IFB Memories #14: Jack Van Impe: “The Walking Bible”

It’s been almost two years since I last posted an installment in my IFB (Independent Fundamental Baptist) Memories series, but the news of the death of televangelist, Jack Van Impe (pronounced van IM-pee), on January 18th brought back another memory. In the photo above, is Van Impe with his wife, Rexella.

I was a member of an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church from 1983 until 1991. The IFB movement was still very strong back in those days and one of the IFB’s leading figures was Jack Van Impe (1931-2020).

Van Impe graduated from Detroit Bible Institute in 1952 and briefly joined up with the Billy Graham Crusades and Youth for Christ. He then started Jack Van Impe Ministries, which grew to include a weekly telecast beginning in 1980. The format of the show was quickly established, with Jack’s wife, Rexella, reading the week’s news headlines followed by Jack interpreting the headlines according to his eschatological views/opinion. The show had quite a following back in the day. He was known as “The Walking Bible” because of his prodigious memorization of entire books of Scripture. Van Impe held a weekend crusade here Rochester N.Y. sometime during the 1980s, which I attended.

Van Impe was involved in some notable controversies. Back in the day, independent fundamental Baptists were split into two major camps; the extreme-conservative faction headed by Bob Jones and his progeny, and the more “moderate” faction headed by “Sword of the Lord” editor, John R. Rice. Bob Jones, Jr., had accused Rice and his allies, including Van Impe, of being soft on “second-degree separation.” Van Impe then wrote a hard-hitting rebuttal, “Heart Disease in Christ’s Body” (1984), aimed at the Jones camp.

Evangelist Van Impe made a niche for himself by focusing on eschatology; the study of Biblical prophecy regarding the end-times. Like some other eschatologists, he would sometimes awkwardly attempt to force-fit current news events with Biblical prophecy. He regularly made predictions that Jesus would return to earth at a specific year/time-period, but would then move the prediction back after the date had passed. As Muslim fundamentalist terrorism became more dangerous throughout the world, Van Impe repeatedly sounded the alarm and pointed a finger at (c)hristian leaders who promoted accommodation with Islam, such as Robert Schuller and Rick Warren. TBN subsequently booted Van Impe’s show from their lineup in 2011 due to the controversy, forcing him to buy airtime independently.

As the independent fundamental Baptist movement waned after the heady years of Jerry Falwell, Sr., Van Impe attempted to hang on to his decreasing audience numbers by embracing religious-political conservatives of all stripes, including conservative Roman Catholics. He regularly cited popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI as genuine Christians and brothers in Christ on his telecasts. Van Impe advertised himself as “The Walking Bible” and the premier expert on eschatology, but he somehow could not comprehend the clear differences between Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit and the Gospel of grace or Rome’s end-times role as the Mother of Harlots as prophesied in Revelation 17 & 18.

The feud between the Bob Jones and the John R. Rice factions of independent Baptist fundamentalism is now a distant memory that few know or care about. Jack Van Impe was one of the last of the old-school IFBers, but at the end he had strayed quite far from John R. Rice’s “Sword of the Lord” Baptist fundamentalism. And his preoccupancy with eschatology and dispensationalism, culminating in foolish predictions and foolish alliances, had made him a voice to avoid.

For more on Baptist fundamentalism and my IFB Memories series, see here.

Some ramblings on LGBTQ

A short time ago, I posted a message about the Supreme Court ruling on a Christian baker’s right not to create a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage (see here), and I felt led to write ramble a bit more about the subject of homosexuality.

I can remember reading an Ann Landers column in 1969 when I was thirteen-years-old and she was discussing homosexuality. I had no clue what that word meant and had to ask one of my older sisters. My, how things have changed!

The Bible clearly teaches homosexuality is a sin:

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” – Romans 1:26-27

At the independent fundamental Baptist church we attended back in the 1980s, the pastor often railed against gays. This was during the outbreak of AIDS/HIV and everyone was tense. There was a family that attended our church comprised of a father, mother, and four children; two boys and two girls. The two boys were noticeably on the effeminate side and the youngest one, in his early teens, was flamboyantly so. He was actually more feminine in his mannerisms than his sisters and I say that without exaggeration. As the family sat in the auditorium while the pastor railed against gays, I felt increasingly sorry for them. Did the youngest boy turn out to be so effeminate because of biology or because of conditioning? The pastor’s constant harangues against homosexuality was one of the (many) reasons we finally left that church.

Flash forward to 2014. We began attending a small Southern Baptist church and the young pastor was very troubled about an issue. An older couple who were members had a son who was unapologetically gay. He argued that homosexuality cannot be a sin if a person is born with same sex attraction. The parents went to the pastor and asked if homosexuality was a sinful choice or a biological condition. The pastor began scouring through research materials that attributed the documented decline of testosterone levels in males to the rise of toxins in the environment, beginning with industrialization. I pointed out to him that homosexuality was rampant in ancient Greek and Roman societies where modern toxins were certainly not a factor and testosterone levels were probably relatively high compared to our society.

Some rambling thoughts and questions:

  • Are some people born with a genetic proclivity for homosexuality as the LGBTQ community argues or is attraction to the same sex learned/conditioned/chosen? Researchers are still looking for a genetic factor for same-sex attraction.
  • Are boys who grow up in homes with absent fathers or very domineering mothers more inclined to homosexuality?
  • Some heterosexuals resort to homosexuality when they are deprived of opposite-sex partners (e.g., in a prison environment), but return to heterosexuality when conditions change. Isn’t that an example of homosexuality via conditioning?
  • Will the growing acceptance of homosexuality by society result in an increasing percentage of homosexuals as impressionable children and teens are being taught that same-sex relationships are positive and perhaps even preferred?

“Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” – Romans 1:32

  • Do low testosterone levels in men necessarily equate to homosexuality? I’m guessing many homosexual men have high testosterone levels and strong sex drives. Contrary to my opening observation, I don’t believe it’s accurate to say a more sensitive nature in a male guarantees homosexual inclinations nor does an exaggerated macho nature guarantee heterosexual inclinations.

This is a fallen world and sin abounds, with homosexuality being only one form. Ideally, males should be attracted to females – if in doubt, just check the biological equipment – and sex should follow after marriage. That is God’s plan. But God’s plan is being increasingly ignored and even flouted. Premarital sex abounds and begins at younger and younger ages. Cohabitation is preferred over marriage. Homosexuality is now without restraint. Most everyone has someone in their extended family who is openly gay. Homosexuals are campaigning to be accepted and affirmed within the church. We are inundated with examples via the media of adults and children changing genders. The world is an increasingly disturbing place.

As Christians, we need to firmly stand upon God’s Word and not compromise with sin, but the love of God and the hope we have in Christ must also be part of our message. I don’t condemn homosexuals because I am a totally depraved sinner saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone. We must introduce our gay family members and friends to the Savior.

Ramble over. Comments welcomed.

Friday odds and ends: Living Biblically, and pamphlets on Catholicism and segregationism

Let’s get caught up on a few odds and ends that have collected on my plate:

Living Biblically
Episode Eight: Show Hospitality
CBS, originally aired 4/16/18

Rabbi Gil, one-half of Chip’s “god squad” religious advisors (the other half being Gene, a Catholic priest), confides that he discovered his wife is having an adulterous affair with a fellow rabbi. Sympathetic Chip obeys the Biblical admonition to show hospitality by inviting the rabbi to live with him and his wife until he can get his life back together. As one would expect from a comedy show, Gil wears out his welcome in a hurry. Chip’s wife, Leslie, wants the rabbi out, pronto, but Chip hesitates. However, he soon realizes that by allowing Gil to stay, he’s only enabling the rabbi to delay moving on with his life.

No Gospel here, folks. How many episodes left? Only three? Wonderful!

Breaking news alert: Just found out that CBS has cancelled “Living Biblically” and will not air the remaining three episodes. 😁

Is Roman Catholicism Biblical?
By William C. Irvine
eBook version
CrossReach Publications, 2018, 15 pages

New Zealander, William C. Irvine (1871-1946), a missionary to India, was most noted for his Christian apologetics book, “Heresies Exposed.” It’s not clear exactly when this short pamphlet was originally published although the latest references date it to the early 1920s. Some of the briefly-reviewed topics include Rome’s idolatrous statuary, the church’s low view of Scripture in comparison to its traditions, the papacy, Mariolatry, the mass, the confessional, and Purgatory. Despite the subsequent window dressing changes introduced at Vatican II, Rome still teaches the same core doctrines. I wouldn’t recommend this pamphlet because of its brevity. You can find much better and more contemporary resources on the internet for free. Check my Links page here.

Is Segregation Scriptural?
By Bob Jones, Sr.
eBook version
CrossReach Publications, 2018, 23 pages

The first church my wife and I attended after accepting Christ in the early 1980s was independent, fundamental Baptist. Fundamental Baptist churches are independent to a large degree, but network with other like-minded churches via pastor conferences, missionary support, and seminary support. Back in those days, there were three main camps of IFB churches. On a scale of increasing conservatism, there were those that aligned with John R. Rice, like my church, those that aligned with Bob Jones, Jr., and those that aligned with Peter Ruckman.

Because I’m interested in the history of fundamentalism, this ePamphlet caught my eye. Evangelist Bob Jones, Sr. (1883-1968) was one of the leaders of the fundamentalist movement. He founded Bob Jones College (later University) in 1926 and was one of the pioneers of religious radio broadcasting. His legacy was carried on by his son, Bob Jones, Jr. (1911-1997), and his grandson, Bob Jones III (1939-).

Jones Sr., based in South Carolina, was an outspoken advocate of racial segregation and viewed the growing Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s with great distress. In this 1960 radio address, Jones appeals to Scripture to support his views:

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” Acts 17:26

Yes, from this single verse, Jones and other Christian White segregationists proposed the “kinistical” argument, that God meant for all races to stay within their preordained geographical boundaries. Jones argued that because sinful White men had disobeyed God’s laws and forcibly brought Blacks to America as slaves, the segregationalist policies in the South had to be maintained.

From our vantage point, this is a difficult address to read. Jones was on the wrong side of history and, more importantly, on the wrong side of proper Biblical hermeneutics and Christian charity. But it is a good reminder to us that anyone, including believers, can twist Scriptures to support their sinful purposes. Bob Jones University did not accept unmarried Black students until 1976, eight years after Bob Jones, Sr.’s death. The university enforced a policy prohibiting interracial dating until 2000. To order the ebook version of this historical oddity, see here. To view online for free, see here.

For more on Kinism, see below:

What is kinism? Is it biblical?

Moody once had a major influence on American evangelicalism

Guaranteed Pure: The Moody Bible Institute, Business, and the Making of Modern Evangelicalism
By Timothy E. W. Gloege
The University of North Carolina Press, 2015, 307 pages

After accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1983, I used to visit the local Christian bookstore in town quite regularly. The offerings back then were a lot more orthodox compared to what they stock today. I picked up a copy of Moody Monthly magazine and was so pleased that I subsequently subscribed. To help me with studying the Bible, I bought soft-covered economy editions of the Moody Bible Dictionary and Moody Bible Commentary. It was evident that Moody was a reliable resource in my new walk with the Lord.

Our pastor occasionally mentioned Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) in his sermons. Moody was the most well-known evangelist of his time and founded the Bible Institute of the Chicago Evangelization Society, which became the Moody Bible Institute after his death.

This book traces the history of the institute from its founding in 1886 up until the early 1920s. It’s an interesting story. As a non-denominational evangelist, Moody preached the simple Gospel and emphasized “plain” Bible reading or a literal interpretation when a literal interpretation was called for. Moody avoided denominational squabbles over doctrinal secondaries. He avoided heavy theological debates and emphasized a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. But after visiting with the Plymouth Brethren sect in England, Moody became an enthusiastic advocate of premillenialism.

Evangelist R.A. Torrey became president of the institute in 1889. His personal semi-advocacy of a “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” and faith healing was problematic for an institution that framed itself as a moderating influence in American evangelicalism.

Henry Parsons Crowell, founder of Quaker Oats Company and a pioneer in mass marketing and merchandising (the “Guaranteed Pure” title of this book is a reference to Crowell’s Quaker Oats’ advertising slogan), was appointed chairman of the board of the Moody Bible Institute in 1901. In cooperation with Torrey’s successor, James Gray, Crowell established the institute and its growing outreach (evangelism training, conventions, publications, evangelism meetings, etc.) on business principles of productivity and performance. No problem with that. The Lord commands us to be wise stewards of His resources. The institute became a champion of dispensationalism and in response to the growing threat of modernism, the institute played an instrumental role in the publication of “The Fundamentals,” a series of booklets that defended the fundamental beliefs of orthodox evangelicalism. But Moody resisted being drawn into the extreme fundamentalism of William Bell Riley and his allies (it’s hard to believe but the young Billy Graham was a protege of Riley).

Moody Bible Institute continues today but its influence has waned significantly. The internet has rendered such once-influential institutions as mere co-participants if not entirely obsolete. Moody Monthly ceased publication in 2003 and Moody Bible Institute is having financial difficulties and is currently embroiled in challenges to Biblical inerrancy.

I enjoyed this history of the early years of Moody Bible Institute. The author is an unbeliever and writes with a degree of respectful cynicism, but the book is a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the growth of a very influential ministry and its attempts to combine business efficiency methods with faith.

Update: How a “church” became a dark stain on the Gospel witness in my city

Way back in September, I posted the story far below about the arrest of a local pastor, Paul B., on charges of forcibly touching three women who were attending his church. My wife and I were members of the church in question for eight years back in the 80s and early 90s when Paul’s father was pastor. But we could see signs of spiritual unhealthiness at that church twenty-seven years ago, which precipitated our leaving. These charges against Paul stemmed from abuses in 2016 and 2017, but there had also been allegations of abuse in 2013 and 2014.

What has happened since the arrest in September? Our justice system does not work quickly and sometimes that is by design. Paul appeared in town court with his lawyer on October 26th, November 27th, January 18th, and February 26th and each time the trial was postponed. But on Paul’s next court date, this past Wednesday, March 14th, the town prosecutor announced that a plea deal had been struck. Paul pleaded guilty to only one of the four counts of sexual abuse and in exchange he will be sentenced in two months to one year of probation and will be permanently registered as a sex offender. What? Probation? Not even one week in jail? My, some people have to spend a month in jail for much less than Paul’s “offense.”

Once again the local media focused on the news of Paul’s guilty plea and his upcoming sentencing and once again the Gospel witness in our town received a black eye, not to mention all of the emotional pain suffered by the victims of this serial abuser and the deep betrayal felt by the church’s members.

Former Henrietta pastor pleads guilty to sexual abuse (article from local newspaper)

Former Henrietta pastor pleads guilty to sexual abuse (video from local television news)

A few things came to mind after the news of Paul’s guilty plea:

  • Some people are just not fit for ministry. Nepotism got Paul his initial position on staff at the church despite admitted scandalous conduct, which caused a split. Spirit-filled members sensed the danger, but Paul’s father steamrolled all opposition.
  • Paul became pastor of the church in 2011 after his father had suffered a small stroke. He obviously had to study the Bible frequently in order to preach all of those sermons he delivered in the six years prior to his arrest. But what was his private prayer life like? No Christian is perfect, but how could a man walk closely with the Lord in daily prayer and also regularly prey on victims? Was Paul even saved? We all need to stay close to the Lord in daily prayerful communion and we need to regularly lift up our pastors in prayer. There’s no doubt that Satan especially targets pastors.
  • I can’t tell a church I am not a member of how to operate, but the new pastor that’s now in place should ask for the resignation of every deacon who unequivocally supported Paul from 2011 to 2017 in the face of many allegations of impropriety. I was an outsider, but even I could see the flashing warning signs regarding Paul’s lifestyle. Many church boards are comprised of “yes men.”
  • If you are a member of a church in which the pastor exerts unhealthy control over the membership and there appears to be no oversight regarding the pastor, find a spiritually healthy church.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8

via How a “church” became a dark stain on the Gospel witness in my city

IFB Memories #13: Peter Ruckman: God’s “junkyard dog”?

After accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior in the early 1980s, my wife and I began attending an independent fundamental Baptist church in the area. All IFB churches are completely autonomous, but from what I could tell back in those days, the majority could be categorized “somewhat” according to if they emulated John R. Rice, Bob Jones, Jr., or Peter Ruckman (photo above). Like-minded pastors networked via seminary affiliation, pastors’ conferences, and missionary support.

Rice was the more moderate of the three and from his camp came Jerry Falwell. Our IFB pastor emulated Falwell and his Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virgina. Young men at our church who desired to attend seminary often ended up at Falwell’s Liberty Baptist College (changed to Liberty University in 1984). Bob Jones, Jr., was a bit more hardcore fundamentalist and separationist than Rice. Bob Jones University didn’t drop its ban on interracial dating until 2000. Peter Ruckman was definitely the most radical of the three. He became the standard bearer of KJV 1611-Onlyism among IFB churches. Neither Rice or Jones, Jr. taught KJV 1611-Onlyism so Ruckman labeled the two and all of their followers as members of the apostate “Alexandrian Cult” (i.e., those who use any other Bible translation besides the KJV 1611).

I had been reading the Bible for several years when a couple of guys at work, Jose and Ray, began witnessing to me. They were members of the very large First Bible Baptist Church in town, which aligned with Ruckman and KJV 1611-Onlyism. Because of their witness, and in addition to other people and circumstances from the Lord, I accepted Christ as Savior by faith alone. Jose and Ray invited me to attend First Bible Baptist, which was pastored by James Modlish at the time. I didn’t care for the sermons with their HEAVY emphasis on Anglo-centric KJV 1611-Onlyism, so I opted for a more “moderate” IFB church, much to Jose’s and Ray’s disappointment.

Peter Ruckman would periodically visit First Bible Baptist and preach primarily on the exclusivity of the KJV 1611 and the dangers of the “Alexandrian Cult.” His sermons from his Pensacola church were regularly broadcast on our local, community cable channel, undoubtably through the sponsorship of the First Bible Baptist Church here in town. Ruckman’s chalk talk sermons – am I the only one who remembers chalk talks? – invariably included railings against the “Alexandrian Cult.” His messages were downright nasty; full of ad hominem attacks and name-calling. But Ruckman never apologized, he proudly claimed to be God’s “junkyard dog.” Turmoil also appeared to be part of his personal life as he was divorced twice and married three times. He admitted to physical abuse and regular heated arguments with his first two wives. See here.

I’m all for teaching Biblical truth even when it hurts or is inconvenient, but some IFB pastors were just downright nasty, arrogant, and obnoxious. Our pastor was much more moderate than Ruckman, but, still, his constant railings against gays and his politicizing from the pulpit became intolerable and we left the church after eight years. But Ruckman took in-your-face Christianity to a whole different level with his constant stream of invectives. Yes, we are to defend the faith with vigor, but we should also mirror the grace and love of Christ. Ruckman died in April 2016, but I’ll never forget those acerbic chalk talks.

The other day I noticed the very sad news article below, which reported that Ruckman’s 58-year-old son had murdered his two boys and then committed suicide. So sadly tragic. Ruckman Jr. and his wife had divorced last year. It would be sheer speculation on my part to connect Ruckman Jr.s’ challenging childhood environment to this tragedy, but neither can it be ruled out.

Final messages from P.S. Ruckman Jr. include cryptic social media posts, emails of his life’s work

In the audio below, Ruckman Sr. defends abortion. It’s an unnerving thing to hear Ruckman’s followers enthusiastically “Amening” his pro-abortion heresy.


Postscript: I realize many of my brothers and sisters hold dearly to KJV 1611-Onlyism and I’m definitely not trying to pick a fight. I usually stay away from debates over secondaries, but that’s not totally possible with a post about Mr. KJV 1611-Only, Peter Ruckman. For my one and only post regarding KJV 1611-Onlyism, see here.

Civil Religion is the enemy of Biblical Christianity

This morning, I was reading through 2 Chronicles and came across the very familiar verse below:

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

Oh, the memories!

Way back in the 1980s, my wife and I attended an independent fundamental Baptist church that patterned itself strongly after Jerry Falwell, Sr. and his Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. Needless to say, faith and politics went hand in hand at our church. Our pastor took the position that America was in a special covenant relationship with Almighty God in much the same way as ancient Israel. He was not alone. Beginning with the voyage of the Puritan pilgrims to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620, American Christians have historically taken the view that America is a “Christian nation” and that God was in a covenant relationship with it.

Old Testament passages such as 2 Chronicles 7:14 that were meant only for the ancient nation of Israel were appropriated by patriotic American ministers. I believe 2 Chronicles 7:14 was quoted from the pulpit of our old church as much or possibly more than any other verse in the Bible.

What started me going on this topic?

Yesterday, I posted a review of an excellent book which examined how the early church was led down a dangerous path in which Christianity was mixed with Roman imperialism and paganism resulting in an institutionalized “civil religion.” See here.

Many Americans over the last 400 years genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior because of the strong Gospel witness here, but of course many others never did. Over the last 100 years there’s been a tremendous watering down of Biblical doctrine and the Gospel message in this country. The Gospel was increasingly replaced by “civil religion,” whereby Americans of all religious stripes could join arms and sing together, “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful,” and “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee,” united in their citizenship and belief in a nebulous “Supreme Being.”

But “civil religion” is the enemy of Biblical Christianity. It opposes the teaching of Jesus Christ, who proclaims that He alone is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” “Civil Religion” denies the exclusivity of Jesus Christ and promotes accommodation, cooperation, compromise, and betrayal of the Gospel in the pursuit of civic morality and national brotherhood.

Jesus Christ did not come to this earth to establish “civil religion.” Countries don’t become Christians, only people do, one individual soul at a time.

Civil Religion – Wikipedia article


Another devout Catholic comes out publicly against the pope

Those who are involved in reaching out to Roman Catholics with the Gospel are very familiar with the name of Karl Keating (photo left).

Forty years ago, Keating was a lawyer and conservative Catholic who was very troubled by the fact that many Catholics were leaving the church and joining evangelical and fundamentalist Christian churches. He created the Catholic apologetics organization, Catholic Answers, in 1979 and wrote his attack on Biblical Christianity, “Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on ‘Romanism’ by ‘Bible Christians'” (photo middle), in 1988. The book lumped together responsible ministries to Roman Catholics, such as Bart Brewer’s Mission to Catholics and Bill Jackson’s Christians Evangelizing Catholics, with disreputable individuals and groups like Chick Publications, the Alamo Christian Foundation, and Peter Ruckman.

Since 1979, Catholic Answers has spearheaded Catholic apologetics in America via print, the internet, lectures, and debates with evangelical Christian apologists. Unlike Judas evangelicals such as Billy Graham and Rick Warren, Karl Keating is under no delusion that Catholicism’s gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit is similar to the evangelical Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Sixty-seven-year-old Keating retired from Catholic Answers last year, but he’s still a highly respected voice in conservative Catholic circles.

The reason I wrote all of the above was as a preliminary to the following:

I was perusing through Catholic news last night, as is my habit, and I came across the article below. I had mentioned a few months ago that I’m looking forward to a book from conservative Catholic, Philip Lawer, “Lost Shepherd: How Pope Francis is Misleading His Flock” (due out 2/28), that’s extremely critical of pope Francis. In the article below, Keating communicates his enthusiastic approval of the book.

When Francis began his tenure as pope in 2013, conservative Catholic apologists attributed his radical, off-the-cuff remarks to media misrepresentation. Over the last almost-five years, conservative Catholics have had to grudgingly face the reality that Francis is on a crusade to overturn many of their cherished traditions. His guileful lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees via a footnote in “Amoris Laetitia” was the last straw. An increasing number of conservative Catholics are reluctantly labeling Francis as a heretic. It’s an amazing thing to witness. Catholics have always boasted that their pope was divinely guided and could never lead their church into error.

For Karl Keating to publicly throw his hat into the ring with Francis’s opponents is significant. Will the folks at EWTN and National Catholic Register be calling Francis a heretic down the road as well? The tension within the Catholic church increases.

Bible Christian, what has all of this got to do with you? Make no mistake that the betrayal of the Gospel through ecumenism with Rome will probably make inroads into your church if it hasn’t already.

Karl Keating on Phil Lawler’s Pope book


Oy vey! Another doomsday prediction gone sour!

For the past couple of months, I’ve caught bits and pieces on religious talk radio of some strange prediction about the end of the world happening this past Saturday, September 23rd. Well, it’s September 25th and we’re all still here. Evidently, “Christian numerologist and researcher,” David Meade (pictured), had posted a You Tube video predicting the end of the world on September 23rd, but he’s now pushed the date back to October 15th, along with all kinds of lame excuses. It’s Edgar C. Whisenant all over again (see below). I agree that circumstances in the world are getting increasingly dicey, but no man knows the day of the Lord’s return.

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” – Matthew 24:26


After we accepted the Lord in 1983, my wife and I attended an independent fundamentalAAAAAA Baptist (IFB) church for eight years. We were firmly grounded in God’s Word at that church, but the pastor also took the congregation down some strange rabbit holes. I can laugh about it now.

In the early part of 1988, a small booklet was creating quite a stir at our church as well as at thousands of other evangelical and fundamentalist churches. Former NASA engineer, Edgar C. Whisenant, had written “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.” Based on information from the Bible and using his own mathematical calculations, Whisenant had determined the Rapture of the church would occur sometime between September 11th and September 13th of 1988. 4.5 million copies of the booklet ended up being distributed.

Like most IFB preachers, our pastor often taught the Rapture – the taking up of Christians bodily into…

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How a “church” became a dark stain on the Gospel witness in my city

Today, I am reminded that 1) our sin will find us out [Numbers 32:23] and 2) we must trust in the Lord and not in any man [Psalm 118:8-9].

This is a very disturbing story and some may be offended that I’m posting about it, but these types of toxic situations exist precisely because Christians would rather bury their heads in the sand than shine a light on sin. I’m going to give a short introduction to this post and I apologize to those who are already familiar with that part of the story.

Shortly after my wife and I accepted Christ in 1983, we began attending an independent Bible Baptist church in the area. I was looking for a Gospel-preaching church that was close to us and I picked that particular one based on an advertisement in the Yellow Pages (remember those?). We stayed at that church for eight years and became heavily involved. The pastor of the church, Joe B., was a karate black-belt tough guy and preached in an “in your face” style, which was quite a novelty and initially very appealing. I was used to limp-wristed priests when I was a Catholic and this was a refreshing change. But after awhile, the pastor’s very heavy-handed, macho-man style began to grate on me. It got to a point where just about every sermon made my skin scrawl. We finally left the church and I was so disgusted with churchianity that I walked away from the Lord for a very long period. Not smart. I had been trusting in man rather than the Lord. If I had been walking closely with the Lord, I would have just asked Him to lead us to a good church right away. But even as messed up as I was, I still felt sorry for those who remained behind at that church and voluntarily submitted to the spiritual and emotional bullying.

I’ve kept an eye on our old church from a distance over the years and it’s had its share of problems, most of them self-induced. One of the pastor’s sons, Paul B., followed in his father’s footsteps and attended his dad’s Bible college alma mater, but got involved in some sinful behaviors and activities that became known to the church’s membership back home. After he returned to Rochester, his father hired him as the young adults pastor, prompting some members to transfer to a Baptist church on the other side of town. In 2011, after his father had a temporarily debilitating stroke, Paul was promoted to pastor.

Paul not only continued his father’s “in your face” style of preaching and pastoring but he took it even further. He quickly established mixed martial arts (MMA) training and competition fighting as one of the church’s main “ministries.” Illustrations of mythological warriors with bulging muscles and menacing swords, evidently meant to symbolize aggressive, militant Christianity, saturated the church’s web site and social media. Paul swaggered around town in sleeveless t-shirts, exposing his bulked-up musculature, while his equally hard-training wife competed in Mrs. New York State competitions and regularly posted revealing modeling photos of herself in skimpy bikinis on her Twitter and Facebook accounts. This unconventional pastor couple were obviously very proud of their hard-earned, chiseled physiques and wanted everyone to know it. But in 2014, the county police department interviewed three individuals who claimed Paul had either sexually abused them or had attempted to. Some of the accusations described situations involving both the pastor and his wife. These allegations were splashed across the internet. The police concluded their investigation saying there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute. Pastor emeritus, Joe, now fully recovered from his stroke, lobbied the church “leadership” and membership on behalf of his beleaguered son. The executive pastor and deacon board of the church fully supported Paul.

Earlier this summer, one of the Paul’s previous victims had posted on her blog that he had been “fired” (news reports say he resigned) from the church because of new allegations of abuse. I checked the church’s website and, sure enough, any and all signs of him had been erased and Joe, now age 68, had resumed pastoring duties. A week ago, the local television news and newspaper ran stories saying Paul had been arrested after two new individuals had contacted the police with claims that he had sexually abused them. Two days later, a third person also pressed charges. Paul is scheduled to appear in court today for his arraignment. The signed testimonies of the victims were released this morning and they all tell a similar story; Paul had used the MMA and workout “ministries” to connect with the women and lure them into his home where the abuse took place.

Last week, after an update on the scandal had aired on the local television news, my wife turned to me and asked, “Why did you get us involved in that church in the first place?” Boy, did that hurt. I was a baby Christian when we began attending that church, with little discernment and no basis of comparison.

I hesitated in writing this post for several obvious reasons, but the Lord kept bringing it to the forefront. There are some men who are not genuinely called to pastor churches, but do so anyway. They do more harm to the Gospel than good. This particular church has become the laughingstock/snakepit of the Greater Rochester area, with the very heavy media coverage of this scandal. All of it reflects very poorly on the entire Gospel witness in this area, not to mention the people, adults and children, who have been abused at this church over the years, both physically and emotionally. No church is perfect, but this church was on a downward spiral from Day #1. If your pastor is a megalomaniac and there is little or no pastoral oversight, you should leave immediately and ask the Lord to lead you to a God-honoring fellowship.

Former pastor accused of using hot tub to target women

See my posts from last year regarding the abuse at this church here and here.