Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 9/19/20

There’s a bit of a controversy going on over at “Christianity Today” magazine because recently-retired editor, Mark Galli, has “converted” to Roman Catholicism. I’m not surprised. CT has always encouraged ecumenism with Rome, going back to its creation by Carl Henry and Billy Graham in 1956. The evangelical writers of the two articles above, Ed Stetzer and Roger Olson, react to Galli’s conversion with a degree of disapproval while also holding to the hopelessly incongruous view common to all ecumenical evangelicals, that says while Roman Catholicism is totally wrong about the doctrine of justification (how a person is saved), it is somehow still considered to be a Christian entity. Does not compute. How could a genuinely born-again believer swap salvation in Jesus Christ through faith alone for the chains of religious sacramentalism, legalism, and attempting to merit salvation? Impossible! This is a good example of how some who “profess” to be Christians and even hold leadership roles are tares among the wheat. Some people navigate within Christian circles and learn to “talk the talk” (Galli had earned a M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary), but never genuinely trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone.

The Roman Catholic church normally requires that all members must attend mass every Sunday under threat of eternal damnation. When the pandemic hit mid-March, the U.S. Catholic bishops each issued “dispensations,” allowing the Catholics in their diocese to miss mass without incurring mortal sin. Now that cases of COVID-19 are declining in some regions of the country, bishops are lifting the dispensations and ordering Catholics back to mass. “Those who deliberately fail to attend Sunday Mass commit a grave sin,” admonished the bishop of Milwaukee in anticipation of lifting his dispensation. How many Catholics will comply with the order to return to Sunday mass? Prior to the pandemic, only 13 percent of Catholics attended mandatory weekly mass, 20 percent attended at least once a month, and 67 percent attended no more than a few times a year if at all.

Catholics were encouraged to watch streaming mass services during the quarantine, although the RCC has always taught that the forgiveness of venial sins and the reception of graces were possible only by attending mass in-person. How many Catholics actually bothered to watch mass online on Sundays? In a recent survey, only 25 percent of young (between ages 18 and 35) Catholics surveyed said they participated “very often” or “somewhat” in mass online or on television during the pandemic.

The day is coming in the United States when the Bible will be categorized as “hate literature.”

After nearly 50 years, Charles Stanley announced that he is stepping down as pastor at First Baptist Church, Atlanta (SBC). I disagreed with Stanley on some issues (he was soft on ecumenism with Rome), but he was one of the very few TBN regulars who preached the genuine Gospel.

Southern Baptists are contemplating changing the name of their convention to “Great Commission Baptists.” SBC pastors who are faithful to the Gospel must also contemplate whether they can remain in an alliance in which Bible-denying liberalism is on the rise.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #40: “Today You Will Be with Me”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist begins a new section on “The Last Things” as he attempts to counter Protestants’ objections to Purgatory as they cite Jesus’s words to the thief on the cross, “Today You Will Be with Me.”

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The Roman Catholic church teaches that all those who die with unconfessed “mortal” (major/deadly) sin on their soul are consigned to Hell, but those with “venial” (minor/pardonable) sin or any remaining “temporal punishment” for sin are delivered to Purgatory for purification before they can advance to Heaven.

“The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire.” – CCC 1031

Broussard notes that Protestants often refer to Luke 23:43 in their objections to Purgatory, in which Jesus spoke to the repentant thief next to Him on Calvary:

“And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”

Protestants insist that Jesus’s promise of Heaven to the repentant and born-again thief on the cross precludes the existence of an intermediate state of purification called Purgatory.

Broussard responds with four arguments:

(1) Broussard argues that the “paradise” Jesus refers to in Luke 22:43 may not necessarily refer to Heaven. Some theologians believe the “paradise” in this verse refers to a place (Sheol/Hades) where the Old Testament saints were consigned until Jesus’s atonement and/or ascension.

(2) Broussard then contends that God is not restrained by chronological time and that the thief could have theoretically been purified in Purgatory and entered into Heaven the very same day.

(3) Broussard continues by suggesting that since there were no punctuations in the original Greek text of the New Testament, Jesus could have possibly been saying, “Truly, I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise,” which would have then allowed for a lengthy purification in Purgatory.

(4) In his final argument, Broussard states that Catholicism teaches that not all souls require purification in Purgatory. RC theologians have historically claimed that the “good thief” made an “act of perfect contrition” while on the cross, i.e., he was sincerely sorry for sins simply out of love for God, by which God forgave all of his sins and restored “sanctifying grace” to his soul, enabling him to enter Heaven.

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

Broussard does his best to try to convince us the “good thief” may have gone to Purgatory when he died, only to concede at the very end that the RCC has historically taught the thief went directly to Heaven just as Jesus had told him he would.

It would be impossible to fully address Catholicism’s false doctrine of Purgatory in the remaining space allotted, but there are a few significant points I want to mention:

  • Catholicism errs by dividing sins into mortal/major and venial/minor. Sin is sin. Catholicism differentiates sins and created an intermediate state of purgation for minor sins as a “safety net” in its works-righteousness salvation system. The Roman church concedes few individuals are able to achieve the alleged “holiness” of a Mother Teresa or a pope John Paul II and that the best most practicing Catholics can hope for is Purgatory. In actuality, Mother Teresa and John Paul II were not holy and misled millions of souls with Catholicism’s false works-righteousness gospel.
  • Catholicism bases its doctrine of Purgatory on the apocryphal 2 Maccabees 12:39-45 and several Bible passages such as 1 Corinthians 3:15, which actually refers to the Judgement Seat of Christ/Bema Seat for the saved, where their works will be judged. In its misinterpretation of Scripture, Catholicism doesn’t distinguish between the Judgement Seat of Christ/Bema Seat for the saved and the Great White Throne Judgement for the unsaved.
  • Catholicism used to teach that the length of time spent in Purgatory was chronological and that receiving various indulgences could reduce purification time by specified days and years. The Roman church once even sold indulgences, which sparked the Protestant Reformation in 1517.
  • Catholicism once taught that the suffering in Purgatory was equal to the suffering in Hell (see here), although that view has fallen out of favor with modern Catholic theologians, who consider Purgatory to be something akin to a spiritual “rest stop.”

Purgatory, a spurious doctrine, is an integral piece of Roman Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation via sacramental grace and merit.

What does the Bible say about Purgatory?
https://www.gotquestions.org/purgatory.html

Next up: “At Home with the Lord”

Throwback Thursday: “The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on February 29, 2016 and has been revised.

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The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional
By Charles Chiniquy
Chick Publications, 1979, 144 pages

5 Stars

I don’t normally waste my time with material from Chick Publications because I don’t believe every calamity is attributable to a Jesuit global conspiracy, but I received this book as a gift. This Chick reprint of “The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional” by ex-priest, Charles Chiniquy, preserves a valuable, nineteenth-century Protestant critique of Roman Catholicism’s sacrament of auricular confession. Chiniquy’s book was first published in 1875, followed by many subsequent re-prints.

With overwrought prose typical of his times, Chiniquy warns his readers of the dangers inherent in “auricular” (spoken into the ear of the confessor) confession. Catholics are obligated to confess their “mortal” sins to a priest at least once a year under penalty of incurring yet another “mortal” sin. Since most penitents are extremely reluctant to divulge any embarrassing sexual sins, whether they be thoughts or actions, priests are instructed to thoroughly question the person about such matters to ensure a candid “good” confession. Chiniquy gives many examples of the dangers of celibate confessors (priests) interrogating their female supplicants about such personal matters. The Catholic church acknowledges the pitfalls inherent in its process by defining the use of the confessional for immoral purposes by priests as “solicitation.”

Catholicism teaches that salvation comes by receiving its sacraments, all tightly controlled by the clergy, and by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules. The sacrament of reconciliation, auricular confession, is just another opportunity for the Catholic clergy to exercise control over its members. Chiniquy demonstrates that confession of sins to a priest has no basis in New Testament Scripture and he urges the reader to turn from man-made Catholic legalism and traditions and accept Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. Once a person accepts Christ as Savior, they should confess all sin directly to God, not to a human mediator (Mark 2:7).

“The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional” has been lumped together with similar evangelical Protestant books of the period as anti-Catholic “hate literature” of a bygone era. One could argue the title is a bit salacious and meant to appeal to prurient interests. Likewise, the illustrated cover provided by Chick Publications is mildly sensationalistic. Ex-priest Chiniquy definitely exaggerates his point by claiming the confessional was directly responsible for bringing many Catholic countries down to ruin. These minor objections aside, even the most sectarian Catholic apologist can’t deny the Roman confessional has led to abuse of scandalous proportions.

While Chiniquy was concerned with relationships between confessor priests and their adult, female penitents, news reports over the last thirty years have revealed shocking clerical sexual abuse of children, mainly boys, validating the ex-priest’s warnings regarding the confessional, but going far beyond the improprieties alluded to in this book. In many cases, the abusive relationships between priests and children began in the confessional box. The sacraments of the “eucharist” and confession had been reserved for adults prior to 1910, but that year pope “saint” Pius X issued his Quam Singulari decree, which mandated that Catholic children begin receiving communion and going to confession at age seven. In 2012, bishopaccountability.org reported the number of American priests credibly accused of molesting children since 1950 to be more than 6,100. Over 16,000 victims have been documented although many others surely never came forward. The Catholic church’s cover up of its pedophile priests scandal involved the highest offices of the hierarchy.

In contrast to Chiniquy’s time, Catholics now stay away from the confessional box in droves despite the threat of “mortal” sin. Who can blame them? Catholic sources state that only 26% of the membership participate in confession at least once a year. Evidently the other 74% would rather take their chances with eternity than share a “dark box” with a priest. Additionally, asking penitents to recall all of the times they disobeyed the Ten Commandments in the past year is beyond ludicrous. I couldn’t possibly recall all of my sins against God in either thought, word, deed, and omission for even a single day. Christ reveals in Matthew 5 the utter hopelessness of attempting to obey the law as a means to salvation. The entire business is a religious sham designed to keeps its members totally dependent on the Catholic clergy.

“Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” – Galatians 2:16

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and ask the Lord to direct you to an evangelical church in your area that’s preaches God’s Word without compromise.

Afterthought: An “invalid” priest and the dizzying consequences

A couple of weeks ago, I published a post about a Roman Catholic priest, Matthew Hood (photo above), who recently discovered that his infant baptism was “invalid,” which, as a consequence, rendered his ordination invalid. That led to all kinds of ramifications and diocesan “remediations,” which I examined in the first post (see here).

Afterwards, another thought came to mind regarding priest Hood and the specific sacrament of the eucharist that I will focus on further below. But first, let’s lay some groundwork.

The Catholic church teaches that during the mass, the priest mystically changes bread wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ, which are then offered up to God the Father as a sacrifice for the sins of those assembled, and also for the pope, the local bishop, and anyone else who is specially mentioned. The congregants then line up to receive a consecrated Jesus wafer from the priest. They are taught that consuming the Jesus wafer provides graces to help them resist sin and do good in order to merit their salvation at the time of their death. Some Catholics testify that consuming the Jesus wafer is, for them, a very powerful, mystical experience. Some even report feeling an emotional closeness to Jesus that borders on the rapturous.

Let’s now return to the case of priest Matthew Hood. Hood was ordained as a priest on June 3, 2017, but discovered this past summer that he was invalidly baptized as an infant, which meant his ordination was also invalid. So, over the course of three years, Hood celebrated mass at two different parishes as an invalid priest. If Hood celebrated mass at least once per day over that span, that’s at least 1000 times he went through the motions of transubstantiation – the supposed changing of the bread wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ – without having done so because he had not actually been ordained and invested with priestly powers (I write these things strictly for hypothetical purposes).

So for three long years, not one congregant noticed that the bread wafers dispensed by Hood were not transubstantiated. Don’t miss it, my friends. This is very revealing! Not one parishioner spoke up and said, “Hey, there’s something wrong here! I’m not experiencing any wonderful feelings or behavior-changing results from these communion wafers like I normally do.” NOT ONE PERSON raised a concern about the faux Jesus wafers distributed by Hood during the three years he was an invalid priest.

All of the above is not surprising to me. As a Roman Catholic, I consumed the transubstantiated Jesus wafer at least weekly, beginning with my first communion at age seven up until my early-teen years (fourteen?), after which I began attending mass irregularly. I estimate that I received communion over 500 times in my 27 years as a Catholic, which included a four-year stint as an altar boy. Not once in those 500+ times did I ever undergo some type of mystical, empowering experience. I was exactly the same after consuming the Jesus wafer as I was before. I also observed there were no radical or even subtle changes in my parents, my sisters, or my Catholic grammar school and high school classmates after they had received the Jesus wafer.

The bottom line: those Catholics who claim a mystical and/or behavior-altering experience after consuming the allegedly transubstantiated Jesus wafer are self-delusional as this invalid priest saga proves. Religious sacraments, rituals, and ceremonies don’t save. The Good News is that salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone this day and then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches the Gospel without compromise.

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.” – Matthew 24:23

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 9/12/20

This month, we note the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim Separatists’ journey to the New World. The Pilgrims left Plymouth, England on September 16, 1620 and arrived in New England on November 11. The events that were planned to commemorate the anniversary will obviously be scaled-back because of the pandemic. Sadly, most will view this occasion as a secular event with few references to the Pilgrims’ Christian faith. It occurs to me that in the “new think” revisionism being promoted by BLM, the arrival of the Pilgrims will probably be viewed as an “invasion” rather than something to be commemorated.

Expect to see incidents such as this one multiply as Jesuit priest, James Martin, and other Vatican-backed progressives continue to push for acceptance of practicing LGBTers within the RCC.

The internal fight within the RCC over Catholic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, is heating up, with progressive members enthusiastically supporting him and conservatives disavowing Biden and warning that anyone who votes for him commits mortal sin.

Catholic progressives were shocked beyond belief when pope Francis didn’t push for married priests at the Vatican Amazon Synod last October as they expected him to. But Francis has already roiled church conservatives to fever pitch and is content to let his successor introduce this “reform.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, pope Francis had to postpone the anticipated “Loreto jubilee” until next year. Catholics assert that Jesus’s boyhood home in Nazareth was transported by angels to Loreto, Italy (see here). If pilgrims visit the “holy house” in Loreto, they will receive a “plenary indulgence,” which allegedly erases all punishment for venial sin and any remaining temporal punishment that would otherwise need to be expiated in fictional purgatory.

I was surprised by this article to see that ecumenical, Gospel-betraying ECT is still issuing declarations. This new statement exhorts politicians and public officials to defend life, protect freedom of religion, and support traditional marriage. The obvious underlying message to Catholic and evangelical voters is that they should only support political candidates who uphold these values. Ecumenical evangelicals deprive Catholics of the genuine Gospel by insinuating that the Catholic gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit is “close enough.” From the list of Gospel-betraying signers, I recognize Kevin J. Vanhoozer and longtime ECT supporter, Timothy George. Shame on them.

Catholics believe priests turn bread wafers into the actual body of Jesus Christ. Surplus Jesus wafers are then stored in the altar tabernacle. If a thief steals the tabernacle, as happened in this case, Catholics believe the Jesus wafers inside experience unthinkable desecration.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #39: “We Are the Saints”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this installment, the Catholic apologist completes his five-chapter section on “The Saints” as he attempts to counter Protestants’ assertion that “We Are the Saints.”

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The Roman Catholic church almost exclusively uses the term, “saint,” in association with those whom it officially canonizes. Canonized saints are recognized as being in Heaven and worthy of “veneration” and qualified to be intercessory mediators.

“Showing devotion and respect to Mary, the Apostles, and the martyrs, who were viewed as faithful witnesses to faith in Jesus Christ. Later, veneration was given to those who led a life of prayer and self-denial in giving witness to Christ, whose virtues were recognized and publicly proclaimed in their canonization as saints.” – from “Veneration” in the glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)

In counterpoint, evangelical Protestants cite such passages as Colossians 1:2 to show that all genuine believers are saints:

“To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.”

In this verse, Paul addresses all of the born-again believers in Colossae as saints. Broussard attempts to counter Protestant objections with three arguments:

(1) Broussard begins by informing us that the Greek word used in the Septuagint and the New Testament for “saint,” hagios, means “sanctified,” “set apart,” or “holy.” He presents multiple examples from the Bible to show the word is used to signify believers, angels, and even God. Broussard concludes, “(since) there is no single biblical use of the term hagios, (that) gives Catholics some freedom to decide how they want to use the term” (p.211).

(2) Broussard then states that the Roman church readily concedes that it’s technically appropriate to categorize “all baptized Christians” as saints (CCC 1475, 948), “but it in a narrower and more formal way, the Catholic church also uses the word to refer to those individual Christians who are perfected in the heavenly kingdom” (p. 212).

(3) Broussard concludes by arguing that “it’s reasonable for the Church to use the term saint as a title of honor for those Christians in heaven because of their perfected state” (p. 212).

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

 (1) It’s certainly true that the Bible uses hagios to refer to believers, angels, and God. Because of the variance in application, Broussard claims Catholicism has the “freedom” to apply the term as it sees fit. Does that rationalization hold water? Let’s continue.

(2) After having attempted to establish Catholicism’s prerogative to use hagios according to its own whims, while still conceding that the term can theoretically be used to refer to all “baptized saints,” Broussard acknowledges that the Roman church almost exclusively uses the term to refer to those it has canonized.

(3) Broussard concludes, once again, with Catholicism’s “reasonable/fitting” argument, i.e., (A) If a certain extra-Biblical theological hypothesis is reasonable and fitting (according to Catholic arguments), then (B) it is true. Hence, Roman Catholicism’s designation of super-Catholics as “saints” is deemed appropriate because the RCC says it is.

The Roman Catholic church teaches it has the God-given ability to discern if certain individuals are in Heaven and are worthy to be venerated as intercessors by the faithful. It claims to be able to make that determination via its scrupulous canonization process.* It alleges its saints obtained a place in Heaven due to sacramental grace (baptism, eucharist, confession, confirmation, last rites, marriage, ordination) and their abundant meritorious works and piety.

There is a fundamental and irreconcilable difference between the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone and Roman Catholicism’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Gospel Christians take the Biblical view, that the saints are all those who have repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. The RCC’s usage of “saint,” as referring to a “Super Catholic,” aligns with and perpetuates that church’s false notion of works-righteousness salvation.

Postscript: No one is really sure how many individuals have been canonized by the Catholic church. However, the RCC states the first saint to be formally canonized was Ulrich of Augsburg in 993 AD by pope John XV. Why were no saints canonized prior to 993? Like most Catholic “sacred traditions,” this saint business evolved over time. There is no mention of canonization or praying to saints in the New Testament. Popular culture parrots the Catholic notion of “sainthood” and even believers get caught up in this error: “Sally helped me out so much. She is an absolute saint.”

What are Christian saints according to the Bible?
https://www.gotquestions.org/saints-Christian.html

*The canonization process usually takes decades, if not centuries, of dogged persistence on the part of the devotees of a particular candidate. However, the RCC has shamelessly “fast tracked” famous and socially relevant personages (e.g., pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and recently, token African-American Catholics) in order to exploit their popular appeal.

Next up: “Today You Will Be with Me”

Throwback Thursday: Is the Reformation Over?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on January 5, 2016 and has been revised.

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Is the Reformation Over? An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism
By Mark Noll and Carolyn Nystrom
Baker Academic, 2008, 272 pp.

The title of this book is strictly rhetorical. For “evangelical,” Mark Noll, the Reformation is not only over, but it’s doubtful, in his opinion, whether it had all that much value. Along with Chuck Colson, Noll was one of the prime architects of the ecumenical initiative – Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) – so he begins this book with the presupposition that, yes, the Reformation is over and that Catholicism is a Christian entity. He argues that, while evangelicals and Catholics still differ on “secondary” doctrinal issues (the papacy, Mary, purgatory, sacerdotalism, sacramentalism, etc.), they now mainly agree on justification, the prime catalyst of the Reformation, and that “salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.”

“If it is true, as once was repeated frequently by Protestants conscious of their anchorage in Martin Luther or John Calvin that iustificatio articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae (justification is the article on which the church stands or falls), then the Reformation is over” (p.232).

But Catholicism has NOT changed its views on justification since the Reformation. While Catholics will cautiously agree to salvation “by grace through faith,”* the vaguery of that term masks the unabashed works-righteousness precepts of their religion, as Noll knows full well and strategically alludes to only briefly in this book. As an integral part of their salvation system, Catholics must “cooperate with grace” and perfectly obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church laws in order to merit Heaven. Catholics object to accusations that theirs is a works-righteousness gospel, claiming that it’s only by the grace administered through their sacraments that they can possibly obey the commandments and church rules so that they can ultimately present themselves without the stain of a single “mortal” sin on their soul at the time of their death in order to merit Heaven. But the Bible says no one can become righteous by obeying the Law. It’s absolutely impossible. The Law only shows us we are sinners in need of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” – Galatians 2:19-21

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” – Romans 3:20

One day when I stand before a Holy God, I will not have a single plea other than the imputed perfect righteousness of my Savior.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Ecumenical compromisor, Mark Noll

Noll and fellow “evangelical” ecumenists have swept aside the Reformation and judge evangelicalism’s Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone and the post-Vatican II Catholic church’s gospel of sacramental grace AND merit to be “something close to the same thing” (p.232).  He dismisses evangelicals who continue to object to Catholicism’s works-righteousness soteriology as sectarians stuck in the 19th-century.

My soul weeps for “evangelical” ecumenical Judases like Mark Noll who betray the Gospel of grace and bid others to follow. Noll currently teaches at Notre Dame Catholic University** where I’m sure he fits in quite well. I suggest he stop the pretense and join the pseudo-church he clearly loves.

*When Catholics refer to “faith” and “grace” they’re generally referring to faith in their institutional church and sacramental grace.

**Noll left NDU in 2016 after teaching there for ten years.

Blogging and me

I generally don’t indulge in a lot of introspective navel gazing in my posts, but I recently had the urge to write something about my blogging routine. 

I’ve been blogging for over five years and I thoroughly enjoy it. This blog, excatholic4christ, is a ministry of Gospel outreach to Roman Catholics and also a ministry of warning to evangelicals about the dangers of ecumenism with the RC church. I also like to sprinkle in some non-theological topics here and there. So, this blog is a ministry and also a creative outlet. I like to write and I also enjoy reading the posts of other WordPress bloggers. I’m very grateful for the friendships of several fellow-bloggers. After I was laid off from Kodak Alaris last September, blogging became my unofficial, part-time job.

A lot of time goes into researching, writing, and publishing posts six days a week, Monday thru Saturday, with an occasional post on Sundays. I’ve developed a system over the years of drafting posts two-weeks ahead of publication and I even created a two-week blog worksheet which helps to keep me on track (photo above). The advantages of a two-week draft queue are 1) I’m able to “level out” creative peaks and valleys, and 2) I’m able to “fine tune” drafts before publication. As a draft post sits in the queue for a couple of weeks, I’ll usually add some points that didn’t occur to me when I initially wrote it or I’ll delete unnecessary or imprudent material. I’ve written several posts “in the heat of the moment” that I later heavily edited or deleted after I cooled off.

All of this brings me to the point that I really wanted to discuss. I spend a lot of time blogging, but I wasn’t sure exactly how much time. A few weeks ago, I thought it would be interesting to record all of the time I spent on my blogging activities (writing, editing, reading, commenting, responding to comments, etc.) in a sample week. So I used my iPhone stopwatch and set out to do exactly that. Nerdy? Sure, and I was doing a pretty good job of it for several days, but eventually fizzled out. A thought/conviction kept gnawing at me that it was wrong to put a stopwatch to ministry, so I quit that dumb project.

Blogging here at WordPress is a great blessing, however, I have to constantly align it with my other responsibilities that maybe aren’t so enjoyable. How do you fit blogging into your life? I’m sure most bloggers operate a lot more extemporaneously compared to my Poindexter-self with my two-week worksheet. No, the worksheet is NOT attached to a clipboard! I’m not quite that bad!

p.s. I definitely don’t like the new WordPress block editor. WordPress should have left well enough alone.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 9/5/20

As we’re all well-aware, the fare on cable TV is largely junk, so it is exciting to see this streaming option from Sight & Sound Theaters. You can view encore productions of “Queen Esther” this afternoon and this evening. See here. My wife and I saw the production of “Moses” at the Sight & Sound Theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania several years ago and I reviewed the DVD of their production of “Ruth” here.

“Fatima” opened on August 28th in select theaters and via streaming. This movie is based upon the Catholic claim that the “Blessed Virgin Mary” appeared to three shepherd children in Fátima, Portugal a total of six times in 1917. Interest in the alleged apparitions drew larger and larger crowds at Fátima. Reports at the time state that between 30,000 and 100,000 people were on hand for the final apparition on October 17th and the alleged “miracle of the sun,” with the sun supposedly appearing to “spin” in the sky. Details differed among the eye witnesses. Many saw nothing. Some chalked it up to religious group hysteria. Hundreds of Marian apparitions have been claimed all over the world, however, the Catholic church only officially recognizes nineteen. These Marian apparitions, which promote Catholicism’s false salvation system, are either the result of 1) calculated deception 2) religious hysteria/self delusion, or 3) demonic activity. The Fatima legend included alleged instructions from the Marian apparition to the pope and his prelates for the “consecration of Russia” in order to “convert” the Bolsheviks, which obviously didn’t happen. There’s a renewed interest in Fatima and its anti-communist message among conservative and traditionalist Catholics in response to the resurgence of Socialism/Marxism in the West.

The first article confirms that the word, “evangelical,” is almost completely useless at this point. The 52 percent of Americans mentioned in the second article who say Jesus was a “great teacher” of morality, but wasn’t God, haven’t read the Bible. Jesus asserted that He was God the Son. He wouldn’t be a great teacher if He was a liar. Does not compute.

Both candidates will be pointing to their personal “faith” in the next eight weeks in the runup to the presidential election. Traditionalist and conservative Catholics say Biden is a nominal Catholic at best and we know prosperity gospel charlatan, Paula White, an official member of the White House staff, is supposedly president Trump’s personal “spiritual adviser.”

It’s ironic that a Catholic publisher got caught using an image of a statue of angel Moroni, which sits atop Mormonism’s Salt Lake Temple. A Catholic blogger here at WordPress also unwittingly uses an image of the Moroni statue to decorate her blog.

I don’t often commend Catholic priests, but I commend this one for speaking out against the continuing abuse by priests and the hierarchical cover-up. Pope Francis and his bishops claim they are decisively dealing with abuse, but it’s all smoke and mirrors. The Vatican still does not require bishops to report suspected abusive priests to the civil magistrates.

Because the Catholic church teaches its members they must merit their salvation, no Catholic approaching death has assurance of salvation. The Roman church declares that a person commits the “sin of presumption” by believing they are saved. Catholics laugh at us evangelicals when we say that we are saved (by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone). They think we are being arrogantly presumptuous, when in actuality it’s the ultimate in arrogance for people like Catholics to think they can successfully obey the Law and merit their salvation.

I’m pretty well-versed in things Catholic, but I wasn’t aware of this “Neo-catechumenal Way,” which was founded in 1964. There are so many quirky sects beneath the wide Roman Catholic umbrella that it’s tough to keep up with them all. This interesting article recounts how the traditionalist pew sitters at one Catholic parish are battling the hyper-zealous, Novus Ordo neo-catechumenalists.

I’ve already posted a couple of items critical of JMac’s defiance of LA county health safety ordinances, so I debated whether I should keep “piling on,” but the story keeps getting weirder. I’m saddened by this irresponsible denial. Many of the nation’s colleges that just recently opened for the fall semester have already begun sending students home because of outbreaks of COVID-19, while one of American evangelicalism’s best-known pastors declares that it’s all a hoax and that “there is no pandemic.”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #38: “God Alone Knows Our Hearts”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his section on “The Saints” as he attempts to counter Protestants’ objections that “God Alone Knows Our Hearts”

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In examining Broussard’s three previous chapters on this topic, I pointed out that Catholicism teaches that its saints have deific abilities to receive and comprehend prayers. In counterpoint, evangelical Protestants often cite 2 Chronicles 6:30 to show that God alone knows the hearts of men and women:

“Then hear from heaven your dwelling place and forgive and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways, for you, you only, know the hearts of the children of mankind.”

Broussard responds to this objection with two arguments:

(1) Firstly, Broussard posits that an all-powerful God is certainly able to grant limited omniscience to the saints. He appeals to Catholic theologian, Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologiae:

“God alone of himself knows the thoughts of the heart: yet others know them, insofar as these are revealed to them, either by their vision of the Word [Second Person of the Trinity] or by any other means.”

(2) Next, Broussard contends that there is Scriptural precedent for the notion of saintly omniscience. He cites Daniel 2 where God revealed King Nebuchadnezzar’s private dreams to Daniel in a vision. He also cites Revelation 5:8 with its mention of “the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” as an alleged example of how “God reveals the interior thoughts of men to created intellects, particularly to souls in heaven” (p.208).

Let’s now answer Broussard.

(1) I certainly don’t regard Thomas Aquinas as a reliable theological authority, but I do acknowledge from examples in Scripture that God is almighty and all-powerful and can and has chosen, in unique circumstances, to reveal the interior thoughts of others to His prophets and select individuals.

(2) Yes, Mr. Broussard, God did reveal the interior thoughts of Nebuchadnezzar to Daniel. No, Mr. Broussard, Revelation 5:8 doesn’t indicate that the souls in Heaven know the details of believers’ prayers.

Broussard has once again used the Catholic “reasonable/fitting” argument to “prove” the validity of praying to saints. He posits that (A) since God has revealed the interior thoughts of people to prophets, then (B) it’s reasonable to assume that God enables saints to know the interior thoughts of those who pray to them, therefore (C) God grants limited omniscience to the saints in order for them to receive prayers.

Roman Catholicism has likewise extrapolated many other specious, extra-Biblical doctrines and traditions using its reasonable/fitting argument. While God did reveal the interior thoughts of people to prophets, there is not a single example in either the Old or New Testaments of a faithful believer invoking the dead. Not one. God would NOT empower souls in Heaven to be spiritual mediators because He would be contradicting His Word, which states believers are to pray directly to God the Father through Jesus Christ, our only Mediator.

“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven…'” – Matthew 6:9

Jesus DID NOT instruct His disciples to pray to saint so-and-so. He instructed His disciples to pray to God the Father.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16

The writer of Hebrews, under divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, exhorts Christians to pray to God, NOT to pray to saints X, Y, and Z.

Next up: “We Are the Saints”