Too much sectarian baggage to be useful

My Deliverance from the Heresies of Rome
By Harry Hampel
Harry Hampel Deliverance Revivals, 1955, 110 pages

The author of this short book, Harry Hampel, was a Pentecostal evangelist active in the 1950s and 60s within the Assemblies of God denomination. Hampel begins this book with his testimony of how he was raised as a Roman Catholic, but shortly after returning to the States after serving as a Marine at the end of World War II, he repented of his sin and accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone at a Pentecostal tent meeting. He then details his entry into the ministry and expounds upon the various differences between Roman Catholicism and Biblical Christianity. Throughout his discourse, Hampel refers to many of the tenets of Pentecostalism. I’m a cessationist in regards to the apostolic gifts of the Spirit, so I read over Hampel’s claims regarding glossolalia and faith healings with a good degree of skepticism.

This book has some valuable, basic information regarding the Roman salvation system of sacramental grace and merit, but the must reader hop scotch over the claims for Pentecostalism. Beginning in 1967, with the “Duquesne Weekend,” Pentecostal practices began entering into the Catholic church and evolved into the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement. Pentecostals were in a bind. Although CCR Catholics still held to their works gospel, they demonstrated the requisite “gifts of the spirit,” forcing Pentecostals to overlook doctrinal differences on justification and salvation and accept Catholics as Christians because of their common ecstatic experiences. I wonder what Hampel would say about the strong ecumenism with Rome that we see from such contemporary Pentecostals/charismatics as Kenneth Copland, Joel Osteen, Pat Robertson, etc.

Another qualification; this book was written in 1955 when the Roman Catholic church was still religiously and politically militant, so Hampel’s warnings about the RCC seeking to overthrow the United States will appear as quaintly paranoid to today’s reader.

I did some research via the internet for information on Hampel and came across some of his evangelistic meetings literature, which advertised, in addition to physical healings, “deliverance from poverty.” That surprised me. I had thought the financial prosperity gospel was a somewhat recent phenomenon within Pentecostalism, but I see that its roots go back at least into the 1950s.

Because of the qualifications cited above, I wouldn’t recommend this book


  1. A Glimpse unto the Past
  2. The Story of My Conversion
  3. The Original Church
  4. The Quest for World Supremacy
  5. Suppression of the Word of God
  6. Mary – Worship or Idolatry
  7. The Pope Infallible?
  8. Confirmation or Holy Spirit Baptism
  9. Venial or Mortal Sins
  10. The Confession Booth
  11. The Wafer God of Rome
  12. Behind Convent Walls
  13. Purgatory or Hell?
  14. The Church of Rome in Prophecy
  15. America Under the Sway of Catholicism
  16. My Two Appeals

A Prayer to Mary?

We know from Scripture that only Almighty God is worthy of our worship. The Bible is not fuzzy about this; it commands us to worship God alone.

“You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” – Matthew 4:10

But Roman Catholics dedicate a large portion of their religious devotion to Mary. Protestants have even charged Catholics with worshiping Mary. Our Catholic friends strongly deny that they worship Mary. They claim that they simply honor her with the veneration she deserves as the mother of Jesus and “mother of the church.”

Despite the denials, the line between “veneration” and “worship” is not altogether clear in regards to how Catholics actually relate to Mary. Let’s focus on just one example; the celebrated Catholic saint, Alphonsus Liguori.

Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) was an Italian Catholic bishop who founded the Redemptorists religious order of priests and brothers and is considered one of Roman Catholicism’s greatest saints. He was canonized in 1839 by pope Gregory XVI and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church (i.e. an honorific title bestowed upon the church’s 36 preeminent theologians) by pope Pius IX in 1871.

Liguori is best known for his absolute devotion to Mary. His book, “The Glories of Mary,” was first published in 1774 and became the standard work in promulgating devotion to Mary within Catholicism.

Below is a petition to Mary written by Liguori. I ask all evangelicals to read this “prayer” with open eyes:

“Most holy Virgin Immaculate, my Mother Mary, to thee who art the Mother of my Lord, the queen of the universe, the advocate, the hope, the refuge of sinners, I who am the most miserable of all sinners, have recourse this day. I venerate thee, great queen, and I thank thee for the many graces thou has bestowed upon me even unto this day; in particular for having delivered me from the hell which I have so often deserved by my sins. I love thee, most dear Lady; and for the love I bear thee, I promise to serve thee willingly forever and to do what I can to make thee loved by others also. I place in thee all my hopes for salvation; accept me as thy servant and shelter me under thy mantle, thou who art the Mother of mercy. And since thou art so powerful with God, deliver me from all temptations, or at least obtain for me the strength to overcome them until death. From thee I implore a true love for Jesus Christ. Through thee I hope to die a holy death. My dear Mother, by the love thou bearest to Almighty God, I pray thee to assist me always, but most of all at the last moment of my life. Forsake me not then, until thou shalt see me safe in heaven, there to bless thee and sing of thy mercies through all eternity. Such is my hope. Amen.”

In this prayer to Mary, Liguori fleetingly mentions Jesus Christ, God the Son, and God the Father, but the passion of the prayer is devoted entirely to Mary.

Among other offices and attributes, Liguori honors Mary as the following:

  • Queen of the universe, the advocate, the hope, the refuge of sinners.
  • Bestower of many graces, in particular the deliverer from hell.
  • Source of all hopes for salvation.
  • Deliverer from all temptations.

At the end of the prayer, Liguori pleads with Mary to assist him in his efforts to merit salvation, especially at the time of his death.

Evangelical believers must surely read this prayer with astonishment and revulsion. Liguori attributes to Mary all of the offices that uniquely belong to Jesus Christ: Advocate, Savior, and Deliverer. Catholics protest that they do not worship Mary out of one side of their mouth, and yet worship her unabashedly out of the other side.

Believers praise the Lord for Mary’s example of obedience in Scripture, but Mary was a sinner in need of the Savior as we all are. Mary would be sorely grieved by the veneration/worship Catholics accord to her.

The Redemptorists’ website says the following about their founder, Liguori, in his old age as he approached death:

“(Liguori)…was plagued with spiritual afflictions, scrupulously fearing he hadn’t done enough to serve the God he loved so much. To help him through these times, his confreres gathered with him to pray. They always included the Litany of Our Lady, usually followed by the rosary. They read to him from his own writings about the glory of Mary and how, as heaven’s queen, she welcomed all her true and faithful servants at the hour of their death. Early in the evening on July 31, 1787, Alphonsus made one final request. “Give me my lady,” he whispered. They placed a picture of Mary in his hands. He spent the night in prayer with the Blessed Mother. The next day at the stroke of the noon Angelus, Alphonsus died at the age of 91.”

Liguori was not trusting in Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone. He led millions upon millions into error by teaching them to worship Mary and to attempt to merit salvation through Mary with their own unrighteous works.

When the day comes when I approach the valley of the shadow of death, I will turn to my loving Savior and Shepherd, Jesus Christ, and say, “Take me home, Lord.”

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – Pausing to note a paradox

Since early-August, we’ve been examining the 95 Bible verses presented by Catholic apologist, Dave Armstrong, in his book, “The Catholic Verses,” that allegedly validate Catholicism and “confound Protestants.” This week, I thought we’d take a break from the 95 verses and examine a bit of a paradox regarding the author that came to my attention a couple of weeks ago.

In his defense of the Catholic doctrine of penitential suffering, Armstrong criticized some Protestant Pentecostals and charismatics who propagate the health and wealth, name it and claim it, prosperity gospel (see here) and who blatantly ignore Bible passages that contradict guaranteed temporal health and wealth for the believer. Our sister at Biblical Beginnings commented that Armstrong’s criticism of the prosperity gospelers was inconsistent because of the popularity of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) movement, which boasts over 160 million followers. I responded that while Catholic charismatics do share many of the beliefs and practices of Pentecostals and charismatics regarding glossolalia, prophecy, and healings, they generally don’t focus on accumulating wealth and still value suffering as expiatory and penitential. However, Armstrong’s criticism of the prosperity gospel brought to focus an apparent contradiction based upon some of his other articles.

Many/most conservative Catholic apologists dismiss Pentecostalism’s gifts of the spirit as a Protestant novelty. For instance, apologist, David Anders, regularly dismisses Pentecostalism as an innovation begun by Charles Parham in 1900. Pentecostalism began its infiltration into the Catholic church at Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh in 1967 and blossomed into the CCR. While Anders is careful not to condemn the practices of Catholic charismatics because popes and prelates have tolerated the CCR and looked upon it as a valuable tool for ecumenism, he views the movement as a departure from Catholic tradition with roots in Protestantism and with the very real potential for heterodoxy.

Unlike most of his fellow conservative Catholic apologists, Dave Armstrong, the author of “The Catholic Verses” is quite at home with the CCR. He admits to attending charismatic and healing Masses occasionally.* I did a little research and discovered that Armstrong was a member of a Pentecostal church before he converted to Roman Catholicism.**

The interesting paradox is that Armstrong views Reformers such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Huldrych Zwingli as rebellious and dangerous heretics, yet is very comfortable with the non-Catholic innovations of Charles Parham and William J. Seymour, the pioneers of Pentecostalism! Does not compute my friends. It is contradictory for Armstrong to attack the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, and yet embrace the experiential practices that originated with Parham and Seymour in the early-20th-century outside of Catholicism.


*Catholic Charismatic Renewal: A Defense

**Is Catholicism Christian? My Debate With James White (Dave Armstrong vs. James White from 1995)

Full disclosure: I’m a cessationist regarding the apostolic gifts of the Spirit. I believe the “showy” gifts were given to verify the authority of the apostles and ended after the apostolic era.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views -1/19/19

It’s definitely too early to assess the total impact of the “Summer of 2018,” when the Catholic church’s sexual abuse and cover-up scandal became a tsunami. But as this article reveals, two-thirds of the Catholic laity now believe their priests are immoral. That’s an absolutely astounding statistic in a church that propagates priest-dependent works-salvation.

Archbishop Vigano’s accusations against cardinal Wuerl for his role in the cover-up for sexual predator, cardinal Ted McCarrick, have been vindicated. In his accusations, Vigano also implicated pope Francis.

Popular pastor and one of the leaders of the “seeker” church-growth model, Andy Stanley continues his assault on Biblical orthodoxy.

Here in Rochester, N.Y. we’re seeing ongoing headlines related to the predatory priests sexual abuse and cover-up scandal. There is no end in sight as the state and F.B.I. continue their investigations. An education at the ultra-expensive, all-boys, McQuaid Jesuit High School here in Rochester is looked upon as a first step in the fast track to a highly lucrative professional career. For decades, like fish in a barrel, the school’s male teenage students have had to dodge the advances of their predatory Jesuit priest instructors. Seven priests who taught at the school over the years have been cited, but many more “flew under the radar.” I attended less-prestigious Bishop Kearney High School on the northside of town and both the male and female students had to keep a constant eye out for the predatory Irish Christian Brothers teaching staff.

I get most of my Catholic news from ultra-conservative EWTN. But in reality, only a small percentage of Catholics adhere to EWTN-style militancy.

Francis is definitely going to give the green light to female deacons, it’s only a question of when.

Last week, I mentioned that liberal German cardinal, Reinhard Marx, serves as the vanguard for pope Francis’ progressive reforms. Conservative priests and prelates voice their objections, but can’t overcome the Francis steamroller.

The procession of the Black Nazarene in Manila, Philippines is a blatant example of Catholic-pagan syncretism.

The LGBTQ lobby has set its sights on evangelical churches that defend Biblical teaching on homosexuality.

The abduction of a Jewish boy by the Catholic church that caused an international uproar

The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara
By David I. Kertzer
Alfred A. Knopf, 1997, 350 pages

The Roman Catholic church has an extremely uncomplimentary history in regards to its relationship with the Jews. There’s a lengthy and sordid record of persecution, pogroms, forced baptisms, ghetto quarantines, and expulsions. Popes, prelates, and priests were not only aware of the intolerance, they were more often than not the instigators. Adolf Hitler credited the Catholic church with fomenting anti-Semitism throughout Europe, which culminated in his Final Solution:

“The Catholic Church considered the Jews pestilent for fifteen hundred years, put them in ghettos, etc, because it recognized the Jews for what they were …. I recognize the representatives of this race as pestilent for the state and for the Church.” – Adolf Hitler, April 26, 1933.

By the mid-19th-century, autocratic, monarchical governments in Europe were being overturned in favor of democratic republicanism. The Papal States on the Italian Peninsula represented one of the last vestiges of one-man-rule tyranny. In the midst of this revolution was an incident that became an international symbol of the struggle between the old rule versus the new.

In this excellent book, the author describes in detail the “Mortara Case.” In 1858, in the city of Bologna, which was part of the Papal States, information reached the office of the Roman Catholic Holy Inquisition that a six-year-old Jewish boy had been baptized as a baby by the family’s Catholic servant. Church law forbade that a “Christian” child could be raised by Jews. With permission from the Vatican, the inquisitor directed the civil magistrates to forcibly remove the boy from his family. The child, Edgardo Mortara, was immediately sent to Rome to be raised and indoctrinated into the Catholic religion by clerics. The abduction of Jewish children who had been secretly baptized was not uncommon.

Edgardo’s father strongly protested the kidnapping of his son. Such acts had been accepted as prerogatives of the Catholic majority in previous generations, but as Western Europe moved increasingly toward democracy, the affront became an unacceptable symbol of old rule. Jewish communities around the world were galvanized via their own newspapers. Ambassadors of many national governments lodged complaints with the “Holy See.” In the United States, Protestant pastors and journalists pointed to the Mortara Case as an example of the depravity of the papacy and Catholic system. Champions of Italian unification used the incident as a cause célèbre in the effort to relieve pope Pius IX of his significant territorial holdings (approx. 7000 sq. mi). Despite the mounting international outrage, Pius resisted returning Edgardo to his parents and actually took a personal role in raising the the boy (Edgardo eventually entered the seminary and was ordained a priest in 1873). When Italian military forces of the “Risorgimento” captured Rome in 1870, pope Pius IX reacted by excommunicating everyone who participated in or assisted the “rebellion.”

This is an excellent history of a very sordid affair. The author successfully juxtaposes the heartbreaking predicament of Edgardo’s parents and the father’s determined but unsuccessful efforts to rescue his son alongside the growing international pressure against the pope and his arbitrary religiosity. The author did his homework. The references to various records and testimonies are voluminous. Perhaps the only drawback to the book is the thirty-one pages devoted to the unrelated investigation and trial of Edgardo’s father on murder charges in 1871. The material detracts from the main topic, but it’s not a show-stopper.

This book was a finalist in the 1997 National Book Awards. Steven Spielberg is currently developing the story of the Mortara Case into a feature film.

Most contemporary Catholics would view the Mortara Case as an embarrassment and a product of “unenlightened, sectarian religiosity.” But how do today’s conservative Catholic apologists explain their church’s institutional anti-Semitism, which was advanced by allegedly Holy Spirit-guided popes and prelates and included the abduction of Edgardo Mortara from his parents that was personally upheld by the “Vicar of Christ”? They’ve shown they can shamelessly rationalize away every unflattering sensibility and event in their church’s past.

Postscript: In 1998, John Paul II became the first pope to issue an apology to Jews for all of the Catholic priests, prelates, and infallible popes of previous generations who promoted and supported anti-Jewish persecution. Click on the link below for a very recent story regarding pope Francis’ apologies for the anti-Semitism of popes and prelates in the past:

Catholics must continue seeking pardon for anti-Judaism, pope says

New Year’s Resolutions?

Did you make any resolutions for 2019? It’s seventeen days into the new year, so are you still sticking to that/those resolution/s?

The subject of New Year’s resolutions brings to mind a period in my life back in the late-1970s and early-1980s. I was in my twenties, married with a couple of young children, and had my whole life ahead of me. My goals included:

  • Attending night college to earn a degree so I could ascend the Kodak corporate ladder.
  • Following a fitness regime that included running, weight lifting, and eating a very clean diet. My plan was to die a very healthy one-hundred-and-ten-years-old.
  • Becoming more spiritual. I was a Roman Catholic at the time and I knew all about institutional religiosity, but I desired to find “something” that really fulfilled my soul.

To the above ends, each December I went to the local stationary store and bought a red, hardcover, At-A-Glance Standard Diary-Daily Reminder (see photo) for the upcoming new year. Wow! Those things were expensive and they still are; $31.54 at Amazon! The idea was that every day of the year, I would diligently record my efforts to improve my mind, body, and spirit. In fact, that became my personal mantra: “Mind, Body, and Spirit.”

So how did I do? Well, I was attending night college at the time and definitely making progress toward improving my mind and earning a degree. I was also pretty good about working out and eating well. But becoming more spiritual? What did that mean? I had no answer for that one. I wasn’t a regular at mass. Did becoming more spiritual mean delving back into Catholic ritualism, legalism, and formalism? I’d been down that road as an altar boy for four years in grammar school and I knew that wasn’t the answer.

So my impressive daily diary was filled with henscratch ONLY under the categories of “mind” and “body” for the months of January, February, and March, but I usually fizzled out after that. The following December, I would go out and buy ANOTHER expensive diary and begin the process all over again. Repeat cycle. Repeat cycle. This went on for several years. At some point, I got the very bright idea that becoming “more spiritual” might include reading the Bible. Well, that was a life-changing thought! Through God’s Word and several other factors the Lord led me to the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. In 1983, I repented of my sin and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior by faith alone.

I’m no longer thrashing about, trying to become generically “more spiritual.” I know exactly who my Savior and Shepherd is and my goal is to better serve Him each day by His grace.

Billions of people in this world would like to be “more spiritual.” They try a multitude of different approaches. But Jesus Christ is the only way to spiritual truth and life. Resolutions and goals are fine and can be helpful, but if you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone, you’re on a spiritual Titanic and nothing else really matters.

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” – Matthew 9:36

Update: As for climbing the corporate ladder, that dream fizzled out years ago with Kodak’s plunging fortunes. I eventually did earn a degree in 2000, which has helped keep me employed at a company that has leaked employees like a sieve for the last thirty-four years. My only goal now in that regard is to retire in one or two more years. As for that old fitness regime… Fitness? What’s that?

Ramblings about mental illness

I’m going to “think out loud” a bit about a topic that I know only a little about, but I do have some experience with it: mental illness.

Many of us have been touched by mental illness in one way or another and I have a few personal examples:

  • Many years ago, I worked with a person at Kodak who was convinced everyone in our department was conspiring with his ex-wife to cause him harm, although none of us had ever even met his ex-wife. He was becoming increasingly agitated, but Human Resources said they could not intervene unless he actually threatened someone. This increasingly tense situation continued for several months until the person was eventually dismissed in a general lay-off. It was my opinion that if the person had worked in the offices of management rather than on the production floor, he would have been dealt with promptly.
  • My wife suffered through a bout of depression and had suicidal thoughts after she severely fractured her leg in 1984.
  • My mom suffered from Alzheimer’s the last several years of her life.
  • A close relative grew up in a household with a mother who was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and did not take her medications regularly. The close relative dropped out of college last Spring due to anxiety and depression.
  • A very good friend is going through a second divorce at the age of sixty-three. The situation has completely unnerved him. He contemplated suicide this past summer after his wife moved out. Although he is no longer considering suicide, he is almost completely debilitated by anxiety and depression. I’m reluctant to visit with him because every time we get together he talks about his woes incessantly, for literally hours on end. It’s the same “poor me” pity-party over and over and over, like an endless loop. Yes, I’ve interrupted him many times and told him he must “get a grip.” He acknowledges that and then goes right back to his loop. He has taken a wide assortment of medications and has seen therapists without much change. He stopped seeing a therapist because he says he can no longer afford it. My friend seems to “enjoy” being a victim and wallowing in his misery. He craves company (i.e., people who will listen to him), but his behavior is driving his family and friends away. The situation has “unnerved” me to some degree, which explains this post.
  • I won’t go into detail, but I have seen situations within my extended family that included bulimia, anorexia, alcoholism, paranoia, paralyzing grief due to the death of a child from a drug overdose, and obsessive-compulsive disorder including hoarding. These terms aren’t “psycho-babble,” but describe very real circumstances that I have witnessed personally.

There’s a lot of controversy about mental illness in Christian circles. There are some Christians who say most mental illnesses are actually manifestations of a spiritual problem. In other words, if a Christian is suffering from depression or anxiety, then their faith in/relationship with the Lord isn’t strong enough. While that could certainly be true in some cases, I also believe there are pathological/neurological/chemical bases for mental illness. Not only must a Christian with mental illness deal with the problem, they must also deal with the stigma and guilt of allegedly not having the requisite faith.

Psychology and psychotherapy get a bad rap in Christian circles and sometimes for good reason. There are cases where drugs are mis-prescribed or over-prescribed and people become dependent rather than dealing with the root cause of their problem. Psychology is based upon humanistic, godless principles that are often at odds with Biblical teaching.

I haven’t suffered from any debilitating mental illnesses myself, although I have experienced depression and anxiety at times throughout my life. One morning, I was listening to a show on (c)hristian radio and the host mentioned her friend who has Asperger’s Syndrome (a type of high-performing autism). The symptoms that were described actually fit me to a tee, but we get into trouble when we self-diagnose. I subsequently took a couple of online tests and scored extremely high for the syndrome. No worries. I’m doing fine with my quirky self.

When a Christian experiences some type of troubling mental/emotional problem, the first thing they should do is pray. They then might want to see their pastor before they consult with anyone else. The situation may very well be a spiritual problem that can be helped with godly counseling. If not, the pastor can hopefully recommend a qualified Christian therapist. Obviously, there are serious cases of mental illness that require immediate medical intervention.

Okay, I’m done “thinking out loud.” Comments are welcome.

Postscript: Our eleven-year-old, forty-five-pound dog has frequent anxiety/panic attacks which most often occur in the middle of the night. She will start crying and shaking for no apparent reason and jumps up on the bed to try curl up around my wife’s head. We’ve tried various vet-prescribed medications without much success (also, my wife is against “pushing pills on her”). I must get up out of bed and put her in an enclosed room where she barks and claws at the door until she tires herself out. Not a good situation at 2 a.m. during the work week.

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 75 and 76: Penitential Suffering? – Part 2

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

Last week, we examined the first two Bible passages that Armstrong presented as proof texts for the Catholic teaching of penitential suffering. This week, we’ll examine the last two passages:

#75) 2 Corinthians 4:10: “…always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”

#76) Colossians 1:24: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.”

Beneath these passages, Armstrong writes, “God allows us to take part in the great drama of redemption by allowing us to share the sufferings of Christ that brought it about. That does not mean that the cause of redemption does not completely lie with Jesus Christ, but that we can be part of it in some mysterious way (in his will and by his design and providence), just as our prayers are part of his redemption and our works part of salvation.” – p.130.

I’m not going to spend a lot time on these two verses because I already examined in quite a bit of detail last week how Catholics believe suffering is expiatory (see here). Catholics will not only offer up any natural sufferings they encounter as penance for themselves or others, the will even inflict pain upon themselves as exercises in self-mortification.

But does suffering contribute to Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross towards redemption/salvation as Armstrong and Catholics claim? Colossians 1:24 is admittedly a difficult verse to interpret. Does Paul mean by this verse that there is something lacking or deficient in the sufferings that Christ endured to atone for the sins of the world? Such an interpretation would contradict the MANY passages Paul wrote regarding the absolute sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice including the very passage (vv. 15-23) leading up to verse 24, which proclaims Jesus the Savior “making peace by the blood of his cross.”

In the article below, theologian, Sam Storms, presents several evangelical interpretations of Colossians 1:24. Although they differ in detail, the main point is the same: “the calling of Christians is to willingly and joyfully endure suffering for the sake of Christ and his kingdom, for the sake of Christ and his body, the church. In this way we are seen to be his own. In this way others see him, through us, in his love for sinners. In this way we “share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil. 3:10).”

Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ by Sam Storms–1:24-

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 1/12/19

Last weekend, I mentioned that the American Catholic bishops were meeting outside of Chicago to mull over the sexual abuse and cover-up scandal tsunami that’s wracking the Catholic church. Next stop? The American bishops are scheduled to meet with all of the church’s bishops from around the world at the Vatican from February 21 to 24 to come up with some type of comprehensive plan to address the scandal. That is like putting Al Capone in charge of the Neighborhood Watch committee. Sexual abuse has been a “problem” within the Catholic church for centuries due to its mandatory rule of celibacy for clerics that has both attracted and fostered deviancy.

Seventy-years ago, back when the Catholic church was still religiously and politically militant, such a large number of Catholics in Congress would have been a concern. These days, most of these Catholic legislators are nominal/cultural Catholics at best, e.g., Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durbin, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tim Kaine, etc.

Pope Francis is using cardinal Reinhard Marx and liberal German bishops as the vanguard for his progressive reforms.

Catholics love to boast that they have an infallible pope leading their church, although Catholic theologians can only agree on the infallibility of three papal declarations: the immaculate conception of Mary in 1854, papal infallibility in 1870, and the assumption of Mary in 1950. What’s the use of having an infallible pope if they never declare anything as dogma? Ironically, Catholic conservatives believe that everything the current pope has to say is not only fallible, but should be ignored.

Pope Francis’ progressivism is fueling a renaissance of pre-conciliar, militant traditionalism. Not all that long ago the Catholic church taught that only baptized Catholics had a chance of going to Heaven. These days, pope Francis says even atheists can merit Heaven if they are “good.”

I’m not happy to see this series coming from DC Comics, but caricaturizations of Jesus and Scripture are nothing new.

More than a few new Christians have enthusiastically resolved to read the Bible from cover to cover only to run into Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy and become discouraged. It’s really helpful to use some Bible study aids (commentary and Bible dictionary) when reading those books.

Prosperity gospel scammers like Meyer make a shamefully grandiose living off of people’s greed – “Send in your ‘seed faith’ money so that you can also receive your financial blessing.”

“See a movie, talk about a movie…”

The Oscars are coming up in six weeks and there’s quite a lot of buzz in the media because they can’t seem to find anyone with a politically-correct enough past who’s willing to host it. Movies (and entertainment in general) are such an important part of our culture. For many people, deciding on the next movie they’re going to watch is the opiate gets them through the day. Which brings to mind a couple of memories from the past:

My paternal grandfather died in 1967 when I was eleven-years-old. Back in those days, it was routine to have calling hours for the deceased at the funeral home for two or even three evenings in a row prior to the funeral service and burial. Our extended family gathered for the three-night wake at Felerski’s Funeral Home on Hudson Avenue in what remained of Rochester’s small Polish enclave. I wasn’t very close to my grandfather, who spoke very broken English and was 66 years older than me when he died. So I viewed the wake and funeral pretty much as an occasion to get together with our many first-cousins.

Anyway, while at the funeral home during one of the evenings, I was standing by my oldest sister who was carrying on a conversation with our cousin, Rick, who were both in their late-teens at the time. They were discussing the 1966 movie, “Fahrenheit 451,” which was directed by Francois Truffaut and based upon Ray Bradbury’s popular 1953 sci-fi novel. Very briefly, the story is about a futuristic society in which the government is so repressive, that “firemen” don’t put out fires, they START fires in order to burn “subversive” books. Okay, so back to my sister and cousin. It wasn’t that they were just discussing the movie, they were picking apart every little detail as if it was the most important thing in the world! I didn’t time it, but it seemed like the intense conversation lasted an hour. I thought to myself, “Sheesh, who could possibly care that much about a dumb movie? These teenagers aren’t so smart after all.”

Flash forward twenty-five years later to 1992. At that time, our two sons were seventeen and fourteen-years-old, respectively. There were three things the boys loved to regularly banter about; sports, music, and movies; especially movies! They would talk incessantly about movies. All of that chitchat reminded me of that endless and ridiculous dialogue between my sister and cousin. One day, in my scolding, fatherly tone, I interjected into their lengthy movie discussion, saying, “Boys, it’s all a big nothing. What does it all count for?” Right then and there, I coined that phrase that still reverberates in our family’s lore:

“See a movie, talk about a movie. Talk about a movie, see a movie, and round and round and round.”

Our youngest son then turned to me with a quizzical look on his face and responded, “Well, what else is there?” I knew the answer to that question deep down, but I had walked away from the Lord the previous year so I kept my mouth shut. Sad.

There’s nothing wrong with having hobbies and interests. I’ve been known to spout off at length about a few topics myself (including some lengthy posts about movies directed by Elia Kazan!). But believers need to do a self-check and see if the Lord is sovereign over every aspect of their life. Entertainment, in all of its various forms, isn’t the be-all-to-end-all, but for many people, that is exactly what gets them through the day. Our sons still love their sports, music, and movies, but now I’m able to let them know that there is something, no, Someone, who is so much more than all of that.