Program Description: In today's program, Tom continues his discussion with Jim McCarthy on the merging of the Catholic and evangelical churches.
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call with T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. We’re glad you could join us. In today’s program, Tom concludes a two-part series with guest, author and documentary producer, Jim McCarthy. Here’s TBC executive director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Our topic - if you’ve been following our program, this is part 2 of a program dealing with Roman Catholicism. My guest has been and is Jim McCarthy. He’s the author of a number of books, including The Gospel According to Rome and Letters Between a Catholic and an Evangelical. He’s also produced a documentary which we offer at The Berean Call along with those books: Catholicism: Crisis of Faith.
And, Jim, welcome back to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Jim: Thank you, Tom. It’s always good being with you.
Tom: Yeah, Jim, as I mentioned - as we talked about last week, we gave…you gave your background growing up Roman Catholic, and I added my background, as well. And what we’re trying to do, folks, is address the issue, which is shocking, stunning, astonishing to me. I grew up, as I said, Roman Catholic, and I was a Roman Catholic for nearly three decades - more than three decades, actually. But I’ve been a believer for almost four decades now, and the vantage point that I’ve had becoming a Bible-believing Christian, and in terms of the ministry that I’ve had with Dave Hunt for all that time, at least I’ve been able to observe trends in the church, the evangelical church (although that term is almost meaningless anymore), but the church at large, and seeing the trend of…from the time I became a believer to today, a trend of the evangelical church, the Pentecostal, charismatic, whatever denominations they are…a trend toward - moving toward Rome. A seduction, basically, and it’s grieved me. It’s concerned me, because it’s so antithetical to what the Scriptures teach. We went over what the doctrine, the gospel, the dogmas, somewhat, of Roman Catholicism, and how antithetical - how contrary they are to the Scriptures.
Jim, what I want to talk about, start off with today, is authority. For the things that you’ve said, that I’ve said, what’s our authority? And then I want you to compare that with what is Rome’s authority for what it teaches, its dogmas, and so forth.
Jim: Well, that’s a good question, Tom. It’s really what everything comes down to in the differences between Roman Catholicism and those who hold to biblical teaching is…I mean, the only authority I have - I don’t know if I have any personal authority (I don’t think I do), but I do have a responsibility as a Christian to obey what Jesus taught, and what’s recorded in the Word of God. And as a Catholic, I was taught that the Bible is the Word of God, and that is the official teaching of the Church: that it’s the inspired, inerrant Word of God. And if there’s a common basis of authority between Catholics and non-Catholic Christians, it’s the Bible. We all agree that it’s the authoritative Word of God. Where the problem comes in is that the Catholic Church claims that Catholic tradition is also the Word of God - that there are unwritten teachings of Christ, revelation received from God, that’s not in the Bible.
And additionally, the Catholic Church claims that it alone has the ability to explain what the Word of God teaches both in its written and unwritten forms, both as tradition and Scripture. So basically, you end up with - truth and authority is vested in the Church as an institution, and they can tell you what God has said, and they alone, because they alone have access to the unwritten portions of revelation, which is tradition. And they have this authority from God (they call it the magisterium) to teach and explain these things, and the rest of us, all we have are the Scriptures.
Well, even from their point of view, I still have the Scriptures, and I could still compare what the Scriptures say to what they say God said, and when I find differences, I’m left with a choice: am I going to go by what I can read and see for myself in the Scriptures, or am I going to say, “Well, that’s what I see, but this is what the Church says.” And if I do that, ultimately my faith is in an institution. It’s in the pope and his cardinals and bishops. It’s not in God, it’s not in God’s Word. And you and I as young men were faced with that dilemma: is it going to be the Church, or is it going to be Scriptures, and we both decided to go with Scripture, and…
Jim: …I’m glad I did.
Tom: Yeah. To add to that, Jim, you just really articulated what I had to deal with, and I think everyone who was a Catholic has to come to that decision: are you going to follow the Word of God, or the Word of God plus the word of man?
You know, the way I like to present it is that I believe God had a responsibility to communicate to us, because He’s infinite. We’re finite, plus being fallen. So it’s a real simple thing that as a finite individual fallen, I can’t figure out God; I don’t have the capacity; I don’t have the understanding, plus I’ve got this issue that I’m a sinner, so I can’t make up things. The best that I can have, they’re just speculations, guesses, opinions of men. So therefore, I believe God had a responsibility because He’s infinite to communicate to His finite creatures, and that’s what He’s done! And if you add to that, you’re mixing what man’s opinions and guesses and speculations are to what God has said. And the problem we’re seeing in the church today is that we’re seeing that combo of, you know, somewhat things from the Word of God, and some of man’s opinions, and scholarship, and all of this kind of stuff that adds to the problem.
Now, if I can remember this correctly, your buddy - your good friend, my good friend Bill MacDonald, William MacDonald…we have the Bible Believer’s Commentary, which we offer here through The Berean Call, and in it - I don’t know that he made this up, but there’s a statement that I took out of that commentary and put over my desk, and it says, “Where Jesus is supplemented, Jesus is supplanted.” Where we try to add something to Jesus, we’ve supplanted the truth of Christ, and that’s what we see happening in the church in a huge way.
Jim: That’s definitely true, Tom, and it’s unfortunate. I mean, if Jesus is the Son of God, and we believe He is, why would we, anybody, want to add to what He said? Why would anybody want to supplement or improve on it? I mean, wouldn’t that be the purest truth and the most essential and perfect teachings you could have?
Jim: But the Catholic Church down through the centuries has added from tradition doctrine after doctrine to - the most recent doctrines are the infallibility of the pope and the assumption of Mary into heaven, neither of which are found in Scripture…
Jim: …and both of which have led people away from Christ and dependance on His Word to dependance on an institution set up by men.
Tom: Now, Jim, I know people sometimes get upset when you start naming names or - well, not you; actually me, The Berean Call - what we’ve been about, we do name names. We do point things out, but primarily it has to do with individuals who are influencing millions, and those who are high profile individuals who definitely - it’s not just somebody on the side here, although the Scriptures teach us that if there’s something that needs to be corrected, we correct it with meekness and humility and so on. But people get upset, because often these are their “sacred cows”; these are people who, even if you lay out a principle or concern that you have, they won’t apply it to the person - an icon, or to an individual who has influenced their lives, and so on. But we need to do it, because unless people understand that this is going on, and who’s doing it, and we do it - we say, “Well, perhaps it’s unwitting.” But the point is, it needs to be corrected, because it’s influencing numbers and numbers of brothers and sisters in Christ, or people who are not believers, but want to come to Christ, so they’re not going to get the direct path that they need to the Word of God.
So what am I talking about here? Well, individuals who are leading what I would call a pilgrimage back to Rome, to Roman Catholicism, highly visible individuals. And I’ll just give you some examples: Rick Warren would be a good one. You know, his attempt to solve social, economic, educational problems of injustice…well, he’s turned to Rome. He’s reached out to the religions of the world in addition to that for cooperation in eradicating things like hunger and disease, spiritual emptiness.
Now, his goal is stated in what he calls his Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan. Now, Jim, just picking out one element of what he’s trying to do, how do you eradicate spiritual emptiness by turning to the Catholic Church, by turning to cooperation with Hinduism, and Buddhism, and Islam, and all of these things which he’s doing? How does that happen?
Jim: You know, I don’t understand, Tom. Rick Warren is just a very highly intelligent person, a great communicator and writer, and when he says things like, “We have more in common with the Catholic Church than what divides us,” and he says things like, “We believe in the Trinity, we believe in the Bible, the resurrection, we believe that salvation is through Jesus Christ. These are the big issues,” there’s like a brushing over or a denying of huge differences that do divide us.
Jim: Saying that we believe salvation is through Jesus Christ simply isn’t true, because some of us are saying salvation is through Jesus Christ, and He is sufficient to save us; and some are saying it’s through Him, but there’s a lot you have to do to be saved. Those are not the same, and Warren has said that Christian unity is based not on structural unity, but a unity of mission. In other words, we have a common purpose and a common goal - we’re united! Well, I can say that with Buddhists and Islam and everything else: we all want the world to be a better place, we all want God to be honored, we all want to live righteous lives, but how do we get there? And that’s where the problem is. That’s where we divide, because we have very different views of who God is, who we are, and what God expects of us.
Jim: So I don’t understand it. When I listen to Rick Warren speak, obviously this is a very gifted man - why doesn’t he understand this? It’s beyond me.
Tom: See, and he’s not the only one. It’s not like we’re just trying to pick on Rick.
Jim, I’ll bring us back to when we were involved in what we called a cooperative ministry. It was Reaching Catholics for Christ, and you can add to this, but as I remember, during that time there were so many things going on that troubled us, and not just you and me, but a number of our…a couple of our other brothers who were former Roman Catholics and in ministry, and we saw - what was taking place kind of shocked us. So Reaching Catholics for Christ, it was a ministry, a cooperative ministry in which our goals were to explain to the evangelical community what Roman Catholicism was all about, and then how to go about witnessing and evangelizing Roman Catholics. Well, what were we up against? Why would we do that? Well, because you had things like evangelicals and Catholics together headed up by Chuck Colson and Richard John Neuhaus, a Catholic priest, and then many who signed onto that document were saying, “Yeah, we can co-evangelize. We can evangelize with Roman Catholics.” Huge problems. We had Promise Keepers headed by Bill McCartney, and never - never said that he was anything but a Catholic, but the whole program was about breaking down the walls, which they sang over and over again: breaking down the walls between Roman Catholicism and biblical Christianity, or Christianity.
Tom: Now, it’s not that some good things didn’t happen through Promise Keepers, but there was an issue, a major issue. We’ve had Pat Robertson, we mentioned Rick Warren, Hank Hanegraaff on his Bible Answer Man program doing a series of, “Well, Catholics are fundamentally Christian. And yeah, there are some issues, but they’re not big-time issues…” We’ve had - I mean, I could go on and on about this, to my grief, and the grief of all of those who are former Roman Catholics seeing this. It’s not just a tidal movement toward Rome, it’s a tsunami, and I don’t know what we can do to turn this around, except to inform people and get them back to basics - have them understand the issues.
Now, Jim, Billy Graham, you know, I…
Jim: Can I just put a word in there before you go ahead?
Tom: Sure, go ahead.
Jim: I don’t think we’re going to see this turned around, Tom.
Jim: The Scriptures are clear - you read about this for instance in 2 Thessalonians 2. In the end times, a deception is going to come upon the world, and it’s going to come upon those who do not have a love of the truth so as to be saved. And God is going to send this deception. It’s a judgment on the world, because they wouldn’t listen to Him…
Jim: …and people are going to believe that which is false, and that’s what we’re seeing happening. It’s not a matter of intellect, it’s a matter of spiritual perception, and we’re not going to see it turn around. It’s going to get worse and worse and worse. At the same time, there are a number of people, not necessarily evangelical leaders, or…just regular people who see it, who see it very clearly and are speaking out against it that some might be saved, that some might not go down this road.
Jim: And it’s a very individual thing, but institutionally and globally, the Scriptures are very clear that in the end times, people are going to be deceived and they’re going to buy into this “one world religion” concept, and it’s Satanic, as you know, Tom.
Tom: Yeah. Jim, I’m glad you pointed that out, because you know - we’ve spoken at conferences together and so on, and sometimes I get a little concerned, because some of the things that I’m presenting may be overwhelming to people, just staggering, because this is what’s going on, and I have to come back to, and say (and this is why I’m glad you pointed this out), “Look, folks, it’s a rescue operation on the basis of individuals!” We can’t turn this around, because this is what the Scriptures say. But we don’t just throw up our hands and say, “Oh, well, there’s nothing I can do.” Wait a minute! Have you got a neighbor who’s a Roman Catholic? Have you got somebody at work? Have you…you know, in the line at Safeway, or wherever that may be, we have opportunities to rescue people by giving them - ministering to them in meekness and humility the truth. That’s all we can do, right?
Jim: That’s right. That’s right, Tom.
Tom: But again, coming back to this tsunami, which is shocking, you mentioned - well, I started talking about Billy Graham. This gentleman is an enigma to me, because I remember Dave would sometimes use some examples or illustrations from Billy Graham that he would give in terms of presenting a clear gospel.
On the one hand, as you mentioned, Billy Graham would say (now, I’m quoting him), “I’ve found that my beliefs are essentially the same as those of orthodox Roman Catholics.” Stunning!
Now, he was referring to his friend Pope John Paul II. He said, “If you love Jesus…”
Well, here’s a statement from Rick Warren: “If you love Jesus, we’re on the same team.” Now, what that says to me is, “Wait a minute - where’s discernment here?” You’re drawing people into this drift - this slide, tsunami, whatever you want to call it - to Rome, but you’re not helping anybody here. It’s ecumenism just for the sake of “all is one.” You know, we all stand around and sing “Kumbaya.” No! There’s a truth here that needs to be addressed, and it has to do with where one is going to spend his eternal destiny. These are not hairsplitting kinds of minutia here, this is critical for somebody’s eternal destiny, don’t you agree?
Jim: I do agree, and you know, for those that are listening to this and finding it hard to accept, all I can say is read the New Testament; read what Jesus taught and what we find in the epistles, and see: do they just kind of throw a broad net and say, “You know, just believe in Jesus. We’re all the same,” or something else? And I think it’s something else, and you see that most clearly in the epistles to the Romans and to Galatians.
But you see it in the gospels, too, where Jesus had to take on the religious leaders of Judaism of His own day, and He didn’t go with the flow with the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the high priest, because they were leading the people astray. They were telling them things about God that weren’t true, and He had to stand up for that, and eventually it got Him killed.
Tom: Again, Jim, it just takes my breath away to see what’s going on.
Now, for all the things that we experienced when we were involved with Reaching Catholics for Christ, all the things that we talked about and so on, there’s a new program in town here. When you have Pope Francis sending a message to Kenneth Copeland, and to… This isn’t just charismatics or Pentecostals, this is a heretic of the first order who has another Jesus, who has another way of salvation, yet Pope Francis is seducing, inviting - I don’t know what the right term might be - but he’s drawing these individuals with the thousands who follow whether it be the word-faith movement, you know, hyper-charismania, whatever you want to call it, he’s drawing those people to Rome.
Now, whether it be Copeland, [John] Arnott - this is the individual of the…you know, the Toronto Airport Blessing, all of the charades that went on there, which were incredible - James Robison, another one. So he invites these people to the Vatican; they come. Then you have Rick Warren coming to the Vatican to deal with issues - regarding the issues of the world, and so on. Jim, this is a grand delusion. It’s incredible.
Jim: You know, it is, and I’ve seen the videotape of Pope Francis greeting Kenneth Copeland at his conference, and as a former Catholic, it’s just shocking to me, Tom. But you know, I had four years of Jesuit education, and Pope Francis is a Jesuit…
Jim: …and I know where he’s coming from. In his mind, he’s just being who he is. He’s just a big-hearted, friendly guy who really believes that we all just need to embrace each other and stress our commonalities; we all believe in Jesus, and that’s what’s important. And unfortunately, he doesn’t understand himself what the gospel is, and why the doctrines of Roman Catholicism are a denial of what Jesus taught.
Jim: And you know, people say, “Oh, let’s not get into the doctrine,” but it’s not just the doctrine, Tom, it’s the practices. If you look at the liturgy of the church, the sacraments and things the Catholics do at the Mass every Sunday, it’s a denial of the gospel.
Jim: And if you just talk to the Catholic people, if you just ask them simple questions like, “What’s life about, and how do you hope to get right with God? And when you die, why would God let you into heaven?” and listen to what they say, they’re confused. They don’t have the gospel. And when you put their doctrines, their practices, and their personal experience together, and you compare it to Scripture, we’re talking about two completely different religions.
And so I think that Pope Francis is sincere - I have no doubts about that - but the wide embrace he is offering to evangelicals and Protestants, although it seems like the love of Christ, it’s just being welcomed into the confusion, welcomed into the compromise and the denial of the gospel, and that’s why I think discerning people should say, “Well, wait a second, what are we saying here?” Love is great, but there’s more to life than just love. There’s truth, and is this love-relationship an acceptance based on truth, or just good intentions and hopefulness that it all works out somehow?
Tom: You know, Jim, just to comment on Pope Francis, I haven’t studied the man, but I do know his - you know, he’s a Jesuit, okay, but we know that a lot of people make a big issue about the deviousness of the Jesuit movement, being the pope’s army and all that stuff. Now, I’m sure there’s some truth to that. It’s also the Church, and we’ve seen the Church down through history being devious, having a way - a strategy - to draw people to itself, whether it’s the “end justifies the means,” whatever it might be that’s in their heart. But I also agree with you with regard to Francis in terms of his charismatic background. There’s an emotionalism - there’s a feeling aspect to that, and he may be, to a good degree, what you describe. But again, as you said, this is not the gospel, this is not the truth of Scripture, and he has an audience out there going for the Charismatics, Pentecostals, which historically have been weak on the side of doctrine, more leading to experientialism and emotionalism - not everyone, but that’s been the trend there. So I think he’s got a ripe audience, you know, to draw…
And what’s the bottom line? If anybody wants to pursue this, check out where it’s going, that according to the Catholic Church, the pope is the “vicar of Christ.” Everyone has to come under his umbrella, under his authority. That’s where it’s going, and it’s - as I said, it’s more than a delusion, it’s a grand deception.
Well, Jim, you know, our hearts and minds in this - I know you’re with me in this - we just want those who love Roman Catholics, who want to see them saved, to have eternal life in Christ - I would encourage them to wake up to the fact that the Jesus that they claim to know and believe in is not the biblical Jesus. But the biblical Jesus offers Himself to them as a free gift - eternal life - through believing and trusting in Him according to the Scriptures. And that’s my prayer for everyone who’s listening to this, that we will put that into effect in our lives and in our witness and in our association with Roman Catholics. We love them, but we want them to come to know the true Jesus, the biblical Jesus.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 featuring T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. Jim McCarthy’s books and documentaries are available from The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us, and we hope you can tune in again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.