A regrettable decision to “dialogue” with spiritually deadly error

Thanks to Chris at Wings of the Wind for his indirect contributions to this post.

In my last “Weekend Roundup” post, I commented on a recent “dialogue” session held in Idaho featuring evangelical and Mormon apologists. The purpose of that dialogue was to promote understanding between the two “parties” and find common ground. Argh! I’m definitely of the opinion that evangelical apologists should debate false religionists rather than dialogue with them. Accommodation and cooperation with error are slippery slopes that always lead to compromise and betrayal of the Gospel. Try to imagine the apostle Paul endeavoring to dialogue with the priests of 1st-century Roman paganism in order to benefit “mutual understanding and respect.” Imagine, if you can, Charles Spurgeon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John R. Rice, or James R. White having dialogue sessions with clerics of false religions. Stop the tape! James R. White? I should definitely rewind that statement in light of recent events.

I truly appreciate the ministry of evangelical apologist, James R. White. He’s done some excellent work examining Roman Catholicism and other non-Christian groups. I have favorably reviewed several of his books on this blog. Where other popular apologists have accommodated and compromised, White has stood firmly on the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. I can’t think of another apologist who has engaged in more debates with false religionists than James White. There are those who have criticized White for his sometimes brash approach but perhaps a debater needs a bit of a thick skin.

This past January, White inexplicably chose to hold two dialogue sessions with Dr. Yasir Qadhi, “one of the most influential conservative clerics in American Islam.” One of the sessions was held at an evangelical church and the other at a mosque. The purpose of the project was to increase understanding between Christians and Muslims. It appears that one of the specific goals of the dialogues was to convince the Christian audience that the extremist views of Al-Qaeda and ISIS are not representative of the majority of Muslims in this country.

Dr. White is currently catching a lot of flak from some concerned Christians for organizing the dialogue sessions with Dr. Qadhi. They wonder why a Muslim apologist was allowed to promote Islam in a church setting. They wonder why White felt obligated to help Muslims counter the general public’s negative perception of Islam due to jihadist terrorism. Is that White’s responsibility?

I believe Christian apologists should be debating false religionists, not dialoguing with them. Certainly, individual Christians “dialogue” all the time with unsaved friends, family, neighbors, and acquaintances in order to ultimately lead them to salvation in Jesus Christ. But dialoguing with clerics of false religions in front of audiences in an effort to “increase mutual understanding and respect” is definitely not the mission of apologists of the Gospel. Despite this recent breach of prudence, I honestly don’t believe James White would participate in a dialogue session with Roman Catholic clerics. How then did he see clear to organizing friendly dialogue sessions with a Muslim cleric?

I believe Dr. White made a mistake in this case, a rather large one. But nobody’s perfect. We all have spiritual blind spots. We must pray for Dr. White as he deals with the repercussions of his regrettable choice. Unfortunately but predictably, some of the objections to Dr. White’s misjudgment are being posted on the internet in the form of ad hominem attacks.

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” – Ephesians 5:11

Christian Muslim Dialogue Pt.1 | Dr. James White & Dr. Yasir Qadhi

Christian Muslim Dialogue Pt.2 | Dr. James White & Dr. Yasir Qadhi

White’s defense of his dialogues with Yasir Qadhi begins at the 27:50 mark of the video below:

An ex-Catholic evangelical speaks to Catholics but the Gospel was nowhere in sight

Religion is a tribal activity for most people, right? People affiliate with the same religion or denomination their parents belong to, preceded by their grandparents, and so on. Most don’t investigate the doctrines of their religion. Their thinking is, “If it was good enough for Mom and Dad (and Grandma and Grandpa) it’s good enough for me!” Within each family, religious piety and practice range from fervent to nominal but the most important rule, especially for Catholic families, is or used to be that no member join another church. Catholicism boasted that it was the “one true church” and warned that anyone who left its ranks was doomed to hell. Catholic parents felt guilty and remorseful if any of their children left the church.

For myself, as I read the New Testament as a Catholic in the early 1980s, I came upon many discrepancies between God’s Word and Catholic dogma. It was soul-wrenching. I eventually left the church, accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior (Yahoo!), and began attending a Bible-preaching church. My parents were not overjoyed but they took it in stride (except for whenever I witnessed to them). They were probably relieved that at least one of their six children was attending some kind of church. Looking back, I’m grateful for some of the information I was taught as a Catholic, but the church has done unimaginable harm over the centuries by leading billions of people away from Christ with its false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Praise the Lord for saving me!

“Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.'” – Luke 9:62

Speaking of ex-Catholics, news sources reported that the nation’s Vice President, Mike Pence, addressed the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday, June 6. The former Catholic parochial school student and altar boy accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior in 1978 at a Christian concert when he was nineteen, although he continued to attend Catholic church. Following undergraduate school, Pence married his wife at a Catholic wedding ceremony in 1985, but the Pences were gradually moving away from Catholicism. In 1995, the couple joined Grace Evangelical Church in Indianapolis and eventually shifted their membership to College Park Church in the same city.

It may have been a little awkward to have an ex-Catholic speak at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, but Pence quelled any uneasiness by saying many flattering things about Catholicism (full transcript below). He was much more politically correct than I would or could have been, but I’m not a politician.

Twenty or thirty years ago, the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast would not have invited an ex-Catholic as the main speaker, but things are changing. For both evangelicals and Catholics, belief is becoming less doctrinaire and more relative. “If it works for you, that’s fine, I just went in a different direction,” was Pence’s sentiment.

“While my own faith journey has taken me and my family in a different direction, I want you all to know how much I cherish my Catholic upbringing and cherish the Church. In fact, I just attended mass with my mom this weekend when we were in Chicago with family.” – Mike Pence

No, Vice President Pence, either Catholicism’s gospel of sacramental grace and merit is correct or Bible Christianity’s Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone is correct. They are diametrically opposed. They can’t both be right. Traditionalist Catholics cry foul when an “apostate” like Pence is the featured speaker at the Catholic prayer breakfast (see the “Mike Pence’s Catholic Mom” article below). True, there’s very little belief-wise that I share with the Michael Voris and his Catholic “Church Militant” cadre but at least I can say they’re trying to remain true to their untenable Catholic dogmas and have the courage of their convictions, which is more than I can say for some “evangelicals.”


Remarks by the Vice President at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

Mike Pence’s Catholic Mom

A warning unheeded from 22 years ago

Protestants & Catholics: Do They Now Agree?
By John Ankerberg and John Weldon
Harvest House Publishers, 1995, 312 pages

When Chuck Colson’s ecumenical Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) project released its first declaration in 1994, it shook evangelicalism to its core. Some evangelicals greeted the document warmly while many others were appalled by its apparent compromise and betrayal of the Gospel.

Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium basically declared that Evangelicals and Catholics both believed in the core teachings of Christianity and needed to unite in an effort to confront the onslaught of secularism.

Several books followed in response to ECT including those written by James R. White, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Michael Horton, and this one by John Ankerberg and John Weldon. Remember John Ankerberg? His Christian apologetics show used to be very popular back in the 80s and 90s and it can still be found on cable and satellite TV (see website, far below).

This is a well-written response to ECT. The Catholic church has not officially changed any of its doctrines since Trent, including its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit, so how could the evangelical writers and signers of the ECT document see clear to suddenly embrace Catholics as brothers and sisters in Christ?

The authors compare many of the vague, conciliatory statements in ECT with Catholic and evangelical doctrine. Not only are there the contrary positions on justification, how a person is saved, but there are the many ancillary differences including the disagreements with Catholic teaching on authority, the papacy, transubstantiation, sacerdotalism, the mass, Mary, sacramental grace, confession, purgatory, indulgences, etc., etc.

The chasm between Catholic and evangelical belief is just too wide to bridge but the ECT writers and signers downplayed or completely dismissed doctrinal differences in their desire for ecumenical unity. But make no mistake, Rome’s understanding of unity has always meant acquiescence to the Vatican.

It’s been 23 years since the ECT controversy and ecumenism continues to make inroads into evangelicalism. At this point, many would wonder what all the fuss was about regarding ECT. A 2015 poll revealed 58% of evangelical pastors consider the pope their brother in Christ. Most Christians bloggers at WordPress probably consider a blog named “excatholic4christ” to be downright distasteful.

Steadfast evangelicals wonder where are the young pastors and para-church leaders who will take the baton from MacArthur, Sproul, D. James Kennedy (d. 2007), Ankerberg, and White in the battle to uphold the Gospel and withstand compromise with Rome? Or is the betrayal just a foregone conclusion at this point? Take heart Christian brothers and sisters who are faithful to the Gospel! The Lord is on His throne and He’s fully aware of the compromise and betrayal taking place.

“And from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” – Acts 20:30

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” – 1 Timothy 4:1-3

Below are the “evangelical” signatories and endorsers of Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium (1994):

  • Charles Colson, Prison Fellowship and Southern Baptist Convention affiliated
  • Dr. Kent Hill Eastern Nazarene College
  • *Dr. Richard Land, Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
  • *Dr. Larry Lewis, Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention
  • Dr. Jesse Miranda, Assemblies of God
  • Mr. Brian O’Connell, World Evangelical Fellowship
  • Mr. Herbert Schlossberg, Director of the Fieldstead Foundation
  • Dr. John White, Geneva College and the National Association of Evangelicals.
  • J. I. Packer, British-born Canadian Christian theologian in the low church Anglican and Reformed traditions.
  • Dr. William Abraham, Perkins School of Theology
  • Dr. Elizabeth Achtemeier Union Theological Seminary (Virginia)
  • Mr. William Bentley Ball, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Bill Bright, Campus Crusade for Christ
  • Bishop William Frey, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry
  • Os Guinness, Trinity Forum
  • Richard Mouw, Fuller Theological Seminary
  • Mark Noll, Wheaton College
  • Dr. Thomas C. Oden, Drew University
  • Pat Robertson, Regent University and the 700 Club
  • Dr. John Rodgers, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry

*Both Land and Lewis eventually withdrew their endorsement of the document due to pressure from within the Southern Baptist Convention.

The John Ankerberg Show

Catholics, Charismatics, and Pentecostals unite in Rome for week-long celebration

News sources (see far below) are reporting that Catholic Charismatics, evangelical Charismatics, and Pentecostals are gathering in Rome this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, which had its beginnings at Duquesne University in 1967, when the Holy Spirit allegedly fell upon a group of teachers and students.

Fair notice: I’m a “cessationist,” which means I believe the apostolic gifts ended with the apostles. I don’t usually bring up my viewpoint on this secondary difference in deference to my Charismatic and Pentecostal brothers and sisters, but these news reports require a response.

300 Charismatic evangelical and Pentecostal leaders are expected to gather with pope Francis, 50 Catholic bishops, 600 Catholic priests, and 30,000 Catholic Charismatic laypersons from May 31 to June 4 to celebrate the anniversary. The biggest events will be a gathering at the ruins of the ancient Roman Circus Maximus on Saturday, June 3, and a Pentecost mass in St. Peters Square on Sunday, June 4.

Yes, I realize that many non-Charismatic/Pentecostal evangelicals also embrace Rome (e.g., Billy Graham, Chuck Colson), but these shared gifts of the spirit have created an especially strong bond between some Charismatic evangelicals and Pentecostals and Catholic Charismatics. It seems to make no difference that the 50 bishops and 600 priests who attend this event proclaim a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. The important thing is that they manifest the requisite “gifts of the spirit” and so fidelity to biblical doctrine is of no priority. So exactly how does the Holy Spirit indwell Catholic bishops, priests, and laity who proclaim and propagate a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit? It’s puzzling that pope Francis, the alleged Vicar of Christ, hasn’t received the “gifts of the spirit” himself, although he has stated several times that he truly appreciates how the charismatic movement has advanced the cause of ecumenism.

In 2013 it was reported the Catholic Charismatic Renewal had over 160 million followers. I could not find an estimate for the number of Catholic clergy involved but I’m guessing it’s in the tens of thousands.

In Rome, Catholic Charismatic Renewal to celebrate 50 years

Charismatic Catholics arrive in Rome for Spirit-filled week

WCC hosts historic ecumenical meeting on ‘greater oneness in Christ’

10 Really “Uncool” Things About Being Catholic

In the article far below, Catholic bishop, Thomas Tobin, cites the following ten items as “really cool” things about being Catholic, but in actuality they’re just about all unbiblical and spiritually toxic:

  1. Confession – God’s Word says salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Go to Jesus in prayer and trust in Him as your Savior. Going into a dark box and confessing sins to a priest is unscriptural. No man can forgive sins. The Catholic confessional box was often used by predatory priests to initially lure their victims. Priests were required to probe older children and young adults with embarrassing questions about sexuality to ensure they gave a full, “good” confession. Any potential pitfalls with that arrangement? See here.
  2. The Rosary – The standard rosary is made up of 59 beads. When a Catholic prays the rosary they say 53 “Hail Mary” prayers to Mary and 6 “Our Father” prayers to God along with a few other prayers. God’s Word forbids prayer to any entity other than to Him. It also forbids multiple rote prayers.
  3. Popes – Nowhere in the New Testament is there any mention of a pope. In contrast, Jesus strictly forbade the kind of ecclesiastical hierarchy that developed in the institutional Roman church (Matthew 20:20-28).
  4. Saints – The New Testament refers to saints as all those who have accepted Christ as Savior, not a super-holy class of people as Rome invented.
  5. Relics – Nowhere in the New Testament are believers instructed to venerate physical objects.
  6. Processions – As priests parade a large bread wafer alleged to be the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus in a sunburst container called a monstrance, the Catholic faithful bow down and worship it. This is unmitigated idolatry.
  7. Blessings – Priests and bishops are alleged to have been ordained with the ability to endow people and objects with powerful blessings.
  8. Music – Gaudy liturgical ritual with its accompanying music defined “religion” for most older generation Catholics.
  9. Guilt – Yup, God’s Word says we are all sinners, but Catholics can never find spiritual peace in Christ because they’re on a religious treadmill and no matter how much they do or how good they try to be, it will never be enough.
  10. A Sense of Humor – I went through twelve years of Catholic education and I can attest to the fact that MANY priests, nuns, and brothers did NOT have a sense of humor. Often those troubled souls were cold and hurtful.

10 Really Cool Things About Being Catholic

Come home! Rome calls out to her daughters

Catholics and Protestants: What We Can Learn From Each Other
By Peter Kreeft
Ignatius Press, 2017, 204 pages

Peter Kreeft is one of Roman Catholicism’s most prolific apologists. When the new, young pastor of the Southern Baptist church we used to attend cited Kreeft as one of his favorite philosophers from the pulpit a couple of years ago, I knew it was time for us to leave.

In this new book, Kreeft makes an appeal in simple, everyday language to non-academic evangelicals to unite with Rome. In Catholic parlance, “unity” always means returning to the authority of the Vatican and to the Catholic sacraments and liturgical worship.

Right off the bat, Kreeft contends that the Reformation’s main debate over the issue of justification was resolved with the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification between Rome and Lutherans in 1999 so therefore evangelicals have no good reason for remaining outside of Catholicism. Not so fast, Professor! Mainline liberal Lutherans and Methodists may have signed this vague accord, but Catholicism still teaches the same false gospel of sacramental grace and merit that it taught in 1517. Nothing has changed. Catholicism teaches good works/sanctification merit justification/salvation. In contrast, Bible Christianity teaches good works/sanctification are the fruit of genuine justification/salvation through faith in Christ alone. The two approaches are diametrically opposed. For an excellent evangelical response to the Joint Declaration, see here.

After quickly dismissing the rhubarb over justification as yesterday’s news, Kreeft then looks at a few other Protestant objections to Catholicism including the “real presence” of Jesus in the eucharist and Mary’s role in salvation. Regarding the former, he simply advises Protestants to visit the nearest Catholic church and pray to the Jesus wafer in the tabernacle and ask if it’s really Him or not. For the latter, he uses the typical Catholic sophistry that all that veneration/worship of Mary is, at the bottom line, actually devotion to Jesus.

Kreeft strongly compliments evangelicals for their passion for Christ and roundly criticizes cultural Catholics for their apathy and begs evangelicals to return to Rome because the only proper place for the “flame” is the “authentic fireplace.” Kreeft drops the names of ecumenist C.S. Lewis and Mother Teresa throughout the text because he’s certainly aware these two religious celebrities are highly recognizable to doctrine-lite evangelicals and are possible bridges to interest in Rome.

Kreeft gently chides Protestants for basing their identity on a negative, i.e., “protesting” Catholicism, rather than joining Catholics and positively proclaiming the (g)ospel. He also defends Rome’s unscriptural interfaith approach to non-Christian religions, repeating the Vatican line that goodness and truth can be found in all faiths and can be Christ-sanctioned roads to redemption.

There’s no logical flow to this book; each short chapter encompasses an individual thought about Catholic-Protestant reunion so you can put it down and pick it up two days later without missing a lie…er…I mean, a beat. This book would appeal to Protestants who have scanty knowledge of Catholic theology and church history and are eager to embrace every person as a fellow Christian who says they “love Jesus, too” (a la Rick Warren). Please note that prominent evangelicals, Timothy George (always a Judas cheerleader for Catholicism) and Eric Metaxas, contribute glowing recommendations on the back cover. There’s already plenty of accommodation, cooperation, compromise, and betrayal within evangelicalism. With this book Kreeft is hoping many will take the next “logical” step.

Postscript: To read how Bible Christians came to be called “Protestants,” see here.

Postscript II: Imagine Spurgeon’s or Lloyd-Jones’s response if someone asked them what they could learn from Catholicism?

Should Christians participate in the National Day of Prayer, Thursday, May 4th?

This Thursday, May 4th, is the National Day of Prayer. On that day, Americans of all religious stripes – evangelicals, mainline Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, New Agers, Wiccans, etc., – will join together and pray for the welfare of the nation.

As a born-again, evangelical Christian, it’s my understanding that we should be reaching out to the religious lost in this country with the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, not joining with them in religious activities.

These sorts of ecumenical endeavors might seem right according to worldly understanding but they’re wrong according to God’s Word.

The Southern Baptist church we attended a couple of years ago opted to participate in the National Day of Prayer and that was one of several signs for us that we needed to leave.

Unfortunately, many American Christians take Old Testament passages that refer to God’s covenant with the nation of Israel and incorrectly apply them to the United States, like the blatant misappropriation of Daniel 9:19 in the accompanying advertisement. God is NOT in a covenant relationship with the U.S.. We need to pray for the salvation of the lost souls living in this country rather than joining with them in prayer for the welfare of the nation. Heresy? For many Christians in America, the focus is on national prosperity and patriotic pride rather than on the spiritual battle going on all around us. The ecumenism of the National Day of Prayer is of the evil one.

On Thursday, evangelical Christians should pray for the salvation of the lost in this country – religious and non-religious –  and pray for the nation’s leaders that they will not hinder the spreading of the Gospel, but those are prayers that we should be praying every day.

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you.” – 2 Corinthians 6:14–17

Should we Participate in the National Day of Prayer?