Monday, December 31, 2007

The Depth of God’s Love

God taking on human flesh on Christmas is called the Incarnation, and it is the greatest divine act since the Creation itself. The Incarnation resulted in a new creation for those who are in Christ, as we read in 2 Corinthians 5:17-18a:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ. NIV

By Jesus humbling himself and temporarily giving up his rights as God, we imperfect people benefit in that we become children of God. Let’s take a look at a particular passage in detail to try to understand how that works (1 John 4:8-12, NIV).

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

8 God Is Love

Verse 8 says:

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

The author of the hymn “Love Came Down at Christmas” must have had this verse in mind. God is love, so when God came down at Christmas in the form of Jesus, perfect love came down to earth as well. When John wrote that “God is love,” he meant that love is God’s dominant attribute. However, God has other attributes that we mustn’t forget: God is just, God punishes the wicked, God is patient and longsuffering – but only up to a point. If we overemphasize the “love” attribute and forget the others, we make God out to be a softy and a pushover, and we devalue the meaning of the Cross.

9 God Sent His Son

Verse 9 tells how God demonstrated his love in a powerful way on that first Christmas:

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

In other words, God demonstrated his love by sending Jesus, so that we sinful and rebellious people might have eternal life. That’s what Christmas is all about – Jesus coming to earth from heaven, mainly for the purpose of giving us eternal life, as we read in the next verse.

10 Jesus’ Sacrifice Saves

Verse 10 explains what John meant by writing “that we might live” through Jesus:

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

The first part of verse 10 echoes what it says at the end of the confession part of our communion liturgy:

Hear the good news: Christ died for us while we were yet sinners; that proves God’s love toward us. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven! (partially based on Romans 5:8)

Despite our continuously falling short, God forgives us time and time again when we come to him. I believe that is a good measure of God’s unfailing love for us. Of course God forgives us based on our relationship with Jesus and our accepting what Jesus did for us on the cross – that atoning sacrifice John mentions.

God loves us so much he gave us a way out of our dilemma, which is eternal separation from God because of our breaking of God’s law. Jesus did all the work – all we have to do is consciously accept the gift God offers us. Then we are made one of God’s own who will eventually go to heaven.

This is the reason I am talking about this – I want to make sure nobody misses out of the gift God is offering to us, which is eternal life with him in heaven. Especially this Christmas, why not accept God’s gift of eternal life?

The world thinks we get to heaven because we’re “good.” But we get to heaven on Christ’s merits, not our own – which is good since our own merits are rather puny and inadequate in comparison. It says in Isaiah 64:6: All our righteous acts are like filthy rags. NIV

But if we choose not to follow God’s way of Salvation – which is through Jesus Christ – then all bets are off. Personally, I don’t want to take the chance, and I don’t want you to take the chance. If you haven’t already, will you make the decision to follow Christ as your Lord and accept him as your Savior?

11 Love One Another

In verse 11, John echoed what Jesus said in today’s Gospel. John wrote that our response to God’s love should be to love one another:

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Loving one another should include sharing the Good News of Jesus with others. I read once where a person said his goal in life is to get to heaven, and bring as many people with him as possible.

12 Love Is Made Complete in Us

Then in verse 12, John continued with the thought that we are to love one another, because loving one another is an outworking of God’s love in us.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

God living in us refers to the indwelling Holy Spirit, who – if we let him – guides us into all righteousness and empowers us to love others in a Christ-like way. Is there someone this Christmas that you need to reconcile with?


What does all this have to do with Christmas? During this season, we should contemplate the meaning of God’s Incarnation and ponder God’s love for us. Maybe you don’t feel loved. Maybe you don’t feel lovable. Maybe you feel that nobody cares. Be assured that Someone does care, and loves you with an everlasting love.

That love is not dependent on performance, your outward appearance, your feelings, or anything else. God’s love is unconditional. You can’t earn God’s love – his love is there for you no matter what.

But until we receive the gift of Christ, we can’t take full advantage of all the benefits of God’s love. Think of the choices you have if somebody offers you a gift – you can either open it or you can ignore it. In either event, the gift is there for you – it’s up to you as to what you will do with it. Will you take that love gift that God is offering to you?

Jesus humbled himself for you – will you humble yourself before him and receive him as your Lord and your Savior? Christmas will be a lot more meaningful when you do. Because then you will have the most precious gift you could ever receive.

Friday, December 21, 2007

One Explanation of the Importance of Christmas

The words to a hymn tell the story of God’s love coming down to earth on that first Christmas, and what our response should be to it.

Love Came Down at Christmas*

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, Love divine;
Worship we our Jesus,
but wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token;
Love be yours and love be mine;
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

*Puerto Rican carol, translated by George K. Evans. Sung to the tune of Isla del Encanto.
© 1963, 1980, Walter Ehret and George K. Evans

I’m not sure what that last line means, but the message of the last stanza is clear: love one another as God has loved us. The message of the first stanza is also clear: God’s love came down to earth at Christmas.

Depth of God’s Love

It is difficult for us to grasp the depth of God’s love, because it is beyond human comprehension. I certainly can’t grasp it – all I can do is experience it. When we look at Christ coming to earth and what he endured on our behalf, then we can begin to appreciate the depth of God’s love for us. Jesus was pointing to what he was about to endure on our behalf when he said at in John 15:13 (NIV): “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

That was Jesus’ main purpose in coming to earth, and that’s why we consider his coming as God’s love gift to us. When we are going through a tough time, we may wonder if God really does care about us. We aren’t immune from the suffering that is common to mankind, but we can experience God’s love and grace in those times of grief and heartache. Plus we have the guarantee of a place in heaven because we have put our faith in Jesus, who laid down his life for us. Let those famous words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 help you:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. NIV

We have that “eternal glory” in heaven because of God’s grace when we trust Jesus as our Savior. That is a comfort to us when things aren’t going well, especially during this season when we have such high expectations. As I said before, I can’t begin to grasp God’s love, but I know it’s there because all I have to do is consider all that Jesus gave up for me.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Shoe Giveaway Called Unconstitutional

Below is an article showing how some groups are interfering with helping the poor. This is an example of how bigotry against Christians takes priority over allowing good works to be done to help others.

Americans United has once again used its bully tactics to try to prohibit a worthwhile effort. Americans United for Separation of Church and State is threatening two South Carolina school districts with legal action if they continue to allow a church-sponsored shoe giveaway.

Laces 4 Love began in 2001 after founding members noticed schoolchildren wearing shoes that didn’t fit or were inappropriate for cold weather. The group has distributed more than 12,000 pairs of free shoes to students throughout Edgefield and Aiken counties.

The Alliance Defense Fund is offering free legal defense to the school districts.

“It is unconscionable to deny needy schoolchildren new shoes simply because the group sponsoring the program is a religious one,” ADF’s David Cortman said. “Instead of honoring acts of human kindness through this program, Americans United has once again used its bully tactics to try to prohibit a very worthwhile effort.”

Jan Markell, founder of Olive Tree Ministries, said the culture makes it difficult for Christians to do the good works Christ commanded. “This is a ministry reaching out in Christian love, and if I had the opportunity to give these children shoes, I would be first in line to do it,” she said. “But we’ve always got the Left standing in our way and trying to block righteousness.”

From “Family News in Focus” 12/19/07. Copyright © 2007, Focus on the Family Action. All rights reserved

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Impressions of Christianity

A recent Barna Group survey found that “just 16% of non-Christians in their late teens and twenties said they have a ‘good impression’ of Christianity.” The study goes on to say that “One of the groups hit hardest by the criticism is evangelicals. Such believers have always been viewed with skepticism in the broader culture. However, those negative views are crystallizing and intensifying among young non-Christians. The new study shows that only 3% of 16 - to 29-year-old non-Christians express favorable views of evangelicals…

“Among young non-Christians, nine out of the top 12 perceptions were negative. Common negative perceptions include that present-day Christianity is judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), old-fashioned (78%), and too involved in politics (75%).” (© The Barna Group, Ltd., 1957 Eastman Ave. Ste B, Ventura, California 93003. Go to for the complete report)

I mention these findings for a number of reasons. First of all, we Christians should avoid practicing these stereotypes. Jesus called us to be salt and light to the world, but we often come off as being judgmental, unloving, and mean-spirited. Unfortunately fallen high-profile leaders have contributed to the image of hypocrisy with which many Christians are viewed.

Notwithstanding what I just said, we can’t compromise our principles. Therefore, we have to stand our ground in the light of attacks from those who promote immoral behavior or other things contrary to Christian principles (see my earlier posts on political correctness). To stand our ground appropriately (see Ephesians 6) we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, these perceptions show the power of the media. Mainstream TV, movies, and news coverage tend to have a liberal and anti-Christian bias (that shouldn’t be news to you). These continuous messages have an impact (for that same reason, companies spend billions of dollars on commercials and print advertising). That’s why we have to be careful what we let our kids watch, and should offset whatever anti-Christian propaganda they are exposed to with continual teaching of our values. Of course going to church and having the kids attend Sunday school is also a very good way to help them understand and appreciate the Christian faith, morals, values, and ethics, because they reinforce what you have been teaching them.

While it ultimately is up to our children to make decisions about religion and church when they are older, we do them a terrible disservice by not exposing them to church and Sunday school when they are younger so they can make an informed decision. Do you really want your children to learn about faith and morals from the media?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Political Correctness (Part III)

In earlier posts I laid out nine reasons why I am thoroughly against political correctness (PC). This post wraps up and summarizes my thoughts on PC.

As you can see from the nine reasons I spelled out in earlier posts, I am thoroughly against political correctness. I am against PC mainly because of its dictatorial methods and anti-God positions. PC is taking this country down wrong paths, and many Christians are conforming to the PC mold without seeming to realize how anti-Christian it is.

We as Christians are supposed to be counter-cultural, just as the early Christians were different from the pagan cultures they came out of. They rejected paganism and worldly values for a higher calling and biblical values. Yet today too many people are surrendering to neo-paganism and secularism, represented by PC and promoted by militant atheists. We have been letting the PC juggernaut roll over us and our families for too long. Whether we realize it or not, people of faith do have rights in this country, yet we are often hesitant to fight for them because of the strident and aggressive tactics of the PC crowd. So we back down and roll over, giving them the upper hand in dictating what we can say and do, and what we are forbidden to say and do.

When Christians do push against PC and secularism, and try to defend traditional values and morality, we are portrayed as “too political” or mean-spirited. See a future post for more on the impressions people have of Christians.

Some day we’ll wake up to a Brave New World completely run by PC, with few individual rights left to us. The Constitution will have been totally rewritten by the courts, which already subscribe to the belief that it is a “living” document subject to constant reinterpretation rather than an unchanging foundational document. Ultimately we could find ourselves in a society where values are turned upside down and certain unpopular groups are oppressed. I’m hoping revival comes first (or Jesus returns).

Below are two links that you might like is you aren’t PC:

Merry Christmas! (yes, it’s OK to say it)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Political Correctness (Part II)

In an earlier post I began my discussion of why I am thoroughly against political correctness (PC). I have nine reasons why I think it is wrong. The first four were in my earlier post, and the remaining five are listed below:

(5) PC forces “tolerance” but it is a PC-dictated type of tolerance, not tolerance in the more general sense as we would understand it. Despite “tolerance” being the cardinal virtue of PC, those who are PC are the most intolerant people you could ever meet. They are intolerant, nasty, and mean-spirited concerning anybody that disagrees with them. If you aren’t PC, you are less than human, and are criticized in no uncertain terms.

(6) In the wacky world of PC, some groups are elevated above others. Gays, women, non-whites, atheists, and religious and political liberals are elevated, while white males, heterosexuals, religious conservatives, and political conservatives are devalued as inferior. Thus you have “hate crimes”, which makes it a more serious offense to hurt, kill or even “offend” one of these groups with your constitutionally protected speech. Yet when Christians are offended by the hate speech of people like Rosie O’Donnell, there isn’t a peep out of the PC types. Talk about a double-standard.

Interestingly there is a pecking order to this valuing of one group over another. African Americans and Hispanics rank high in the PC scale, but let one be a conservative (such as Clarence Thomas or former Attorney General Gonzalez) and they are ridiculed and treated as subhuman. So the worst “sin” in the PC world is being conservative or Republican.

(7) PC hates anything that reflects the traditional values that have guided this country through more that 200 years of history. PC looks down at patriotism as chauvinistic and almost immoral, somehow a betrayal of PC values. Because PC abhors American traditional values, the PC educational elites have rewritten American history to eliminate God and religion from it, to make European-Americans appear evil, to make our history less Euro-centric and more Afro-centric, and to downplay or revise entire historical events (such as the first Thanksgiving). Look at your child’s history textbooks if you don’t believe me.

(8) PC brainwashes you to think the way they do by making sure its views and positions are constantly in the media and in the schools (both of which are bastions of PC and left-wing thought). In our schools, Darwinism is taught as fact and children are exposed to pro-homosexual propaganda at an early age, just to mention two items. Immorality is promoted in schools through sex education, and the killing of a pre-born baby is promoted as “women’s reproductive rights.” In the entertainment industry, just watch almost any sitcom to see what values are being promoted.

(9) Finally, PC is elitist. The PC elites know best, and the rest of us ignorant peasantry must toe the line, yielding to their superior intellect. There is no room for a reasonable discussion because PC is, by definition, correct and every other viewpoint is wrong, evil, or misguided. Religion is superstition and patriotism is intolerance.

More on PC in a future post.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Political Correctness (Part I)

In reading some of my posts on this blog, you may have concluded I’m not very fond of political correctness (PC). You’re right, I’m not. Why? I’ve got several reasons why I believe PC is just plain wrong. During this Christmas season I’m especially aware of PC because PC dictates we use the innocuous “holiday” instead of Christmas. We have holiday sales, happy holidays, holiday parties, holiday trees, holiday presents – all so we don’t “offend” a tiny minority of militant atheists. That, of course, is just another excuse to eliminate God and Christ from our society.

Below are nine reasons why I hate PC:

(1) PC is dictatorial and totalitarian, something like the “Thought Police” in a futuristic novel. The elites who control PC tell you how to think, how to speak, and how to act. If you step out of line, you are not to be tolerated. Just look at how “open-minded” colleges operate if you want to see the epitome of PC and narrow-mindedness. So much for free speech.

(2) PC takes great pains to make sure no atheist, anti-Christian, or anti-Semite is “offended” in any way by the actions or speech of people of faith. The result is that the majority of people (over 90% of the population that celebrates Christmas in some way or another) are offended by having to say “holiday” rather than “Christmas”. Moreover, they must refrain from any public expressions of their faith, while militant atheists trample over our rights and ridicule people of faith. Constitutional guarantees of freedom to practice religion are being slowly eroded by PC and courts that are sympathetic to the goals of Christ-haters.

(3) PC is anti-God, definitely anti-Christian, and to a large extent anti-Semitic. So to me it is the antithesis of religious faith, sort of the antichrist of our present age. PC’s goal is to stamp out God, faith, and religion from society, and to establish the new secular religion of a godless PC with its own set of morals and values dictating how we are to live and behave.

(4) PC is radically feminist, to the point of being ridiculous. In seminaries, for example, PC dictates you can’t ever refer to God in the masculine (such as using the masculine pronouns “he”, “him” or “his”). You get points off your papers of you break this rule.

More on PC in future posts.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Prejudice against Islam? (Part II)

In a previous post I mentioned the first of three things that make me particularly uncomfortable about certain practices of Islam, some of which are based on misinterpretations of the Qur’an or not viewing the Qur’an in its entirety). As with any Scripture, you can’t analyze or draw conclusions regarding a passage in a vacuum – you have to look at it both in its immediate context, and in relation to the rest of the Scriptures.

Below are two additional aspects of Islamic practice that make me uncomfortable:

(2) Muslims tend to limit freedom. Conversion to any other religion is often punishable by death, for example. It is said, and I tend to believe it, is one of the reasons radical Muslims hate the West is that we allow many more personal freedoms. There are exceptions.

Turkey, on the other hand, is a secular state that firmly believes in the separation of Mosque and State, which is highly unusual in the Islamic world. While it is close to 100% Muslim, it is less oppressive and permits many more freedoms. I’ve been to Turkey and the people that I encountered there were very friendly, seemed to like westerners, and were free to practice (or not practice) their religion as they see fit. The women can dress any they want, and many wear a simple head scarf to hide most of their hair, and dress modestly. There is no religious police forcing them to do or not do anything, but such a situation is rare in a predominantly Muslim country.

Unfortunately Turkey is under pressure from radical Muslims to become more like other Muslim countries (i.e., repressive). Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

(3) Often Muslim women are mistreated and put in inferior positions in Islamic society. The Taliban treatment of women in Afghanistan is an extreme example. Women can’t drive a car in Saudi Arabia, and Sharia law is brutal when it comes to women’s rights (there aren’t any to speak of, from what I understand).

While I don’t consider myself an expert, I believe I have a pretty good understanding of Islam and its practices. I know the basis in the Qur’an for a lot of what they believe and how their culture is shaped. I now view Islam in a different light, and I call it as I see it. What I don’t like about any religion or the behavior of its followers (including my own – especially my own), I will openly and honestly criticize. It is not to condemn so much as to inform, and to maybe put things into proper perspective (which is one of the goals of the blog).

I encourage you, whatever your religion, to pray for peace among Christians, Jews, and Muslims, and to practice the peaceful and “love thy neighbor” aspects of your religion. It is sad that the three faiths which have common roots are at odds with one another. God/Jehovah/Allah can’t be pleased.

All three faiths believe we are all accountable to God, and we will be judged. Think about that the next time you are tempted to discriminate or put down someone.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Prejudice against Islam? (Part I)

In some of my recent posts I have mentioned Islam. I have always viewed Islam as one of the three great Abrahamic and monotheistic faiths. However, until a few years ago I was ignorant of all but the very basics of Islam. While I knew it was different from Christianity in many ways, I respected Islam as a monotheistic faith not unlike my own in certain respects.

With the increase in Islamic terrorism and what has come to be called Islamic fascism, I have made it a point to gain more knowledge about that religion through books and articles. As a result, my views have changed somewhat. While I still have respect for those who follow their religion in a peaceful and tolerant way, I now see things that make me uncomfortable about some aspects of Islam. That doesn’t mean I hate Muslims or lump them all together with gross generalizations (as some do with Christians), but that I now view Islam in a different light than I once did.

The three things that make me particularly uncomfortable about certain practices (often based on misinterpretations of the Qur’an) of Islamic religion and culture (they really can’t be separated) are:

(1) Muslims tend to view the West and Christianity as their enemies. This jihad that terrorists are waging has its roots in that belief. Non-Muslims (dhimmis) are really infidels. This doesn’t mean all Muslims view us as enemies, but it does mean that such an attitude appears to be common in Islamic society. This “struggle” is often preached by radical clerics and others in positions of power, and resonates with many ordinary Muslims.

Note that I don’t condemn them for believing their religion is superior, because adherents of any religion, worldview or belief system (including atheists and secularists) believe their positions to be superior to any other. Otherwise, why would they follow it? However, when such an attitude becomes violent, oppressive, intolerant or otherwise aggressive, then we have a problem.

It is interesting to note that the Qur’an does teach respect for Jews and Christians, calling them “People of the Book”. However, there are other Qur’anic passages that condemn them, and these are the passages that drive the radicals. They ignore the rules of engagement commanded in the Qur’an, its peaceful passages, and the People of the Book verses, believing they will go to Paradise for killing infidels.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Politically Correct Religion

In my post about public schools I spoke about Islam being politically correct (PC), while Christianity and Judaism aren’t. I mention Judaism not being PC mainly because of the attitude towards Israel by the PC crowd.

For example, some “liberal” Christian denominations either have, or are planning to, divest themselves of any companies in their endowment portfolios that do business with Israel. Some liberal groups want you to boycott Israeli-made products. Why is this happening?

Two reasons I can think of:

(1) Anti-Semitism is still around, and it manifests itself in various ways, such as unwavering support for the Palestinians with minimal rights for Israel. This unconditional support for the Palestinians masquerades as fairness, but is really anti-Semitism by a different route.

That doesn’t mean the whole Palestinian issue shouldn’t be fairly resolved, because it should. But we also have to remember that from the Palestinian point of view, the only acceptable solution is the total annihilation or elimination of Israel. They want the Middle East Judenrein. That is unacceptable because Israel is a legitimate nation established by the UN and immediately recognized by the two superpowers of the time: the US and the USSR.

(2) For whatever reason, Islam is politically correct these days. I don’t know how something becomes PC – I’m not privy to that decision-making process. Since there is conflict between Israel (Jews) and the Palestinians (Muslims), guess who gets the support of the PC types?

Of course we get a PC spin to the news in the media as well. Sometimes subtle, but still there. For example, Palestinian terrorists are called “insurgents” or “militants” but not what they really are, terrorists. Those who blow up innocent civilians in Israel are called “suicide bombers” but not what they really are, mass murderers. Wailing Palestinian women are shown at length grieving over the loss of loved ones killed in an Israeli retaliation after it’s been viciously attacked. But there is little, if any, coverage of Israeli civilian deaths except when the carnage is so spectacular that the media has to give it more attention. Even then, the bloody scenes are shown for only a few seconds, and the narrative implies the Israelis were asking for it. The list goes on.

That’s not to say Israel is perfect, but it does have a right to exist and live in peace. The day after the state of Israel was formed on May 15, 1948, the surrounding Arab nations declared war on it and immediately invaded the newly-formed state, expecting a quick victory. Miraculously, the fledgling Israeli defense forces beat back the invaders. There has been a state of war, more or less, ever since. Until Jesus comes again in glory and resolves everything, we should all pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Shalom and Salaam.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The One True Church – Part III

The Roman Catholic (RC) Church bases its claim of superiority over other Christian Churches on submission to the questionable authority of the Pope. The RC Church is also on shaky ground when it comes to many doctrines as well. There are a number of doctrines of the RC Church that are not based on the Bible, and some are even contrary to what the Bible says. The RC Church elevates “Tradition” above biblical authority, which Protestants find anathema. This allows the Pope to invent something (such as Purgatory), call it “Tradition” and then declare it doctrine, without the necessity of having anything clearly stated in the Bible to substantiate it. Often the Church will take a passage out of context to try to provide some sort of biblical legitimacy to an invented doctrine.

One of the great results of the Reformation was that Protestant Christianity emerged, purified of most of these kinds of unbiblical beliefs and practices. The result is, I believe, that the Reformation resulted in churches that had a “purer” and more biblical form of Christianity, unencumbered by the accumulation of questionable beliefs and practices that have taken place over two millennia. That’s not to say the Protestant churches are perfect, because they certainly aren’t. Today some of them have lost their way theologically. Some have embraced legalism, and some are doctrinally adrift. Some question the authority, historicity, and truth of the Bible, and most of them today are torn by conflicts between liberal and conservative factions. Nevertheless, traditional Reformation Protestantism is, in my opinion, much more scriptural and truer to the Gospel of Jesus Christ than is Roman Catholicism (that’s why I’m no longer Roman Catholic) despite its claims about being more apostolic than the others.

As an example of how papal authority could be used to promote heresy, consider that the last Pope apparently considered declaring Mary to be “co-redemptrix” along with Jesus. This would have been truly heresy. Fortunately he refrained from doing so. Unfortunately some RCs do believe that Mary’s suffering at the Cross was a participation in the redemption of mankind. This diminishes the role of Jesus’ sacrificial and substitutional death, as do the doctrine of Purgatory and the practice of doing penance to atone for our sins.

While I disagree with much of what the RC Church teaches and practices, I still consider Catholics to be my brothers and sisters in Christ. I know that many Catholics, clergy and lay, feel the same about non-RC Christians. It would be nice if the Church hierarchy did the same. I also admire the RC Church’s unwavering biblical stand on the controversial issues of the day, for which they’ve taken a lot of heat from the liberals. While Protestant churches are torn apart by those who want to compromise biblical morality to appease various special interest groups, the RC Church holds firm and maintains discipline. Even if you disagree with its positions on these issues, you have to admire it for not compromising its principles when it comes to morality.

I could fill about 10 posts with RC doctrines and practices that Protestants consider false and unbiblical, and why. If you would like me to have a series of posts explaining the differences between RC and Protestant beliefs and practices, let me know. Send me an email to or put in a comment for this post. I’ll do the series if there’s a demand for it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The One True Church – Part II

See an earlier post for my discussion about the Roman Catholic (RC) Church’s position of it being the only true Christian church, with all others something less than fully Christian. This claim is based mostly on allegiance to the Pope. In that post I discussed one of the two recent events that I found highly offensive and insulting.

I might also point out that I’m not criticizing the RC Church’s belief that its ways of viewing Christianity and its practices are better than any other. Everybody believes their religion, belief system, worldview, and/or lifestyle is the best way – otherwise they would not follow it. What I’m criticizing is the RC’s arrogant attitude in that it claims to be the only “true” Christian Church, and all others are something inferior. That is elevating yourself by putting down others, something I find unchristian at best and hateful at worst. In fact the RC Church’s less than stellar history and its many doctrines that are contrary to Holy Scripture seriously throw into question its claims of superiority.

The second event that offended me springs from this RC claim of superiority described in my earlier post. About a month ago, I read in the Poughkeepsie Journal that the Bishop of Baltimore punished a priest for a number of transgressions, one of which was conducting a funeral service jointly with (horrors!) a Protestant clergyperson. I presume the Bishop considered this joint service to be syncretism. If so, that is an insult and highly offensive to those of us who put our allegiance to Jesus Christ above any early powers or principalities. To consider a joint funeral with another Christian to be syncretism is beyond ridiculous.

These two items I cited in these two posts appeared in the Poughkeepsie Journal a month or more ago. I was infuriated when I read them, but agonized for weeks over whether I should write anything about them in this blog. I finally decided that a blog is used for personal opinions, so I decided to write these last two posts. Please note I am not criticizing individual Roman Catholics, but the Pope’s recent statement and the Church’s official positions on these matters.

Now that I’m on a roll, a future post will deal with how I believe the RC Church has promulgated doctrines that are not biblical, which I alluded to above. I will be writing that post to point out that there are serious flaws within the RC Church when it comes to doctrine, so it is especially foolish for the Church hierarchy to claim superiority over other Christian Churches.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The One True Church – Part I

I hope my blog is meaningful to most people most of the time, regardless of religion, church affiliation, or denomination. Some of the things I talk about transcend any particular denomination or religion. Most religions and denominations share many of the same values and principles, even if they significantly differ theologically. Because I am a Christian pastor, this blog is generally focused on Christian viewpoints. More specifically, I am a Protestant pastor, so I am usually coming from a Reformation point of view.

Certainly it is not my intent to offend anybody (except for the perpetually offended, who are “offended” by just about anything that isn’t perfectly politically correct). In giving my opinion, some people might take offense, but I think it is important to call it as I see it. When appropriate, I’ll criticize fundamentalists, evangelicals, liberals, Catholics, Protestants, Christians, Jews, Muslims, secularists, political correctness and prejudice.

In this particular blog, I am probably going to offend some Roman Catholics because I am going to criticize the Pope and the Catholic Church’s position when it comes to other Christian churches. Therefore, if you think this will bother you too much, stop reading now.

I am upset by two recent events within the Roman Catholic (RC) Church. The first one is the Pope’s public reassertion that the RC Church is the only “true” Christian church. According to the Pope’s statement, the Eastern Orthodox churches are close, but no cigar. The Protestant churches are merely pretenders. While I know this is official RC doctrine going back to the Council of Trent, I find it offensive and unnecessary that the Pope had to publicly reassert this claim. What’s his point? What’s he afraid of? That he has to “protect” the Church from contamination from those terrible Protestants?

The RC Church’s claim is based almost solely on allegiance to the Pope. Those churches that don’t accept the Pope’s authority aren’t “true” Christian churches (and therefore not truly “apostolic”) according to the RC definition. When you think about it, such a position is ludicrous, not to mention arrogant and unbiblical. The measure of any person’s or any church’s “true” Christian status should not be judged according to allegiance to any earthly power, only to God alone. Faith in Jesus Christ and belief in the fundamentals of the Christian faith should be the criteria, not allegiance to the Pope. Moreover, only God can truly judge one’s heart (Matthew 7:1).

If you look back in church history, the Bishop of Rome assumed for himself more and more authority, proclaiming himself first among equals among the various bishops of the early church. Notwithstanding the RC Church’s misinterpretation of Matthew 16:18-19, Jesus never envisioned a pope-like supreme ruler of Christianity. Given the sordid history of the papacy, we can see why Jesus never made any man head of his Church, only Jesus himself. Therefore, the RC Church’s claim of superiority over all other Christian churches is fallacious, and an insult to those hundreds of millions of devout Christians who do not proclaim allegiance to the Pope.

More on this in a future blog, where I will discuss the second recent event that I find highly offensive.