Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity: Same Words, Different Worlds

Same Words, Different Worlds: Do Roman Catholics and Evangelicals Believe the Same Gospel?
By Leonardo De Chirico
Inter-Varsity Press, 2021, 145 pp.

5 Stars

One week after receiving, reading, and reviewing Gregg Allison’s excellent new book, “40 Questions About Roman Catholicism,” came Leonardo De Chirico’s “Same Words, Different Worlds” in the mailbox.

I have said many, many times over the years that evangelicals need to be very, very cautious when it comes to Roman Catholicism. Catholics use many of the same terms as evangelicals – grace, faith, Savior, gospel, etc. – but what they mean by those terms is something entirely different from Gospel Christians. As just one example, when evangelicals speak about their “faith,” they’re generally referring to their belief and trust in God, encompassing their initial salvation in Christ Jesus and their continuing walk with Him. When Catholics refer to “faith” they’re largely referring to their trust in their institutional church and its sacramental salvation system to assist them in the possibility of meriting their salvation. In this book, De Chirico, one of evangelicalism’s most knowledgeable scholars on Roman Catholicism, fleshes out this idea of “same words, different worlds” much better than I could.

Throughout the book, De Chirico cite’s Allison’s hypotheses regarding Roman Catholicism’s two fundamental theological constructs, the nature-grace interdependence, whereby the RCC claims God uses nature/physical/material to confer grace (e.g., priests, water, oil, incantations, etc.) and the Christ-Church interconnection, whereby the RCC claims that it is the prolongation of the incarnation of Christ.

De Chirico examines both Catholic doctrine and church history to demonstrate that the RCC means something quite different from Gospel Christianity when it uses various Biblical terms. As the author points out, many unwary evangelicals have been duped into believing the common parlance represents shared beliefs. De Chirico comments on the current state of the RCC with pope Francis creating great confusion with his doctrine-bending, pragmatic progressivism.

This is such a good book, folks; a very accessible counterbalance to Allison’s more academic, theologically-focused book. I can’t recommend “Same Words, Different Worlds” highly enough. Order from Amazon here.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 10/23/21

Pope Francis has mandated that all Vatican employees, including the Swiss Guards, must be vaccinated against COVID-19 and he’s not allowing any religious exemptions. In contrast, Timothy P. Broglio, Catholic archbishop for the Military Services USA, has issued a statement encouraging Catholic military personnel to claim a religious exemption if they are troubled that cell lines of pre-borns aborted decades ago were used in the development of the vaccines. I’m all for vaccine mandates. Vaccines don’t work if not enough people get them, as we saw with the C-19 surges this past summer. Vaccine mandates are nothing new. General George Washington issued an order in February 1777 requiring that the entire Continental Army be vaccinated for smallpox. Massachusetts set precedent in the 1850s by requiring all public school students be inoculated to slow the spread of smallpox. Since then, vaccinations for measles, meningitis, polio, chickenpox, whooping cough, and hepatitis have been required for students across the nation for decades. My employer, a military contractor, has mandated that all employees be vaccinated for C-19 by December 8th or they will be terminated. The majority of people in my department are saying they will forfeit their job rather than get vaccinated. A friend at work misguidedly believes the vaccines are the “mark of the beast” and is attempting to get a religious exemption.

In the diocese of Catania in Sicily, the birthplace of the “mafia,” the Catholic bishop has suspended the practice of including godparents at infant baptisms. Sicilian families often select the local mafia “dons” as godfathers in an attempt to ingratiate themselves with the mob bosses. As in all of Catholicism, religious ritualism and ceremonialism are highly revered, but there is no sign of the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Infant baptism is contrary to the Bible and the Catholic tradition of godparents is a sham (see here). Trivia note: The word “mafia” derives from the Sicilian adjective “mafiusu,” which, roughly translated, means swagger/boldness/bravado.

Although recent popes have specifically stated that women will never be allowed to be priests, social pressures are moving the RCC in that direction. The New Testament declares that sacerdotal priestcraft was ended by Jesus Christ (see here).

In contrast to the U.S. Catholic bishops, who are in the process of formulating policy to deny the Jesus wafer to Catholic politicians who support abortion genocide, pope Francis will be meeting privately with abortion supporter, President Joe Biden, on October 29th during his visit to Rome for the G20 Summit. The two will undoubtedly be discussing the advancement of progressive political initiatives.

The missionaries abducted in Haiti are affiliated with Christian Aid Ministries run by the Amish and Mennonites. Let’s pray for their safe release.

Owning a business today means bending the knee to LGBTQ+ social engineering or being sued or fined.

Lol! We can laugh, but the LGBTQ+ crusaders are deadly serious.

Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #13

Thanks for joining me today as we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018).

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Claim # 13: I am a Catholic because I want the strongest reason to believe the Bible

In this chapter, Kreeft claims the Catholic church is superior to the Bible because:

  1. The RCC wrote the Bible and defined it (canonized particular books).
  2. Jesus Christ endowed the RCC with infallible teaching authority that supercedes the Bible, because the RCC is needed to interpret the Bible correctly. The Protestant tenet of Sola scriptura has resulted in twenty thousand heretical Protestant denominations.
  3. “It is the Bible that calls not itself but the Church ‘the pillar and bulwark of the truth’ (1 Tim. 3:15).”
  4. The RCC not the Bible defined the dogmas of the Trinity and Purgatory.

Response

  1. The Holy Spirit, not the Roman Catholic church, gave us the Bible. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The entire Old Testament was written before the church age. Regarding the New Testament, conciliar canonization rubber stamped what was already in place.
  2. Untethered from biblical authority, the RCC’s magisterium (teaching authority) has introduced thousands of “sacred traditions” that are un-biblical or even anti-biblical. Kreeft repeats the canard of 20,000 Protestant denominations in his argument that Sola scriptura has wrought “chaos.” Actually, the RCC’s spurious “sacred traditions” have wrought spiritual chaos. Gospel Christianity obeys the Bible (Luke 22:24-27) by not adhering to a centralized ecclesiastical authority. Kreeft guilefully implies the RCC is unified in its beliefs while currently many conservative Catholics consider progressive pope Francis to be a heretic because of his doctrine-bending reforms.
  3. RC apologists extrapolate outrageous claims from 1 Tim. 3:15, when the verse simply intends that the church supports the truth of God’s Word (see here for a more thorough exposition). The church is clearly NOT the foundation of truth, as the RCC contends.
  4. Although the word “trinity” is not found in the Bible, the doctrine of the Trinity is taught explicitly in Scripture (see here). It’s interesting that Kreeft implicitly appeals to the conciliar definition of the Trinity at the pre-Roman Catholic First Council of Nicea in 325 AD. The Roman Emperor, Constantine, presided over that council rather than the bishop of Rome. Kreeft is absolutely correct that purgatory is not taught in Scripture (unless one appeals to the apocryphal 2 Maccabees 12:42–45). The RCC first officially defined Purgatory as a dogma at the Second Council of Lyon in 1274. Purgatory is an excellent example of the how the RCC subverted Scripture with its “sacred traditions.”

By placing itself above Scripture, the RCC has introduced a plethora of heretical, anti-Biblical doctrines.

Next week: Claim #14: I am a Catholic because of what the church has not taught as well as because of what she has.

Throwback Thursday: Rules about “holy water.” Who knew?!?!

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 16, 2016 and has been slightly revised.

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Today, I was listening to the April 8, 2016 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show on the Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, out of Buffalo, New York. This particular broadcast featured Catholic priest, Dave Baker, and moderator, Rick Paolini, taking questions from listeners.

During the show, Rick related how he and his wife often volunteered at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. According to Rick, visitors often bring empty receptacles and fill them with blessed “holy water” provided by the shrine from large dispensers kept outside. One winter day, a gentleman showed up with “14 or 15” plastic containers to fill up for his friends, but it was so cold outside that most of the holy water in the shrine’s dispensers had frozen. The gentleman improvised by filling each of his containers with just a little unfrozen holy water, saying he would return home and fill them to the brim with tap water before distributing them to his friends. Rick was troubled by this and asked priest Dave if it was copacetic to dilute holy water as the gentleman had done. Priest Dave answered that it was okay to dilute holy water, but the ratio of holy water to tap water had to be greater than 50 percent otherwise the holy water would lose its “holiness.”

Huh? Are you serious?

Catholics believe water blessed by a priest can bring great spiritual and temporal benefits to people and objects that come in contact with it. Catholics dip their fingers in holy water fonts at church and make the sign of the cross on their forehead, chest, and shoulders. Zealously pious Catholics often have holy water fonts in their homes. At Catholic religious services and events you can often see the officiating cleric blessing the crowd by sprinkling holy water on them.

Holy water has its roots in pagan amulets and talismans. There’s nothing in the Bible that hints at anything like Catholic holy water.* The Bible reader can’t imagine the apostles or disciples of the early church using pagan holy water. Priest Dave says holy water can’t be diluted by more than 49 percent tap water. Really? Where do Catholics come up with these exacting ecclesiastical rubrics? The poor, deluded gentleman and his fifteen friends were unknowingly blessing themselves with holy water that had no holiness. Not that the results were ANY different either way.

Friends, none of this scrupulous and superstitious ritualism saves. Salvation is as simple as the story of the thief on the cross. Repent of your sin. Turn to Jesus Christ. Accept Him as your Savior by faith alone. Then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches His Word without compromise. You’ll never need another drop of holy water ever again. Jesus is all you need!

“I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts, a people who continually provoke Me to My face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on bricks.” – Isaiah 65:2-3

Nope, we’re not done with holy water rules quite yet. How do Catholics correctly dispose of holy water? Since holy water is a blessed sacramental, you can’t just flush it down the toilet like a bad clam. Excess holy water or holy water that’s become foul must be poured directly onto the ground or on plants growing outside.

*The “holy water” in Numbers 5:16-28 is referred to nowhere else in the Bible. Commentators suggest the water used to make the bitter potion that was to be given to the suspected adulteress was either to be drawn from the Tabernacle laver (and thus consecrated/set apart/holy for ceremonial use) or that it was to be “pure” (i.e. holy) running water as the Septuagint translates it. I’m partial to the latter interpretation. Either way, there are no similarities between the water used to make the potion with the holy water of Roman Catholicism.

Postscript from 2021: This “rules about holy water” post from 2016 is the sixth-most-viewed post ever published by this blog, with close to 2600 views in five years. Why? I assume many scrupulous Catholics came across this post precisely because they were attempting to find the RCC’s rules regarding diluting or disposing of holy water. Sad.

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series, #106

Today, in our ongoing “Truth from Arkansas” series, we’re featuring two new sermons from the brethren down under.

First, we have Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching from Luke 14:15-24 on “Excuses.”

Next, we have Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaching from John 13:34-35 on “Let There Be Love in the Church.”

Both of these sermons were delivered on Sunday, October 3rd.

Pastor Roger Copeland – Excuses.

Click on the “Watch on Facebook” below to view sermon, which begins at the 22:40 mark. Sorry, but this particular sermon was not uploaded to YouTube as the sermons from Northern Hills Baptist Church normally are.

Pastor Cody Andrews – Let There Be Love in the Church

40 Questions About Roman Catholicism

40 Questions About Roman Catholicism
By Gregg R. Allison
Kregal Academic, 2021, 326 pp.

5 Stars

Is Roman Catholicism Christian? Such a question is repugnant to many evangelicals in this era of undiscerning pluralism. But how well do you really know Roman Catholicism and what it teaches?

In his previous book, “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” (2014), evangelical theologian, Gregg Allison, posited that the Roman Catholic church operates according to two basic constructs:

  • The Nature-Grace Interdependence, which claims the concrete conference of divine grace through nature, e.g., priests, water (baptism), oil (confirmation, last rites), laying of hands (ordination), bread (Jesus wafer), pilgrimage sites (healing), etc.
  • The Christ-Church Interconnection, whereby the Catholic church presents itself as the prolongation of the incarnation of Christ.

In this outstanding new book, published as part of Kregal Academic’s “40 Questions” series, Allison examines most of the major Roman Catholic doctrines and how they align within the Nature-Grace and Christ-Church constructs. The Catholic view on a particular doctrine is presented quite objectively followed by a Protestant/Biblical response. I would have loved to have listed the titles of all forty chapters to give you an idea of the scope of this examination, but I realize that few would have labored through it. Suffice to say Allison addresses the major doctrinal differences between Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity, most importantly, the opposing views on justification (infusion of sacramental grace and meritorious obedience vs. the imputation of Christ’s perfect righteousness) and salvation (by sacramental grace and merit vs. by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone). Merit was unabashedly taught as a component of Catholicism’s salvation system back when I was a young Catholic parochial school student, but the term has fallen out of favor within RC-ism because of its blatant anti-Gospel connotations and has been replaced with such sophistical phrases as “cooperating with grace” and “maintaining friendship with God,” but Allison accurately identifies merit as the bottom line of RC soteriology.

I wish there was more historical context in this book, but I realize Allison is writing from a theologian’s perspective rather than a historian’s. Allison’s tone is irenic almost to a fault, which comports with his view that confrontational evangelism is not effective. Praise God for a book such as this in 2021 when ecumenism with Rome is rampant within big tent evangelicalism. Much thanks to Dr. Allison and Kregal Academic Publishing. I’ve reviewed over 120 books on Roman Catholicism over the last six years and this one is easily one of the best. Be forewarned that this book is aimed towards academics, it’s not a breezy read for the beach.

“40 Questions About Roman Catholicism” can be ordered from Amazon here.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 10/16/21

Since Joe Biden’s presidential election victory on November 3, 2020, the American Catholic bishops have contemplated how to react to Catholic politicians like Biden and Nancy Pelosi who support the abortion genocide, with many bishops saying they should be banned from receiving the alleged eternal life-giving Jesus wafer. The bishops met in June and voted to move forward with a process that might ultimately revoke the eligibility of politicians like Biden and Pelosi to receive the Jesus wafer. The upcoming meeting in November will continue the process. Recent actions by Pelosi’s archbishop and pope Francis symbolize the opposing views on this issue within the church hierarchy. Conservative archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, called upon the Catholics of the San Francisco diocese to pray for Pelosi’s conversion. In contrast, progressive pope Francis warmly welcomed Pelosi on her recent visit to the Vatican.

While the über progressive German Catholic church is in the midst of its own “Synodal Path” initiative to identify and implement reforms, pope Francis has launched a two-year, church-wide synodal initiative. Conservatives fear the process will erode the church’s hierarchical structure and dilute traditional doctrine, which is exactly what Francis has in mind.

The majority of U.S. Roman Catholics do not attend mandatory mass on Sunday and have little knowledge of or interest in the ongoing squabbles between pope Francis and his progressive supporters and church conservatives. In a recent Pew Research poll, 65% of U.S. Catholics said they have not heard of pope Francis’ recent clampdown on the Latin mass and 83% said they have a favorable view of the pope.

The Vatican is not a nation in the sense that we all understand, but rather is the administrative center of the Roman Catholic church. Vatican “City” covers only 110 acres and has only 800 residents. President Ronald Reagan blundered when he assigned the first U.S. ambassador to the Vatican in 1984.

France and Europe were shaken by a recent report that 200,000 French children were sexually abused by Catholic clerics since the 1950s. Pope Francis offered the obligatory apology, but the fact remains that popes and prelates never took concrete steps to address the abuse and cover-up.

As a young child, I enjoyed watching reruns of “The Adventures of Superman” TV series (1952-1958) featuring George Reeves as “The Man of Steel,” Noel Neill as Lois Lane, and Jack Larson as Jimmy Olsen. Reeves was paunchy and the plots were hokey, but there was always a good moral message. The LGBT+ steamroller is leaving no stone unturned.

Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #12

Today, we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018). Thanks for joining me.

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Claim #12: I am a Catholic because I want to believe the same things that Jesus taught and that his disciples and their successors and every single Christian in the world believed for fifteen-hundred years

Kreeft lists thirteen Catholic beliefs, briefly summarized below, that he contends were held in common by all Christians “until Protestant ‘reformers’ started to cut branches off the tree of the Catholic faith” (p.41).

  1. The divine and infallible teaching authority of the RCC, not sola scriptura.
  2. The need for charitable works in salvation, not sola fide.
  3. Grace perfects and utilizes nature (including free will), not sola gratia.
  4. The appeal to Peter and his successors, the bishops of Rome, as the final authority.
  5. Christianity as a social/ecclesiastical institution embodied in the RCC, not individuals.
  6. The historical “fact” of apostolic succession passed on sacramentally via ordination.
  7. “The literal, full, Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist” (p.42).
  8. The power and authority of priests to forgive sins.
  9. The existence of Purgatory
  10. The rightness of praying to saints
  11. The rightness of seeking Mary’s intercession and recognizing her as “the Second Eve,” “the Mother of God,” and “the Immaculate Conception.”
  12. The “fact” that all seven sacraments confer actual grace to the supplicant.
  13. The infallibility and authority of the Church to define which books are Scripture.

Response

Christianity was legalized in 313 AD and adopted as the official religion of the Roman Empire in 380 AD. As the early church became increasingly institutionalized and followed the Roman imperial model, it abandoned the simple Gospel of grace in favor of sacramentalism administered by the progressively powerful and authoritarian hierarchy and clergy. Scripture is our sole authority and we appeal to Scripture rather than the Catholic church’s spurious “sacred traditions,” which evolved over time. Untethered from Scripture, the RCC advanced its prerogatives and fabricated hundreds of heterodox, vain doctrines. For Kreeft to claim Christians believed all thirteen of these Catholics doctrines for fifteen-hundred years is gross deceit. Let’s briefly respond to Kreeft’s fraudulent allegations:

  1. Neither the pope or the notion of papal infallibility is found in the New Testament. The RCC didn’t define papal infallibility until 1870.
  2. The New Testament teaches salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.
  3. Nature, including man, is fallen. Nature is not trustworthy. It is the Holy Spirit Who draws souls to salvation in Christ through the preaching of the Word.
  4. The New Testament does not teach the bishop of Rome is the final authority.
  5. The New Testament warns against the institutional church (Matthew 20:20-28).
  6. The New Testament doesn’t refer to apostolic succession.
  7. The New Testament doesn’t teach a literal “transubstantiation” of the Jesus wafer.
  8. The New Testament doesn’t speak of a sacerdotal priesthood for the church or of priests forgiving sins. In contrast, the New Testament declares priests and sacrifice were done away with by Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:11-14).
  9. The notions of purgatory and indulgences are not found in the New Testament.
  10. The New Testament does not teach praying to saints.
  11. The New Testament does not authorize worshiping/venerating Mary.
  12. The New Testament does not refer to the seven sacraments, although it does teach the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
  13. Scripture (the Old Testament) existed before the church. The Holy Spirit defines Scripture, not the RCC.

Praise God the Reformers returned the church to New Testament teaching and the genuine Good News of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Next week: Claim # 13: I am a Catholic because I want the strongest reason to believe the Bible

Throwback Thursday: Quit Quoting C.S. Lewis

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 18, 2016 and has been revised.

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Tune into Christian radio for the day and you’re bound to hear a quote or two from C.S. Lewis. Sit in a pew at an evangelical church on Sunday and there’s a very good chance the pastor will quote Lewis during his sermon. But Lewis held many beliefs that were contrary to Gospel Christianity. Why then this infatuation with Lewis among evangelicals? There’s a certain degree of intellectual snobbery in connection with name-dropping the Oxford professor that appeals to some. Others just follow along because quoting Lewis seems to be “the thing to do.” See here for my previous review of “Mere Christianity” and why Lewis’ theology is very problematic for evangelicals.

Why keep banging the drum regarding the problems with C.S. Lewis? Because yesterday I heard Lewis fawningly quoted on Catholic talk radio (argh!) and I also ran across this informative 3-minute video critique of Lewis from No Compromise Radio. Evangelical pastors need to STOP WITH THE C.S. LEWIS QUOTES!

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series, #105

Today, in our ongoing “Truth from Arkansas” series, we’re featuring a new sermon from one of the brethren down under.

We have Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching from Luke 14:1-6 on “When the Ox is in the Ditch.” This sermon was delivered on Sunday, September 26th.

Pastor Roger Copeland – When the Ox is in the Ditch