It’s Two-fer-Tuesday, my friends, which normally means two new sermons from the brethren down in Arkansas.
We do have Pastor Roger Copeland at Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana preaching from Luke 1:67-80 on “The Benedictus.” This sermon was delivered on Sunday, January 3rd.
However, there isn’t a sermon from Pastor Cody Andrews for that particular Sunday because services at Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City were suspended due to an outbreak of COVID-19.
Female Catholics are already being utilized as “lectors” (photo above) and “eucharistic ministers” here in the United States, but Francis standardized the practices worldwide via official modifications to Canon Law. This is a preliminary step to women eventually being ordained as Catholic deacons. Missing in all of this inclusive posturing is the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.
Behind the veil of serenity that’s presented to the credulous membership, Catholic priests, prelates, and laity fiercely battle amongst themselves over the “authenticity” of various alleged Marian apparitions. It’s all a deception.
Catholics and liberal Lutherans under the umbrella of the Lutheran World Federation have been striving for unity since the publication of the nebulous “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” in 1999.
Roman Catholicism teaches Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and even atheists are able to merit Heaven if they are “good” and “follow they light they are given,” so there is zero motivation for Catholics to proselytize anyone to their false religion.
Gospel Christians aren’t concerned about the salvation of theoretical aliens when there are so many unsaved souls right here on Planet Earth, including Roman Catholics. When this priest speaks of “redemption,” he’s referring to Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.
Roman Catholic news sources are boasting that Catholics are disproportionately represented in Congress as well as on the bench of the SCOTUS. President-elect Joe Biden is also a Roman Catholic. This would have been a serious concern one-hundred years ago, when the Vatican still propagated militant Catholicism in league with authoritarian civil governments, but the threat of Catholic hegemony and authoritarianism is no longer a serious consideration. Catholic prelates can’t even get their membership to attend obligatory mass on Sunday (pre-COVID) let alone “take over” the country.
The conflation of faith and politics/nationalism has always been a temptation for American evangelicals, going back to the Puritan immigrants in the early 1600s, but Jerry Falwell Sr. and his Moral Majority took it to a whole ‘nother level beginning in the early-1980s. The nadir of this religious-political-nationalist mindset was the protest in Washington D.C. on January 6th, which culminated in the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol Building. There are great spiritual dangers that come with mixing the Gospel and politics. Many unbelievers in this country now wrongly assume that Gospel Christianity equates to Trump-ism, MAGA-ism, and pandemic-denial-ism.
Roman Catholicism: Evangelical Protestants Analyze What Divides and Unites Us John Armstrong, General Editor Moody Bible Institute, 1994, 345 pp.
In 1994, with American society increasingly heading towards secularization, influential evangelical para-church leader, Chuck Colson, and Roman Catholic priest, Richard John Neuhaus, founded Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT), an ecumenical initiative meant to bridge/overlook/minimize theological differences and unite both groups against the perceived common threat. The effort elicited a wide range of responses within evangelicalism. Faithful pastors and theologians countered that the differences between Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity were far too wide and even irreconcilable. Others were increasingly open to Catholic overtures, which began thirty-years earlier at the Second Vatican Council when the RCC radically altered its approach to Protestants, from militant confrontation to conciliatory rapprochement.
This book from Moody Press was published shortly after the release of the first ECT accord. Thirteen evangelical scholars examine the doctrines that continue to divide Catholics and evangelical Protestants. There are a myriad of un-Biblical Catholic doctrines that Gospel Christians could not submit to (e.g., papal authority, sacred tradition, baptismal regeneration, sacerdotalism, transubstantiation, Mariology, purgatory, etc.), but the opposing views on justification stands as the prime difference. Martin Luther famously argued that justification is the doctrine on which the church stands or falls.
Gospel Christians believe a person is justified/made righteous before God only by trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone and thereby receiving the imputed (alien, extrinsic, objective, forensic) perfect righteousness of Christ. Catholicism, in contrast, teaches that its sacraments infuse saving graces into an individual’s soul. By then “cooperating with grace” (i.e., obeying the Ten Commandments, performing acts of piety and charity) a person can become increasingly sanctified (personal, intrinsic, subjective) and can hope to “possibly” merit* salvation at the time of their death. Okay, let’s forget the theological terminology. Evangelicals believe they are saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Catholics hope to be saved by sacramental grace and obedience to the Ten Commandments (impossible!). The two views are diametrically opposed and cannot be reconciled.
Several of the writers acknowledge that Roman Catholicism’s doctrine of justification is NOT the Gospel, yet still conclude that the RCC is a Christian institution and that Catholics are “brothers and sisters” in the Lord. This is a dichotomous accommodation that defies rationality and theology. In his article, Alistair McGrath goes to great lengths in an attempt to prove that the contrasting “approaches” to justification are two sides to the same coin. To his credit, McGrath also points out that in contrast to ecumenical “dialogues,” where Catholic representatives readily assent to theoretical “salvation by grace through faith,” Catholicism continues to teach such things as purgatory, indulgences, and masses and prayers for the dead, which reveal the RCC continues as a works-righteousness religious system.
The articles by S. Lewis Johnson, Kim Riddlebarger, Michael Horton, William Webster and John Armstrong are faithful to the Gospel of grace and do not make accommodations to Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. This book is a mixed bag, but valuable for revealing evangelicals’ increasingly accommodating attitudes towards Rome twenty-six years ago. There’s no doubt that ecumenical compromise and betrayal of the Gospel has made further inroads since then.
One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church – Thomas J. Nettles
How Did the Church in Rome Become Roman Catholicism – D. Clair Davis
What Really Caused the Great Divide? – W. Robert Godfrey
Roman Catholic Theology Today – Robert B. Strimple
Mary, the Saints, and Sacerdotalism – S. Lewis Johnson
Is Spirituality Enough? Differing Models for Living – Donald G. Bloesch
Unhelpful Antagonism and Unhealthy Courtesy – Harold O.J. Brown
Evangelical and Catholic Cooperation in the Public Arena – Ronald Nash
What Shall We Make of Ecumenism? – Alister E. McGrath
No Place Like Rome? Why Are Evangelicals Joining the Catholic Church? – Kim Riddlebarger
What Still Keeps Us Apart? – Michael S. Horton
Did I Really Leave the Holy Catholic Church? The Journey into Evangelical Faith and Church Experience – William Webster
The Evangelical Movement? – John H. Armstrong
*Back in the 1960s, when I was a young Catholic, the Roman church had no reservations about using the term, “merit,” in association with attaining salvation. Since then, the term has fallen out of favor (partly as a concession to evangelical proselytization) and Catholics will insist that they absolutely are not attempting to merit their salvation. However, the church’s catechism reveals merit is still the bottom line of Catholicism’s salvation system:
“Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion (i.e., baptism). Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.” – CCC 2010
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.
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.
I don’t get a chance to listen to Catholic talk radio like I used to, but back on December 8th, I was driving down the road and I tuned into the local AM Catholic radio station. The program being broadcast at that moment was “Mother Miriam Live,” hosted by Catholic nun, Mother Miriam (aka Rosalind Moss, photo above). Miriam is a protégé of über-conservative cardinal, Raymond Burke, and a propagator of traditional, militant, pre-conciliar Catholicism and an outspoken critic of the Catholic progressivism being disseminated by pope Francis and other liberal prelates and priests. She often criticizes pope Francis on her show while dichotomously feigning fealty to the papal office.
Halfway though the December 8th program, Mother Miriam read an email from a discouraged listener regarding pope Francis’ recent Fratelli Tutti (All Brothers) encyclical. I’ve transcribed Mother Miriam’s remarks below with the listener’s written words italicized:
“We have an email from Frank who writes, Dearest Mother Miriam, I am very troubled by pope Francis’s latest encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti” (All Brothers). This encyclical seems more like a communist manifesto rather than a call to holiness. We’ve not talked about that on this program. I’m going to read Frank’s email because he describes why he has said that. I think it’s important that we do read it because so many people are confused if not distraught by it. Frank says, The Holy Father outlines his recipe for rebuilding a post-pandemic world beginning with a complete restructuring of politics and civil discourse in order to create systems prioritizing the community and the poor rather than individual or market interests. The pope criticizes heavily democratic forms of government that value individual and personal freedom and favors a socialist form of government where globalist elites look out for the common good. Communists always love the masses, but disdain the individual and want to control their lives. The pope seems blind to this reality. Now this is Frank writing. I don’t know, I wouldn’t personally say the pope is blind to this reality. Frank continues, This encyclical seems more concerned on the false promise of creating an impossible utopia on earth instead of a focus on the true promise of how to obtain eternal life for our souls in Heaven.Sadly, Frank continues, there are also, it seems, direct shots against President Trump. For example, where the pope laments, quote, the concept of popular and national unity influenced by various ideologies is creating new forms of selfishness and a loss of the social sense under the guise of defending national interests, endquote. Frank says, I pray for the Holy Father, but would appreciate your thoughts on how faithful Catholics may respond to this latest encyclical. God bless you always, Frank.“
“I even hesitated reading Frank’s email because I agree with Frank and it’s very, very difficult. The way we’re going, the Holy Father together with, what Frank calls, some elites in the world, billionaires who are striving for a one-world government and really to control the masses. Much of what’s going on with COVID, COVID is real, but much of what’s going on is to, I remember Hillary Clinton and others saying, Let’s not waste a good crisis. And so they’ve used the COVID crisis to further their agenda for a one-world market and controlling the masses. So, I agree with you, Frank. What are we to do? How do faithful Catholics respond to this encyclical? I think by simply countering what is not Catholic and speaking of what is Catholic. God’s plan for us is not an earthly utopia, but a Heavenly one, eternal life, to repent, to be saved, to embrace Christ, and to be part of His church. The only way to get to Heaven is to be part of His church on earth. These sorts of encyclicals, and plans, and ideologies are leading us away from that and we cannot have it. We must cling to Christ, to the church, to the teachings of the church, which have not, will not, and cannot change, and to the Scriptures, and I would say our response to the pope’s encyclical is to triple our Catholicity, to begin to live your Catholic faith beyond anything you’ve lived before. To be strong and steadfast and be fully Catholic and oppose anything that is not Catholic, that will not get you to Heaven.”
Catholic conservatives and traditionalists are caught in a tortuous (for them) Catch-22 bind. One of their most cherished tenets is absolute fealty to the pope, the alleged “Vicar of Christ” on Earth. Yet, progressive pope Francis is subverting their beloved church doctrines and propagating progressive political views. What does it say about the Roman Catholic church when conservative Catholic prelates, priests, nuns, and lay leaders are advising their followers to ignore and even oppose the pope? In practice, they have appointed themselves pope over the pope! Keep in mind that neither side in this Catholic tug-of-war, neither the progressives represented by pope Francis or the conservatives represented by Mother Miriam, teach the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Both sides disseminate the RCC’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.
Below is the video of the 12-08-20 program in question. Mother Miriam’s critical remarks about pope Francis’ Fratelli Tutti (All Brothers) encyclical begin at the 31:00 mark.
The big news this past week was obviously the assault on the U.S. Capitol building. Following the violence, I noticed that several of the news reports, including the article above, referred to the mayhem as a “sacrilege” and a “desecration” of the Capitol building. In American civil religion, certain government buildings and monuments are revered as religious temples. I’m very grateful for our democracy and I gladly offer proper respect, but man-made government/political institutions are not “sacred” or “holy.” For more on American civil religion, see here.
While on our last visit to Martinshöhe, Germany (pop. 1768) in 2016 to see our grandson, my wife and I took a walk around the village and noticed that the vast majority of houses had an inscription above the door written in chalk: 20*C+M+B+16. I had no idea no what the inscription meant, but subsequently found out.
The letters are an abbreviation of the Latin phrase, Christus mansionem benedicat: “May Christ bless this house.” The “*” represents the star of Bethlehem. The “+” signs represent the cross, and the “20” at the beginning and the “16” at the end (changes with each new year) mark the new year.
Catholics in Germany and other European countries mark their doors with this inscription at the Feast of the Epiphany (first week of January). Most German Catholics don’t bother attending mass on Sundays, but they zealously continue to mark their front door, superstitiously believing it will protect their home.
Protestant literature of the 19th century included many “convent escape narratives,” which presented first-hand accounts of abuse within Catholic convents by former-nuns. Catholic spokespersons of that era dismissed the books as sensationalistic fantasy and “Protestant porn,” but investigative journalism over the last twenty years has vindicated the allegations of widespread abuse among the “celibate” Catholic clergy.
German Catholic prelates are the vanguard of progressive Catholicism. This past October, Pope Francis shocked Catholic conservatives when underhandedly announced his support for same-sex civil unions via statements in a documentary. The Germans will continue to push the envelope even farther.
I’m offering the above article, not because I’m in agreement with it, but because it recalls a controversy the first year I began this blog. Back in 2015, Larycia Hawkins, a professor at Wheaton College, sparked an uproar by expressing solidarity with Muslims and advocating Universalism. Hawkins was subsequently fired. I love Muslims, but they need Jesus Christ just like every lost religionist. Schools like Wheaton are drifting into theological liberalism.
I’ve published several posts over the years that referred to “The Sword of the Lord.” The bi-weekly newspaper was once an important resource for a large faction of the independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) movement here in the United States. The Sword of the Lord was first published on September 28, 1934 by evangelist John R. Rice, who edited the paper until his death on December 29, 1980.
The first Gospel-preaching church my wife attended after we were saved in 1983 was an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church that offered complimentary copies of the Sword on its information table. I subsequently subscribed to the Sword and enjoyed the sermons, editorials, columns, and news bites. The Sword heavily promoted Christian nationalism, a VERY popular viewpoint within the IFB movement and conservative evangelicalism, then and now.
We gradually became exasperated with the teaching at our IFB church and finally left in 1991. The legalistic harangues from the pulpit were beyond burdensome. I had also let my subscription to the Sword run out several years previously for the same reason.
This past summer, I wrote several posts about the IFB that rekindled my “arms length” interest in the movement (although I could never again attend an IFB church). I even resubscribed to the Sword of the Lord. I enjoy most of the contents, although I consume editor Shelton Smith’s columns and news bites propagating Christian nationalism with a very large grain of salt. The principle of “chewing on the meat and spitting out the bones” applies each time I read the Sword.
On page 10 of the October 2, 2020 issue of the Sword I noticed the annual circulation statement that’s found in all periodicals. The statement said there were currently 41,774 subscribers to the paper. Hmm. Interesting.
The biography, “John R. Rice: Man Sent from God” (1981), featured a table on pp. 130-131 showing the circulation of the Sword peaking in 1974 with 288,184 subscribers. There’s now only 42K subscribers? Wow! That’s quite a decline. That’s an indicator not only of the growing unpopularity of print media, but also an indicator of the decline of the IFB.
As I was writing this post, I asked myself if I would rather attend an IFB church where the Gospel is clear, but members must contend with the legalistic harangues and shamings from the pulpit or attend a hipster, seeker-sensitive mega-church, like the one we attended from 2015 to 2019, where the Gospel is shrouded by the laser light shows and amplifiers? Ach. That’s an impossible choice, like asking yourself which poison you would prefer.
14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16
Yesterday evening, after the U.S. Capitol Building was secured following the violent assault by protesters, the legislators reconvened to complete the Electoral College certification process in connection with the recent presidential election.
I watched the proceedings for a short time and heard several legislators plead for national unity following the unprecedented turmoil. A few mentioned that the world was watching and that the United States must go forward as the “city set on a hill,” a beacon of democracy to the rest of the world.
Ever since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1620, politically-minded colonists and Americans have misappropriated Bible passages for their temporal ends. Faith and politics have been conflated for so long that many/most can’t distinguish between the two.
In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus Christ DID NOT have in mind the United States as the “city set on a hill.” It’s quite clear from the context that He was referring to His followers. Believers are the city set on a hill. The church, the body of believers scattered throughout the unbelieving world, is the city set on a hill. Our message is NOT political, it is rather the GOOD NEWS! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. This Good News! of salvation in Christ Jesus knows no national boundaries or political affiliations.
“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’” – John 18:36
Addendum: Ronald Reagan famously referred to America as “The Shining City Upon a Hill” in his same-titled speech delivered in 1974 (see here) and in several speeches thereafter. But the notion didn’t originate with him. Preacher John Winthrop had claimed that designation for the Massachusetts Bay Colony 344 years earlier in 1630 (see here). The notion that America was in an anointed, covenant relationship with God has been preached from American pulpits ever since.
Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on March 8, 2016 and has been substantially revised.
Secrets of Romanism By Joseph Zacchello Loizeaux Brothers, 1989, 232 pp.
“Secrets of Romanism” by ex-Roman Catholic priest, Joseph Zacchello, was first published in 1948 and went through multiple printings, with the last being in 1989. For decades, this book and Loraine Boettner’s “Roman Catholicism” were the most widely referenced resources on Catholicism from an evangelical viewpoint. Although “Secrets of Romanism” is provocatively titled, most of the material was readily available to anyone willing to dig through the Roman Catholic catechism.
Zacchello examines some of the most significant anti-Biblical Roman doctrines – church authority, sacred tradition, the papacy, the mass, purgatory, confession, Mariology, praying to saints, indulgences – first from a Catholic perspective followed by an evangelical rebuttal. However, the most important doctrinal difference separating Catholics and evangelicals, the opposing views on justification, is not addressed directly. Catholics believe in justification by the alleged graces conferred by its clergy-administered sacraments followed by obedience to the Ten Commandments (impossible!), while evangelicals believe all those who trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone are justified by the imputed, perfect righteousness of Christ. This book offers many convincing arguments in opposition to Rome’s anti-Biblical doctrines, but Zacchello’s failure to deal directly with the overarching issue of justification is a regrettable oversight. Boettner committed the same error in his book.
Used copies of “Secrets of Romanism” are available from Amazon.com here.
In our post-modern era of pluralism, diversity, relativism, and ecumenism, fewer and fewer books from “Christian publishers” are being offered that critically examine the errors of Rome, however, some excellent resources are still available. See “The Gospel According to Rome” by James G. McCarthy and “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” by Gregg R. Allison (a more scholarly treatise) for two excellent and relatively recent offerings. Books by James R. White and William Webster are also very good. For my listing of over 360 books that compare Roman Catholicism to God’s Word and Gospel Christianity, see my books tab here.
Postscript A: The forward to “Secrets of Romanism” was written by William Ward Ayer (1892-1985), the popular and influential former pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in New York City, one of the very first Christian pastors to preach over the radio.
Postscript B: In addition to “Secrets of Romanism,” Joseph Zachello also authored, “Ins and Outs of Romanism” and “How to Prevent Mixed Marriages.” He was also editor of “The Converted Catholic” magazine. Read Zachello’s testimony here.
Postscript C: It’s not clear when Loizeaux Brothers ceased publishing. Their former building at 1238 Corlies Avenue, Neptune, New Jersey is currently occupied by food supplier, Gourmet Kitchen, Inc.