Thursday, January 1, 2015

Pastor Charles Lawson on the Virgin Birth

My wife and I were sent a video link to a Fundamental Baptist preacher's sermon on the Virgin Birth, and what that means for Christians. (The Virgin Birth as explained by pastor Charles Lawson.) 


I half-expected the sermon to be the usual anti-Catholic hate-speech that I am sent from time to time by anonymous readers.  But instead of an anonymous person, this was sent to us by a good friend of my wife's, someone who genuinely cares about us and for whom we also care and pray daily.  So it should not have surprised me when the sermon was far from the usual.  While he did accuse Catholics of "worshipping" Mary a couple times, he spent most of his time sounding Catholic on the topic of Mary.  Compared to the usual, it was music to my ears. 


In watching the video, I was excited to find that we have so much common ground on such an important person as Christ's Mother. I couldn't help but wonder if this pastor knows that his views on Mary are mirrored in the Catholic Church.  The Mother of God (Christ, the "God-Man") , giving her flesh/DNA to the Word, Mary as the fulfillment of the OT Tabernacle and Arc of the New Covenant...wow!  I've watched many non-Catholic preachers talk about Mary, but never in such a positive light and with such adherence to the Catholic perspective.  The parts of his sermon about Mary that really excited me were from the beginning to about 8:41, 9:09, 10:20 - 10:30, 10:48 (minus the accusation), 12:21 and 12:45 - 14:33 where he talks about all of the above, and more.  I think every Catholic can give a hearty AMEN! to much of that. 

At 8:41 and at 10:48 he says that Catholics go too far and "worship" her and "elevate her to the level of the Godhead".  Unfortunately he doesn't give any examples or explanation of why he believes that.  He doesn't provide any Church doctrine that makes him conclude it.  He simply says that we do.  He then says that, while we say we don't, we really do.  That's false witness on his part, and the only part of his sermon with which I take serious issue.

Catholic doctrine could not be any clearer that we are to worship God, and Him Alone.  Even our Catechism has an entire section devoted to "You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me", and the topic of worship and adoration of God is discussed in several places.  My guess is that the pastor has a different definition of "worship"?  Catholics (along with some other protestants) still believe in Sacramental worship of God.  Some non-Catholics define worship as "prayer".  I've discussed this before, whether worship equals prayer and the worship that was prophesied in Malachi 1:11.  In my own opinion, if this pastor is thinking that "prayer" equals "worship", it's because very few Christians have retained that Sacramental worship of God and are only left with prayer.  While Catholic worship of God *involves* prayer, and is sometimes in the form of prayer, it is ever so much more than that.

Or maybe he thinks we give Mary "too much" honor, and thereby "worship" her?  Given the honor that God gave Mary, the honor of giving birth to the Second Person of the Trinity, I don't think any Christian can ever honor Mary more than God did, do you?    However, this pastor gave no examples or explanation of what he meant, so we don't really know how he views worship, or why he believes Catholics "worship" Mary. 

The irony here is that, while he accuses us of worshipping Mary, he says that Christians SHOULD honor her and call her Blessed, and he hammers hard on these points.  Well, that's exactly what Catholics DO.  So, why are we "worshipping" her for doing exactly what even he says we should be doing?

Near the middle of the sermon he began to hone in on other points.  There were a couple other really neat things he mentioned that I want to point out.  At around 19:45, he talks about the "power of God" and "power of the Holy Spirit of God".  Scripture talks about the power of God in many places.  Paul, especially, talks about this in 1 Cor 23-25...that we  "preach Christ crucified" because that's "the power of God".  That's why you see so many Catholics with crucifixes!

At 25:27 and 29:48 he talks about Christ the King.  AMEN!  Christ IS the King!  Doesn't that give us a deeper and more profound look at what Jesus tells Peter in Mt 16:18-19?  Those words, in light of Christ being King, would only naturally be read in the same light as Is 22:22.  That's why Catholics, pointing to the keys being given to Peter, and Peter alone, recognize Peter and his office as being conferred by Christ.  Christ made him a "vicar" or "steward" of Christ.  That's one reason why we call the Pope the "Vicar of Christ". (See also Jn 21:15-17.)

I mostly ignored the short portion on the end-times.  Since Christ said we won't know, I figure we really won't know and had all just better make sure we are prepared for our own death, which we also cannot predict.

I loved the closing remarks about the depth of Christ's sacrifice for us (34:00 - 35:30).  That was touching and profound.  There are depths we will likely never reach in understanding just how much God sacrificed to become man and suffer for us.  I had to chuckle and wonder how this preacher wasn't already Catholic.  My guess is that it's due to the typical misunderstandings. 

Archbishop Fulton J Sheen once said, "There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church....As a matter of fact, if we Catholics believed all of the untruths and lies which were said against the Church, we probably would hate the Church a thousand times more than they do." (Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen -- preface to RADIO REPLIES )

I wonder, since he didn't give any examples of how to do it, how exactly is a Christian to go about honoring Mary as he says we should?  What act(s) of honor would be worthy of honoring the Mother of Jesus Christ, whom God first honored?


5 comments:

  1. Pastor Lawson simply isn't anti catholic. His criticism of the church is very mild. Pastor Lawson actually led me to the catholic church!

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  2. Im a Catholic and ive seen plenty of Catholics bowing down to a statue of Mary and that is idol worship. Its wrong to bow down to a statue.

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    1. Wouldn't you agree that the "bowing" is not relevant, rather it's whether the person has the intent to "worship"? In other words, what has my physical posture got to do with whether I am offering "worship"? Didn't the Shunammite woman bow/prostrate herseld to Elisha? Yet God and His prophet knew she was not worshipping Elisha, despite her physical gesture. (2Kings 4:37, but read the whole chapter for context.)

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    2. What I am getting at, Mike, is that our gestures can facilitate our worship, and help us to put our whole selves (mind, body, spirit) into worshipful Adoration of God. This is part of why Catholics kneel, stand, sit, and pray in common with each other during certain parts of the Mass.
      However, a specific bodily gesture is not equated with worship, nor is worship defined by a specific physical gesture. I can use the same exact gesture in veneration (venerating a Saint or a relic while kneeling, for example) as I can in worship of God. But that does not mean that I am giving a certain Saint or relic the attributes of God, nor am I giving that person/object the adoration that is due to God alone.

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  3. Wow,it's the first time I read an explanation that describes so exactly, plainly, and yet almost thoroughly, what I think is the perpetual misunderstanding between catholics and protestants. Thumbs up and thanks! I will surely come back to your blog! :-)

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