The conservative Catholic backlash to pope Francis’ call for civil unions of same-sex couples is just beginning. Watch this 7-minute video as a visibly emotional Catholic priest tells his congregation “we have a bad pope” (3:05 mark). The priest continues by saying he doesn’t know “what vanity, or dark spirits, or fallen inclinations” are guiding the pope.
A “bad pope”?
The foundation of Roman Catholicism is the pope, the alleged “Vicar of Christ.” What does it mean if the pope is a “bad pope” and is not to be followed? The foundation of Roman Catholicism crumbles.
There is another way, a better way. Jesus Christ declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
Church membership doesn’t save. Trying to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) doesn’t save. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church that teaches the uncompromised Gospel.
Catholic vs Christian | “I am a Catholic. Why should I consider becoming a Christian?”
Welcome to this week’s Throwback Thursday installment! Yes, it’s THAT time of the year once again! The leaf-raking season is officially underway here in Western New York, so it’s time to revisit this perennial acorn…er…I mean, chestnut, that was originally published back in November 22, 2017 and has been slightly revised each year.
After a very tumultuous period in our marriage, the Lord miraculously brought my wife and I back together in 2002. We then lived in an apartment for a couple of years and in 2004 we were looking for a new home. We were both in our late-forties at the time. Our two sons were adults and on their own and after having a house and a yard for twenty-two years, I was thinking in terms of a condominium. But my wife and her realtor sister went looking at houses “just for grins” and called me at work one day, saying to come quick and check out the “dream house” they had found. I pulled into the driveway and gulped hard. Argh! The wood-shingled house was on a heavily-wooded lot (13 mature oaks and 3 locust trees) with a long, double-wide driveway. All that meant A LOT of outdoors work ahead for myself at a point when I was contemplating a future living situation with NO outside work. My wife was so enthusiastic about the house and property that I knew I was forever going to be the “big jerk” if I said no. But at age 48, I reasoned that I still had many years of physical energy left in the tank to deal with the house painting and yardwork ahead.
Sixteen years later, my wife and I still joke about the day after we moved into the house. Everything was fine on our moving-in day, but when I woke up the next morning and looked out the window, I saw that the oak trees had released many of their leaves en masse overnight and the entire backyard was covered. Oy! Welcoming an opportunity for a little exercise (gulp!), I got out my trusty rake and went to work. And work. And more work. If you’re familiar with oak trees then you know the leaves are big and as sturdy as shoe leather. As I dripped with sweat after hours of raking, our next door neighbor shouted out with playful sarcasm, “Welcome to the neighborhood!” Argh!
I raked those leaves from the last week of October to the first week of December for the next 12 years. The raking was hard enough, but I also had to transfer the mounds of leaves I had collected onto a tarp and then drag the tarp to the front yard and deposit the leaves along the curb where our towns’ highway department collected them. With our own oak trees plus the neighbors’ oaks that leaned over our property, I ended up collecting and hauling 60+ tarp-loads of leaves (yes, 60!) to the curb every year. Condo anyone? Every year, my wife suggested I buy a heavy-duty, gas-powered leaf blower, but I couldn’t justify spending $300+ dollars when I was getting all of that good exercise! Plus, I was proud that I was able to handle all those leaves with only me and a rake in my hands. All of our pitiful neighbor menfolk either had powerful blowers or hired a leaf removal service. Ha!!!
Well, it was hard to admit, but age caught up with me in 2016 and I finally broke down and bought a gas-powered leaf blower (photo below). My boss at work had already done all the research and pointed me in the right direction as far as a good model and dealer. We’ve had 3 of the oaks and all 3 of the locust trees removed over the years because they were either too close to the house or were dying, so between that and the leaf blower, I’m still able to contend with the leaves even at my ripe old age.
“So what?,” you ask? Maybe you’re thinking, ♫”You’ve got your troubles, I’ve got mi-ine”♫, as my old friend, Jimmy, used to say? Or how about, “Would you like some cheese and crackers with that ‘whine?’”
Well, I do thank the Lord for all those leaves over the years. They got me outside to enjoy the fresh air and provided plenty of exercise. When I finished the leaves every season, I had the satisfaction of completing a difficult job. Now I can praise the Lord for the leaf blower and the great assistance that it provides. By comparison, what used to take many hours of very strenuous raking now takes about one hour with the leaf blower each session with minimal physical effort.
The heavy lawn work is full of spiritual lessons as well. We needn’t bear life’s circumstances and burdens alone. Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit. We have God’s Word to guide us and the constant opportunity to commune with the Lord in prayer. We have the church and fellow believers. We also have good books, Bible study resources, and podcasts from faithful scholars and pastors.
There’s times when we’re plowing for the Lord and starting to feel fatigued (like after tarp # 43). But the Lord provides helpful “tools” to see us through. Are you too proud to seek the Lord’s help as you sojourn through this life?
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10
“Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!” – Psalm 30:10
Postscript: Raking leaves for hours on end also brings to mind another spiritual lesson. Those leaves started out as little buds back in the Spring, were full bloom in Summer to catch all the sunshine, and withered and died in the Fall. We were born into this world through corruptible seed, but through Christ we look forward to eternal life!
“Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” – 1 Peter 1:23
I don’t normally publish two posts in one day, but this news cannot wait.
I was doing some routine work on the blog late this morning when I overheard on the television in the adjoining kitchen a special news announcement involving the “leader of the Catholic church.”
I scrambled into the kitchen to hear that Pope Francis is calling for civil unions for same-sex couples. This is ASTOUNDING, although not altogether surprising. The Vatican has been preparing for this moment for several years via the work of Jesuit priest, James Martin, its advance man for full acceptance of practicing LGBTers.
The ramifications and fallout from this “announcement” (underhandedly communicated via a docu-bio of Francis) are and will be ENORMOUS. This contradicts previous papal teaching on the illicitness/sinfulness of homosexual practices and same-sex unions/marriages that many/most serious Catholics held to be unchangeable and even infallible. Conservative and traditionalist Catholics will be enraged to a such a degree that many will now surely call for a formal split from pragmatically-progressive, world-pleasing, pope Francis.
I need to read some more reports on this development before I can comment at length. The bottom line is the Roman Catholic church does not teach the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Whether it’s Francis’s progressive camp, now publicly embracing same-sex unions, or the Catholic conservative camp, the genuine Gospel is not to be found in Roman Catholicism.
Update: I made it a point to listen to conservative Catholic talk-radio host, Al Kresta, at 4:00 p.m. today to get his take on Francis’s bombshell. As would be expected, Kresta tied himself up into multiple knots trying to downplay/minimize/mitigate/white wash the news. Kresta lamely postulated that, in approving civil unions for same-sex couples, Francis wasn’t necessarily sanctioning homosexual behavior. Kresta stumbled and stammered, suggesting the pope would expect civilly-united, same-sex Catholic couples to live as brother-brother or sister-sister. Say what?!?!? Kresta is living in fantasy land. He can’t yet admit to himself and his audience that his pope is a heretic according to Catholicism’s own tenets. But I think with this particular “reform,” Francis has finally given conservative Catholics, like Kresta, something they cannot glibly explain away.
“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” – Isaiah 64:6
All of the world’s major religions teach that a person may merit Heaven/Paradise/Nirvana/Jannah by becoming increasingly good and moral. The exception is Biblical Christianity, which declares that everyone is a sinner and no one can merit salvation. Only by repenting (turning from rebellion against God) and accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone can a person be saved.
The Bible says in Isaiah 64:6 that even our “good deeds” are tainted by sin and are as “filthy rags” in God’s sight. But how can that be?, people ask. I do A LOT of good things!, people object. However, even the “good” that we think we do is routinely motivated by sin. I can think of one humorous example.
My wife and I began attending a Gospel-preaching church right after we were saved back in the early-1980s. Things were done differently at church back then. Everyone brought their Bibles to church and we also used hymnals. These days, Scripture passages and CCM song lyrics are shown on the auditorium overhead, so many attendees leave their Bible at home (if they even have a hardbound Bible). But back then, everyone brought their Bible to church. If you showed up to church without a Bible, boy oh boy, you were judged to be spiritually lax or immature. Whoops, I’m already pointing out how our “goodnesses” are tainted and I haven’t even gotten to my example yet. Okay, let’s proceed.
Throughout the course of his thrice-weekly sermons, the pastor had us constantly picking through our Bibles. “Turn in your Bibles to…” was a regular instruction. When you’re a new believer, it’s very difficult to navigate through the Bible with its 66 books and odd sounding book names. Most new Christians had to resort to…argh…the index. But over time, the new believer became better acquainted with where all of the different books of the Bible were in conjunction with each other and could join in the race. The race? Every time the pastor called out the passage that we were to turn to, everybody in the congregation began flipping determinedly to the desired spot. Some cheaters had Bible tabs and automatically disqualified themselves. Those who got to the passage first gloated with pride. “Do I know my Bible or what,” they silently and self-satisfyingly beamed as others still noisily and frantically flipped through the pages of their Bibles. Nobody wanted to be last in the race, a sure sign to everyone around them that they did not know their Bible. Yup, I pridefully tried to win that race many times myself.
So even going to church and reading Scripture along with the pastor and the congregation involved a bit of prideful sin.
It’s interesting what childhood memories we retain. Our family lived about ten-miles from Seabreeze Amusement Park near the shores of Lake Ontario and we usually took a trip there once or twice each summer to enjoy the rides.
I started out with the slow-moving kiddie rides, but graduated to the more adventurous rides as I got older. One of the first grown-up rides I braved was the Tilt-A-Whirl. In that ride, a circular, segmented platform rotates over an “undulating” (i.e., having a smoothly rising and falling form or outline) track. Seven individual cars bolted to the platform each spins on its own circular track. As the platform rotates, the passengers in each car can shift their position to synchronize the motion of the car with the indulations of the moving platform to achieve a rapid, spinning motion.
On the occasion of my first time on the Tilt-A-Whirl, I nervously stood in line with my older sisters as we waited for our turn. The ride’s noisy, mechanical movements and the loud squeals of the passengers were thrilling as well as intimidating. We slowly advanced up the steps to the ride’s platform and when the attendant lifted the metal chain we scrambled to claim our car. We all grasped the handlebar as the platform began to turn. My sisters were “old hands” at this ride and began to shift their weight to sync the car’s rotation with the ups and downs of the moving platform. Before I knew what was happening, our car was spinning like a top! As the car spun faster and faster, I felt the increasing centrifugal force. It was scary, unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I hung onto the handlebar with a death grip, but felt my strength quickly ebbing. Why did I ever agree to go on this dangerous contraption?!?!?! I must have been a sight, like a frightened wild animal caught in a trap. One of my sisters could see my panic and leaned over and advised me to just relax and lean back into the padded wall of the car. Huh? I took her advice, loosening my death grip, and just went with the spin. Ah! Much better. This Tilt-A-Whirl experience was fun after all! Let’s go again!
Every once in awhile, I think about that moment when I had a panicky death-grip on the Tilt-A-Whirl handlebar and then relaxing and being able to enjoy what the ride was designed to do. There’s a spiritual analogy there about struggling to do things in my own power, and then surrendering to the Lord and His power and will. Ah, what a wonderful feeling it is to relinquish control, which I never really had in the first place, and submit to God. How about you? Are fretting and hanging on tightly, trying to control circumstances that are really outside of your control?
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” – Psalms 28:7
“When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” – Psalm 34:17
Postscript: The Tilt-A-Whirl was invented by Herbert Sellner back in 1926 in the basement of his Faribault, Minnesota home.
What to make of Mexican President, Andrew Manuel Lopez Obrador’s (photo left) demand this past week that pope Francis apologize on behalf of the Roman Catholic church for its role in the bloody Spanish Conquest of Mexico (1519-1521)? And what of the Native American protesters who toppled another statue of Franciscan friar and canonized “saint,” Junipero Serra (1713-1784), in San Rafael, Calif., on October 13th, Columbus Day aka Indigenous People’s Day (photo right)? I’m glad that the history of the Roman Catholic church is increasingly coming under the spotlight of scrutiny. Historical persecutions and abuses by the RCC were downplayed or denied for centuries behind a veneer of altruistic benevolence. Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have already apologized on behalf of past popes and prelates for many flagrant abuses, to the chagrin of Catholic apologists. On the other hand, believers know the Marxist Critical Race Theorists and BLMers who criticize the RCC have their own wicked agenda.
In three previous posts (see here, here, and here) we noted how the ordinations of two Catholic priests were recently deemed to have been “invalid” because the wrong baptismal incantation pronouns were used during their infant baptisms, which led to a lot of “remedial” clean-up within the dioceses affected. The fiasco was a good example of the inanity of Rome’s sacramental salvation system. The author of the article above, writing for a progressive Catholic periodical, also comments on the ridiculousness of Rome’s ritualistic scrupulosity as revealed by this controversy.
A New Orleans Catholic priest recently got caught in some dastardly behavior. However, I contend that the Roman Catholic mass that’s conducted 350,000 times daily around the world, whereby it’s claimed Jesus is turned into bread and wine and sacrificed for sins, is even more demonic than this crazy incident.
Writers such as the author of this article love to reference the anti-Catholic bigotry of 19th Century America, but omit any reference to the militant anti-Protestantism in Catholic-controlled countries at that time. Protestants in the U.S. were justifiably wary of Catholic influence and domination.
As we’ve discussed many times previously, Roman Catholics are obligated to attend mass every Sunday under threat of eternal damnation. When C-19 hit in mid-March, the U.S. Catholic bishops unilaterally issued “dispensations,” allowing the members of their dioceses to skip mass without incurring mortal sin. A month ago, as the C-19 numbers began to drop, some bishops began lifting the dispensations and ordering their members back to church. However, with the recent spikes in C-19 around the country, the bishops are reversing themselves and issuing dispensations once again. What a farce! Catholics are on a legalistic Yo-Yo.
Pro-liberation theology, pope Francis, has just released a new encyclical, “Fratelli tutti” (All brothers), which is a thinly-veiled critique of capitalism, and this conservative Catholic commentator doesn’t like it. Conservative Catholics are looking forward to a new pope, but there’s a good chance he’ll be another progressive like Francis. Either way, the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone is not proclaimed within the polarized RCC.
150 years after pope Pius IX had himself proclaimed infallible in major matters involving faith and morals at the First Vatican Council in 1870, only one doctrine has been officially defined as infallible, binding dogma: the alleged “assumption of Mary,” as defined by pope Pius XII in 1950. It’s all nonsense. What’s the point of having an infallible pope if they never go out on a limb and define anything as infallible?
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. This week, the Catholic apologist introduces his final section, which is devoted to topics involving “Catholic Life and Practice.” He begins with this chapter defending two of the RCC’s “disciplines” that Protestants describe as “Doctrines of Demons.”
Broussard points out that “Catholicism is well-known for its celibate clergy (see CCC 1599)…and for mandating periods of fasting and abstinence from certain foods at different times of the year” (see CCC 2043).
Protestants assert that Scripture specifically identifies these two “disciplines” as “doctrines of demons”:
“1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” – 1 Timothy 4:1-3(NKJV)
Broussard attempts to rebut Protestant objections with three arguments:
(2) Broussard cites 1 Corinthians 8:7-13 to show that Paul likewise was not absolutely opposed to fasting and abstinence.
(3) Broussard posits that 1 Timothy 4:1-3 only condemns the disallowance of marriage in general and the perpetual forbiddance of certain foods. He suggests Paul is possibly referring to the practices of the heretical Gnostics or to an unorthodox Jewish sect such as the Essenes. Broussard concludes that because the RCC doesn’t forbid marriage or certain foods in an absolute sense, Paul’s condemnation in 1 Timothy 4:1-3 doesn’t apply to its disciplines.
Let’s now respond to Broussard.
(1) Yup, evangelicals certainly recognize Scripture teaches that some believers are gifted to serve the Lord as unmarried celibates.
(2) Yup, evangelicals certainly recognize Scripture does encourage fasting and also abstaining from foods sacrificed to idols if eating them would offend an overly scrupulous brother or sister.
(3) Broussard attempts to excuse the RCC from the condemnations of 1 Timothy 4:1-3 because it prohibits marriage only in a particular sense, affecting only priests and nuns, rather than in a general, absolutist sense. But is that a valid qualification? Scripture contradicts Rome’s particular prohibition of marriage for its clergy in its listings of qualifications for pastoral candidates: “the husband of one wife” – 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. Paul also noted that he had a right to be married as were Peter and the other apostles:
“Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? – 1 Corinthians 9:5
It’s revealing that Broussard omits the above Scripture passages which contradict Rome’s mandated clerical celibacy. Nor does Broussard comment on the absolute failure of Rome’s mandated clerical celibacy as demonstrated by revelation upon revelation of sexual abuse of children by celibate priests. By withholding this contradictory and unfavorable information from his readers, Broussard is guilty of underhanded duplicity.
With regards to the mandatory abstention of certain foods, Broussard plays the same particular vs. absolute card. Noting that Rome prohibits certain foods under threat of mortal sin only at particular times (e.g., meat on Lenten Fridays), he argues that it escapes the condemnation of 1 Timothy 4:1-3. But his qualification is painfully arbitrary and also defies supporting Scriptures, which state that the eating of certain foods is not sinful.
“It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” – Matthew 15:11
It’s important that we address Rome’s errors regarding mandatory clerical celibacy and compulsory abstention of certain foods, but Rome’s most egregious error is its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.
Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on February 17, 2016 and has been revised.
Back in December 2015, I commented on how several journalists had used then-presidential candidate, Donald Trump’s controversial remarks suggesting the banning of Muslims from entering the U.S. to remind readers of anti-Catholicism in America in previous generations. I pointed out that the journalists conveniently reported only half of the story. Protestant Americans of past generations were well-aware of the persecution of non-Catholics in countries where Catholics held the majority. Popes and bishops reserved the “divine right” to suppress Protestants and their worship services wherever Catholics held sway and were able to gain the cooperation of the civil authorities. See my previous post on that topic here.
In the article below, Spanish evangelical Christians recall the persecution they suffered in Spain during the dictatorial regime (1939-1975) of faithful Roman Catholic, Francisco Franco (see photo of fascist Franco posing with Catholic prelates).
“…many Spanish Protestants were incarcerated, beginning with Franco’s victory and until the late sixties. Most of them were brought to the courts by Catholic priests. In 1965, Monroy recalls, private Protestant meetings to pray, sing and study the Bible were approved. But the meetings were only legal if there were less than 20 people. Christians were were fined and even incarcereted. In the public spaces, only Catholic ceremonies were allowed.”
But Protestants were also oppressed in many other Catholic countries during the 20th century including Salazar’s Portugal, Mussolini’s Italy, inter-war Poland, Vichy France, Pavelic’s Croatia, and in many Latin American countries where Catholic clerico-fascism ruled.
Some may respond, “Why bring this up now? It’s all water over the dam. The Catholic church is nowhere near as religiously and politically militant as it used to be.”
The Catholics who still bother to attend mass on Sunday are fed a saccharinized version of their church’s history. Why would anyone think it would be otherwise? But their church’s actual history defies all claims to Spirit-led, infallible leadership. That’s the moral of the story.
Counterfeit Miracles By Benjamin B. Warfield Kindle edition, 2014, 336 pp. Originally published in 1918
I’m a “cessationist” in regards to the apostolic “sign gifts” of the Holy Spirit (prophecies, foreign languages, healings and raising from the dead, etc.). The cessationist view holds that those sign gifts were granted to the apostles to signify their authority and were gradually removed as the early church was established. There are Christians who are “continuationists” who believe the gifts of prophecy, languages, and healing are granted today. This Pentecostal/charismatic movement traces its roots back to Charles Parham and William J. Seymour and such events as the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in the early-1900s. I realize many genuine believers are part of the Pentecostal/charismatic movement, so I generally try to avoid debates on the topic, but I’ve been meaning to read this book for a couple of years and finally got around to it.
B.B. Warfield (1851-1921) was a notable theologian, a principal of Princeton Theological Seminary (Presbyterian) back when it was still orthodox, and also a cessationist. In this volume, Warfield examines some of the popular “miracle movements” that followed the apostolic era.
Warfield notes that by the time of Augustine (bishop of Hippo from 396 to 430), there were already claims throughout the church for extravagantly fanciful miracles that mimicked/adapted the outlandishness of pagan mythologies. The author labels these as “romantic” (i.e., quixotic, wild eyed – not sensible about practical matters; idealistic and unrealistic). The miracles recorded in the New Testament, which validated the authority of Jesus Christ and His apostles, were vastly different in nature than the fanciful tales being embraced by some of the early “church fathers.” Over the centuries, the Roman Catholic church would perpetuate and add to these miracle myths, which would be duly accepted by the credulous peasant faithful. Warfield focuses on the alleged miraculous cures at the Marian shrine at Lourdes, France as an example of this Roman credulity for the miraculous that was perpetuated despite the overall lack of verifiable evidence. Each year, five million pilgrims (pre-COVID-19) continue to make the trip to Lourdes, many hoping for a cure for their particular illness, only to return to their homes disappointed.
The author examines several other healing/miracle movements of his era that presaged or were contemporaneous with nascent Pentecostalism, including the Irvingites (see here), faith healing as propagated by Baptist minister, A.J. Gordon, who strongly influenced the founders of Pentecostalism (see here), the Emmanuel Movement (see here), and Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science movement (see here). What was common to all of these healing movements was that imperceivable illnesses were readily “cured,” while perceivable illnesses/diseases/deformities generally were not, which was always attributed to the supplicant’s “lack of faith.”
This book was very difficult to read (A) because of Warfield’s flowery, early-20th-Century prose, and (B) especially because the transcription of the printed text to ebook was extremely poor. I chose this Kindle version because of its cheap, 99-cent price tag, but I got what I paid for. I had to constantly guess at words because of the terribly bad mistranscription. But I’m glad I persevered. Warfield’s examination of Roman Catholicism’s adaptation of paganism’s “romantic” miraculous mythology is eye-opening. I would add that manifestations of miraculous phenomenon, e.g., healing, prophecy, speaking in ecstatic utterances, are also common among various non-Christian religions throughout the world today.
I appreciated this book for its examination of “miracle movements” prior to 20th century Pentecostalism, several of which I was unfamiliar with.