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Posts Tagged ‘Ecumenism’

More Than These_2

“It is my firm conviction that the pro-life movement has been a convenient, effective tool in the hands of the Roman Catholic Church leadership in their drive to desensitize the average Christian to Rome’s heresy, idolatry, and blasphemy.”

    – Pastor Ralph Ovadal

Last week’s post, devoted to a discussion of the movie Unplanned, was intended as a warning to Christians. Far from being the Christian film many have touted it to be, Unplanned would be better described as an effective recruitment tool for the Roman Church-State.

Although the movie was financed, at least in part, by Evangelical money, and presented to Evangelicals as a Christian movie, the screen play and the directing were done by two Roman Catholics. But more concerning is the central figure in the movie, Abby Johnson, who, having been raised Baptist, converted to Roman Catholicism after she was asked to leave her Episcopal Church upon leaving Planned Parenthood and becoming pro-life.

In that post on Unplananed, this reviewer quoted at some length from a book titled More Than These by Pastor Ralph Ovadal. When I cited the book, I was under the assumption that I had reviewed it some time ago. But to my surprise, after checking to confirm whether this was so, I found out that no such review had been posted on this blog. What is worse, a search of the internet revealed that, apparently, no review of the remarkable book has been written by anyone else either.

This post is intended as a partial remedy to this sorry state of affairs.

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Unplanned

Just to dispense with one item upfront, I have not seen the movie Unplanned, nor, despite the many encouragements from various conservatives to support the film, do I intend to.

To be clear, my lack of support for Unplanned is not because I’m pro-abortion. Far from it. I’m pro-life

I actually had considered going to see the film yesterday, but elected not to. So what stopped me? A little research on the internet.

Not knowing much about Unplanned other than snippets I’d see in the press, I decided to search the web for information on the central character in the movie, Abby Johnson. In just a few seconds, I’d found all I needed to know, a headline in the National Catholic Register that read “From Abortion Worker to Catholic Apostle.” As the subheadline went on to elaborate, “A former Planned Parenthood director, Abby Johnson, tells how an ultrasound of an unborn baby’s fight for life eventually let (sic) her to the Catholic Church and a new apostolate.”

A bit more searching led me to this interview on EWTN’s Facebook page – EWTN is a Roman Catholic organization that owns and operates the National Catholic Register – in which directors Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzleman speak openly of their Catholic faith. At one point, they even note that the “blessed mother” has promised to end abortion.

In short, it’s fair to call Unplanned a Catholic movie.

For Protestants, this represents an insuperable problem.

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Billy Graham

The body of Rev. Billy Graham, who died February 21 at age 99, lies in the Capitol Rotunda as President Donald Trump, officials and dignitaries pay tribute to America’s most famous evangelist, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, in Washington.  (J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press) 

In the second year of Joash the son of Jehoahaz, king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, became king…And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like his father David (2 Kings 14:1, 3).

Judge not, lest you be judged! How many times have Christians had that verse flung in their face when discussing some point of doctrine, usually with an unbeliever. This verse, wielded as if some all conquering shut down argument, seems to be the only passage of Scripture that many people know.

Now if Jesus actually meant what these people seem to think he meant – that all judgment of every sort by anyone is always wrong – ironically they also condemn themselves, for by speaking as they do they are judging Christians and telling them they are wrong to find fault with the words or actions of another.

But Jesus did not mean to condemn all judgment. He intended to condemn unrighteous judgment, that is to say, judgment by the wrong standard. This can be seen elsewhere in Scripture where Christ told his followers to “judge with righteous judgment.”

Further, in writing to Timothy the Apostle Paul advised his younger colleague that, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for,” among other things, “reproof [and] for correction.” That is to say, Scripture is to be used to judge the actions and the words of men.

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The Jesuit “mafia” and fog, both literal and figurative, in the churches. These were some of the discussion points brought up by Dr. Paul Elliott in his talks on Day 2 of The Trinity Foundation’s Reformation conference. Dr. Elliott gave two presentations on Saturday 10/28, both of which I would strongly encourage you to listen to when the recordings become available.

The Reformation Is Not a Return to Pre-Reformation Positions

By way of introduction to his opening talk on Saturday, Dr. Elliott mentioned that he is working on a tree volume set on the subject of the corruption of the text of the new testament. As part of his research, Dr. Elliott noted, more often than not, he found that the hand responsible for corrupting the Greek text of the New Testament used in modern translations is, more often than not, that of the Jesuits. He also included a comment by a friend of his warning that his work exposing the Jesuit efforts would not go unnoticed and that it was “dangerous territory.” Dr. Elliott did not use the word “mafia,” but the implication of his words is that there exists something like a Jesuit mafia that seeks to silence the opposition, and do so by violence if necessary.

Dr. Elliott contends that there are forces in the Evangelical movement that are seeking to give Protestantism an “extreme makeover” of the sort one sees on various TV shows, and that the effect of this makeover is that, “the vast majority of the nominally Evangelical church today is rapidly returning to the pre-Reformation position.” Dr. Elliott identified four things that characterized the pre-Reformation church.

First, there was Biblical illiteracy. In the middle ages, Christians did not have access to Bibles in their native language. Today, the problem is that, while “Bibles” are readily available, so-called modern translations such as The Message are corrupt paraphrases, not translations at all. Because they do not faithfully translate the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, they leave people without the Word of God in much the same way as medieval church goers whose only Bible was in Latin, a language that most of them did not understand.

Second, Dr. Elliott identified the problem of Church as an Experience. The Reformation has always emphasized the primacy of preaching, the expositing of the Word of God in understandable, clear language. On the other hand, the Roman Church-State has always made an appeal to the senses with its “smells and bells.”

And just as the pre-Reformation and current Roman Catholic Church emphasized experience over doctrine, so too do neo-evangelicals in the emerging church movement. Dr. Elliott noted that as an observer he attended a trade show dedicated to the “worship market” which, “is now a multi-billion-dollar business.”

Dr. Elliott noted that, “The most popular product in this big exhibit hall was fog machines!,” which allowed churches to generate “different colors of fog” to set the right mood. As Dr. Elliott wryly commented, “Those fog machines were a metaphor for the entire so-called worship conference.”

Third, Dr. Elliott took up the problem of pluralism. By way of example, he cited Timothy Keller saying there may be some “back door way to Heaven” apart from Jesus.

More subtle is the case of John Piper, whom Elliott quotes as saying that we are made right with God by faith but enter heaven by our works.

Finally, Dr. Elliott speaks of the current emphasis on Deeds Instead of Doctrine. As Rick Warren has said, “You know, 500 years ago, the first Reformation with Luther and then Calvin, was about creeds…[the new reformation that we’re bringing about through the Purpose-Driven church] will be about deeds…The first one was about what the church believes…This one will be about what the church does.”

How is the different from what Rome teaches? In truth, not much, if at all. That being the case, it should come as no surprise that Warren is also hard at work trying to re-united Protestants and Romanists. Dr. Elliott reported that Warren was the keynote speaker at Pope Francis final Sunday service when he was in Philadelphia in 2015. Warren, a Southern Baptist, referred to the assembled cardinals, bishops and priests and the pope himself as “brothers.”

Dr. Elliott closed his talk with an encouragement for Christians not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed. We are to be outwardly what we are inwardly. This requires that Christians, “Never be afraid to admit it when you find yourself, or the church, deviating from Scripture in even the smallest point.”

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Lutheran_RCCS Declaration

President of the Lutheran World Federation Bishop Munib Younan, left, conspires with Pope Francis, right, to overthrow the Reformation at a service in Lund Lutheran cathedral , October 31, 2016 (L’Osservatore Romano/AP)

 

You say you want a Reformation? Well, according to a recently released Pew Research Center survey of Western Europe and the US, many Protestants answer “Not so much.” Here are a few key findings:

  • About half of U.S. Protestants (52%) say both good deeds and faith in God are needed to get into heaven, a historically Catholic position. The other half (42%) say that faith alone is needed to attain salvation.
  • U.S. Protestants also are split on another issue that played a key role in the Reformation: 46% say the Bible provides all the religious guidance Christians need, a traditionally Protestant belief known as sola scriptura. But 52% say Christians should look for guidance from church teachings and traditions as well as from the Bible, the position held by the Catholic Church.
  • Just 30% of all U.S. Protestants affirm both sola fide and sola scriptura.
  • In nearly all of the European countries surveyed, majorities or pluralities of both Catholics and Protestants adhere to the traditionally Catholic view that both faith and good works are necessary to attain salvation. In fact, in every country except Norway (where 51% of Protestants say salvation comes through faith alone), belief in sola fide is a minority view even among Protestants.

The results of this survey, though disappointing, are hardly surprising. The Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy among Presbyterians in first half of the 20th century ended with the liberal social gospelers seizing control of the mainline Presbyterian church and the subsequent purging of those who believed the Bible. Other Protestant denominations experienced upheavals. As a result, where Protestant churches once spoke with one voice on the critical issues of the source of authority in the church (scripture alone) and the means of justification (justification is by faith alone), Protestant witness has become greatly confused.

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epic-failNow that convention season is upon us and the thoughts of many are tuned politics, specifically to the party conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia, it seemed good to discuss the relationship between Evangelical Christians and the political process.

For some time now, really since the end of WWII and the rise of the neo-evangelicalism, American Evangelicals have worked assiduously to influence the culture, oftentimes through the political process.

Growing up, I recall the rise of the Christian right during the 1970’s. Led by such figures as the Moral Majority’s Jerry Falwell and Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum, the Christian right promised to push back on the radical cultural changes that had rocked the nation during the 1960’s.

And now after several decades of Evangelical politicking by these and other groups, it’s fair to ask, Just what have they accomplished? Is our nation more moral, or better still, is America more Christian than it was forty years ago? Is there greater respect in 2016 for the rule of law, for private property, for public morality than before the rise of the Christian right?

The answer to these questions is, I believe, obviously no. In fact, it seems to me, that not only has the religious right failed to reverse the tide of national decline – and make no mistake about it, the US and the entirety of Western Civilization is in the midst of what appears to be terminal decline – but that things actually are far worse now than they were before the term “religious right” entered the mainstream of public discourse.

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