The Spawning of Catholic Charismaticism

I realize I’m stepping on some toes with this post. I’m not trying to be mean or antagonistic, just stating my views according to my understanding of Scripture.

As By a New Pentecost: The Dramatic Beginning of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal
By Patti Gallagher Mansfield
Proclaim Publications, 1992, 119 pp.

1 Star

I don’t usually make an issue of it in this blog, but I’m a “cessationist,” meaning I believe the apostolic sign gifts (languages, prophecy, healing, raising from the dead, recovering from deadly poison) ceased after the apostolic era. The originators of Pentecostalism claimed these gifts were restored, beginning in Topeka, Kansas in 1900* and continuing to the Azusa Street Revival in 1906 and beyond. Pentecostalism grew, but took a backseat within “mainstream” evangelicalism. However, in 1960, Dennis J. Bennett, rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Van Nuys, California claimed he received the gift of tongues/glossolalia and the Pentecostal gifts swiftly seeped into mainline Protestant denominations under the label of “Charismatic.”

A small number of Catholics at Notre Dame University (South Bend, Indiana) and Duquesne University (Pittsburgh) were intrigued with Pentecostalism/Charismaticism and sought mentoring from Protestant continuationists. David Wilkerson’s “The Cross and the Switchblade” (1962) and John Sherrill’s “They Speak With Other Tongues” (1964) were their training manuals. A group of 25 Duquesne University Catholic students went to the nearby Ark and Dove Retreat House on the weekend of February 17-19, 1967, eagerly hoping to manifest the Pentecostal gifts and many predictably did. Since then, the number of Catholics who claim membership in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) has grown to 160 million worldwide, including tens of thousands of priests and nuns. Patti Gallagher Mansfield was one of the 25 students who participated in the “Duquesne Weekend” and recounts the origins of the CCR in this book.

Protestant Pentecostals and Charismatics have a dilemma. Mansfield and the other CCR Catholics continue to uphold the RCC’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. In fact, they generally demonstrate a greater zeal for the un-Biblical sacrifice of the mass and the worship of Mary than prior to receiving the gifts. They are unsaved religious zealots. So, how can people receive the Pentecostal gifts of the Spirit when they have not genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone? Does not compute. This incongruity raises additional questions regarding the experiential Topeka/Azusa gifts. I submit that CCR has inclined Protestant Pentecostals and Charismatics to overlook RC-ism’s false doctrines because, well, CCR-ites manifest the requisite experiential gifts, so that’s “good enough.”

Mansfield and other CCR-ites present Catholic Charismaticism as the ultimate in Catholic spirituality, yet, not one single pope has ever manifested these sign gifts. Why isn’t the “Vicar of Christ” a charismatic if it’s the ultimate in Catholic spirituality? Pope Francis has confessed that he dismissed CCR-ites as deluded fanatics when he was a young cleric (see here), but has pragmatically come to embrace the movement as a useful tool in the quest for RCC-led ecumenism.

Because unregenerated CCR-ites manifest these Topeka/Azusa gifts and pope Francis endorses the movement, I’m less-than-skeptical of the whole business. It is not my desire to “attack” genuine Christians who hold to Pentecostal/Charismatic practices, which is why I don’t generally “soap box” my cessationist views, however, this CCR movement raises questions that cannot be ignored. As a former French-major student, Gallagher-Mansfield claims in this book that she witnessed two Catholic Charismatics speaking perfect French who had no previous knowledge of the language. I know of no documented evidence of a Pentecostal or Charismatic speaking fluently in an actual foreign language unknown to them. Most Pentecostals and Charismatics claim their unintelligible gift of tongues/glossolalia is angelic language (1 Corinthians 13:1) rather than an actual foreign language. I have seen video clips of newbie Pentecostal supplicants being instructed on how to speak in tongues. Indoctrination does not strike me as being a divine gift. Acts 2:1-13 records the apostles being granted the gift of speaking actual foreign languages for the purpose of evangelization.

Humans tend to view truth subjectively and myopically, i.e., “I experienced it, so I know it’s true.” However, speaking in ecstatic utterances is a common practice in many, many pagan religions. A number of Pentecostal groups use speaking in tongues as a litmus test of salvation, i.e., a genuinely born-again person will necessarily manifest this gift, however CCR Catholics do not hold that non-charismatic Catholics are not Catholic.

This 1-star book was valuable only in that it shed some light on the historical “Duquesne Weekend” origins of the CCR.

Postscript: Catholic traditionalists generally dismiss the CCR with its Pentecostalism/Charismaticism sign gifts as a misguided step-child of heretical Protestant novelties. Although anecdotal, unsubstantiated claims are often made, I know of no medically documented cases of a dead person being brought back to life by a Pentecostal or Charismatic healer.

*The roots of Pentecostalism go back further to the ecstatic swoonings often manifested at 19th-century Wesleyan-holiness tent revivals and even during the First Great Awakening of the 18th-century.

Above: Pope Francis and Patti Gallagher Mansfield lifting hands in 2017 in celebration of 50 years of CCR. Mansfield has been a leader in Catholic Charismatic Renewal – New Orleans (CCRNO) for decades
Above: The Ark and Dove Retreat Center in Gibsonia, PA. Many Catholic Charismatics visit here as a “spiritual pilgrimage.”

Billy Graham and His Friends

Billy Graham and His Friends: A Hidden Agenda
By Cathy Burns
Sharing, 2002, 788 pp.

4 Stars

Billy Graham is widely recognized as “the greatest evangelist of the 20th century,” but the history of Billy Graham is a history of paradoxes. Graham began his ministry as a Baptist fundamentalist, but he and like-minded cohorts, Carl Henry, Harold Ockenga, E.J. Carnell, etc., determined they would break from insular fundamentalism and set a new course that would be more open to cooperation with leaders of mainline Protestant denominations and even with Roman Catholics. Graham would eventually seek the cooperation of the local Catholic bishop/s in the planning of his crusades. When Catholics “came forward” at a Graham crusade they were followed-up by Catholic workers who explained that their acceptance of Christ as Savior was just a reaffirmation of the infant baptism and confirmation.

In this thick tome, Cathy Burns examines Graham’s friendly associations with liberal “Protestant” churchmen such as Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, and James Pike. Burns also documents Graham’s very friendly relations with the National Council of Churches and its parent World Council of Churches. The genuine Gospel can’t be found in either apostate organization. Instead there were/are appeals to socialism and interreligious cooperation. Many of the leaders of the NCC and WCC were/are openly sympathetic to Marxism. At his crusades, Graham often had NCC leaders seated prominently on the dais and many were invited to give the opening invocation. Burns also documents Graham’s very positive view of Roman Catholicism.

The author gets into the “conspiracy weeds” at times. As just one example, she points to Graham’s wedding on the evening of Friday, August 13th, 1943, replete with a full moon, as a possible link to Satanism (p. 354). There’s also A LOT of discussion about how many of the NCC and WCC types were linked either directly or indirectly to one-worldism. Yup, I get it. The world is gradually moving towards one government and one religion as the Bible foretells. Overreaches aside, Burns has thoroughly documented the fact that many of Billy Graham’s “friends” were adversaries of the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Yes, Billy Graham was a paradox. While he preached the genuine Gospel at his crusades, he pioneered evangelical ecumenism with Rome and eagerly accommodated apostate churchmen.

Throwback Thursday: Billy Graham – Part 2

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on September 21, 2016 and has been revised.

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Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000
By Iain H. Murray
The Banner of Truth Trust, 2000, 342 pp.

5 Stars

For part one of this post, please see here.

German higher biblical criticism came to the U.S. in the later-19th-century and was a swift-spreading cancer in seminaries and mainline Protestant churches. Believing churchmen drew a line in the sand with a series of 90 essays on the basics of the Christian faith, published between 1910 and 1915, and known as “The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth.” Bible Christians rallied around the cherished doctrinal truths, but as mainline liberalism gained wider support, the fundamentalist movement increasingly adopted a circle-the-wagons, bunker mentality.

Billy Graham began his ministry in 1947 as a fundamentalist, but he and others recognized that fundamentalism took the opposite approach to Jesus’ exhortation to be in the world, but not of the world. Graham and like-minded friends (Carl Henry, Harold Ockenga, Edward Carnell, et al.) reasoned they could more effectively reach souls for Christ by cooperating with mainline liberals and religious unbelievers rather than by separating from them. But just as fundamentalism had its unhealthy sectarian extremism, Graham’s “New Evangelicalism” had its own pitfalls. Cooperation works both ways and Graham’s cooperation with unorthodoxy and unbelief led to accommodation, compromise, and eventually, betrayal of the Gospel. Graham sacrificed right doctrine on the altar of numbers, popularity, and ecclesiastical “respectability” and set a precedent for generations of pastors and para-church leaders to come.

In “Evangelicalism Divided,” Iain Murray, a former close assistant to D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, documents the rise and fall of Graham and New Evangelicalism. The larger portion of the book is devoted to circumstances in Britain, which closely mirrored those in the United States. Swimming against the rising tide, Lloyd-Jones called upon evangelicals to break ties with mainline liberalism and religious unbelief. When Graham began organizing crusades in Britain, he asked Lloyd-Jones, the nation’s most notable evangelical, to lend his support. Lloyd-Jones refused due to the many liberal churchmen aka religious unbelievers involved in Graham’s crusades. In opposition to Lloyd-Jones, Britain’s New Evangelicals, led by John Stott and J. I. Packer, rationalized that believers would be far more effective if they worked within the Anglican church. Not surprisingly, Packer would go on to be one of the charter signers of the ECT – Evangelicals and Catholics Together – ecumenical accords. Stott also fully embraced Roman Catholicism as a Christian entity. As for the current state of Anglicanism, is there even one Bible-believing minister within the entire denomination?

Murray may wander a bit, but overall this is an excellent book. There were so many passages I wanted to quote, but where to stop? I would have ended up quoting half the book. For everyone who wonders HOW and WHY Graham and company ended up eventually betraying the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, this book is a sad but necessary eye-opener.

“The reason why the BGEA (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) decided to co-operate with liberals and other non-evangelicals (such as Roman Catholics – Tom) was never set out in terms of principle. The fact is that the policy was seen as a neccessary expedient designed sincerely for the best end, namely to gain a wider hearing for the gospel. Crusades depended on crowds and in the Graham story there is an almost ever-present concern for maintaining and increasing numbers. ‘Keeping an eye for maximum public impact’ and ‘trying always for the largest possible crowds’ was a settled part of the Billy Graham Association’s strategy.” pp- 58-59.

“We may be small in numbers but since when has the doctrine of the remnant become unpopular among evangelicals? It is one of the most glorious doctrines in the whole Bible. We are not interested in numbers. We are interested in truth and in the living God. ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ …If we stand for God’s truth we can be sure that God will honour us and bless us.” – a quote from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, p.293.

“Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000” is available at Amazon here.

Throwback Thursday: Billy Graham – Part 1

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on September 19, 2016 and has been revised.

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Billy Graham (d. 2018) is widely revered as the greatest evangelist of the last 100 years. No individual did more to spread the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone in that span. But my experience with Graham was quite different.

I left Roman Catholicism and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1983. What joy it was to have my sins forgiven and to walk in fellowship with the Lord! I had watched several of Graham’s crusades as a Catholic. Perhaps the televised crusades had softened my heart on my journey to the Lord, but I don’t recall them having made a direct impact. But as a new Christian, I was thrilled to be able to stand with such a famous and revered figure as Billy Graham in declaring the Good News! of Jesus Christ.

However, several months after accepting Christ, I came across some information that was critical of Graham. I learned that his crusades were planned in cooperation with local Roman Catholic clergy. Huh? When Catholics came forward at Graham’s invitation to accept Christ, they were referred to Catholic workers and eventually sent back to Catholic parishes. Catholics were told that coming forward at a Graham crusade was simply a recommitment to their sacramental baptism and confirmation. Catholicism talks about “faith” and “grace,” but their bottom line is a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit.

I was shocked by Graham’s betrayal of the Gospel. What was he thinking? I had “swam across the Tiber,” AWAY from Rome’s false gospel, to the Gospel of grace only to find evangelicalism’s favorite son encouraging Catholics to remain in error and convincing other evangelicals to embrace Rome as a genuine Christian church. How could this have happened?

I’m currently reading a book titled, “Evangelicalism Divided,” by Iain Murray, a former associate of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, which offers some explanations for why Graham and other-like minded evangelicals accommodated and compromised with doctrinal error in the pursuit of “results” and popularity and how that eventually led to the betrayal of the Gospel. I’ll be reviewing that book as the second part of this post.

Graham is so highly esteemed by evangelicals that few will tolerate any kind of criticism of him. In our post-modern age of tolerance and niceness, any kind of negative appraisal is widely frowned upon, even if an individual is leading millions into gross doctrinal error.

I’m not going to expend a great amount of effort writing about Protestantism’s “saint,” however, if you’ve hung with me this far, I would strongly encourage you to watch the attached 1:30-minute video clip in which Dr. Graham was interviewed by positivist gospel preacher, Robert Schuller. In the interview, Graham states that people of all religions will be saved; a universalist belief. Since Graham stated that belief in Jesus Christ and the Gospel wasn’t important to salvation, it’s understandable why he had no qualms with Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit.

Brothers and sisters, be careful who you follow. They may not be all they appear to be. If the world esteems them highly, that may be your first clue.

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” – Galatians 1:6-9

“For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” – Luke 16:15

A Look Back at “Up With People!”

The funny thing about being older (I’m 64.5 YO) is I can remember a lot of things from my childhood better than I can remember last week.

In Catholic grammar school back in the 1960s, the nuns really loved for us young students to sing songs. Ach! There were plenty of Catholic religious songs and also secular songs. The nuns always chose the smartest and most popular girl in our class, Ann C., to come up to the front of the classroom and lead the singing. Well, singing was never one of my fortes and, truth be told, I thought Ann was pretty cute and I was much more interested in watching her sing than singing any of the songs myself. But I digress.

One of those old songs turns up in my head occasionally. A musical troupe called “Up With People” was founded in 1965* as an organization for young adults “that enabled them to interact with the world through positivity and music.” It was clearly a “healthy,” establishment-sanctioned alternative to the burgeoning, counter-culture, hippie movement. The ensemble’s signature “sing-out” folk song, “Up With People!,” was featured on many television variety shows at the time. It was a cultural phenomenon. Many adults breathed a sigh of relief. “Ah, not ALL youth are going down the toilet,” they consoled themselves. While our parents loved the song, it was waaaaaay too square for us nine-year-old hipsters who were already listening to the Beatles and the Byrds. Regrettably, the nuns at our parochial school also loved the song and forced it upon us along with all of the requisite corny body motions (see video below).

I was thinking about the “Up With People!” song recently and it strikes me now that some of the lyrics are antithetical to the Gospel. Let’s take a look, shall we?

(Verse 1)
It happened just this morning, I was walking down the street
The milkman and the postman and policeman I did meet
There in ev’ry window and ev’ry single door
I recognized people I’d never noticed before

(Chorus)
Up! Up with people!
You meet ‘em wherever you go
Up! Up with people!
They’re the best kind of folks we know
If more people were for people
All people ev’rywhere
There’d be a lot less people to worry about
And a lot more people who care
There’d be a lot less people to worry about
And a lot more people who care

(Verse 2)
People from the south-land and people from the north
Like a mighty army, I saw them coming forth
‘Twas a great reunion, befitting of a king!
Then I realized people are more important than things

(Chorus)

(Verse 3)
Inside everybody there’s some bad and there’s some good
But don’t let anybody start attacking people-hood
Love them as they are, but fight for them to be
Great men and great women as God meant them to be

(Chorus)

Yup, you spotted it. Verse 3 is a problem. It propagates a Christ-less universalism and civil religion. Everybody has some good in them, it says, and we all have to help each other reach the greatness potential that the nebulous, inter-faith deity allegedly desires for us. Every works-religionist can subscribe to this song. No wonder the nuns loved it. Hey, it just occurred to me that this song is very similar to a Joel Osteen “sermon.”

In contrast, the Bible declares there is none righteous, no, not one. We are all sinful beings and we all deserve eternal punishment. But Jesus Christ, God the Son, was punished for our sins on the cross of Calvary. He defeated sin and death by rising from the grave and offers eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who trust in Him as their Savior by faith alone.

“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

Positivity won’t cleanse your soul, cure the evils of the world, or get you to Heaven! Jesus Christ alone is the Way to Heaven.

*After a little digging, I discovered the Up With People organization had its roots in the ecumenical, inter-religious “Moral Re-Armament” (MRA) movement, which began in 1938. See the Wiki article here.

Addendum: We were subversive little nine-year-old rascals and I remember myself and a few buddies conspiratorily changing the last lines of the chorus from…

There’d be a lot less people to worry about
And a lot more people who care

to

There’d be a lot MORE people to worry about
And a lot LESS people who care

But we didn’t sing the rebellious alternate lyrics loud enough for the temperamentally volatile nun to hear us.

Up With People lingered on after its 1965 peak and actually appeared as the marquee halftime act at Super Bowls X (1976), XIV (1980), XVI (1982), and XX (1986). A scaled down Up With People is still in existence, continuing to crusade for the cause of worldwide brotherhood (see website here).

Throwback Thursday: What “gospel” does apologist Ravi Zacharias proclaim?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on March 3, 2016 and has been revised. As an introduction, Ravi Zacharias was a very popular evangelical apologist who died on May 19, 2020. Disturbing reports of predatory sexual abuse involving Zacharias have come to light in recent months. Also disturbing was Zacharias’ long history of promoting ecumenism with Roman Catholicism.

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During my lunch break today, I took a quick trip to the post office and tuned into The Word, WZXV, 99.7 FM, Christian radio station here in Rochester, New York. Every day at 11:00 a.m., the station plays the daily message from popular evangelical apologist, Ravi Zacharias.

Zacharias is widely considered to be one of evangelicalism’s leading apologists. He’s an excellent speaker – the words flow out of his mouth like honey. But beware, Zacharias’ messages are sometimes dangerous.

Today, the station broadcast one of Zacharias’ messages from his “Memories of Muggeridge” series (see far below for the link). Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990) was a highly respected British author and journalist and a longtime agnostic and eventual convert to Roman Catholicism.

In the message, Zacharias spoke about Muggeridge’s growing disillusionment with politics, journalism, commerce, education, entertainment, and religion. He was allegedly searching for the ultimate truth. Muggeridge was subsequently baptized into the Roman Catholic church at the age of 79 in 1982. It was Muggeridge who first introduced the world to Mother Teresa and thrust her into the spotlight as THE standard of “Christian” charity.

As a Roman Catholic, Muggeridge believed in salvation by sacramental grace and merit. He believed, as do all Catholics faithful to their church’s teaching, that one must be in a sinless “state of grace” at the moment of death in order to merit Heaven. For Catholics, justification comes from obeying the Ten Commandments perfectly (impossible!). If they break the Law, Catholics must confess all of their “mortal” (deadly/major) sins and be absolved by a priest before death or they are taught they will go to hell.

So why would Zacharias, one of evangelicalism’s leading apologists, hold up Muggeridge and Mother Teresa, who both believed in salvation by works, as shining Christian examples? I also heard Zacharias praising St. Francis of Assisi in a different broadcast. Is it that Zacharias is just totally ignorant of Catholic doctrine?  Is it that he believes the differences in salvation theology between Gospel Christianity and Roman Catholicism are not important? What goes through the mind of Ravi Zacharias? Either the Gospel is salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone or it is salvation by sacramental grace and obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) as Rome teaches. It is either one or it is the other. It cannot be both!

A number of evangelical leaders are dismissing right doctrine and embracing those who teach works-salvation as “brothers and sisters in Christ” in the cause of “Christian unity.” I would ask them, is the Gospel the Gospel or isn’t it? Make no mistake; there are absolutely no Catholic apologists on EWTN Catholic radio singing the praises of Wycliffe, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Tyndale, Spurgeon, Moody, Lloyd-Jones, etc. like Zacharias fawns over Muggeridge, Mother Teresa, G.K. Chesterton, and St. Francis. So why are evangelicals like Zacharias so deferential? Why are evangelicals so blind?

By embracing error as truth, Zacharias betrays the Gospel and misleads those who admire him.

“For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” – Galatians 3:10-13


Memories of Muggeridge, Part 4 of 5
Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)
Broadcast 3/3/2016

Note: In this Throwback Thursday installment, I removed the link to the broadcast/podcast referenced above because RZIM no longer provides free access to that particular episode (#4) of the “Memories of Muggeridge” series or to episodes 2, 3, or 5 either. However, part 1 of the series can be accessed here.

See my earlier post on Ravi Zacharias’ dalliance with Roman Catholicism here.

Throwback Thursday: Rick Warren and Rome

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on March 4, 2016 and has been revised.

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Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Path to Rome
By Roger Oakland
Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2015, 20 pages

Popular Southern Baptist, mega-church pastor, Rick Warren, aka “America’s Pastor,” has been courting the Roman Catholic church for many years. But even Rome-friendly, evangelical ecumenists were somewhat taken aback by Warren’s unabashed and forthright endorsement of Catholicism in his 2014 interview on EWTN (Catholic) television (see link below).

In the interview, Warren stated his personal fondness and endorsement of Catholic contemplative mysticism, the pope, ecumenical social projects, Catholicism’s New Evangelization program, spiritual directors, EWTN television, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

In this short booklet, evangelical apologist, Roger Oakland, examines Warren’s shocking statements in comparison to God’s Word and the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The Catholic church teaches salvation by sacramental grace and merit, a different “gospel,” but that’s definitely not a problem for Warren who is quite comfortable throwing correct doctrine out the window. He nebulously states that as long as you “love Jesus, we’re on the same team,” whatever that means.


World Over hosted by Raymond Arroyo
EWTN
4/10/2014
Guest, Rick Warren
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVCY8pW-ACs

Rick Warren’s comments on Roman Catholicism
Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry
https://carm.org/rick-warren-and-catholicism

Note: “Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Path to Rome” is out-of-print, but other materials about Roman Catholicism from Lighthouse Trails Publishing can be found here.

When Catholics speak of “Christian Unity,” what they mean is the eventual conversion of Protestants

Christian Unity: The Next Step
By Kevin E. Mackin, OFM (Order of Friars Minor aka the Franciscans)
WestBow Press (A Division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan), 2020, 92 pp.

1 Star

I stumbled across this short book written by a Franciscan priest about the future of the ecumenical movement and was curious to see what he had to say. Based on its short length, I suspected this was some sort of academic dissertation, but was surprised to read the author is eighty-two years old.

Priest Mackin begins with a look back at the Roman Catholic church’s radical redirection at the Second Vatican Council with regards to its attitude towards Protestants, from that of militant confrontation to concerted rapprochement. But Catholicism’s concept of “Christian unity” has always meant Protestants’ eventual reabsorption. The goal since 1964 has been to bring the “separated brethren” back into the fold under the authority of the pope. Paranoia on my part? Read the RCC’s own words:

When such (ecumenical) actions are undertaken prudently and patiently by the Catholic faithful, with the attentive guidance of their bishops, they promote justice and truth, concord and collaboration, as well as the spirit of brotherly love and unity. This is the way that, when the obstacles to perfect ecclesiastical communion have been gradually overcome, all Christians will at last, in a common celebration of the Eucharist, be gathered into the one and only Church in that unity which Christ bestowed on His Church from the beginning. We believe that this unity subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time.

– from Vatican II document, Unitatis redintegratio, (Restoration of unity), chapter 2, 1964

Mackin describes some of the post-conciliar ecumenical talks between Catholics and mainline Protestants focusing on the issues of Scripture, tradition, and authority. He notes that “progress” has definitely been made, but the hoped-for, large-scale reabsorption of Protestants remains elusive.

When Mackin speaks of “Protestants,” he’s generally referring to members of the old, mainline Protestant denominations. The RCC is also making a concerted effort to interface with evangelical Protestants. Ecumenically-minded evangelicals who embrace the RCC with its false gospel of sacramental grace and merit are pawns and polezni durak, “useful fools,” in this calculated endeavor. The genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone has nothing in common with Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit.

Mackin notes that the RCC has been sidetracked by the two-decades-long scandal involving pedophile priests and hierarchical cover-up and needs to “reform” and rededicate itself so that ecumenism can advance once again.

This book “disappointed” in that the theological jargon is sometimes as thick as mud and friar Mackin fails to provide much insight into what the concrete “next step/s” might be in the RCC’s plan for the reabsorption of Protestants. What will it take for Protestants to finally shutter their churches’ windows, padlock their doors, and mosey on down the street to the nearest Roman Catholic church on Sundays? I’m of the opinion that it will take some type of global, catastrophic event for unwitting non-Catholics to submit to the pope en masse and I do believe such an event is coming. In the meantime, misguided, ecumenically-minded evangelicals bemoan denominational divides and long for the day when all “Christians” can worship together under one roof. The pope and his prelates are most assuredly working on it.

Above: Cardinal Kurt Koch (2nd from right), President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, meets with representatives from the World Evangelical Alliance in 2018.

“Beware of ‘those’ false teachers, but ‘these’ false teachers are okay.” Huh?

One of the more enjoyable aspects of Christian blogging is being able to read the inspiring, informative, and creative writing of my fellow believing bloggers. However, I purposely limit the number of bloggers I follow because I try to read all of the incoming posts and there’s only so many hours in the day.

I’ve followed and subsequently unfollowed many bloggers over the years. I realize that few if any Christian bloggers are going to align exactly with all of my beliefs on secondary and tertiary doctrines, but there are some things that I can’t abide with and I can’t lend my support to by following a Christian blogger who propagates such things.

Case in point. I recently began following a blogger I’ll name “Mike” who I came across while reading the comments section of a post by another blogger. Back in mid-November, Mike posted an article warning about false teachers and false teachings, specifically citing the name-it-and-claim-it prosperity gospelers, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Olsteen, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, and Paula White. Amen! Yup, all five individuals are definitely false teachers.

A week later, Mike published another post decrying denominational divisions and the lack of unity amongst “Christians.” Hmm. I hold the view that genuine believers are quite united by our faith in Jesus Christ and the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone despite secondary and tertiary differences. I see that unity demonstrated every day here at WordPress. I’m wary of Christians who decry doctrinal distinctives and appeal to a shallow unity according to a nebulous “We all just love Jesus” bottom line.

A couple of days after that, Mike published another post criticizing Christian sectarianism generally and “prejudice” against Catholics specifically. I certainly don’t support hatred or dislike of Catholics. I was a Roman Catholic for twenty-seven years and most of my family and friends still are Catholic. However, the Roman Catholic church unabashedly and unapologetically teaches a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit and Gospel Christians should never accommodate the RCC or compromise with it. Lest anyone think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill regarding the aforementioned posts, I searched Mike’s archives using the word, “Catholic,” and immediately found a post from August 15th extolling full-bore ecumenism with the RCC.

It’s very clear that Mike views the RCC as a Christian entity. His mid-November post warning about false teachers is ironic and incongruous in retrospect, seeing that he easily embraces the false teachers of Roman Catholicism. Why the disconnect? The acceptable group-think/herd-mentality consensus within conservative evangelicalism these days is that, yes, the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the prosperity shysters preach false gospels, but somehow the RCC’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit is fine and any objection is a sign of uncharitable “sectarianism.” This lack of discernment within evangelicalism is beyond alarming.

I unsubscribed to Mike’s blog because I can’t support his ecumenical propaganda. That kind of tolerance and acceptance of RC error is a misguided and ill-informed leaven that’s rampant throughout evangelicalism these days. Nope, I’m not trying to be the “who you can and can’t follow” blog police. Every Christian blogger must decide for themselves what they can and can’t support by “following” a particular blogger and “liking” their error-filled posts.

Postscript: I noticed that a staunch Roman Catholic blogger whom I have debated several times in the past lent her hearty “Amen” to the first three posts referred to above. If you’re an evangelical blogger and Roman Catholic bloggers are consistently “Amen-ing” your posts, then you’re not enunciating the Gospel clearly enough.

Alistair Begg: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Back in August, my wife and I were in a position where we needed to find a new source for livestream Sunday morning church services. I chose the services at Parkside Church in Chagrin Falls, Ohio (near Cleveland) with Pastor Alistair Begg (photo above). Yup, I had my misgivings about Pastor Begg because of his penchant for quoting C.S. Lewis (ecumenist) and G.K. Chesterton (Roman Catholic) and because of one particular incident that I posted about last year in which he favorably cited a book written by a Catholic cleric (see here). But I decided to give Pastor Begg another try because, well, he is such an enjoyable and inspirational speaker to listen to. Ach. I can be a real dummy sometimes.

My wife and I were pleased, make that VERY pleased, with the subsequent services UNTIL we watched the video of the Sunday, November 1st evening service. Begg had preached an excellent sermon earlier that morning on 2 Samuel 2:1-11 and the anointing of David as King of Israel at Hebron, which was followed by the insurrection of Abner and his installation of Saul’s son, Ish-Bosheth, as the competing king. Begg continued the message in the evening service, preaching on 2 Samuel 2:12-32 and the battle at Gibeon between the military forces of Abner and the forces of David, led by Joab. In the course of both sermons, Begg made the connection between the circumstances surrounding David’s anointing and the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Begg’s point was that all temporal political systems and nations are ultimately destined to fail because multiple forms of advancing corruption bring them down. Begg’s message was that believers should focus on Jesus Christ and the Gospel, not on political solutions and nationalism. Excellent! Here, here! Bravo! Amen! However, at the 37:35 mark, Begg made a disturbing tie-in reference to “the church”:

“(David) came to Israel, and the tribes lined up under Ish-Bosheth, to stand against God’s anointed king. The story incidentally of the development of the history of the church may be understood in these terms, too. I listened to a very fine address by a Roman Catholic priest just yesterday in order to help me in my life. And it was a political address and it was jolly good. And I was paying very careful attention. And he explained at one point that the organization and the commitment of the church runs all the way, he says, from pope Pius IX (papal reign, 1846-1878) to Benedict (XVI). I said to myself, Oh, so what happened to Francis? (That’s) exactly what happened to him!”

Huh? I replayed the remarks several times to make sure I had heard correctly. First, Begg favorably cites to his congregation an address by a Roman Catholic priest to “help me in my life.” He then notes that the priest favorably commented on the papacies of Pius IX* to Benedict XVI, while purposely omitting the controversial current pope, Francis. Begg presents this as a parallel example of how the condition of “the church,” like the nation, is also deteriorating.

Please catch the irony in this circumstance, folks. Begg is bemoaning the deterioration of “the church,” while he himself is contributing to the declining state of evangelicalism by his embracement of Roman Catholicism. What to make of this? I’m certainly not implying that Begg, by his comment, is endorsing the RCC on a wholesale basis, but his remarks here are beyond disturbing. What goes through his head?

Ach. I was disappointed, but not surprised. What a dummy I am. I should NOT have given Begg a second chance. No more listening to Alistair Begg for me. No third chances. Brothers and sisters, this kind of ecumenical accommodation and compromise is rife within evangelicalism.

Below is a link to the sermon in question. Begg’s remarks regarding the address by the Catholic priest begin at the 37:35 mark.

David anointed and opposed – part two (2 Samuel 2:12-32), Sunday evening, November 1st

*It was Pius IX who had himself and other popes declared infallible at the First Vatican Council in 1870. All popes and priests teach Rome’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Update: Brother Billy at the excellent “Soul Refuge” YouTube channel created a video based upon the above post. See below: