 booklet, “What’s Happening in the Roman Church,” by William Standridge, in which the missionary-to-Italy commented on the growing misbelief within evangelicalism that the Catholic church was moving closer to Biblical Christianity (see here). Today, we’ll take a look at Standridge’s 1980 follow-up booklet, “Born-Again Catholics and the Mass.”

This publication provides some of the puzzle pieces that were missing in the previous booklet. The author begins by once again noting the confusion among some evangelicals caused by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) movement. Adherents were allegedly manifesting the Pentecostal “gifts of the spirit,” including speaking in tongues (aka glossolalia), healings, prophecy, and being “slain in the spirit.” CCR Catholics were also adopting the moniker of “born-again Catholics” although they still followed their church’s salvation system of sacramental grace and merit. For Catholics who were involved in the Renewal, being “born-again” meant experiencing the emotional euphoria involved with the Pentecostal practices rather than trusting in Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone and being reborn spiritually in Christ.

In the chapters that follow, Standridge compares the doctrines of the Roman Catholic church, reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), especially as they pertain to the Catholic mass, with Holy Scripture. The Bible clearly teaches there is no longer any need for a sacredotal priesthood or perpetual sacrifice for sin. The Roman church’s teaching that its sacraments infuse grace to the recipients, so that they are able to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!), in order to possibly merit Heaven at the moment of their death is contrary to the Scriptures, which state that a person is only saved by repenting of (turning from) their sin and accepting (trusting in) Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. A Catholic who is genuinely born-again in Jesus Christ will increasingly understand from Scripture and the illumination of the Holy Spirit that the mass, with its mediatorial priests, perpetual sacrifice, faux Jesus wafer, and merit-based false gospel, is antithetical to the Gospel of grace and he/she will leave the Roman church.

Standridge also credits Vatican II’s conciliatory gestures toward Protestants as the cornerstone of the subsequent ecumenical and interfaith movements that were evident in 1980 and would grow exponentially afterwards, all under the auspices of the RCC. Because of Vatican II’s winsome approach to Protestants and the subsequent Catholic Charismatic Renewal, evangelicals were increasingly deceived into believing that the Roman church was moving closer to Biblical Christianity.

It’s my subjective observation that charismatic Catholics are now much-less apt to refer to themselves as “born-again Catholics” as they did when this booklet was written in 1980. They’ve generally fallen in line with their church’s official terminology, that a person (infant, child, or adult) is “born-again” when they are baptized.

I appreciated this second booklet by William Standridge, which filled in some of the gaps missing in his previous effort.

Back when Bible Christians began making erroneous assumptions about Catholicism – Part 1

What’s Happening in the Roman Church?: A Report from Rome
By William C. Standridge
Independent Faith Mission, 1975*, 32 pp.

4 Stars

Several generations ago, evangelical Christians in America were under no illusions regarding Catholicism. The Catholic church unabashedly preached “another gospel” of salvation by sacramental grace and merit rather than the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. However, confusion was starting to grow among evangelicals back when this booklet was first published in 1975* and even before. Some Christians were erroneously claiming that the Roman Catholic church was reforming itself and moving towards Biblical Christianity. What were the bases of those claims? Were they accurate? William C. Standridge, an evangelical missionary to Italy, partially addresses those questions in this short and somewhat informative publication.

Standridge notes that throughout its long history, the Roman church has always been able to accommodate a wide spectrum of beliefs and practices underneath its broad tent as long as some basics are adhered to; most importantly, fidelity to the papacy and magisterium and belief in the efficacy of the sacraments. The author also notes that, as important to the church as its religious doctrines and practices are, its political influence and financial wealth are equally important. The church’s sprawling bureaucracy is focused as much on temporal concerns as it is on quasi-spiritual ones.

After building his case, Standridge gets to the crux of this booklet on page 20. In February 1967, some students at Catholic Duquesne University manifested the Pentecostal practice of speaking in tongues (aka glossolalia). The phenomenon spread quickly within Catholicism, resulting in many Pentecostals and charismatics wondering if the genuine Gospel had taken hold within the Roman church? The Catholic hierarchy accommodated the Catholic charismatics and their “gifts,” as it did with so many other enthusiasts dedicated to a particular “devotion,” because the Catholic charismatics still held to their church’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. In fact, Catholic charismatics characteristically displayed a greater zeal for the mass and Mary worship than non-charismatics. But Protestant Pentecostals and charismatics were now in a pickle. Because Catholic charismatics manifested the requisite “gifts of the spirit,” pressure mounted to embrace them as Christians and the RCC as a Christian entity despite irreconcilable doctrinal differences. Standridge also notes that many younger, “rebel” priests were using evangelical terminology that was giving the false impression that they were teaching the genuine Gospel.

I give this booklet an “A” for effort, but only a “B” for substance. There definitely WAS change taking place within Catholicism in the 1960s and 70s that was prompting some evangelicals to draw unwarranted conclusions. Chief among the change agents was the conciliatory approach of the Second Vatican Council, but, yes, the growth of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) movement also had an influence.

Standridge would rightly address the powerful influence of Vatican II in his next booklet, “Born Again Catholics and the Mass” (1980), which I’ll be reviewing tomorrow.

*My edition of this booklet states that it was published in 1975, but some events from 1978 and 1979 are cited within, so this is certainly the subsequent 1980 edition.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 9/7/19

With the increasing acceptability of tattoos in society, some younger Catholics are having images of sacramentals (medals, crucifixes, rosaries, illustrations of Mary, etc.) tattooed onto their bodies, figuring the image of a sacramental will impart the same “blessing” as the physical object. However, church spokespersons state that while physical sacramentals do impart blessings, images of sacramentals, like tattoos, do not. Oy vey. Where does it all end? Superstition through and through.

The Catholic diocese of Philadelphia is representative of all dioceses in the Northeast (and most elsewhere in the U.S.) with its recent “struggles” with the clerical sexual abuse scandal tsunami, financial quandaries, and parish closures. I don’t know about you, but when I read news reports about rats found in the kitchen of a particular restaurant, I won’t eat there. My Catholic friends, there is a way out of the institutional corruption of your church and His name is Jesus Christ. Trust in Him as Savior by faith alone and ask Him to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches the genuine Gospel of grace and teaches God’s Word without compromise.

Speaking of troubled Catholic dioceses in the Northeast, the nearby diocese of Buffalo is in meltdown. Ten months ago, the investigative journalism television show, “60 Minutes,” outed Buffalo bishop, Richard Malone, as a serial abuse-enabler. Despite appeals by increasingly exasperated Buffalo-area Catholics, Malone won’t resign and pope Francis won’t fire him.

In another one of his impromptu airplane aisle press conferences, pope Francis recently took a backhanded swipe at his increasingly-vocal conservative American Catholic critics who are horrified by his doctrine-bending reforms. This is priceless theater that was unimaginable just seven short years ago, before Bergoglio was elected to the papacy.

Eighty-two-year-old pope Francis understands that he’s not going to be able to effect all of his reforms, so he’s “stacking the deck” by promoting like-minded progressives to the college of cardinals to ensure a successor sympathetic to his agenda.

What can we say when one of the iconic propagators of the prosperity gospel allegedly renounces the prosperity gospel?

We currently have one Chick-Fil-A in our area, but it’s about 16 miles from our house. Number two is slated to open a year from now and that one will be only 7 miles away.

Throwback Thursday: Ravi Zacharias impersonates Fred Astaire while compromising the Gospel

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment! Today, we’re revisiting a post that was originally published back on October 29, 2015, but has been revised substantially.

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Ravi Zacharias is a very familiar name to many evangelicals. The apologist has written several popular books, makes appearances all across the country, and his half-hour daily radio show is broadcast by many Christian radio stations. Mr. Zacharias* is an intelligent and very well-spoken orator and can be a pleasure to listen to regarding some topics. But, as an ex-Catholic saved by God’s grace though faith in Jesus Christ alone, it troubles me greatly that Mr. Zacharias often references committed Roman Catholics in his presentations as if they were Gospel Christians. I have personally heard him extol St. Francis of Assisi, Mother Teresa, and Malcolm Muggeridge. All three were committed to Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Mr. Zacharias also appeared as a speaker at the “Together 2016” ecumenical event in Washington D.C., which included a video-greeting from pope Francis.

Above is a 6-minute YouTube video that gives some additional perspective on Mr. Zacharias’ accommodation of Roman Catholicism. At an evangelical seminar, a young man has a question for Mr. Zacharias. He states that he’s been involved in street evangelism for six or seven years and has often encountered members of religious groups widely identified as cults, such as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. But he also mentions that he regularly encounters Roman Catholics. The young man asks Mr. Zacharias, albeit somewhat inarticulately because of nerves, to clarify for him whether Roman Catholicism is a cult or an apostate church?

Well, Mr. Zacharias tap dances around the question like Fred Astaire for about five minutes and manages to avoid giving anything resembling a forthright answer. It’s actually quite stunning to witness. Why the great hesitancy, Mr. Zacharias? Why the obfuscation? Can people be saved through the Catholic church’s standard theology of salvation via sacramental grace and merit or not? Is the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone the only way to Heaven or not? What was so extremely difficult about the young man’s question, Mr. Zacharias, that caused you to hem and haw for five long minutes? Yes, Gospel-preaching churches and denominations have their secondary-belief distinctives, but, at its core, does the Roman Catholic church preach the genuine Gospel or not? That was the crux of the question as you very well knew.

The audience heartily applauded Mr. Zacharias for his “wise” and “gracious” non-reply, but that young man left the hall more confused than when he entered.

Catholic apologists and priests have absolutely NO problem proclaiming that their church is the “one true church” and that it alone possesses the “fullness of the gospel.” Catholic apologists and priests have absolutely NO problem disparaging “Bible-thumping evangelicals” and their “easy-believism” Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. So why then are evangelical preachers and apologists, like Mr. Zacharias, so deferential when it comes to Roman Catholicism? What are Mr. Zacharias and the others so afraid of? What spirit is driving them to cooperate, accommodate, compromise, and tap dance on egg shells? The young man mentioned Charles Spurgeon and his uncompromising stand regarding Catholicism. Where are the Spurgeons of today?

Lord, thank you for watchmen who are faithful to the Gospel of grace and who continue to work the ripe fields of the Roman Catholic lost.

*Some may be assuming that I am being disrespectful by referring to Ravi Zacharias as “Mr.” rather than “Dr.” in this post. In my first draft of this Throwback Thursday revision, I did refer to Ravi Zacharias as “Dr. Zacharias,” however, I subsequently learned that questions were raised recently regarding his academic credentials and, as per a statement on his own website, he is requesting that no one refer to him any longer as “doctor.” I point that out not as an attack (academic credentials can be absolutely meaningless as we all know), but for purposes of clarification.

Intensely proud of “McQ”?

You see all kinds of bumper stickers on cars, but here in Rochester, N.Y., you’ll often see one or both of the ovals shown in the photo above left; OLM and McQ.

“OLM” stands for Our Lady of Mercy High School, while “McQ” stands for McQuaid Jesuit High School. Alumni and parents and grandparents of Mercy and McQuaid students drive around town proudly displaying the oval stickers. They’re a VERY common sight on the backs of cars here in Rochester.

Back when I was in high school in the early-1970s, there were several Catholic high schools in the area. There was McQuaid and Aquinas for boys and Mercy, St. Agnes, and Nazareth Academy for girls. Bishop Kearney (my high school*) and Cardinal Mooney were semi-coed with classes for the boys on one side of the school and classes for girls on the other side. King’s Prep was for boys contemplating the priesthood. St. Agnes, Nazareth, Cardinal Mooney, and King’s Prep have since shut down and Aquinas has switched to coed education.

McQuaid Jesuit Middle School and High School, named after the first Catholic bishop of Rochester, Bernard J. McQuaid (d. 1909), was founded in 1954 and since then has been considered Rochester’s most elite and prestigious secondary school and a launching pad to advanced education and a lucrative, professional career. Numerous doctors, lawyers, and other area professionals are alumnus of McQuaid. There are currently around 900 boys enrolled at McQuaid, 300 in the middle school and 600 in the high school. The school’s current tuition is $13,600 per year. Yes, that’s thirteen-thousand and six-hundred dollars for one year of high school! Tuition at all-girls Our Lady of Mercy is $14,200 per year.

As the scandal of priest sexual abuse began making headlines in the Rochester newspaper, many in the area were convinced that the Jesuits of McQuaid were above such sordidness. One of our grand-nephews was attending McQuaid several years ago and when my wife raised a concern to our niece, she replied emphatically, “The teachers at McQuaid are Jesuits. They don’t do that kind of thing.”

However, last January, the newspaper began publishing reports that several of the Jesuit teachers and administrators at McQuaid had been sexually abusing students. See here. Two weeks ago, allegations were brought forward that McQuaid’s most famous teacher, Jesuit priest William O’Malley, had regularly abused at least one student during his tenure there.

Catholic parents and grandparents of McQuaid students proudly drive around town with “McQ” ovals on the back of their cars, advertising that their son or grandson is attending the most prestigious and academically elite high school in Rochester. But what are those boys learning in that school? Are they learning about Jesus Christ of the Bible and the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone? I can guarantee you that they are NOT. Are any of McQuaid’s students going to school each day fearing the advances of predatory, celibate Jesuit priests? I don’t know if that’s the case currently, but it was surely the case in the past, as we’re only now finding out.

*I almost referred to my old Catholic high school, Bishop Kearney, as my “alma mater.” But I see that “alma mater” actually means “nourishing mother” and that phrase certainly doesn’t describe BK, where I never heard the Gospel and where predatory Irish Christian Brothers prowled the hallways.

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Above: McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester, N.Y. No sign of the Gospel in its classrooms.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 8/31/19

We’ve been watching the increasing polarization within the Roman Catholic church since the day progressive pope Francis was elected. Bergoglio’s pragmatic strategy, to “bend” and de-emphasize doctrine in order to make the church more appealing and viable in an increasingly secular world, is anathema to rigid church traditionalists and conservatives.

This new television show from CBS debuts Sept. 26 and will feature a team of three characters, including a Catholic seminarian, who “investigate the (Catholic) Church’s backlog of unexplained mysteries.” In light of the scandal tsunami involving abusive priests and their enabling superiors that’s currently overwhelming the RCC, the team may want to start their investigation into “evil” at the closest Catholic diocesan office.

Disaffected Catholics are shaken by the scandals that are rocking their church. Pray that many will leave Catholicism and trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone.

Last February, pope Francis and the Muslim Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, co-signed the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,” which states that a “pluralism and diversity” of religions is “willed by God.” This newly appointed multi-faith committee will pursue inter-religious dialogue and cooperation in accordance with the goals of the February document. There’s no sign of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in any of this.

Because of their church’s teaching that Mary and thousands of dead “saints” act as spiritual mediators, Catholics are especially susceptible to full-blown necromancy aka spiritualism. I’ll be submitting a post on this topic in a couple of weeks.

Readers of church history know that the Waldensians were a proto-Reformation group that got their start in France and Italy in the 12th century. They were brutally persecuted by the Catholic church. However, the Waldensians drifted into Bible-denying liberalism and modernism decades ago. Pope Francis keeps trying to apologize to the Waldensians on behalf of the RCC, but they won’t accept.

Steve at Triablogue has some good thoughts regarding the evolution of Catholicism.

Catholic “visionaries” are constantly coming forward with claims of new appearances by Mary that Catholic bishops must examine for “authenticity.” There’s no sign of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in any of this.

Netflix will be releasing “The Two Popes” on December 20th and the trailer can be accessed via the article above. From the trailer, this appears to be a pro-Francis puff piece that contrasts Benedict XVI’s fondness for cold doctrine and elaborate ceremony with Francis’ “warm humanity.” Yes, but what about Jesus Christ?

Hipster mega-churches must constantly be on the outlook for breaking new trends in order to remain on the “cutting edge.”

Throwback Thursday: ECT – Toward a Common Mission of Apostasy

Welcome to this week’s edition of “Throwback Thursday.” For today’s installment, we’re revisiting a post that was originally published back on September 19th, 2015 and has been slightly revised.

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Evangelicals & Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission
Charles Colson, Richard John Neuhaus, editors
Word Publishing, 1995, 236 pages

1 Star

Before I begin discussing this book, I’d like to provide a little background. In the late 1970s, influential evangelical theologian, Francis Schaeffer, challenged American pastors and para-church leaders to enter the political arena in order to “reclaim America for Jesus!” Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and other popular figures picked up the gauntlet, determined to stem the tide of “secular humanism.” Evangelicals soon found themselves as co-belligerents with conservative Roman Catholics in culture and morality battles. Predictably, political alliances paved the way for religious accommodation and compromise. Irreconcilable doctrinal distinctives were overlooked and some evangelicals began to accept unabashed salvation-by-merit Catholics as “brothers in Christ.”

Bombastic Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority eventually flamed out, but another evangelical would soon carry the ecumenical torch. Chuck Colson had been Special Counsel to President Nixon, but his involvement in the Watergate scandal landed him in prison where he claimed to have had a born-again experience. His 1975 memoir, “Born Again,” was a national bestseller and launched Colson’s new career as a popular para-church leader. Taking his cue from C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity,” ecumenism became increasingly dear to Colson’s heart.*

In 1994, Colson and Catholic priest, Richard John Neuhaus, began “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” (ECT), an ecumenical project calling for evangelicals and Catholics to unite in the battle against secular humanism and to recognize each other as Christians. The organization’s 1994 declaration was signed by a number of influential evangelicals and Catholics. However, a number of other evangelical leaders voiced their strong opposition to the declaration, which embraced works-righteousness Catholicism as a Christian entity and called for an end to evangelizing Catholics.

This book, “Evangelicals & Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission,” was published in 1995 to explain and defend the controversial ECT declaration. The evangelical contributors were Colson, Mark Noll, and J. I. Packer, and the Roman Catholic contributors were George Weigel and priests Avery Dulles and Neuhaus.

I really don’t care to expend too much energy reviewing the details of this book. In my view it’s a tragedy from the first page to the last. The three evangelicals who participated flagrantly accommodate error and compromise the truth. What is the Gospel? For genuine evangelicals faithful to God’s Word, the Gospel is salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. In contrast, the Catholic gospel is salvation by sacramental grace and merit. The two views are irreconcilable and cannot be bridged. Colson and Noll heard Catholics concede that “salvation is by (sacramental) grace through faith” and eagerly jumped the gun, declaring, “Close enough,” yet also knowing full well that Catholics actually adhere to “cooperation with grace,” aka merit or works, as an essential component in their salvation system. Packer? He correctly writes that if any Catholics are saved, they are saved IN SPITE of their church’s standard theology, but he’s willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

“And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” – Romans 11:6

ECT went on to publish several additional declarations over the years (via Neuhaus’ conservative Catholic and ecumenical journal, “First Things”), although it faded from view after the deaths of Neuhaus in 2009 and Colson in 2012. But, regrettably, Colson did accomplish some of what he set out to do. He would be pleased that works-righteousness Catholicism has been embraced as a Christian entity by a large number of Gospel-compromising evangelical pastors and their followers.

*I’m speculating that Chuck Colson’s great desire to unite evangelicals and Catholics was at least partially motivated by his 48-year marriage to Patty Hughes Colson, a “devout” Roman Catholic. Colson regularly attended mass with his Catholic wife. To see more on Colson’s proclivity for Roman error, see here.

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Partners in ecumenism: Chuck Colson, left, and priest, Richard John Neuhaus