Why The Berean Call? One reason for the new name is to reflect more accurately what my ministry has long been about. We are not simply a source of "information." We earnestly desire to join together tens of thousands of concerned believers who will not only be informed but who will act upon the information we provide. We stand at a historic juncture no less significant than the Reformation itself. God has called us to earnestly contend for the faith and to rescue as many as possible from Satan's deception. Please join us in prayer and action.
You are each a vital part of this ministry. Please make copies of this newsletter and distribute them widely. Give us the names and addresses of those who would like to receive it. Stand boldly for truth and pray for and support this work as the Lord leads. Satan's major weapon in the battle for souls is false religion. "Bereans" (Acts:17:11 ) who know the Bible cannot be deceived. Sound doctrine determines life, now and forever.
A recent study at a Southern Baptist college revealed that 70 percent of the males and 53 percent of the females engage in premarital sex!1 Such willful sinning reflects a low view of Scripture and little fear of God. The growing numbers of "Christians" who favor homosexual "rights" indicates the same disregard for God's Word. One's belief determines how one lives.
What one believes also determines one's eternal destiny. The true gospel saves; a false gospel damns. Yet that conviction seems to have been lost even among evangelicals. We may need a new definition of evangelical! There are church leaders who would not compromise God's moral commandments, but who compromise the gospel. Why is there not among Christians at least as great concern and outcry opposing false gospels that damn for eternity as there is against abortion, child abuse, pornography, etc.? God help us!
Why not just be "positive"? Satan's lies masquerade as God's truth. Clever counterfeits that appear to be genuine deceive millions. Simply to preach truth could reinforce a false belief that seems so similar to it. The difference must be made clear, for on that difference hangs the eternal destiny of souls. The necessity for discernment, warning, correction and instruction grips me more each day. I'm determined to devote myself to this unpopular but essential ministry, as the Lord enables, until He takes us home. Let us work together!
A great tragedy is overtaking us. The Reformation that cost hundreds of thousands of martyrs excruciating torture and death is being rejected by leading evangelicals. I would prefer to keep quiet, but I cannot. The eternal destiny of billions of souls is at stake! Here are a few examples.
The two major cover articles (13 pages) in the February 1992 Bookstore Journal, the "Official Publication of the Christian Booksellers Association," urged members to cultivate Catholic customers as "brothers and sisters in Christ." Tragically, this will prevent the gospel from being given to Catholics.
Among the lead article's many untruths, author Peter Kreeft declared, "Catholics [don't pray to saints, they] only ask saints to pray for them–just as we ask the living to pray for us" (p 30). That's false–and, as a Catholic, Kreeft knows it. Consider "The Holy Father's Prayer for the Marian Year ." John Paul II doesn't ask Mary to pray for Catholics, he asks her to do what only God can do: to comfort, guide, strengthen and protect "the whole of humanity...." His prayer ends: "Sustain us, O Virgin Mary, on our journey of faith and obtain for us the grace of eternal salvation" (emphasis added). Didn't Christ do that already?
There are hundreds of prayers to Mary, such as, "In thy hands I place my eternal salvation and to thee do I entrust my soul....For, if thou protect me, dear Mother, I fear nothing; not from my sins, because thou wilt obtain for me the pardon of them...nor even from Jesus, my Judge himself, because by one prayer from thee he will be appeased...." What blasphemy! Bookstore Journal, tell the truth!
Prophecy expert Jack Van Impe repeatedly praises the Pope on TV and quotes "Our Lady of Fatima" favorably. The apparition at Fatima (surely not Mary!) said, "many souls go to Hell because they have no one to make sacrifices...." For Catholics, Christ's sacrifice is not enough. Salvation is in the Church, its sacraments, one's personal suffering and good deeds.
In his "infallible" papal bull, Unum Sanctum, Pope Boniface VIII declared: "There is one holy Catholic and apostolic church, outside of which there is no salvation...it is altogether necessary for salvation for every creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff." This was confirmed by Vatican Council I. Vatican II declared: "The Catholic Church ceaselessly and efficaciously seeks for the return of all humanity and all its goods under [Rome]...this holy Council teaches...that the church...is necessary for salvation." (Emphasis ours) (Vatican Council II, Costello Publishing, Austin Flannery, O. P., General Editor, Vol I, pp 364-65)
For a few distressing minutes last night I watched Paul Crouch and Benny Hinn on TV denounce "heresy hunters" once again and insist that doctrine is unimportant. They declared that Roman Catholic doctrine doesn't matter, for, after all, Catholics "love Jesus." So did Gandhi; so do many Muslims, to say nothing of Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. But what "Jesus"? The Bible warns of "another Jesus" and "another gospel" (2 Cor:11:4; Gal:1:6).
Though Catholics believe Christ died for their sins, much more is required. As Catholic apologist Karl Keating says, "'accepting Jesus' has nothing to do with turning a spiritually dead soul into a soul alive with sanctifying grace....we are all redeemed—Christians, Jews, Moslems, animists...but our salvation is conditional...you must work to earn your salvation...." 2
Paul cursed the Judaizers of his day for preaching "another gospel" (Gal:1:6-9). Yet, like Catholicism, they surely embraced the virgin birth, divinity of Christ, His death, burial and resurrection for our sins, His coming again. What was wrong? They taught that in addition to faith in Christ one must be circumcised and keep the Law. That addendum perverted the gospel into a lie. Catholicism has added far more!
Yet recently, on "The Bible Answer Man" radio program, Norm Geisler declared that the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification by faith was biblical. Luther would be shocked! Christian Research Institute director Hank Hanegraaff (Walter Martin's successor), who was interviewing Norm, agreed. Yet Walter Martin, in debating this very issue with Jesuit Mitchell Pacwa on "The John Ankerberg Show" in March 1987, declared that Catholicism "is a denial of justification by faith...."3
I regard Norm and Hank very highly as brothers in Christ who are contending for the truth. The above is mentioned only to show the wide acceptance Catholicism is gaining among evangelicals. After Keith Green's death, his wife, Melody, withdrew the Catholic Chronicles Keith had written to expose Catholicism. CRI, whom I consider to be an ally in the battle against error, has even allowed Scott Hahn (another leading Catholic apologist) on "The Bible Answer Man" to promote Roman Catholicism without offering the slightest rebuttal! Why?
What a particular Catholic may believe is not the issue, but rather the official teaching of Roman Catholicism. That is found in The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent (1545-64) and Vatican II (1962-65). Trent denied every Reformation doctrine, from sola scriptura to salvation by grace through faith alone. It pronounced 125 anathemas (eternal damnation) upon anyone believing what evangelicals believe and preach today. "No one can know with the certainty of faith...that he has obtained the grace of God [anathema to all who claim they know]" (Trent, 6th Ses., Chap. IX). "If anyone says that the sacraments of the new law are not necessary for salvation...but that without them...men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification...let him be anathema" (Trent, 7th Ses., Canon 4).
Vatican II, far from making changes, reaffirmed Trent: "This sacred council... proposes again the decrees of...the Council of Trent" (Vol I, p 412). As for the "sacraments of the new law," which Trent said were "necessary for salvation," Vatican II declared, "For it is the liturgy through which, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, the work of our redemption is accomplished " (Vol 1, p 1).
Here are a few more quotes from Vatican II, which prove conclusively that Roman Catholicism is a counterfeit gospel: "Sins must be expiated...through the sorrows, miseries and trials of this life...otherwise... in the next life through fire and torments ...[because] our souls need to be purified ...in purgatory the souls of those who died in the charity of God and truly repentant but who had not made satisfaction with adequate penance for their sins and omissions are cleansed after death with punishments designed to purge away their debt" (Vol 1, pp 63-64).
The Bible declares: "When he [Christ] had by himself purged our sins (Heb:1:3)...by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us (9:12)...without shedding of blood is no remission [of sin] (9:22 - suffering in purgatory won't do it!)...now where remission of these is, there is no more offering [sacrifice] for sin (10:18)...we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (10:10)...for by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified" (10:14). Catholicism denies this biblical gospel!
Although Rome teaches that one must be "purged" by suffering for one's own sins, it offers "indulgences" to reduce or eliminate that suffering. "Indulgences" can thus discharge what Christ's death could not. Vatican II has 20 complex rules concerning when and how an indulgence may be obtained. For example: "The faithful who use with devotion an object of piety (crucifix, cross, rosary, scapular or medal) after it has been duly blessed by any priest, can gain a partial indulgence. But if this object of piety is blessed by the Pope or any bishop, the faithful who use it with devotion can also gain a plenary [full] indulgence on the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul, provided they also make a profession of faith using any approved formula" (Vol 1, pp 77-78). "The Church... commands that the usage of indulgences... should be kept...and it condemns with anathema those who say that indulgences are useless or that the Church does not have the power to grant them...[for] the task of winning salvation" (Vol 1, pp 71, 74).
Indulgences are dispensed from a "treasury...[entrusted by Christ] to the blessed Peter...and his successors ...Christ's Vicars on earth...[to] distribute to the faithful for their salvation" (Vol 1, p 70). "This treasury includes the prayers and good works of the blessed Virgin Mary ...[plus] the prayers and good works of all saints [who] attained their own salvation and at the same time cooperated in saving their brothers" (Vol 1, p. 66). "Those who believe in [Christ] have always...carried their crosses to make expiation for their own sins and the sins of others" (Vol 1, p 65). "From the most ancient times in the church good works were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners..." (Vol 1, p. 68).
Roman Catholicism has added far more to the gospel than the Judaizers, whom Paul cursed. He was concerned for the Galatians' salvation. What about 900 million Roman Catholics? Paul told the Ephesian elders, "by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears" (Acts:20:31). Can we be less concerned for souls and truth!
In mid-January I had two debates in Indiana with leading Catholic apologists. The first was with Keith Fournier, lawyer, director of Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice, and author of Evangelical Catholics (Thomas Nelson), foreword by Chuck Colson. The title of that debate was "Roman Catholicism: Is It Evangelical?" Three days later I debated Gerry Matatics, a brilliant former evangelical pastor who converted to Rome in 1986 and who has since become a leading apologist for Catholicism. The title of that debate was "Roman Catholicism: Is It 'Another Gospel'?" We are offering audio cassettes of these debates. With all my heart I want to warn as Paul warned and preach as he preached. Will you join me in earnestly contending for "the faith once for all delivered to the saints"? Let us heedthe Berean call to search the Scriptures daily and to evaluate everything we read and hear by that standard! Let us love others enough to tell them the truth without compromise! TBC