Deadly Indifference: How the Church Lost Her Mission and How We Can Reclaim It By Eric Sammons Crisis Publications, 2021, 304 pp.
The Roman Catholic church has always taught baptismal regeneration and the complementary doctrine of extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (Latin: “outside the Church [there is] no salvation.” Two exceptions were added to these doctrines, those being baptismus sanguinis (“baptism by blood”) and baptismus flaminis (“baptism by desire”). The former declared that those who were martyred before they were baptized could be saved, while the latter declared that those who desired to be baptized, but died before the sacrament could be administered, could also be saved. Those two exceptions were historically understood as “rare” occurrences, but today the Catholic church teaches that Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and even atheists can be saved implicitly through baptismus flaminis/baptism by (unconscious) desire. How did this teaching evolve? In “Deadly Indifference,” traditionalist Catholic editor, Eric Sammons (“Crisis” magazine), examines the history of the expansion of baptismus flaminis and the implications for the declining RCC.
Beginning in the Middle Ages, some Catholic theologians and philosophers began to mull over the spiritual status of those pagans in distant lands who had never heard the Catholic gospel. The notion of “invincible ignorance” was born, which stated that “some” pagan souls might desire baptism if they were aware of it, and that they could also be saved via the baptism by desire exception. The teaching was bandied about by Catholic theologians for centuries and even gained papal approval in the Singulari Quadam allocution issued by Pius IX in 1854: “It is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, are not stained by any guilt in this matter in the eyes of God.” Invincible ignorance was popularly viewed as the theoretical exception rather than the rule as Catholic missionaries determinedly continued their efforts to convert non-Catholics across the globe.
However, as modernism/liberalism took hold in Catholic academia and episcopacies in the twentieth century, “invincible ignorance” and baptismus flaminis gradually became the standard regarding non-Catholics and were codified in the Second Vatican Council declarations, Unitatis redintegratio (1964) and Nostra aetate (1965). It took some time for this new liberal paradigm to filter down to the seminaries, rectories, convents, and pews – as a young Catholic grammar school student in the early and mid-1960s, I distinctly remember being taught by the priests and nuns that Protestants and all non-Catholics were destined for hell – but filter down it did. Sammons uses a “salvation spectrum” to demonstrate the current range of Catholic teaching/belief regarding extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. There is the absolutist on one extreme, who rejects the aforementioned exceptions. This view was infamously espoused by Jesuit Leonard Feeney (see here). Sammons states that, unlike Feeney, he is not an absolutist, but an exclusivist. He concedes the exception of baptismus flaminis as legitimate, but only in “rare” cases. Sammons posits that modern popes, John XXIII, Paul VI, JP II, Benedict XVI were in the middle “inclusivist” range in varying degrees, but that Francis is at the opposite extreme as a pluralist bordering on universalism.
The result of the expansion of baptismus flaminis and “invincible ignorance” is that there is no incentive for Catholic missions, since it is now taught that it’s possible for every non-Catholic religionist and even atheists to merit Heaven. Another result is an ever-increasing number of cradle Catholics are dropping away from the church because of the prevailing indifferentism. Their thinking: “If non-Catholic religionists and atheists have a good shot at Heaven, it makes no sense to have to suffer through an hour of boring mass every Sunday.”
Traditionalist Sammons, would like to return the Catholic church to pre-conciliar militancy, when baptismus flaminis and “invincible ignorance” were understood as the “rare” exceptions rather than the rule. He desires that Protestants be once-again categorized as “heretics” and that they be targets for proselytization by Catholic missionaries along with all other non-Catholics. Sammons also pines for the day when “religious freedom” is a memory and the Catholic church once again rules hand-in-glove with civil governments (pp. 50-51). Nope, I’m not kidding. How does Sammons put the horse back in the barn? He encourages fellow traditionalists to turn the clock back to pre-conciliar militancy, parish by parish.
We’re seeing signs that this rad-trad militant Catholicism that Sammons espouses is gaining traction and getting some internet notoriety, but the reality is that it’s still a small minority among Catholics.
Postscript: This book was valuable to me only in that it details some of the historical expansion of baptismus flaminis that I wasn’t aware of. In contradiction to all of this Catholic internecine squabbling over legalistic details (i.e., if baptismus flaminis is only rarely legitimate, how rare is rare? 0.1% of non-Catholics? 1%? 5%? 10%?) is the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Neither Francis’ progressive pluralism or Sammons’ militant traditionalism have any connection to the genuine Gospel of grace. Some might be surprised that evangelical darling, Billy Graham, also embraced the teaching of “invincible ignorance.” Watch Graham unabashedly propagate the heresy of invincible ignorance in a 1:30 minute video here.
In 2018, Pope Francis co-orchestrated the Vatican-Beijing accord, which granted the Chinese communist government partial control of the Chinese Catholic church. Francis saw the accord as a pragmatic compromise to ensure the church’s survival and growth in China, however, conservative Chinese Catholics view the accord as a betrayal. Six-million Chinese Catholics are registered with the communist government while another six-million are defiantly unregistered. Cardinal Joseph Zen, a leader of the conservative Catholics and the biggest critic of the accord, was recently arrested by the communist regime on charges of “collusion with foreign forces.” The Vatican had no comment.
Pope Francis will be visiting Canada in July to apologize for the abuse of indigenous children in Catholic-run residential schools. Papal apologies for past historical atrocities, persecutions, and abuses linked to the Roman Catholic church began with John Paul II and Benedict XVI and now continue with Francis. If RCC popes and prelates of the past were led by the Holy Spirit as Catholicism claims, why do contemporary popes spend so much time apologizing on their behalf?
Last Sunday, a shooter killed 10 shoppers at a Tops grocery store in nearby Buffalo. On the same day on the opposite coast, a gunman opened fire on members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Laguna Woods, California. The culture is becoming increasingly violent.
We recently completed our nine-month series in which we examined Catholic philosopher and apologist, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018). I was mulling over several Catholic apologetics books for our next series and stumbled upon…
Meeting the Protestant Response: How to Answer Common Comebacks to Catholic Arguments By Karlo Broussard Catholic Answers Press, 2022, 288 pp.
As some of you may recall, we examined Broussard’s previous book, “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019) a couple of years ago.
This new book is divided into twenty-four chapters by subject matter, which include seventy-seven “common Protestant comebacks” to Catholic apologetical arguments, followed by Broussard’s responses. We’ll examine and answer one of Broussard’s counter-arguments every Friday.
Unlike Kreeft’s “shoot from the hip,” personal philosophical style in “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic,” Broussard uses ample Bible proof-texts throughout this book, so my responses will require much more research and preparation.
I hope you’ll join me over the next seventy-seven weeks as we respond to “Meeting the Protestant Response.”
Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on September 30, 2016 and has been revised.
Last night, I was reviewing some discussions I had with a couple of Roman Catholics back when I first began this blog. The dialogue reached a point where the Catholics claimed to be “in Christ” just as much as I claimed to be “in Christ.” I was a Catholic for twenty-seven years; educated in a Catholic grammar and high school, and I’ve learned even more about Catholicism since I left that church and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1983. I’m fully aware that Catholic parlance is filled with references to “Jesus the Savior,” “faith,” “grace,” and the like, but when Catholics use such terms, they mean something entirely different than what evangelicals understand.
In my exchanges with the Catholics about being “in Christ,” I said the term referred to a believer’s position before a Holy God; covered in Christ’s righteousness. I have no righteousness of my own. When I accepted Jesus as my Savior, His perfect righteousness was imputed to me. In Holy God’s perfect court of law, I stand completely condemned by my sin, but my Savior took my place and bore the penalty for my sin on the cross. I am washed and redeemed by His blood and I’m able to go free ONLY because of His righteousness.
In contrast, Rome teaches that God’s grace is infused into the Catholic through its sacraments, empowering them to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and live an increasingly sanctified life, enabling them to merit Heaven. So a Catholic faithful to their church’s teachings cannot rightly say they are “in Christ,” because their salvation ultimately depends upon how well they obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) right up until the moment of their death. Positionally before God, they are NOT “in Christ,” they are “outside of Christ” and still in their sins because they are attempting to merit their own salvation rather than accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone.
My Catholics friends were quite taken aback that I would dare to suggest that they were not “in Christ.” Who was I to tell them that? Was I making myself out to be God Almighty by deciding who was going to Heaven and who wasn’t? How rude! How narrow-minded and judgmental!
But God’s Word says there is only one Way to salvation, and that’s Jesus Christ. Christ is either your Savior or He is not. It’s not enough to call Christ your Savior, you must be trusting in Him by faith alone. If you tell me that salvation is merited by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) through sacramental grace, as Catholicism teaches, then I can tell you with absolute confidence that Jesus is not your Savior and you are not “in Christ.”
To illustrate, let’s suppose you’re a passenger on a sinking cruise ship, and I show up in my rescue boat and beg you to get in. Praising and admiring the rescue boat for its wonderful qualities won’t save you. You have to abandon your ship and get into the rescue boat. You have to be in the rescue boat for the boat to save you. Likewise, gushing about “Jesus the Savior,” “faith,” and “grace” won’t save you when you’re still trying to merit your salvation by your own efforts. You’re not “in Christ,” you’re denying Christ and trusting in your own abilities and “goodness.”
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1
In today’s climate of plurality, tolerance, and relativism, theological debates such as the one above are viewed as unseemly and repugnant and are to be avoided at all costs. The only requirement, according to Rick Warren and friends, is that we all nebulously “just love Jesus.” That’s a sinking ship, friends.
Pro-abortion activists are riled over the leaked Supreme Court draft indicating the majority of justices favor overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and are looking for someone to blame. The pro-abortion group, Ruth (Ginsburg) Sent Us, is encouraging activists to target Catholic churches, even though a 2019 Pew Research survey revealed 56% of Catholics support legalized abortion at some level. Last Sunday, pro-abortion protestors dressed in red costumes inspired by “The Handmaid’s Tale” disrupted Sunday mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles (photo above). POTUS Joe Biden’s outspoken support of “abortion rights” in reaction to the leaked document will rekindle demands from conservative Catholics that Joe be banned from receiving the Jesus wafer. Catholics believe their church buildings are holy and consider vandalism and disruption of the mass as sacrilege and grievous desecration. It actually is the Catholic mass that is sacrilegious with its many anti-Scriptural elements, including the perpetual sacrifice for sin, the worship of the faux Jesus wafer, and the teaching of the false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.
Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana (FBCH), got an early release from federal prison on May 4th. In 2013, Schaap was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for taking a 16-year-old girl across state lines for sex. Schaap had succeeded his father-in-law, the controversial Jack Hyles, as pastor of FBCH in 2001. Under Hyles, the First Baptist Church of Hammond was one of the most influential churches in the independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) movement. Schaap’s wife, Cindy Hyles Schaap, filed for divorce from her husband in 2014. See my 2020 post on Jack Schaap here.
The SCOTUS recently ruled that Boston City Hall must fly the ecumenical Christian flag (adopted by the Federal Council of Churches in 1942). Satanists are predictably demanding their flag be displayed as well. Unlike many evangelicals, I don’t believe tax-supported government institutions should sponsor religious displays or activities of any kind. Let the church be the church and let the government be the government.
Below is an index to our recently completed, nine-month series in which we examined and responded to Catholic philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018). I hope this series was helpful in delineating the irreconcilable differences separating Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity.
Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on August 6, 2016 and has been revised.
The Secret History of the Jesuits By Edmond Paris Chick Publications, 288 pp.
I don’t usually read or review anything from Chick Publications because many of their claims against Roman Catholicism are irresponsibly outrageous, but this book was a gift. “The Secret History of the Jesuits” by Edmond Paris was originally published by Librairie Fischbacher in France in 1970 and later republished by Chick Publications in 1975. Multiple editions followed. From what I can tell, Paris (1894-1970) was a quasi-historian who specialized in Vatican exposés in much the same vein as Avro Manhattan.
There’s no doubt the Jesuits were involved in more nasty, nefarious skullduggery than we’ll ever see in mainstream history books. The religious order was founded in 1540 to foil burgeoning Protestantism and to advance Catholicism by any means necessary. But Paris goes where no academic historian would dare by adding two plus two to equal five in several of his far-reaching extrapolations presented as fact. There’s some excellent information here mixed in with some sensationalistic blarney such as the Jesuits’ alleged puppeteer-like orchestration of both the First and Second World Wars. The translation is somewhat choppy, making for some challenging reading. Also, Paris goes into great detail recounting the Jesuits’ role in French politics and history, which won’t resonate with American readers.
On page 269 of my edition (no publication date indicated), Chick added a publisher’s note claiming the Vatican with its “communist pope” (Karol Wojtyla aka pope John Paul II) had secretly thrown its support to the Kremlin and was “preparing a concordat with Russia.” Chick continues, “Moscow will serve the Vatican as the muscle to conquer nations where Roman Catholicism will be the only religion tolerated worldwide.” The subsequent fall of the Soviet empire foiled Chick’s wayward and preposterous prophecy.
Chick Publications built quite a little empire for itself among fundamentalist Christians back in the 1970s and 1980s with its Jesuit conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, Chick’s irresponsible flailings harmed the efforts of credible outreach ministries to Roman Catholics. Christians interested in responsible critiques of Catholicism should avoid the Chick quagmire and seek out books by Gregg Allison, Leonardo De Chirico, James G. McCarthy, William Webster, James R. White, and Rob Zins among others. For more on my viewpoint regarding Chick Publications, see here.