Catholicism’s Feast of the Ascension and why it makes absolutely no sense

This coming Thursday, May 25th, Roman Catholics all over the world will be celebrating the Feast of the Ascension, which commemorates the bodily ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven forty days after His resurrection. I have a few thoughts about this Catholic feast day that I would like to share:

One

The Feast of the Ascension is a “Holy Day of Obligation” for Catholics, which means they are required to attend mass on that day. Every Catholic who neglects to attend mass on Thursday and every other HDO and Sundays without a valid excuse earns a “mortal” sin, which means they will go directly to hell if they die before confessing the sin to a priest. Despite the threat of eternal damnation for missing mass on a HDO, most American Catholics can’t be bothered. Only 35% of American Catholics responded via survey that they “always,” “frequently,” or “usually” attend mass on a HDO. See here.

Two

The Catholic liturgical calendar is filled with various “solemnities,” “feasts,” and “memorials” but don’t confuse the three. What are the differences between the categories? Like all things in Catholicism, it’s very complicated. See here. From a believer’s perspective, it’s very sad to think about Catholics being compelled to attend these religious rituals although they have no saving relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. But who can blame the 65% of American Catholics who won’t be attending obligatory mass on Thursday when their pope fallaciously claims even atheists can merit Heaven if they follow their consciences and are “good”?

Three

The 35% of American Catholics who do attend obligatory mass on Thursday will allegedly be celebrating the bodily ascension of Jesus to Heaven. Yes, God’s Word teaches Jesus rose to Heaven. Scripture also says Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for all who accept Him as Savior by faith.

But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” – Luke 22:69

“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” – Hebrews 7:25

But the Catholic church conducts 350,000 masses every day all over the world in which priests allegedly bring Christ down from Heaven to take the literal place of bread and wine so as to be re-offered as a sacrificial victim for the sins of the congregants.

“When the priest pronounces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of man. It is a power greater than that of monarchs and emperors: it is greater than that of saints and angels, greater than that of Seraphim and Cherubim. Indeed it is greater even than the power of the Virgin Mary. While the Blessed Virgin was the human agency by which Christ became incarnate a single time, the priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal Victim for the sins of man—not once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows His head in humble obedience to the priest’s command.” – Catholic priest, Father John O’Brien, in “Faith of Millions” (first published in 1938, last published in 1974)

Irony of ironies. Pious Catholics will be attending mass on Thursday to celebrate the ascension of Jesus into Heaven but part of the celebration will entail the priest allegedly bringing Jesus back down from Heaven so he can be re-sacrificed again, and again, and again…

Conclusion

If you smell some rotten fish in all of this non-scriptural religious rigmarole, you’re not alone. Millions of Catholics over the ages have questioned their ritualistic and legalistic religion, accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, and left Catholicism.

Religious ritual doesn’t save. Only Jesus saves. After you’ve repented of your sins and prayed to Jesus to save you, ask Him to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s word without compromise.


How do I become a Christian?
https://carm.org/how-do-i-become-christian

What are the Holy Days of Obligation?
https://www.gotquestions.org/Holy-Days-of-Obligation.html

Weekend Roundup – News & Views – 5/20/17

Catholic apologists like to present their church as a unified monolith compared to Protestantism’s 30,000 denominations (their mythical number), but many conservative Catholics eagerly anticipate the end of this current pope’s tenure. There once was a day when the notion of an American president visiting the pope at the Vatican would have been unthinkable.

Speaking of unpopular leaders, readers of this blog know I generally try to stay away from politics and nationalism, but it’s time to address the elephant in the middle of the room. Over the course of my life, I’ve witnessed eleven American presidents (I only vaguely remember Ike so I didn’t count him). Some were better than others but a lot of that depended on the crisis at hand. The last four months have only confirmed my earlier assessment of candidate Donald Trump as a junior high school bully in a business suit, totally lacking the temperament, statesmanship, and personal decorum required of the office. It’s a disturbing situation unlike anything I’ve seen in sixty years. He’s prone to blame a hostile media, but Trump continues to shoot himself in the foot week after week with his poor judgement and rash behavior. But our trust is in the Lord. We must continue to pray for all the leaders of this country so that we can live in peace so that the Gospel can continue to be proclaimed. That’s our bottom line, fellow sojourners. Presidents come and presidents go but the Lord God Almighty, our King, remains on His throne.

I admire the Duggar sons-in-law for throwing cable-tv etiquette to the wind and speaking the truth about Catholic error. That kind of courage has been sadly lacking in evangelicalism, which is why we now have the sheep partying with wolves, totally unaware.

The intervention of the Argentinian police is too little, too late. Where were the public safety officials of the past when North and South America were dotted with of convents, seminaries, and monasteries full of inmates/residents who were encouraged or forced to practice “self-mortification,” not to speak of the sexual abuse that proliferated throughout those institutions?

The Jews had the complete Old Testament without benefit of any church council declarations. How did that happen? No, the church didn’t give us the Bible, the Holy Spirit did. A wise man has compared the relationship between church councils and the Biblical canon to Sir Isaac Newton and gravity. Newton didn’t invent gravity, he merely described the force that was already in place.

Catholics flock in droves to every new claim of a Marian apparition. The alleged apparitions at Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina have been ongoing for 36 years, which is very unusual according to standard apparition protocol. The “Blessed Virgin” of Medjugorje is also reported to have said some things that aren’t exactly in agreement with orthodox Catholic teaching, so the hierarchy’s not on board, but they don’t shut down the ride because the zeal of the pilgrims is good for business.

Catholics dedicate the month of May to Mary. I can remember being in Catholic grammar school and every year all the children filed into church on May Day and crowned the statue of Mary with a ring of flowers. The nuns always selected the prettiest, most popular eighth-grade girl to do the crowning. I think I had a crush on each of them starting around when I was in fifth grade. Like everything in Catholicism, May Day was all about pomp and ritual and had nothing to do with a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Any illusions about America being a “Christian nation” should have been buried years ago.

Hopefully, this debate between evangelical apologist, James White, and Catholic apologist, Peter Williams, will be on-line soon. Mary would be so sad to see how people have replaced the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone with worshiping her.

If anyone has an idea of how to make the dead, boring liturgical ritual of the mass inviting and actually relevant to spiritual health, give the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops a call.

Interfaith dialogue and unity are completely unscriptural. Nowhere in the New Testament can you find any basis whatsoever for Christians embracing pagan religions as legitimate pathways to salvation. Scripture teaches faith in Jesus Christ as Savior is the ONLY way to salvation.

The death of one nun was just the tip of the iceberg

 

A new Netflix docu-series, “The Keepers,” premiers tomorrow, Friday, May 19th and it looks like something Christians may want to watch. I certainly will be.

The seven-part series focuses on the unsolved murder of a Catholic nun, Sister Catherine Cesnik, inKeep Baltimore, Maryland in 1969. One of the suspects was a priest, Father Joseph Maskell, a known sexual predator, who was shuffled from parish to parish by the church hierarchy. The documentary alleges that Maskell was abusing girls at the high school where Cesnik taught and she was attempting to expose him prior to her death.

It’s one thing to hear general information about the scandal of pedophilic and abusive priests and the subsequent cover-up by the church hierarchy. That’s bad enough. But it’s another thing to examine the personal aftermath of the abuse and cover-up in the lives of actual human beings with names and faces and in the lives of their families.

Catholicism has much to answer for, in regards to this scandal as well as for misleading its members with its false gospel. Not only were children, nuns, and young seminarians victimized by “celibate” sexual predators, but Catholics in general were and are being misled into believing they must merit their way into Heaven.

One-hundred-years ago, church spokespersons offhandedly dismissed accusations of abuse in Catholic schools, seminaries, convents, and rectories as “Protestant porn.” Now they’re keeping their mouths shut and wishing it would all just go away.


In Netflix’s “The Keepers,” a nun’s unsolved murder, a sexual abuse coverup and crumbling Vatican II hope
http://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2017/05/17/netflixs-keepers-nuns-unsolved-murder-sexual-abuse-coverup-and-crumbling

Come home! Rome calls out to her daughters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curious minds want to know: Are blessings transferable?

Catholics are taught that their priests are endowed with unique powers to bless material objects. When a priest blesses an object he allegedly imparts spiritual qualities to the item, which then bestow physical and spiritual benefits to the owner. Catholics bring their religious objects like rosaries, crucifixes, candles, medals, scapulars, prayer books, and statues to their parish priest for his blessing. Once an item has been blessed by a priest, it is considered to be a “holy” sacramental. A sacramental that is no longer wanted or is in poor condition may not be disposed of in the trash but must be buried or incinerated. Catholics also arrange for their priests to bless non-religious items like their houses, cars, and boats.

Today I was listening to the 5/12/17 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) featuring moderator Mike Denz and priest host, Dave Baker, taking questions from the listening audience and there was an interesting query about priestly blessings:

Mike Denz: We have a question about blessings from one of our listeners who emailed in. It starts off, “If your car has been blessed and you sell it, does the blessing expire or end with the new owner?”

Priest Baker didn’t sound all too sure in his response but conjectured that the blessing upon the car and anyone who travels in it remains intact even after the transfer of ownership UNLESS the new owner does something “to kick the blessing out” by being involved in a way of life that is “completely out of synch with the spirit of Christ.” Baker admitted that he wasn’t sure in such a case if the blessing leaves immediately or gradually fades away over time.

Denz then referred to the second part of the same listener’s question, which asked why the mandatory rule regarding burying or burning of unneeded or worn out blessed religious objects doesn’t also apply to unwanted homes, cars, boats, motorcycles (or airplanes, farm tractors, space shuttles, nuclear submarines, etc.) that were also blessed?

Priest Baker got a condescending chuckle over that one and patiently explained that religious objects are blessed and “consecrated” as items used in worship while blessed dwellings and vehicles aren’t consecrated and therefore don’t have to be ceremonially disposed of.

Is your head spinning yet? All of these teachings and regulations about blessings are man-made and nowhere to be found in the New Testament. Come out of ritualistic religion and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone.

Catholic priest: The Bible is full of errors!

Roman Catholicism has an interesting relationship with the Bible. While the church officially recognizes the Bible is God’s Word, it places its non-biblical traditions and teaching authority (Magisterium) on equal par with Scripture. Catholicism did not encourage the laity to read the Bible because it contains so many teachings that contradicted Catholic dogma. I attended Catholic schools for twelve years and although we were told stories from the Bible, we never read it. Not once.

This past Saturday I was driving down the road with my radio tuned to the local Catholic station. A priest (name unknown) was talking about the Bible and said many parts can’t be taken literally, but that one must sift through the myth and error to mine the overarching moral or spiritual message.

As an example, the priest pointed to Mark 2:23-28, where Jesus says David and his men ate the bread of Presence during the time of Abiathar the High Priest. Yet, 1 Samuel 21:1-6, the passage Jesus was referring to, records that the High Priest at the time was Ahimelech. The priest stated that either Jesus was wrong or Mark was wrong but either way the Bible was in error. But he said this technical error wasn’t actually a big deal because the overarching message of the passage, that love conquers doctrinal scrupulosity, was the point. Famous atheist, Bart Ehrman, cites the alleged Ahimelech/Abiathar contradiction as the initial seed of his personal doubt regarding the Bible and Christianity.

But was Jesus, Mark, or Mark’s probable source, Peter, in error regarding Mark 2:23-38? I reject any suggestion out of hand that Jesus the Word was ever in error about anything. But what about Mark? Could the Holy Spirit have allowed him to write an error, especially a glaring one that would have been immediately obvious to any devout Jew?

The article below points out a very plausible solution to the alleged contradiction from an inerrantist point of view.

Was the high priest Abiathar or Ahimelech?
http://www.evidenceunseen.com/bible-difficulties-2/nt-difficulties/matthew/mk-226-was-the-high-priest-abiathar-or-ahimelech/

It might be surprising to some ecumenically-minded evangelicals that a Catholic priest would claim on national radio that the Bible was full of errors but the Catholic clergy includes many such liberal errantists. But as I also mentioned, Catholicism often relegates Scripture to a secondary role in favor of its man-made teachings and traditions.

IFB Memories #12: Church and politics

There’s always been a tension within Christianity regarding what kind of a relationship the church should have with politics and the state. The early Reformers unfortunately adopted the Roman Catholic viewpoint that the state was the divinely ordained agent of the church. That concept still lingers in varying degrees throughout the West but especially in the United States. European countries still have official state-supported denominations although few people attend services.

In American evangelicalism today, at one end of the spectrum are Christians who argue the church and state should work hand in glove; elect Christian-friendly politicians, ensure the appointment of Christian-friendly judges, and legislate laws that reflect Judeo-Christian beliefs and values. At the other end of the spectrum are Christians who argue the job of the church is to evangelize and disciple and not to become entangled in worldly concerns. We are ambassadors of our Father in Heaven on a mission to evangelize, not to be deeply-rooted, nationalistic patriots.

My wife and I accepted Christ back in the early-1980s and we began attending an independent fundamental Baptist church that patterned itself after Jerry Falwell (pictured) and his Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. Falwell and his Moral Majority were so focused on championing conservative causes that the Gospel was relegated to the back seat. Co-belligerency alongside religious unbelievers (e.g., conservative Catholics) eventually contributed to an “ecumenism of the trenches” as Chuck Colson once approvingly noted.

Our pastor regularly mixed the Gospel with politics from the pulpit. America was presented as a Christian nation that was in a covenant with God in the very same way as was ancient Israel. Old Testament passages meant only for Israel were regularly misapplied to the United States. Our church was heavily involved with New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a political advocacy group supported by IFB and conservative evangelical churches in the state (see last article below). During election years, candidates from both parties were invited to our church to discuss their political positions but only Republicans bothered to show up. That church’s heavy involvement in politics and the constant harangues about the culture wars from the pulpit led to our decision to leave, among other reasons.

I don’t know exactly where the line is regarding the church’s involvement with politics and the state but I’m quite happy politics are never mentioned from the pulpit of our current church.

I’m currently reading “The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America” by Frances FitzGerald, which was published in April. It’s a history of evangelicalism in America from an unbeliever’s perspective. It’s not always complimentary but the facts are fascinating, especially regarding the struggle to determine the church’s relationship with the state. Review to follow.

Below are a few articles that touch upon this church-state dichotomy:

With God on Their Side: How Evangelicals Entered American Politics

Don’t compromise the gospel in social cooperation
http://news.sbts.edu/2017/04/13/dont-compromise-gospel-social-cooperation-says-mohler-tgc-workshop/

Evangelicals gather in Albany
http://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/273279/evangelicals-gather-in-albany/