The Usual Double Talk

The Usual Suspects: Answering Anti-Catholic Fundamentalists
By Karl Keating
Ignatius Press, 2000, 195 pages

1 Star

In 1979, a young Roman Catholic lawyer, Karl Keating, became angered when members of a local Bible Christian church left tracts on car windshields during mass at his Catholic parish. In retaliation, he created tracts of his own and distributed them at said Bible church. Thus was born the Catholics apologetics organization, Catholic Answers. Then as now, many Catholics were hearing the Gospel from friends, neighbors, and co-workers, repenting of sin, accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior, forsaking the Roman church with its false gospel, and attending Gospel-preaching churches. Keating and Catholic Answers sought to “stem the tide.” Keating’s first book, “Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on “Romanism” by “Bible Christians” (Ignatius Press, 1988) was fairly popular among Catholics who had “lost” family members and friends to “Christian fundamentalism.” In his attack on “fundamentalists,” Keating mixed together credible ministries with disreputable extremists (Chick Publications, Tony Alamo). Keating’s brief explanations of various Catholic doctrines rivaled the sophistry of any Jesuit.

“The Usual Suspects” is Keating’s fourth book and picks up where “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” left off. The credible evangelicals/fundamentalists targeted this time include Bart Brewer, Frank Eberhardt, Dave Hunt, and Bill Jackson, all four now deceased, and John Ankerberg, John MacArthur, and James McCarthy. Mixed in are several bad apples including Jack Chick and Bob Jones, III.

Keating’s approach is the same as before: short explanations of Catholic doctrine expressed with obsfucation masquerading as certitude, but lacking Biblical substance. Two examples will suffice:

  • Bible Christians criticize the continual sacrifice at Catholic masses as a fraudulent repetition of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Calvary, since the Bible clearly says Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was offered once for all time (Hebrews 10:12). Keating confidently responds that Catholics certainly don’t “repeat” Jesus’ sacrifice, they “re-present” the very same once-offered sacrifice. Ach. Please.
  • Bible Christians criticize Catholics for worshiping Mary. Well, of course Catholics don’t “worship” Mary, objects Keating. They rightly offer her “hyper-dulia veneration,” which is her due. Hyper what? Ninety-five out of one-hundred Catholics could not define “hyper-dulia veneration,” but most do attribute deific powers to Mary, adore her, and pray to her for their salvation. Call it whatever you’d like, but THAT’S worship.

Each short chapter is filled with similar equivocations. Keating accuses his opponents of lacking charity and sophisticated nuance in their arguments, yet turns around and commits those offenses himself, labeling all Bible Christians as “fundamentalists,” “Bible-thumpers,” and “tract-pushers.” Recommended only to those involved in Gospel outreach to Roman Catholics.

Postscript: This book was written in 2000, way before the current papal crisis, with Catholic conservatives now accusing pope Francis of sowing doctrinal confusion and some even accusing him of being a heretic. Conservatives like Keating and his successors at Catholic Answers are no longer boasting that their pope is incapable of leading the Roman church into error. Should Catholics follow pope Francis and his doctrine-bending reforms or the conservative Catholicism of Keating and cardinal Burke? Neither camp teaches salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

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Hunting the “Christ-killers” in Catholic Poland

We’ve seen several instances of murderous anti-Semitism here in America in the last eight months. Anti-Semitism has a very long legacy and, sadly, was perpetuated by institutional (c)hristianity for sixteen-hundred years. Also, sad to say, we see contemporary examples of people claiming to be born-again believers spewing anti-Jewish hatred. For this post, I’m going to focus on just one example of historical anti-Semitism.

Recently, brother Wally has been posting a series of devotions based on the Book of Esther. Good stuff. See here for just one example. Anyway, the series got me to thinking back about something I stumbled upon many years ago. Not to beat a dead horse, but when I become frustrated with “churchianity” back in the 90s and walked away from the Lord for a long “season,” I had to fill my spiritual vacuum with something, so I poured myself into studying Polish history and culture (I’m 50% Polish) and eventually concentrated on the controversial history of Polish-Jewish relations, which might be better referred to as Polish-Jewish “non-relations.”

We’re going to get to the Esther connection, but first, some background. Back in the Middle Ages, Jews were having a very rough time in Western Europe. They were routinely persecuted (pogroms, forced baptisms, ghetto quarantines, etc.) and even driven out of Catholic kingdoms whenever the intolerance peaked. Whereas other kingdoms had a developing merchant/burgher class, Polish society largely consisted of the nobility and the peasantry. Consequently, Polish monarchs began welcoming Jews to Poland beginning in the 13th century because of the expertise of some in the financial/merchant spheres. Bolesław the Pious issued the Statute of Kalisz in 1264 which granted unprecedented liberties to Jews, resulting in Jews from all over Europe flocking to Poland. Subsequent monarchs continued the relatively magnanimous treatment of Jews (it should be noted that at the beginning of World War II, half of Europe’s six-million Jews resided in Poland, making up ten percent of that nation’s population).

However, the influx of Jews into Poland was not without problems. The Polish nobility often appointed Jews as their financial middlemen (i.e., landlords, innkeepers, moneylenders, commercial agents, etc.) and the Polish peasantry increasingly resented these “foreigners” lording it over them. Stoking the resentment were the priests and prelates of the Polish Catholic church, who regularly railed against the Jewish “outsiders” as the “Christ killers.” Myths of Jews abducting Catholic children and using their blood in the manufacture of Matzah bread (aka “blood libel,” see here) were widespread and accepted as factual.

Okay, with that tense historical background in mind, we’ll cut to our Book of Esther connection. The Jewish communities in Poland regularly celebrated “Purim” (Hebrew, meaning: “lots” as in “casting lots”), a festival occurring in early-March, which commemorated the saving of the Jewish people from Haman as recorded in the Book of Esther. As part of the celebration, some Jews would reenact the story of Esther with an effigy of Haman being hung at the conclusion. The Polish Catholic clergy and peasantry did not take kindly to this reenactment. They interpreted the hanging of the Haman figure as a provocation against Gentiles and the Catholic church. In retaliation, as part of the annual Easter ritual, Poles across the kingdom would fashion a figurine with stereotypical Jewish physical features and clothing and hang it in the town square and subsequently burn it. The figure was meant to represent Judas, the betrayer of Christ, but on a broader scale, it also symbolized the hated Jewish “Christ killers.” The excitement rarely failed to whip Polish crowds into a frenzy of hatred and they would scour Jewish neighborhoods looking for victims. Polish Jews barricaded their doors and windows during the Easter celebration.

In the future, we’ll take a look at several other examples of Polish anti-Semitism, but without the lengthy historical introduction featured in this post. Below are some recent news headlines that underscore the continuing popularity of anti-Semitism in Poland, even though almost all of Poland’s Jews were killed in the Holocaust:

Polish Town Celebrates Easter with Anti-Semitic Effigy
https://www.newsweek.com/anti-semitic-judas-effigy-satans-blamed-idiotic-pseudo-religious-chutzpah-1403445

Polish Bishop Delivers Thinly-veiled anti-Semitic Sermon
https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/polish-bishop-insinuates-jews-attempted-to-divide-and-slander-the-catholic-church-1.7195027

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 5/18/19

Over the last twenty years, the Roman Catholic hierarchy has largely ignored its pedophile priests and cover-up “problem” despite the reoccurring negative headlines and lawsuits. There were two primary issues at the root of that laissez-faire attitude: 1) Catholicism’s rule of clerical celibacy ensured its institutions continued to attract, indoctrinate, and promote sexual deviants and 2) the foxes were running the henhouse. After last year’s scandal tsunami, polls showed that 37% of U.S. Catholics are considering leaving the church. The U.S. Catholic bishops are now stirring from their slumber and rolling out the big guns with the publication of this book, “Letter to a Suffering Church,” from the church’s media darling, bishop Robert Barron (photo above), which is being given away for only the price of handling and shipping. The purpose of this 122-page book is to try to convince members to stay despite the toxic scandal. I will review this book as soon as it’s published, but I can already guarantee the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, will not be found on any of its pages.

At the Vatican sexual abuse summit this past February, pope Francis promised “concrete action,” yet the bishop of nearby Buffalo, N.Y., Richard Malone, retains his position. Malone was exposed as a serial abuse-enabler in a “60 Minutes” episode last October.

I see Louis Farrakhan was invited to propagate his anti-Semitic hatred at a Catholic church in Chicago. Priest pastor, Michael Pfleger, referred to Farrakhan as a “friend” and a “brother.” Pfleger’s pro-Francis bishop has egg on his face and has been profusely apologizing for his subordinate. Catholic apologists boast of their church’s monolithic unity, but beliefs and attitudes within the church run the gamut from one extreme to the other, but with no genuine Gospel.

Speaking of sensitivity to the Jewish community, Jewish leaders have asked pope Francis to stop referring to his conservative and traditionalist enemies within the church as legalistic “Pharisees.” They feel the pejorative reinforces anti-Jewish attitudes.

There’s been hundreds if not thousands of alleged Marian apparitions all over the world, but the Catholic church officially recognizes only twelve. Pope Francis is giving the green light to church-sanctioned pilgrimages to the alleged apparition site at Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina even though official recognition has not been granted to the apparitions there. Why? Because one-million credulous pilgrims visit there every year without approval, meaning there’s plenty of unrealized money that could be going into the church’s coffers. Medjugorje won’t be officially approved anytime soon because 1) the alleged appearances, which supposedly began in 1981, still continue on a daily basis and 2) some of the sayings attributed to Mary by the six “visionaries” include information that is at odds with official church teaching to some degree. In addition, some of the sayings have also contradicted the local bishop and he’s not happy about it. See one of the Medjugorje “visionaries,” Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo, allegedly interact with the apparition in a recent Catholic-produced short video here. She is either a religious hysteric or under demonic control. Everyone in the crowd is worshiping Mary. No Good News in sight!

According to French investigative journalist, Frédéric Martel, the Vatican and the entire Catholic church hierarchy is a bee hive of homosexuality. See my review here of Martel’s book, “In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy.”

Poland is the last bastion of pre-conciliar, militant Catholicism in Europe. But the revelations about pedophile priests and the cover-up by the hierarchy are making an impact even there.

The LGBTQ militants and their fellow travelers are steadily breaking down barriers within Catholicism.

Oy vey! Yet another Babylon Bee satire about me! 🙂

 

 

Throwback Thursday: Behind Catholicism’s “Purple Curtain” in Latin America

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re going to take a look back at this slightly revised post that was first published on August 29, 2015.

capture30

Behind the Purple Curtain
By Walter Manuel Montaño
Cowman Publications, 1950, 327 pages

5 Stars

Americans in the 1950s Cold War-era were accustomed to hearing about the poor souls trapped behind the Soviet Union’s “Iron Curtain” and Communist China’s “Bamboo Curtain.” In “Behind the Purple Curtain,” ex-Dominican monk and evangelical missionary, Walter Montaño, examines the intolerance of Roman Catholicism in regions where it enjoyed a religious majority and received the strong support of the local and national governments.

In 1950s Europe, the Catholic church was closely allied with the fascist regimes in Spain and Portugal and there were still disturbingly vivid memories of Catholicism’s strong ties to Mussolini’s National Fascist Party in Italy, Pavelic’s Ustase in Croatia, the post-Pilsudski Sanacja and Dmowski’s Endecja in Poland, and to Petain’s Vichy France. But Montaño’s focus is mainly on Latin America where the Catholic church held sway for 400 years.

The rule of the Spanish conquistadors and their successors eventually gave way to unstable, quasi-democracies and military-backed dictatorships throughout Latin America, but the Catholic church maintained its death grip on the enormous peasant population through its falangist political organizations and alliances with civil governments. Montaño gives many examples of the church’s often-lethal intolerance of Protestants within Latin America and cautions North American Protestants to maintain their vigilance otherwise they would face similar circumstances. Montaño’s warnings may come across as quaintly paranoid and sensationalistic to the contemporary reader accustomed to today’s prevailing spirit of tolerance and ecumenism, but the reality for believers in many parts of world in the 20th-century was that Catholic hegemony often meant harassment, persecution, and even death.

Sixty-nine years after “Behind the Purple Curtain” was written we find that the Catholic church no longer enjoys anywhere near the political prestige and influence it once did. American evangelicals no longer need worry about the pope manipulating Washington politics from his Vatican throne. These days, pope Francis can’t even get his American membership to attend obligatory mass on Sundays. The real danger to contemporary Christian witness began several decades ago when some evangelicals began embracing Catholics as co-belligerents in social causes, which transitioned into compromising the Gospel of Jesus Christ and embracing works-righteousness Catholics as fellow Christians (see Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, Rick Warren, etc.). But Catholicism still teaches the same fundamental doctrines as those taught at the time of the Reformation. Most importantly, Catholics teach salvation by sacramental grace and merit while evangelicals proclaim salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. For most Catholics, the “gospel” is receiving the church-administered sacraments, trying to live a “good” life, and hoping their “good” outweighs their “bad” at the end. They’re relying on their works-religion and their own righteousness, not Jesus Christ, for their salvation. So why are some evangelicals so eager to embrace Roman Catholics as “brothers in Christ”? Montaño saw the coming evangelical compromise and betrayal of the Gospel even as far back as 1950 when the leading figure of American Protestantism at the time, Dr. John R. Mott, was already embracing Rome and discouraging mission work to Latin America.

In addition to his many other Gospel ministries, Walter Montaño was executive director of Christ’s Mission, a mission to Roman Catholics based in New York City, from 1951 to 1960.

Very recent reprints of this book are available from Amazon.com. See here. Also see my Books tab here for a long list of books which critically examine Roman Catholicism.

To read my review of the biography of Walter Montaño, see here.

A Few Catholic Conundrums – Part 2: The Case of the Misplaced Stigmata

Yesterday, we began this short, two-part series with a look at how some Catholics get wrapped around the axle over such things as the proper handling of “soiled” altar cloths. See here. Today, we’ll examine another Catholic conundrum, which I’ll call “The Case of the Misplaced Stigmata.”

We’ll begin with a brief examination of the Catholic stigmata. Down through the centuries, a number of Catholics claimed to have received the “stigmata” (from the Latin “stigma”: a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person; in (c)hristian tradition, marks corresponding to those left on Jesus’ body by the crucifixion). During the Middle Ages, penitential self-harm practices (self-mortification) were encouraged in monastaries and convents as part of extreme asceticism and mysticism. In this environment, some mystics claimed to have “received” the five marks of Jesus’ crucifixion; wounds on the hands and feet and a wound on the side. The first to claim the “gift” of stigmata was St. Francis of Assisi in 1224. Many others followed including, most famously, Catherine of Siena and Padre Pio (photo right). A Catholic source (see here) cites at least 321 stigmatics over the centuries. It should be noted that all of these stigmatics had wounds on the palms of their hands.

Okay, now let’s get to our conundrum. In a recent episode of the Catholic “Called to Communion” talk radio show, an interesting question came up via an email:

Called to Communion – EWTN Radio
Moderator: Thom Price, Host: David Anders
Podcast 4/24/19 – 2:24 mark

Thom Price: Katy from Illinois wants to know, “Why are stigmata wounds on the hands of the saints if Christ was actually nailed to the cross through his wrists, as the Shroud of Turin shows?”

Hmm. An interesting and very valid question. Historians and scientists hypothesize that the victims of Roman crucifixion were most probably nailed to wooden crosses through their wrists, otherwise the nails would have easily ripped through the soft tissue of the hands. The victims usually hung on a cross for several days before finally dying of asphyxiation. John 20:25 states the risen Jesus had wounds on His “hands,” but the Greek text uses the word, “cheir,” which can refer to either hands or wrists. Fanciful Medieval religious art portrayed Jesus exclusively with wounds through the palms of His hands and that was the model used by the stigmatics.

Host, David Anders, knows the listener has identified a conundrum and answers the question gingerly. He posits that, yes, nails through the palms would have been very unlikely, but since “that’s the way it has appeared in the moral imagination of the Latin church, it stands to reason, in my thinking, that if God were to grant the stigmata to an individual, that he would do it in the way that would be most recognizable to that person and perhaps to his contemporaries.”

Anders’ response is sheer sophistry and equivocation. The reality is the stigmatics guessed wrong and created wounds in the palms of their hands according to the widely-held misconception about the crucifixion. How did the mystic/ascetic religious celebrities create their wounds? A number of ways. It’s been documented that one of the most recent stigmatists, Padre Pio (photo right) aka Francesco Forgion (d. 1968), used carbolic acid.

Padre Pio ‘faked his stigmata with acid’
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/padre-pio-faked-his-stigmata-with-acid-397811.html

A Few Catholic Conundrums – Part 1: The Case of the Abused Altar Linens

I listen to Catholic talk radio daily to collect fodder for this blog. Most of the chatter either isn’t very noteworthy or involves topics I’ve already addressed, but two consecutive shows from last month brought up topics that fit right into my “Catholic legalistic rabbit hole” category.

Called to Communion – EWTN Radio
Moderator: Thom Price, Host: David Anders
Podcast 4/23/19 – 24:58 mark

This first episode I’ll call “The Case of the Abused Altar Linens.” Let’s begin by noting that Catholicism teaches that at its masses, priests transform bread wafers and wine into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ to be offered as a sacrifice for the sins of the congregants. Mass-goers then consume the Jesus wafer (and Jesus wine by some), believing it imparts graces that help them to avoid temptation and sin. Because the Roman church teaches the bread wafers are actually changed into Jesus, they are worshiped by the congregants. Mass-goers bow to the wafer, bend their knee to the wafer, and pray to the wafer god. The Jesus wafer and Jesus wine must be handled with worshipful reverence. As a part of the mass’s liturgical ritual, the priest handles a large Jesus wafer and Jesus wine and there’s always a chance that small Jesus crumbs or Jesus droplets will land on the linens covering the altar. Therefore, when the altar linens are periodically washed, they must be handled with the utmost reverence. Let’s pick it up when an indignant Catholic listener calls in to the show complaining that reverential protocols aren’t being followed with regard to the altar linens at her parish:

Thom Price: Let’s go to Kitty, now, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, listening on St. Michael Catholic Radio. Hello, Kitty. What’s on your mind today?

Kitty: Oh, yes. I would like to know your thoughts about this. I’m very concerned about the presence of our lord in the precious blood that’s on the purificators and altar linens. At the church where I’m going the altar linens are just left in a basket on the counter and, shouldn’t they be in some sort of a container that has a lid with a light next to it to indicate that our lord is present? They don’t leave consecrated hosts just lying in an open basket!

The show’s host, Catholic apologist David Anders, then responds to Kitty’s inquiry, saying that he is aware that “there are liturgical laws that govern these things,” but it’s “not (his) particular area of expertise.” Anders defers to moderator, Thom Price, but Price pleads ignorance as well and suggests to Kitty that she should make inquiries to a particular priest radio host.

The Catholic teaching that its priests change bread wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus leads to all kinds of legalistic rabbit holes involving such things as falling Jesus crumbs and spilt Jesus droplets and Jesus wine stains. Catholicism breaks my heart. Hundreds of millions of Catholic souls, like Kitty, get indignantly and scrupulously wrapped around the axle over the proper handling of altar cloths, but never hear the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Kitty mentioned “purificators” and altar linens that could possibly have Jesus particles and Jesus stains imbedded in them, but several other cloth items are also used by the priest during the eucharistic liturgical ritual including the “corporal,” “lavabo towels,” and the “pall” (see photo right)

To see the correct Catholic rubrics for the handling and cleaning of these “sacred” cloths, refer to the article below. Wow! The Catholic mass has more protocols than a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier! Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Friends, we’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to all the rubrics involved in the Catholic mass. Whoops, I see we’ve already hit the 625-word mark so we’ll have to visit the second Catholic rabbit hole tomorrow. Remember, it’s the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone that’s important, NOT copious and complicated religious rituals and ceremonies that are alleged to help people merit their salvation.


The Proper Care and Cleansing of Altar Linens & Sacred Vessels in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend – Adapted from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Divine Worship
http://www.diocesefwsb.org/Data/Resources/5c3aa66e5663b57ce646ed961423685c-Policy-on-Care-of-Altar-Linens-and-Sacred-Vessels.pdf

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 5/11/19

The Roman Catholic dioceses of New York City and Peoria, Illinois have been fighting “beak and talon” over future-saint, Fulton J. Sheen’s cadaver for forty years. Looks like the battle has been resolved. New York’s highest appeals court recently ruled that the body of Sheen must be shipped to Peoria, the diocese of his childhood. The Vatican has been waiting for an end to the legal battle before proclaiming the Catholic apologetics media pioneer, Sheen, a saint in order to avoid any negative publicity over the church’s internal tug-of-war over the corpse.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and pope Francis’ liberalized version of Catholicism won’t happen overnight. Conservatives are still struggling with Francis’ previous “reforms” and another “novelty” could push them over the edge. But make no mistake, female deacons and married priests are definitely on Bergoglio’s radar.

Sad to say, but the ongoing investigations of predatory Catholic priests by multiple states have become page-five news.

I hold very few beliefs in common with conservative Catholics, but I do share their dislike of ecumenism. The reality is that every pope since John XXIII has recognized that it’s easier to get passengers to board their bus with a smiling accommodation here and a compromise there. Dupable ecumenical evangelicals are flattered by the accommodating gestures.

Like many Catholic prelates in 1930s and 1940s Europe, cardinal Aloysius Stepinac supported a murderous fascist regime. In Stepinac’s case, he aligned with the bloody Ustaša, the pro-Nazi, Croatian fascist movement. Francis knows full well that the canonization of pro-fascist Stepinac would be a tinderbox. See my additional thoughts on Stepinac and historical Catholic clerical fascism here.

It’s reported that some Lutherans and Pentecostals will be joining Catholic priests in Rome for this ecumenical course on exorcisms. I contend that ecumenism with Rome is actually the greatest demonic danger.

Last weekend, I posted about the open letter from some conservative Catholic theologians and clerics accusing pope Francis of outright heresy. This past week, both liberal and more-cautious conservative Catholics have been digesting this interesting development. I expect the letter will increasingly embolden those in the conservative camp.

Despite the best efforts of hipster, mega-church pastors, the Bible is sooooooo counter-cultural.

Throwback Thursday: “I might not be perfect, but at least I never killed anyone or cheated on my wife.”

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re going to revisit a slightly re-edited post that was first published on August 25th, 2015.

capture30

One way to begin presenting the Gospel to someone is by asking why they think God should allow them into Heaven? Most people, including most Catholics, would respond with something like, “I try to be a good person” or “My good outweighs my bad.” I’ve heard Catholics try to justify themselves even further by admitting that, while they weren’t perfect, at least they never murdered anyone or cheated on their spouse.

But let’s examine that last statement a little more closely by posing a hypothetical scenario:

On his wedding day, a certain man enters into a marriage “covenant” with his bride and vows to love and honor her and to forsake all others until “death do us part.” Decades later, on his 50th wedding anniversary, the man looks back with immense pride on his record of “complete faithfulness” to his wife. But what is the spiritual reality? How does God see it?

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7.

While it’s true the man may have never physically committed adultery with another woman in those fifty years, he committed adultery in his heart innumerable times. Who can possibly count the number of occasions that he desired another woman besides his wife while watching television or movies? At a crowded beach? Walking the mall? At the office? Surfing the internet or leafing through magazines? Uh-oh, even at church! The man protests, “Well, of course! All red-blooded men sneak a peek now and then. It’s not the same thing as physically being with a woman!” Oh, really? Jesus Christ, God the Son, disagrees.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:27-28.

The man claims he was obedient and faithful and to all outward appearances he was. But God sees the heart and this man’s heart, like ALL men’s hearts, was filled with lust and covetousness. He was certainly NOT “faithful” according to God’s standard.

When we appear before God, we will have no excuse, no alibi, and no plea in and of ourselves. All hidden thoughts and desires will be revealed. So who then can possibly live up to God’s standard of righteous perfection? The answer is no one. But God so loved us that He sent His Son, the ONLY One without blemish or spot, to die for our sins.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

Only those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and have had His perfect righteousness imputed to them can stand before Holy God. There is no other way to come to God than through the Savior, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Trying to be “good” won’t cut it. Trying to be “faithful” won’t cut it. Trying to uphold your end of a religious “covenant” with God won’t cut it. All of our “righteous” acts that we present to God in trying to merit our salvation are like “filthy rags” in His eyes. – Isaiah 64:6.

“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” – Romans 5:2

The Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone was the joyous message of the early church. How then was the Gospel of simple faith in Christ twisted into the Catholic religious system of ritual sacramentalism, legalism, and salvation by merit? That’s a topic for a future blog.

Calming the credulous conservative Catholic faithful during Francis’ troubling papacy

Bad Shepherds: The Dark Years in Which the Faithful Thrived While Bishops Did the Devil’s Work
By Rod Bennett
Sophia Institute Press, 2018, 148 pages

1 Star with qualifications noted below.

Conservative Catholics are in an impossible pickle of a situation. They have always boasted of their church being led by an infallible pope, incapable of leading the church into doctrinal error. However, the current pope, Francis, and his progressive allies have guilefully overturned several cherished doctrines in their quest to make the church more relevant and appealing in an increasingly secularized world.

Since loyalty to the papacy is one of the prime beliefs of conservative Catholics, schism and even public criticism of Francis are not viable options for most. What to do? The consensus among conservative Catholic spokespersons is to uphold traditional church teaching, ignore Francis’ novelties, and hope the next pope is from the same mold as Wojtyla and Ratzinger.

In this short book, conservative Catholic writer, Rod Bennett, examines several periods in church history when popes or prelates were far from “exemplary.” His thinly-veiled, bottom-line message: the Catholic laity remained faithful to the church’s teachings despite challenges from wayward popes and prelates in the past and they must remain faithful despite Francis’ heterodox reforms.

The historical episodes Bennett examines include:

  • The spread of the Arianism heresy (denial of the divinity of Christ and the Trinity) in the fourth century.
  • The church’s preoccupation with the temporal throughout the Dark Ages (5th-10th centuries).
  • The 14th century blunders and the negative consequences of a deadly plague, i.e., the Avignon Papacy/Great Western Schism and the Black Death.
  • The church’s arrogant and counterproductive mishandling of the Protestant “challenge” in the 16th century.
  • The French church’s compromise with the 18th-century “Enlightenment” humanists which affected the rest of the church.

Bennett’s examination of the corruption of popes, bishops, priests, and Catholic monarchs during these episodes is objective only to a point. In one jaw-dropping example, he portrays Catholic Mary I of England (aka “Bloody Mary”) as a kind and benevolent monarch in contrast to her Protestant successor, Elizabeth I. Not hardly.

Nevertheless, the biased history is definitely NOT the takeaway from this book. Rather, “Bad Shepherds” is important because it’s another example of how conservative Catholics currently feel compelled to assuage their like-minded fellow members in the face of Francis’ doctrine-challenging heterodoxy. The idea of a conservative Catholic publishing house issuing a book about some of the church’s most scandalous historical episodes would have been unthinkable only seven years ago before Francis’ tenure began. This is a book borne of sheer desperation.

The message of this book is how to help keep conservative Catholicism afloat despite the current challenges. As with all Catholic books, the focus is on the legalistic and institutional oyster shell rather than on the pearl of great price; the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Recommended only for evangelicals associated with outreach ministries to Catholics and/or evangelicals who are curious about Catholicism’s current papal “crisis.”

Are you middle-aged or a senior citizen? Free test!

A few weeks ago, I mentioned to my wife that I needed to pick up a daily pill dispenser like the one she had. At my age, it’s becoming more difficult to remember if I took a certain pill or not. My wife surprised me by presenting me with the dispenser above.

Yes! Now that I have daily pill dispenser, I can officially join the ranks of senior citizens!

“The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green.” – Psalm 92:12-14