Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I'm Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us. In today's program, Tom launches a two-part series with guest, Greg Durel. Here's TBC executive director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Today our topic is Roman Catholicism, and in particular the present head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis. Now our guest to discuss the subject with me is Greg Durel. He's pastor of Heritage Bible Church in Gretna, Louisiana, and he has a weekday radio ministry that is devoted to educating Catholics in biblical doctrine. And, like myself, Greg grew up in the Catholic Church, so he knows Catholicism experientially as well as from his study of Catholic Church tradition and its dogmas.
Greg, welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Greg: Well, Tom, thanks for having me.
Tom: You know, Greg, we're recording these programs about a month prior to the pope's visit to the US in September, and we plan to air them at the time of his visit. But before we talk about Pope Francis, it might be helpful for our listeners if we cover some basics about the Catholic Church.
Now, Greg, whenever I talk about Roman Catholicism and its teachings, I have to address two critical points, which I pose to you as questions:
1)Do you love Roman Catholics? and
2)Don't you accept Catholics as Christians who love Jesus just as you do, and if not, why not?
Greg: Well, the first question, the answer would be yes, because not only do I have family members and friends who are Catholics, but I remember once upon a time when I was a Catholic, and I would have hoped and continue to hope and pray that people would have loved me in my lost condition. So I spend time, money, year after year doing radio outreach and things of that nature, giving material away, because I want people to come to the realization that the gospel is the gift of God. It's free, and it's not determined by religious effort or joining the Catholic Church or any such thing. So, yes, I love Roman Catholics, I love Baptists, I love everybody.
But secondly, as to the Christian part, can a Catholic be a Christian? The answer is yes, but overwhelmingly, people that believe and adhere to Roman Catholic doctrine are not. They're not, because their doctrine is not Christian. As a matter of fact, it contradicts the Word of God. And it's indefensible, if you're a Catholic apologist...
You might have heard of the guy, Mitch Pacwa, Jesuit theologian. I had a debate with him years ago, and just recently - now, he didn't do it intentionally - but he declared that Roman Catholicism was totally incorrect, and he did so by saying this on his television show. He refers to Hebrews 9, and I want to say it's about verse 27, where it says it's appointed to a man once to die but after this the judgment.
So Pacwa jumps in; he says, "I tell people who believe in reincarnation - I bring them to that verse, and I ask them, 'What does "once" mean?' And they say, 'It means "once."' So he says, "You see, a man dies once, and then that's it. Then it's the judgment."
So we shot him an email and asked him, "Does once mean 'once' everywhere in the Bible?"
His response was yes.
So how about if we just read the verse before 27, verse 26: "For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."
How about the verse after 27? Verse 28: "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
So if Pacwa is correct, then Roman Catholicism is 100 percent non-biblical. It teaches things that the Bible contradicts. Christ said on the cross, John:19:30: "It's finished." Either it is, or it is not. And so you can't have it both ways.
Tom: Now, Greg, for those who maybe don't recognize what takes place at the Mass, the sacrifice of the Mass, that's really what the "once" has problems with, because daily, throughout the world, Christ is being immolated. That's the Catholic term. In other words, He's being sacrificed on the altar by the priest through transubstantiation. So explain that a little bit. That's the problem. That's what Mitch is... he's applying "once" to something else, but somehow he's avoided that with regard to the Masses throughout the world, the Catholic Church, hour after hour, there's a sacrifice that takes place, according to them, but it's not once.
Greg: Well, you know, their own testimony - we have a mutual friend, Jim McCarthy, who produced a video, I believe it's called Catholicism, Crisis of Faith.
Greg: And that came out about 20 years ago; I think it's still available. But what amazed me: one line in that video hit me, because everyone in the video are present Catholic clerics, etc., or former. No lay people, no Protestants in the movie. You're either a Catholic or former Catholic theologian of some form or fashion. And in that, he asked the priest, he said, "Okay, so you're transubstantiating, you're offering Christ. So why do you have to keep doing it?"
And the priest looked, and kind of scratched his head, and said, "I don't know."
And that's a profound answer. You don't know. And if you go to the Scripture again...you know, Tom, the words of a dying man, according to our legal system in the United States, those words are sacrosanct. Those words are...you know, if I'm dying...for example, if you shot me, and I'm dying, and the police come, and the police come up to me and they say, "Greg, who shot you?" and I say, "Gary shot me." Well, Gary is cooked! Because the words of a dying man are considered gospel, pun intended. And so when we recognize Christ is on the cross, and what does He cry? "It is finished!" What's finished? Who is He? What was His mission? John 1: "The Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world."
So He finished the sacrifice which took away the sin of the world for time and eternity, redemption is proclaimed, no imputation of sin any longer! And so what does the Catholic Church say? "Oh, no. We have to continue, continue, and continue - and then when you die, you must suffer in purgatory for all these sins that aren't paid for.
What do you with Hebrews:1:3? It says, "Christ by himself purged the sins of the world." I've taught people forever. People ask me, "Do you believe in purgatory?" I say, "Of course, I believe in purgatory. It's biblical."
They say, "Oh, well, why?"
"But," I say, "It's not a place; it's a Person. Christ is your purgatory. Your sins were purged through the sacrifice of Christ. You're looking for a purgation of sins, you're not looking to go burn somewhere for a long time before you get into heaven. That sacrifice was once for all forever.
Rome says that's not true. And that is the antithesis of biblical Christianity. So if you're Catholic, and you believe that, you're not my Christian brother. I'm going to try to witness to you, to share with you the reality of the gospel.
Tom: Absolutely. Now, Greg, I just want to go back to one other point, because we know this stuff because we grew up with it. I was 30 years a Roman Catholic before I came to a recognition that that can't save anybody, you know, and accepted the gospel. But the point I want to underscore here is you used the word "transubstantiation," because somebody out there could be thinking, "Well, wait a minute. How does this sacrifice on the altar at Mass - how does this take place?"
Well, the bread that's held up, the term in "transubstantiation," and the piece of bread through the priest is transubstantiated. It is turned in to the body and blood, soul and divinity, of Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine. So this piece of bread now becomes Christ. And then He is immolated, He is sacrificed, on that altar. That's what takes place.
And you say, "Well, where did they ever get that idea?"
I don't know, Greg, but that has been the heart of Roman Catholicism and its practice is the Mass - the sacrifice of the Mass - that's the way it works.
Greg: And, you know, if you're intellectually honest, and you go back and you study church history, you study even the history of the Catholic Church, you cannot demonstrate that anybody for 150 years after Christ believed anything remotely close to that. For 150 years, you take the cross of Christ and you go forward in history 150 years, you can't find anything that even resembles Roman Catholicism. You're not going to find a sacrificing mediating priesthood. You're not going to find a confessional. You're not going to find the Mass. You're not going to find a papacy. You're not to find any of those things at all. That evolved.
And even their own theologians admit that. I think it's Bishop Ott, I think was his name, in one of his books he used the phrase "the evolution of religion." And that's profound, because that's what it is, and it's always evolving. It's always changing, so it doesn't have to change. And that's the condition they're in today.
You know, we hate to say it, but it's just not Christian.
Tom: And we're going to talk about that just a little bit more, Greg, because...in the context of, wait a minute, it's an infallible church. It can't change. But before we get to that, Greg, from the time that you left the Catholic Church and became a biblical Christian - now, that's the only label I'll accept. I'm a biblical Christian because we know "Christian" alone, there're all kinds of "Christians" out there, whether it be the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, or Christian Science, and so on, which are all non-biblical - contrary to the Scriptures. But, I'm a biblical Christian, you're a biblical Christian.
But what's your take on where the evangelical church, those whom you used to refer to as Protestants, right? What's your take on where the evangelical church is today in regard to its view of Roman Catholicism? Have you seen a change since the time you became a biblical Christian?
Greg: Well, listen, that's an understatement, because actually "evangelical" doesn't even apply. "Protestant" is more profound, and the protesting is not against the Church of Rome; it's against the authority of Scripture. And Paul forewarns that what would precede the return of Christ would be a great apostasy, a great departure from truth. That's not lost people rejecting the Bible. That's believers departing from the authority of Scripture. And so, it's reprehensible today. The conduct and the things that are approved by supposedly evangelical Christianity, or biblical Christians, as they might say - it's just unfounded. How can you embrace a system that says you have no security in Christ at all? That you're working your way to heaven.
The Catholic world, the majority of the professing Christian world, offers everyone probation. No one is offered salvation. Because it's all conditionalized. It's conditioned upon your participation and whatever they say, you must do.
How can the evangelical church embrace that? How can the evangelical church embrace homosexuality? How can they embrace transubstantiation? How can they embrace any of these things? But, you know, the ecumenical spirit is profound today. We've been talking about that for 25-30 years now, but today, I mean, you stare at it every day. You look at churches all the time, and then you go in churches - you don't find sound doctrine any more. You can't even get a doctrinal statement from most churches. They don't even know what that is. A chapter-and-verse systematic study of the Scripture - that's just not to be found. A lot of entertainment, but there's just no Bible study any more, and that's really the issue, because is people study the Bible they get convicted.
Their opinions are disrupted and contradicted, and they have to make a decision either to conform to the will of God, the mind of Christ, the Scripture, or to be the perpetual rebel! And I think the rebellious state is winning.
Tom: Absolutely, Greg, and you know, I think back some 35...38 years, something like that, when I came to Christ. And what I knew! What I knew was, wait a minute! I have just been delivered from bondage! Greg, all those things that you just mentioned: that's bondage. You know: Lack of security in Christ, probation...that was bondage for me, even though I may not have been able to articulate it at the time, but looking back, I saw...well, from the time I came to Christ, I saw it immediately, and now I understand it all the more, that that was bondage. So, to me, again, we'll use the term "evangelical," maybe over three decades ago it had a little substance, and I agree with you, the term is...it's not even nebulous. It's just...what does it mean anymore? And no one knows. But nevertheless, when I came to Christ and started fellowshipping with evangelicals, those who confronted me in a loving way with the gospel, it was like a breath of fresh air! It was like...talk about deliverance! I was delivered from bondage, and now I had fellowship with those who are walking in the light of Christ, in the grace of Christ and the freedom. You know, it was a little bit scary, because I wasn't sure...I knew what the gospel was, but I wasn't sure what biblical Christianity was all about. It took me, you know, a while. And we're still all growing in faith.
But my point here is that to see what is happening to "the evangelical church" ("Protestant" doesn't work here unless you're a former Catholic. That's the only way you can be a Protestant, but those who've never been Catholics, they're not Protestants) but anyway, so, to see my church, the church of Christ, really, the body of Christ drifting - and it's a flood almost today - drifting toward Rome, I mean, I'm shell-shocked sometimes.
Greg: Well, you know, how can you rationalize if you've read the Scripture, let alone supposedly been to "seminary" and then you're a pastor, how could you invoke a mindset like Chrislam? Rick Warren's Chrislam? There is no compatibility with Islam and the Scripture. Or biblical Christianity.
Tom: But there is with Catholicism, isn't there, Greg?
Greg: Well, no, that's the next step. In other words, here you're going to have... the pope is going to speak, and Rick Warren is supposedly going to speak as well. Now, I thought to myself, and, as a matter of fact, I shared this with my own congregation, I said, "You know, what about it they would have called me instead of Rick Warren? And said, 'Would you like to come speak at this papal Mass?' or something. Somebody said, "Well, you wouldn't do it."
I said, "Au contraire! I would do it in a heartbeat," and I said, "For the first time ever, they would get the gospel. The first time ever, they would get the gospel."
And now, I'm imagining. Do you think that Rick Warren is going to present a clear-cut, once-for-all, forever finished sacrifice of Christ, never more to be repeated? I'll almost wager that you'll never hear those words out of his mouth there. Because he's going to have to say things that are compatible with the Church of Rome.
Tom: But I would interject there, I haven't heard it yet from Rick. So you talk about a...I mean, it's not a bet, it's not a wager - it's almost a foregone conclusion.
Now, Greg, what I interjected there, and maybe I misunderstood a little bit, but you see, Roman Catholicism and Islam are so incredibly compatible at this point - I mean, in a lot of ways, but specifically, fundamentally, it's works salvation. You've got Allah with the scales.
Tom: Well, you just articulated it earlier in our program here. It's works salvation.
Greg: Well, it's Christianity...Islam is Christianity without Christ.
Tom: There you go.
Greg: Because you don't have a savior, you know, he didn't die, wasn't crucified, wasn't resurrected, etc., but you have Mary as a central personality in the Qur'an, and you read the stuff there, and I mean, you think, Well, look at the history. Did "Christians," as our illustrious presidents refers to the Crusades?"
Well, who was doing that? Roman Catholicism.
So you see the similarities between the two, and most people say, "Oh how can you say that?" Read your history! Read your history. That's all I ask. Go read history. Go read the Bible. Start in Genesis and read through Revelation, and then tell me that the only conclusion you could come to is that you had to become Roman Catholic, and I will tell you, "Obviously, you cannot read." Because you could never come...you could never come away with that mindset,
Tom: Right. Well, Greg, what, in your mind, again...you know, I've been a believer over three decades. I think you have as well, right?
Tom: Well, to you, what significant changes have you seen with regard to attitudes of evangelicals regarding Roman Catholicism? What...can you think of some key points that may have effected change in the evangelical church?
Greg: Well, I think the reason that they gravitate to each other now is because there is no...there is no systematic teaching in biblical churches. I use the term "contrast," and I use contrast when I teach. And I tell everyone, "If you don't use contrast, you're never going to see differences. And if you don't know what the counterfeit is and what it looks like, then you're going to be victimized." And so, when we're teaching Scripture, if there's an example of something false - listen, Paul names names in his epistles. You know, he says, "Epaphroditis this..." or "This guy, that..." He names names, and he brings up false issues that are creeping into the church, and he says "Beware." Well, that hasn't ended with the apostolic age. It's just increased so much the more.
And I think the problem is that... this idea - maybe you can call it political correctness, or even religious correctness if you like - it's the idea that you can't say anything that's perceived to be negative about anybody or anything. Whenever I contrast on the radio, periodically, someone will say that I'm "bashing." And my response is, "I'm not talking about a person. We're talking about theology. We're talking about doctrine, and I'm demonstrating the immense difference between the biblical position and your position, and if you feel that I've made a mistake, if you're saved, compelled by the love of Christ, share the truth of God's Word with me. But you have to come to God's Word, because that is the ultimate authority. Now, if you don't believe that, then it's anybody's game.
And we find in Roman Catholicism, like most of the cults, where he authority? It's not in the Scripture only. There's always some other authority. You mentioned papal infallibility. There you go. The pope declares something, or an ecumenical council declares something, that's it. It's considered to be infallible, despite the fact that it's not only not in the Scripture, but the Scripture contradicts it. What do you do then? They ignore the Scripture. The Scripture's not taught. It's not read. I've said for years... as a matter of fact, we used to have a little handout we'd give. We took the New Testament apart and contrast it with the Sunday readings. If you went to Mass every day for 50 years, you'd never hear 70 percent of the New Testament ever uttered. Now, that's profound to me! You'd never hear Hebrews 9 cited. Ever. Why? Because Hebrews 7, 8, 9, and 10 totally eradicate the idea of a Mass. You cannot read Hebrews 7, 8, 9, and 10 and come away saying, "Yes, I see how the Mass is biblical."
You come away saying, "The Mass is just...it shouldn't be. It just shouldn't be."
That's the bottom line. You cannot harmonize the two. You just can't.
Tom: You know, Greg, I keep referring back to my years as a biblical Christian - over 30 years, and then from that standpoint, early on observing, at least observing what was going on in the evangelical church, and then, but also recognizing what changes came along in the Catholic Church. Now, I'll give you an example: I remember going home from St. Mary's grade school, walking home from school, I wouldn't pass through the shadow of a Baptist church! Okay? I'd just avoid it. But the point I'm making with that is, there was definitely a separation. A huge separation, on both parts.
Greg: No question.
Tom: But now, that separation has...to say it's dissolved, I think that would be an understatement. I guess, in looking at what may have effected those changes, I'm looking right at Vatican II. A mindset, a change, a movement toward "Catholic evangelicalism," and so on. Ideas, and so on. Now, I think that's had...it's not the only thing, but it's had a great effect on evangelicals - non-Catholics - moving toward Rome. What do you think?
Greg: Well, I think you're correct, because if you remember pre-Vatican II, you looked at the priest's back, he spoke in Latin, you didn't understand a thing that was going on. And if you brought a Baptist to your "church," they just looked around. They were clueless. They couldn't even understand this...this...whatever was happening.
Now what's happened, the Mass is in English. The priest changes. Then with the charismatic movement, which the Church of Rome was against the whole charismatic movement, they saw it was spreading, they saw it was eviscerating the church in South America and Central America; everyone was leaving to go to charismatic, empirical-type churches, so then they embraced that. And so then they start looking very similar to other churches. So if you...now you go to a Catholic Church, you have the "reverend" or the "clergy" or the "pastor" and he's speaking English and he's talking, and maybe you have music - depends on if it's a contemporary service or a High Mass, or whatever. You find similar things. Similar things.
And then, the whole abortion movement to stamp out abortion - things that are considered acceptable on both sides of the aisle. These things become the issues. Not the gospel! "Let's eradicate abortion" or "Stamp out poverty" or something else. But where's the gospel? So the gospel has been removed. The gospel is a non-issue now.
And then again, you don't want to say anything. The old adage "Doctrine divides; Love unites." So, what's talked about day in and day out? "The love of God." "Show the love of God." "Random acts of kindness."
That's all good and well, but the bottom line is: are people saved? Are you making them feel good while they're going to hell? Or are they saved? If I read the Bible right, Acts:4:12: "There's no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved." Jesus is paramount. He is the issue. "Who do you say that Jesus is?" That is the issue. Who is He? If He's the Christ that died on the cross for your sins and He's the object of your faith, because faith must have an object, then you're saved. But if that's not where your faith lies, well then you have no eternal life, regardless of how religious you may be.
Tom: Right. You know, Greg, we're out of time for this segment of our program, but just one last thing. I also saw in Vatican II a kind of a change. Not only was it more ecumenical than anything that had gone before, but there was also a change for the Catholics. It moved - their rule and regulations, 752 in one of their books (I'll think of it and give it to you next time) but it was a "matter of conscience" now. So that loosened everything up.
Well, my guest has been Greg Durel. He's a pastor of Heritage Bible Church in Gretna, Louisiana, and the Lord willing, he's going to back with me next week and we'll continue this, and we will, finally, folks, address the pope, who, at this airing, he should be in the country right now. So we're going to talk about that.
So, Greg, thanks for being with us and we look forward to next week's program.
Greg: Great! Thanks.
Gary: You've been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of 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 the bereancall.org. I'm Gary Carmichael. We're glad you could join us and invite you to tune in again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.