Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) has a lengthy roster of televangelists in its stable, but the only one who I would recommend to anyone is Charles Stanley. Ol’ Charles faithfully teaches the Gospel of grace year after year. My wife and I recently began using his monthly devotions booklet as part of our daily devotions time and that’s working out just fine.
The other day, I received a complimentary, 2019 calendar booklet from Stanley’s “In Touch Ministries” featuring full-page color photographs that were taken by Stanley himself in Italy. The month of October features the photo above with the caption, “At a monastery in San Gimignano, an outdoor retreat with a fresco depicting two monks offers a peaceful place to take a few moments in prayer. When we reflect on the examples of the people of faith who’ve gone before us, we find encouragement to continue on our Christian path, no matter how difficult.” Huh? Monks? Monastery? People of faith? Which faith? Three other photos in the booklet display Roman Catholic churches as their subjects and another photo features the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which is the free standing bell tower of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary in Pisa, Italy.
At NONE of the religious sites featured in the five photographs is the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone preached. Rather, the Roman Catholic false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit is preached. Doesn’t Stanley know this? Isn’t he aware of the Reformation?
Catholicism has not changed any of its main doctrines since the time of the early Reformers. So then, why would a preacher of the Gospel, like Stanley, include five photos of Catholic religious buildings in a publication sent to his evangelical audience?
We’re seeing this kind of accommodation and compromise with ecumenism from many “good, solid” pastors and para-church leaders these days, with such examples as Stephen J. Nichols citing Jesuit co-founder, Francis Xavier, as a “hero of the faith,” John MacArthur favorably quoting G.K. Chesterton in a recent book, the late R.C. Sproul’s penchant for Thomas Aquinas, Carl R. Trueman’s regular contributions to the Catholic ecumenical journal, First Things, and the many, many evangelical pastors who quote Universalist, C.S. Lewis, in their sermons.
I’m not condemning Stanley or these other men, but there’s something very insidious about these kinds of “small” accommodations and compromises. Again, what would prompt a faithful preacher of the Gospel to send out a booklet in which five of the twelve photos feature buildings belonging to a church that preaches a false gospel? What would an uninformed and undiscerning Christian conclude from the inclusion of these photos and their very complimentary captions? Most would mistakenly conclude that Roman Catholicism teaches the same Gospel that Stanley preaches, which is definitely not the case.
Thirty years ago, a conservative evangelical ministry such as “In Touch” would have known better than to send out a booklet with photographs like this. Next year, is Stanley going to send out a calendar booklet with photos of the magnificent Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah and the impressive new Watchtower Society Headquarters in Upstate New York?
Spiritual blindness abounds in the church these days, my friends.