Chick-Fil-Church?

Because if preaching Christ and Him crucified is not enough to get them in the door, simply offer a $10 gift certificate to Chick-Fil-A to all first time adult visitors. That should bring them in the droves. Do we wonder why the world mocks us in the evangelical world? There is no difference between this and offering a Christmas tree or promising to swallow a goldfish or fill-in-the-blank.

Gimmicks, toys, and emotionalism is the name of the game in many churches just trying to capture one more person to put in the pews. Could you imagine the early New Testament Church offering a gift certificate to the unbelievers in Rome or Jerusalem or Antioch?
Chik-Church

The Insanity Of Transubstantiation

Testimony of a former Roman Catholic priest, Herman Hegger: Magic

“This doctrine of transubstantiation never fascinated me. I felt a certain reluctance to kneel before those external elements. Something in me refused to offer prayers to the Host. A God localized by the forms of bread and wine was against the grain of my deepest religious sentiments. I felt it difficult to lift up my soul to a God Who appeared to me in those dead things. I could not really discover the splendor of the glorified Savior in the Host that I was eating.

“Roman Catholic authors are also aware of this difficulty. They never mention “Jesus who is in my stomach,” but speak of “Jesus who rests on my heart.” Involuntarily they change over in some way to a spiritualization of the formula: “This IS my body!” And indeed, what is the point in transubstantiation? What use is it to me if Jesus ultimately lands in my stomach in the shape of bread and wine?

“The truly great thing is my living communion with the Savior. What good is a bodily presence in those forms? They only divert my attention from the glorious shape of my Redeemer. Jesus appears to me through His Word and Spirit. I rest on Him as He reveals Himself in His Gospel.”

A Harsh Gospel?

There is a troubling trend found more and more within the ranks of Christendom, particularly within the American version. I already know that there are those on both sides of these issues that will disagree with me, some may even do some vehemently. This post is not really an attempt to change everybody’s mind but written with the prayer that the rhetoric will be toned down and that more will realize that while true biblical doctrine divides, principles and practices should not.

There is a huge difference between the ministry of the Old Testament prophets and the work of the early New Testament Church. First and foremost, there should be a clear understanding that the Old Testament national Israel was not, is not, and never will be the same as the New Testament Church. They are two distinct entities and each of them have a special part in the sovereign purposes of God, but they are not the same.

Second, the Old Testament prophets were with very few exceptions sent to proclaim a specific message of judgment to the tribes of Israel. Those messages of judgment were not given to the New Testament Church. So, whether we are looking at Elijah, or Jonah, or Zephaniah, we must be careful that we look at each prophet in the context of their message and the people to who they were called.

OT-Prophet

Strangely, when we arrive at the New Testament era, we find a unique message and ministry started by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. While He called out the religious rabble with firm words and righteous anger, His approach to unbelievers brought a message of hope, faith, and love.  The hope was found in following the truth that Jesus Christ is God. The faith was that which the Holy Spirit gave ears to hear and that faith was subsequently placed solely on Jesus Christ for salvation. The love was shown ultimately in the way that Christ died on the Cross because God so loved the world. Yes, the sacrifice was given to appease the wrath of God the Father, but there was still love from Christ towards mankind. Even in one of His final sayings on the Cross, we hear Him saying, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

Zacchaeus found himself in a tree straining to hear Jesus Christ. He was approached by the Messiah with a message of hope that saw the salvation of a hated tax collector.

On several occasions, even the Gentiles came to hear Jesus Christ. Some of them believed the words and placed their faith in the Messiah for their salvation.

While on a walk through the country of the hated Samaritans, Jesus Christ sat beside a well waiting for a woman to approach. In the conversation, there was conviction of sin, hope of being able to worship something that she did not presently have, and ultimately faith was placed in the Savior. This woman then left her pots and went to the city to share the truth that there was a Messiah who could save them.

We could give many more examples, but I use these few to point out a vast difference between the love, gentleness, and compassion found in the New Testament with what I am seeing transpire today.

This post is not written with the intention of trying to stop any ministries from taking place. If you are under the authority of a local church and believe that God has placed a particular burden on your heart, then by all means, fulfill that to the best of your ability. Being part of the local church should help each person to be accountable to the means whereby God has given gifts. Today, there are far too many Lone Rangers who refuse accountability. Their best answer to troubles or questions about their style is normally best answered by simply unfriending the offending individual on Facebook or writing comments in a vitriolic manner all the while spinning strawmen to cover their lack of Biblical principles and Scriptures in defense of what they are doing.

So, what am I referring to? Let me give a few examples.

First, I firmly believe that the Great Commission is the responsibility of every blood-bought child of God to share with others the wonder of who Jesus Christ is and the message of hope that brings no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. However, I do NOT believe that each person is given the same task of how they go about doing that. Some may knock on doors, while others will pass out tracts at every opportunity they are given. Still others will stand on street corners and proclaim the wonders of the Savior.

None of these are wrong in and of themselves, but it is wrong for me or anybody else to declare that EVERY believer must do it JUST like me. There is NOT one example of the entire early New Testament Church all striving to exhibit their gifts in identical fashion on a Tuesday afternoon in the cities of Ephesus, Rome, or in the churches of Asia Minor. Paul makes it clear that we all have gifts differing one from another.

Second, in our messages, we are not the ones who are called to produce the judgment of God upon sinful creatures. We must be mindful that if it were not for the grace of God that we would each still be trapped in our sins. Ultimately, the only judgment that can be handed out will be from God. However, this does NOT mean we are to refrain from pointing out the COMING judgment to a lost and dying world.

Third, we are in error if we forget that the world is going to act exactly what it is – LOST. This means they will be willing to do, to live, to act, and to speak in every way that alienates them further from a holy and righteous God. Lost people do NOT act like believers. Lost people do NOT believe like Christians. Lost people do NOT care about God. Lost people do NOT care about the law of Jesus Christ.

Fourth, we must remember that our message must be one of compassion. I have seen many ministries through my own years of ministry that have stood on corners, pounded on doors, and screamed at places like abortion clinics for the wickedness that is found within. Sadly, all the yelling and lack of love will only make us look like nutjobs from Westboro Baptist Church holding their picket signs. The world mixes us together when our lives and our words do NOT reflect Jesus Christ.

gospelmessage

The unregenerate person will NEVER like the message we proclaim, but it should be the message they hate and hear that brings them to conviction through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Now with these few thoughts in mind, let me be a little more pointed.

Jesus Christ did NOT stand at the bottom of the tree and scream at Zacchaeus, “You filthy tax collector! You collaborator with those nasty Romans!”

Jesus Christ did NOT sit at the well in Samaria and scream names and nastiness at the woman who came for water and left with living water. He never yelled, “Hey, you adulterer, you two-bit low life!”

Jesus Christ did NOT hang on the Cross and belittle either of the two thieves and murderers who hung on either side of Him with words like, “You two thieves are just the scum of the earth! You deserve to hang there and pay the penalty for your crimes.”

The apostle Paul did not launch a campaign to go and picket Mars Hill. He was invited by divine appointment to stand and share the truth of the gospel. When he was done, some wanted to hear him further, while others left mocking the message. Not once do we find Paul blogging on the Jerusalem net about all the ones who rejected the call to salvation. Paul did not picket the coliseum in any city, and neither are we given any record of anybody else in the early Church doing that. Paul did not offer to take Onesimus back to Colosse and stand on the street corner outside of Philemon’s house railing about the evils of slavery and how Philemon MUST repent or they would never be able to fellowship together.

No, no, and a further resounding NO!

As believers, we are called to share the message of salvation. We are called to love the Lord Jesus with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Further, we are then called to love our neighbor AS OURSELVES. There is no third law to love ourselves. We do a great job of doing that already because of our sinful nature.

However, the message we share must be given with love and compassion. If the best we can do is shout and call names at those who pass us by, we will never accomplish what we have been called to do. We are NOT Lone Rangers, but we are Ambassadors of the Most High. Therefore, we MUST conduct our business for the Master in a way that reflects such love and grace as has been shown to us.

In conclusion, I do not wish for anybody to misunderstand my words today. I am NOT calling on anybody to stop standing outside of abortion clinics. I am NOT calling on street preachers to desist. I am NOT calling on individuals to stop passing out gospel tracts. I am NOT calling on anybody to stop warning about the judgment to come.

What I am calling for is more grace, love, and compassion in the way we minister. You will never be able to witness to the Mormon or the JW or the liar or the adulterer or the woman who had her baby murdered or the drug addict or the drunkard or anybody else when you are not willing to love them for who they are right now. It is not up to us to change them in order for them to become a new believer in Christ. That job belongs to God ALONE.

PS — Remember that we each will give account to God for what we do for Him, not to each other, and certainly not to the faceless comments on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media. We can each fulfill our ministry by being the part of the body He has called us to be, but that does NOT mean we cannot still fellowship with others who are a different part and who have a different role.

1 Corinthians 13:13, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

 

Big Ol’ Catholic Billboard

billboard2 I took this picture today in Pueblo, Colorado. They also bought the other side of the billboard and it has a different message.

The thing that is just so painfully obvious to me is that Catholics do, in fact, worship Mary. Talking to someone who is dead, and expecting them to be able to help you, seems a lot like worship to me. I realize they don’t think of Mary as God or a god, but they think she can hear millions of prayers at once, and she can at least attempt to persuade her Son to do something.

While it’s obvious to me that they’re attributing abilities to Mary that belong only to God, and that prayer is an act of worship to be reserved for God alone, I’ll just quote a couple of standard Catholic prayers to Mary, and everyone can decide for themselves.

Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed are thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

Morning Consecration to Mary
My Queen, My Mother, I offer
myself entirely to thee.
And to show my devotion to thee,
I offer thee this day, my eyes,
my ears, my mouth, my heart,
my whole being without reserve.
Wherefore, good Mother,
as I am thine own, keep me,
guard me as thy property and possession.
Amen.

Papal Contradictions and the Roman Child

by Jesse Johnson

In 1497, Pope Alexander had a crisis of his own making that was threatening to undermine his ability to govern the Catholic Church. A romantic rivalry between two of his sons (he had at least six children) had become a source of intrigue around Rome. In fact, this scandal was so lurid, it was appalling even to those accustomed to flagrant immorality from the papacy. 

The two sons in question were Cesare and Juan, and they were both in love with their sister, Lucrezia. The plot thickened, as the Pope refused to let either of his sons marry his daughter, as he was sleeping with her himself. As the famous biographer and historian William Manchester wrote, “Even for those times, this was scandalous.”

When one of the sons, Juan, turned up murdered, suspicion was split between the father and brother. When Lucrezia turned up pregnant, that same divided suspicion remained. Rome had long been accustomed to assassinations, orgies, and public rioting from the Pope’s family. But this scandal involved all three simultaneously, and even the public was beginning to demand change. Alexander decided he needed to marry his daughter off to a powerful Duke, consolidating the Pope’s power, and ending the scandal.

There were numerous problems with this plan. First, Lucrezia was already married (technically speaking…it was a political alliance thing). No problem, that marriage could be annulled by the Pope. But in order for that to happen, the Pope and a Vatican council had to certify that she was a virgin. This would be impossible to do with a straight face, seeing as how she was known to be the Pope’s lover, was six months pregnant, and visibly showing. So the Vatican council acted without the straight face, and when they declared her a virgin, witnesses said that laughter echoed throughout the Vatican. One poet, Jacopo Sannazaro, wrote a poem commemorating the declaration. Translated from the Latin, it reads:

Here lies Lucrezia, who was really a tart,
The daughter, wife, and daughter in-law of Alexander.

In Latin it rhymed. But regardless, the third obstacle was insurmountable, and the marriage was halted when the groom was murdered by Cesare.

This lead to the uncomfortable development that the Pope’s daughter gave birth to a son, Giovanni, and there was no way of knowing if the father was the Pope’s son or the Pope himself. By the time the child was 3 years old, his mother was 21. It became necessary politically for the Pope to marry her off, and the Pope chose the Duke of Ferrara. The new problem was that Canonical Law forbade the Pope from recognizing his own illegitimate children (only if they were fathered while he was Pope, which in this case was obvious; in fact the public labeled Giovanni “the Roman Child”). That difficulty here was notably compounded by they fact that the mother of his son was also his daughter. But…if the Pope recognized Cesare (his other son and her other lover) as Giovanni’s father, then the Duke of Ferrara would likely not marry Lucrezia for fear of losing his title as Duke.

If that is confusing, here it is simply: The Pope was in a Catch-22. Either the Giovanni was his, or his son’s. One option was permissible legally, the other was possible politically. So what would he do?

First, read/remember yesterday’s post on Papal Infallibility.

Here is his solution, in the words of William Manchester:

The Pope, deciding to legitimatize his daughter’s child, issued two extraordinary bulls September 1, 1501. The first, which was made public, identified the three-year-old boy as the offspring of Cesare and an unmarried woman… The second, a secret bull, acknowledged Giovanni to be the son of the pope and the same woman.

In other words, Giovanni had two fathers. And, don’t loose sight of the fact that he was born only three months after the Vatican and Pope had declared his mother a virgin. That is a truly immaculate conception!

The Bad PopesI was alerted to this story by reading E. R. Chamberlin’s book The Bad Popes. Believe me when I say that this affair is not even in the top five as far as radically immoral acts committed by the Popes of that time. In fact, some of the stories were so graphic and stunning that I paused to ask myself why I was even reading them. The answer is two-fold. First, it is a powerful reminder that Luther’s Reformation was not in a vacuum. Theology has consequences, and bad theology destroys lives. In this case, bad theology had the potential to destroy a continent, which it did. The dark ages were so backwards and perverse, in large part because of the rampant immorality of the Popes.

Secondly, it is a reminder that the strongest argument that Catholic Apologists use today-that the Catholic Church has an unbroken chain of tradition stretching back to the Apostles-is pure fabrication. Not only is it fabrication in the historic sense (because the papacy did not being in any recognizable way until the 400’s), but it is fabrication in the ethical sense. Many Popes, Luther said, “have so often contradicted themselves,” and he did not simply mean on the finer points of theology. When Alexander declared his daughter (whom he had been sleeping with) to be a virgin, only to see her give birth 3 months later, Luther was 16 years old. When Alexander issued official Church Bulls declaring that his son had two fathers, Luther was 19 years-old. He entered the monastery four years later.

It would be another twelve years before he posted his thesis on the church door. From that point forward, it is simply no longer feasible to maintain that Catholics and Protestants essentially believe the same things. There are substantive differences, one of which is the concept of papal authority, and another of which is the claim that the Roman Catholic Church has a glorious and unbroken continuity of being Christ’s seat on Earth.

They may have a tradition, but is neither glorious nor unbroken.

Distributed by http://www.worldviewweekend.com

Debate: Mariology – Who is Mary according to Scripture?

When you build a theology on pagan goddess worship, man’s traditions, a dead religion of works, and arguing from silence, you will always lose the debate when faced with God’s Word.

See also: It’s All About Mary?

HT: Cup of Joe

Roman Catholic cardinal claims Adam and Eve were a mythology.

Below is the article from The Australian:


AUSTRALIA’S Cardinal George Pell has described the biblical story of Adam and Eve as a sophisticated myth used to explain evil and suffering rather than a scientific truth.

Cardinal Pell last night appeared on the ABC’s Q&A program, where he was debating British evolutionary biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins.

Cardinal Pell said humans “probably” evolved from Neanderthals but it was impossible to say exactly when there was a first human. “But we have to say if there are humans, there must have been a first one,” he said.

According to Genesis, God created Adam and Eve as the first man and woman.

Asked by journalist Tony Jones if he believed in the existence of an actual Garden of Eden with an Adam and Eve, Cardinal Pell said it was not a matter of science but rather a beautiful mythological account.

“It’s a very sophisticated mythology to try to explain the evil and the suffering in the world,” he said.

“It’s certainly not a scientific truth. And it’s a religious story told for religious purposes.”

Cardinal Pell argued that the “great atheist movements” of Hitler and Stalin were the personification of social Darwinism.

“It’s the struggle for survival, the strong take what they can, and the weak give what they must and there’s nothing to restrain them.” he said. “And we’ve seen that in the two great atheist movements of the last century.”

Professor Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, rejected the notion as “ridiculous”.

He said Stalin was an atheist and Hitler was not, and they each perpetrated their acts for different reasons.

Towards the end of the debate, the head of the Catholic Church in Australia appeared to lament his struggle to promote Christ.

“My life would be much easier if I didn’t have to go into bat for . . . Christian principles,” he said.

Cardinal Pell then mused that he sometimes wondered if he should regret his life’s work, before asserting: “No, no.”

Book Review: “Life in the Grey Nunnery at Montreal” by Sarah J. Richardson

 lifegreynunneryWhen one gets a glimpse into the evils of Romanism perpetuated in the name of Jesus throughout history, words are hard to find to express the tempest of emotions roiling within.  Here, the account of Sarah J. Richardson and her years spent in the Grey Nunnery at Montreal are no exception.  Incredulity, shock, grief, loathing and more will flood your heart as you read the incredible account of her years spent imprisoned in this whitewashed sepulcher, which indeed appeared outwardly beautiful, but inwardly was full of all manner of dead men’s bones and uncleanness.

The book starts by providing a little background on Sarah’s earliest years and how her partially intoxicated father, in an act he thought for her best interests, gave his daughter away to the nunnery.  Sarah recalls this painful time of parting from her father by writing:

I am sure my father did not realize what he was doing. Had he waited for a little reflection, he would never have consented to such an arrangement, and my fate would have been quite different. But as it was, he immediately sent for the priest, and gave me to him, to be provided for, as his own child, until I was of age. I was then to be allowed to go out into the world if I chose. To this, Priest Dow consented. … Though I was at that time but six years old, I remember perfectly, all that passed upon that memorable occasion. I did not then comprehend the full meaning of what was said, but I understood enough to fill my heart with sorrow and apprehension.

But reflect on what he was doing was not to be for Sarah’s father, for his mind was made up and for his rashness he would never again see his daughter.  And so Sarah was torn away from her family and the world at large and carried away unto the world of the convent from which the eyes of most are prevented from venturing too deep into its hidden recesses.

From here Sarah begins the recollection of her life and the strict discipline and monastic life she was subjected to.  Something for which Roman Catholics are well known for where self-denial and beating of the body are held in high esteem.  As far as discipline is concerned, the nunnery was marked by it where the slightest infringement of the law of the land could yield the harshest of penalties.  One such law was that the children were not to speak, nay not even to groan or turn on their sides at night lest they cause the least bit of disturbance to the “holy” silence so cherished in convents.

This “holy” silence was to be observed throughout the convent where the nuns had to walk on their tip toes, and upon opening and closing a door had to do so with the utmost of care so as to not disturb the “peace.”  A rule which Sarah found herself mistakenly breaking when one morning in haste, she closed the door much to quickly where “it came together with a loud crash.”  We pick up her story where she writes about what happened next.

On entering the room, I found the Superior waiting for me; in her hand she held a stick about a foot long, to the end of which was attached nine leather strings, some twelve or fifteen inches long, and about the size of a man’s little finger. She bade me come to her, in a voice so cold and stern it sent a thrill of terror through my frame, and I trembled with the apprehension of some impending evil. I had no idea that she was about to punish me, for I was not aware that I had done anything to deserve it; but her looks frightened me, and I feared,–I know not what. She took hold of my arm, and without saying a word, gave me ten or twelve strokes over the head and shoulders with this miniature cat-o’-nine-tails. … But when I began to cry, and beg to go to my father, she sternly bade me stop crying at once, for I could not go to my father. I must stay there, she said, and learn to remember all her commands and obey then. She then taught me the following verse:

   I am a little nun,
The sisters I will mind;
When I am pretty and learn,
Then they will use me kind.
I must not be so noisy
When I go about the house,
I’ll close the doors so softly
They’ll think I am a mouse.

And so began the life of Sarah in the convent.  A life which would be filled with torments and griefs that far surpassed her beating for closing the door too loudly.  Beatings not for her alone though but for all within its walls who dared to violate the orders of the Superior and priests, not matter how inane or petty they were.

More can be said but the reader of this post is encouraged to take the time and read this book for themselves.  In posting this I know many will outright dismiss Sarah’s account as the ravings of a lunatic or the ramblings of yet another anti-Catholic conspirator. To this charge the reader would be well advised to study the history of Rome before making such a hasty verdict.  For we only need to look back a few years to recall the horrors and abject wickedness of Romanism brought into the light as the “sex scandal” became headline news.  Horrors that if protested against before this story broke, would have met with the same denial, incredulity and ridicule.

Or, one should peer back a little into history at the time of the inquisitions to find that men were of such hardened hearts that they could inflict the most horrible of terrors upon those who would not submit to the Papacy.  All of which that Rome would assiduously deny until there was so much proof she could do nothing but slink back into her corner.

A letter to the pope.

Thanks to Banner of Truth for reprinting this letter from Charles Hodge to Pope Pius the Ninth. In today’s atmosphere of blur-the-lines doctrinal positions it’s refreshing to see how men of old stood their ground on principles and refused to compromise truth on the alter of ecumenicalism.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The text of a letter written by Charles Hodge of Princeton Theological Seminary on behalf of the two General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, explaining why the Pope’s invitation to Protestants to send delegates to the first Vatican Council of 1869-70 was being declined.

To Pius the Ninth, Bishop of Rome,

By your encyclical letter dated 1869 you invite Protestants to send delegates to the Council called to meet at Rome during the month of December of the current year. That letter has been brought to the attention of the two General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Those Assemblies represent about five thousand ministers and a still larger number of Christian congregations.

Believing as we do, that it is the will of Christ that his Church on earth should be united, and recognizing the duty of doing all we consistently can to promote Christian charity and fellowship, we deem it right briefly to present the reasons which forbid our participation in the deliberations of the approaching Council.

Continue reading

Oh anathema, my anathema.

How many anathemas are you under?

Mark, from Here I Blog, decided to count his:

“I decided to count the number of anathemas that I am under from the 33 canons on justification. My count is 23 anathemas as I understand the canons. I tried to consider any nuances. Keep in mind that this is only 1 of 25 sessions of Trent.”

Read his post and see how many anathemas Romanism has you under here.


How to think like a Roman Catholic.

The following is an illustrated lesson to help you understand how the average Roman Catholic thinks on the matter of idolatry. I have provided several images which will allow you to better understand how a Romanist processes information.

But before we begin, and so you can fully grasp this lesson, you must carefully read the following passages from Leviticus 26:1 and Exodus 20:4-5 (respectively):

“You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,”

Now, let’s begin.

To see if you think like a Roman Catholic, what is your response to each of the the following pictures (the “proper” Romanist responses are indicated below each image).

Pagan idol worship condemned by scripture.

_______________________________

Veneration.

_______________________________

Pagan idol worship condemned by scripture.

_______________________________

Veneration.

_______________________________

Pagan idol worship condemned by scripture.

_______________________________

Veneration.

_______________________________

Pagan idol worship condemned by scripture.

_______________________________

Veneration.

_______________________________

Pagan idol worship condemned by scripture.

_______________________________

Veneration.

_______________________________

Pagan idol worship condemned by scripture.

_______________________________

Veneration.

_______________________________

Pagan idol worship condemned by scripture.

_______________________________

Veneration.

_______________________________

Pagan idol worship condemned by scripture.

_______________________________

Veneration.

_______________________________

Pagan idol worship condemned by scripture.

_______________________________

Veneration.

_______________________________

Pagan idol worship condemned by scripture.

_______________________________

Veneration.

_______________________________

Pagan idol worship condemned by scripture.

_______________________________

Veneration.

_______________________________

To see if you’ve been successfully conditioned to think like a Roman Catholic, we’ll conclude with one last picture.

Examine the following photograph carefully. The worshipers in the picture are from India, a country dominated with the worship of countless idols of Hindu gods made from stone and wood. So, are the people in this picture merely offering veneration, or are they pagan idol worshipers violating God’s prohibition of such activity found in Leviticus 26:1 and Exodus 20:4-5?

The answer: They are Roman Catholics, so therefore, their actions are only that of veneration.

If you answered this correctly, you are thinking like a Romanist, if you answered incorrectly you either need to start again at the beginning of this post, or you’re simply one of those fundamentalists who takes God’s prohibition against idolatry literally and seriously.

But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. Revelation 21:8

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

The blasphemy of Rome’s priesthood.

Reminiscent of The Pharisees

“The priest speaks, and Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priest’s command.”

– “Father” John O’Brien

The Faith of Millions

“Jesus died to institute the priesthood. Had he not died, where should we find the victim that the priests now offer? It was not necessary for the Redeemer to die in order to save the world; a drop of his blood, a single tear, or prayer, was sufficient to procure salvation for all . . . but to institute the priesthood, the death of Jesus Christ was necessary.”

– Alphonsus Ligouri

The Dignity and Duties of the Priest

Pagan Christianity?

I was given the task of reading and reviewing this book as part of a project at my church. Frank Viola is aggressive in defending his perspective; if you want his view you can easily find one or more of his blogs. With that short introduction, here’s my lengthy review.

Pagan Christianty?

By Frank Viola and George Barna

Reviewed by Stuart L. Brogden

The thesis statement of this book is found in the Preface, written by Viola, on page xix: “we intend to show how that organism (the first century church) was devoid of so many things we embrace today” and on page xx: “We are seeking to remove a great deal of debris in order to make room for the Lord Jesus Christ to be the fully functioning head of His church.”

In the Preface, he repeatedly refers to “the contemporary church” as their foil – no doubt most reformed Christians would also take issue with many things done in that name. Reinforcing what I infer as a mystical view of God and Truth revealed in the thesis, Viola tells us, “the New Testament vision of church best represents the dream of God.” and “The normative practices of the first-century church were the natural and spontaneous expression of the divine life that indwelt the early Christians.” (page xix) Their mystical view of the body of Christ is fully spelled out later in the book. Also on page xix, the author’s beloved “organic church” is described thusly: “An organic church is simply a church that is born out of spiritual life instead of constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic churches are characterized by Spirit-led, open-participatory meetings and nonhierarchical leadership.” We will see that “Spirit-led” means “everyone doing what seems right in their own eyes”. In the delving Deeper section on page xxxi we are told that their “goal is not to develop a full description of the organic church but only touch on it when necessary.” See – we get explicit wrong-doings by the contemporary and institutional church but only vague and partial descriptions of the proposed answer to those evils.

Viola shows his misunderstanding of the work of the Holy Spirit of God, ascribing (page xix) His actions as “the natural and spontaneous expression of the divine life that indwelt the early Christians”. The Bible is clear that God is a God of order, not chaos; He is not a natural expression of what is in man (Psalms 50:21). He is not “spontaneous” – acting on whimsy; He has planned and has ordered all things to the fulfillment of His plans (Psalms 135:6 and Ephesians 1:11).

In Barna’s Introduction, we discover the authors see themselves – and the Lord Jesus – as Revolutionaries, working to correct the centuries-long trial of errors foisted upon us by religious men. He rightly identifies legitimate problems in many churches (mega-churches, satellite campuses, affinity and age segregated groups, etc.) on page xxvii – and then reveals that this book is our trustworthy guide to find out God’s will for the church. He concludes by telling us that he wants the reader “to think carefully and biblically about how you practice your faith with other Christians.” Barna concludes with, “We pray that this book will help you to do your part in straightening out the crooked path of the contemporary church.” We shall see.

The “Jesus” of the OC is manifested by “open sharing” in all church meetings – this is the normative method that “is completely scriptural”, especially if the only scripture one reads is 1 Corinthians 14:26 – 29. They have an unbiblical view of Jesus Christ and an unbiblical view of the church – which they consider (page xxviii) to be “Himself in a different form. This is the meaning of the phrase “the body of Christ”.” Deep in the appendix, on page 268, we read, “When each member of His body shares his or her portion of Christ, then Christ is assembled.”

Wayne Grudem sheds a better light on this concept on page 858 of his Systematic Theology: “In 1 Corinthians 12 the whole body is taken as a metaphor for the church, because Paul speaks of the “ear” and the “eye” and the “sense of smell” (1 Cor 12:16 – 17). In this metaphor, Christ is not viewed as the head joined to the body, because the individual members are themselves the individual parts of the head. Christ is in the metaphor the Lord who is “outside” of that body that represents the church and is the one whom the church serves and worships.” There are, as Grudem goes to point out, different uses of the word “body” as a metaphor for the church – the context in which each metaphor is used reveals its meaning. Barna and Viola appear to hold to the Roman Catholic view of the church as the “continuing incarnation” of Christ rather than properly viewing Christ as reigning in heaven in addition to dwelling among us. As for the biblical view of the church, one cannot comprehend that unless one studies the Pastoral Epistles – and there’s no indication the authors have even read them.

Consistently in this book, the method of “proving” their case builds on setting up a straw man they call the “institutional church” (IC) – a seemingly equivalent term for the “contemporary church” – and presenting an ill-defined “organic church” (OC) as the only Christ-honoring alternative. This IC straw man is constructed from mostly undocumented sources of history, which reflect the main line record of the Roman Catholic Church. There is no evidence that the remnant of God which did not follow Rome (as in Andrew Miller’s Church History) was ever considered by the authors – for therein one would find local churches without many of the errors that have crept into most churches since ~ 400AD. Too many reformed churches have forgotten “Semper Reformda!”, stagnating in partial reform that still has a lot in common with Rome. These present day vestiges of Rome ought to be critiqued and Protestants should repent and reform to the Biblical model. Some of this book’s critique rightly applies to some churches, but does not warrant the radical, semi-biblical approach advocated.

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Quotes (923).

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that infants are forgiven of original sin when a priest pours water over the baby in the sacrament of baptism. There are two serious problems with this practice. First, there is no occurrence of infant baptism in the New Testament, and second, one must believe in Jesus in order to be forgiven. Clearly a baby cannot respond in faith to the Gospel and thus be forgiven.

–          Mike Gendron

They just don’t get it.

For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Romans 10:2-4

They just don’t get it.

The false religions and cults simply cannot grasp the simplicity of the gospel message. This is evidenced anytime you have a conversation with one of them about sin, grace, faith, and justification.

You can go round and round in debate with a member of one of these organizations and you often walk away with a headache because they can’t see the forest for the trees.

They have been so indoctrinated to believe their respective organization’s interpretations of biblical texts that when someone presents them with the proper interpretation of biblical texts (using Scripture to interpret Scripture) they simply reject it.

It is so sad to watch the deceived continue in their deception, especially when they are leading others down the same broad path.

It’s like trying to convince a fish that it’s wet; the fish has known nothing but wet, so it cannot even fathom what dry is.

Recently the Jehovah’s Witnesses stopped by my home and dropped off an advertisement with my wife for an upcoming event. They won’t stay to talk (our house has been flagged for almost five years now) but they will occasionally still drop off literature . . . and run.

In their latest dump-and-run literature drop they gave my wife a flier for their upcoming commemoration of the anniversary of Jesus’ death. Here’s the opening line from that advertisement:

“John the Baptizer stated that Jesus ‘takes away the sin of the world.’ (John 1:29) This drew attention to Jesus’ role in saving obedient mankind.”

Jesus saved the obedient? 

See how subtle their deception is?

The obedient don’t need a Savior. Jesus Himself said He came for the sinner, not the righteous (Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17).

This declaration by the Jehovah’s Witnesses is predicated on the erroneous assumption that our obedience is a prerequisite for Christ to be able save us. This is classic Watchtower Organization rhetoric and is essentially the doctrine of all cults and false religions: Believing you must do your part and cooperate with God to help Him or enable Him to save you.

They just don’t get it.

If the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe obedience is required as a means or requirement of salvation (which anyone who knows Watchtower doctrine can attest that this is indeed their position) then they better be obedient to all the Law without ever sinning once from cradle to grave, otherwise they will be found guilty of breaking all the Law (James 2:10):

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

But what’s even more damning to those seeking salvation via the conduit of obedience is the fact that they are under a curse for doing the very thing they think will save them (Galatians 3:10):

For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”

What Jehovah’s Witnesses (and Mormons, and Roman Catholics, and Muslims, etc.) fail to understand is that regeneration comes before obedience, not the other way around. Romans 8:6-8 makes our inability very clear:

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

It’s a classic case of putting of the cart before the horse.

They just don’t get it.

It’s only after we’ve been saved, regenerated, made alive in Christ, been born again, that our works and obedience are pleasing and acceptable to God 

Our obedience is borne out of a love and desire to please the One who purchased us with His own blood, not out of us trying to appease Him and merit His favor like the pagans try do for their idols.

Our obedience, and the good works we do after being saved, come from God and are prepared beforehand for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). This is why our behavior should reflect our conversion (Matthew 3:8, Luke 3:8, Acts 26:20, Ephesians 4:1) and why the absence of which should cause us to question whether or not we’ve been genuinely converted.

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you– unless indeed you fail the test?  2 Corinthians 13:5

Simply put, regeneration precedes obedience (John 14:15, John 14:21-24, 1 John 3:24).

What obedience did Abraham offer to become righteous before God (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3)? What obedience did John the Baptist declare to those coming to be baptized (Matthew 3:2)? What obedience did Christ declare upon the start of His earthly ministry (Matthew 4:17) or later in His ministry (Luke 13:5)? What obedience did the thief on the cross exhibit to be with Jesus that very day in paradise (Luke 23:39-43)? What obedience did Paul tell the Philippian jailer he needed to perform to be saved (Acts 16:30-31)?

The false faiths that dot the landscape of Christianity like pock marks all invalidate the word of God for the sake of their traditions (Matthew 15:6), and their works-righteousness gospel is in complete contradiction to Jesus’ teaching of the means of the free gift of God’s grace and mercy as cited in His example of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. You cannot read those words of our Lord and still believe that your obedience (or anything for that matter) merits you any favor in God’s eyes. If you still believe otherwise, then you make Christ’s brutal, bloody, and barbaric sacrifice null and void because it was all done in vain. 

I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly. Galatians 2:21

See also: Why Don’t They Get it?

Roman Catholicism’s competition in Mexico.

I recently read an article about cults in Mexico that I found absolutely fascinating. It seems that the Roman Catholic organization is experiencing some competition in one of their stronghold nations.

Here’s a quote from the article about the growing worship of fictional drug-trafficking saint, Jesús Malverde:

“The emotional pressures, the tensions of living in a time of crisis lead people to look for symbolic figures that can help them face danger,” says José Luis González, a professor at Mexico’s National School of Anthropology and History who specializes in popular religions. Among the helper figures are Afro-Cuban deities that have recently found their way to new shores and outlaws that have been transformed into miracle workers, like a mythical bandit from northern Mexico called Jesús Malverde. There are even saints from the New Testament repurposed for achieving not salvation but success. In this expanding spiritual universe, the worship of a skeleton dressed in long robes and carrying a scythe—La Santa Muerte—is possibly the fastest growing and, at first glance at least, the most extravagant of the new cults.

There’s a reason for God’s prohibition against graven images and the bowing down to them. Our hearts are truly idol factories and here’s an example of how one such idol was created:

Eligio had been working as a driver in 1976 when he was knifed and shot in a holdup and left for dead. He prayed to Malverde, whose only monument at the time was a pile of rocks where his grave was said to be, promising to erect a proper shrine in Malverde’s honor if the saintly bandit saved his life. When he survived, he kept his word. González appears to have understood that people would grasp Malverde’s real importance only if there were an image of him they could worship, but unfortunately no photograph of Malverde existed—and, in fact, no evidence at all that he’d ever lived. In the 1980s González asked an artisan in the neighborhood to create a plaster bust: “Make him sort of like Pedro Infante and sort of like Carlos Mariscal,” Infante being a famous movie star from Sinaloa and Mariscal a local politician.

And then there’s the skeletal idol of death known as La Santa Muerte reminiscent of the Grim Reaper:

Antonio explains what gives La Santa Muerte her powerful attraction: “La Muerte is always beside you—even if it’s just a little postage stamp that you put up above your cot, you know that she’s not going to move, that she’ll never leave.” . . . El Niño and Antonio say just that La Santa Muerte will grant your prayers—but only in exchange for payment, and that payment must be proportional to the size of the miracle requested, and the punishment for not meeting one’s debt to her is terrible.

I find it ironic that the official position of the Roman Catholic organization is in opposition to the worship of Jesús Malverde and La Santa Muerte when they are one of the worst offenders of idol worship around and seem to have no problem when the idol being worshiped is one that they’ve created.

Mexicans who retain a strong connection to the Roman Catholic faith might turn instead to St. Jude Thaddeus. At a time when no-win situations abound, he is experiencing a rise in popularity comparable only to that of La Santa Muerte, perhaps because he is known in the Catholic Church as the patron saint of desperate causes. . . . St. Jude’s official feast day is October 28, and thousands of his followers feel inspired to come and pray to him on that day every month. Sixteen Masses are celebrated in the parish from dawn to evening, and worshippers crawl to the statue of the saint on their knees, praying for help, protection, and survival.

But let me caution you, before we look down on these souls in Mexico who are steeped in idol worship, let us not forget that we in America are equally as guilty of this sin; our idols just come in different forms (cars, sports, money, status, possessions, self, etc.).

To read the entire National Geographic article (and to view more pictures) visit National Geographic online.

Quotes (845)

Catholics are taught to believe a miracle has occurred when the inner essence of the host (wafer) is changed into the body and blood of Christ even though it still looks and tastes like a wafer. Can you think of any miracle in the Bible that never appeared to happen?

– Mike Gendron

Dreaming of a Pink Christmas.

The debate about whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas has recently been raging on DefCon. As many know, my family has decided not to participate in Christmas (my reasons can be found here).

I have been pleased and encouraged to find out that other Christians have also abandoned this holiday and it is very encouraging to find out that those of us who have chosen to treat December 25th as we would any other day are in good company.

The Apostles and early church fathers did not celebrate Christmas, the Puritans rejected Christmas, Charles Spurgeon opposed to Christmas, and more recently A.W. Pink voiced his opposition to Christmas.

It is Pink’s commentary on this holiday that I have posted below for your edification and consideration in DefCon’s ongoing examination of Christmas. My intention in posting this is not to rehash some of the more heated (and vitriolic) debating that we’ve seen on previous comment threads, but it is important to consider what those faithful men who have gone before us have said about this holiday.

Christmas

A.W. Pink

“Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen . . . for the CUSTOMS of the people are vain.” (Jer. 10:1-3)

Christmas is coming! Quite so; but what is “Christmas?” Does not the very term itself denote its source — “Christ-mass.” Thus it is of Romish origin, brought over from Paganism. But, says someone, Christmas is the time when we commemorate the Saviour’s birth. It is? And who authorized such commemoration? Certainly God did not. The Redeemer bade His disciples “remember” Him in His death, but there is not a word in Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, which tells us to celebrate His birth. Moreover, who knows when, in what month, He was born? The Bible is silent thereon. Is it without reason that the only “birthday” commemorations mentioned in God’s Word are Pharaoh’s (Gen. 40:20) and Herod’s (Matt. 14:6)? Is this recorded “for our learning?” If so, have we prayerfully taken it to heart?

And who is it that celebrates “Christmas?” The whole “civilized world.” Millions who make no profession of faith in the blood of the Lamb, who “despise and reject Him,” and millions more who while claiming to be His followers yet in works deny Him, join in merrymaking under the pretense of honoring the birth of the Lord Jesus. Putting it on its lowest ground, we would ask, Is it fitting that His friends should unite with His enemies in a worldly round of fleshly gratification? Does any truly born-again soul really think that He whom the world cast out is either pleased or glorified by such participation in the world’s joys? Verily, the customs of the people are vain; and it is written, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” (Ex. 23:2).

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