Roman Catholicism’s reaction to COVID-19

In the last several weekend roundups, we have been observing and discussing how the Roman Catholic church has been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Roman Catholicism is a works-righteousness religious system, which teaches its members that they must receive the church’s sacraments in order to allegedly acquire graces that will enable them to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules in the hope of possibly meriting salvation at the moment of death. A religion comprised of compulsory sacramental rituals administered solely by its ordained clergy is paralyzed when access to the rituals is blocked. In reaction to the crisis, the Catholic church is scrambling in an attempt to offer sacramental “alternatives” (e.g., spiritual communion, general absolution, etc.).

What’s interesting about Catholicism is that while it demands that its members strictly adhere to its rules and rituals, it dichotomously grants that all non-Catholic religionists AND EVEN ATHEISTS are also able to merit Heaven if they nebulously and indefinably “follow the light they are given” and are “good.” That’s Universalism, folks, NOT Christianity.

On March 18th, the Italian daily newspaper, “La Repubblica,” published an interview with pope Francis regarding his thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other things, Francis offered the following as “encouragement” in these challenging circumstances:

“We are all children of God, and He watches over us. Even those who have not yet met God, those who do not have the gift of faith, can find their way through the good things that they believe in. They can find strength in their love for their children, their family, their brothers and sisters. Someone might say: ‘I cannot pray because I do not believe.’ But at the same time we can believe in the love of the people we have around us, and there we can find hope.”

What the pope said is a lie straight from the pit of hell. God’s Word says that everyone is God’s creation, but not everyone is God’s child.

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

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” – John 3:18

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” – Romans 8:1-2

I learned of the pope’s remarks via the interesting 50-minute video below. In this Zoom podcast, originally posted on March 28th, Leonardo De Chirico, pastor and director of the Reformanda Initiative, along with Clay Kannard, and Reid Karr, both also members of the RI team, discuss, “Rosary, Indulgences & Humanism: How is Roman Catholicism facing the Coronavirus Crisis?”

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 4/4/20

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup, my friends! The COVID-19 pandemic obviously continues to dominate local, national, and international headlines.

Some Protestants of various denominational affiliations have made headlines this past week by holding worship services in defiance of bans on public gatherings. COVID-19 has a proven track record of contagion and lethality. Christians who defy public health directives are not only giving Christianity a bad name, they are also endangering people’s lives.

The Roman Catholic church’s salvation system is largely dependent on its sacraments. The last couple of weeks, we have been following how the RC church is modifying its sacramental rituals in light of restrictions on public gatherings. For example, Catholics were always taught in the past that the graces associated with the mass were imparted only upon those who physically attended. Watching mass on TV, Catholics were told, did not impart graces to the viewer. Since physical attendance is not possible during this pandemic, the RCC has done a flip-flop and is now encouraging Catholics to watch mass via television and/or streaming. Catholics are being told by their priests and bishops that “spiritual communion,” i.e., contemplating and desiring the Jesus wafer, is as effectual as physically consuming it! Another casualty of the pandemic is the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, i.e., last rites. Most Catholics are counting on the sacrament of extreme unction/last rites/anointing of the sick administered by a priest to “get them right with God” before they die, but the pandemic is limiting access to priests. If you desire to genuinely get right with God, repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone!

Catholics are so dependent upon the mass and receiving the Jesus wafer as part of their works-righteousness religious rituals, that some priests are defying public health guidelines and diocesan directives and surreptitiously opening masses to the public and distributing the “host.”

A couple of weekends ago, I reported that some Hollywood celebrities were trying to rally the nation amidst this pandemic with a rendition of John Lennon’s atheistic paean, “Imagine.” Larry the Cable Guy is having none of it.

This article refers to Bible-denying, mainline Protestants, but evangelical Christians are figuring out how to take the Lord’s Supper “together” while viewing services online. Our church is doing virtual communion tomorrow and my wife and I are prepared with grape juice in the fridge and bread in the pantry.

Americans were recently asked, “Who comes to mind when you think of evangelical Protestantism?” and 21% responded with “Billy Graham,” the most popular answer. It’s ironic that Graham was actually an enthusiastic friend of Roman Catholicism and its false gospel and therefore was at odds with true evangelical Protestantism.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #18: “Up Out of the Water”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next installment, the Catholic apologist begins a twelve-chapter section on Sacraments beginning with baptism. In this chapter, Broussard counters Protestants’ argument that the proper mode of baptism is only by immersion because after Jesus was baptized, He came “Up Out of the Water.”


Broussard delves into some of the other important differences between Catholics and Protestants regarding baptism in the chapters that follow, but in this chapter he focuses on whether baptism should be by sprinkling/pouring (i.e., affusion, Latin, affusio, to pour on), the Catholic mode, or by complete immersion as most Protestants believe. Broussard presents two Bible verses that Protestants use as proof texts for baptism by immersion only:

Acts 8:36-39: 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.

Mark 1:10: And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

In addition, Broussard acknowledges the Protestant argument that the Greek word for baptize, βαπτιζω, baptizo, means to immerse.

The Catholic apologist argues that the coming up out of the water mentioned in the two passages that are presented doesn’t necessarily refer to immersion, but could easily refer to the Ethiopian eunuch and Jesus only standing in the water for a sprinkling/pouring “baptism” and then ascending out of the body of water. Continuing his rebuttal, Broussard goes to Mark 7:2-4* and points out that the Greek words for wash and washing, baptisōntai and baptismous respectively, which are obviously related to baptizo and are used in the text to refer to the ritual washing of hands and vessels by the Pharisees, did not necessarily refer to immersion according to a modern Rabbinical Jewish source that’s cited.

Broussard then cites the Didache (1st-2nd century A.D.) and Letter to a Certain Magnus (255 A.D.) written by Cyprian, which recommended baptism by immersion, but specifically permitted sprinkling/pouring if circumstances don’t allow for immersion.

Okay, now let’s answer Mr. Broussard’s arguments. First off, God’s Word commands new believers to be baptized in several passages such as Matthew 28:19-20. Baptism is the public testimony of a new believer’s faith in Jesus Christ. We see from passages such as Romans 6:3-4 that baptism is a symbol of the believer’s identification with Jesus Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. Baptism by sprinkling/pouring obviously does not picture Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

Broussard’s suggestion that Acts 8:36-39 and Mark 1:10 do not necessarily indicate baptism by immersion is interesting. Broussard later refutes his own suggestion by producing the Didache and the Letter to a Certain Magnus, which state that baptism by immersion is the norm unless sufficient water is unavailable. Sufficient water was available in both cases.

Broussard engages in subterfuge by arguing that since washing and immersion had the same the root in the Greek, that they were therefore equivalent. No need to respond to Broussard’s lexical sophistry other then to repeat that baptizo/baptize strictly means to immerse. Objects can certainly be washed either by being immersed or by not being immersed, but immersion means immersion.

In regards to the mention of baptism via sprinkling/pouring in the Didache and the Letter to a Certain Magnus, Scripture, our ONLY authority in matters of faith and practice, does not address what to do in cases where sufficient water is not available for immersion or when suppliants are not physically able to be immersed (due to fragile health, etc.). Baptism is important, but not essential for salvation (see the thief on the cross in Luke 23:32-43). The early church would have done well to maintain baptism strictly by immersion rather than allowing for accommodations. Such compromises led to great error. In the next three chapters, we’ll discuss how baptism, the public profession and symbol of conversion to Christ, was eventually transformed into a sacrament alleged to regenerate a soul.

What is the proper mode of baptism?

If a person wants to be baptized, but cannot – what should be done?

*In citing this reference, Broussard mistakenly forgot to include the chapter number.

Next up: “Believer’s Baptism”

Throwback Thursday: New organization, the Reformanda Initiative, seeks to educate Evangelicals about Roman Catholicism

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on November 25, 2015 and has been revised.


I guess you could say I’m a bit of a Christian “Rumpelstiltskon.” I attended an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church for eight years (1983-1991), but ended up walking away from the Lord because I became so fed up with “churchianity” and the legalistic aspects of fundamentalism. I finally returned to my patient and wonderfully merciful Lord (Who never left me) in 2014.

Well, from my perspective many of the changes within the church after 23 years were quite dramatic. There aren’t too many people calling themselves “fundamentalists” these days. Moody Monthly magazine is only a distant memory. Hymn singing before the sermon as largely been replaced by rock music with Christian lyrics on the overheads. Pastors now wear sneakers, flannel shirts, and blue jeans (sometimes even skinny jeans!) on Sunday mornings. Churches have shed denominational names for “more welcoming,” hip monikers.

Okay. I’m not complaining. No doubt the differences seem so radical to me because I’ve been away for so long. But there is one noticeable change that’s very troubling and that’s the change in the church’s attitude towards works-righteousness Roman Catholicism.

Back in 1991, there were definitely signs of growing cooperation, accommodation, and compromise with Roman Catholicism, but in 2015 the compromise and betrayal of the Gospel is going full bore. A recent survey revealed 58% of evangelical pastors believe the pope is a born-again Christian. I shake my head in utter disbelief!

The change didn’t happen overnight. Ecumenism with Rome began creeping into evangelicalism as far back as the 1960s via Billy Graham. In the 1980s, as Christians became increasingly involved with politics and culture battles, people like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson said, “Sure, we disagree with Catholics on some doctrines, but we need them in our fight to “reclaim America for Christ.” How did that work out?

Predictably, political cooperation led to doctrinal accommodation and compromise and by the mid-1990s, people like Charles Colson, Bill Bright, and J.I. Packer were actively campaigning for the church to recognize salvation-by-works Roman Catholicism as a Christian entity. Anyone who objected was dismissed as an old-school doctrinalist or backwater fundamentalist.

But there’s no need to despair. There’s still a large group of faithful believers who are defending the Gospel of grace. This past year I was happy to see new books on Catholicism from Richard Bennett, Gregg Allison, and Leonardo De Chirico.

Here’s some more good news. Yesterday I was reading De Chirico’s blog and I see he has partnered with Allison, Michael Reeves, and Greg Pritchard in creating the Reformanda Initiative, an effort to “identify, unite, equip, and resource evangelical leaders to understand Roman Catholic theology and practice, to educate the evangelical Church and to communicate the Gospel.” Take just five minutes and check out the many resources available on the organization’s web site via the link below:

Let’s support and pray for the Reformanda Initiative. Get the buzz going. Send the link to your pastor and to any others the Lord directs. Evangelical pastors and their flocks desperately need to be educated about Roman Catholicism.

Postscript: Since the above post was written back in November, 2015, Dr. De Chirico and Reformanda Initiative have been faithfully educating evangelicals about the false gospel of Roman Catholicism and the need to reach out to Catholics with the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Odds and Ends during the COVID-19 Pandemic

I’ve accumulated a few “odds and ends” that pertain specifically to the COVID-19 pandemic that I wanted to share:

  • John MacArthur sermon on the pandemic and the believer’s response

This past Monday and Tuesday, Grace to You presented a sermon in two parts that was originally delivered last Sunday by John MacArthur that addresses the believer’s response to the pandemic. There’s all types of information swirling around out there regarding the current health crisis, but my wife and I were abundantly blessed by this sermon:

The Promise of Peace in a Worried World – Matthew 6:25-34 – Part One

The Promise of Peace in a Worried World – Matthew 6:25-34 – Part Two

  • Marriages in trouble during the pandemic

I have heard reports in the media that divorce attorneys are keeping extremely busy during this crisis. Divorce lawyers in some locales are reporting that business is up as high as 50%. Why? The lockdown is forcing husbands and wives to interact together much, MUCH more than they normally would. The prolonged, close proximity along with the other various life-challenges that are part of this pandemic are putting a strain on marriages, especially those that are already in trouble. My wife and I are polar opposites personality wise, which is one of the reasons I was attracted to her 46 years ago. But personality differences can also lead to annoyance, frustration, and conflict. When we both became mostly house-bound last September, there were some immediate interpersonal challenges because of our new circumstances. Our anchor was/is the Lord and our daily “Jesus time” devotion together really kept us on track. If you’re experiencing some marriage tensions because of the lockdown/quarantine, my advice is to begin a daily praise and devotional time dedicated to the Lord with your spouse, beginning yesterday.

Divorce rates jumping in corona-quarantined couples

  • Coronavirus spiking in Louisiana

Louisiana is reporting rapid escalation of COVID-19 contagion compared to other states in the Southeast. Many are speculating that the virus was spread quickly during the extremely congested and unrestrained Mardis Gras festivities in New Orleans on February 25th. Mardis Gras (French: Fat Tuesday) is Catholic society’s celebration of excess and indulgence prior to the rigors of Lent.

Coronavirus cases skyrocket in New Orleans, Mardi Gras likely to blame

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 3/28/20

Welcome to the weekend, my house-bound friends!

Last weekend, I mentioned some Catholic parishes were instituting drive-by confession in reaction to the COVID-19 virus. This week, I see some parishes are lining up cars in the parking lot so people can worship the Jesus wafer as it sits outside displayed in a “monstrance” (photo above). The worship of the faux Jesus wafer is the result of the RCC’s literalist interpretation of John 6 and the Last Supper accounts in the four gospels.

Pope Francis brought out the heavy artillery yesterday against COVID-19 by issuing a “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) extraordinary papal blessing. Everyone who witnessed the blessing live via television, internet, or radio was allegedly granted a “plenary (full) indulgence” which is purported to remove all temporal punishment remaining after confession and/or punishment for venial sins that would otherwise have to be expiated in purgatory. Did you understand all that? Don’t worry, 95% of Catholics could not explain a “plenary indulgence” or what “temporal punishment” was either.

The Catholic religion is inextricably bound to its sacramental ceremonies administered by its priests inside of their consecrated church buildings. But what are practicing Catholics to do when their churches have been closed during this pandemic and the sacraments are not available? The RCC is trotting out such emergency alternatives as “spiritual communion” and “general absolution.” But some inquisitive Catholics must be wondering, if these alternatives are OK in emergencies, why not at other times? The vast majority of Catholics could not care less either way because they don’t attend obligatory Sunday mass or yearly confession even in the best of circumstances.

What? Pope Francis is advising housebound Catholics to confess their sins directly to God? Is Francis turning Protestant? No, this is a concession to these extraordinary times when sacraments aren’t available, but Catholics are still taught they must merit their salvation.

Speaking of plenary indulgences, the RCC is opening the floodgates and issuing indulgences to everyone who contracts the COVID-19 virus, all caregivers of COVID-19 patients, and even everyone who prays for the COVID-19 sick. What about the poor Catholic who has some other serious illness and misses out on this “plenary indulgence” granted strictly to those affected by COVID-19? Are they chopped liver? [Please, no emails. I’m being facetious.]

It’s difficult to get out and even buy groceries these days, so some Catholic bishops are “magnanimously” lifting the ban on meats on Lenten Fridays. Some bishops are saying Catholics have already sacrificed enough during this pandemic crisis and don’t need the hassle of Lenten Friday meat abstention.

The various reactions to the virus pandemic by the Catholic hierarchy and clergy are shining a spotlight on the inanity and arbitrariness of the Roman church’s legalistic rules and rituals. The modification of legalistic precepts during this crisis should cause Catholics to question their validity. However, there is a Gospel that NEVER changes despite the circumstances and that is the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Canada is several years ahead of the U.S. as far as “progressive” legislation, but I can see this happening here in the U.S. very soon.

In this excellent, 17-minute video presented by Ligonier Ministries, John MacArthur addresses what the Christian’s attitude should be in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic. He also mentions a startling irony: the country is rightly concerned with properly treating all of the victims of the virus, approximately 1700 Americans have died from the virus to date, and protecting all of the healthcare workers, yet there is comparatively little regard for the 2400 daily victims of the ongoing abortion genocide in the U.S. One of the blessings of this pandemic is that some pregnant women will reconsider going to a facility and having an abortion. Several states are pressing to have abortion classified as “nonessential surgery” during this pandemic crisis.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #17: “Sanctified For All Time”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist completes his six-part section on Salvation by countering evangelical Protestants’ claim that they are “Sanctified For All Time.”


In the previous two chapters, Broussard attacked the doctrine of the assurance of salvation for the believer based upon faith in Jesus Christ alone, and continues the assault in this chapter. Broussard opens by presenting Hebrews 10, verses 10 and 14 as Protestants’ proof texts for eternal security:

10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Evangelical Protestants declare from God’s Word that people are genuinely born-again in a moment in time when they repent of sin and place their trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. Christ’s sacrifice washes away all sins – past, present, and future – of those who trust in Him.

In contrast, Catholicism teaches that a person is born-again/regenerated at baptism and that they must then continue with a lifetime of receiving sacramental grace and obeying the Ten Commandments in order to hopefully merit salvation at death. Eternal life is forfeited, according to Catholic theology, upon every occasion a person commits a mortal sin. The person must then confess the mortal sin to a priest to gain absolution/forgiveness, and the cycle begins again.

Broussard argues that Hebrews 10:10,14 “cannot mean that all future sins are automatically forgiven because the Bible elsewhere teaches that there are conditions for having our future sins forgiven” (p. 93). Broussard then presents his two proof texts for conditional/merited salvation:

Matthew 6:12,14-15: 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Matthew 18:21-35, is the parable of the unforgiving servant: 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Since his proof texts are alleged to support conditional/merited salvation, Broussard then returns to Hebrews 10:10,14. He suggests that verse ten’s “once for all” should be interpreted to mean that “Christ’s one (author’s italics) sacrifice is sufficient to take away our sins (whenever we repent)” (p.95). As for the “perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” in verse 14, he suggests the meaning to be that “Christ’s sacrifice makes complete provision (author’s italics) for Christians of all times to achieve their goal of perfection” (pp.95-96).

Going back to Broussards’ proof texts:

Matthew 6:12, 14-15: Jesus is not suggesting conditional justification, but that a born-again believer must maintain sweet fellowship with the Lord, by continually confessing known sin, including grudges against others. Confessing known sin as part of our daily walk is like the washing of the feet rather than a full-body bath, as referenced in John 13:10. Believers are born-again only once, but need to maintain their close fellowship with the Lord by confessing sin and cleansing away the sinful influences of the world. Believers are justified once, in a moment of time, when they repent of sin and accept Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to them and they are forensically, objectively declared righteous before Holy God, but sanctification continues in this life as the believer walks continuously closer to the Lord.

Matthew 18:21-35: Broussard would have the reader believe that the phrase, “the master delivered him (the unforgiving servant) to the jailers,” signifies that believers forfeit their salvation when they sin and are sent to hell. But several Bible passages, such as the one below, declare that the Lord chastens His disobedient children:

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” – Revelation 3:19

When Broussard returns back to Hebrews 10:10,14, he grasps at straws with fanciful interpretations. We choose, rather, to believe the clearly intended meanings of the texts. When we accept Christ as Savior by faith alone, all of our sins are forgiven, past, present, and future.

Important: In these last six chapters, Broussard has zealously defended the Roman Catholic works-righteousness salvation system whereby its members are taught they must merit their salvation by strictly obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and by adhering to the church’s 1752 canon laws. In contrast to all of this exacting and imposing legalism, the RCC at the same time dichotomously grants that all non-Catholic religionists AND EVEN ATHEISTS may also merit salvation if they nebulously and indefinably “follow the light they are given” and are “good.”

Works-righteousness, pseudo-Christians of all stripes (Catholics, Mormons, JWs, etc.) cherry-pick Bible verses/passages to support their false gospels of merited salvation. Some Bible verses/passages, pulled out of context, can be construed to teach merited salvation so that “seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Matthew 13:13). It is the Holy Spirit Who gives sight to the blind and reveals in the pages of the Bible the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Next up: Broussard begins a new section on Sacraments with “Up out of the Water”

Throwback Thursday: 50 priests who left Catholicism and accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on November 19, 2015 and has been revised.


Far From Rome, Near To God: Testimonies of Fifty Converted Catholic Priests
By Richard Bennett
The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009, 346 pp.

5 Stars

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that salvific grace is provided through its seven sacraments administered by its priests and that it is then up to each Catholic to merit their salvation. Contrary to Catholic doctrine, the Bible teaches salvation comes freely to all those who repent of their sin and accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior by faith alone. Justification was the central issue of the Protestant Reformation and continues as the main difference between today’s evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics, along with many other irreconcilable doctrinal differences.

One might expect that, if anyone, Rome’s priests would be able to find contentment in Catholicism, but religious legalism offers no spiritual peace, either for clerics or their followers. In this book, Richard Bennett,* ex-priest and director of the Berean Beacon Gospel outreach ministry to Catholics (see website here), has compiled the testimonies of fifty ex-priests who turned from Catholic legalism and ritualism to Jesus Christ.

Each testimony is short, averaging about seven pages, so there are no lengthy examinations of Catholic theology. The men’s stories are similar in many ways: they entered training for the priesthood at an early age, they were surprised when they found the priesthood did not bring spiritual contentment, they were introduced to the Bible and were amazed at the differences between God’s Word and Catholic teaching, they struggled with the many ramifications of leaving the priesthood, and they finally rejected Catholic legalism and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. Because the testimonies are so similar they tend to blend together, but we keep in mind that Heaven rejoices over every single sinner who trusts in Christ. Many readers, Protestant and Catholic, will be surprised to learn from this book that most priests have only a cursory knowledge of the Bible.

Many of these testimonies are dated. I imagine several were culled from the pages of “The Converted Catholic” and “Christian Heritage” magazines published several decades ago. In an age of growing ecumenism spurred on by the experiential charismatic movement, some may be surprised that anyone is still arguing that Roman Catholicism is not Christian. Many Christians have been fooled by the window dressings of Vatican II and its conciliatory overtures, but Rome has not changed any of its major doctrines or rescinded any of its anathematizing proclamations from Trent. In his opening speech at Vatican II, pope John XXIII declared “adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council.”

“Far From Rome, Near To God” is available through Amazon here. For a thorough examination of the doctrinal differences between Biblical Christianity and Catholicism, I would recommend “The Gospel According to Rome” by James G. McCarthy (see here). Check my Books tab here for a long list of resources which compare Catholicism to God’s Word.

*Richard Bennett went home to be with the Lord on September 23, 2019.

When John R. Rice “Seemed To” Bend the Knee to Rome

1. Was Pope John Paul I a Born-Again Christian? 2. Pope John XXIII Seemed to Put His Trust in Christ
By John R. Rice
Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1979, 176 pp.

1 Star

Argh, what a disappointment!

I’ll begin this painful review with some personal background. I was raised as a Roman Catholic, but began to understand that Catholicism did not align with God’s Word when I began reading the New Testament for the first time. In 1983, I repented of my sinful rebellion against God and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior by faith alone. After accepting Christ, I began attending an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church that was only a few miles from our house. The church often had complementary copies of “The Sword of the Lord” bi-weekly newspaper on its information table and I quickly became a subscriber. The paper was edited by evangelist, John R. Rice (1895-1980, photo above right), who was one of the leaders of the IFB movement. The “Sword” carried a lot of weight in IFB circles in those pre-internet days. Thousands of IFB pastors received the Sword and looked up to Rice as an example. By the time I started subscribing to the “Sword,” Rice had already gone home to be with the Lord, but I really enjoyed reading the reprints of his folksy sermons. But then I came across this regrettable 1979 booklet penned by Rice. Ach. What a great disappointment it was at the time. For the sake of this blog post, I recently acquired a dog-eared, used copy from an Amazon third-party seller.

In the first article, brother Rice asks if the then-recently-deceased pope, John Paul I, was a born-again Christian. JPI, aka Albino Luciani, was elected pope on August 26, 1978, but died only 33 days later on September 28th. In the 21-page article, Rice shows that JPI dutifully propagated the Roman Catholic works-righteousness religious system of salvation via sacramental grace and merit, which contradicts the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone on many, many levels. Brother Rice rightly concludes that as a life-long defender of merited salvation, JPI certainly was NOT a born-again Christian, unless he possibly accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone on his death bed.

In the second article, Rice ponders if pope John XXIII, aka Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (d. 1963), was born-again. What prompted this strange reevaluation of Roncalli? Rice states that he had read “Journal of a Soul, The Autobiography of Pope John XXIII” (1965) and was thoroughly impressed with Roncalli’s pietistical writings. As I’ve written about before, some evangelicals are easily duped by the eloquent prose of religious non-believers (see here). Joseph Smith Jr., Mary Baker Eddy, Charles Taze Russell, and Ellen White also wrote very eloquently about their “faith” in “god.” In this short, 8-page article, starry-eyed Rice presents several quotes from Roncalli and makes the argument that he “seemed to put his trust in Christ.” While the quotes that Rice provides demonstrate Roncalli’s grandiloquent religious piety, there is nothing that would directly confirm that Roncalli believed the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Rice naively swims into very dangerous waters by attempting to extrapolate from Roncalli’s flowery religious prose a belief in the genuine Gospel. Throughout his fifty-nine years as a Catholic cleric, Roncalli propagated and defended ALL of the same works-righteousness doctrines of the Catholic system that JPI/Luciani did, so why does Rice expose Luciani and embrace Roncalli. How does that work?

John XXIII/Roncalli introduced sweeping “window dressing” reforms into the Catholic church by inaugurating the Second Vatican Council (1961-1965). One of the biggest changes instituted by the council was Catholicism’s abrupt switch from militant confrontation in regards to Protestants to accommodating collegiality. MANY gullible Protestants were bewitched and bedazzled by “Good Pope John,” and his call for Catholic-Protestant rapprochement. Cults “expert,” Walter Martin, was one of those credulous evangelicals who hopped on the Roncalli bandwagon, even referring to him as a “sincere Christian” (see here).

If Roncalli were genuinely born-again, he would have stepped out on the balcony at St. Peter’s in Rome and renounced his office and his works-righteous religion and would have pleaded with his followers to accept Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone and leave the RCC. Instead, Roncalli personally officiated at daily mass throughout his papacy as well as presiding over hundreds of other anti-Biblical ceremonies and rituals that perpetuated Rome’s works-righteousness false gospel.

It’s very regrettable that the highly-respected John R. Rice allowed himself to be snookered by “Good Pope John.” Rice muddied the Gospel and became a “polezni durak,” a useful fool, for the Vatican by suggesting to his independent fundamental Baptist readers and followers that pope John XXIII “seemed to put his trust in Christ.” This booklet was written by Rice at the age of eighty-four, just one year before his death. It’s very probable that he was losing some of his cognitive capabilities at the time.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 3/21/20

This past week, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to shake the nation and the world. The full ramifications of this crisis are still nowhere in sight. But believers are trusting in Almighty God, Who is sovereign over ALL circumstances.

Catholic dioceses across the country are cancelling masses for the public until further notice. The mass, with its alleged eucharistic sacrifice, is the primary component of the Catholic salvation system, and is claimed to provide both grace for resisting all sin and forgiveness of venial sins. Many Catholics are relieved to be dispensed from obligatory mass attendance, while others will sorely miss the ritual. Practicing Catholics without their church building and the mass are like fish without water. Our evangelical church is streaming services online each Sunday. We’ll miss fellowship with our brothers and sisters, but our trust is in Jesus Christ through faith alone, not in priests and their faux sacrifices and sacraments.

Relatively few Catholics participate in the mandatory sacrament of reconciliation (i.e., confession), but for those who do, a few priests are making concessions to the coronavirus by holding “drive-by” confessions in church parking lots (see photo above). Auricular confession was/is a great evil, the tool of predatory priests. Breaking news reports indicate the Vatican is considering “general absolution” in localities hit hard by the virus rather than requiring individuals to go to confession. It’s not clear from the articles how bishops are going to administer these “general absolutions” because of the prohibitions against large gatherings.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, don’t look for Good Friday ritual crucifixions in the Philippines this year. The crucifixions as well as the ritual flagellations are blatant holdovers of Catholic asceticism/self-mortification. Mortification involving self-harm was quite common in Medieval Catholic Europe and still has adherents among some conservative and traditionalist Catholics in North America.

Catholics claim to only “venerate” Mary, but their actions confirm that they certainly do worship Mary as a deity. Millions of Catholics are praying to Mary for relief from the coronavirus pandemic.

Some Catholics are “mistakenly” praying to St. Corona for relief from the coronavirus, but they need to get their patron saints straight. St. Corona is alleged to be the patron saint of treasure hunters while St. Edmund is the patron saint of epidemic and pandemic victims. Nowhere in the entire Bible is there an example of a believer praying to anyone but God. On the contrary, attempted communication with the dead is strictly forbidden.


Last Sunday, I mentioned that papal dispensations were granted to various regions allowing for particular meats on Lenten Fridays, including beaver in Quebec and muskrat in Michigan. Muskrat? Yup. See the enlightening, 2-minute video here.

Israeli actress and international “celebrity,” Gal Godot, attempted to cheer up a world dealing with the COVID-19 virus with a video featuring John Lennon’s atheistic paean, “Imagine.” Among the lyrics of the song are “Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try, No hell below us, Above us only sky” and “Imagine…no religion too.” Lennon couldn’t get along with his first wife or his fellow Beatles and deliberately estranged himself from his first son, Julian. Lennon was murdered in 1980. So much for the “brotherhood of man.”