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.”

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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.

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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.

In “freefall” or safe in His arms?

Strange timing! I had been planning on writing a six-month update on my job search status and then this COVID-19 pandemic hit. My, oh my.

To briefly catch everyone up, I was employed at Kodak Alaris/Eastman Kodak for 43 years despite almost constant layoffs the last 34 of those years. During that 34-year span, the Kodak workforce in Rochester plunged from 60,000 to less than 2000 employees. Although it tried various strategies, the company just was not able to successfully make the switch from analog to digital technology. Well, Kodak finally did lay me off at the end of September at the age of 63. As part of the separation package, the company provided three months of career transition training and I attended those helpful classes and began applying for jobs in earnest in December. To date, I’ve applied to 71 job postings and have had in-person interviews with 7 companies and phone interviews with another 3 companies. My big drawback is my age. Realistically, scant few hiring managers would be willing to hire a candidate my age and invest in a ton of training just to see the person retire in a few years. Another factor is that with the decline of Kodak, Xerox, and other smaller manufacturers, combined with the sky-high taxes, Rochester, N.Y. is the worst job market in the entire United States (see article* at bottom).

My severance pay ran out at the end of December and I filed for unemployment the start of the year.  Meanwhile, my wife went on disability in the beginning of August because of health issues and received half-pay thereafter. However, her workplace stopped paying her at the end of November because their insurance company claims she is able to return to work. My wife’s MD has not advocated for her as strongly as he should have. She’s now in the process of applying for long-term disability. In the meantime, we live on my weekly unemployment checks, which will run out the end of June. I continue to apply for positions matching my skills and experience, but in a few more weeks, as the end of the unemployment checks comes into view, I’ll visit a temp agency (depending on the pandemic situation) and ask for whatever job they can find for me for a year or two.

My wife and I are close enough to retirement that we can survive this without giving up our home, etc. However, so many people are now losing their jobs either temporarily or permanently because of the COVID-19 pandemic and entering the ranks of the unemployed. Probably 95% of companies have suspended all hiring except for those providing essential services and commodities. Even our local unemployment agency is shut down. It’s somewhat pointless to grind through the daily job search activities in light of the current circumstances, but the unemployment protocols must still be followed.

The entire world is in a bit of a “freefall” as this pandemic runs its course. Society is being turned on its head. People are not only losing their jobs, but to date approximately 700 Americans have died from the virus and many more will surely follow. The “security” of being part of the middle-class and the upper-class in American society was always a mirage as we’re now seeing. The world can offer no firm, lasting foundation. For believers, it’s one thing to “talk about” trusting in the Lord, but it’s another thing to actually need to trust in Him. Our faith is in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. No circumstance can separate us from our Shepherd. What a joy and peace it is to know the Lord in this crisis! Let’s be a help to others during these difficult times and a testimony of the Lord’s salvation and goodness.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

*Wall Street Journal ranks Rochester worst metropolitan job market in United States
https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2020/03/01/rochester-ny-ranked-worst-metropolitan-job-market-united-states-wall-street-journal-moodys/4923865002/

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday sermon series, #24

It’s Two-fer-Tuesday once again, which means two new sermons from the brethren down in Arkansas.

First, we have Pastor Roger Copeland at Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching about faith. We all talk about “faith,” but what exactly is faith?

Next, Pastor Cody Andrews at Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaches on tithing. Long-time readers of this blog know that I’m not in agreement with the view on tithing expounded by most pastors. Instead of writing at length, I’ll simply offer the short article on tithing below, written by Pastor John MacArthur:

Does God require me to give a tithe of all I earn?
https://www.gty.org/library/questions/QA144/does-god-require-me-to-give-a-tithe-of-all-i-earn

I sincerely mean no disrespect to Pastor Andrews. I’m enormously blessed by his weekly sermons. But my conscience requires that I post the alternative viewpoint regarding tithing. Each believer must follow their own conscience before the Lord in this matter.

Pastor Roger Copeland – Faith Is

 

Pastor Cody Andrews – Tithing

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.

Seriously?

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.”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #16: “No One Can Snatch Us”

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 continues his six-part section on Salvation by countering Protestants’ claim that “No One Can Snatch Us.”

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Broussard begins this next chapter on salvation by presenting the following Bible passage as one that Protestants often use as a proof text for absolute assurance of salvation for the believer:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” – John 10:27-29

Roman Catholicism in contrast teaches that a person is saved by sacramental grace and merit, and that after initial justification (i.e., baptism), salvation can be lost with the very next mortal sin. Broussard agrees that while no external power can snatch a “believer” out of the Father’s hands, he asserts the “believer” can willfully forfeit salvation by sinning. Broussard offers the following two passages as proof texts:

John 15:4-6: “I am the vine; you are the branches…If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”

Matthew 24:45-51: Describes the wicked servant who is cut in pieces by the returning Master and consigned with the hypocrites.

Let’s begin our rebuttal of Broussard’s argument by defining our terms. Gospel Christians and Catholics disagree on what constitutes a “believer.” Gospel Christians hold that all those who repent of sin and accept Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone are believers, while Catholics assert that all those who are baptized and attempt to attain salvation via sacramental grace and merit are “believers.” With that important distinction made, let’s look at Broussard’s proof texts.

In John 15:4-6, “abide” is mentioned five times. The abiding believer is the only genuine believer. A person who is genuinely saved in Christ will continue to abide in Christ through God’s power and will necessarily bear fruit. Those who never bear fruit were never genuinely saved. Some commentators suggest that the fruitless branches in this passage refer rather to the unworthy works of wood, hay, and straw of a disobedient believer that will be destroyed, while the believer himself/herself will still be saved (see 1 Corinthians 3:11-15). I tend to lean towards the first interpretation rather than the latter. The article far below, “Does the vine and branches passage in John 15 mean that salvation can be lost?,” provides a good explanation of this passage.

In Matthew 24:45-51, the wicked “servant” (Greek: δοῦλος, doulos, slave) refers to a pseudo-Christian, an unbeliever. In Jesus’s illustration, being a servant/slave did not equate to being a genuinely saved child of God. The wicked servant/slave in this passage is a false believer. False professors must one day stand before the Lord and give an account of their sinful life.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” – Matthew 7:21-23

Genuine believers will abide in Christ. Neither externals or personal sin can remove a genuine believer from Christ and from the Father’s hand. The Bible declares believers are born again into God’s family, adopted by God, when they trust in Christ:

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:14-17

Being born again doesn’t mean perfection in this world. Believers will continue to sin. Only Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life. Does God “unadopt” a believer out of His family every time they sin, only to adopt them back again if/when they confess, and over and over and over? Such is the Catholic view. Genuine believers will desire to joyfully follow the Lord in obedience, albeit imperfectly.

But what of those people who claimed to have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, but never bore any fruit and may have even renounced God? What about those Bible verses and passages that seemingly refer to apostates? The Bible says such persons never genuinely accepted Christ.

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” – 1 John 2:19

Apostates are those pew sitters (and even ministry workers) who never genuinely trusted in Christ and eventually ended their charade.

Important: Roman Catholics profess to be “Christians,” yet seek to establish their own righteousness as their means to salvation, rather than submitting to God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Romans 10:3).

The two articles below are very helpful in this discussion of the assurance of a genuine believer:

Does the vine and branches passage in John 15 mean that salvation can be lost?
https://www.gotquestions.org/vine-and-branches.html

If our salvation is eternally secure, why does the Bible warn so strongly against apostasy?
https://www.gotquestions.org/apostasy-salvation.html

Next up: “Sanctified For All Time”

Throwback Thursday: Going camping or going to mass?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Spring is in the air and despite the current pandemic, some optimistic recreationists are already starting to plan their Summer camping trips. With that in mind, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on November 17, 2015 and has been revised.

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Like all works-righteousness religions, Catholic legalism leads to all kinds of unresolved questions that would make a canon lawyer’s head spin. Case in point:

This morning, I was listening to the 5/20/15 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” radio show broadcast by The Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, out of Buffalo, NY. A listener called in with an interesting question for priest-host, Peter Calabrese, asking if it was a “mortal” sin to miss mass on Sunday if a person was camping on a particular weekend and there wasn’t a Catholic church nearby.

“Father” Pete replied that if it’s “impossible” to get to mass on Sunday, then it’s not a “mortal” sin. But this curious ex-Catholic wonders why it would not be a “mortal” sin? Isn’t it reasonable to expect a Catholic camper would have checked ahead to ensure a potential campsite is close to a church? Are Catholics obligated to attend mass on Sunday or not? With all the smart phones and internet tools available these days, a Catholic can easily determine if there’s a Catholic church close to a particular camping site.

But for the sake of discussion, let’s say a camper has good intentions and gets to a campsite only to find out the nearby Catholic church was struck by lightning the day before and burnt to the ground. How many miles away from the campsite would the nearest Catholic church have to be before the Catholic camper could legitimately say it was “impossible” to get to mass? 50 miles? 100 miles? 200 miles?

Catholics are taught they must obey a long laundry list of rules, including obligatory Sunday mass attendance, to merit their way to Heaven. As the above scenario demonstrates, Catholics must consult their church’s fine print to determine whether they’re fulfilling their legalistic obligations. And the answer to the caller’s question above will change depending on the priest who’s consulted. A strict priest will say, “Yup, you absolutely must drive 100 miles to the nearest church for obligatory mass!,” while an easy-going priest will say, “Skip it. No big deal.” Who is right?

Ach, so much legalism! So much scrupulosity! But no amount of scrupulosity will make ANYONE holy. Jesus said in Matthew 5 that all of us are guilty of grave sin because even our thoughts constantly condemn us.

Yes, sin is a terrible thing and will be judged by a Holy God. But God so loves us He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins by His death on the cross. Then Jesus conquered sin and death by rising from the grave. All those who accept Jesus as their Savior by faith alone will have their sins forgiven. You cannot merit Heaven by trying to be good, or by going to mass every Sunday, or by attempting to check off a long religious laundry list. None of us are righteous and none of us can earn our salvation.

“As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.” – Romans 3:10-11.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” – John 1:12

“Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one  whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” – Romans 4:4-8

After accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, a person will then desire to follow the Lord in obedience, albeit imperfectly. Accept Christ as your Savior by faith alone and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise.

Catholics Burning Bibles

Yep, we’re currently in the middle of a national emergency. There was an event that happened 178 years ago, which also whipped the nation into a frenzy, but has largely been forgotten.

I recently reviewed a very biased book about the alleged anti-Catholicism of 19th-century American Protestants titled, “The Protestant Crusade, 1800-1860: A Study of the Origins of American Nativism” (1938) by Ray Allen Billington. See here. While the book was disappointing as a whole, it did discuss several interesting historical events. One of those was a ceremonial Bible burning in 1842 instigated by Catholic clerics near the northern border of New York State (see map far below).

I don’t have a lot of information about the event, but I was able to patch together the following account with bits and pieces from the internet:

The village of Corbeau (now Coopersville) in the township of Champlain, New York, and five miles from the Canadian border, was originally settled by French-Catholic Canadian refugees who had sided with the American invaders during the assault on Montreal in 1775 during the American Revolutionary War. The refugee population grew even larger following the Canadian Rebellion of 1837-1838. In 1842, representatives of the American Bible Society distributed French-language Protestant Bibles to the inhabitants of the village of Corbeau. Jesuit priest, “father” Telmonde, from Montreal was assigned to the Champlain region and subsequently learned that many of the Catholic villagers of Corbeau had Protestant Bibles in their possession. He immediately demanded that the Catholics surrender their Protestant Bibles. An undetermined number of Bibles, anywhere from one-hundred to three-hundred, were collected, stacked, and duly burned by the Jesuit and his assistants. According to the sworn testimony of one of the participants, there were several private burnings prior to the public ceremonial burning near the Catholic church on October 27, 1842 (see illustration above). The Jesuit’s chief assistant in the Bible burnings was later convicted by the Holy Spirit and accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone and joined the Protestant mission at Grande Ligne in Quebec Province. The Champlain Bible Burning enraged the Protestants in the area and Jesuit Telmonde beat a swift retreat back to Montreal. The news of the Bible burning soon spread to all corners of the United States, fomenting great anger among the nation’s Protestants. It was a tremendous scandal. In our current era of spiritual lethargy, it’s difficult for us to relate to the outrage felt by 19th-century American Protestants over the ceremonial burning of Bibles. The Champlain Bible Burning was one of several Catholic provocations that contributed to the rise of nativism in the nation, which eventually culminated in the creation of the American (Know Nothing) Party in the mid-1850s.

Main reference – Dwight, Henry Otis. The Centennial History of the American Bible Society, 1916, pp. 203-204

Catholic clerics certainly aren’t burning Protestant Bibles these days. They have since found that friendly ecumenism is much more effective in advancing Catholicism than militancy. But history holds some valuable lessons.


The Burning of the Bibles: Defence of the Protestant Version of the Scriptures Against the Attacks of Popish Apologists for the Champlain Bible Burners
By John Dowling
Original printing by Nathan Moore, 1843
Kindle edition, HardPress, 2017

1 Star

I was hoping to find a history of the Champlain Bible Burning and thought I struck gold with this Kindle ebook. Boy, was I fooled. The book is mainly an argument in defense of the superiority of the Protestant King James translation of the Bible in comparison to the Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims translation, which would later be discredited and abandoned by Catholics themselves. Following the Bible burning, Catholic clerics had defended the controversial event, claiming that the Protestant Bibles were faulty translations and worthy to be destroyed. Protestant John Dowling wrote this book as a rebuttal. There is very little mentioned in this book about the Bible burning incident itself. HardPress did a lousy job of transferring the original text to ebook. Paragraphs are chopped off and begin again elsewhere. Very sloppy and amateurish.

Capture122

Capture123
St. Joseph’s Catholic church in Coopersville (Corbeau), New York, site of the infamous 1842 Bible burning