Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Current End-Time Apostasy of the Church

The Roman Catholic Church has been in full-blown apostasy for 1,300 years [having] persecuted and killed true Christians. It has never repented of this evil and is now enjoying the support of leading evangelicals in a way that would have shocked biblical Christians only 50 years ago. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) brought together the leading bishops and cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church in order to counter the Reformation. The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent contain more than 100 anathemas condemning every point of the true gospel and damning to hell those who believe it. For example: "If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law [Catholic rituals] are not necessary for salvation but men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification, let him be anathema";1 "If anyone says that baptism is not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema";2 "If anyone says that in the Mass a true and real sacrifice is not offered to God [but] a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross [and] not a propitiatory one, let him be anathema."3 On December 31, 1995, honoring the 450th anniversary of the opening of Trent, Pope John Paul II declared that its anathemas are still in full force: "Its conclusions maintain all their value."4
 
Yet Charles Colson, in his book, The Body, denied that indulgences are still offered by Rome.5 I sent him a copy of the seventeen pages on "the revision on indulgences" from Vatican II, 6 including Pope Paul's anathema pronounced upon those who deny that the Church has the power to grant indulgences today.7 Colson never responded to acknowledge his error, which has led multitudes astray--and, unless it was done recently, did not correct it in subsequent editions. Isn't this apostasy?

In Augsburg, Germany, on October 31, 1999, the very day of the month on which, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg door, representatives of the Lutheran World Federation and of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) signed a Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ). The choice of the city where the Augsburg Confession (the foundation of Lutheranism ever since) was read could hardly be coincidence. The Reformation was being overturned! Indeed, Charles Colson has said that "justification by faith alone doesn't mean today among evangelicals what it meant in the reformers' time."8

For 1 billion Roman Catholics, nothing has changed. Catholics continue to pray to Mary for salvation and to wear her scapular (as John Paul did from childhood to his death), which declares, "Whosoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire." To wear that in reliance upon such a promise would be an abomination to any true Christian. Yet tens of millions of Catholics continue to believe that "the merits and graces Christ won on the cross" can be received only in small installments that can never fully save and that come only through the sacraments of the Church by Mary's agency, so they must therefore still offer good works and suffering for salvation--finally in purgatory.

The very doctrine of indulgences that angered Luther and sparked the Reformation remains a mainstay of Catholicism. In fact, shortly after JDDJ was signed, John Paul II offered new indulgences for the "Jubilee Year of 2000," such as: walk through one of the four "holy doors" that the pope opened for that year in Rome, and receive a plenary indulgence. [A plenary indulgence is a remission of the entire temporal punishment due to sin so that no further expiation is required in purgatory. (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07783a.htm)]

When the pope opened his eyes and rose from praying on his knees in front of the first "holy door" he had opened (this one at St. Peter's), he saw George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual head of the Church of England, kneeling in agreement beside him. Doesn't this denial of the gospel by Carey qualify as full-blown apostasy?

John Paul II boasted that pilgrimages to Rome for plenary indulgences began in 1300 under Pope Boniface VIII--a "pope" who had both a mother and her daughter among his many mistresses and who gave indulgences to his troops to destroy the historic city of Palestrina, slaughtering its 6,000 inhabitants and reducing it to a plowed field, which was sown with salt. Yet Boniface was hardly the most evil of the popes whom the present pope looks proudly upon as Peter's successors who have handed that authority down to him. In 1302, Boniface issued the "infallible Bull," UnamSanctam, making absolute allegiance to the pope a condition of salvation--still in full force today.

Martin Luther said, "We are not the first to declare the papacy to be the kingdom of Antichrist, since for many years before us so many and so great men have undertaken to express the same thing so clearly." But it is no longer fashionable in "Protestant" circles to state the truth. We fear giving offense, forgetting the far greater offense of condoning a false gospel that is sending hundreds of millions to hell. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association [published] a special "Crusade Edition" of Halley's Bible Handbook [removing] from it everything Halley had so carefully researched and documented on the evil of the popes and the slaughter of true Christians through the centuries. If this cover-up to avoid "offending" Catholics is not contributing to apostasy, then what is?

Zondervan published a revised version of the Handbook in 2000, which also contains no reference in its index to Albigenses, Waldenses, and millions of other evangelical Christians slaughtered by Rome. This new version declares: "The Roman Catholic Church responded to the Protestant Reformation by reforming and renewing itself, 9 worked toward ecumenism during the latter half of the 20th century, and has engaged in cooperative ventures with evangelicals and fundamentalists. There are Catholics whose theology is virtually indistinguishable from evangelical theology."10

What a perverted promotion of apostasy! When challenged about this, Stan Gundry, Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Zondervan, responded, "The purpose of the rewriting was not to cover up the ugly truth about traditional RCC belief but to give a more balanced portrayal of the history of Christianity."11 How could white-washing essential facts...and leaving out the slaughter of millions of Christians by the RCC give a "more balanced" history?

Incredibly, Zondervan is now owned by FOX News, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch. He has been knighted by the pope as a member of the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great after donating $10 million for construction of a new Catholic cathedral in Los Angeles.12 Murdoch has consistently made TV shows aimed at destroying the family and pursues his godless ambitions through a vast empire, of which "Christian publishing" has become one part. Christian publishers began to put profits ahead of sound doctrine [and] sold out to the world monetarily as they already had spiritually. Is this not part of the "end-time apostasy of the church," the major sign that Christ gave of the nearness of His return?

For at least 50 years, Billy Graham has...sent Roman Catholics who come forward at his crusades back to the Catholic churches they had left. Billy has praised John Paul II as a preacher of the true gospel,13 has declared that he and the pope agree on almost everything, and has hailed Bishop Fulton Sheen as the "greatest communicator of the 20th century."14 Although Sheen preached a false gospel, claimed to turn a wafer into Christ and to offer Him repeatedly in a propitiatory sacrifice for sins, Billy thanked him for their "common commitment to evangelism" and expressed his gratitude to Sheen "for his ministry and his focus on Christ."15 Yet Sheen's hope of heaven was that Mary would let him in because of his 40 pilgrimages to Marian shrines at Fatima and Lourdes.16 When Sheen died, Billy said, "I mourn his death and look forward to our reunion in heaven."17

J. I. Packer, a signatory to ECT, who called John Paul II "a fine Christian man,"18 had many years earlier declared, "Catholics are among the most loyal and virile brothers evangelicals can find these days."19 Likewise John Stott said, "Evangelicals should join others in the Church of England in working toward full communion with the Roman Catholic Church."20

There are evangelical leaders who generally preach the true gospel, yet they commend, approve of, and praise those who clearly deny the gospel. Are they not contributing to apostasy? What could be the difference between leading multitudes to embrace a false gospel by preaching it oneself or leading them to believe a false gospel by commending those who preach it? Would not one approach contribute as much to the eternal doom of souls as the other?

Norman Vincent Peale declared, "God is energy. As you breathe God in...visualize His energy, you will be reenergized."21 "Just as there exist scientific techniques for the release of atomic energy, so are there scientific procedures for the release of spiritual energy through...prayer."22 "Any method through which you can stimulate the power of God is legitimate [and] scientific use of prayer."23

Yet Billy Graham praised Peale many times, endorsed his books, even declaring in an interview on national TV that he knew no one who had done more good for the cause of Christ than Ruth and Norman Peale. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find anyone who had done more harm to the gospel! Based upon Billy's endorsements, how many souls followed Peale's false gospel into hell? Surely, this is at least contributing to apostasy!

Graham likewise endorsed and praised Robert Schuller, though his denials of the gospel are no less reprehensible than Peale's. Schuller has defined sin as "lack of faith in yourself. Jesus Christ has saved me from my sin, which is my tendency to put myself down.... Negative thinking is the core of sin. Jesus died to change us from negative thinking to positive thinking.24 [He] bore the cross to sanctify your self-esteem. The cross will sanctify the ego trip!"25[Emphasis added]

Graham praised Pope John Paul II, stating, "I don't know anyone else that I could put as high as he is. He's traveled the whole world spreading the Catholic faith. And I've admired him.26 He and I agree on almost everything."27 Isn't it apostasy for the leading evangelical to praise the pope for spreading a false gospel and damnable heresies?

The pope and his Church reject the biblical truth that Christ paid the full penalty for sin once and for all on the Cross. At the very heart of Catholicism is the lie that a wafer is turned into Christ to be endlessly sacrificed for sin in the Mass, that infant baptism makes one a child of God, and that no one can be certain of heaven. There could be no clearer denial of the biblical gospel with its promise of eternal life for all who believe. Yet Billy Graham boasted of his friendship with Roman Catholic leaders and expressed only approval, never once warning those who believe Rome's false gospel that they are lost.

Charles Dullea, Jesuit Superior of Rome's Pontifical Biblical Institute, urged Catholics to attend Graham's crusades because "A Catholic will hear no slighting of his Church's teaching authority...no word against Mass or Sacraments or Catholic practice."28 Indeed, Graham called the Mass "a very beautiful thing and certainly straight and clear in the gospel I believe."29 He has recommended Catholic books and literature, including a biography of Pope John XXIII...which he called "a classic in devotion," and that contained...John XXIII's devotion to Mary and the Saints, worship of the host, and trust in the sacraments for salvation.30

It is indisputable that John Paul II trusted Mary instead of Christ for his eternal destiny. In a February 1980 addendum to his Last Will and Testament of March 6, 1979, John Paul II entrusted "that decisive moment [of death] to the Mother of Christ and of the Church [and] of my hope." Embroidered inside all of his robes was the phrase, Totustuus sum Maria, "Mary I am all yours."

In "The Holy Father's Prayer for the Marian Year," John Paul II asked Mary to comfort, guide, strengthen, and protect "the whole of humanity" and added, "Sustain us, O Virgin Mary...and obtain for us the grace of eternal salvation." She would have to be God to do so. Yet like Graham, Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptists' Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, emphasized that any disagreements Protestants may have had "with John Paul II are [irrelevant] to the foundations of the faith." Land praised the pope's "staunch defense of traditional Christian faith."31 Pat Robertson enthused, "Pope John Paul II stands like a rock in his clear enunciation of the foundational principles of the Christian faith."32 Is it not apostasy to promote those who preach a false gospel and damnable heresies even though one does not preach such lies oneself?

Ecumenism is one more form of the denial of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which "is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth."33Schuller exhorted "religious leaders [to proclaim] the positive power of world-community-building religious values."34

One of these strange "allies" is Roman Catholic apologist Peter Kreeft of BostonCollege who, in the spirit of Rick Warren and his P.E.A.C.E. Plan, advocates a coalition of all religions to fight society's social ills. Kreeft imagines that prayer to Islam's Allah or any Hindu idol is compatible with Christianity....He claims that God is blessing Islam...Confucius is God's "prophet" in purgatory on the way to heaven;35 Buddha and Muhammad are both already there;36; through the Mass, the entire universe is being transformed into one giant Cosmic Eucharistic Christ;37 and everyone will be united in the Eucharist and Mary.38 The fact that both J. I. Packer and Chuck Colson gave their enthusiastic endorsements on the back cover of his book, Ecumenical Jihad, tells us much of the nature of today's apostasy.

Ted Haggard, former Senior Pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, and [at the time] President of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), said that "New Life doesn't try to 'convert'" Catholics [or] discourage its members "from becoming Catholic or attending Catholic Mass."39

 Those commending instead of contending against untrue religions encourage the lost in their false hope and deceive the world as well as the church. The fact that a major element of the last-days apostasy would be a false "signs and wonders" movement among professing Christians involving false prophets was declared more than once by our Lord: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."40 He must be referring to pre-tribulation events. "Christian" leaders would hardly be performing "signs and wonders" in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ after Antichrist is in charge of the world. Those performing false signs and wonders do so in Christ's name, calling Him Lord, yet they are not Christians at all, as Christ will say, "I never knew you!" - DH

Part 2 (continued from September 2011)
Dave Hunt (Pre-trib Study Group Conference '05)

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