For this week’s Throwback Thursday installment, I’m republishing this short post from previous years about something that never gets old; being grateful to the Lord for His bountiful blessings!
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Happy Thanksgiving to all of my brothers and sisters in the Lord here at the WordPress blogosphere! May your time today with your family and friends be joyous as we contemplate all of our blessings in Christ Jesus!
Am I Catholic?: A Struggle with Faith, Humility, and Surrendering to God By Kendra Von Esh Self-published, Second edition, 2018, 176 pp.
Several months ago, I was channel-surfing and happened upon the Daystar cable channel, which is similar in content to TBN, although on a smaller scale. Daystar is owned by Pentecostals, Marcus and Joni Lamb, and much of the content on Daystar includes references to prophecy, healing, and speaking in tongues, meaning I generally wouldn’t view the channel myself or recommend it to anyone else.
However, what caught my eye that particular July 1st evening was Joni and Marcus interviewing author, Kendra Von Esh, on the station’s flagship show, “Ministry Now.” Von Esh was on the show promoting her book, “Am I Catholic?” Hmm, how would Joni and Marcus handle this? Marcus began the interview by stating that he realized that, “there are Protestant people, that, they don’t agree with some things about the Catholic church…but the test of salvation, when you ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart and forgive you of your sins, that is the bottom line, and there are many truly born-again Catholics.” Marcus reiterates that it’s not denominational membership that saves, but whether a person is “a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Von Esh then began telling her story of having been raised in a nominal Catholic family and having no substantial connection to her religion until, as a middle-aged adult, her father had a life-threatening illness and surgery, which prompted her to begin delving deeply back into her Catholicism. Among other things, she described the joy of being able to confess her sins to a priest and receive forgiveness.
Joni nervously interjected at that point, because, what Von Esh was describing, didn’t sound like being born-again:
Joni: “When did you, like, have an, if you will, an understanding that Jesus died for your sins and that He[emphasis] forgives everything and it’s finished, it’s done, He paid the price at Calvary for us?“
Von Esh replied with some nebulous, religious gobbledygook, but did not answer Joni’s question. Catholics believe, as they are taught by their church, that salvation is a lifelong process that is dependent on regularly receiving the sacraments and successfully obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules. Marcus and other misguided folks extend the hand of fellowship to Roman Catholics because they readily assent to the vague parlance of “asking Jesus to come into your heart” and of being a “believer.”
While it’s true that there are probably some Catholics who are saved, they are saved in spite of their church’s teachings, not because of them. Marcus is correct, that church and denominational membership saves no one, but Roman Catholics never get to hear the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone from their church’s pulpits. The Catholic church unapologetically teaches that salvation is by sacramental grace and merit. Joni sensed a problem with Von Esh’s “testimony” while she was gushing on and on about confessing her sins to a priest, but Joni didn’t follow up. Marcus and Joni failed Von Esh and their viewers by insinuating Roman Catholicism’s false gospel was legitimate or at least “close enough.”
I ordered Von Esh’s short book and read it in a couple of sittings. She describes the “joy” of rediscovering the traditions, rituals, and rules of her church. Many converts and reverts to Catholicism are enamored with the RCC system, but beneath the church’s gaudy “smells and bells” liturgicalism is a works-righteousness treadmill whereby no one can ever find salvation and eternal joy in Jesus Christ.
I said a prayer for Kendra Von Esh’s salvation. Stay away from Daystar, TBN, and other sources that muddy the genuine Gospel by embracing Roman Catholicism as a Christian entity.
For research purposes, I’m providing the video below to the “Ministry Now” July 1st episode in question. The interview with Von Esh begins at the 30:30 mark.
Above photo: Joni and Marcus Lamb muddy the Gospel with Roman Catholic, Kendra Von Esh
I know most of you have had your fill of politics, but this week’s news feeds were dominated by stories of politically-conservative-minded Christians and Catholics grappling with Joe Biden’s apparent presidential victory.
Pastor Robert Jeffress (photo above) of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, an outspoken supporter of President Trump and the Republican Party and one of the leading torch-bearers of Falwellian Christian nationalism, has thrown in the towel and recognized Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 Presidential Election. President Trump still has not conceded, eighteen-days after the election. Will he eventually concede or is this standoff leading to an unprecedented constitutional crisis?
This conservative Catholic parish priest in this story has warned all of the administrators and teachers of the parish’s school that they will be collecting unemployment checks if they continue to post pro-Biden remarks on the school’s Facebook account.
Last week, the Vatican released its report on the church’s mishandling of ex-cardinal and serial abuser, Ted McCarrick. “Saint” John Paul II was directly implicated in the cover-up. This shakes the “faith” of Catholics throughout the world, but especially in Poland where Karol Wojtyla is revered as semi-deity.
The LA County administration and the media jumped the gun by labeling three cases of COVID-19 at Grace Community Church as an “outbreak.” But as C-19 re-surges across the nation, GCC continues to defy county public health safety mandates and the legal battles continue.
I’m a bit late with this one, but on November 11th we celebrated the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth in 1620. The Pilgrims were separatists persecuted by the Church of England who came to America in search of religious freedom and would later be absorbed by the Puritans, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1630. The Pilgrims celebrated the first “Thanksgiving” following their harvest in 1621.
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-to-last installment, the Catholic apologist continues his section on “Catholic Life and Practice” as he responds to the criticism of (some) Protestants that the Roman Catholic church permits the drinking of alcoholic beverages when the Bible says “Wine Is a Mocker.”
Protestants who believe in complete abstinence from alcoholic beverages cite Proverbs 20:1 among other passages:
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”
Broussard responds with three arguments:
(1) Broussard argues that the consumption of alcoholic beverages is not forbidden by the Bible in an absolute sense because the following verses and others seem to allow it: Deuteronomy 14:22-26, Genesis 14:18, Ecclesiastes 10:19, Psalm 104:15, 1 Timothy 5:23. Some evangelicals claim that the Israelites’/Jews’ standard table wine was diluted with so much water that it was nonintoxicating, but if that were the case, Broussard argues, there would not be so many admonitions against drunkenness in the Bible.
(2) Broussard then argues that Jesus was not absolutely opposed to fermented wine in His earthly ministry and presents the following proof texts: “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking…,”Luke 7:34, and “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now…,”John 2:1-11. Broussard forgets to include Jesus’s analogy of the wine skins and fermented wine in Mark 2:22.
(3) Broussard offers Isaiah 5:11 to argue that the Bible doesn’t forbid drinking alcoholic beverages, but only warns against overindulgence.
Let’s now respond to Broussard.
I’m one of those evangelicals who believes that the Bible doesn’t teach absolute abstinence when it comes to the consumption of alcoholic beverages, but that it warns against overindulgence and drunkenness. I wrote a post on this controversial topic way back in 2016 with supporting references (see here). Suffice to say that each believer must follow his/her own understanding and convictions regarding this matter and also must strive to not be a stumbling block to believers who hold to a different conviction.
Let’s not get sidetracked. The permissibility of consuming alcoholic beverages is a tertiary issue. The primary issue is Roman Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.
Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a short post that was originally published back on February 5, 2016 and has been revised.
In celebration of the slaughter of the Protestant Huguenots in Paris on the eve of St. Bartholomew’s feast day, August 23-24, 1572, pope Gregory XIII (aka Ugo Boncompagni) directed the pictured medal to be struck, which featured an “exterminating angel” striking the Huguenots and the caption, UGONOTTORUM STRAGES, (“Overthrow of the Huguenots”). Gregory XIII also commissioned three frescoes commemorating the massacre for the Sala Regia Hall at the Vatican, where they remain today. The estimated death toll varies, but some historians put the number of Protestants who were murdered in the violence that spread across France at 30,000. Those Protestants who survived the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and national “religiouscide” were persecuted in Catholic church-supported “dragonnades” and forced to flee to other nations.
There’s no debate that both Protestant and Catholic European monarchs engaged in wars of expansion and political control, using religion as an excuse, but how is it that a pope, allegedly guided by the Holy Spirit and supposedly infallible in all important matters of faith and morals, could have celebrated the wholesale slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent victims? In addition, by sanctioning the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, the pope was encouraging further violence against Protestants.
On Aug. 24, 1997, pope John Paul II offered a semi-apology for the Paris massacre (see here), but if every pope is infallible when acting as shepherd of the Catholic church, how could Gregory XIII have celebrated an event, which clearly violated the teachings of Jesus Christ? Why did the Catholic church wait 425 years before it apologized for this atrocity? What are Catholics to deduce when one pope apologizes for the actions of another pope?
Better to follow God’s Word in all things than to follow man-made religious institutions and traditions.
“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” Matthew 15:8-9
Is Rome the True Church?: A Consideration of the Roman Catholic Claim By Norman Geisler and Joshua Betancourt Crossway, 2008, 235 pp.
One of the strangest books I ever read in my entire life was “Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences” (1995) by Norman Geisler (d. 2019) in which the evangelical theologian clearly defined the irreconcilable doctrinal differences between Gospel Christianity and Roman Catholicism, including the opposing views on justification, and yet still concluded the RCC was a Christian entity! See my associated post here.
In this book, published thirteen years later, Geisler specifically focuses on Catholicism’s claim to be the “one true church” based upon the notions of Petrine primacy, apostolic succession, and papal infallibility. Geisler examines Scripture, the writings of the church “fathers,” and to a lesser degree, church history, to make a very substantial case against Rome’s false claims. Adopting the Roman-Caesarian imperial model, the bishops of Rome sought to secure and consolidate their advantages and privileges.
The reader will repeatedly have a sense of déjà vu while reading this book as Geisler often uses the same references to counter different claims. But his arguments are substantive and convincing. As with his previous book, Geisler once again strangely concludes that the Roman Catholic church is a Christian entity despite the fact that it teaches a subjective, intrinsic view on justification and a salvation system based upon sacramental grace and merit. All ecumenical evangelicals must “leap frog” over this irreconcilable incongruity. Sadly, Geisler mentored a bevy of ecumenically-minded, pop-apologists (i.e., McDowell, Craig, Zacharias, Strobel, Turek).
The Roman Claim to Be the True Church
The Historical Development of the Roman Primacy Structure
The Roman Argument for the Primacy of Peter: Stated and Evaluated
The Roman Argument for the Infallibility of Peter: Stated
The Roman Argument for the Infallibility of Peter: Evaluated
Back in August, my wife and I were in a position where we needed to find a new source for livestream Sunday morning church services. I chose the services at Parkside Church in Chagrin Falls, Ohio (near Cleveland) with Pastor Alistair Begg (photo above). Yup, I had my misgivings about Pastor Begg because of his penchant for quoting C.S. Lewis (ecumenist) and G.K. Chesterton (Roman Catholic) and because of one particular incident that I posted about last year in which he favorably cited a book written by a Catholic cleric (see here). But I decided to give Pastor Begg another try because, well, he is such an enjoyable and inspirational speaker to listen to. Ach. I can be a real dummy sometimes.
My wife and I were pleased, make that VERY pleased, with the subsequent services UNTIL we watched the video of the Sunday, November 1st evening service. Begg had preached an excellent sermon earlier that morning on 2 Samuel 2:1-11 and the anointing of David as King of Israel at Hebron, which was followed by the insurrection of Abner and his installation of Saul’s son, Ish-Bosheth, as the competing king. Begg continued the message in the evening service, preaching on 2 Samuel 2:12-32 and the battle at Gibeon between the military forces of Abner and the forces of David, led by Joab. In the course of both sermons, Begg made the connection between the circumstances surrounding David’s anointing and the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Begg’s point was that all temporal political systems and nations are ultimately destined to fail because multiple forms of advancing corruption bring them down. Begg’s message was that believers should focus on Jesus Christ and the Gospel, not on political solutions and nationalism. Excellent! Here, here! Bravo! Amen! However, at the 52:00 mark, Begg made a disturbing tie-in reference to “the church”:
“(David) came to Israel, and the tribes lined up under Ish-Bosheth, to stand against God’s anointed king. The story incidentally of the development of the history of the church may be understood in these terms, too. I listened to a very fine address by a Roman Catholic priest just yesterday in order to help me in my life. And it was a political address and it was jolly good. And I was paying very careful attention. And he explained at one point that the organization and the commitment of the church runs all the way, he says, from pope Pius IX (papal reign, 1846-1878) to Benedict (XVI). I said to myself, Oh, so what happened to Francis? (That’s) exactly what happened to him!”
Huh? I replayed the remarks several times to make sure I had heard correctly. First, Begg favorably cites to his congregation an address by a Roman Catholic priest to “help me in my life.” He then notes that the priest favorably commented on the papacies of Pius IX* to Benedict XVI, while purposely omitting the controversial current pope, Francis. Begg presents this as a parallel example of how the condition of “the church,” like the nation, is also deteriorating.
Please catch the irony in this circumstance, folks. Begg is bemoaning the deterioration of “the church,” while he himself is contributing to the declining state of evangelicalism by his embracement of Roman Catholicism. What to make of this? I’m certainly not implying that Begg, by his comment, is endorsing the RCC on a wholesale basis, but his remarks here are beyond disturbing. What goes through his head?
Ach. I was disappointed, but not surprised. What a dummy I am. I should NOT have given Begg a second chance. No more listening to Alistair Begg for me. No third chances. Brothers and sisters, this kind of ecumenical accommodation and compromise is rife within evangelicalism.
Below is a link to the sermon in question. Begg’s remarks regarding the address by the Catholic priest begin at the 52:00 mark.
The two big news items this past week were (1) the 2020 Presidential Election results apparently indicating a victory for Joe Biden and (2) President Trump’s continuing refusal to acknowledge Biden’s victory, claiming voting fraud in key swing states.
My, how things have changed. When John F. Kennedy won the 1960 presidential election, becoming the very first U.S. Catholic president, many Protestants feared Vatican involvement in American political affairs. But Catholic hegemony was already on the wane at that time and JFK’s public and private priorities turned out not to include religion. In our post-modern era, few give Biden’s nominal Catholicism (he supports abortion rights and the LGBT agenda) a second thought.
Early exit polls had 75% of self-described “evangelical” voters casting their ballots for Trump. In contrast, the exit polls showed the Catholic vote was almost evenly split; 50% for Trump and 49% for Biden.
Some same-sex-attracted Catholics have been suppressing their urges according to the dictates of their church. But they’re now scratching their heads and saying, “Huh?,” over pope Francis’ doctrine-bending allowance for same-sex civil unions.
We already knew “saint” pope John Paul II was well-aware of the allegations that Ted McCarrick was a serial abuser decades prior to promoting him to the office of cardinal in 2001, but now we have the Vatican’s official admission. In addition to McCarrick, JPII also covered-up for notorious abuser, Mexican priest, Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ order. Many victims were abused and traumatized because of “saint” JPII’s enablement of predators.
As cases of COVID-19 continue to spike at alarming rates and hospitals across the nation are stretched beyond their limits, Pastor John MacArthur still holds to the position that the pandemic is a demonic hoax.