Wacky cult – World’s Last Chance (WLC) – buys full-page newspaper ad

The other day, I was perusing through the local newspaper. Yes, I’m one of those old fogeys who still receives a newspaper, although I’ve cut delivery to Thursday through Sunday because of the rapidly escalating price. Anyway, as I was leafing through the various sections I came across a full-page advertisement from an outfit calling itself, World’s Last Chance (WLC). A quick scan of the ad revealed some religious content, always of interest to me, so I read through the entire text.

Briefly, the WLC’s ad claims our solar system is in fact geocentric, with the Sun and the other planets revolving around a FLAT Earth. The WLC claims the Jesuits are responsible for imposing the false, round Earth and heliocentric model of the solar system theories upon the credulous masses. Why would the Jesuits do such a thing? To pave the way for an apocalyptic alien invasion, of course, in which the aliens will actually be demons in disguise. As all humankind teeters on the brink of total annihilation, the Roman Catholic pope will negotiate a false peace with the alien/demon invaders and take his place as the worshipped anti-Christ. A long quote from Revelation (9:1-6), was also included in the ad.

Argh! Such nonsense!

I showed the ad to my wife and she said anytime Scripture goes out into the world, it’s a good thing. My take? The average Joe or Sally who saw this ad is going to conclude, “Hmm, there go those crazy “Bible-bangers” again, espousing insane flat-Earth, geocentrism and Jesuit conspiracies involving the invasion of the planet by demonic Martians!” However, I do strongly believe that the pope will play a major role in the endtimes, and we have already seen the pope’s influence and popularity rise dramatically throughout the world in the last forty years, with Protestants and evangelicals deferring more and more to the pope and Roman Catholicism.

I did a little research and found that World’s Last Chance (WLC) is a break-away group from the Seventh Day Adventists (SDA). There’s all kinds of goofy cults out there, but perhaps the most dangerous is the “respectable” Roman Catholic church. Unfortunately, such groups as the WLC and Chick Publications, with their outrageous Jesuit worldwide conspiracies, have made credible Gospel outreach to Roman Catholics more difficult.

Additional thoughts:

In the early-17th century, scientist, Galileo Galilei was famously condemned as a heretic twice by the Roman Catholic Inquisition for postulating heliocentrism. “Infallible” popes, Paul V and Urban VIII, both signed off on the Inquisition’s rulings. See my post here. As heliocentrism was later proven to be true, Catholic apologists have attempted to explain how popes, who are purported to be infallible in all matters of faith and morals, could have erroneously condemned Galileo on such an important matter, which certainly touched upon faith. Robert Sungenis, who at one time was one of Catholicism’s leading apologists, rightly determined that if Paul V and Urban VIII were wrong in condemning Galileo, the claim to papal infallibility was totally fallacious. Sungenis has since devoted himself to proving geocentrism, thereby exiling himself to the fringes of serious theological debate.

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Did Jesus actually promise to build His church upon lowly Peter?

In its efforts to bolster its claims regarding the alleged supremacy of the bishop of Rome, the pope, Roman Catholicism had to scour Scripture looking for validating proof texts. They found their primary “evidence” in Matthew 16:

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’” – Matthew 16:13-18

Catholic apologists argue that the passage teaches that Jesus promised to build his church upon the apostle, Peter, who they claim was the first bishop of Rome, but Protestants disagree. In the original Greek text, the word used for Peter is “petros,” which means a small stone or pebble, while the word used for rock is “petra,” which means a massive rock formation. Jesus was using a play on words to indicate that while Simon was an insecure, rolling pebble, the truth that he had proclaimed, that Jesus was the long-promised Messiah and Savior, would be the massive, unmoveable truth that would be the bedrock foundation of the church.

But Protestants are not the only ones who correctly exegete this passage. Church “fathers,” Augustine, Chrysostom, Hilary, Ambrose, Jerome, Gregory of Nyssa, and Cyril also interpreted Matthew 16:18 to mean that Jesus was going to build His church upon the truth proclaimed by Peter, that He was the long-awaited Messiah and Savior.

“Christ, you see, built his Church not on a man but on Peter’s confession. What is Peter’s confession? ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ There’s the rock for you, there’s the foundation, there’s where the Church has been built, which the gates of the underworld cannot conquer.” – Augustine from “The Works of Saint Augustine” (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1993), Sermons, Vol. 6, Sermon 229P.1, p. 327.

But an even more convincing case against Catholicism’s self-serving misinterpretation is Scripture itself. As in most cases with God’s Word, one passage of Scripture clarifies another and that is the case for Matthew 16. Just four chapters after chapter 16 we find:

“Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:20-28

If Jesus had already granted apostolic primacy to Peter in Matthew 16 as Catholics claim, then why would James and John have requested apostolic primacy in Matthew 20? Does not compute. If Catholics are right, James and John would not have bothered to request apostolic primacy as they had. We see in the passage that Jesus gently rebukes James and John for their ambition and also forbids the Catholic notions of apostolic primacy and an ecclesiastical hierarchy.

Further, in the apostle Paul’s epistles, not only is there NO mention of Peter’s alleged primacy – zero, zip, zilch, nada – but he deliberately contradicts the notion:

“And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me.” – Galatians 2:6

Peter was certainly a leader of the apostles and was used by God to spread the Gospel, but he was not the pope or the foundation of Jesus’ church.

Papal tiara symbolizes Catholicism’s worldly apostasy

Last week, I posted a message about the ill-advised presentation of a music-video at our church, which featured several Catholic-themed images, including a statue of a smiling pope wearing his three-tiered papal tiara (aka the “Triregnum”). See here. In light of that regrettable “controversy,” I thought it might be interesting to briefly examine the infamous papal tiara.

Historians believe that popes were crowned with the papal tiara beginning in the 8th century. The tiara initially had a single crown at the base, but a second crown was added around 1200 A.D. to signify the pope’s absolute authority over both the spiritual AND temporal realms. A third crown was added in the 1300s. What does the third crown signify? Some conjecture that because the crown of the Holy Roman Emperor had three crowns, signifying Germany, Lombardy, and Rome, the pope, not to be upstaged, also added a third crown. The official Vatican website explains the three crowns symbolize “the triple power of the pope: father of kings, governor of the world, and Vicar of Christ,” although “father of kings” and “governor of the world” appear to be one and the same claim only using different words, lending support to the preceding theory about keeping up with the Emperor. There are also some who contradict the Vatican ( a favorite pastime among Catholics these days) and conjecture the three crowns represent the threefold offices of Christ; priest, prophet, and king.

Popes appeared with the three-tiered tiara at all ceremonial papal functions for six-hundred years. However, Paul VI (photo left), famously removed his tiara from his head during the proceedings of the Second Vatican Council in 1963 as a gesture of collegiality with the bishops of the church and, some assume, as a renouncement of the papal claim to temporal power. Catholic traditionalists cite Paul VI’s act as a providential sign from God that symbolized the removal of apostolic authority from the papacy due to the heretical declarations of Vatican II.

Paul VI’s tiara is on permanent display at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Although the papal tiara is no longer worn by popes, it is featured on the flag of Vatican City (the Holy See), which is prominently displayed at the front of all Roman Catholic churches (photo right). Despite Paul VI’s ceremonious act, modern popes have never officially renounced the papacy’s claim of absolute authority over all temporal rulers dating back to pope Gregory VII in the 11th century.

When early Christianity was legalized and then adopted as the official religion of the Roman Empire in 380 AD, it rapidly followed the imperial model with the bishop of Rome eventually becoming the temporal leader of Western Christendom. The Good News! of simple saving faith in Jesus Christ as Savior was replaced with legalism and ritualism controlled by an increasingly powerful church hierarchy and clergy class. After reading through the New Testament, try then to imagine the apostles, Peter or Paul, focusing their efforts on the accumulation of temporal wealth and power and accepting earthly crowns and the regal veneration of their subservient subjects. SMH.

The triple-crown of the papacy, still displayed in every Catholic church, reminds us of the many centuries when Catholicism ruled Europe and lands beyond with an iron fist. Every blood-bought, born-again follower of Jesus Christ should be revolted by the papal tiara rather than displaying videos of it at their churches during worship services.

The Papal Tiara – Wikipedia article
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_tiara

“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” – Hebrews 11:24-26

Francis’ papacy “a toxic combination of political liberalism and doctrinal relativism”

The Political Pope: How Pope Francis is Delighting the Liberal Left and Abandoning Conservatives
By George Neumayr
Center Street Publishing, 2017, 277 pages

If you had told me six months ago that three of my favorite reads so far for 2018 would be written by Roman Catholic conservatives, I would have questioned your sanity, but, amazingly, such has been the case.

In March, I had the distinct pleasure of reading and reviewing “Lost Shepherd: How Francis is Misleading His Flock” by Philip Lawler (see here), which was extremely critical of the papacy of pope Francis, especially for his shrewd and doctrine-defying lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees and cohabitators in his “Amoris Laetitia” encyclical.

In April, I also had the pleasure of reading and reviewing “To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism” by Ross Douthat (see here), which offers the same dismay with Francis’ papacy as Lawler’s book, also especially in regards to the “Amoris” controversy.

And now I’ve just finished “The Political Pope” by George Neumayr, which offers a more comprehensive critique of Francis and his radical papacy rather than focusing mainly on “Amoris.” All of Francis’ efforts to steer the Catholic church away from its doctrinal foundations to liberal causes and “pragmatic pastoralism” since he began his papacy in 2013 are documented here. I’ve been following the Catholic church closely since I began this blog in 2015 so I was familiar with most of the material that was presented, but it was interesting to review it all in one volume. One thing that I was not familiar with was Francis’ deep affinity for the Marxist/Liberation Theology faction of the Latin American church, which helps explain why Francis prioritizes the goals of the political Left over traditional church doctrine.

“The Political Pope” is a fascinating book that I finished in just a few sittings. Neumayr is given to conservative political hyperbole much more than Lawler and Douthat in their books, but that’s my only qualification and it’s a minor one. If you desire to find out what really makes Francis tick and understand his goals for the Catholic church in the face of rising conservative opposition, this book is for you. Highly recommended.

“The crisis created by this pontificate’s toxic combination of political liberalism and doctrinal relativism is a historically singular one, which gives its unfolding a disconcerting drama: How will it end?” – The Political Pope, p. 221

Why is all of this intense internal Catholic criticism of Francis important to evangelicals? Catholics have always boasted that their church alone was the true church, guided by a supposedly infallible pope who was allegedly incapable of leading the church into error. But church conservatives reluctantly concede that Francis is certainly leading the church into error and that he must be opposed. By doing so, they de facto deny one of their proudest claims about the papacy.

Chapters:

  1. The Pope They Have Been Waiting For
  2. “Who Am I to Judge”
  3. The Left’s Long March to the Papacy
  4. The Liberal Jesuit from Latin America
  5. The Unholy Alliance
  6. The First Radical Green Pope
  7. The Open-Borders Pope
  8. The Pacifist Pope
  9. “I Don’t Want to Convert You”
  10. The Permissive Pope
  11. How Francis Is Undoing the Legacy of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI
  12. Will Paul Correct Peter?

Catholic radio host won’t answer question about pope Francis in forthright manner

Part of my daily routine at work is to listen to one hour of Catholic talk radio. While I wouldn’t recommend that activity to someone who has recently accepted Christ and come out of Roman Catholicism, I do it to stay abreast of what’s going on in the RCC and to pick up material for this blog.

I used to listen to a local Catholic talk show broadcast out of Buffalo, but after they changed formats and experimented for a couple of months with material that was very critical of pope Francis, they did an abrupt about-face and returned to uncontroversial (and very boring) topics. I then switched to the “Called to Communion” show on EWTN radio with host, David Anders (photo above), who attempts to proselytize Protestants and lapsed Catholics. I’d been listening to Anders for over eight weeks and hadn’t once heard him address the controversies surrounding pope Francis…until just now.

I was listening to the 5/22/18 podcast of “Called to Communion” and at the 42:31 mark, Nancy from Rockingham, North Carolina called in with a concern. She cited the recent news reports that the German Catholic bishops were debating the acceptability of intercommunion with Protestants, always a forbidden practice according to official Catholic teaching. But rather than issue a ruling on the argument, pope Francis directed the German bishops to work out a solution for themselves. Nancy then asked Anders…

“If the Holy Father lets the German people, for example, bishops, decide about spouses that are non-Catholic receiving the eucharist, what does that say or do to people who are attracted to the Catholic church by (its) authoritative teaching?”

Ah! Wonderful question! Nancy has put her finger on the very essence of the recent controversies over Catholicism’s claims to papal infallibility and the inability of the pope to lead the church into doctrinal error in light of Francis’ heterodoxy. I had been patiently waiting for this question for eight weeks! How would Anders respond?

For the next 6 minutes and 34 seconds, Dr. Anders danced around Nancy’s question. He said popes only speak definitively and dogmatically on issues of faith and morals when they speak ex cathedra – from the chair of Peter – and that Catholics are not bound to follow the pope when he is not speaking ex cathedra. This is sheer obfuscation. Popes have issued thousands of bulls, decrees, letters, and encyclicals over the centuries (240 encyclicals in the last 150 years alone) and Catholics were always obliged to obey their pontiff. Papal infallibility wasn’t defined until 1870. Did Catholics feel free to ignore the pope’s declarations and commands prior to 1870? Nonsense. Advising Catholics to obey the pope only if he speaks ex cathedra is conservative Catholics’ way of dealing with Francis’ heterodoxy without openly calling for schism and rebellion.

Dr. Anders, Nancy from Rockingham, North Carolina contacted you with an extremely important question, but when she hung up the phone she was no clearer about the answer than prior to her call. But why would anyone be surprised by Anders’ circumspection? You’ll never catch a low-level marketing executive publicly badmouthing his company’s CEO.

Postscript: Given the entire 1500-year history of the Catholic church, Catholic theologians can only agree on the infallibility of three papal decrees: The Immaculate Conception of Mary (1854), Papal Infallibility (1870), and the Assumption of Mary (1950). What is the use of having allegedly infallible popes if they almost never speak infallibly? It’s all a ruse.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 5/26/18

Is Jesse Duplantis (photo left next to a Dassault Falcon 7X jet) the only big-name prosperity gospeler on TBN who still doesn’t have a private jet? Of course, such flamboyant ostentatiousness doesn’t bother the credulous folks who send in money via their maxed credit cards. Those mansions and jets are proof that they can also live their “best life now” if they only send in their seed money and pray with enough faith.

Pope Francis is guilefully opening the door to intercommunion with Protestants just like he guilefully lifted the ban on communion for remarried divorcees. Conservatives are upset, but Francis knows that slavish devotion to sectarian doctrine limits Catholicism’s ability to retain members and captain the ecumenical and interfaith movements.

Despite Francis’ heterodoxy, conservative prelates like Burke are still reluctant to openly call for schism or rebellion, so they couch their words in carefully coded euphemisms.

Mike Gendron’s warnings about Catholicism and Islam are spiritually sound, but this left-wing virtual rag interprets them as far-right religious wackiness. What a surprise.

I would hazard a guess that C.S. Lewis is quoted more often from American evangelical pulpits than any other modern figure because pastors think that quoting Oxford academicians imparts an air of intellectual superiority. The author of this article rightly points out that Lewis deviated from Biblical orthodoxy on several counts, but is still too tolerant in my opinion. See my “the emperor has no clothes” post on Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” here.

Pope Francis seems to be in good health for an eighty-one-year-old, but for how much longer? In the mean time he’s “stacking the deck” for the next papal election so that a like-minded progressive will carry on his reforms.

I was aware of the “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word” documentary, which was released in theaters on May 18th, but not “Beyond the Sun” starring Francis as himself, which was released on May 15th. My, Francis continues to enhance his celebrity throughout the world (except among Catholic conservatives).

Francis is publicly acknowledging the Catholic church’s plummeting vocations to the priesthood because he’s greasing the skids for future reforms: married priests and female deacons.

Relatively few Catholics could explain their church’s complicated and un-Biblical indulgence system, which allegedly shortens the time a soul has to suffer in un-Biblical Purgatory. Stay tuned for a post on Purgatory next week.

Some people absolutely abhor the “turn around and shake some hands” moment at Sunday service. A few people defiantly take a seat so they don’t have to participate. I rather like the greeting time myself. How about you?

Pope Francis once again at the center of a maelstrom

I usually try to save news items for the Weekend Roundup, but the two stories below were going viral this afternoon and demanded immediate comment:

All of Chile’s Catholic Bishops Offer to Quit Over Sex Abuse Scandal

During Francis’ visit to Chile this past January, the pope committed an incredible blunder by reacting in anger to victims of priest pedophiles who have gone public and referring to them as “slanderers.” Chilean Catholics are livid over the church hierarchy’s cover-up of abusive priests and the pope’s gaffe added fuel to the fire. The Vatican has been in damage control mode ever since.

Last week, the Chilean bishops were summoned to the Vatican (photo above) and Francis accused them of “failing to investigate complaints of abuse, allowing evidence to be destroyed, and covering up for abusive priests by moving them from place to place.” Francis said the systemic failures had left him “perplexed and ashamed.” On Friday, all 34 of the national bishops offered their resignations, an unprecedented occurrance in the history of Romanism. How many resignations will Francis accept? Stay tuned. The takeaway is that Francis needs to throw some bishops under the bus in an attempt to exonerate himself after his misstep. This pedophile scandal has been dogging the Catholic church for twenty years but is uncorrectable because celibacy both attracts and fosters deviancy. One of the commentators on the Catholic radio show I was listening to today stated that it’s well-known that the Chilean Catholic clergy are rife with homosexuals, but that’s no different than here in the U.S.


In addition to dressing down the bishops, Francis met with some of the victims of the abuse in Chile including the main whistle-blower, Juan Carlos Cruz, a self-professed homosexual.

Pope Francis Reportedly Told a Gay Man ‘God Made You Like This’

It’s reported that Francis told the man: “Look Juan Carlos, the pope loves you this way. God made you like this and he loves you.”

The statement is contrary to official Catholic teaching, which teaches that homosexual inclinations are unnatural and sinful if pursued.

The conservative Catholic pundits I listened to were quick to point out that the statement was only alleged, but given Francis’ radical comments in the past they hedged their bets and added that the pope’s private conversations are not official teaching and are not binding on anyone. For many conservative Catholics, Francis’ papacy can’t end soon enough. LGBTQ organizations are reacting to the pope’s alleged comments with high praise.

 

The glorification of altar rails and such like*

I grew up during a very tumultuous time for Roman Catholics, during the implementation of the dramatic window dressing changes of Vatican II, and I’d like to share a few memories from that time.

Prior to Vatican II, all Catholic altars had a wooden or carved stone rail around them. The rail signified that the altar, where the priests allegedly changed bread wafers and wine into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ and where surplus consecrated Jesus wafers were stored in the “tabernacle,” was an especially holy area. Just as the “common” Israelites were forbidden from stepping foot on Mt. Sinai or entering into the restricted areas of the Tabernacle and Temple, Catholics were generally not allowed to enter the altar area.

I was an altar boy from fifth through eighth grades and my first couple of years serving were prior to the Vatican II changes. The priests conducted the mass in Latin and the altar boys’ responses were in Latin even though we did not understand one word we were saying. The priests had their backs to the congregation and wooden rails were around the altar. I felt very privileged to be able assist the priests inside the restricted altar area.

Several men officiated as priests at the parish while I was an altar server and all of them struck me as a bit strange compared to my father, uncles, and other adult men I knew, but none more so than “father” Lynch.

The other priests at least made awkward attempts at civility towards us altar boys, but not Lynch. When we entered the church sacristy to prepare for mass, Lynch could barely be bothered to say hello. He never offered a smile. I sensed he had a keen dislike for us (or was he struggling with some other issue?). During the mass liturgy, the priests were required to read passages from the huge altar “missal” (i.e., a liturgical book containing all instructions and texts necessary for the celebration of Mass throughout the year). Lynch was a short, squat fellow and very near-sighted. He would have us boys stand on one of the lower steps leading up to the altar and he would place the huge, heavy book on our heads, not always gently, which he would then read from. It was very humiliating (and physically uncomfortable) to have to stand in front of the congregation with the heavy book on our heads. Lynch enjoyed demeaning us.

When it came time to distribute the Jesus wafers, the supplicants would kneel down along the altar rail and the priests would place the wafer on each person’s tongue while we altar boys walked backward, next to the priest, placing a round “patten” under the chins of the supplicant in order to catch a possible falling Jesus wafer. Lynch would always distribute communion twice as fast as the other priests and we altar boys had a difficult time keeping our balance as we walked backward and tried to properly position the patten under people’s chins in synch with the pace of the frenetic priest.

Vatican II dramatically changed the rubrics of the mass. The mass liturgy was changed to English and priests turned around and faced the congregation. The altar rails were removed so that the congregants could feel like they were more like participants in the ritual rather than just observers. But despite all the window dressing changes, the core doctrines of Catholicism remained. Catholics continue to be taught the false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Catholic traditionalists deeply resented the changes wrought by Vatican II and still clamor for the mass to be said in Latin, for the priest to face “ad orientem,” toward the altar, and for the reinstallation of altar rails. In Catholicism, the ritual and ceremony, the shell, has always been the focus rather than the Pearl of Great Price, which is salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Priests are not needed. Altars are not needed. Sacrifice for sin was finished for all time by Jesus Christ at Calvary. Place your trust in Jesus as your Savior by faith alone. Jesus Christ removes all rails and barriers between sinners and God, but you must accept Him as your Savior. Won’t you repent of your sin and place your trust in Him?

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” – Matthew 27:50-51

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” – Ephesians 2:13-14

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16

Capture8
Priest Lynch, above, died in 2011. I never witnessed the smile displayed in this photo.

* “and such like” – for you non-Baptists out there, this phrase means “and similar things.”

Ex-Jesuit gadfly criticized Catholicism’s obsession with temporal wealth and power

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church
By Malachi Martin
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1981, 309 pages

I don’t recall exactly when I had first read “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church,” if I was still a Roman Catholic on my way out or after I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1983 and was looking back? Either way, I remember that the bestseller did make an impression on me and when I stumbled across the title in our library’s database recently, I opted to take it for another spin.

Author Malachi Martin (1921-1999) was a Jesuit priest who ascended the bureaucracy of the Catholic church to become the assistant to one of the church’s most powerful cardinals, but became disenchanted with the direction of the church after Vatican II and left the order to eventually became Catholicism’s most prolific gadfly during the 1980s.

Martin’s premise in this book is that the church made a regrettable “deal with the devil” in consenting to become the official state religion of the Roman Empire. As the church adopted the imperial model and became increasingly institutionalized, the acquisition of worldly wealth and political power took precedence over spiritual matters. The church, in fact, abandoned the simple Gospel of grace for religious legalism and ritualism, all controlled by an increasingly powerful clergy class. Martin presents example after sorry example of popes and cardinals who used any and all means (torture, murder, bribery, military conquest, etc.) to advance their self-interests and counter political and religious opponents. This is all information that was withheld throughout my twelve-year Catholic education.

Martin was not a historian. The book includes no footnotes, bibliography, or index. He also utilized fictional elements such as imaginary faux dialogue between historical characters, but the book is valuable for its insights not found in publications from Catholic sources.

Writing in 1981, Martin prophesied a dismal future for Catholicism, as the liberal factions unleashed at Vatican II seemed at that time to be headed toward dominion over the church, but conservative pope, John Paul II, was able to temporarily forestall the inevitable. The current pope, the pragmatic Francis, is willing to consign certain doctrines to the theological dustbin in order to make the church more inviting and appealing to almost everyone excepting church traditionalists and conservatives.

Books that deal frankly with the darkest aspects of Catholic history are few and far between so “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church” is still an informative read thirty-seven years after its publication.

Postscript: Soviet Communism was still a very viable threat within and without Catholicism when Martin wrote this book in 1981 and so consequently some of his final warnings are no longer pertinent. I’m very familiar with modern Polish history and Martin bit off more than he could chew when he conjectured that Adam Michnik and KOR (Workers’ Defense Committee) were stooges of the Polish Soviets meant to foment dissent as an excuse for the Soviets to eradicate all “legitimate” opposition emanating from the Polish Catholic church (p. 293).

 

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 5/12/18

Who would give up one second of their time or one nickel to religious con artist, Jim Bakker (above with wife, Lori)?

Last week, I posted that liberal German Catholic bishops had encountered conservative resistance to their push for intercommunion with Lutherans. Both factions were summoned to the Vatican where pope Francis directed them to solve the disagreement themselves. This week, some conservative Catholics were railing about Francis’ lack of leadership. After all, deciding doctrinal disputes is supposed to be the infallible pope’s job! But savvy conservatives know Francis DOES have an agenda, it’s just not theirs.

Conservative Catholics were thrown into a tizzy this week over news of a gala celebrating the opening of “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” a new exhibit at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which will be displaying papal robes and accessories from the Sistine Chapel sacristy. Celebrities showed up at the gala wearing costumes “inspired” by Catholic clerical garments. Pop celebrity, Rhianna, wore an outrageous outfit based on the pope’s outrageous garb. Catholics called it all offensive and blasphemous, but true blasphemy is the Catholic sacrifice of the mass, which is staged 350,000 times on Catholic altars every day around the world.

Padre Pio’s relics are touring across the U.S. and manage to pack near-empty churches wherever they go. Church liberals have attempted to tone down this kind of blatant, superstitious voo doo, but traditional and conservative Catholics still crave this kind of stuff.

Oprah disciple, Dr. Phil, is certainly not the arbiter of what constitutes a cult, but the Church of Wells (Texas) is dangerous. When church leadership controls every aspect of members’ lives, that’s a cult. It was nowhere near as bad as the Wells church, but there were elements of leadership idolatry in the first Bible-preaching church we attended.

Some believers heard Bono mention Jesus a few times and overeagerly jumped the gun by claiming him as a fellow Bible Christian.

I initially wasn’t going to post the above news story because I thought it had been kicked around enough, but pastor Standridge has some interesting comments about Francis and the papacy.

The documentary, “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word,” opens in movie theaters across the country next Friday, May 18th. Pshaw! Will traditionalist and conservative Catholics be picketing on the sidewalks outside?

Thursday, May 10th was the Feast of the Ascension for Roman Catholics, in which they celebrated the ascension of Jesus into Heaven forty days after Easter. The feast day was a Holy Day of Obligation meaning Catholics were required to attend mass under threat of incurring mortal sin resulting in eternal damnation. But what percentage of Catholics actually attended mass on Thursday? According to church statistics (see here), 65% of Catholics seldom or never attend mass on Holy Days despite the threat of damnation. The ironic thing about the Feast of the Ascension is that Catholics claim to celebrate Jesus’ ascension while at the same time asserting that their priests call Jesus down from Heaven during every mass to be changed into consecrated Jesus wafers and offered as a sacrificial victim for sins. So is Jesus in Heaven or on Catholic altars?