An evangelical writes to “Your Holiness,” the pope

In yesterday’s Weekend Roundup, I briefly commented that President Trump’s evangelical advisory board had requested an urgent meeting with pope Francis to discuss the recent, Vatican-approved article in the La Civilta Cattolica journal, which had severely criticized the collaboration of right-wing, Trump-supporting “Catholic Integralists” and “Evangelical Fundamentalists” as being an “ecumenism of hate.” The article also made reference to Trump’s religious supporters as Christian “jihadists.”

Yesterday evening, I came across a couple of articles that shed more light on the controversy (see links far below).

Johnnie Moore, the former vice president of communications for Liberty University and former assistant to university president, Jerry Falwell, Jr., penned the letter to Francis on behalf of the other members of Trump’s evangelical advisory board. He begins the letter by addressing the pope as “Your Holiness.” He then tells Francis that evangelicals “have looked upon your appointment with great gratitude to God and with great optimism for the new spirit that you have brought to the Catholic Church.” He further flatters the pope by writing that Francis’ “efforts to build bridges and to spread the doctrine of mercy around the world have been a light and hope to us all.” Moore then gets down to business by requesting a meeting to discuss the troubling article. He ends the letter by claiming “God put it on [his] heart” to write the pope and concludes with the following: “With all the respect in the world and with love for Christ’s Church and every corner of it, I’ll earnestly await your reply.”

Moore’s letter to the pope is a sad commentary on the current state of evangelicalism. The pope heads a 1.2 billion-member religious institution, which propagates a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit and yet Moore addresses him as a fellow believer and a great Christian leader. Obviously, Moore has no understanding of comparative theology and has no clue what happened during the Reformation. But like many politically-focused, conservative evangelicals, Moore is more concerned with preserving “Judeo-Christian” moral values in this country than with correct doctrine and reaching conservative (and liberal) Catholics with the Gospel.

Commenting on Moore’s letter, Mike Gendron, ex-Catholic and director of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries, a Gospel outreach to Roman Catholics, said:

“Moore’s attempt to unite Evangelicals and Catholics is playing into the pope’s agenda to rebuild the religious tower of Babel. Our sovereign and omnipotent Lord does not need the help of unbelievers to fight the social and cultural wars. There is something much more important at stake and that is the purity and exclusivity of the Gospel. More than ever we need to contend for the faith because divine division in truth is far better than satanic unity in error.”

Accommodation and cooperation with religious error and compromise and betrayal of the Gospel are rampant in the church today.


Former Liberty University VP Raises Concern After Calling for Meeting With ‘Your Holiness’ to Unite Evangelicals, Catholics
https://christiannews.net/2017/08/11/former-liberty-university-vp-raises-concern-after-calling-for-meeting-with-your-holiness-to-unite-evangelicals-catholics/

Dear Pope Francis: An Evangelical Christian’s letter to the Holy Father
http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/08/09/dear-pope-francis-evangelical-christians-letter-to-holy-father.html

Cardinal suggests Francis’ heretical papacy may be a sign of the “end times”

Sixteen-months ago, pope Jorge “Francis” Bergoglio (photo right) issued his “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love) apostolic exhortation, which has been the source of increasing controversy and consternation within the Roman Catholic church. A couple of footnotes (#s 329 & 351) buried deep within the document appeared to allow priests to decide whether communion could be given to Catholics who were divorced and remarried on an individual, case-by-case basis. The view held by the church for centuries was that divorced remarrieds were living in an ongoing state of adultery and were barred from receiving communion. It was obvious that pragmatic Francis was surreptitiously altering centuries-old doctrine in an attempt to make the church more inviting to a membership whose sky-rocketing divorce rate mirrors that of secular society.

Conservative members of the church were appalled by the change to what was always considered to be infallible doctrine, leading four cardinals to petition Francis asking for clarification, but they received no reply. The same cardinals sent a second “dubia” (questions/doubts) letter and still there was no answer forthcoming from Francis.

Conservative cardinals, bishops, priests, and laity are in a quandary. They are convinced the current pope is promoting heresy but decline (at this point) in considering schism because Catholic doctrine claims a pope cannot lead the church into error and that all Catholics must remain loyal to him. So by breaking away from the church in defense of one “infallible” doctrine, they would be disobeying another.

Yesterday, news reports (see below) quoted a July 22nd address from U.S. cardinal, Raymond Burke (photo left), one of the four “dubia” cardinals, in which he stated that through “diabolical” means, “confusion and error…has…entered into the Church” via “shepherds who are no longer truly shepherding the faithful entrusted to them.” Carefully choosing his words, he warned against the “idolatry of the papacy,” implying that allowing communion to divorced remarrieds was merely Francis’ worldly opinion and not infallible dogma binding upon Catholics. He also suggested that the deviant teachings from this pope could be a sign of the end times. While Burke isn’t advocating schism (yet), he’s certainly raising the stakes with this address.

Most Catholics probably aren’t even aware of this ongoing controversy (most don’t even bother to attend church these days), but it’s a vital issue for evangelicals who often hear from Catholic apologists that the Roman Catholic church alone has apostolic authority and that its magisterium is infallible in all matters of faith and morals. But which magisterium? Cardinal Burke’s or pope Francis’? And if Francis is able to successfully implement this change to “infallible” doctrine (liberal bishops claim it’s already a done deal), then what is to become of the infallible doctrine of papal infallibility?


‘Confusion and error’ from Catholic leaders may be sign of end times: Cardinal Burke
https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/confusion-division-in-church-shows-we-may-be-in-the-end-times-cardinal-burk

The pope says one way, conservative bishops say another way. Who is right?

Catholics claim that they alone have an infallible magisterium to guide them in all matters of faith and morals. But when it comes to communion for divorced remarrieds, should Catholics follow the magisterium of pope Francis and his allied bishops, who allow communion…

or

…should they follow the magisterium of the conservative bishops, who deny communion?

For more arguments against the supposed infallibility of the magisterium, see…

  • The Crusades
  • The Inquisitions
  • Forced baptisms
  • Papal militarism
  • Church sponsored anti-Semitism
  • The condemnation of Galileo
  • Papal participation in slave trade
  • The persecution of Protestants
  • The condemnation of all democratic forms of government

Papal allies accuse Catholic and evangelical Trump supporters of joining together in “ecumenism of hate”

For centuries, Bible Christians never had much of a problem distinguishing between the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and Roman Catholicism’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit.

But beginning around sixty years ago, evangelical pastors and para-church leaders began to rise up saying ecumenism with Rome was fine and even desirable; influential men like Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, Bill Bright, James Dobson, and Jerry Falwell. Sure, they didn’t embrace all of Rome’s doctrinal deviations and “eccentricities,” but they gladly overlooked the “fine print” and declared Roman Catholicism to be “close enough.” After all, Christians in America were in a bitter battle to preserve “Judeo-Christian morality” and to “save America for Jesus,” so it didn’t seem wise to inspect the denominational dog tags of fellow soldiers combating the onslaught of secularism. Chuck Colson cleverly coined this alliance, “ecumenism in the trenches.”

But at this stage of the “culture war,” in the year 2017, politically-involved evangelicals have to concede that secularism has pretty much taken over the high ground. However, political/religious ecumenism with conservative Catholics and the culture battles continue. Research shows that 81 percent of White evangelicals voted for unlikely-candidate (to put it mildly), Donald Trump, in the presidential election. That’s no surprise given the only other option was Hillary Clinton. What is surprising is that 52 percent of Catholic voters, historically supporters of Democratic candidates, also voted for Trump.

But an article last week from a Vatican-approved source reveals not all Roman Catholics are pleased with the alliance between politically conservative Catholics and evangelicals in America. The article, written by two of pope Francis’s close advisors, warns of the “ecumenism of hate” shared by conservative Catholics (labeled as “integralists”) and evangelicals (labeled as “fundamentalists”).

“Appealing to the values of fundamentalism, a strange form of surprising ecumenism is developing between Evangelical fundamentalists and Catholic Integralists brought together by the same desire for religious influence in the political sphere.” – from “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A Surprising Ecumenism,” La Civiltà Cattolica, July 13, 2017.

See here for the full article.

According to Francis and his allies in the church, religious and “social justice” ecumenism is just fine, but ecumenism based on “the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state” is not.

Where does Jesus Christ fit into all of this? He doesn’t. Evangelical Christians need to be about their Father’s business as emissaries and ambassadors of the Kingdom and the Gospel of grace. Roman Catholics are our mission field, they are NOT our allies in some misguided Falwellian “culture war” to “save America!”


Below are two articles on the controversy from a conservative Catholic source. This newest squabble gives traditionalist Catholics yet another reason to hope for an early end to Francis’s reign.

Vatican-reviewed magazine accuses Catholics of ‘hate’ for supporting Trump
https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/u.s.-catholics-and-evangelicals-supporting-trump-are-fostering-an-ecumenism

Archbishop rips Vatican-approved magazine’s ‘ignorant’ attack on pro-Trump Catholics
https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archbishop-chaput-rips-vatican-approved-magazines-willfully-ignorant-attack

Pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, compares current state of Catholicism to a boat on the verge of capsizing

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you’re aware that the Catholic church currently has a bit of a crisis on its hands. For centuries, the church taught that members who divorced and remarried without having their first marriage annulled, were living in an open state of adultery and were barred from receiving communion. That wasn’t a big problem seventy-five-years ago when relatively few people divorced, but these days fifty-percent of Catholic marriages end in divorce just like secular society. Many remarried Catholics who were barred from communion dropped out rather than face the humiliation of being treated like second-class citizens in a church where receiving communion is of paramount importance.

Pope Francis and some other prelates of the church recognized the debilitating effect the doctrine of no communion for remarrieds was having on church membership and cleverly reinterpreted the doctrine in last year’s “Amoris Laetitia” encyclical. A footnote in chapter eight of the document “seemed” to grant pastor priests the ability to judge whether divorced and remarried individuals are able to receive communion on a case-by-case basis.

Lines were quickly drawn. Traditionalists insisted the doctrine of no communion for remarrieds was taught by all previous popes as infallible dogma and could never be reinterpreted while liberals celebrated the new teaching. Four conservative cardinals petitioned the pope for a clarification on “Amoris Laetitia” with five “dubia” or questions of concern but no answer has been forthcoming from Francis. The cardinals asked for clarification a second time and, once again, no reply.

One of the “dubia” cardinals, Joachim Meisner, died on July 5th. Pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, sent a message that was read at Meisner’s funeral mass, which stated that he honored his deceased friend’s ability to “live out of a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon His Church, even when the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing.” See the article below.

This thinly-veiled statement from Benedict XVI is sweet music to the ears of traditionalists, who see Francis’s relaxation of the doctrine of no communion for remarrieds as heresy. Schism is a very real possibility as a result of this controversy. Stay tuned.

For evangelicals, Catholic teaching is unbiblical on so many counts, most importantly, regarding justification. Bible Christians proclaim the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone while Catholicism teaches salvation by sacramental grace and merit. While I’m obviously not personally affected by political squabbles within Catholicism, it’s very interesting to me to see how a teaching that was always held to be unchangeable by previous infallible popes has been pragmatically sidestepped by the current pope. Catholics who boast about the infallible leadership of their church’s magisterium in all matters of faith and morals are having a difficult time trying to honestly explain this current controversy.


Pope Benedict XVI says Church is ‘on the verge of capsizing’
https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-benedict-church-is-on-the-verge-of-capsizing

Some thoughts on pope Francis and Trump’s visit to the Vatican

With President Donald Trump’s visit to the Vatican today, I’d like to share a couple of relevant thoughts:

Jeden

Way back in 1984, I was a spiritual emigre from Catholicism and a new believer in Jesus Christ. At some point I learned from news sources that President Ronald Reagan was going to appoint William A. Wilson as the first American Ambassador to the Vatican. In order to make the appointment, Reagan arranged for the repeal of an 1867 federal law, which banned the use of funds for a diplomatic mission to the Vatican. One hundred and fifty years ago, Americans definitely did not want their government establishing diplomatic ties with the pope, but things had changed. I wrote a letter to Reagan saying diplomatic ties with the Vatican was a violation of the constitutional separation of church and state and shortly thereafter received back a form letter, which casually justified the action. At that point in history, the Reagan government and the Vatican were already working closely together to subvert the Soviet presence in Eastern Europe.

Vatican City, the smallest “state” in the world, covers an area of only 109 acres within the heart of Rome, with a tiny resident population of 1000 people. To put it into perspective, Central Park in New York City is 850 acres. It’s certainly not a “state” in the sense that we define the word but is strictly the central administration site for the world’s largest religion.

There are some who see Trump’s destination choices for his very first international trip – to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem, and the Vatican – as spiritually significant and perhaps not in a good way.

Dwa

Several times on this blog I have confidently asserted that pope Francis has said that atheists will be able to merit Heaven if they follow their conscience and are “good.” A few Catholics have written me challenging that assertion. The controversy goes back to the Fall of 2013 when Italian journalist and atheist, Eugenio Scalfari, published a letter from Francis in which the pope suggested that atheists could merit Heaven:

“Given that – and this is fundamental – God’s mercy has no limits if he who asks for mercy does so in contrition and with a sincere heart, the issue for those who do not believe in God is in obeying their own conscience.”
http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2013/09/full-text-of-popes-letter-to-atheist.html

The reaction was swift. Conservative Catholics claimed the pope was NOT saying atheists could merit Heaven and proceeded to spin his words every which way, while liberal Catholics celebrated the pope’s inclusiveness. See the article below from the liberal National Catholic Reporter:

Pope Francis’ outreach to atheists not as controversial as it seems
https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/francis-chronicles/pope-francis-outreach-atheists-not-controversial-it-seems

Yes, Francis’s recognition of salvation for atheists already had a precedent with the 1964 Vatican II document, “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church” (Lumen Gentium), which declared that members of non-Catholic and non-(c)hristian religions could also merit Heaven:

“Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation” (no. 16).

For Francis, it was only a very small step from Lumen Gentium to recognizing that atheists could also merit Heaven by following the “dictates of their conscience.”

Conservative and traditionalist Catholics continue to fight the reforms of Vatican II and Francis. The first couple of years after Francis was elected, conservatives in the church were kept extremely busy by having to constantly attribute the pope’s radical remarks to media misrepresentation. Four years later, conservative Catholics have largely accepted the fact that Francis is not in their camp when it comes to defending traditional Catholicism and count the days until his tenure is up. But it’s clear that a few conservative Catholics here at WordPress haven’t gotten the news yet.

None of the above is the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Leaders of nations and religious institutions jockey for power and influence but none of it has to do with Jesus Christ.

Postscript: During the meeting with the pope earlier today, First Lady, Melania Trump, asked him to bless her rosary. I therefore assume the Slovenian native is a Catholic although she has never publicly spoken about her religion; another one among many cultural Catholics who still adhere to sacramental good luck charms (the rosary) but commit “mortal” sin every Sunday by not attending mass. The Vatican requested that the women in Trump’s entourage adhere to official protocol by dressing in black. Only Catholic queens are allowed to wear white in the pope’s presence.

The popularity of pope Francis

This past Wednesday, Pew Research released the findings of its recent poll regarding thepfj popularity of pope Francis (see article below). According to the poll, 70% of Americans give the pope a favorable rating. For specific groups, 87% of Catholics have a favorable opinion, 72% of White mainline Protestants have a favorable opinion, and 53% of White evangelicals have a favorable opinion.

It’s a sad thing that 53% of (White) professing believers favorably view a man who is leading millions to hell through the anti-Scriptural dogmas of Roman Catholicism. 16% of White evangelicals say they have no opinion of the pope and 31% say they have an unfavorable opinion.

I love pope Francis, Jorge Bergoglio. He’s a sinner in need of the Savior. Unfortunately, he leads a 1.2 billion-member religious institution that teaches people are saved through its sacraments and through obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules.

If Pew Research pollsters could get into a time machine and go back 100 years and conduct the same poll, what would they find? They would probably find that close to 100% of evangelical Christians in 1917 had an unfavorable opinion of the pope at that time, Benedict XV. Would they have rated the pope unfavorably because they had personal animosity toward the man? It’s my opinion that believers of 100 years ago were much more steeped in God’s Word than many of today’s doctrine-lite evangelicals who are led by weak, accommodating, and compromising pastors. Evangelicals of 1917 were much more aware that the pope taught a false gospel of sacraments and merit rather than the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

I will continue to pray for Jorge Bergoglio and for all Roman Catholics. My prayer is that they will renounce their religious ritualism and legalism and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior through faith alone.

Is it…

“No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion (i.e. baptism). Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can then merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph # 2027

or is it…

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:8-10

It can’t be both!


U.S. Catholics, non-Catholics continue to view Pope Francis favorably
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/18/favorable-u-s-views-pope-francis/

Who is pope Francis and why is he important to evangelical Christians?

 

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected the pope of the Roman Catholic church on March 13, 2013, the very first Jesuit priest to hold the papal office. Pope Francis has endeared himself to the world for his simplicity (compared to previous popes) and for his many off-the-cuff remarks that seem to emphasize charity over doctrinalism. However, conservative Catholic clergy have become increasingly disenchanted with Francis, especially after his Amoris Laetitia encyclical, which, in essence, lifted the ban on communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.

Why should evangelical Christians care about Francis? In spite of all the headlines and controversies that surround Francis the main focus of his tenure has been the reunification of all (c)hristians under the mantel of Rome. He and the previous popes beginning with John XXIII have done a remarkable job of overcoming objections and preparing for reunification. One hundred years ago there were no evangelical pastors who considered the pope, with his gospel of sacramental grace and merit, to be their brother in Christ. But in a 2015 survey, 58% of evangelical pastors considered Francis to be their brother in Christ. What changed? Rome might have altered some of its window dressing but it certainly hasn’t changed any of its core doctrines. No, it’s evangelicalism that’s changed, from defending the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone to embracing error in a spirit of “tolerance” and “love.” Young men are graduating from evangelical seminaries and becoming pastors and leaders of ministries thinking the pope is a Christian and that unity with Rome is desirable. Chances are your current pastor or the next one will be preaching what a wonderful fellow the pope is and that Catholicism teaches the same gospel.

Above is a 28-minute video featuring Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries giving some interesting background information on pope Francis.

Below is a link to the Proclaiming the Gospel website.
http://www.pro-gospel.org/default.asp?sec_id=180014816

Showdown: Rising tensions within Catholic hierarchy could lead to crisis

We’re currently witnessing a struggle of historic proportions in the chambers of the Roman Catholicrb hierarchy although most Catholics and evangelicals aren’t even paying attention.

At the center of the controversy is the mass, the centerpiece of the Catholic religion. Catholics are obligated to attend mass every Sunday where priests allegedly change bread wafers and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Supplicants ingest the Jesus wafer and wine, believing they receive graces which help them avoid mortal sin so they are able to merit Heaven.

For century after century, the popes and Catholic hierarchy taught that Catholics who had divorced and remarried without an annulment of the first marriage were living  in a state of open adultery and were forbidden from receiving communion. That wasn’t a problem when divorce among Catholics was relatively rare, but in current times, with Catholic divorce rates at 50% mirroring the rest of society, the restrictive communion policy was alienating a large portion of the membership and many were dropping away.

In an effort to stanch the exodus, pope Francis the pragmatist issued the Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) apostolic exhortation last April, which, among other things, ambiguously left it up to parish priests to decide whether a remarried Catholic could receive communion or not, thus countermanding a doctrine that had been taught by other equally “infallible” popes for over a millennia.

Opposition to the pope’s new teaching has been swelling within the ranks of traditionalist cardinals, bishops, priests, and laity for the past eight months. Recently, four cardinals including American cardinal, Raymond Burke (pictured), formally requested that Francis “clarify” his remarks in Amoris Laetitia in light of previous infallible church teaching. The pope has declined to respond to the appeal. Burke is now suggesting the cardinals could possibly issue a “formal act of correction,” a declaration that Francis is teaching heresy (see articles below).

As I stated previously, most Catholics are oblivious to the dramatic tug-of-war taking place between Francis and his allies and church traditionalists over Amoris Laetitia and other reforms. What’s at stake is Catholicism’s claim to the infallibility of popes on teachings of faith and morals. The great irony here – don’t miss this – is traditionalists are willing to concede the current pope is fallible and in error in order to preserve the teaching of previous infallible popes! Francis winks at “infallible” doctrines in an effort to keep people in the pews.

All men are fallible. Even casual students of the history of the Catholic church are aware of the tragic failings of popes and other high church officials down through the ages. The only Rock we have is Jesus Christ. Accept Christ as your Savior and then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches God’s Word without compromise.

Is papal infallibility biblical?

More on the betrayal of the Gospel of grace at “Together 2016”

Last week I posted on the upcoming “Together 2016” ecumenical gathering in Washington D.C.,Hall which is being organized by evangelical Nick Hall (pictured), and will feature a video message from pope Francis. For my previous post, see here.

Others are also questioning how Hall, who hopefully believes in the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, could invite the leader of a religious institution, which teaches salvation by sacramental grace and merit?

Commenting on the event, Mike Gendron, who leads an evangelistic ministry to Roman Catholics, Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries, said, “Nick Hall either does not know the exclusivity of the Gospel of God or he does not know the Roman Catholic plan of salvation because they are diametrically opposed. We’re divided on how one is born again: Rome says water baptism; the Bible says the work of the Spirit. We’re divided on how one is justified: Rome says faith plus works, the Bible says faith. We’re divided on how one is purified of sin: Rome says purgatory, the Bible says the blood of Jesus. We’re divided on the essentials of the Gospel: Rome has other mediators, the Bible says it’s Christ alone.” See the article immediately below for more information.

‘Together 2016’: July 16 D.C. event to see Evangelicals, Catholics forging ‘historic unity’ to ‘pray for a reset for our nation’
http://www.christiantoday.com/article/together.2016.july.16.d.c.event.to.see.evangelicals.catholics.forging.historic.unity.to.pray.for.a.reset.for.our.nation/88116.htm

See Mike Gendron’s website here.

In the following article, evangelical pastor, Shane Idleman, also warns against “Together 2016” and its betrayal of the Gospel of grace.

Can the Pope Bring Revival?
http://www.christianpost.com/news/can-the-pope-bring-revival-opinion-165009/

It doesn’t surprise me in the least that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the Luis Palau Association, CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, the National Day of Prayer, YWAM (Youth With A Mission), the American Bible Society, Hillsong United, Ravi Zacharias, Christine Caine, and Ronnie Floyd are participating in this ecumenical event.