In This Issue
WHEN PRINTING: To print this e-newsletter, go to the online version (see link at top of page), and click the green Print button near the top. There will be an option to remove all images. Also if the PDF format doesn't format well for you, just use the regular print option after you click the green Print button. We have recently improved this feature so that the font size is larger.
If you like this e-newsletter that you are reading, you might also like the Lighthouse Trails Research Journal: Our low-cost subscription-based print journal is mailed out to homes, churches, and offices 6 times a year. The 32-page journal contains the most important stories from our e-newsletter from the previous 8 weeks and also other features. You may wish to receive that in addition to this free e-newsletter. You can sign up any time during the year for the print journal. You can also buy individual or past issues here. Many people have now signed up for the print journal, and we are getting very favorable feedback that the journal is most beneficial. For common questions about the journal, click here. See a sample issue here.
Note: Because we are a research ministry, we do post news articles from various secular and Christian sources along with our own in-house articles if we believe our readers can benefit from the information. We also post video clips from YouTube at times. Also please note, any advertising on YouTube videos is not in any way connected to Lighthouse Trails and is beyond our control, but we make every effort to use only video clips that have no obscene or vulgar content including in advertising.
*Photos used in this e-newsletter that are not exclusive to Lighthouse Trails are either 1) in the public domain, 2) used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act, 3) or are from bigstockphoto.com unless otherwise mentioned; used with permission.
|“Jesuit Magazine Makes ‘Catholic Case for Communism’”
LTRP Note: The following article is posted for informational and research purposes.
By Thomas D. Williams
In “The Catholic Case for Communism,” America writer Dean Dettloff says that the militant atheism of Marxist politics is “understandable” because “Christianity has so often been a force allied to the ruling powers that exploit the poor.”
As a number of prospective presidential candidates from the Democrat party are openly donning the mantle of socialism, America took the issue one step further, suggesting that the negative reaction to “Bernie Sanders’s inspiring 2016 primary bid and the electoral success of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib” represents a “revival of socialist hysteria.” . . .
Mr. Dettloff evidently believes that over 100 million deaths in the 20th century can be reduced to “great human and ecological suffering” caused by the Marxist ideology being an “unfinished project.” Click here to continue reading.
A Jesuit Pope? Understanding The Jesuit Agenda and the Evangelical/Protestant Church by Roger Oakland
The Dangerous Truth About the Social-Justice “Gospel” by Mary Danielsen
Deceit, Delusion, and the Destruction of America by Berit Kjos
(Photo from bigstockphoto.com used with permission; used in Mary Danielsen’s booklet The Dangerous Truth About the Social-Justice Gospel)
|A Berean Exercise: “Christian” Magazines
By T.A. McMahon
The Berean Call
A staff member handed me a couple of the latest magazine issues we received in order to review them. They were Christianity Today (CT) and Charisma Magazine (CM). We subscribe to them in order to keep up to date regarding teachings that are being disseminated throughout Christendom. In general they are representative of seemingly diverse Christian theological positions. CT was founded by Billy Graham and has been described as “a mainstream evangelical magazine.” Its beginnings were conservative, doctrinally, and Graham was considered an icon of fundamentalism. Not too long afterward, however, he began praising modernists (Christian liberals of that day) and involving them in his crusades. His later crusades included Roman Catholic priests and nuns as counselors who were to direct those Catholics who responded to Graham’s message back to their Catholic churches! Those seeds have produced the Christianity Today of our day. It is unabashedly liberal and pro-Catholic, which underscores its ongoing disregard of biblical Christianity.
Charisma Magazine has been described as “the main magazine of the Charismatic Movement.” Unlike CT, it hasn’t grown from the seeds of doctrinal changes. Its errors of hyper-charismatic beliefs were in place from the beginning of its publishing in the mid-1970s. Click here to continue reading.
The “Spiritual” Truth Behind Alcoholics Anonymous—And Why Christians Should Think Twice About Joining A.A.by John Lanagan
The “Regeneration of the Churches” – An Occult Dream Come True by Ray Yungen
|Comments From Our Readers
The following are some of the comments that came in this past two weeks from our readers regarding articles posted on our blog. If you would like to post a comment to one of our articles, you may do so at the blog. You only need to give your first name. We would be grateful to hear from you, and such feedback is helpful for others. You can also post comments on the Lighthouse Trails Research Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LighthouseTrailsResearch.
Letter to the Editor: Calvary Chapel, Calvinism (And Created to Choose and Reason) : It is best to take each Calvary Chapel on it’s own. Our church, Calvary Chapel of Paso Robles CA is sola scriptura, not in any way following the current “rages” of Contemplative Prayer, Calvinism, emerging church etc., etc. ad nauseam Book by book, verse by verse. Solid Bible teaching. We’re a very small congregation but clearly, numbers are not indicative of or lack there of, the presence of God. Bill
"Jesuit Magazine Makes ‘Catholic Case for Communism’": This is such a timely and important article! Thanks so much for it. We need to know what is happening in every quarter so we know how to pray and find out from the Lord what He would have us do. Thanks too for linking Berit Kjos’ fine article on this topic. Although it’s a few years old, it is timely as well, because socialism/communism has reared its ugly head and has done this so suddenly that it has caught a lot of people off guard. Kjos gives the historical chronology of creeping socialism in America. It is very important for us to see this. The Lord has led me, without my even knowing about them beforehand, to read some autobiographies of some very famous Americans, and I’ve been astonished to learn that many of them were/have been closet socialists/communists, very active in activist groups behind the scenes, giving huge sums of money to the cause. It has been sadly interesting to see how many of them were/have been affiliated with Bill and Hillary Clinton. Her close association with Saul Alinsky was not widely known during the 2016 election, but that was a hugely important part of the overall picture, and now it has grown far beyond them. Every American needs to know all about this. C.W.
The Deeper Teaching About "the Self" - The Delusion - Part 2: Great article! It really sums up what Carl Teichrib is telling us in his book, Game of Gods. He goes into great detail from almost every conceivable angle as to how this is all shaping up now in the world. And it is accelerating rapidly now. “Climate change” propaganda, according to a BBC article I just read this morning, is putting it all into fast forward mode now. Literally thrusting it into high gear and endeavoring to force the changes upon us that they believe are necessary to thwart the “imminent disaster our planet is headed for”. They now have a goal of “doing something about it” in 18 months as opposed to the 12 year time constraint goal they had been pushing up until now. This is all a push to usher in world government. The hour is late. The “churches” are ripe to be absorbed into the “oneism” religion as they take on more and more political correctness in their position on everything the NWO dictates is necessary to fit in. It is truly about “self worship” but also a multi-faceted monstrous spirituality that is taking shape which includes worship of the earth. It is really anything but Biblical Christianity. Thank you Mr. Randles for putting so succinctly in your article! Heidi
Reminder: What Lighthouse Trails Believes About Israel and the Jews: I”m not surprised that many Christians are turning against Israel,The word of God says that the whole world would be against them.Personally i do not have anything against them i know that they need Jesus and i just pray for them. God Bless. John
"Amazon Pulls Books by Authors Who Once Identified as Gay, Lesbian": Sad, but true. And it WILL get worse. But the truly fascinating thing to watch is how progressives, liberals, etc handle this (excuses, denial, blame-shifting, etc).
Banning Books = Book Burning
Before they were for book burning they were against it. "M"
"Amazon Pulls Books by Authors Who Once Identified as Gay, Lesbian": So, clearly, Amazon (always at the center of some liberal issue), believes it’s impossible to turn one’s life around, to reject same-sex “attractions,” to find hope when hopeless. Bottom line? They’re pushing the homosexual agenda at all costs and they are probably of the ignorant “born this way” brigade. John J.
"Amazon Pulls Books by Authors Who Once Identified as Gay, Lesbian": The way the country is going apostate,
perrilous times are here. 2nd tim 3-1-5. Chas
An Overlooked Reason For “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” Author Josh Harris’ Departure From the Christian Faith: This scripture comes to mind from 1 Timothy 3:6 speaking about choosing leaders in the church “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” Josh Harris gained popularity as a “leader “ because of his books when he was just a young man. I think it spoiled him and put him in a leadership role before he was able to bear it. Sadly for him and his family it has become a shipwreck. Cheryl
An Overlooked Reason For “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” Author Josh Harris’ Departure From the Christian Faith: Downward slides start with small things. As someone who has left the Christian church, I won't give up my bible nor stop looking for a church. This gentleman's disillusionment has caused him to stumble and fall; not only as he abandoned his marriage and family but also his church and now his faith. And there is an issue here that he was involved with and that is: "His announcement that he was stepping down and going to college came amid a scandal at Covenant Life wherein Harris and other Covenant Life pastors and leaders admitted to covering up a number of sexual abuses that had occurred in their church" (taken from article). When the seeds of deceit plant themselves deep into one's heart and then is covered up, God who is Holy and Faithful does not like secrets and Mr. Harris has been forced to open his up. And for me, I do know keeping secrets only kept me from growing as a Christian and still accepting the flaws of the Church - which is not a building, but is people who are human beings. Dorcas
An Overlooked Reason For “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” Author Josh Harris’ Departure From the Christian Faith: We need to pray for him to come to the Truth....so many are falling into deception, which leads into a hellish eternity.... Kathleen
"Jesuit Magazine Makes ‘Catholic Case for Communism’": More lies and more craziness! Communism has been "tried" enough to prove it is pure evil for crying out loud! Millions upon millions of deaths and starvation and gulags, and torture and you name it --it doesn't need to be "tried" again! And combined with a church with a very evil history with it's own tortures and burning at the stakes and etc just for not believing in transubstantiation or the RCC's "authority" over everything, is truly paving the way for a nightmare of astronomical proportions! Come quickly Lord Jesus!!!- C
An Overlooked Reason For “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” Author Josh Harris’ Departure From the Christian Faith: This article reveals a gross misunderstanding of Calvinism. Amy
The Deeper Teaching About "the Self" - The Delusion - Part 2:One of the most straightforward warnings about the global delusion that will damn souls. Catch your attention? Don
My Journey Out of Catholicism: Wow, what a story. I, too, was once a Catholic until I learned the truth that only Jesus could save me, that rituals were empty works. My experience has some similarities, in that when I left, I found so many problems in a good number of Protestant churches, from seeker sensitive, purpose driven, word of faith, new apostolic reformation, and some good old Catholic mysticism to boot. And, yes, don’t forget the churches that are now accepting of homosexuality and gay marriage. It still is a problem finding a church, to be honest, as I live in a rural area. I just thank the Lord for opening my eyes. Laura
CHECK OUT WARREN SMITH'S YOUTUBE CHANNEL WITH MANY OF HIS LECTURE VIDEOS. Be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel and receive e-mail alerts when new videos are posted.
|An Overlooked Reason For “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” Author Josh Harris’ Departure From the Christian Faith
“I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction,’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’ By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. . . . to the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church.”—Josh Harris (Instagram)
This month, the Christian world was rocked when Josh Harris, the author of the highly popular book on sexual purity, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, announced he was separating from his wife, recanting his Christian faith, and apologizing to the LGBT community for his former conservative views on sexuality.
The story has hit the headlines of both religious and secular news sources (e.g., Christianity Today, Newsweek, CNN, Washington Post, Charisma). While many Christians are scratching their heads trying to figure out how this could have happened with Harris (who became a husband, father, and pastor) amid offering possible reasons for this demise of faith, there is one reason we have not heard mentioned—Josh Harris’ Calvinism.
When Josh Harris was 21, his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, was published by Multnomah Books. The book hit the charts and has sold nearly a million copies. There are few evangelical Christians who haven’t heard of the book; and, in particular, it was read and embraced widely by Christian homeschooling families.
As Josh Harris describes in his 2010 book Dug Down Deep: Building Your Life on Truths That Last (also published by Multnomah), in his search for spiritual depth, he went from a seeker-friendly Willow Creek-associated church to a charismatic church, but neither of these gave him what he was looking for. Finally, he ended up under the mentorship of Calvinist pastor, C.J. Mahaney who planned to raise up Harris to eventually take his place as senior pastor of a large Calvinist reformed church (Covenant Life in Maryland). As Harris describes in his book Dug Down Deep, he plunged into extensive reading of numerous heavy-duty Calvinist reformed teachers, ones he thought would give him truths that would last.
At the age of 30, Harris did become the senior pastor of Mahaney’s reformed church. Harris remained pastor of Covenant Life until 2015 at which time he stepped down from being pastor telling his congregation he planned to attend college (Regent College in Vancouver, BC).1 His announcement that he was stepping down and going to college came amid a scandal at Covenant Life wherein Harris and other Covenant Life pastors and leaders admitted to covering up a number of sexual abuses that had occurred in their church.2
A Devastating Combination
Based on the information that Joshua Harris has given in his recent announcements and information he has provided in his books, we cannot know for sure how his recantation of his marriage and his faith came about. But one thing is for sure, Josh Harris was a Calvinist who attended an emergent college—and with regard to his Christian faith, it proved to be a devastating combination.
During Harris’ efforts to find spiritual meaning in his life, he landed in Calvinism, a belief system that does not present the picture of a God of love who loved the whole world so much that He sent His only Son to die for all. Rather, it presents a God who wants most people to go to Hell and who predestined a relatively small number of people to be the “elect” who would be saved; and as Calvinist figure A.W. Pink stated in his book, The Sovereignty of God, in describing Calvinism, no one can resist God’s will (meaning even Hitler must have done God’s will), which creates a God who wants evil things to happen, giving followers a fatalistic view of life and death. In short, God is portrayed as the author of sin, who predestinates most people to live sinful lives (of which they have no choice), and then punishes them eternally in Hell for His “good pleasure.”
Calvinism is growing in popularity by huge measures today. Many young people come into Calvinism because they see what appears to be a highly scholarly belief system and a supposed security for their salvation. And whether they admit it or not, it offers the elite elect something more than the rest of the world can ever have (let’s face it, it makes them feel special). However, once these young Calvinists discover the dark dismal truth about this Calvinistic “God” (thinking this is the God of the Bible), disillusionment and depression set in which results in a spiritual crisis. When this happens, they often choose (as we are witnessing today) one of two paths: some of them head into the Calvinist emergent camp (or as Calvinists call it, neo-Calvinism), and some of them walk away from the church altogether. Eventually, both groups end up in the same place—departed from the faith. Does such a tragedy happen to those in other unbiblical camps (such as a legalistic holiness system)? Absolutely. Extreme unbiblical doctrines lead followers away from truth, not to it.
Being Calvinist is dangerous enough, but when Josh Harris decided to attend Regent College, he picked one of the most emergent Christian schools out there. There, students become indoctrinated with the social-justice “Gospel,” contemplative spirituality (i.e., spiritual formation), and emergent ideology. If Joshua Harris had not already gone in this direction, attending Regent would accomplish this easily, and as we have learned at Lighthouse Trails from 17 years of research and study, the “fruit” of these unbiblical teachings is departure from biblical faith to believing in the god of this world and what he has to offer.
We realize that Josh Harris’ stepping down from the Christian faith is most likely multi-faceted, both in the personal and spiritual realms, but his Calvinist (and probably emergent) indoctrination left him defenseless in standing firm in biblical truth.
No doubt, there will be many commentaries over the next several months (and even years) discussing the departing of the faith by Joshua Harris. Let us pray that he and others like him will someday find the true simple Gospel that Jesus Christ offers. Christ died for the sins of the world, and whosoever believeth on Him will not perish but have everlasting life. It’s a free gift, offered to all who put their trust in Him. He will not turn away anyone who comes to Him: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).
Related Articles and Resources:
“‘I Am Not a Christian’: Former ‘Pastor,’ Author Joshua Harris Kisses Christianity Goodbye“ (Christian News Network)
Purity Expert Josh Harris Announces ‘I am Not a Christian,’ Apologizes to LGBT Community(Newsweek)
LT Resources on Understanding Calvinism/Reformed Theology
|“Amazon Pulls Books by Authors Who Once Identified as Gay, Lesbian”
LTRP Note: The following news story is posted for informational and research purposes.
By Brandon Showalter
The Christian Post
Following the removal of books by a Catholic psychologist amid LGBT activist pressure, Amazon has removed the works of other authors who once lived and identified as gay.
The works of Anne Paulk of the Restored Hope Network and pastoral counselor and author Joe Dallas are among the latest books to be pulled from the online retail giant.
Dallas’ book — Desires in Conflict: Hope for Men Who Struggle with Sexual Identity — and Paulk’s book — Restoring Sexual Identity: Hope for Women Who Struggle with Same-Sex Attraction — both of which until the past few days were sold on the platform, are now no longer available for purchase. Click here to continue reading.
(Photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission.)
|The Deeper Teaching About “the Self” – The Delusion – Part 2
By Bill Randles
LTRP Note: This is the second part of Bill Randles’ earlier article: Self Exalted Above God . . . The Delusion
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. ( 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
I hope I have made it obvious, to all who have ears to hear, that our society is being set up for a delusion which will be damning. God will send this delusion as a judgment but only as the culmination of a thousand little steps in the direction, freely chosen by those who will be judged in it. They who will be deluded had to have rejected the Truth revealed in the Incarnation of Jesus and by the apostles and prophets of the Bible.
Instead, those trapped by the delusion are the ones who have fancied their own ways; they cherish the false illusion presented by the army of false prophets, teachers, opinion molders and shapers coming to them in our culture in the form of popular entertainers, spiritual innovators, people like Oprah Winfrey, popularizers of Yoga and Eastern religion, Rock and Roll entertainers, which have been poured out upon our culture.
Truly, Scripture itself warn us, “There is a way which seems right unto man, but the end leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).
In my previous article, I mentioned the transformative “Self revolution,” which has swept modern culture, sweeping aside the Christian biblical approach to the self (self denial and distrust). Modern psychology, invented and promoted by atheists such as Freud, and even pantheists such as Carl Jung, have successfully inculcated most of the Western world in an entirely different doctrine of self.
It is amazing that Paul the apostle, among others, predicted this and warned that in the “last days men would be lovers of self” and that this development would become one of the prime dangers of those days, making them “perilous times” (see 2 Timothy 3).
New terms such as self-love, self-esteem, self-fulfillment, and self-actualization have flooded the consciousness of the West, turning people away from any fear of God and into themselves.
This blight has badly affected the church as well, which would be the reasonable antithesis to the self-revolution. But the shepherds have too often put confidence in the psychologists and have promoted and deferred to those with “psychological credentials” as if the Bible itself is not sufficient to teach us about the human soul.
My friend the late Dave Hunt used to make this powerful point that psychology, a compound word meaning “soul study,” should be the arena of those who believe and promote the Word of God. The Bible alone is sufficient for the cure of soul. It is not as if God had to wait for godless atheists such as Freud, Maslow, and Fromm to bring us new insights about the human condition! What a denial of Christ!
There is an even deeper teaching about the self which would be the inevitable end of the idolization of self and the usurpation of Christian ministry by atheists. Sooner or later in apostasy, all roads head east.
Atheism cannot sustain for long, for man is incurably spiritual and has spiritual longings. Jettison the Judeo-Christian heritage of Scripture, church, the view of the Fall, the state of man, heaven and Hell, judgment, and even eschatology, in the end, most people end up incredibly empty—and for many people, it has meant turning to Eastern religion.
What is the essential teaching of Hinduism ? That we must come to the realization, that we ourselves are God. All is one. The “true self” within each of us is God. All meditation, ascetic practices, Yoga, fasting, prayer is to be self-focused and directed within. As spaceandmotion.com articulates it:
The metaphysical foundation of Hinduism, which is expressed in both the Vedas and the Upanishads is that Reality (Brahman) is One or Absolute, changeless, perfect and eternal. The ordinary human world of many separate and discrete (finite) things (which our mind represents by our senses) is an illusion. Through meditation and purity of mind, one can experience their true Self which is Brahman, God, the One infinite eternal thing which causes and connects the many things. True enlightenment is Self-realisation, to experience the supreme reality as Self.
The deeper teaching about the SELF, which has come to us from the East as a consequence of our abandonment of the Judeo-Christian revelation is that the Self is Divine, that we are all part of God, and that we need to “self-realize” this “enlightenment.” This is the New Age movement in a nutshell, or I should call it by its more current name, “the consciousness revolution” which is erupting all across the West. It is also the lie of the serpent in the garden.
There is one very important distinction, in one primal verse of the Bible which is either a polemic to this error, or if ignored leads to it. I speak of Genesis 1:1, (You cannot get any more primal than that)
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
What does this verse teach us about reality and existence? ( This verse is so full of light , thousands of books could be written about it alone). But I will direct you to my point: this verse teaches us that there are only two kinds of existence, Creator, and Creation.
Ours is a binary world. All is not one, all is two. Everything that exists is either the Creator, or Creation.
The Creator is self-existing, He always has been, He is and ever shall be, and He is absolutely distinct from His Creation. Creation is dependent, all of it, on the Creator, and is separate from Him. He, the Creator, is transcendent and eternal. The Creation has a beginning and an end.
The Serpent denies this, by blurring the distinction between Creator and creation, teaching pantheism, and panentheism, (i.e., either all is a part of the whole, which is God, or that God is in everything and everyone.
This lie achieves two huge things: 1) it depersonalizes God, and 2) it turns us from seeking God to seeking ourselves; it turns us within. Of course, sin does not factor in because there is no sin in the Eastern view, only ignorance of one’s own Deity.
Atheism has left people empty, looking for spirituality, but most reject Christianity. What is left? Islam or pantheism? The appeal of pantheism is that one can now be spiritual but not lose his or her autonomy. Thus, this generation is buying into the new teaching, that the Self is what we should be seeking for it is God! A perfect religion for a self-absorbed society.
(Used with permission. Photo from the cover of Warren Smith’s lecture DVD, Exposing the Quantum Lie: God is NOT in Everything!)
|My Journey Out of Catholicism
My Journey Out of Catholicism
By David Dombrowski
Over the years, I have encountered many Christians who wonder, “What’s wrong with being Catholic? After all, they believe in the Cross; they believe Jesus is the Son of God. It can’t be all that bad.” If you are a Christian who has wondered about these things, this special testimonial report is for you.
I was born and raised as a Roman Catholic, so I am writing of things I know about and lived with for over thirty years. From my earliest childhood, I had a hunger and a thirst for God. I largely attribute this to my mother who instilled in me the love and reverence for God that she had. Born and raised in Poland, she grew up Catholic, but when she was about thirteen years old, while kneeling in a chapel alone, she invited Jesus Christ into her heart to be Lord of her life. Just prior to this, she had lost both of her parents to mushroom poisoning. Jesus filled a void in her life that carried her through many difficult years. Years later, she shared with me that this must have been her born-again experience, though in the Catholic church she had not heard of such terminology; altar calls and making decisions to receive Christ were totally alien to her experience.
The fact is that there has never been a place in the Catholic church for evangelistic crusades and personal decisions because every child raised Catholic is brought up with the belief that he is automatically “Christian” because he was baptized as an infant. In years past, many Anabaptists were burned at the stake because they recognized the fallacy and false assurance associated with infant baptism.
I guess I could accurately say that my mother had a personal relationship with the Lord, not because of Catholicism but in spite of it. As in her case, few Catholics even realize or understand what Catholicism really teaches and how the actual doctrines and teachings are polar opposites to biblical Christianity. Yes, the Catholic Church does teach morals, as do most religions, but when it comes to salvation, the actual teachings hinder and prevent the lost from finding The Way.
As a little boy, I had a very firm belief in God, and I knew that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died on the Cross for my sins. I grew up as a religious boy, but my consciousness of sin and my sense of guilt never escaped me. As I grew to adolescence and then adulthood, the realization of my own sinfulness haunted me all the more. I can still remember one snowy night in winter in Portland, Oregon when I was nineteen; although it was nearly midnight, I decided to go for a walk. The moonlit snow enabled me to see my way clearly, and looking up at the stars that night somehow made me feel in touch with God. I still remember saying out loud to God at that moment, “God, I believe if I were to die tonight, I would go to Hell; and if that is going to change, you’re going to have to do something.” This was one of those rare moments where I was completely honest with God and addressed Him in a manner other than the rote, memorized prayer I was taught in the Catholic church.
I suppose if one thing can be said for Catholicism, it can help foster a sense of guilt in a practicing Catholic. My church life consisted of confessing my sins to a priest on a weekly basis, then receiving “absolution” only to come back the following week riddled with sin and guilt again. I think few Catholics and even fewer Protestants actually know or understand the Catholic way of “salvation,” yet it is still printed in the Baltimore Catechism that we are saved by our participation in the sacraments. Central to Catholicism, in fact its very focal point, is the sacrament of the Eucharist where it is believed that bread and wine are literally transformed into the body and blood of Jesus. The implications of this belief, although unbiblical, may seem innocent enough until one realizes that this practice is without question the very heart and core of the Catholic “gospel.” In other words, your participation of this sacrament is what saves you. The point is that your salvation depends on something you do. It gives you a temporary and false sense of assurance until you sin again. In fact, according to Catholic teaching, one can never be assured of one’s own salvation. To have such assurance is to be guilty of the sin of pride. And looking back on it now, such a conclusion makes perfect sense because if our salvation were based on our performance (i.e., participation in the sacraments), we would have something to boast about. So logically from that point of view, if we don’t acknowledge or recognize our salvation, at least in theory we can be humble about it. But Paul saw the error in all this fallacious thinking when he penned the words:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
For the Catholic, the concept of salvation by grace through faith alone is nearly impossible to receive because rooted in the heart of man (and virtually all religions) is the idea that we must earn our way to heaven. Now that Catholics are beginning to read their Bibles, they will sometimes quote other Bible passages, especially from James, to prove that we are, after all, still saved by works. Little do they realize that James was trying to explain what biblical faith really is. It is not an intellectual ascent but a full trust and commitment to our Savior that expresses itself in the way we live. If James were trying to say that our good works justify us, he would not have used the story of Abraham, Isaac, and the altar to make his point. Surely, Abraham was a man of unusual faith, but he did not pretend that he could find salvation through his own goodness, nor was his attempt to sacrifice Isaac on the altar an expression of goodness but rather of his faith in God alone.
In my case, growing up as a Catholic, I had virtually no knowledge of the Scriptures because we were never encouraged to read the Bible on our own lest we should come up with our own interpretations. And here is the crux of the matter: Christians often make the mistake of thinking that because Catholics believe in Jesus and the Cross, everything is O.K. But the reality is that as a Catholic, I knew that Jesus had atoned for my sins on the Cross but that redemption was not freely available to me. In some way, I had to earn my right to the Cross. This belief of mine was rooted to the very core of my being from participating in thousands of Masses where Jesus is re-crucified for my sins again and again. This deep heart-felt belief of mine that fostered my ongoing guilt was unfortunately not misconstrued but one hundred percent Catholic and totally in line with Catholic teaching. Salvation was, therefore, something attainable but always uncertain and out of reach. It is no wonder that the highly acclaimed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who spent her life ministering sacrificially to the poor and sick in India, spent her final hours in serious doubts of her own salvation.
And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God . . . For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:11,12,14)
I was now twenty years old and had completed my second year of college. I had feared the Viet Nam draft because I heard they were now drafting college students into the military, but now that I was twenty, I felt secure that I need not fear the lottery any longer. But then, I received my draft notice in the summer of ‘72. I saw this as God’s judgment on me, but little did I know at the time that God was answering what I had said to Him on that starry night a few months earlier.
My time in the Army brought a drastic change to my life. It was the first time I was away from home. It also was my first experience in getting to know other people on a deeper level as I lived and worked with them. For the first time in my life, I met Christians who shared with me the Gospel. One of them even gave me a New Testament, which I did read as I had made the decision that I would use my time in the military to seek for and hopefully find God.
In contrast, having been sent to Germany, I witnessed the selfish and destructive lifestyle of most of the soldiers. In my unit, the majority of them got high on drugs at every opportunity. And drunkenness and prostitution was widespread too. But, I was known as the straight guy. In fact, I was so disgusted by what I saw happening around me that I determined not to have one taste of alcohol while I was there. Some of the soldiers mocked me, though I tried to be amiable and live at peace with them. I still remember one soldier blowing marijuana smoke in my face because I would not get high with them.
But all the while, I knew that my heart was unclean, and I saw in these soldiers a reflection of the dirt in my own life and knew that I was headed toward moral destruction. This made me all the more anxious to find the victory and peace I was witnessing in the lives of the Christians. It was at this very low point of my life that I realized again, like on that night beneath the stars, that without God’s intervention, my life would go to ruins. Up until now, I thought I had the power to change myself, but I now realized I was continuing on a spiritual decline. I picked up a Gospel tract that one of my sergeants had given me and found that salvation is within easy reach of anyone who will acknowledge his own sinfulness and inability to save himself. The hard part was getting to the place of recognizing my need of a Savior. And the Catholic gospel of justification by grace through works had hindered me from finding Christ for years.
I should caution you that if you were to approach the average practicing Catholic with this article, they would either tell you that I was mistaught Catholic doctrine as a youth or things have changed since Vatican II. However, the truth is literally staring us in the face when we realize that the Catholic priest performs an unbiblical ritual in the Eucharist, and Catholic doctrine still says that our participation in this is what saves us. In fact, if you were to take the Eucharist out of the Catholic Mass, you would no longer have the Mass. And if you took the Mass out of Catholicism, you would no longer have the Catholic church, and no priest can deny this.
Some may say, well perhaps the Catholic church is right about the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Maybe the communion wafer and the wine literally do become the body and blood of Jesus—under false appearances of course. But if this were true, then Jesus would necessarily have been lying to his disciples when He told them He had been using a figure of speech; rather than using the earthly term “flesh” in the literal sense, He used the term to express spiritual truth.
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63—Italics mine)
But let’s just suppose for a moment that Jesus had answered his disciples in another way when they began to murmur, “this is a hard saying; who can hear it?” Let’s just suppose Jesus answered their confusion by saying, “Oh yes, I really meant it literally. Eating my flesh is profitable and will give you spiritual life.” Given this scenario, would the Catholic church be right in the celebration of the Mass, where Christ is re-crucified daily on an altar? The answer is no because we would still be speaking of another gospel than the one each of the apostles preached. And this is the one key point I want to get across in this article: Our justification is by grace through faith alone, not by our participation in a ritual. Being born of the Spirit is what gives us life—eternal life. By the way, Nicodemus was also troubled when Jesus said to him, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). He could not understand how anyone could come out of his mother’s womb twice. Jesus was always speaking of spiritual things, using earthly terms and parables to express His meaning, but man, being carnal, always misunderstood His meaning, and so it is today.
My time in the service ended shortly after I read that tract and received the Lord in full trust to be my Savior. In fact, I found the Lord about two months before I left the service. God had wrought a miracle in my life in just two years, and I came out of the Army a new man—thanks to God, of course. God also opened my understanding of the Scriptures, but I did not know where to find fellowship. Then, I found out about Catholic charismatic meetings in my area. It seems that a goodly number of Catholics had found the Lord at the tail end of the Jesus movement, and these meetings provided a place for fellowship. I still remember a discussion we had as to whether or not we should leave the Catholic church. The consensus was that we should stay so as to be a light to those who are still lost. For this reason, I remained in the Catholic church for a number of years. Finally, as my life was more and more transformed by the Word of God, I realized that staying was not accomplishing my hope of being a light to Catholics, and the best witness I could provide was to leave. While I do not judge those who stayed for the benefit of the lost, I want to point out a serious fallacy in this thinking because the Catholic church is non-reformable. As I alluded to before, the sacrament of the Eucharist is another gospel, but to do away with it would be to do away with the whole structure of the Mass, and the Catholic church would then cease to exist. I feel very sorry for those believing Catholics who decided to stay; it must be very difficult for them and awkward for them not to feel like hypocrites.
At the tail end of my stay in the Catholic church, I joined an evangelical Christian community. From the day I found the Lord, I was always intrigued by Acts chapter 4, where the first Christians “were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things in common” (Acts 4:32). The whole idea of community seemed like a piece of heaven on earth. I joined the community with the determination to make it work, even if the task was difficult. And difficult it turned out to be. Oddly, when I became a Christian, I was soon identified by other believers as having a gift of discernment, but now in this community it seemed that the opposite became the rule for the day: if something bothered me, the leaders said it was because I was fighting against God. I remember testing out this attitude one day when our community took a few days vacation trip. Somehow, our vehicles got separated, and sitting across from the driver, I said in jest, “I think maybe we should turn left.” His immediate reply was, “Okay then, I’m going to turn right.” Although done in humor, this incident was a true reflection of the attitude the members of the community had toward me.
Then, the day came when some of the leaders announced that they were considering becoming Catholic—this was a decision they were making not just for themselves but for all of us. When I joined the community, it was non-denominational though its roots were in a Baptist church. It had begun as a recovery ministry for young people who had forsaken drugs and alcohol or just needed a place to live. The fact that these leaders were now entertaining thoughts about Catholicism came as a great disturbance to me, but not as a total surprise. I had witnessed over the years how some of the members seemed somewhat intrigued with the Catholic church and with Catholic mystics like Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton. I remember one Christmas Eve when three of the women decided they were going to attend midnight Mass. I overheard them the next day talking about how enjoyable an experience it had been.
But the meeting where the leaders announced their move toward Catholicism was anything but enjoyable for me. It was like watching a mutiny in one of those old pirate movies but without the violence. The senior elder of the community strongly opposed our becoming Catholic by saying that it did not represent who we were. But there were too many others who had already decided they wanted to move in this direction. The senior elder was immediately removed from the community as a “discipline,” but as time proved itself, he never came back. The community very quickly spiraled into the web of Catholicism.
I remember the night a Catholic priest was invited to speak to the community about Catholicism. This priest was recognized as a leader in the renewal movement of the Pacific Northwest. On that night, he proclaimed a great number of things. Here are some of the key points he shared with us:
What is Ecumenism? The Protestants do not know what ecumenism actually means to the Catholic church. They think it means that the Protestants and Catholics can have fellowship together as co-equals. What it actually means is that the Protestants will eventually be reabsorbed into the Catholic church.
Protestant pastors have no power when they do a communion service. They only go through the motions but nothing really happens. Only the Catholic priest has the power and authority to perform a communion service.
Protestants are the lost brethren because they have rebelled against (forsaken) the one true church.
A good Muslim, a good Hindu, and a good Buddhist are saved. They have more hope of getting into heaven than the Protestants.
The Protestants have a false notion of evangelism. As I have just told you, people of other religions are already saved. But the Protestants need to return to the Catholic church.
Hearing these things that night helped me realize that the Catholic church, as an institution, is much worse than I had allowed myself to believe. Although hearing these things was not actually new to me, it did surprise me that a leader in a renewal movement, where Catholics and Protestants mingled together, had such a low regard for the Protestants and a whole different agenda.
And perhaps what was even more surprising was that these sincere Christians, whom I had loved, lived with, and worked with side by side for over six years did not challenge this priest with his heretical beliefs that night.
The community was moving full steam ahead toward becoming Catholic, but there were some practical issues that had to be dealt with. For example, the leaders of the community had made a covenant to stay together for life, but the senior elder was no longer with them. They brought this problem to this Catholic priest who had a ready answer. He told them that he had the God-given power to dissolve the covenant. He explained that becoming Catholic superseded anything else. Then there was the matter of what to do with me. They thought if they sent me to talk to this priest one-on-one, he could persuade me to return to the “mother church.” But when it became apparent that I was not turning back, I was told that I must leave.
Other things happened in that community. Things got really hot at times; there were fights between members. Eventually two marriages broke up where in both cases, the husband left the community, but the wife and children stayed behind to become Catholic. One of these husbands later confessed to me that when I was removed from the community he thought God was removing me because I was not a part of God’s special remnant. But after he was kicked out, he realized that what was once a loving Christian community had become a cult.
Not long after I was removed, the community became fully Catholic. They remain so today.
As I am writing these things, I am amazed to think how quickly the years have gone by. These events that seem like yesterday began over twenty-five years ago. And through all these years, I have never publically shared the story about the community. But there is a reason why I felt compelled to share it now. When the community was deciding to become Catholic, they were very excited because they felt that they were pioneers in going back to the mother church. They felt confident that many others would eventually follow their example. Today, I see that this is beginning to happen in large numbers. The community shared with some of their friends that they had grown spiritually as far as the Protestant church could take them, and if they were going to grow anymore, they would have to become Catholic. It is the same thing that is happening today. Many Protestant leaders are now standing up and proclaiming that we need to glean from the teachings and practices of the Catholic church. Particularly appealing to them is contemplative prayer or mysticism and the spiritual disciplines. There is no doubt in my mind that contemplative spirituality is a bridge, bringing Protestants “back” to the Catholic church. The emerging church movement is equally a bridge toward Catholicism, and the Purpose Driven movement has had a role in this as well.
To order copies of My Journey Out of Catholicism in booklet format to share with others, click here.
|NEW! Lighthouse Trails Volume 15 Product Catalog Now Available
Every two or three years, Lighthouse Trails sends out a new product catalog to everyone on our customer database (those who have purchased something in the past from our store ). We are happy to announce that our Volume 15 Product Catalog is being mailed out during the month of July to all those people. If you have never purchased anything from our store (so won't be on the mailing database) but would like to receive this free catalog, please e-mail us at email@example.com with your name and mailing address, and we will send you a catalog. For those who would like to view, download, or print the catalog from an online PDF, click here.
To receive 10% off your first catalog order, use code CAT-10 on our store. You may also call in orders to 866-876-3910 or mail an order (see order form in catalog or click here to print one) to P.O. Box 908, Eureka, MT 59917.
CLICK HERE TO ENTER ONLINE STORE.
|Note About Lighthouse Trails Journal Mailed to Homes, Offices, Prisons, and Churches
You may not know that Lighthouse Trails has, in addition to this free e-newsletter, a low-priced subscription-based journal that is mailed out to homes, offices, prisons, and churches. While this free e-newsletter you are reading comes out two-three times a month, the Lighthouse Trails Research Journal comes out six times a year. Each journal is 36-pages long and is packed with numerous articles. The Journal also contains letters to the editor, book and booklet excerpts, information on our latest resources, and more. The cost for a U.S. subscription is $15 a year (no extra shipping costs). Canada is $29 a year, and other international is $42 a year (sorry for those high international costs - it's because of the extremely high international shipping rates).
The Journal contains the most important articles from the previous two months. We have had a lot of feedback about the Journal, and our readers are telling us that they love the Journal.
If you would like to subscribe to the Lighthouse Trails Research Journal, click here. Our March/April issue is going to be mailed out on March 7th. Click here to see a sample copy.
The Editors at Lighthouse Trails
P.S. We do now have a PDF subscription for anyone anywhere in the world for just $6 a year. The PDF Journal will be e-mailed to you six times a year.
And for anyone who has any questions, or if you want to subscribe or renew by phone, call 866-876-3910 (our toll-free order line). Mail in subscriptions should go to: Lighthouse Trails, P.O. Box 908, Eureka, MT 59917.
|Leave a Review and Get Discount Coupon and Check Out New Release
If you have ever purchased or been given any Lighthouse Trails products, we invite you to leave a review (or reviews) on our Lighthouse Trails store site. If you do, you will receive a 10%-off coupon that you can use on your next purchase at Lighthouse Trails. Even if you don't plan to buy anything on the store, we hope you will still consider leaving a review (or reviews) as this helps readers when they can read what other people have to say about our resources.
Leaving a review is easy. Just visit our store, use the search engine to find a particular product. When you get to a product page, you will see a box that says "Rate This Product!" You will have to have an account to rate any product, but that is easy too. Just click this link to create an account.
Thank you in advance,
The Editors at Lighthouse Trails
|Donating to Lighthouse Trails
SUPPORTING LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS: For those who would like to support Lighthouse Trails, we always appreciate both your prayers and your giving. And for those who have faithfully done that over the years, we thank you with all of our hearts. We know that some people may have the impression that Lighthouse Trails does quite well financially because we sell products that we publish and because our resources have had such a far reach; but, the truth is, it takes everything made through sales to keep Lighthouse Trails operating. Publishing, at least for small presses such as ours, is rarely a high-profit business. It would take a best seller to see that, one that the masses of people love. And because we are not just a business, but even more so a ministry, we keep our prices as low as we can, give away many resources, and have also made much of our material available for free on the research site and blog. That's not how big corporations run things as that would hurt the bottom line (profit), but we see the needs out there, and we trust God to keep us going as long as He sees fit.
We thank you in advance for seeing the value in a ministry like Lighthouse Trails and coming along side us with your prayers and support.
It is our prayer that we will faithfully be humble servants of the Lord’s work for years to come should the Lord tarry. If you would like to donate to Lighthouse Trails, you may send a donation by mailing it to: Lighthouse Trails, P.O. Box 908, Eureka, MT 59917. Or you may call 866/876-3910. There is also a donate option on our store website. (There is also a PayPal option on that page.)
Lighthouse Trails is not a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization, so your donations will not be tax deductible.