Posts Tagged ‘Catholicism’
By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times
For those who are not aware of the Catholic Church’s New Evangelization program, let me provide a brief overview. The Catholic Church plans to establish the kingdom of God on earth and win the world to the Catholic Jesus (i.e., the Eucharistic Christ). This will be accomplished when the world (including the separated brethren) comes under the rule and reign of Rome and this Eucharistic Jesus.
The Eucharistic Jesus is supposedly Christ’s presence that a Catholic priest summons through the power of transubstantiation, the focal point of the Mass. Many Christians believe the Christian tradition of communion is the same as the Catholic tradition of the Eucharist. But this is not so. The Eucharist (i.e., transubstantiation) is a Catholic term for communion when the bread and the wine are said to be transformed into the very body and blood of Jesus Christ. The Catholic Catechism states:
In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.”1
The host is then placed in what is called a monstrance and can then be worshiped as if worshiping Jesus Himself. The implications are tied directly to salvation itself. With the Eucharist, salvation becomes sacramental (participation in a ritual) as opposed to justification by faith in Christ alone, described in Galatians 2:16. While this mystical experience is a form of idolatry (as well as the very heart of Catholicism), there is a growing interest by evangelical Christians in this practice, particularly by the emerging church.
The Catholic Church leadership, concerned with apathy for the Eucharist within the Catholic ranks, is hoping to “rekindle the amazement”2 of the Eucharist through what is called their “New Evangelization program.”3 With a two-fold purpose–to keep present Catholics and to bring evangelicals into the Catholic Church–church leadership has a plan to re-emphasize the Eucharist as the focus of the Catholic faith. By saying “rekindle the amazement,” they mean bring out the mystical, supernatural element of the Eucharist.
All Catholics are expected to worship the host (Eucharistic Adoration of the transformed wafer), and church leadership says it is anathema (to be accursed) to reject this teaching.
While it is true that during the Reformation and Counter Reformation, many who refused to believe in transubstantiation were tortured and executed for their faith in the Gospel, time has a way of forgetting the facts of history.
In April of 2003, the pope wrote an encyclical promoting the “New Evangelization” program for the purpose of “rekindling amazement” for the Eucharist.4 Then in October of 2004, John Paul II initiated “The Year of the Eucharist” as part of his evangelistic plan to bring the world to the Eucharistic Christ. Following his death in April of 2005, Pope Benedict XVI picked up Pope John Paul’s mission immediately. He called the “faithful to intensify” devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus, and said the Eucharist is the “heart of Christian life.”5
The New Evangelization program plans to revitalize the Catholic faith by reigniting strong interest in the Eucharistic Jesus. It is not just the pope who is enthusiastic about this–cardinals, bishops, and priests all over the world are joining in to help with the mission. Something very significant is happening. Eucharistic adoration is becoming the foundation for the new evangelization of the Catholic Church.
In speaking of the pope’s view on the Eucharist, Protestant-turned Catholic Scott Hahn states:
The coming of Jesus Christ – what the Greek New Testament calls his “parousia” – is not simply some far-off event. It is his presence in the Eucharist. Fundamentalists reduce the meaning of “parousia” to Christ’s coming at the end of time; but for the first century Greek speakers the word meant “presence.” Catholic theology holds on to that original meaning.6
The presence of Christ in the Eucharist is the Second Coming Catholic style. Unfortunately, many evangelical Protestants are not even aware of this.
While Eucharistic adoration contradicts biblical Christianity, a growing number of popular evangelicals (especially those leaning toward emerging spiritualities) seem to find no offense in such a doctrine. And with the increased acceptance of mysticism and an attraction to imagery within evangelical circles, it only makes sense that many evangelical Christians find nothing wrong with the Eucharist and Eucharistic adoration. Such acceptance, however, is neutralizing former evangelical resistance to all things Catholic.
In Doug Pagitt’s book Church Re-imagined, he describes his initial attraction to rituals associated with the Eucharist:
The first day of Lent this year brought the first Ash Wednesday gathering in our church’s history and in mine…. Until this point, Ash Wednesday had not been part of my Christian faith experience. Not only had I never applied ashes to anyone’s forehead, but I had also never had them applied to mine. After this experience I wondered how I could have celebrated 19 Easters as a Christian without this tremendous experience.7
Scot McKnight, another emerging church influencer and the author of The Real Mary and The Jesus Creed, in referring to an Anglican service, McKnight speaks of the Eucharistic focus. He states:
[T]he point of an Anglican gathering on a Sunday morning is not to hear a sermon but to worship the Lord through the celebration of the Eucharist… First some scripture readings and then the sermon and then some announcements and then the Eucharist liturgy–with everyone coming forward to kneel and participateâ€”publicly–in the body and blood.8
McKnight says that “the Eucharist profoundly enables the grace of God to be received with all its glories and blessings.”9 No doubt, McKnight will have an impact on those in the emerging church movement, and his views on the Eucharist will rub off. He has been a popular speaker at many events including Willow Creek’s Small Group Conference and the National Pastors Convention. Both of these events have reached the “postmodern” generation.
The late Robert Webber was very influential in closing the gap between Eucharistic adoration and the evangelical church. A document he authored called “A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future” states: “We call for a renewed consideration of how God ministers to us in … Eucharist.”10 Two well-known evangelical publishers, Baker Books and InterVarsity Press (both of which now publish emerging church authors) sponsored the document as did Christianity Today. The AEF, which the document is called, is endorsed by various emerging church leaders such as Brian McLaren who calls it “a preaching resource” that “emphasize[s] the importance … of Advent or Lent.”11
Participants of the AEF include numerous Christian seminaries like Bethel Seminary in Minnesota, Dallas Theological Seminary, and pastors from many different denominations including Nazarene, Wesleyan, Mennonite, Reformed, and Baptist.
To those who traditionally haven’t had much ritual in their lives (i.e., Protestants), the ambience of the Mass would have great appeal because of its religious novelty – thus the interest in the Eucharist by those who promote contemplative spirituality. And for many Catholics, the Mass (where the Eucharist is presented), in, and of itself, is not a mystical experience. However if the contemplative dimension is added, one actually can enter the mystical realm. On the surface, this phenomenon seems complex, but once we begin to understand mysticism, it all makes sense. Within the contemplative prayer realm, the meditator is actually getting in touch with a spiritual power or force. Combining the tradition of the Eucharist, which appeals to many raised in the Catholic Church, with the relatively recent explosion of contemplative practice, the Catholic Church sees this as a way to recover its robust state of previous decades.
Right now, some may be asking, is the physical presence of Jesus held inside the elements of the Eucharist? Or as some evangelicals and emergents have suggested, is there a special presence and power in the Eucharist? The answer to both is a resounding no! Jesus Christ indwells the heart of every person who is born again and who belongs to Him by faith through grace. He promises never to leave or forsake us, meaning that His presence is in our lives at all times. We are not required to partake in a ritual to experience His presence, nor is He confined in benign, lifeless wafers and wine (or juice). As Jesus said:
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit [spiritual as opposed to physical], and they are life. (John 6:63, emphasis added)
Jesus said this in response to his disciples’ confusion over His statement “my flesh is meat indeed” (vs. 55). Paul adds further clarity in writing to the Romans that all we need to do is call upon the true Jesus, and He is there:
But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:8-13)
At this point, we see the great chasm that separates Catholicism from the light of the Gospel – a light the reformers saw, for which many of them gave their lives. They recognized that participation in the sacraments is not what saves people.
The Catholic’s New Evangelization is no small issue. Darkness has fallen over the Christian church the same way an avalanche sweeps down a mountain. Every day new unsuspecting victims are being swept away and buried. And the role the emerging church plays in bringing this about is something that should alarm every discerning Christian.
To read more about the emerging church, read Roger Oakland’s expose, Faith Undone.
1. Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 1374, page 383.6
2. H. J. Schroeder, The Canons and Decrees of The Council of Trent (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, 1978), page 79, Canon 1.
3. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, “The New Evangelization” (http://www.ewtn.com/new_evangelization/Ratzinger.htm).
4. Zenit: The World Seen From Rome, “Why the Pope Would Write an Encyclical on the Eucharist: To Rekindle Amazement,” cited April 17, 2003, http://www.zenit.org.
5. “Pope Benedict calls on faithful to intensify devotion to Eucharistic Jesus,” http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=3686.
6. Interview with Scott Hahn, “Eucharist in the Pontificate of Benedict XVI” (Pontifications, June 12, 2005, http://web.archive.org/web/20070209234229/http://catholica.pontifications.net/?p=940).
7. Doug Pagitt, Church Re-Imagined, p. 103.
8. Scot McKnight, “An Anglican Service” (Jesus Creed blog, http://www.jesuscreed.org/?p=2258 – link no longer online).
9. Scot McKnight, Turning to Jesus, (Louisville, KY: Westminister John Knox Press, 2002 edition), p. 7.
10. Robert Webber, “A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future” (Online at: http://www.aefcall.org/read.html.
11. Brian McLaren, “The AEF Document as a Preaching Resource” (From the AEF Call website: http://www.aefcall.org/documents/TheAEFDocumentasaPreachingResource_000.doc).
Hello Lighthouse Trails:
I am wondering if you can help me out here. I have been a long-time financial supporter of Voice of the Martyrs and each Sunday I try sending an encouraging postcard to a persecuted Christian somewhere (from their prison letter writing list). Imagine my shock when last Sunday one of the prisoners profiled in Voice of the Martyrs prisoner list was a Catholic “Father” in Vietnam!! Catholics were responsible for many Protestant deaths over the centuries!! I am deeply concerned about this and plan to terminate my financial support with them and switch to Open Doors (or some Protestant organization which supports the persecuted church); however I want to research this a bit more. I vaguely recall you once had an article about VOM concerning this and am wondering if you could kindly forward this to me? Also what can you tell me about your version of Foxe Book of the Martyr’s vs the VOM version?
Thank you in advance, John (not real name)
In 2010, Lighthouse Trails posted this article, “Concern Expressed Over Voice of the Martyrs Article on Mystic Madame Jeanne Guyon” and this one: “Voice of the Martyrs Responds to Lighthouse Trails Readers.” And in 2011, we posted these articles: “Letter to Tom White of Voice of the Martyrs” and “Lighthouse Trails Regretfully No Longer Carrying Voice of the Martyrs Materials.”
In response to your concern about VOM including the name of a Catholic priest on their August prisoner list, we share your concerns. We do not say that people who are Catholics should not be defended if they are being cruelly persecuted and imprisoned; however an organization like Voice of the Martyrs has built its reputation of being an advocate for evangelical and Protestant Christians. Many of the people who have donated money to the organization would not have done it had they known of VOM’s ecumenism. As the letter to the editor above points out, the historical Catholic church was responsible for the deaths of untold numbers of believers who would not bow to the heresies of the papacy (in particularly the Eucharist – that Christ is in a wafer that should be worshiped). See our article “Mrs. Prest – She Said No to Apostasy and Became a Martyr” as one example. So it seems strange that an organization that stands for persecuted Christians would in any way pay homage to Roman Catholicism which, by its very belief system (I.e., it is anathema to not embrace the Eucharistic sacraments), persecutes Christians.
In answer to the question about Lighthouse Trails’ edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs versus the VOM edition, here is our statement on why we were compelled to publish our own edition:
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was first published over five hundred years ago. Today, there are many editions of this book available. When Lighthouse Trails decided to start offering this book to our readers, we began our search for a suitable edition. Much to our dismay, we discovered that many of the current editions were compromised in one form or another. For example, in one edition (ironically, published by an advocacy group for persecuted Christians), front page endorsements included the names of those who promote contemplative spirituality and/or the emerging church. When one realizes that contemplative/emerging spirituality embraces some of the very same beliefs that Foxe’s martyrs opposed to the point of suffering cruel persecution and death, it is most troubling and misleading to see these names in the cover of an edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.
In another edition we reviewed, the book was among a special set of “Christian classics.” We were once again perplexed to see that some of the other books in that series were written by contemplative mystics.
And yet another edition, published by a secular publisher, advertised mystical and occult practices on the back cover.
Finally, after an unsuccessful search, Lighthouse Trails decided to publish our own edition of this truly incredible and unforgettable account.
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3: 17
Worth noting, in John Foxe’s original Book of Martyrs, Foxe wrote much about the persecution from the Catholic church. But in some of today’s editions, you will find stories of this papal persecution omitted.
In closing, there are many wonderful Christian organizations that are helping the poor, needy, and persecuted that are standing firm in the faith and not compromising the Gospel set forth in Scripture. We hope you and other LT readers will seek out these groups and consider supporting them.
Thank you for your letter.
Editors at Lighthouse Trails
By Roger Oakland
From Understand the Times, International
- July 16 – Gov’t Bureau ‘Creating a Google Earth on Every Financial Transaction,’ Senator Warns
- July 16 – Vatican offers ‘time off purgatory’ to followers of Pope Francis tweets
- July 16 – Russia holds biggest war games in decades
- News Alert – July 17 – Why millions of Muslims are seeing apparitions of the Mother Mary
- July 12 – Pentagon: Iran will soon have nuclear missiles capable of striking US
- July 15 – Controversial New ‘Religion That Embraces All Religions’
Castles in the Sand by Carolyn A. Greene is a story based on true facts and addresses the fast growing contemplative prayer movement within the evangelical/Protestant church. The story is about a 21st century Christian college girl who is introduced to the writings of a 15th century mystic girl, Teresa of Avila in her Spiritual Formation class. Teresa of Avila is one of the ancient mystics to whom modern day contemplatives turn. For example, Richard Foster includes her in Devotional Classics, Sanctuary of the Soul, and Longing for God. We think when you read this chapter of Castles in the Sand, you will see how the spiritual practices of Teresa of Avila line up with the occult but not with biblical Christianity. If you didn’t get a chance to read chapter one when we posted it, here it is again: (chapter one). Below is an excerpt to chapter two with a link to the entire chapter.
Castles in the Sand
Spain, circa 1533
The pale, shivering girl was vaguely aware of being lifted onto a clean sheet and covered with a dry blanket. When she opened her eyes, a blurry face hovered above her. The girl’s head was pounding, and nausea swept over her in waves. Slowly, she pulled herself upright on the narrow straw mattress. Suddenly, she cried out with alarm as her big brown eyes continued to stare vacantly.
“Run, Rodrigo! He’s found us! Run!”
“Sister Juana, she’s burning up with the malaria,” Teresa heard a young nun say as she was gently laid back down. Someone was dabbing her forehead with a cool, wet cloth. As if from afar, she recognized the voices of the two nuns who stood at the foot of her bed, praying their rosaries.
Her pulse faint, her breath shallow, the feverish girl closed her eyes, as her memory drifted back to her past, beginning with when she was just seven years old . . .
Holding her little brother’s hand, she ran with him as fast as their little legs could carry them, and they made it past the city gate. Suddenly, she felt a large, strong hand grabbing her by the shoulder, abruptly ending their flight. Her uncle had caught up with them.
“Come now, little Teresa, it’s time to go home. Your mother is anxious!” he said gently, as he dragged her and Rodrigo back home to their worried parents.
Safely home and tucked into her bed later that evening, she overheard the family members and servants talk late into the night.
“Whoever heard of a noble family having to send a search party into the streets for two precocious children–because of their vivid imaginations!”
“Who would put these foolish ideas into Teresa’s head?”
“What could possibly have inspired a seven-year-old girl to run away with her little brother, and to Morocco of all places?!”
“And to face certain martyrdom by beheading at the hands of the Moors!” blustered her irate uncle loudly.
“That is what she desired,” sighed another family member. “What do you expect of a child who reads too much?”
As Teresa grew older, only her father understood her love for books and the effect they had on her active imagination. She had inherited her passion for literature from her mother, who had spent many hours of the day in bed reading romance stories. She is so like her mother, her father frequently thought, smiling to himself. He often found Teresa alone on the roof of the villa, reading books rather than watching over her younger sisters and brothers in the courtyard below. How she loved those fascinating stories of saints and martyrs.
Twelve-year-old Teresa was profoundly impacted by her mother’s tragic death. Her passing had left the young girl feeling emotionally raw and empty. Finally, in quiet desperation one evening, Teresa threw herself on the floor before an image of the Virgin Mary and pleaded with her, “Be my new mother.”
Her father kept a watchful eye on his daughter as her extreme devotion to the Mother Mary and her good intentions to live a devoted life eventually gave way to an interest in fashion, perfumes, and hairstyles. Before long, her passion for reading and writing romances was rekindled as her imagination and beauty blossomed. Concerned that Teresa had no mother to guard her virtue, Father sent her away to boarding school at the Augustinian convent. After all, his lovely daughter was attracting the attention of far too many young men.
The first week at the convent was most dreadful for a girl accustomed to the fineries of life. But she soon decided that the harsh conditions served some practical use. At least she was being provided with an education, which was certainly preferable to looking after siblings, she reasoned. Click here to read the rest of chapter 2.
Question: Who first used the term “America’s Pastor” with regard to Rick Warren?
Answer: The earliest we can date that phrase attributed to Rick Warren is 2005 in an article written by The Nation titled “Rick Warren, America’s Pastor.” Just a few months before that article was written, Time magazine came out with their “25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America.” Rick Warren was at the top of the list. His book, The Purpose Driven Life, had come out in the fall of 2002. Thus, it took less than three years from that best-selling release for Rick Warren to be dubbed “America’s Pastor.”
And Now the Rest of the Story: It is interesting to note that in the 2005 Nation article, Warren’s speaking engagement at the Pew Forum on Religion in 2005 was mentioned. Lighthouse Trails is very familiar with that talk Warren gave at Pew. It was in that talk that Warren told the audience he was hoping for a “second Reformation.” He explained his vision for this reformation:
Who’s the man of peace in any village – or it might be a woman of peace – who has the most respect, they’re open and they’re influential? They don’t have to be a Christian. In fact, they could be a Muslim, but they’re open and they’re influential and you work with them to attack the five giants. And that’s going to bring the second Reformation.1 (see full transcript of Warren’s talk at Pew)
Lighthouse Trails has always contended that a “second Reformation” (which implies this is a reformation from God) that would include those from other religions would not actually be a reformation from God. An interspiritual, interfaith reformation falls more in line with biblical prophecy and a one-world religion that would be a platform for the last days Anti-Christ.
Similarly, in an interview between anchor Charlie Rose and Rick Warren on August 17, 2006 (CBS removed the video in 2013), Rick Warren expanded his “second reformation” vision to include homosexuals. He said he just met with the President of the homosexual-activist group ACT UP, and asked him, “Eric [Sawyer], how can I help you get your message out?” Sawyer answered, “Use your moral authority.” Warren then said to Rose, “I’m working with these guys … I’m looking for a coalition of civility, which means let’s get back to the original meaning of tolerance.”2
In the interview with Charlie Rose and Warren, they discuss the Purpose Driven Life paradigm and its relation to Christianity in North America and around the world. Here are a few of the comments on that interview:
1. Rick Warren states there are over 2 billion Christians in the world, and says that this number includes hundreds of millions of Catholics.
2. Warren said that, with regard to his book, “I couldn’t figure out why it became such a phenomena. I think now it was because God wanted to provide a platform for these other issues we care about.” (Warren’s 5 global giants)
3. “I’ve been taking people, irreligious people, people with no background in any kind of faith or they haven’t been to church or synagogue or temple in forty years … and we take them where they need to be…. My goal is to move the American church [away] from self-centered consumerism.
The interview showed very clearly Warren’s dream to see Christians and Catholics join together, stating that “minor doctrinal differences” should not keep them separated. “What I am interested in is bringing the church together … we are never going to agree on a lot of things, but I found we do agree on purpose.” He talked about the purposes that all Catholics and Protestants agree on.
In a Christianity Today article in 2005, it stated:
“Personal computers have brand names. But inside every pc is an Intel chip and an operating system, Windows,” [Rick]Warren says. “The Purpose Driven paradigm is the Intel chip for the 21st-century church and the Windows system of the 21st-century church.” – Rick Warren, Christianity Today, October 2005
Rick Warren rose up quickly to become “America’s Pastor.” Over 400,000 churches worldwide followed him, with untold numbers still going down the Purpose Driven path.
At the Pew Forum in 2005, Rick Warren said something that was quite revealing:
You know, 500 years ago, the first Reformation with Luther and then Calvin, was about beliefs. I think a new reformation is going to be about behavior. The first Reformation was about creeds [doctrine]; I think this one will be about deeds. I think the first one was about what the church believes; I think this one will be about what the church does. The first Reformation actually split Christianity into dozens and then hundreds of different segments. I think this one is actually going to bring them together.”–Rick Warren, Pew Forum on Religion
Thank you so much for the information that you have been providing my husband and I for the past several years. It is thanks to Lighthouse Trails that we were able to warn members of our church leadership about contemplative spirituality which was making its way into our church.
Several months back, an associate pastor gave a message on “having closeness with God” which was fine, but then at the end of his message, he said something about “the silence,” requesting from the pulpit that the “lights be dimmed,” and then had the entire congregation practice a moment of slowed breathing, “focusing” and “contemplation” . . . Needless to say, in spite of wanting to bolt for the doors, my husband and I sat there praying aloud (!) for God’s protection over our congregation.
Immediately following his message and “prayer time,” we got with that same associate pastor and then privately shared with him a condensed version of what we’d learned about contemplative spirituality: its roots in the occult, in Buddhism and its ties to Catholic mystics (since he had mentioned a number of Catholic “scholars” in his message). After patiently listening to us, he told us we were wrong. He animatedly told us that there was SO much to be learned from the Catholic faith, that contemplative prayer was actually a good thing and that it wasn’t out of the occult at all!
We were deeply saddened to hear him say that and even discussed leaving the church. After praying about it however, we felt that God would have us stay there. So out of obedience, instead of leaving, we alerted our church elders and senior pastor about it and shared with them the MANY booklets that we have ordered from Lighthouse Trails regarding contemplative spirituality and the emerging church. (Keep in mind, this was a four-month process, so much prayer and dogged determination was required. The end result is that it paid off.)
The happy ending to this story is that this past Sunday, an Elder came up to my husband and I and point blank told us that regarding “all that New Age material (we’d) shared,” we were not to worry – that this “contemplative spirituality/false teaching” was in “NO WAY going to enter here.” He thanked us profusely for alerting church leadership and giving the Elders all that LTRP info.
I realize in planting seed, we don’t always get to see the fruits of our labor so I thought LTRP might enjoy this report. Thank you, Lighthouse Trails, for all the materials you share. Keep it up.
In His Service with Our Eyes Wide Open,
By Daniel Burke
(CNN) – Pope Francis said a “gay lobby” exists inside the Vatican, a surprising disclosure from a pope who has already delivered his share of stunners, and a resurrection of church conflicts that had bedeviled his predecessor’s papacy.
“In the Curia,” Francis said, referring to Catholicism’s central bureaucracy, “there are holy people. But there is also a stream of corruption.”
“The ‘gay lobby’ is mentioned, and it is true, it is there,” Francis continued. “We need to see what we can do.”
Hints that the Holy See contained a network of gay clergy surfaced last year in reports about a series of embarrassing leaks to Italian journalists.
The “Vatileaks” scandal factored in Pope Emeritus Benedict XIV’s shocking decision to resign earlier this year, according to some church experts, as it impressed upon the 86-year-old pontiff that the modern papacy requires a vigorous and watchful presence. Click here to continue reading.