Throwback Thursday: Rules about “holy water.” Who knew?!?!

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 16, 2016 and has been slightly revised.

capture30

Today, I was listening to the April 8, 2016 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show on the Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, out of Buffalo, New York. This particular broadcast featured Catholic priest, Dave Baker, and moderator, Rick Paolini, taking questions from listeners.

During the show, Rick related how he and his wife often volunteered at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. According to Rick, visitors often bring empty receptacles and fill them with blessed “holy water” provided by the shrine from large dispensers kept outside. One winter day, a gentleman showed up with “14 or 15” plastic containers to fill up for his friends, but it was so cold outside that most of the holy water in the shrine’s dispensers had frozen. The gentleman improvised by filling each of his containers with just a little unfrozen holy water, saying he would return home and fill them to the brim with tap water before distributing them to his friends. Rick was troubled by this and asked priest Dave if it was copacetic to dilute holy water as the gentleman had done. Priest Dave answered that it was okay to dilute holy water, but the ratio of holy water to tap water had to be greater than 50 percent otherwise the holy water would lose its “holiness.”

Huh? Are you serious?

Catholics believe water blessed by a priest can bring great spiritual and temporal benefits to people and objects that come in contact with it. Catholics dip their fingers in holy water fonts at church and make the sign of the cross on their forehead, chest, and shoulders. Zealously pious Catholics often have holy water fonts in their homes. At Catholic religious services and events you can often see the officiating cleric blessing the crowd by sprinkling holy water on them.

Holy water has its roots in pagan amulets and talismans. There’s nothing in the Bible that hints at anything like Catholic holy water.* The Bible reader can’t imagine the apostles or disciples of the early church using pagan holy water. Priest Dave says holy water can’t be diluted by more than 49 percent tap water. Really? Where do Catholics come up with these exacting ecclesiastical rubrics? The poor, deluded gentleman and his fifteen friends were unknowingly blessing themselves with holy water that had no holiness. Not that the results were ANY different either way.

Friends, none of this scrupulous and superstitious ritualism saves. Salvation is as simple as the story of the thief on the cross. Repent of your sin. Turn to Jesus Christ. Accept Him as your Savior by faith alone. Then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches His Word without compromise. You’ll never need another drop of holy water ever again. Jesus is all you need!

“I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts, a people who continually provoke Me to My face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on bricks.” – Isaiah 65:2-3

Nope, we’re not done with holy water rules quite yet. How do Catholics correctly dispose of holy water? Since holy water is a blessed sacramental, you can’t just flush it down the toilet like a bad clam. Excess holy water or holy water that’s become foul must be poured directly onto the ground or on plants growing outside.

*The “holy water” in Numbers 5:16-28 is referred to nowhere else in the Bible. Commentators suggest the water used to make the bitter potion that was to be given to the suspected adulteress was either to be drawn from the Tabernacle laver (and thus consecrated/set apart/holy for ceremonial use) or that it was to be “pure” (i.e. holy) running water as the Septuagint translates it. I’m partial to the latter interpretation. Either way, there are no similarities between the water used to make the potion with the holy water of Roman Catholicism.

Postscript from 2021: This “rules about holy water” post from 2016 is the sixth-most-viewed post ever published by this blog, with close to 2600 views in five years. Why? I assume many scrupulous Catholics came across this post precisely because they were attempting to find the RCC’s rules regarding diluting or disposing of holy water. Sad.

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series, #106

Today, in our ongoing “Truth from Arkansas” series, we’re featuring two new sermons from the brethren down under.

First, we have Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching from Luke 14:15-24 on “Excuses.”

Next, we have Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaching from John 13:34-35 on “Let There Be Love in the Church.”

Both of these sermons were delivered on Sunday, October 3rd.

Pastor Roger Copeland – Excuses.

Click on the “Watch on Facebook” below to view sermon, which begins at the 22:40 mark. Sorry, but this particular sermon was not uploaded to YouTube as the sermons from Northern Hills Baptist Church normally are.

Pastor Cody Andrews – Let There Be Love in the Church

40 Questions About Roman Catholicism

40 Questions About Roman Catholicism
By Gregg R. Allison
Kregal Academic, 2021, 326 pp.

5 Stars

Is Roman Catholicism Christian? Such a question is repugnant to many evangelicals in this era of undiscerning pluralism. But how well do you really know Roman Catholicism and what it teaches?

In his previous book, “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” (2014), evangelical theologian, Gregg Allison, posited that the Roman Catholic church operates according to two basic constructs:

  • The Nature-Grace Interdependence, which claims the concrete conference of divine grace through nature, e.g., priests, water (baptism), oil (confirmation, last rites), laying of hands (ordination), bread (Jesus wafer), pilgrimage sites (healing), etc.
  • The Christ-Church Interconnection, whereby the Catholic church presents itself as the prolongation of the incarnation of Christ.

In this outstanding new book, published as part of Kregal Academic’s “40 Questions” series, Allison examines most of the major Roman Catholic doctrines and how they align within the Nature-Grace and Christ-Church constructs. The Catholic view on a particular doctrine is presented quite objectively followed by a Protestant/Biblical response. I would have loved to have listed the titles of all forty chapters to give you an idea of the scope of this examination, but I realize that few would have labored through it. Suffice to say Allison addresses the major doctrinal differences between Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity, most importantly, the opposing views on justification (infusion of sacramental grace and meritorious obedience vs. the imputation of Christ’s perfect righteousness) and salvation (by sacramental grace and merit vs. by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone). Merit was unabashedly taught as a component of Catholicism’s salvation system back when I was a young Catholic parochial school student, but the term has fallen out of favor within RC-ism because of its blatant anti-Gospel connotations and has been replaced with such sophistical phrases as “cooperating with grace” and “maintaining friendship with God,” but Allison accurately identifies merit as the bottom line of RC soteriology.

I wish there was more historical context in this book, but I realize Allison is writing from a theologian’s perspective rather than a historian’s. Allison’s tone is irenic almost to a fault, which comports with his view that confrontational evangelism is not effective. Praise God for a book such as this in 2021 when ecumenism with Rome is rampant within big tent evangelicalism. Much thanks to Dr. Allison and Kregal Academic Publishing. I’ve reviewed over 120 books on Roman Catholicism over the last six years and this one is easily one of the best. Be forewarned that this book is aimed towards academics, it’s not a breezy read for the beach.

“40 Questions About Roman Catholicism” can be ordered from Amazon here.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 10/16/21

Since Joe Biden’s presidential election victory on November 3, 2020, the American Catholic bishops have contemplated how to react to Catholic politicians like Biden and Nancy Pelosi who support the abortion genocide, with many bishops saying they should be banned from receiving the alleged eternal life-giving Jesus wafer. The bishops met in June and voted to move forward with a process that might ultimately revoke the eligibility of politicians like Biden and Pelosi to receive the Jesus wafer. The upcoming meeting in November will continue the process. Recent actions by Pelosi’s archbishop and pope Francis symbolize the opposing views on this issue within the church hierarchy. Conservative archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, called upon the Catholics of the San Francisco diocese to pray for Pelosi’s conversion. In contrast, progressive pope Francis warmly welcomed Pelosi on her recent visit to the Vatican.

While the über progressive German Catholic church is in the midst of its own “Synodal Path” initiative to identify and implement reforms, pope Francis has launched a two-year, church-wide synodal initiative. Conservatives fear the process will erode the church’s hierarchical structure and dilute traditional doctrine, which is exactly what Francis has in mind.

The majority of U.S. Roman Catholics do not attend mandatory mass on Sunday and have little knowledge of or interest in the ongoing squabbles between pope Francis and his progressive supporters and church conservatives. In a recent Pew Research poll, 65% of U.S. Catholics said they have not heard of pope Francis’ recent clampdown on the Latin mass and 83% said they have a favorable view of the pope.

The Vatican is not a nation in the sense that we all understand, but rather is the administrative center of the Roman Catholic church. Vatican “City” covers only 110 acres and has only 800 residents. President Ronald Reagan blundered when he assigned the first U.S. ambassador to the Vatican in 1984.

France and Europe were shaken by a recent report that 200,000 French children were sexually abused by Catholic clerics since the 1950s. Pope Francis offered the obligatory apology, but the fact remains that popes and prelates never took concrete steps to address the abuse and cover-up.

As a young child, I enjoyed watching reruns of “The Adventures of Superman” TV series (1952-1958) featuring George Reeves as “The Man of Steel,” Noel Neill as Lois Lane, and Jack Larson as Jimmy Olsen. Reeves was paunchy and the plots were hokey, but there was always a good moral message. The LGBT+ steamroller is leaving no stone unturned.

Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #12

Today, we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018). Thanks for joining me.

capture30

Claim #12: I am a Catholic because I want to believe the same things that Jesus taught and that his disciples and their successors and every single Christian in the world believed for fifteen-hundred years

Kreeft lists thirteen Catholic beliefs, briefly summarized below, that he contends were held in common by all Christians “until Protestant ‘reformers’ started to cut branches off the tree of the Catholic faith” (p.41).

  1. The divine and infallible teaching authority of the RCC, not sola scriptura.
  2. The need for charitable works in salvation, not sola fide.
  3. Grace perfects and utilizes nature (including free will), not sola gratia.
  4. The appeal to Peter and his successors, the bishops of Rome, as the final authority.
  5. Christianity as a social/ecclesiastical institution embodied in the RCC, not individuals.
  6. The historical “fact” of apostolic succession passed on sacramentally via ordination.
  7. “The literal, full, Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist” (p.42).
  8. The power and authority of priests to forgive sins.
  9. The existence of Purgatory
  10. The rightness of praying to saints
  11. The rightness of seeking Mary’s intercession and recognizing her as “the Second Eve,” “the Mother of God,” and “the Immaculate Conception.”
  12. The “fact” that all seven sacraments confer actual grace to the supplicant.
  13. The infallibility and authority of the Church to define which books are Scripture.

Response

Christianity was legalized in 313 AD and adopted as the official religion of the Roman Empire in 380 AD. As the early church became increasingly institutionalized and followed the Roman imperial model, it abandoned the simple Gospel of grace in favor of sacramentalism administered by the progressively powerful and authoritarian hierarchy and clergy. Scripture is our sole authority and we appeal to Scripture rather than the Catholic church’s spurious “sacred traditions,” which evolved over time. Untethered from Scripture, the RCC advanced its prerogatives and fabricated hundreds of heterodox, vain doctrines. For Kreeft to claim Christians believed all thirteen of these Catholics doctrines for fifteen-hundred years is gross deceit. Let’s briefly respond to Kreeft’s fraudulent allegations:

  1. Neither the pope or the notion of papal infallibility is found in the New Testament. The RCC didn’t define papal infallibility until 1870.
  2. The New Testament teaches salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.
  3. Nature, including man, is fallen. Nature is not trustworthy. It is the Holy Spirit Who draws souls to salvation in Christ through the preaching of the Word.
  4. The New Testament does not teach the bishop of Rome is the final authority.
  5. The New Testament warns against the institutional church (Matthew 20:20-28).
  6. The New Testament doesn’t refer to apostolic succession.
  7. The New Testament doesn’t teach a literal “transubstantiation” of the Jesus wafer.
  8. The New Testament doesn’t speak of a sacerdotal priesthood for the church or of priests forgiving sins. In contrast, the New Testament declares priests and sacrifice were done away with by Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:11-14).
  9. The notions of purgatory and indulgences are not found in the New Testament.
  10. The New Testament does not teach praying to saints.
  11. The New Testament does not authorize worshiping/venerating Mary.
  12. The New Testament does not refer to the seven sacraments, although it does teach the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
  13. Scripture (the Old Testament) existed before the church. The Holy Spirit defines Scripture, not the RCC.

Praise God the Reformers returned the church to New Testament teaching and the genuine Good News of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Next week: Claim # 13: I am a Catholic because I want the strongest reason to believe the Bible

Throwback Thursday: Quit Quoting C.S. Lewis

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 18, 2016 and has been revised.

capture30

Tune into Christian radio for the day and you’re bound to hear a quote or two from C.S. Lewis. Sit in a pew at an evangelical church on Sunday and there’s a very good chance the pastor will quote Lewis during his sermon. But Lewis held many beliefs that were contrary to Gospel Christianity. Why then this infatuation with Lewis among evangelicals? There’s a certain degree of intellectual snobbery in connection with name-dropping the Oxford professor that appeals to some. Others just follow along because quoting Lewis seems to be “the thing to do.” See here for my previous review of “Mere Christianity” and why Lewis’ theology is very problematic for evangelicals.

Why keep banging the drum regarding the problems with C.S. Lewis? Because yesterday I heard Lewis fawningly quoted on Catholic talk radio (argh!) and I also ran across this informative 3-minute video critique of Lewis from No Compromise Radio. Evangelical pastors need to STOP WITH THE C.S. LEWIS QUOTES!

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series, #105

Today, in our ongoing “Truth from Arkansas” series, we’re featuring a new sermon from one of the brethren down under.

We have Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching from Luke 14:1-6 on “When the Ox is in the Ditch.” This sermon was delivered on Sunday, September 26th.

Pastor Roger Copeland – When the Ox is in the Ditch

🎵 “‘When the pope says, ‘Don’t cry, rules we’re made to defy,’ that’s Amoris.” 🎵 [To the tune of “That’s Amore”]

Defending the Faith Against Present Heresies: Letters and statements addressed to Pope Francis, the Cardinals, and the Bishops with a collection of related articles and interviews
Edited by John R.T. Lamont and Claudio Pierantoni
Arouca Press, 2021, 433 pp.

3 Stars

After ascending to the papacy in 2013, Jorge “pope Francis” Bergoglio perceived that the Roman Catholic church was in a serious pickle. Official Catholic doctrine taught that remarried divorcees were adulterers and could not receive the eucharist Jesus wafer, the alleged “source and summit of Christian spirituality” as the Catholic catechism declares, or the other sacraments. That was not a big deal fifty years ago when few Catholics divorced, but these days close to 30% of adult Catholics are divorced and many obviously remarry. Then there are the many Catholic couples that cohabitate rather than marry. Rather than endure the church’s discipline, many remarried divorcees and cohabitators stop attending mass altogether. Progressive Catholics like Francis and his allies felt that scrupulous adherence to rules for rules’ sake was counterproductive when fewer and fewer were showing up for mass on Sunday mornings.

In 2016, Francis wrote Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), an “apostolic exhortation,” which among other things, declared that “in some cases,” those living in “irregular unions” were committing only venial sin rather than mortal sin due to mitigating circumstances (e.g., children) and that it was up to the discretion of the local parish priest as to who could receive the Jesus wafer and the other sacraments. The language of Amoris Laetitia was purposely vague so as not to be seen as flagrantly overturning traditional doctrine.

Conservative and traditionalist Catholics were appalled. They interpreted the pope’s apparent rescindment of the ban on the sacraments to remarried divorcees as an act of grave heresy. Four cardinals officially submitted five dubia (“questions”) to the pope, requesting that he clarify Amoris Laetitia in light of traditional Catholic teaching, but Francis refused to respond. Conservative prelates advised their priests to ignore Francis’ “bending of the rules,” however, when the Argentinian bishops published a guideline endorsing Francis’ pragmatic, rule-bending intentions, the pope cited the document as “authentic magisterium,” i.e., the authorized interpretation. Several petitions signed by prelates, priests, and laypersons followed the dubia, all accusing Francis of heresy, but they were also ignored by the pope. Conservative Catholics were now the ones in a pickle. What to do when the pope is a heretic? They were in a Catch-22 because absolute fealty to the papacy is a prime tenet of conservative Catholicism.

In this book, the conservative Catholic editors present the dubia, the various petitions, and many relevant articles. As an interested evangelical Vatican observer, I was fascinated from start to finish of this book. This is unparalleled papal drama that every evangelical apologist should be taking note of. There was considerable “technical jargon” (references to Catholic papal theology and canon law) throughout, but I managed to wade through without my eyes glazing over too often.

I watched the Amoris Laetita “crisis” unfold beginning in 2016 and have posted many articles over the years citing the mammoth (for Catholicism) dilemma. Francis has undermined the age-old boast that it was impossible for the pope to lead the RC church into error (as per St. Robert Bellarmine, d. 1621). Five years after Amoris Laetitia, the furor among conservative Catholics has somewhat abated. The pope’s strategy to outwait his opponents has partially worked, but the pot is still simmering. All that conservative prelates can do is continue to wring their hands and counsel their priests and lay followers to ignore the heretical pope. There are no mechanisms within canon law to impeach the pope. Missing in this internecine Catholic feud is the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Postscript #1: I ordered this 2021 book from Amazon back in April, but five months later it is strangely no longer being offered. Does Amazon now regard this “Francis is a heretic” book as “hate literature.”

Postscript #2: It’s probably safe to assume that the vast majority of mass-going Roman Catholics are not aware of this Amoris Laetitia controversy. They clock-in and clock-out every Sunday and that’s about the extent of it. However, rest assured that some incensed Catholic Karen will be talking to “father” if she spots a remarried-divorcee standing in line to receive the Jesus wafer.

Relevant terms:

Papal infallibility: Some evangelicals mistakenly assume Catholics believe everything the pope teaches to be infallible. But according to the RCC, only when the pope speaks dogmatically on matters of faith and morals, ex cathedra, or “from the chair” of the Apostle Peter, is his teaching considered infallible. When have popes spoken ex cathedra? Catholic theologians can only agree on a handful of declarations, but no one, including pope Francis, considers Amoris Laetitia to be infallible.

Indefectability: The Roman Catholic church has boasted for 1500 years that it is “indefectacle,” i.e. that the church’s teaching magisterium (the pope in conjunction with the bishops) is incapable of leading the church into doctrinal error due to the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit. The five-year debate over Amoris Laetitia debunks that cherished claim.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 10/9/21

The above headline rocked France and Europe this past week, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Multiply this horror by every Catholic European nation and then by century after century of Catholic clerical authoritarianism.

The German Catholic church’s Synodal Path initiative continues. Progressives will be demanding ordination of women, intercommunion, and the end of mandatory clerical celibacy. With Germans leaving the Catholic church in droves, the hierarchy is desperate to enact people-pleasing reforms.

Cardinal Peter Turkson states abortion genocide-supporter, Joe Biden, should not be denied the Jesus wafer and that communion should be denied only in extreme cases, such as to a “known murderer.” Huh?

Pope Francis issued a formal apology to Mexico for the Roman Catholic church’s role in Spain’s colonization of that country, which included forced baptisms. Some Spanish politicians took offense to the pope’s apologies.

This past Monday was the feast day of Francis of Assisi, one of Catholicism’s most famous “saints.” It is alleged that Francis had the “stigmata” (wounds of Christ) and regularly levitated. Myths aside, Francis was an ardent animal lover who referred to animals as brothers and sisters in the Lord and often preached sermons to them. Many Catholic parishes invite members to bring their pets to church on Francis’ feast day in order for the priest to bless them. Priests are considered to have divine abilities conferred through their ordination, including the ability to bless inanimate objects and living things.

Ninety-one-year-old Pat Robertson leveraged his position as head of CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) into that of political broker (founder of Christian Coalition) and candidate for POTUS in 1988. Over the decades, he has made dozens upon dozens of prophecies (“God told me…”) that failed, bringing ridicule upon the Gospel. Credulous souls still send in their checks.

Some bemoaned the Notre Dame conflagaration of 2019 as symbolic of the demise of “Christianity” in France and in Europe. But, as Leonardo De Chirico writes in this article, the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone was never preached from the pulpit of Notre Dame or any other Roman Catholic church. Which is “worse,” today’s almost completely secularized Europe or the Europe of the past totally dominated by the false gospel of RC-ism?

Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #11

Today, we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018). Thanks for joining me.

capture30

Claim #11: I am a Catholic because of the nouns

In this chapter, Kreeft notes that in our “hollow culture of paper-thin pop psychology” (p. 39), only the Catholic church deals in the weighty nouns of “Father, Son, Spirit, God, Man, Eternity, Time, Good, Evil, King, Kingdom, Power, Glory, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Body, Blood, Soul, Immortality, Angel, Devil, Faith, Hope, Charity, Salvation, Sin, Life, Death, Saint, Savior, Lord.”

Response

Yes, the spiritual/eternal is of much greater significance than the physical/temporal, but the Roman Catholic church has journeyed into heterodoxy by elevating its “sacred tradition” and its magisterium to the same level of authority as Scripture and even beyond. In Kreeft’s list of nouns we find Purgatory, Saint, and Savior. Purgatory is an anti-Biblical Catholic creation with pagan roots. Scripture informs us that “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). The Catholic notion of saints being super-holy people who go to Heaven and act as mediators and intercessors is not found in Scripture. While Catholics speak of Jesus as Savior, they are taught they must, in essence, save themselves by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) in order to merit Heaven.

The answers to the questions of life and eternity can be found in God’s pure Word, the Bible. As a pseudo-Christian religion, Roman Catholicism mixes Scripture with its spurious, man-made “sacred traditions.” Kreeft’s list of weighty nouns includes weighty heterodoxies. Roman Catholicism defines many of these weighty nouns with an un-Biblical or anti-Biblical interpretation. Kreeft purposely omitted unflattering nouns associated with the RCC such as Inquisition, Crusades, anti-Semitism, Scandal, and Corruption.

Next week: Claim #12: I am a Catholic because I want to believe the same things that Jesus taught and that his disciples and their successors and every single Christian in the world believed for fifteen-hundred years