October 31, 2017 -- just another chance to go out "Trick or Treating?"
NOPE. We're talking the 500th anniversary of the GREAT REFORMATION.
Though a number of issues sparked the birth of "Protestantism," one rises above them all:
What, exactly, IS the GOSPEL of SALVATION through Jesus Christ?
How can I know FOR CERTAIN I will go straight to Heaven to be forever with the Lord when I've breathed my last on earth?
In 1517, the difference was CLEAR AS CRYSTAL.
The DIVIDE between Catholics and Protestants was great and undeniable over this one, ETERNALLY crucial issue!
In 2017, many say that divide no longer exists. Others say it was really "just semantics" the whole time.
Since Vatican II (1961-1965), there has been a major, STRATEGIC effort on the part of the Roman Catholic Church towards ECUMENISM (all churches joining together as one . . . under the headship of the pope of Rome).
Believe me, it's no secret. It's all laid out in the Documents of Vatican II, for anyone who cares to read it.
Since then, Roman Catholic leaders have been highly intentional about SOUNDING more and more "evangelical" in the language they use. The Catholic Encyclopedia calls it "Missionary Adaptation."
A MAJOR effort to reach out to the "separated brethren" (Protestants) and draw them back into the fold of the "Mother Church."
They've been remarkably successful.
Yet, the very first thing settled at Vatican II was: "the sacred doctrine" of the R.C.C. is not to be changed or attenuated (diminished); not one iota!
In terms of its core values and doctrine, the motto of the Catholic Church has always been: "Semper Eadem" (Latin: "forever the same").
If the R.C.C. hasn't budged, and Evangelicals and Catholics now "agree;" who HAS moved??
It certainly behooves us to be informed (uh, understatement of the century!). There's a WHOLE lot more at stake here than just "a history lesson."
After all, what could be more critically important than knowing, "WHAT MUST I DO (or NOT do) TO BE SAVED???"
THINGS THAT ARE DIFFERENT.
They call that a "tautology:" a needless repetition.
I mean, c'mon!
The very definition of " different" IS "not the same!"
Major "well, DUH!"
You may be shocked to know how many, MANY people today are unashamedly telling us (some pretending, others truly believing!) that things that are very, VERY different really ARE "one and the same!"
Last week, a Roman Catholic monk was Convocation speaker at Liberty University.
Not only that.
He was evidently a big hit!
So. Read on.
Disclaimer: I have Roman Catholic friends out there, whom I dearly LOVE and would not hurt or offend for the world. To them I say, if I am out of line, please forgive me. If I am wrong, please correct me. If we need to talk, please contact me.
I've studied the Bible for over 30 years. I've studied Roman Catholicism for at least 26. For a time, I took the Knights of Columbus course on Catholic doctrine. A Catholic priest graded my tests (straight "A's"). I have my own copies of the New Universal Catechism (1994), the Documents of Vatican II and the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. I have checked and rechecked my facts.
Still, I admit I am very capable of error.
I do promise you what is posted here is motivated by LOVE.
Disclaimer #2: I actually do not see myself as either a "Protestant" or "Reformed."
I hope I can count myself a Biblicist. I firmly believe the doctrine I hold PREDATES the Protestant Reformation by centuries (about FIFTEEN centuries, actually!).
And that doctrine has its source, NOT in the teachings of Luther, or Melancthon, or Zwingli, or Calvin, but in Christ and the Holy Bible.
Still, I heartily applaud the Reformers for living out the courage of their convictions (THAT'S a rare bird in OUR day, and no mistake!).
And for their insistence on Grace ALONE, through Faith ALONE, in Christ ALONE, with the Bible ALONE as their authority (Romans 3:24-28; 4:3-5; 11:6 KJV).
Disclaimer #3: I very much appreciate and endorse David Cloud's clear and excellent delineation of the Roman Catholic way of Salvation through the sacraments of the R.C. church. Unfortunately, I can't give the same enthusiastic endorsement to his instructions on how to have true Biblical salvation. I simply can't agree that "repentance from our sins" is a condition God requires for eternal life. Even as there is "no hint of sacramentalism," neither is "repenting from sin" so much as mentioned throughout the entire Gospel of John, a book which David Cloud rightly says was written for the "express purpose of leading men to eternal life" (John 20:31).
About 150 times in the New Testament, the sole condition for eternal life is simply "BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 16:31) or "BELIEVE on the Name of the Son of God" (John1:12; 3:14-16, 18, 36; 6:47). If "repentance from our sins" were an additional requirement, I believe so many such passages, which don't mention that at all, would be greatly misleading.
Repenting of our sins is something we are not even able to do in our fallen state, "dead in sins" (Jeremiah 13:23; Romans 3:10-18; 5:6; Ephesians 2:1-3). This is precisely why we need a Savior so absolutely and so desperately.
A true repentance (which simply means "change of mind") is actually INCORPORATED in the idea of "believe" in John's gospel. But it is a "change of mind" in the sense that we need to acknowledge and own our sin. We need to change our minds from the idea that we are okay in ourselves without God, and acknowledge that we are helpless sinners, in abject need of God's grace, and then see Christ as God's gracious answer to that need.
Viva la Difference!