Martyn Lloyd-Jones examines “Church and the State”

After returning to the Lord in 2014 after my very long prodigal “season,” the Lord introduced me to some solid Bible teachers, past and present, including D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981). I’ve read several books by and about MLJ and also enjoyed the 2015 documentary, “Logic on Fire,” about the life and ministry of the Doctor.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, I desired to read some more about/from MLJ so I Screenshot 2020-05-19 at 6.59.44 AMdownloaded “Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life” by Jason Meyer to my Kindle (review to follow). While reading that book, I thought about another resource, the MLJ Trust. I was vaguely aware that Lloyd-Jones’ former ministerial assistant and biographer, Iain H. Murray, had collected the Doctor’s recorded sermons and made them available via the MLJ Trust website. I was curious if MLJ Trust had a smart phone app and, sure enough, they do! I downloaded the free app to my iPhone and, voilà, I now have access to 1600 of the Doctor’s sermons. Wow!

I quickly browsed the list of MLJ’s sermons and stumbled across a series of six sermons on “Church and the State” delivered on successive Friday evenings in January-February, 1967. Friends of this blog know the topic of the church’s relationship to the state is something I am very interested in. Roman Catholicism took its cue from Constantine and the Roman imperial model and continued to fuse together church and state. The early Reformers regrettably continued this error to a degree and when the Pilgrims and Puritans settled in Massachusetts, they established semi-theocracies. The Puritans preached that America was the New Israel and that its citizens were in covenant relationship with God and enjoyed special blessings and prerogatives thereby. That thinking was perpetuated from American pulpits for four-hundred years, although the genuine Gospel preached by the Puritans was gradually replaced over time in mainline denominations by a watered-down, social gospel. The God of the Bible was replaced by the nebulous deity/higher power of American “civil religion.” American civil religion infiltrated the church resulting in national citizenship superceding spiritual citizenship in God’s Kingdom. Americans of all denominations, Protestants and Catholics (and even Jews), could harmoniously join together in singing “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful,” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”

After Americans became increasingly secularized in the 60s, 70s, and 80’s, Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority drew a line in the sand and attempted to return America back to “Judeo-Christian” values. Some high-profile ministers like Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress, and Jerry Falwell, Jr. continue Jerry Sr.’s crusade to “return America back to Jesus.” Regrettably, alliances formed with pseudo-Christian religionists in the cause of shared political and cultural concerns has led many temporal-minded evangelicals to overlook doctrinal differences and compromise the Gospel via ecumenism.

The church has been struggling for two-thousand years to define its proper relationship with the state, but it’s clear from history that the church has erred way too far on the side of church-state alliance. I fully realize that the deeply-rooted concept of America as a “Christian nation” continues to be quite popular amongst American Christians.

Okay, time to step down from my soap box and get to the crux of this post.

In the six sermons below, Martyn Lloyd-Jones thoroughly examines the relationship between church and state including the regrettable historical record and what the Bible teaches. It’s one of the best treatments I’ve ever seen or heard on this topic. Lloyd-Jones has much to say about the Roman Catholic model and the dangers of ecumenism. I’ve provided a link to the MLJ Trust website for each individual sermon. You can also download the MLJ Trust app to your smart phone and search “church and the state” to easily find the six sermons:

Church and The State (1)
Church and state; ecumenism; church and state under Christ’s authority; Constantine; Roman Catholic teaching; Wycliffe; the Reformation; Erastianism; Luther; the Church of England; religious toleration.

https://www.mljtrust.org/search/?q=%233337

Church and The State (2)
Church and state essentially different; common grace; the differences explained; value of history; Luther; Zwingli; Calvin; Belgic Confession on magistrates; Puritans; Presbyterians; Westminster Confession on magistrates; Melville; two kings; two kingdoms.

https://www.mljtrust.org/search/?q=%233338

Church and The State (3)
Pilgrim Fathers and American colonists; Separatists; Cromwell; the ‘Free Church idea’; Roger Williams; the Commonwealth; democracy; the Ejection of 1662; established churches.

https://www.mljtrust.org/search/?q=%233339

Church and The State (4)
Church-state relations unknown in New Testament; Old Testament appealed to; Israel’s position unique; Christ’s kingdom not of this world; confusing the world and the Church.

https://www.mljtrust.org/search/?q=%233340

Church and The State (5)
Summary of teaching; lesson of history; traditionalism; the state cannot Christianize society; parable of the leaven misunderstood; no gradual advance; except in the Church.

https://www.mljtrust.org/search/?q=%233341

Church and The State (6)
The lordship of Christ; tension between the two kingdoms; the Church should lay down principles; freedom; education; the arts; science; law; morality; individual Christians may influence society.

https://www.mljtrust.org/search/?q=%233342

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 11/30/19

As part of his progressive agenda, Francis will soon be adding sins against the ecology to the Catholic catechism. Catholics are taught they must successfully obey the Ten Commandments and church rules in order to possibly merit Heaven. Christians are certainly commanded to be good stewards of the Lord’s gifts, which include this planet and its resources, but Catholics are not stewards/servants because they are not trusting in Jesus Christ as there Savior by faith alone. Instead, they are seeking to establish their own righteousness (Romans 10:3). How will Francis roll out his guidelines on ecological sins? Will throwing gum wrappers on the street be a “venial” sin and disposing of four old tires in the woods a “mortal” sin?

After months of pleading from outraged Buffalo parishioners, pope Francis finally relented and tapped bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn to look into allegations that bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo had repeatedly covered-up for abusive priests. But a former altar boy has recently sued DiMarzio himself for abuse. Responding to the allegations against DiMarzio, the pope stated that he wants the matter “cleared up quickly.” Throughout this double-decade of scandal, the RCC has consistently put its predatory priests and bishops first and victims last by seeking the “quick fix.”

The Catholic church teaches that at mass its priests transform bread wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ and that the congregants receive special graces by consuming the Jesus wafer that help them merit their salvation. But recent research (see here) reveals that only 31% of Catholics believe priests actually change bread wafers and wine into Jesus, an amazing statistic! Whether they believe in transubstantiation or not, these lost Catholics are attempting to merit their salvation rather than trusting in Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone.

Pope Francis guilefully lifted the ban on communion for remarried divorcees via two footnotes in his 2016 Amoris Laetitia encyclical, leaving it up to the discretion of the administering priest. As liberal bishops and priests continue to roll out Francis’ novel teaching, conservatives and traditionalists rant and rail.

Christians should not be concerned about society’s approval. The Gospel will offend. However, much of society’s aversion is due to some evangelicals’ outspoken support of President Trump and Republican politics (see Jerry Falwell, Jr., Robert Jeffress, Franklin Graham, etc.) rather than for proclaiming the Gospel.

We are so blessed to have God’s Word, the Bible, but society is more concerned with the trendiest shows available from Netflix or HBO.

The Babylon Bee takes the culture’s irrational crusades to their illogical conclusion.

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.”

Government: A False Messiah

Why Government Can’t Save You: An Alternative to Political Activism
By John MacArthur
Word Publishing, 2000, 192 pages

5 Stars

Readers of this blog know one of my pet peeves is “Christian nationalism.” The Puritans came to this continent beginning in 1620 determined to set up a theocracy in which faith and government were inseparably intertwined. It’s hard to fault them because church-state symbiosis had been the model since Christianity was made the state religion of the Roman Empire in 380 AD. The Puritans set the stage for the very popular notion, preached from pulpits for 400 years, that Colonial America, followed by the American nation, were in a unique, covenant relationship with God akin to God’s covenant relationship with Israel recorded in the Old Testament. Bible passages meant strictly for ancient Israel were regularly misapplied to the United States. What resulted were abuses and attitudes that were contrary to the Gospel and Gospel outreach. It was taken for granted by most that America was a “Christian nation” regardless of the spiritual condition of individual souls.

Alarmed by the increasing secularization of the nation in the 1960s and 70s, evangelicals took up the battle cry to stem the tide. Baptist pastor, Jerry Falwell, vowed to “lead the nation back to the moral stance that made America great.” In the push to fight the culture battles and defend morality and “Judeo-Christian principles” via the political process, the church’s focus on the Gospel was relegated to the back burner. Falwell and others eagerly embraced conservative religious unbelievers as allies in the fight against advancing secularism, thus promoting religious ecumenism. The politically-liberal lost were increasingly perceived as “the enemy” rather than as a mission field. The idea of government becoming some kind of cultural savior took hold in the minds of many. Believers were tempted to support America’s “civil religion” in which the bond of national citizenry and shared belief in a nebulous “supreme being” took precedence over the exclusively genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I recently heard about this book via some negative comments from a discernment ministry apologist who still strongly believes in the notion of America as a “Christian nation.” In “Why Government Can’t Save You,” Pastor John MacArthur responds to churches and individual evangelicals caught up in culture/morality battles. MacArthur reminds believers, with examples from the Old and New Testaments, that, yes, we should be model citizens, although our primary citizenship is in Heaven and that our focus should be on the Gospel and evangelization rather than on promoting nationalism and legislating morality.

Chapters include:

  • Introduction
  • Political Involvement: a Christian Perspective
  • Our Responsibility to Authority
  • The Biblical Purpose of Government
  • Our Tax Obligation
  • Jesus’ Lesson on Tax Exemptions
  • Supporting Our Leaders: How and Why
  • Daniel’s Uncompromising Civil Service
  • Paul’s Example Before Worldly Authorities
  • How to Live in a Pagan Culture
  • Appendix: Citizenship in Heaven: a Sermon by Charles Spurgeon (this excellent sermon can be found online here)
  • Study Guide

The book’s message of limited political engagement for believers runs counter to the historical and still very popular notion of America being a “Christian nation,” however, nineteen years after this book was published, with America becoming that much more secularized, there are more believers who are willing to concede that the Falwellian crusade to “reclaim America for Jesus” was wrong-headed and that the focus should now be on the Gospel and Gospel outreach.

Highly recommended. Order from Amazon here.

Skinny Jeans Sale for Progressive Mega-Church, Hipster Pastors (satire)

My homemade advertisement above is satirical, but there’s some truth mixed in.

Here’s an observation from one of the older brothers in the pews:

Hipster, mega-church pastors and worship team leaders are trying SO HARD to be culturally “relevant” and cutting-edge cool that it’s becoming ridiculous, pathetic, and even pitiable. Skinny jeans with “pre-manufactured” holes in the knees matched with $100 swag haircuts have become de rigueur, bonus points for tatoos. What’s next?

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

Spring raking: If a lawn could talk it would say, “Ouch!”

Only four months ago, in early December, I was celebrating the conclusion of my Fall 2018 leaf removal campaign. See here. With the large number of oak trees in our yard and the surrounding neighbors’ yards, I usually end up hauling 50+ tarp-loads of leaves to the curb every November. There’s obviously not any yard work to be done during the Winter months – December thru March – up here in Rochester, New York, with the cold temperatures and an almost-constant blanket of snow. But the oak trees continue to drop branches and twigs on the lawn when the Winter winds blow. And the heavy accumulation of snow on the lawn for four months often results in what we call, “snow mold,” a type of white-ish fungus that ends up killing the grass if unattended.

So, every Spring, I must go outside with my flexible, metal rake and rake our entire half-acre lawn to clean out all the debris and dead grass and break up any patches of snow mold. I was able to get out there for the first time on Saturday, March 16th. Argh, raking is VERY hard work, especially the first outing when your muscles aren’t use to it. I ended up raking about a third of the back lawn that day, and twenty-four hours later, I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck! As of this writing, I’ve raked about 33% of the entire lawn.

It’s really rough on the grass when you’re repeatedly dragging a metal rake through it. While you are removing twigs, acorns, leaves, thatch, and other debris, you’re also pulling at the grass itself, removing the dead grass, but also dislodging some of the healthy grass. If the grass had feelings and a mouth it would constantly be yelling, “Ouch!,” as you continued to drag that unsympathetic rake through it over and over. As “traumatic” as the raking must be for the grass, the end result is very positive. With much of the clutter removed, the remaining grass and the soil beneath it have abundantly more access to air, sunshine, and moisture, making for a healthier, more vibrant lawn. Have you guessed where this post is heading yet? I’m guessing you probably have.

As with many of life’s challenges and circumstances, we can make a few spiritual analogies when it comes to Spring raking. The Lord often uses circumstances and events in our lives to clean out the clutter, distractions, and temptations. He prunes away the dead branches in our lives. It’s painful and disconcerting at the time, but the end result is we’re more receptive to His Word and His leading and closer and more reliant on Him. So when the “raking” comes into your life, and it will surely come, resist the temptation to be bitter and resentful. Use the opportunity to “lean in” even closer to your Father who loves you and desires the very best for you.

“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” – Proverbs 3:11-12

“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:7-11

Tens of thousands of Rochesterian commuters are confronted by “Jesus Saves” billboard every day.

I took the above enlarged photo with my iPhone through the windshield of my car as I was driving home from work last week. I was driving around 60 mph at the time and took the photo with one hand. Definitely don’t try this at home! Forgive the poor quality.  Yes, I even photoshopped it as best I could.

Okay, so what about that “Jesus Saves” billboard in the photo?

Rochester, New York sits smack dab in the middle of the anti-Bible Belt. Ninety-five percent of the people here are either Roman Catholics, mainline (modernist) “Protestants,” or atheists/agnostics. We certainly don’t see a lot of “Jesus Saves” signs around here.

The huge “Jesus Saves” billboard sits aside Route 490 eastbound near the city center. It’s been there for a couple of months. Route 490 is the major east-west expressway in our county. Average daily traffic (ADT) on 490 at this location is about 100,000 cars per day. That’s A LOT of people reading “Jesus Saves” each day.

The Lord uses many people and things to draw souls to Him. I pray He uses this billboard on 490 to get people thinking about salvation in Christ. The smaller print on the billboard references John 3:16 and says it’s sponsored by The Shepherds Fold Church in Scottsville, New York. I checked the church’s website and I see it’s Pentecostal and teaches the prosperity gospel. Argh! Definitely not a church I would recommend. But I do pray the Lord uses the mammoth sign to get passing motorists to think about Him.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

Postscript: I remember before I accepted Jesus that I used to scoff at any “Jesus Saves” signs that I saw. My buddies and I would always be tempted to append “…Green Stamps” to any “Jesus Saves” signs or posters we encountered. If you’re younger than, say, fifty, I’m confident you have no idea what S&H Green Stamps were.

Cutthroat politics in the push to make the pope infallible

Vatican I: The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church
By John W. O’Malley
Belknap Press, 2018, 320 pages

Some of my recent readings about the Catholic dogma of papal infallibility prompted me to download the ebook version of this very interesting book.

In the 19th-century, as monarchies were being overturned throughout Europe in favor of constitutional democracies, pope Pius IX hung on desperately to the Papal States, an area of about 16,000 sq. mi. in the central region of the Italian Peninsula. As the alleged “Vicar of Christ,” the pope claimed authority over both the temporal and spiritual worlds and the Papal States were symbolic of his theoretical jurisdiction over all nations.

As the political and military supporters of Italian national unification began making inroads into the Papal States, the pope called upon France and Austria to defend his territory. He retaliated against the “revolutionaries” the only way he could, by issuing the “Syllabus of Errors” in 1864, which condemned all forms of constitutional government, freedom of religion, and other “modern errors.”

But many Catholics of the era reacted to the post-Enlightenment upheavals by desiring a return to an ultra-pious religiosity which would be embodied by an authoritarian pope; authoritarian at least in spiritual matters. Debates over papal infallibility began raging throughout Catholic Europe with the Jesuits taking the lead in the campaign for furthering papal supremacy. Pius IX saw the opportunity to balance his increasingly precarious temporal situation with regards to the Papal States with increased “spiritual” prerogatives and called the Vatican Council (1869-1870) mainly to define the dogma of papal infallibility. Much/most of the impetus for declaring the pope infallible was in reaction to the loss of the Papal States; the Risorgimento may have seized the pope’s kingdom, but he was still their infallible, spiritual sovereign.

Contemporary Catholics who take the doctrine of infallibility for granted 150 years later should definitely read this book. Many of the prelates of the preconciliar church thought of the hierarchy in much more collegial terms and saw the pope as a symbolic figure among equals. A sizable minority of the bishops who attended the council strongly opposed papal infallibility. The pope and his allies used various means at their disposal to influence the prelates. “On 13 July 1870, a preliminary vote on the section on infallibility was held in a general congregation: 451 voted simply in favour (placet), 88 against (non placet), and 62 in favour but on condition of some amendment (placet iuxta modum)” – from Wikipedia. The opponents of the dogma absented themselves from the final vote rather than publicly oppose the pope. The credulous faithful would be surprised to learn from this book and the example of Vatican I that Vatican spirituality was/is often a matter of cutthroat politics and cloakroom deals.

Postscripts:

  • Italian unification forces besieged Rome and seized the city in September, 1870, ending papal temporal rule in Italy until dictator Benito Mussolini ceded Vatican City to the papacy as an independent state in 1929 in return for recognition of the fascist regime.
  • The doctrine of papal infallibility claims the pope teaches without error on matters of faith and morals only when he speaks “ex cathedra,” formally from the chair of St. Peter in his alleged capacity as the supreme teacher of the church. However, Catholic theologians can agree on only three occasions when a pope defined dogma infallibly: the immaculate conception of Mary (1854), papal infallibility (1870), and the assumption of Mary (1950).
  • “Ultramontane” literally means “on the other side of the mountains from the point of view of the speaker.” In France, the term became popular as a reference to “the man beyond the mountains,” i.e. the pope. Ultramontanists were Catholics who desired an increased degree of authority for the pope including the declaration of infallibility as a dogma.
  • The author of this book is a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest and professor of theology at Georgetown University, but I give him credit for his objectivity. Conservative Catholic apologists operate from a pollyannaish viewpoint with regards to their church’s history, but O’Malley doesn’t sugar coat it.
  • Catholic apologists boast that their church is the only religious institution that’s led by an infallible leader. They claim that the Holy Spirit would never allow a pope to lead the church into doctrinal error. It’s quite interesting, then, that the current pope, Francis, has undermined doctrines held to be infallible by previous popes including the ban on communion for remarried divorcees, the ban on intercommunion with Protestants, and the licitness of capital punishment, much to the chagrin of conservative Catholics.

The bogus “seamless tunic” of Trier, Germany and a 19th-century religious Woodstock

Most everyone is familiar with the bogus “Shroud of Turin,” the alleged burial shroud of Jesus displayed at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. But few are aware of the extremely large number of other purported “relics” throughout Roman Catholicism. Catholics define relics as the body parts or personal effects of canonized “saints” and even the alleged body parts and personal effects of Jesus Christ, including his infant foreskin and crib!

Catholics of yesteryear made difficult pilgrimages to often faraway churches that displayed a relic in hopes of receiving answers to prayer, physical healings, or indulgences from time spent suffering in purgatory. Unscrupulous relics merchants made fortunes hand-over-fist during the Middle Ages as churches competed against each other for a chance to attract pilgrims and their money. Given the proliferation of these faux artifacts, multiple churches boasted of having the same exact relics. One might think such pilgrimages are a thing of the past, but news sources still report on Catholics thronging to traveling exhibits of relics in the U.S. and Canada.

A short time ago, I was reading a book about the First Vatican Council (1869-70), which mentioned the exhibit of Jesus’ alleged seamless tunic:

“In 1844, in response to critics of a large and well-publicized group of German pilgrims that converged on Trier to view and venerate the famous relic there – the robe supposedly worn by Christ just before his crucifixion…” – p.71, “Vatican I: The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church,” by John W. O’Malley

Hmm. Interesting. I’ve heard about many of Romanism’s bogus relics before, but not this seamless tunic. We read about Jesus’ seamless tunic in Scripture:

“23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.’ This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, ‘They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.’ So the soldiers did these things.” – John 19:23-24

The history of the tunic of Trier, Germany goes back no farther than 1196 when it was first displayed at the High Cathedral of Saint Peter in that city. Church officials claimed the tunic had been originally recovered by Roman Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helen, on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 326-28. Many other such relics are attributed to Helen’s trip. She would have needed a modern Hong Kong ocean container vessel to transport all the artifacts back to Rome that are credited to her.

The previous reference to the event at Trier in 1844 led me to some interesting historical information. Following the anti-religious excesses of the Enlightenment, many European Catholics welcomed a return to pious religious superstition including pilgrimages to churches with relics. Such pilgrimages were the “rock concerts” of their day and emotions ran high. The tunic at Trier was displayed to the public only at lengthy intervals, so when the bishop of Trier, Wilhelm Arnoldi, announced in 1844 that the tunic would be put on display for public viewing, a half-a-million excited German Catholics responded by thronging to the city for a chance to catch a glimpse of the “holy” relic. The 19th-century religious “be-in” was of Woodstock-like proportions. The “happening” was subsequently exploited for political purposes. Catholic author and activist, Joseph Gorres, “portrayed the event as a manifestation of the collective power of Catholics in Germany, a warning to the Prussian state not to take that power lightly” (p.71, “Vatican I: The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church”). In reaction to the religious mass hysteria and excesses of the fervent pilgrims at Trier, less superstitious, sober German Catholics founded a more stoic sect called the New Catholics (see link below).

Beginning in 1959, the Catholics of Trier began inviting the Protestants of the area to join them in the Pilgrimage of the Holy Robe. The bogus “seamless tunic” of Trier is now promoted as an ecumenical symbol for the eventual reunification of all Protestants with the Catholic church. To date, the seamless tunic has not undergone scientific testing to verify its age.

Origin of New Catholics (German Catholics) sect due to excesses at Trier in 1844 – Wikipedia article
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Catholics_(sect)

Seamless robe of Jesus – Wikipedia article
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seamless_robe_of_Jesus

Postscript: While visiting Germany and our German daughter-in-law and grandson at their home near Ramstein AFB in 2007, my wife and I were contemplating a few side-trips. Our son’s German father-in-law suggested we visit the city of Trier, about 70 miles away, although he didn’t elaborate on why Trier would be a good destination. With our rented car, we set out for the city not knowing what to expect. When we arrived at the outskirts, it didn’t look like much. I wondered out loud somewhat frustratingly why he had directed us there? Fortunately, I soon spotted a sign pointing to the city center and drove in that direction. Wow! Were we ever surprised! The center of the city was FILLED with ancient Roman buildings and ruins! We learned later that Trier served as the capital of the northern territories of the Western Roman Empire for over 400 years. In our walk through the city center, we saw the exterior of the High Cathedral of Saint Peter, where the alleged tunic is stored, but I had no desire to go inside.

Capture43
The Porta Nigra (Black Gate), one of the former gates to the city, is one of MANY old Roman structures in Trier
Capture45
An 1844 German lithograph mocks the enormous mass-pilgrimage to see the “seamless tunic” at Trier as a money-making enterprise.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 2/9/19

Nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century Protestant literature included many convent escape narratives written by ex-nuns that testified of rampant abuse (emotional, physical, sexual) within Catholic convents. Catholic spokespersons of the past (and even in the present, see here) dismissed the accounts as “Puritan porn.” It’s quite ironic, isn’t it, to now see pope Francis acknowledging the abuse (although he didn’t mention nun-on-nun abuse)?

I believe the number of states that are now investigating the Catholic church for sexual abuse and cover-up currently stands at fourteen. In some of those states, like Texas, Catholic dioceses are preemptively releasing the names of abusive priests in an effort to feign proaction. Why didn’t the bishops release the names of predatory priests a year ago? Sorry, that was a rhetorical question. The nation was outraged when the state of Pennsylvania released the name of 300 abusive priests last August, but subsequent revelations in other states are becoming, ho-hum, routine as this scandal tsunami continues.

Why would anyone follow word-of-faith, prosperity gospel shysters like Paula White?

If Catholic bishops and priests are going to start policing who can and can’t come forward for communion, they need to start first within their own ranks of child abusers and enablers.

Several PC Catholic bishops publicly criticized the students of Covington Catholic High School for facing off with Native American activists several weeks ago. Lawyers for the students see dollar $ign$.

Back in parochial school, we were taught Christopher Columbus/Cristoforo Colombo was a great Catholic hero. We weren’t told about the forced baptisms, persecution, and enslavement of indigenous natives that was par for the course in Catholic expeditionary efforts.

Francis once again promoted Catholicism’s ecumenical-interfaith agenda by reaching out to Muslim religious leaders on a recent visit to the UAE. During his stay, Francis repeated the Catholic teaching that Muslims and Catholics are together “God’s children” and that both worship the same God.

In light of the current scandal tsunami, many Catholics are finding it increasingly troublesome to sit in a pew and listen to a priest instruct them on morality. Pray that many of these troubled Catholics will accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and leave the RCC.