Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cameron's Youtube Gospel Presentation (Part 5)

Repentance is a word very much out of vogue with modern evangelicalism. Some redefine its meaning to something less than turning away from sin, others make it optional rather than a command, and there are others still who have banished the subject to "Area 51" of the church growth manual.

But turning in faith towards Christ means turning away from our previous affections. Jesus said "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). As Todd Friel says, repentance and faith are two wings of the same bird that fly us to the Savior . . .

Go Back To Part 4
Go Back To Part 1

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cameron's Youtube Gospel Presentation (Part 4)

As the world asks the question "how can a loving God send people to hell" I am reminded of a Catholic monk in Germany more than 500 years ago who was plagued by a different question. Everyone else in the monastery thought this monk was crazy because he was consumed with the paradox of how can a good God pardon anyone in the light of man's continual sin against Him. That monk was Martin Luther, he was the only sane voice in that cloister, and he was asking the right question.

The cross of Jesus Christ means so much more than Jesus coming to be our example or to identify with our suffering. God's demands of justice must be met. You cannot solve the dilemna of God's wrath by ignoring it, denying it, or pretending it's not there. But when it is addressed honestly, we get to see God's glorious solution, a penal substitute, the God-Man Jesus Christ. That God may be both just and the justifier . . .

Go On To Part 5
Go Back To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cameron's Youtube Gospel Presentation (Part 3)

It never ceases to amaze me, the lengths many go to in the quest for relevance. Yet Hebrews 9:27 tells us the most relevant thing of all. The ultimate statistic that one out of one people die - and after that comes judgment! We do not become relevant as Christians by mirroring our culture. We become relevant by being different. By being willing to discuss the subject that others try to avoid. Death and judgment are the two elephants in the living room of every lost sinner who tries to suppress the truth in unrighteousness. But alerting them to these realities may well be the kindest thing we could do and can help to awaken them from their delusion.

Jesus said: "Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops. I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!" (Luke 12:2-5)

Go On To Part 4
Go Back To Part 2
Go Back To Part 1

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cameron's Youtube Gospel Presentation (Part 2)

Today we move on to the second installment in this five part Gospel presentation. Part two deals with the reality that few acknowledge, and even less are willing to face - human depravity. The Bible clearly teaches over and over that unregenerate man is dead in sin, unable and unwilling to serve or please God. Many modern churches have bought into the cultural creed of inflating self esteem and giving therapeutic answers to sinners who are guilty before Almighty God. Man's primary need is not happiness, but righteousness. and it is only when men see their unrighteousness that they begin to "hunger and thirst after righteousness" . . .

Go On To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cameron's Youtube Gospel Presentation (Part 1)

I was recently contacted by some friends in Denmark who dwell at the conservative end of the Lutheran movement. They were keen to produce something that was a brief yet thorough, accessible yet biblical, and understandable yet theological. I wrote a script for five short two to three minute videos which correlated with my Anatomy of the Gospel series in which I laid out the five essential elements of a Gospel presentation - The Holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, the necessity of judgment, the work of Christ, and the human response this demands.

This also serves as a response to my critics who have often called for me to provide an alternative that accompanies my criticism of certain media related attempts at proclaiming the Christian Gospel. I think my friends Jonas and Filip did an excellent job with all the technical aspects of this project with the limited resources we had. We are not attempting to compete with the production values of ministries with far greater funding. But I hope you will agree that the content of this series is an engaging and biblically sound presentation of the beautiful Gospel purchased by Jesus Christ's precious blood.

This is a Danish project and as such it contains Danish subtitles. Some of my American friends think I need english subtitles as well - at least any word containing an "r". Anyway, here is part one. I'd love to hear your feedback . . .

Go On To Part 2

Friday, March 19, 2010

Coming Soon - My Youtube Gospel Presentation

My Rob Bell Exposed video on youtube has garnered a lot of criticism from those in the emergent camp. This has already been discussed extensively on this blog so I won't retread old ground. But I will zero in on one common complaint. There are many who have asked for me to bring an alternative to the table. If I don't like Nooma videos then why don't I come up with an alternative.

Well, my 5 "Trooma" videos are now ready to go. They are five short youtube videos between two and three minutes long that are meant to combine into a simple, clear, and thorough Gospel presentation. In my recent series "The Anatomy Of The Gospel" I identified five core elements of a Gospel proclamation.

1. The Holiness of God.
2. The sinfulness of man.
3. The necessity of judgment.
4. The Atoning work of Christ.
5. The human response it demands.

The five videos will each be devoted to one of those subjects in the above mentioned order. I am not deluded enough to think that they can match the production quality of the Nooma videos. But I hope you will agree that their content is thought provoking, biblically sound, and a compelling presentation of the Christian Gospel. My Danish friends Filip Ray and Jonas Bock looked after the entire technical side allowing me to devote my time to preparing the script and presenting it. Jonas has also done an outstanding job with production, editing, and Danish subtitles on a shoestring budget. Coming Monday, I look forward to presenting part 1 of this series.

As a prelude, I have included this video of Paul Washer and his diagnosis of the "modern gospel" . . .

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Be A Real Man - Biblically!

I really let fly on Monday with a rant about the crisis of manhood among professing Christians - particularly in Europe. It would be wise to season my tirade in the knowledge of my own shortcomings in the masculinity stakes. When I hear the stories about martyrs who march to their death for the sake of their testimony, I cry to God and ask Him to help with my trembling fear. When I hear about those who preach in places like North Korea, Iran, and Sudan, I have to confess to my own cowardice at the thought of doing something so bold. As I look around the world at my persecuted brothers and sisters I am overwhelmed with my own unworthiness to identify with these true disciples.

I am far from the benchmark of masculinity. But I can do nothing but be exasperated at the profound levels of cowardice among men who profess Christ in the land of Denmark. So much so that some even marvel at my "great boldness" in debating false teachers in cyberspace. I am constantly haunted by the thought of John Wycliffe in that rat infested prison cell, translating the Scriptures so that modern men could have their very own Bible collecting dust on the shelf. Oh how the hour cries out for men full of conviction and Holy Spirit fire. Men held captive by the glorious Gospel that Christ delivered with His own precious blood. Men who know what it means to be a real man - biblically!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Marching Orders For A Backslidden Church

My trip to the southern California is almost over and I'll soon be packing my bags and heading back to the to the dark and dreary climate of Europe (the weather isn't great either). One of the major reasons why the spiritual climate is so cold in Denmark, and the rest of western Europe for that matter, is that preachers tend to behave more like figure skaters that men. The onward surge of feminist ideology in Europe has pacified men to the point where few men are willing to go into battle for any cause. And when it comes to "contending for the once for all delivered faith", few european preachers can legitimately carry a "man card".

And by "real men" I am not talking about a cross between Chuck Norris and Clint Eastwood who can single handedly defeat a battalion of Navy Seals. I'm talking about men who are submitted to God's Word and honor Him by loving their wives and discipling their families. Real men who love the Gospel that was purchased with Christ's blood enough to speak out against the gospel invented in the minds of therapists. A Gospel about perpetrators that need righteousness, not victims that need self esteem. A Gospel where the stakes are heaven and hell, not happiness and health. A Gospel with a Savior Who is a substitute for wicked sinners under God's just wrath, so much more than an example for spiritual seekers to follow.

Lord please give us men who speak as prophets and not as pragmatists. Dead men walking who know that the only source of life for those who are dead in sin is the breath of the Holy Spirit. That the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart and the only thing that can change that sinful heart of stone is a supernatural transforming work wrought by God's Holy Spirit.

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules Ezekiel 36:25-27).

Everyone knows that the the visible church today isn't in great shape. In fact, many would say that it's in as bad of a shape if not worse as when the Reformation took place. Here, Phil Johnson tackles this subject at the 2010 Shepherd's Conference.

Please click here for other messages from the 2010 Shepherd's Conference.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What Every Christian Should Know About The Inquisition

While on the subject of Roman Catholicism in recent posts I thought it worthwhile to post this excellent article by Dr Peter Hammond telling the real story of the Inquisition . . .

One of the re-occurring accusations against Christianity is that Christians are responsible for: "The Inquisition!"

Frequently, while trying to love one’s neighbour and share the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, Christians receive some tirade against "The Church" and "The Inquisition!" The Inquisition is used as some kind of general-purpose club with which to bludgeon Evangelical Christians.

On one occasion while I was being interviewed on a national secular radio programme, on the publication of my book: Biblical Principles for Africa, the first caller attacked me and my new book over something that the book doesn't even deal with - she claimed that Christians were responsible for “the Inquisition” which “burned thousands of witches!”

The Anti-Christian Inquisition
When I finally had the chance to respond to this emotional outburst, I had to point out that a vast majority burned at the stake by the Spanish Inquisition were not witches at all, but Protestant believers. Should one study the court records of the inquisitors it becomes very clear that the inquisitors were by no means Christians at all. They would vindictively condemn to death Christians who believed in, who translated, or who taught, the Holy Scriptures. Often the inquisitors contemptuously tossed the victim’s Bible into the fire to be burned with the martyr.

Anyone who has read Foxes Book of Martyrs, or similar historical records of the cruel persecutions endured by the Waldensians, the Huguenots and other Protestant reformers, will know that the Inquisition was anti-Christian. The Inquisition occurred at a time of blatant corruption, when priesthoods, bishoprics and even papal seats were bought and sold. There were many ungodly men dominating all levels of leadership in the medieval Roman church. Far from the Inquisition being Christians persecuting non-Christians, the reality is that it was the very opposite. The Inquisition was an anti-Christian persecution of Protestant believers.

The Judas Factor
The church has never been perfect. Even amongst the twelve Apostles there was a Judas Iscariot who betrayed Christ. Yet it would not be fair to make Judas a representative of the twelve Apostles! The total record of the church needs to be examined, and the good far outweighs the bad. Besides of which the Christian Faith is centered in Christ, not in Christians.

When someone brings up the question of evil perpetrated in God’s Name, we need to first examine whether the people involved were true Christians or not. Our Lord Jesus Christ made it abundantly clear: "Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your Name, cast out demons in Your Name and done many wonders in Your Name, and then I will declare to them, I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (Matthew 7:21-23)

Our Lord Jesus Christ made it clear that some people are truly part of His Church, the elect are all those who are regenerated by His Holy Spirit. However, not all of those in the larger, visible church are members of the true, invisible Church of Christ. The Lord warned that there would be weeds among the wheat and goats amongst His sheep. Many who claim to be Christians are not Christians at all.

The Historical Facts
When people bring up the Inquisition we need to ask them what they actually know about the Inquisition? Seldom has the individual done any research on the matter at all. The Spanish Inquisition began in the year AD1233. This is almost three hundred years before the Protestant Reformation. So, Protestants had no part in the Inquisition except as victims. Bible-believing, Evangelical Protestants were often on the receiving end of the Inquisition, tortured and killed for their beliefs. This included tens of thousands of Waldensian Christians tortured and murdered in the most brutal ways and the Lollards of England, the field workers of the Reformation, who were mercilessly persecuted. The English Reformer, William Tyndale, was burned at the stake in Belgium for the crime of having translated the Bible into the English language.

Protestants were burned at the stake as "heretics" in Spain, Italy, France, England and Scotland. Yet the Dutch Protestants suffered even worse persecutions at the hands of the Catholic Inquisition. Under King Phillip II of Spain, more than 18,000 Protestants were executed in the Netherlands. In an attempt to force them to confess to "heresy", both men and women were mercilessly tortured.

Excommunicating Holland
At that time, Spain was the most powerful country in the world. Holland was occupied by Spain. In 1566 Phillip II issued a proclamation demanding that all his subjects, accept the decrees made by the Council of Trent. Early in 1567, to crush the flourishing Protestant Faith in Holland, Phillip sent in the Duke of Alva, who unleashed a reign of terror upon the Dutch Protestants. In 1568 the Inquisition condemned all three million inhabitants of the Netherlands to death as "heretics".

Under the courageous leadership of William Prince of Orange, the Dutch Protestants rose up in resistance against the oppression of Catholic Spain. Prince William the Silent and his brave Dutch resistance fighters became the inspiration of Protestants world wide, particularly in England.

Bible Banned
After the Council of Valencia placed the Bible on The Index of Forbidden Books, in 1229, the papacy viciously persecuted the Waldensians. The hostility of the inquisitors to the Bible is clearly seen in their pronouncements such as in the condemnation of English Bible translator, Professor John Wycliffe of Oxford University: "Pestilent and most wretched John Wycliffe, of damnable memory ... crowned his wickedness by translating the Scriptures into the mother tongue!"

Similarly, the Inquisition condemned the Professor of Prague University, John Hus to be burned alive, for his Reformation works.

Foxes Book of Martyrs records the condemnation of prominent Protestant preacher, Reformer and Bible translator, John Rogers, who was burned at the stake, January 1555. Asked by the inquisitor to recant his beliefs, Rogers replied that what he had preached from the pulpit he would seal now with his blood.

"Then thou art an heretic!" exclaimed the inquisitor.

"That shall be known on the Day of Judgement," replied Rogers.

"Well, I will never pray for you", said his judge.

"I will pray for you", responded Rogers. As he walked to the stake in Smithfield, Rogers sang the Psalms.

On one day in 1519 seven men and women in Coventry were burned alive by the Inquisition for the crime of teaching their children: The Lords Prayer, The Ten Commandments and The Apostles Creed - in English!

At his trial, Bishop Ridley was urged to reject his Protestant Faith. His reply: "As for the doctrine which I have taught, my conscience assureth me that it is sound and according to God's Word ... in confirmation thereof I seal the same with my blood."

Blaming the Victims
Anyone attempting to blame Christians for the Inquisition is obviously ignorant of the historical record. It is an utter distortion to blame the victims for the tortures and murders, which were inflicted upon them. So, the next time non-Christians attempt to blame believers for the Inquisition, point out to them that in reality the Inquisition was an anti-Christian persecution of Protestant believers.

"Woe to those who call evil good; and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness..." Isaiah 5:20

Dr. Peter Hammond
Frontline Fellowship
P.O. Box 74
Newlands, 7725
Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: (021) 689-4480
Fax: (021) 685-5884

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Letter To A Catholic Theologian With A Foot In Each Camp

Niels Christian Hvidt is a Catholic academic and theologian who lives in Denmark. Fluent in many languages, he has published numerous books, and did his theological doctorate at the Gregorian University in Rome. His Doctoral Thesis "Christian Prophecy - Its Preconditions, Function, and Status in the Church" was published by Oxford University Press. He is clearly a brilliant man, and as someone who has lectured at two Pontifical Universities in Rome, he would have to be well acquainted with the theological differences that gave birth to Protestantism.

I talk about Niels Christian Hvidt today because he serves as a great example of Roman Catholics who want to have a "foot in each camp" by gaining acceptance to teach in both Catholic and Evangelical churches. As we established in my previous post, Catholicism and Christianity are two seperate religions with two different gospels. Biblical Christianity teaches in accordance with Ephesians 2:8 that salvation hinges on faith in Christ apart from any works. Catholicism, on the other hand, pronounces damnation on this Christian view of salvation, requiring faith plus human works in order for people to receive salvation. It is simply not intellectually honest to sweep this difference under the carpet as a secondary issue. But that is precisely what happens when you have evangelical leaders who think that the purity of the Gospel is something not worth defending, ecumenicals who sacrifice truth at the altar of unity, and articulate Catholic diplomats who are expert in avoiding these issues altogether.

Niels Christian Hvidt has gained widespread acceptance with Catholics and Evangelicals in Denmark through actively teaching in miracles (including Marian apparitions and stigmata). I thought it reasonable to question Hvidt on where he stands on the doctrine of Justification. Some have accused me of having an agenda to expose him as a false teacher. My agenda has always been simply this, give him a chance to state his position on Justification so that the general church going public knows where he stands and where his allegiance lays. We must all take a side on this issue and it is intellectually dishonest to suggest that you can hold to both the reformed view of Justification and to the Council of Trent.

There was an online dialogue initiated by a friend of mine called Carsten Joergensen after he was unable to get Hvidt to give him a straight answer on Justification through private correspondance. The online dialogue was offensive to Hvidt because he thought that it was a trap with many other questions to follow. Although Niels Christian Hvidt displayed great reluctance to take a stance on Justification, he affirmed it without renouncing Trent. This, of course, left us back where we started.

What follows is a recent letter I sent to Niels Christian Hvidt, hoping to reason with him, and that he would man up and take a stand one way or the other. See what you think?

Dear Niels Christian Hvidt,

My name is Cameron Buettel and I am a good friend of Carsten Joergensen. I have been watching the online dialog with interest between you.

From my conversations with Carsten it seems that you think this question he is asking is the tip of the iceberg. Actually it is the entire iceberg.

I share with Carsten the conviction that the doctrine of justification remains the great gulf that seperates Roman Catholicism from Christianity. We don't object to you teaching in Catholic congregations, nor do we necessarily object to you teaching in evangelical Christian churches. But we do object to anyone who wants to do both of these - as it seems you are doing. There is no hidden agenda here - no scary monster waiting behind the curtains. The fundamental issue of how men are saved puts Catholics and Christians in different camps to this very day. I am well aware of all the joint declarations but they bear no relevance as long as the council of Trent still stands.

Please have some respect for our concerns. I think it is shameful if no one else has challenged you over these issues. The council of Trent pronounces Anathema on orthodox Christians who entrust the salvation of our souls by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

"If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema" (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 9).

Niels Christian, we all know that this Canon still stands. What I am saying is that one cannot embrace salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone without renouncing the abovementioned Canon. I agree that this is a dilemna which is why, in the interest of intellectual honesty and integrity, we want you to state which side of this doctrine you fall on. A yes (as you have given) answer on the omvendelse blog is perfectly acceptable provided the converse is true - that you renounce Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 9.

Neither of us are unreasonable men. We are brothers in Christ. Wretched undeserving sinners saved by a very kind God Who credited His righteousness to us through Christ's atoning work on the cross. We are people who actively witness and share the Christian Gospel with the lost and are well aware of the enormous damage done by any works righteous religious system when people entrust their eternity to anything other than (or in addition to) Christ - and Roman Catholicism is one of those works righteous systems.

Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ. It is granted to us through Baptism. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who justifies us. It has for its goal the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life. It is the most excellent work of God's mercy (CCC, par. 2020).

We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere to the end and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God' eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ (CCC, par. 1821).

This is not a conspiracy, we care about the purity of the Gospel as can be seen by the doctrine statement we hold to. We do not doubt that you could teach us many things of value as you are very learned. But the average church goer needs to know that there are fundamental differences between Roman Catholicism and Christianity - and that these differences are large enough for Catholicism to fall outside the bounds of orhtodox historic Christianity. I applaud the Pope for his honesty when he stated in the document (

"Christ “established here on earth” only one Church and instituted it as a “visible and spiritual community”, that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted. “This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic […]. This Church, constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him”."

And he describes protestant churches thusly:

"According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense."

I don't have a problem with the Pope. I regard him as a heretic, but at least he is saying things consistent with Roman Catholic doctrine.

We can always agree to disagree in love, but let us not deceive ourselves that we agree on the things we don't. You are always welcome to e-mail or phone me and speak personally or do lunch.

Thank you for taking the time to read this mail.

Cameron Buettel

Go Back To My Previous Post On Catholicism

Monday, March 8, 2010

Catholicism And Christianity - Two Different Religions

The doctrine of justification was of central importance for the Lutheran Reformation of the sixteenth century. It was held to be the "first and chief article" and at the same time the "ruler and judge over all other Christian doctrines. "The doctrine of justification was particularly asserted and defended in its Reformation shape and special valuation over against the Roman Catholic Church and theology of that time, which in turn asserted and defended a doctrine of justification of a different character. From the Reformation perspective, justification was the crux of all the disputes. Doctrinal condemnations were put forward both in the Lutheran Confessions and by the Roman Catholic Church's Council of Trent. These condemnations are still valid today and thus have a church-dividing effect. (taken from the "Joint declaration on the doctrine of justification by the LutheranWorld Federation and the Catholic Church", emphasis mine)

I hope you can grasp at least some of the irony of this "joint declaration" which readily acknowledges that the differences that fueled the reformation still exist today - it's just not a big deal anymore. This massive issue of Justification, this dividing line of Christianity, for which many Christian heroes risked their lives defending in this once great Christian stronghold of northern europe, is being trivialized away by ecumenical sissies who are only too happy to sacrifice truth at the altar of unity. This has been a hot button debate among several of my european friends in recent times. John Macarthur had this to say on the issue:

The cornerstone of justification is the reckoning of righteousness to the believer's account. This is the truth that sets Christian doctrine apart from every form of false religion. We call it "imputed righteousness". Apart from it salvation is utterly impossible (p197 The Gospel According to Jesus)

There are many other heresies that could be discussed concerning Roman Catholic doctrine including Mary worship, the blasphemous eucharist where Christ repeatedly dies on the cross each mass, their denial of Christ as the sole mediator between God and man, the manipulative lie of purgatory, adding extra books to the Canon of Scripture, and the infallibility of the Pope. But it is the precious and beautiful doctrine of Justification that I will be discussing today, because perverting this doctrine leads to all the other man made perversions. If we are saved by grace through faith alone in Christ alone, then all the other rituals become invalidated. This doctrine lay at the heart of the reformation.

Before I continue I must state two disclaimers. First, when I use the word "Catholic" I am referring to the Roman Catholic religion, not to be confused with "catholic" when used in it's universal sense such as "catholic church" when it means universal church. Secondly, this article does not suggest that every person attending a Catholic congregation is not a Christian. I believe there are true Christians attending Catholic churches - but this is in spite of, not by virtue of, true Catholic doctrine as we will now see.

Roman Catholic doctrine denies justification by faith alone and says:

If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 9).

Anathema, according to Catholic theology, means excommunication, the exclusion of a sinner from the society of the faithful. Roman Catholic theology therefore pronounces a curse of excommunication, of being outside the camp of Christ, if you believe that you are saved by grace through faith alone in Jesus.

When the Roman Catholic church negates justification by faith alone, it necessarily implies that we must do something for justification, for if it is not by faith alone, then it must be by faith and something.

Catholicism teaches that certain things must be done by people in order to be justified and to keep that justification. Of these acts, baptism is the first requirement. Consider these quotes:

Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of forgiveness of sins because it unites us with Christ, who died for our sins and rose for our justification, so that we too might walk in newness of life (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 977).

Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ. It is granted to us through Baptism. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who justifies us. It has for its goal the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life. It is the most excellent work of God's mercy (CCC, par. 2020).

According to Roman Catholicism, baptism is only the first sacrament of forgiveness. Good works, according to Roman Catholicism, are also required and are rewarded with going to heaven:

We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere to the end and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God' eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ (CCC, par. 1821).

The above quote clearly states that heaven is the eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. Catholic theology asserts that works are a predecessor to justification in direct contradiction to God's Word which states that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law (Rom. 3:28).

In the CCC, par. 2010, it says:

Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification.

How does anyone merit for himself the undeserved kindness of God's grace? Grace is by definition unmerited favor. This is an utterly false teaching. So how does the Catholic church get around this apparent dilemma that grace is unmerited but it is obtained through our merits? It states:

Sanctifying grace is the gratuitous gift of his life that God makes to us; it is infused by the Holy Spirit into the soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify (CCC, par. 2023).

This is the crux of the problem. Roman Catholic theology asserts that God's grace is granted through baptism and infused into a person by the Holy Spirit. This then enables him or her to do good works which then are rewarded with heaven. Basically, this is no different from the theology of the cults which maintain that justification is by grace through faith and your works, whether it be baptism, going to the true church, keeping certain laws, receiving the sacraments, or anything else you are required to do.

Maintaining Your Justification

Because the Catholic view of justification is a cooperative effort between God and man, this justification can be lost by man's failure to maintain sufficient grace through meritorious works. Roman Catholicism teaches that works are necessary for attainment of justification. According to Catholic theology, penance is a sacrament where a person, through a Catholic priest (CCC, par. 987), receives forgiveness of the sins committed after baptism. The penitent person must confess his sins to a priest. The priest pronounces absolution and imposes acts of penance to be performed.

Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as the second plank (of salvation) after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace (CCC, par. 1446).

Acts of penance vary, but some of them are prayer, saying the rosary, reading the Scripture, saying a number of Our Father or Hail Mary prayers, doing good works, fasting, and other such things. Is it by doing these acts of penance that the Catholic is able to regain his justified state before God? In essence it is earning one's salvation. Think about it. If you do not have it and you get it by saying prayers, fasting, and/or doing good works, then you are guilty of works righteousness salvation, which is condemned by the Bible.

I must thank Matt Slick at CARM (Christian Apologetics Resource Ministry) for much of that information.

Right now in Denmark, where I live, there is a prominent Catholic theologian who is enjoying widespread acceptance to teach with both Catholic and evangelical churches. His name is Niels Christian Hvidt and in my next post I will publish the letter I wrote to him.

Go On To Read The Letter To Niels Christian Hvidt

Friday, March 5, 2010

Jesus Died! Paul Washer Preaches A Scorcher

I just saw this video sermon jam by Paul Washer called "Jesus Died". Wow - this is powerful conviction on a very intense level. Please watch this stunning video and meditate on these things! It's unlikely you'll hear anything like this anywhere else!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Who Will Stand Against Abortion In Australia?

I make no secret of the fact that I regard Gianna Jessen as one of my heroes. A scarred survivor of a botched late term abortion, Gianna is a refreshingly clear and prophetic voice condemning the evil, murderous practice of abortion. With Cerebral Palsy as the reminding legacy of Gianna's entry into this world, Gianna speaks clearly and articulately for those who have no voice. This is stirring video footage of Gianna's plea to Australian politicians who were about to vote on decriminalizing abortion. This is so worth watching for the inspiring message. But it also reminded me of the tragic cowardice of many Australian politicians who privately oppose abortion, but publicly remain silent in the name of pragmatism and self preservation. This is a shout out to all my Aussie brothers and sisters - where are the prophets?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Is My Sarcasm Towards NT Wright Wrong?

My previous post about NT Wright's propensity for giving complex (and often foggy) answers to simple questions drew some fire. One response in particular zeroed in on my use of sarcasm towards Wright. "Anonymous" wrote:

I'd really like to understand how you think 1 Cor 13 should apply in the way you speak about other Christians. You are rude and sarcastic. How does that tie in with 'love is not rude...'. Love rejoices with the truth. You seem proud that you have the truth worked out perfectly, but where does love (which will remain) come into your behavior?

This is an interesting discussion and there is certainly a lot of voices out there renouncing the use of any form of sarcasm. Considering my somewhat frequent use of sarcasm, I thought it worthwhile to post my response to "Anonymous":

Anonymous, you quoted that "love rejoices in the truth". Then why isn't Wright loving homosexuals enough to give them the clear answer Scripture gives?

I never speak bad publicly about other Christians. Wright denies imputed righteousness (an essential component of the essential doctrine of justification) as revealed in last Wednesday's post. Exposing a heretic does not qualify as "speaking bad about another Christian". In fact, Romans 16:17 demands that I do so. Shepherds have two primary jobs, feeding sheep and protecting them from wolves. I would contend that both are loving actions.

As for sarcasm, you may be right. Maybe I crossed a line. You'll have to make that subjective call in your own conscience. Scripture, however, certainly doesn't forbid sarcasm - Scripture sometimes uses sarcasm and/or hyperbole to strengthen a point. How about when Jesus told the Pharisees that "they that are whole need not a physician" (Luke 5:31) and "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:32). Do you really think that Jesus thought the Pharisees "whole" and "righteous"? The apostle Paul uses the method of sarcasm and irony to teach the Corinthian church humility in 1 Corinthians 4:6-13. I would also point you to Christian blogs like Pyromaniacs where they defend sarcasm as something that can be a valid biblical approach. I also think that sarcasm can be innappropriate at times. My main point being that the use of sarcasm is not the problem but whether it's use is appropriate.

I have seen sarcasm used constructively in bringing out powerful truth about the Gospel. Watch these two videos as an example. The first is Rob Bell's dreadful mockery of the Gospel in his "Bullhorn Guy" video where he invalidates the preaching of Gospel truths such as hell, judgment, repentance, and our own mortality (only watch as much of this video as you can take). The second video is a satirical/sarcastic parody of Bell's "Bullhorn Guy" video called "Bullwhip Guy". I think it makes a powerful point in its use of sarcasm. See what you think . . .