Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Refuting Mike Gendron's Unreliable Source for Truth: The Irony of Gendron's Warning

There are a number of Catholics who have come across fans of Mike Gendron who seem to "know" all about the Catholic Church, and are bold in seeking out Catholics to correct them of “false” beliefs. It’s easy to understand why well-meaning Christians would want to bring their Catholic brethren (if they consider Catholics brethren at all) to the truth of the Gospel. We are ALL called to bring the Gospel to everyone in whatever ways we can. But both Catholics AND other Christians need to understand what Catholics actually believe before taking on such a venture. Otherwise, you get nowhere and even run the risk of bearing false witness, especially if you are relying on folks like Gendron to be your source for information. Here’s what I mean. Below are several examples from Gendron’s latest newsletter (June 2014) where he misrepresents Catholics, the Church, the Pope, etc., in order to make the Church look sinister or evil...even un-Christian. You’ll notice from the link that he mostly focuses on denigrating the Catholic Church (7 out of 11 articles in this newsletter are dedicated to Catholicism and paint the Church in a bad light).
Gendron's June 2014 Newsletter

In The Truth Sets Captives Free, Gendron states,

“Those who are deceived may never know it unless they are confronted with the truth. Many go to their grave misled about life's most important issues concerning God and eternity. Since we are eternal beings, we will either spend eternity with our God and Creator in heaven or in the unquenchable fires of hell. Tragically, many people look to unreliable sources for truth in order to prepare for eternity. The only source that will always protect us from the schemes and lies of the master deceiver is divine truth revealed in God's Word. The Scriptures must become our supreme authority in all areas of faith and practice. We must look to Jesus who is the truth (John 14:6), whose Word is truth (John 17:17), and who came to testify to the truth (John 18:37). Why would anyone look anywhere else?”

To that, I say, “AMEN”, except, as a Catholic, I don’t un-Biblically limit God’s Word and Truth to what has been written. Catholics believe that Christ, Who is the Word of God (Jn 1:1-14) is so big that He can’t be fully contained in the written pages, which plainly tells us don’t contain all of God’s Word (Jn 21:25, Mk 13:31, 2Thess 2:15, etc…). Other than that, I absolutely agree with this, as does the Catholic Church.

I do have one question, though.  Mike asks, "Why would anyone look anywhere else?”  Does he mean to ask, "why would anyone look anywhere other than Christ for Truth?"  Well, Christ told us to look to the Church for Truth.  Catholics believe that when we look to the Church He founded, we *are* looking to Christ, as I'll explain more below.  But here's my question to Mike, and to anyone reading this:  If Christ gave us a Church to give us His Gospel and teach us His Truth (Mk 16:15, Eph 4:11, Lk 10:16, and a host of others that will be mentioned in short order), why would I or anyone else decry someone for going to the Church for Truth?

More importantly, though, I believe that Gendron shoots himself in the foot with this point because, with a brief look into actual Catholic doctrine, it is very easy to see where Mike has been an “unreliable source for truth” who has misled many people about the Catholic Church. Here’s a link to a blog where many of Gendron’s articles have been thoroughly investigated and were found to be full misinformation and misrepresentations of Catholic doctrine:

Apocalypsis

Here you will find articles such as:
- Refutation: Mike Gendron's "Why Can't Born Again Christians Remain in the Catholic Church?"
- Response to Hard Questions to Ask Good Catholics (By Mike Gendron)
- Refuting anti-Catholic tract: "Rome vs The Bible" by Mike Gendron
- Refuting Mike Gendron’s ‘Another Jesus?”
- Refuting: "Is a Catholic Christian an Oxymoron?"
- Refuting Mike Gendron's tract "Are You Being Deceived?"
- Refuting: Mike Gendron's "Who Holds the Keys?"


Now let's look at this recent newsletter and see where Gendron proves to be an “unreliable source for truth”.

“Catholics put their trust in the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church to accurately teach the Bible. This can be a fatal mistake because anyone who relies solely on the subjective teachings of men leave themselves open to deception.”

That first sentence is mostly true, but carries some misconception within it, especially in light of the next sentence.  Catholics put their trust in CHRIST, and we believe 100% what Christ taught us, including the fact that the Pope is Christ's vicar. We believe that Christ really did give Peter the keys of the kingdom (Mt 16:19), making Peter His steward/vicar on earth (cf. Is 22:20-22). We believe Christ really did command Peter to be the shepherd of Christ’s flock (Jn 21:15-17) and to be the strength of his brother Apostles (Lk 22:32) and that Christ really did build Christ’s Church on Simon (now "Rock" or "Peter") (Mt 16:18), whose confession led to the changing of his name…something uncommon and special and very significant in Scripture (cff. Gen 17:3-6, 15-16, 32:28, 35:10). We take Christ 100% at His Word and we trust that He will not mislead us. We believe that the Church Christ established is One (Mt 16:18, Jn 10:16, 1Cor 1:10, Jn 17:17-23, etc.), and does not err because it is guided by the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26, 16:13) and speaks with the voice of Christ and the Holy Spirit (Lk 10:16, Acts 15:28) and that the Church is the pillar and bulwark of truth (1Tim 3:15), just like the Word of God says. And since Christ’s Church speaks with the Voice of Christ, we do not believe our faith is merely a “subjective teaching of men”, but the teachings of Christ. We believe Christ’s Church was given the authority, by Christ, to bind and loose “whatever” (Mt 28:18-20, Jn 20:23, cff. 1Cor 11:23-24, Lk 10:16, Mt 18:7-18, Mt 16:19) and we do not reject that authority, because it comes from Christ Himself, Who is our God.

In reality, isn't it non-Catholics, Mike Gendron among them, who put their trust in their own interpretations of Scripture, subjecting themselves to their own subjective interpretations of the Word, who renounce any authority of Christ’s Church (how ever they choose to understand “Church”) to tell them whether they are right or wrong?

Non-Catholics, wouldn’t you agree that this is a logical conclusion? After all, don’t ALL the Christians in the world, who have opposing views of Scripture, claim the guidance of the Holy Spirit? And wouldn’t you say that there is no Christian and no church which has the authority to tell you, with absolute certainty, which understanding of the Word is right or wrong? Doesn’t it really boil down to “I have *my* interpretation/understanding of Scripture” vs. the Catholic’s “I want *God’s* interpretation/understanding of Scripture, even when it conflicts with my own”? Or do you believe that you could possibly be wrong in coming to the true meaning of Scripture, wrongly understanding or not truly heeding the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and therefor need a sure guide to teach you, just like people in the Bible did (Acts 8:26-31, 1John 4:6, Mk 4:34, Lk 24:25-27, cff. Acts 17:11, Acts 18:26, Acts 28:23, James 3:1, Eph 4:11, etc.)?

“The objective truth of God's Word must be the standard by which all the teachings of men are tested for veracity (Acts 17:11).”

Catholics give a heart-felt “AMEN” to this as well, even though Gendron is saying that we reject God’s Word as the standard of truth. The difference between us and *most* non-Catholics is that we obey the Scriptural command to accept both the written AND the oral Word of God (2Thess 2:15, 2Tim 1:13, 2Tim 2:2, Rom 10:17, 1Cor 15:1-2, Mk 16:15, Mt 23:2-3), and we do not presume, un-Biblically, that the oral Word has somehow vanished or ceased being passed down. Now, Gendron might disagree with the Catholic understanding of many Scriptural passages, but that doesn’t mean Catholics renounce God's Word as the authority, as he paints us as doing. It means we reject *Gendron* as our authority and we don’t believe that *Gendron* has any authority to teach us the Scriptures that we, ourselves, don’t also have. And when our understanding differs from his, we don’t believe that he is automatically right and that we are automatically wrong, or vice versa. Instead, we look to the Church, with the authority that Christ gave it, to settle the matter, just like Scripture says (Mt 18:17, 1Tim 3:15).

And since Gendron explicitly mentions testing the teachings of men against God’s Word, where in God’s Word does it say men are saved by faith ALONE? Where in God’s Word does it say that the Bible is the SOLE authority? Where in God’s Word does it say that the oral traditions of the Apostles, which we are commanded to adhere to in Scripture, have somehow vanished, disappeared, ceased to be passed down, or have ALL been written down? Where in God’s Word does it say that we can all be interpreters of Scripture for ourselves? And for a couple of things I actually like, but that are not in God’s Word: where in God’s Word are “altar calls” or “the sinner’s prayer”? Chapter and verse, please, for each one of these explicit teachings of men. You won’t find them because they don’t exist, and in pointing out this need to test the teachings of men against God’s Word (which Catholics actually believe in the fullest sense of "Word"), Gendron again proves himself to be an “unreliable source for truth”.

He goes on to say that, “Catholics do not test the "infallible" teachings of popes through the lens of Scripture.”

Infallible, "infallible", impeccable, teaching, opinion, doctrine, tradition...there is so much more to be said here that it would take up several articles. If words come out of a Pope's mouth, are they "infallible", and are they "teachings"?  What is a teaching?  What does "infallible" mean?  What message is Mike trying to push across here?

But to this charge, the short version is that we acknowledge that if it were not for an infallible authority, no Christian would know which ancient texts are/are not God’s Inspired Word. If the Church that assembled/defined the Canon of Scripture was fallible, no Christian can ever claim to know for sure whether he is reading God’s Word or not, or whether parts of God’s Word were omitted.

 The short version of another point is that we DO look to Scripture. The difference is that the Catholic interpretation of Scripture is often not the same as the non-Catholic interpretation of Scripture. Since we ALL claim the guidance of the Holy Spirit in coming to that understanding of the Word, the question becomes, “who is right and who has the authority to say someone else is wrong?” The Bible says, “the Church” (Mt 18:17, 1Tim 3:15) and Catholics believe God’s Word.

In another section of his newsletter, Mike references an article about Jesus with us in the Eucharist. I am providing it in its entirety in the comments below because it is worth reading. Mike comments on this article:

“According to this article, the pope is unaware that the physical appearance of Christ on the earth will not take place until after the tribulation (Mat. 24:27-30; Acts 1:11).”

According to Mike’s comment here, he is either intentionally misleading his readers, or he doesn’t actually know that these verses are about Christ’s Second Coming, or he doesn’t actually know what the Church teaches about the Eucharist, yet he is still willing to misrepresent it to his readers. Again, Mike proves himself to be an “unreliable source for the truth”.

In short, Catholics take Christ at His Word when He says He is with us always (Mt 28:19-20) and that “this” [bread which He took, blessed, broke, and gave] “is” His Body…just like He said (Lk 22:17ff, Mk 14:22ff, Mt 26:26ff, Jn 6:35-71, 1Cor 10:16, 11:23-29, cff. Ex 12:8, 46, Jn 1:29, Mal 1:11, 1Cor 5:7, etc.). We also obey Christ’s command to “do this in commemoration of” Him and we don’t set a limit on how often we obey that command. We believe and trust Christ, and so we believe and trust in His Word here.

If Gendron were going to correctly represent the Church here, he might say,"Catholics believe in a literal interpretation of John 6 and take Christ at His Word, while I [Gendron] disagree with their interpretation of Scripture”. But he doesn’t say anything like that. Instead, he makes a blanket implication about Catholics rejecting God’s Word, which is absolutely false.

And in case you want to know what the Church actually teaches about the Eucharist, without snippets here and there, so that you can see it in full context:
CCC 1322-1419, primarily, but do the WORD SEARCH for even more.

Mike says, “According to the infallible Word of God, it is overtly clear that Catholics are worshipping a false Christ.”.

Actually, if we just take the plain meaning of the Word, it is overtly clear that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, and that Catholics are worshiping Christ the way that God wants us to worship Him. In fact, according to the Word of God, in Malachi 1:11, Catholics have very little company in worshiping God the way He said we would. How many Christians believe their church fulfills God’s prophecy in Mal 1:11? (There are only 4 groups that I know of who would answer a strong “yes” to this, including Catholics.)
The Prophecy of Malachi 1:11

In Letters from Around the World, Gendron takes time to respond to a Catholic reader who is upset about his misrepresentations of the faith. He quotes the reader as saying:

“Sir, I am a Protestant convert to the Catholic Faith who now teaches the Catechism. You are a disgruntled, poorly catechized ex-Catholic who essentially perpetuates lies about the teachings of the Catholic Church. An apology to Catholics is in order. I found your radio interview very offensive on Crosstalk regarding the canonization of the popes. You should contact Scott Hahn and Father Mitch Pacwa who truly know the Catechism. The only place I find sound and consistent teaching is in the Catholic Church. I do not know why you left the Church, but, I know I am home, and glad to be Catholic. Sincerely, Linda K.”

Instead of simply addressing the concerns of the reader, Gendron starts out of the gate by pre-disposing his readers to an opinion against Linda. This is a logical fallacy known as “poisoning the well”, a type of ad hominem where a debate opponent is shown in a perceived bad light which then discredits everything they say. First and foremost he paints her as less-than-Christian to his readers by pointing out “… you never mentioned Jesus, the Name above all names” as though that has anything to do with the fact that he misrepresented the Church, or that it excuses him for doing so, “and…you wrote about your religion and the Catechism while never mentioning the Bible or a relationship with Jesus” as though this somehow nullifies her concerns about him misrepresenting her faith.

Gendron then continues to misrepresent the Church as he explains to her his own words. He correctly points out that the Church looks for two miracles associated with a person prior to being named a “Saint”, yet he fails to acknowledge, and pass along to his readers, that Catholics do not recognize as “saints” ONLY those who have been named “Saints”. He glances past the fact that Catholics believe in the Communion of Saints just as Scripture teaches (Col 1:18, 1Cor 6:15, 12:20-27, Eph 5:30, Rom 12:4-5) and just as nearly ALL Christians profess (and ironically, not all Christians regularly profess their belief in the Communion of Saints like Catholic do at every single Mass). He either speaks out of ignorance, or intentionally misrepresents the Church. Either way, he proves himself, yet again, to be an “unreliable source for truth”. 

In another section, Gendron says that the "Pope Rejects Christ's Instructions on Prayer" because he prays the Rosary, which Gendron considers to be meaningless repetition.

“The Lord Jesus clearly taught His followers how to pray and how not to pray.” And Catholics will say, “AMEN” to that as well and point out that we pray the Lord’s prayer at every single Mass and incorporate it into just about every form of prayer, novena, etc. that we know of.

Gendron points out, “He said, "do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words" (Mat. 6:7).” And again, Catholics will resound with a hearty “AMEN” and point out that repeating our petitions is not “meaningless”, unless Gendron thinks that most of the Psalms are meaningless because of their constant repetition? Of course he doesn’t believe this. And neither do we. But that doesn’t stop Mike from portraying the Church as practicing “meaningless repetition” in our prayers.

We believe the Scriptural example of repeating meaningful prayers is worthy of imitating, and so we do exactly that. We believe that when Mary said “all generations shall call me blessed” (Lk 1:48) that God didn’t put a limit on how many times a person can call her “blessed”, and that he didn’t put a limit on how many times we can meditate on Scripture as we recite meaningful prayers (which is what we do while saying the Rosary) and that the Angel’s words to Mary are worth repeating because they are part of Scripture.
Why Do Catholics Pray the Hail Mary?

Catholics also believe, just as the “pillars of the reformation” did*, that Mary is an important person in regards to Christ, and because *of* Christ, because she gave birth to Him, Who hand-selected His own mother. And because God gave her an important role in bringing us Christ, she is important to us, because Christ is important to us as our Savior.
*The Reformers and Their Catholic Beliefs

Gendron goes on to report, as fact, on a claim (spurious as may turn out to be) by a person that allegedly said that the Pope “reportedly said” that a divorcee living in sin with another person can receive Communion, after her Priest told her she can’t. Fortunately, Gendron provides a link to the spurious sounding claim which, while promoting it as fact, quotes the words that the Pope “reportedly said” which are not at all what the author tries to make them to be. Gendron’s willingness to report this story as actual fact is yet another reason why he is an “unreliable source for truth”.

These example can be, and have been, multiplied over and over. Gendron has consistently misrepresented the Catholic Church for as long as he has been charging people money to listen to him do it. If you want to know what Catholics believe, go straight to the source, the Church. Find a Catholic friend who actually knows the teachings. Or, better yet, grab a Catechism off a shelf at a library or used-book store, or find a friend willing to give you a free copy, and use it. Read Scripture with the acknowledgement that you are a fallible interpreter and can potentially misunderstand what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you through God’s Word. Any time you have a question about what the Church teaches, and why, and where it came from, etc…, get the facts. Do not rely on a person who has proved, time and again, that he is either willing to intentionally misrepresent the Church, or is willing to make false statements about the Church in ignorance. If you want to disagree with Catholic Christianity, fine. But disagree with what we ACTUALLY teach and believe, instead of a misconception of what we believe.




Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Refuting Mike Gendron's “The Controversial Pope Francis”


(I wrote this in letter format so you can see exactly how Mike Gendron will see it.  My responses are in blue.)
 
Mr. Gendron, in regards to your latest newsletter, I am genuinely interested in hearing your explanation of why you chose to only report tiny bits of fact and then mix it with generous amounts of speculation, unsupported assertion, and logical fallacies.

For example, the very first claim is that Pope Francis suppreses the Truth of God's Word. But doesn't this beg the question (even if not in the formal sense)...who is interpreting the Truth of God's Word, and under what Authority. Doesn't one need to establish that he or she has some authority to interpret God's Word before accusing someone else of suppressing It?

Secondly, please cite, in its full context from an actual Catholic source, ANY Catholic Doctrine which the Pope has opposed or contradicted...and provide the full context of the alleged contradiction/opposition. I believe you will find that this assertion is completely false and unfounded.
 
"Pope Francis is turning out to be one of the most controversial popes in modern history since his election to the papacy on March 13. During the four months he has been on the papal throne, he has made numerous statements that not only suppress the truth of God's Word, but also oppose the doctrines of the Catholic Church. "

I believe people can find controversy wherever they want. So far I have yet to see anything more controversial from this Pope than any other Pope in modern history. I disagree, wholeheartedly with the assertions here, but still...let's see what you offer as evidence to support your assertions, Mr. Gendron.

"The day he was elected pope he said he would pray to Mary for the protection of Rome. "

How does that suppress the Word of God or oppose Catholic teaching? Doesn't the Word of God says that we ARE to pray for one another (Rom15:30, Eph 6:18-19) and show several times where Christians are praying for, and requesting prayer from, one another (2Thess 1:11, 2Thess 3:1)? Does Scripture say that when we pass on from this life that we are dead, or that we are alive...that our God is God of the living (Mk 9:4, Mk 12:26-27)? Does going to be with God make us ineligible to pray for our brethren on earth? (Chapter and verse please, Mr. Gendron.)

"Later he appeared to contradict himself by saying, "He who doesn't pray to the Lord, prays to the devil." Is the pope saying that Catholics who pray to Mary and the saints are praying to the devil? "

First of all, how is it a contradiction to ask Mary for intercession, and also to pray to God? Are we not allowed to ask for intercessions? (Chapter and verse please.) Second, I'm not sure if you're “begging the question”, or committing a fallacy of a “non sequitur”, but no, the Pope is not saying Catholics pray to the devil when we pray to the Saints in Heaven. Praying to the Saints in Heaven does not preclude praying to God, does it? It sure doesn't seem to be an issue to the Angels and Saints in Heaven who are offering our prayers to God in Revelation 5:8. Are those Angels cooperating in sin, Mike? It also didn't seem to be an issue when Mary communicated with the Angel, instead of talking directly to God, in Lk chapter 1. And it didn't seem to be an issue when David spoke to Nathan instead of going straight to God in 2 Sammuel. And it didn't seem to be an issue for the Israelites to go through the prophets...ad nauseum... Mr. Gendron, what is the hang-up about asking the Saints in Heaven to pray for us? Is there some Scriptural prohibition against it that you can show us?

"In May, the pope said everyone, even atheists, are redeemed with the Blood of Christ. The pope followed this heresy with another placating statement, saying, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" "

Mr. Gendron, who did Christ die for? Did He die for the sins of just a few? Or did He die so that ALL could be saved? And are you saying that it is a heresy to believe what Christ Himself told the Pharisees about coming to heal the sick? Did Christ die for ALL those who need Him, or only for those who are already saved? (Chapter and verse please.)

Mr. Gendron, can athiests never come to believe? If not, then what's the point of spreading the Gospel? Why did Christ command the spreading of the Gospel to the unbelievers, the Gentiles, the Pagans, all nations, if they will never believe and if Christ did not die for them? Did Christ send His Apostles out only to the believers? But if they can come to believe and be saved, then how is it wrong to say they have been redeemed? Maybe you have a different definition of “redeemed”? 

And what is the problem with not judging a person who is gay...who has a same-sex attraction? Did Christ not tell us not to judge a person? You seem to be implying that the Pope is okay with the ACT of homosexual sex. But that's not true, is it Mr. Gendron? In fact, didn't the Pope, in that very same conversation that you snipped from, clarify that his whole point is to love the sinner, but hate the sin? That's the exact message I got from the Pope's comments, and it's been the consistent teaching of the Church for 2,000 years now, and is the message in the Gospels. The Pope neither suppressed the Word of God, nor did he oppose Catholic doctrine.

"Possibly his most controversial decision was to make the reporting of sex crimes against children illegal."

WHAT?! Mr. Gendron, instead of inventing blatant misrepresentations of half-truths, if there is even that in your claim, how about you simply provide the facts for your readers. The facts are, that no other institution in the world, religious or otherwise, has done more to protect children from abuse and make it easier for clergy, the laity, and children and parents to recognize signs of abuse. The facts are that the Church has established a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to abuse, handing over to authorities any Priest who is legitimately accused of such behavior, and has even gone so far as to change its Canon Law to make it easier to punish accused Priests...even if there is not enough evidence for a civil prosecution. The facts are that the Church has taken aggressive proactive steps to ensure that it is the safest place for children. Mr. Gendron, what has your church done to be proactive in this area? Has your church volunteered itself to be put under the scrutiny of outside investigative studies, such as the John Jay Report? Has your church instructed millions of children and adults in how to recognize abuse? Has your church installed Victim Assistance Coordinators to ensure that every victim is heard? Has your church educated its members to know that the majority of abuse of this nature takes place at home, by married men, and that children are 100 times more likely to be abused at their public schools than by a Catholic Priest? Mr. Gendron, why hasn't EVERY institution, religious or otherwise, taken such aggressive and proactive measures to protect our children? (Source: http://www.themediareport.com/fast-facts/ )

"The Vatican also jumped on the heretical bandwagon last month by offering indulgences, to reduce time in purgatory, to those who follow Pope Francis on Twitter during World Youth Day. As foolish as this sounds to intelligent people, we must wonder if Catholics will ever wake up and realize their religion teaches a false and fatal gospel that leads them on the broad road to destruction? How many more blatantly false teachings must come out of the Vatican before Catholics realize they have been deceived about life's most critical issue, the salvation of their soul?

Catholics, who believe a purifying fire will purge away their sins, are deluded victims of a fatal fabrication. The diabolical invention of a place for the purification of sins called Purgatory is not only a flagrant denial of the sufficiency of Jesus Christ, but also a blasphemous rejection of His precious blood as the only purification for sin (1 John 1:7)."

Wait, so teaching something [Purgatory] that is not only in the Scriptures, but also rooted deeply in ancient Christianity, and in fact mentioned as in passing...as though it were just common knowledge, and has never been challenged up until the 16th century is heretical? Scripture, the Word of God, completely fabricated a place where a man, after he has died, and is saved, can suffer loss as through fire (1Cor 3:13-15)? God was just fabricating facts when He inspired the authors to explain how David was punished for his sin, AFTER he had been forgiven (2Sam 12:13-18)? The Apostle John simply fabricated the fact that nothing unclean shall enter into Heaven, and Jesus was just making things up when He said to be “perfect” (Rev 21:27)? Was Paul just kidding around, making up heretical ideas, when he said there is a place or a process whereby the SPIRITS of just men are made perfect (Heb 12:22-23)?

Mr. Gendron, you are misrepresenting the facts again. It almost seems like you do this in purpose, as though you want to make the Church look bad, even if you have to twist Truth into untruth to do so. Is that what you are doing Mr. Gendron, or did you honestly just not take the time to carefully read and check your sources? I know that you have been provided the correct explanation of Purgatory, which you misrepresented some time ago, by a Mr. John Martignoni. Did you not read his letters? He clearly spelled out the Scriptural and historical basis, and the actual Catholic Doctrine on Purgatory...which you still misrepresent to this day. Can you please, for the sake of your readers, provide them the ENTIRE quotes from the Catholic Encyclopedia or Catechism so that tey can see it in proper context, with their own eyes, and read it for themselves. Why do you only want to show them the cherry-picked word or two that you snatched out of half a sentence and then twisted around to say something that it doesn't really say in context...and then apply your own personal interpretation onto that misrepresentation? Do you not trust your readers with the Truth?

"The concept of Purgatory became a Catholic doctrine around 600 A.D. due to the fanaticism of Pope Gregory the Great. He developed the doctrine through visions of a purifying fire. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Gregory said Catholics "will expiate their faults by purgatorial flames," and "the pain is more intolerable than any one can suffer in this life." Centuries later, at the Council of Florence in 1431, Purgatory was pronounced an infallible dogma."

Actually, Mike, the concept of Purgatory dates back to the Jews, is found in Scripture, and can be found as early as the 2nd century mentioned casually, as in passing. I'll spare you my own long-winded response, and just provide you 2 of several links. The contents should sound familiar because Mr. Martignoni and other well-meaning Catholics have provided you with the same information in the past...which you obviously ignored.



"Over the centuries, billions of dollars have been paid to Roman Catholic priests to obtain relief from sufferings in Purgatory's fire. The Catholic clergy has taught that purchasing indulgences, novenas and Mass cards can shorten the period of suffering in Purgatory. When a Catholic dies, money is extracted from mourning loved ones to shorten the deceased's punishment in Purgatory. We have heard of Catholics who have willed their entire estates to their religion so that perpetual masses could be offered for them after they die. It is no wonder that the Catholic religion has become the richest institution in the world. The buying and selling of God's forgiveness has been a very lucrative business for the Vatican.

Another motivation for Rome to fabricate the heretical doctrine of Purgatory is its powerful effect on controlling people. Ultimately, the enslavement and subjugation of people is the goal of every false religion, and Purgatory does exactly that. The concept of a terrifying prison with a purging fire, governed by religious leaders, is a most brilliant invention. It holds people captive, not only in this life but also in the next life. Catholic clergy will not say how many years people have to suffer for their sins or how many Masses must be purchased before they can be released from the flames. This dreadful fear and uncertainty is the most ruthless form of religious bondage and deception! Only the truth of God's Word will set Catholics free from the bondage of deception. May all Christians lovingly confront them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Click here to see our latest broadcast on the pope's statements."

Again, Mr. Gendron, both of these paragraphs were addressed directly and thoroughly by Mr. Martignoni here:

http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/newsletter/detail/195 so there's no reason for you to have to listen to me explain it again.

You make a lot of spurious claims with no source to back it up, and try to make the Church look sinister for doing exactly what the Scriptures model for us. Tell me Mr. Gendron, do you accept money for your services? Or do you work for free? Would you or your pastor reject a stipend from family members who want to give you something for performing a funeral service? And can you do your readers a favor and trace all these “billions of dollars” that have gone to Roman Catholic Priests and show us, with actual source data, how much money we are really talking about per Priest, per year, and how that money is spent (such as, helping the poor and infirm, paying the electricity bills for the building used during the ceremony, etc...)? Then offer a comparison to every non-Catholic preacher and do the same tracking.

Mr. Gendron, whether you are doing it intentionally or not, you are misrepresenting the Catholic Church...bearing false witness against Catholics. In other words, you are helping, whether intentionally or not, to propagate lies. You are not doing anyone any favors by doing that, except the “father of lies”. Please be more careful that you correctly represent Catholic Doctrine, and allow your readers to make well informed decisions, based on actual Catholic Doctrine from actual Catholic sources in their full context.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

We’re All Going to Die!

Death. It’s one of those things that most people try not to think about. And if they are thinking about it, it’s usually not in a positive light. We tend to associate death with lament, angst, fear, horror, or some other negative emotion/feeling. And in reality, that seems very natural because humans were not originally created to die…it’s not part of the original design. Man was created to LIVE. But it is a reality that, from the first act of rebellion against our Creator, death entered the scene and it is appointed for all men to die a physical death (cff. Rom 5:12-21, Hb 9:27).

 
So, is there a way to view death is a positive light? Is there anything good about death? Is there anything about death that we can look forward to? SURE! But let’s back up for a second and take a wider view before answering those questions. There are few things in life that are certain. Of those certainties are:

1 – Death. All men will die. There is nothing you can do to escape the reality of experiencing physical death. No amount of money, popularity, happiness, spirituality, etc. can prevent the eventual demise of the body. Whether it’s five minutes from now, or 100 years, everyone (all of you reading this right now, regardless of when or where you came across it, and even those not reading this) will die. Maybe it will be in a horrible accident. Maybe you will grow old and simply “fall asleep forever”. Or maybe you will get a disease, or be attacked by an animal, or fall off a cliff, or have a heart attack, or a stroke, or whatever…we will all die at one point or another. Death is an unavoidable reality that all men experience. Even though it was not part of our original design, it has become “natural” for us; it’s just part of the picture now. We’re all going to die; but that’s not the end - not by a long shot.

2 – Judgment. I won’t go into particular and general judgment here. Suffice it to say that, after death, all men will be judged according to the state of his soul…his spirit (Jn 3:5), and according to his deeds (Rom 2:5-8, 2Cor 5:10, 11:15, 1Pet 1:17, Rev 20:12-13, Col 3:24-25, Mt 19:16-17, etc…). During your earthly life, you will have either obtained supernatural grace, or you will not have. You will have been Baptized into Christ (cff. Ez 36:25-27, Acts 2:38-39, Jn 3:5,22, Gal 3:27), or you will not have. You will have accepted a life in Christ, Who is the only way to the Father (Jn 14:6), or you will not have. You will either have “fallen asleep in Christ” or you will not have. And once you have died, there is no way to come back for a “re-do” (cf. Lk 16:22-26). You had your time on earth to get it done, and you either did or you didn’t, and no amount of wishful thinking is going to change what you would have wanted to have changed…barring a miracle of God (cf. Mt 7:16-27). (There is also invincible ignorance, which I won’t discuss here because it tends to side-track.)

3 – Hell. This is an “either/or” with #4 (below). If you were on the “or” side of Judgment, if you did not receive that grace and did not have life in Christ and were not Baptized into Christ, if you did not love but hated others (1Jn 3:14-15) or if you separated yourself from God and did not repent, or neglected the poor or His little ones, (Mt 25: 31-46) your eternal existence will be hell.

So many people think of this as some medieval punishment willed by God. It’s not. It's a punishment that a person chooses. Hell is torment, but not because God wants to eternally torment anyone. It’s torment because it was created for the devil and those who followed the devil in renouncing God (Mt 25:41). Hell is eternal existence in the absence of God. And for those who rejected God, or those who did not receive the supernatural Grace to co-exist with God, and did not choose to live in Christ, it was their choice, not God’s. God gives us all the grace to come to know Him. We all have an inner calling, so to speak, to know our Creator. God does not will for anyone to be damned. Hell is a choice that a person makes when they choose not to unite themselves to God, or they choose to separate themselves from God and then choose not to repent up to their death.

Think about it. If you were told that you were going to go to space (and for whatever reason there was no choice in the matter, just as experiencing death has no opt-out), but you chose not to wear the spacesuit that was offered, whose fault would it be when you were shot up to space and you died for lack of equipment? The fault would be yours. It was your choice not to be prepared.

Here’s another way you might look at it. If you lived your entire life for yourself, doing what YOU wanted and fighting for the causes YOU wanted, and only worshipping God the way YOU wanted, regardless of how HE wanted to be worshipped, you have essentially set yourself up as your own God. Then imagine you eternally meet God, and He’s not the God that YOU wanted Him to be…He does not match YOUR ideals, His ways are not YOUR ways, He doesn’t support the things YOU fought for in life, He doesn’t give YOU the respect/homage for your own ideals/opinions that you would expect is due to you, etc…  How much pride would you have to let go of to worship Him?  And would you be willing to do that?  Satan obviously isn't, and he was one of God's angels...mightier than any of us humans (obvisously, since he has so far been able to tempt us with an array of sin when we stray from Christ).  

So, having failed to accept God's grace which is neccessary to have eternal life with Him, as horrible as Hell would be, being eternally separated from the God whom we were created to be united with, to Hell you would go by your own choice, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth (Mt 8:12, 13:42,50, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30, Lk 13:28), and an eternal reminder that you are there by your own choices, your own fault. You won’t blame God, because you will be eternally aware of those instances where God nudged you in the right direction, and you ignored Him or chose contrary to Him.

4 – Heaven. This is the other “either/or”. If you died with supernatural grace and had not separated yourself from God through serious sin, you are destined to spend eternity with God and will *know* Him and see Him as He is (1Jn 3:2, 1Cor 13:12, Rev 22:4). This is the destiny of every man. Heaven is God’s Will for every single human person He has created, regardless of whether they end up choosing His Will or not. Granted, not all of us will be as clean as others, and will need a bath before we go into the house, so to speak, but we’ll be there as soon as we have been cleaned up…purged…since nothing unclean can enter Heaven (Rev 21:27, cff. 1Cor 3:13-15, Heb 12:22-23). In Heaven we will be with God and join that great cloud of witnesses (Hb 12:1, cf. Rev 6:9-11) and experience that eternal glory which eye has not seen, nor ear heard (1Cor 2:9). And it won’t be for just a passing moment or for a few years, or decades, or centuries…it is eternal (Rev 22:5, cf. Mt 25:21,23).

So, back to our questions: What are the positives about death? If we have decided to follow Christ and renounce our own desires for the sake of His, and receive that grace He offers freely to us, we can view death as a “birth” or sorts, and a joyous occasion. Just as our physical birth brought us from our mothers’ wombs and into this world, our physical death will separate our bodies from our spirits and allow our spirits to move on to that next step in the journey of life…eternity with God. We can view death as a passageway to Heaven.

We can even view the pain and suffering we experience during our death as part of that purging process to clean us up, so to speak. For those of us who wind up depending completely on others to care for us as we near death, we can learn to let go of our own will, our own ways of doing things, our own preferences. We can let go of our pride as we submit to the need to have someone else bathe us or wipe us. We can let go of our desires for our favorite foods as the reality sinks in that we no longer will be free to eat whatever we want; we might not be physically capable of eating in the first place. We can let go of the notion we had of “having all the answers” as we slowly realize that we have no idea what’s going to happen next and we can learn to depend on others to serve us instead of always trying to be self-sufficient. We can grow to realize that we have no control over anything that matters in this world, and that only God is really in charge. We can learn to let go of ourselves and to learn to ask more about what God wants for our lives, instead of what *we* want. We can learn to put God at the center. Not only can our death be a positive event, but preparing for it and learning from it can be positive as well because, in viewing death in this way, we can grow toward God through the reality of death.

Heck, we can even look at the reality of death as a warning to us, given the only two options we have after our judgment. While it’s not the ideal way to view the worship of God, if you have the only two ends (Hell or Heaven) in mind while you make your decisions in life, I bet most people will make decisions that don’t jeopardize their eternal salvation.

We are all going to die. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just a reality. It is a reality that can be for us the next step to eternal glory with our Father in Heaven. And that is a WONDERFUL thing.



Photo Courtesy of Gualberto107 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net