The Dangers of Drifting

A review by Stuart Brogden   Evangelicals-Adrift-94x150

We must, therefore, pay even more attention to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away. – Hebrews 2:1 (HCSB)

Matthew E. Ferris’ book, Evangelicals Adrift – Supplanting Scripture with Sacramentalism, is a fairly comprehensive examination of the differences between biblical Christianity and that which is based on sacramental rituals. He also provides examples of people who have crossed the Tiber River from both sides. For the evangelical who drifts into sacramentalism, the dangers are pointed out with the concern of one manning a lighthouse in treacherous waters, where sailing vessels are bound to be broken on the rocks if they drift away from the narrow channel.

In ten concise chapters, our author covers the theological crises in evangelicalism, the nature and authority of the church and Scripture, and the various departures from biblical truth posed by sacramentalism. In the first chapter, Ferris tells us, “My task is to the show that the definition of the bride of Christ put forth by sacramentalism is an erroneous one, and that Scripture is the only sure guide for the way forward in the Christian life. … I am not writing as “anti-Catholic” or “anti-Orthodox”, but rather as pro-Scripture.” (page 25) This is an important point that evangelicals need to keep in mind, as it is far too easy to drift into being against error instead of in favor of truth; and our mission is to be ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:20).

In his discussion about the nature of the church, Ferris contrasts the Apostles’ teaching found in God’s Word with the progressively developed extra-biblical traditions of the sacramental church, concluding, “The final arbiter for sacramentalism returns once more, not to the Scriptures, but to the church.” (page 35), giving us quotes from Roman Catholics that explicitly confirm this. He then asks, “in what sense can the Church be apostolic if it runs counter to the model the apostles themselves left us?” (page 37) Ferris supports the plurality and equality of elders and the priesthood of all believers in the local church, pointing out the word “clergy” is applied in Scripture to the entire church, not only the elders (page 42). Anticipating the claim that there is unanimity amongst the Church Fathers, our author provides a few quotes to show they had as much variation on issues as do any group of Christians, observing that anyone who wants a clean and supporting historical record to support their view must pick and choose which bits of history to rest on, ignoring those which do not line up with their case. “The Church is the pillar and ground of the truth only in that she upholds and defends it; she does not originate truth.” (page 74)

One way that Christians fail to stay on the narrow road is to neglect church history and conclude that their traditions are biblical. Ferris bemoans the fact that many research or know church history only as far back as the Reformation (page 84), leaving them adrift in the historical influences left unexamined. In commenting on how tradition overshadows Scripture in sacramental churches, he sums up a good quote from Oscar Cullman by saying, “there is no need for a canon at all if the ultimate arbiter of truth is the Church and its magisterium.” (page 86) “Roman Catholic doctrine claims to affirm the inspiration of Scripture and that the Bible is authored by God, yet in practice it severely undermines both of these positions.” (page 102) The Roman Catholic Church demands its dogma be accepted as authoritative, while denying the self-attestation of Scripture. Rather than holding to a proper understanding of Sola Scriptura, the Roman Catholic Church is shown to truly hold to sola ecclesia (page 103). This is compounded by the long-standing position of Rome that only its select clergy can interpret the Scripture, which undermines the authority of the Bible. If the Bible is God’s Word to His people, all of whom are indwelt by His Spirit, does it make sense that only a small number of people selected by a small number of religious leaders would be able to rightly comprehend the essentials of the Christian faith? History records that these select leaders, charged with interpreting the Scriptures for the common folk often disagreed with one another and many changed their minds on topics over time. Heretics and false sons have been in the temporal church since the apostolic era and it flies in the face of history, human nature, and the Bible for Rome to claim immunity from the frailties that each son of Adam faces.

Ferris also discusses how the various sacraments within many churches claim to impart grace, robbing the gift YHWH gives of its meaning. Baptism is one of these, with infant “baptism” having its basis in the false belief that it is needed for salvation. “Sacramentalism practices infant baptism as both an entrance into the new covenant with God and as that which cleanses from sin.” (page 160). If this were true, why was the Apostle Paul’s priority on gospel proclamation (1 Cor 1:14 – 17 & 9:22)? Further, he asks, “If baptism is indeed effective in imparting new life, in washing away sin, in putting one into the church, how is it that so many people who have undergone infant baptism manifest no signs of divine life whatsoever?” (page 166)

Chapters 7 and 8 are excellent reviews of the unbiblical view that sacraments convey grace and that mystical doctrine of Mary worship and veneration. Chapter 9 explores the spurious notion that there is theological and doctrinal unity within the Roman Catholic Church – pointing out there is as much variety within that religion as they claim there is amongst evangelicals.

The final chapter asks, “To Whom Shall We Go?” – and points out that “By insisting on the mediation of the Church in every aspect of the believer’s interaction with God, sacramentalism replaces the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian.” (page 223) Ferris gives the reader an excellent, concise review of the difference between the Roman view of infused grace and the biblical view of imputed grace as the means of saving sinners. The catechism of the Roman Catholic Church declares that the sacraments are necessary for salvation. Our author observes, “There is no experience of God, no conversion, and indeed no final salvation apart from engaging in the ritual acts defined by the Church. This is diametrically opposed to justification by faith in Christ alone. It is the system, rather than the Savior that assumes the importance in sacramentalism.” (page 225) In light of these dangers that we can drift into, to whom shall we go? As Peter rightly understood, we must flee to Christ Jesus – He has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). And so our faithful author points us to the Word Himself. “Every problem, every shortcoming, every doctrinal aberration with evangelicalism, and indeed with any branch of the church, is solved only by an intentional and sustained engagement with scripture. … Embracing sacramentalism will only lead believers further away from the truth that a relationship, not a ritual, is the scripturally ordained way of growth in Christ. Those who drift away can only regain their moorings by once again submitting to the Bible for everything in their Christian live.” (pages 228 & 229)

This book is a most excellent encouragement to the saints of God and, I pray, a wakeup call to those who are drifting into dangerous waters in the Tiber River. To God alone be the glory and honor and dominion and power – now and forever!

The Necessity and Sufficiency of Scripture

Scripture: Necessity and Sufficiency 

Last week, we studied the authority and clarity of Scripture. Anyone recall anything about those subjects and why they’re important?  images

Today, we examine the necessity and sufficiency of Scripture. Again, two tightly connected attributes of God’s Word that are closely tied to the two we looked at last week. If any of these 4 attributes were to be determined false, it would call into question the entire cannon of Scripture. We study these attributes because they are important reminders of the character of our God and because it will equip us to stand against the wily schemes of Satan and countless minions.

Listen to this message here.

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.”

Holy Spirit Held Hostage?

Well, so says a new petition “made at the Our Lady of All Nations Prayerday in Amsteredam [sic]” this past Sunday. It was a “world wide open petition to Pope Benedict for a new coming of the Holy Spirit.”

Apprising Ministries points you to this rather peculiar situation where, in the superstition of apostate Roman Catholicism, apparently Pope Benedict and the Virgin Mary are a bit at odds and holding up the Holy Spirit.

In the video below Dr. Mark Miravalle fills us in further concerning a petition about Mary, “the Mother of all Nations.” He reminds us that she allegedly appeared via apparitions in Amsterdam “from 1945 to 1959.”

He speculates that she chose to so grace Amsterdam because “it is the most universal city in the world” represented by “over 120 different nationalities.” He explains that the apparitions had a “universal message.”

Miravalle then tells us these apparitions, which he does believe to be the Virgin Mary, gave:

a prayer for all people to pray and ultimately seeking the proclamation of a dogma; a solid proclamation that she is, indeed, the spiritual mother of all peoples–under it’s three essential aspects of co-redemptrix, mediatrix of all graces, and advocate.

Below you’ll see that Miraville goes on to tell us about a very special announcement also made a week ago today concerning “the launch of a world wide open petition to Pope Benedict for a new coming of the Holy Spirit.”

Miraville tells us how important he thinks this petition is because, as he sees it, the future of the world may depend upon our receiving “the Holy Spirit anew, and it’s through Mary.” In fact, says Miraville:

Our Lady has told us, it’s only with the proclamation of this dogma, will peace enter the world. So these are her words.

Hmm, I would think that Jesus—the Prince of Peace—might take a different view. It almost sounds like a type of spiritual extortion: “Make me the fourth member of the Godhead or I’ll withhold the Holy Spirit and world peace.”

Miravalle hopes that through”intercession of Mary” Roman Catholics will continue to petition Pope Benedict, their “beloved Holy Father,” to officially proclaim this Marian dogma. He continues:

And let’s remember, it’s our Lady herself who asks for petitions; where she say on May 31, 1954, “Work and ask for this dogma; you should petition the Holy Father for this dogma”…

This is important for the good of the Church. So join in this online, world-wide, petition for a new Pentecost, through the intercession of our Lady, to the proclamation of Mary as the spiritual mother of all peoples.

“Mary” seems a bit perturbed and a tad bossy to me. One wonders why she herself just doesn’t ask God to make that proclamation. O wait; it’s not that Holy Father. She means we have to petition the pope, the other holy father.

Let’s see if we have this straight; we ask the under god to officially proclaim Mary Co-Redemptrix and Co-Mediatrix for God the Holy Father and then she’ll intercede for a second Pentecost to send God the Holy Spirit?

Well, following is the petition itself:

Aside from addressing this to “his holiness,” I don’t fault the first two paragraphs. As a former Roman Catholic, and now Christian pastor, I’m concerned about those things as well. I agree, we definately need God’s help.

However, we don’t need a second coming of the Holy Spirit; He is already here. Acts 2 describes when God the Holy Spirit came to fulfill Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer of John 17 to bring the Body of Christ into union with God.

We read in this petition that, “Mary prayed for the Holy Spirit to come at Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit came.” No, she was among the other believers in Jesus Christ who were praying. Jesus had earlier told them:

“And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

Jesus said He was sending the Holy Spirit, Mary had nothing to do with it (cf. John 15:26; John 16:7). This next part is absolutely not even close to Christian theology:

Mary has said that she will intercede for a New Pentecost if you, Holy Father, would publicly proclaim her role as the Spiritual Mother of humanity. This proclamation will lead to a new descent of the Holy Spirit and an era of world peace (see Fatima, Amsterdam, Akita Apparitions, etc).

Seriously; Mary will only intercede if she gets her demand to be named “Spiritual Mother of humanity?” Does this mean Almighty God is held hostage to his creation Mary’s demands and hamstrung if His “Vicar” doesn’t comply?

In closing this, for now, notice the petition then says:

we believe in the powerful intercession of Mary as Advocate to bring the light of Holy Spirit into the world today.

Really; Mary as advocate. Have you noticed Who’s been missing in all of this nonsense? Jesus. It is written:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self,…having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:1-2; 2 Timothy 3:5)

Posted here.

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.

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