Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. We’re glad you could join 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. Our topic is Roman Catholicism, and, in particular, this is a follow up to the visit of the present head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis. My guest to talk about this is Greg Durel. He is pastor of Heritage Bible Church of Gretna, Louisiana, and he has a weekday radio ministry that’s devoted to educating Catholics in biblical doctrine.
Greg is no theoretical or academic reviewer of the faith taught by the Catholic Church. Like me, he grew up as a Roman Catholic, so he knows Catholicism experientially as well as from his study of the Catholic Church tradition and its dogmas. Greg, welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Greg: Always great to be here, Tom.
Tom: As we mentioned on the program that just preceded the pope’s arrival, Francis – he’s really a different kind of pope. On the one hand, he’s on the same, it seems to me, ecumenical track as his two predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Yet he has certainly left them in his wake as he cozies up to “protestants,” charismatics, and pagans. But, Greg, as we did in my last interview with you, before we talk about Pope Francis, we need to address the critical error of the Church of Rome, and that’s important because if Catholicism has a foundational teaching that denies the finished work of Christ on the Cross, then no one – and I mean no one – can be saved by the Catholic Church. Greg, what is, in your view, the bottom line teaching of Catholicism that denies the Gospel.
Greg: Well, Tom, it’s a faith by works. You’re saved – you don’t have salvation, but you’re placed on probation. You have the potential, they say, to be saved at some point, if you follow the rules and regulations and such. In essence, Roman Catholicism is the antithesis of biblical Christianity. In John:19:30, Christ cried from the Cross, “It is finished. It’s paid in full.” What was finished? What was paid in full? John 1: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” That was His objective. So the satisfaction, or the remission, of sins is to be had in the person of Christ. And so the Church of Rome says, “That’s not true.” The Council of Trent put out 133 anathemas - a unique word, basically means that you’ll never go to heaven. And one of those anathemas was that if you simply believe in Christ, based upon your faith – in other words, faith alone in Christ alone – you’re going to hell when you die.
Well, that’s the exact opposite of what Paul tells us. That’s the exact opposite of what Jesus tells us in John 3. So again, Roman Catholicism is the opposite of biblical Christianity. In essence, it’s not Christian at all.
Tom: And Greg, it’s so important! That’s why I keep…every time I have an interview with you, or whoever else I talk to, on this program with regards to Roman Catholicism, I want evangelicals to understand that. You know, everything about the Catholic Church – I mean, you’ve given us the bottom line – but you go into a Catholic Church, and first you see a crucifix. Christ is still hanging on the cross. He didn’t finish the work.
And then, what goes on there, the Mass – that is a continuation, a…they call it a re-presentation, but it is a sacrifice. “Immolation” – that’s the term they use, right?
Tom: It means “killing.” It is a killing sacrifice that takes place whenever there is a Mass presented, which happens continually throughout the world daily and sometimes more than once a day.
Greg: Well, and that in itself is contradicted by Hebrews:10:18, where he says, “Where remission of these is, there is no more offering…there is no more oblation…there is no more sacrifice for sin.” Why would there need be, if Messiah has come, and He has, in fact, paid all sin, past, present, and future? It’s a simplistic truth. Paul says the gospel’s so simple that a child can understand it. But Rome has moved in. Let me give you a quick example: I have a child’s catechism that’s my personal child’s catechism from way back in the sixties. And if you open this child’s catechism – as a matter of fact, I did a whole study on it – and I prefaced my statements by saying, “Would somebody premeditatedly lie to a child?” And the answer would be “Certainly not! No one would.”
Now, if you look at this child’s catechism, for example where baptism is concerned, it teaches that it is impossible to go to heaven if you’re not baptized. So, in other words, your salvation is to be found firstly where? In water baptism. Go to the legitimate first church council, Acts 15, and find that teaching there. You find it repudiated there! What plus faith is necessary for salvation? And Peter himself says, “Nothing.” What’s the response? Silence from Rome, because the Bible is not their authority.
Tom: You know, Greg, since Vatican II, there have been some changes, at least in the mentality of the Catholic Church. They cannot change the Council of Trent, but they can massage some things around. Now, out of Vatican II there was a change with regard to non-Catholics – call us protestants. I mean, I’m a protestant, you’re a protestant, you know that. Because we protest. We came out of the Catholic Church and protest against it. But that’s not the case for all non-Catholics. Nevertheless, this is what’s being said here. That now, we’re referred to – non-Catholics are referred to – as “separated brethren.” But the underscoring of that, based on what you just said about baptism, that the Church…you know, growing up, that without baptism, without the Catholic Church, there is no salvation. We were taught that, over and over again, correct?
Tom: Now they’re saying that, wait a minute, separated brethren, protestants, and so on - they can get to heaven. However, they need to be baptized. That’s still the distinction that hangs in there. Again, it is a false gospel.
Greg: Well, unless you’re a Muslim. Because in the new Catholic Catechism, the latest Catholic Catechism – by the way, the progenitor of that Catechism was Benedict XVI, and in that Catechism it says that Muslims are saved simply because they believe in a Creator. So a Muslim is going to be saved. The Muslim does not have to go to the Catholic Church. The Muslim does not have to be baptized. The Muslim does not have to eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ. The Muslim doesn’t have to go to confession and get absolution. The Muslim’s saved simply because he believes in Allah. Now how do you harmonize that with the rest of Catholic teaching? You can’t. It’s overt hypocrisy to create an ever-growing spirit of ecumenism where everybody comes together as one. That’s the bottom line.
Tom: But that also can be fed into the delusion, the confusion, that the Church presents. For example, we know, as Catholics, well, yes, there’s water baptism, and you can find teachings of the church – dogmas of the church – that says it has to be water baptism. But then, wait a minute. Now we have the “baptism of desire.” Supposedly, the thief on the cross – it was the baptism of desire.
So, this is men, making it up, trying to cover themselves every which way, and sadly, tragically, this is so contrary to – just as you explained, Greg – the simple gospel that even a child can understand, and by which you can only be saved.
Greg: The idea here is that they always focus on the physical. And if we’re talking about salvation, we’re talking about something that’s spiritual. It’s not physical. And things that are different are certainly not the same. So, they push the physical agenda – the human works facet of that – because then they’re in the devil’s back yard. They push baptism to such a degree – as a matter of fact, I carry in my Bible a little booklet they used to give out (I don’t know if they still do. Mine’s old. Mine’s probably about 70 or 80 years old) – a booklet they used to give to doctors and nurses, all about baptism. And there’s a whole section in there on intrauterine baptism. If you think a pregnant woman – like a pregnant woman’s going to die, or something, or you think the child she has in her is going to die, then they teach you how to baptize the child in the womb. Because if the child’s not baptized, it will go to hell.
Now, that is just bizarre. That’s bizarre! But they go to such extremes because then the salvation is to be found in the system. It’s in the system. That’s why you ask the average Catholic, God bless them, but you say, “Are you a Christian?” They’ll respond, “Oh, I’m a Catholic.” And that’s rightly so, because that’s a defining moment there. Because it’s not Christian, it’s Catholic.
Now when you say that, people say (I get accused of bashing all the time) “You’re bashing.” We’re not bashing. We’re having a discussion about theology. And if your theology tells me I have to do X to be saved, and the Bible tells me I have to do Y to be saved, then we have a problem. You're going to have to show me how we can get harmony between the two, or you’re wrong and I’m right. And there’s no way…there’s no way to circumvent that. There’s no way to go around that. Either it’s truth or it’s false. And people have to come up…step up to the fact and ask themselves, “Do you know why you believe what you believe?”
Tom: It really upsets me when people say that I’m attacking Catholics, or that I’m bashing Catholics, and so on. Why? Because I was there! I lived through that, just as you did! I have family members, I have loved ones, I have...my heart – you’ve heard me say this. I’ll take a back seat to no one when it comes to my love for Roman Catholics and my compassion and my concern for their situation, because I was there! Now, here’s the thing that almost angers me. Hopefully it’s righteous anger. But when we have Christians - so-called Christian leaders - and they are leading the parade back to Rome – evangelical leaders - this is so upsetting. It’s like, Greg, you and I were delivered from the bondage of Rome, and I mean that literally. We were in bondage. So from the bondage of Rome, and set free through the gospel, now we have people like Billy Graham, for example – the things that you mentioned and that we’ve been talking about here, to give people an understanding of what Roman Catholicism is about. Here’s what Billy Graham says, that his good friend, the late John Paul II – they only differed in the nonessentials regarding their Christian beliefs and practices. Wow! And we have other leading evangelicals echoing the same idea that the different Catholic beliefs and practices are all non-essentials regarding the gospel. Now pick one of those things that you mentioned or that I mentioned that doesn’t relate back to salvation – how it rejects the gospel.
Greg: Well, those are just silly comments, Tom. You know, for somebody to say that we agree, Christianity agrees, on all the basics with Roman Catholicism, there’s just some peripheral issues that we disagree on, is foolish. It tells me someone is ignorant of the Scripture and ignorant of the Gospel.
Tom: Right. But here’s the effect of that. What does that do to the motivation of evangelicals witnessing to Roman Catholics, of which there are…what? a billion and a quarter?
Tom: How does that affect their interest? I mean, they’ve got a neighbor… You see, I remember speaking at a conference and saying, “Hey, you want to be a missionary? Try next door. Try it in your workplace. Because I can guarantee you…what, is it…how many out of ten in this country are Roman Catholics? It’s…I can’t remember the percentage, but it’s high. So the point is, you don’t have to go to Africa or, like my wife, my son, and son-in-law, we just got back from a mission trip in Mongolia. You don’t have to go to Mongolia!
Tom: It’s there. It’s in your workplace. It’s everywhere in this country, given the number of Roman Catholics that we have here, and it is a mission field.
Greg: Right. Well, evangelical Christianity basically has sold out. It’s dropped the ball. To recognize Rome as a legitimate Christian gospel is absurd. But what you’re finding today is that nobody – nobody – witnesses any more. Nobody proclaims the gospel, whether it be to a heathen, an atheist, a lost Methodist, or a Catholic. It makes no difference, because no one wants to offend. You don’t want to offend someone. I tell people, “Go back and read Matthew 10. What did Jesus say? He didn’t come to bring peace on earth. He came to bring a sword. And the gospel is going to be divisive. It’s going to separate a mother and a daughter and a father and a son. And we’re here for a critical mission.”
Paul tells the church in Rome, he says, “How are they going to hear if no one tells them?”
So, we have a commission as believers. We’re ambassadors for the King of kings and Lord of lords to proclaim salvation by personal faith in what has already been done for you on the Cross by Messiah. Case closed. Now, the devil moves in, and he says, “Au contraire! It wasn’t finished. It’s a work in progress. Now, here, join the list of human achievement religions, which say, ‘This is what you have to DO to be saved.’” All of which are lies. You can follow all their programs, irrespective of the name over the door, it ends in the same place. It ends in hopelessness. Because it offers no security in Christ.
Tom: The US certainly rolled out the red carpet for Pope Francis -which was to be expected - but it seems as though evangelicals and charismatics especially rushed to the head of the line in welcoming him. Did that surprise you? Or did you expect that?
Greg: Oh, no. I expected it, because if you look at the people who rushed to the line, these are the same people that are always…I don’t want to say “hustling,” but it’s a good term…they’re always out for the bottom line. You know, what’s their bottom line? Their cash flow? And so, you get, firstly, you get name recognition, you get the press, etc., etc., and you want the Catholics’ money as well. And so you prostitute yourself. The Kenneth Copelands of the world, those types of people. The bottom line is money. And so what are they going to do? They’re going to go get as close to Francis as they can.
Now, you know, you go back a few years, and that would have not been done. People like Swaggart, and guys like that, the opposite – because whatever you think of guys like that, at least they understood what Rome taught, and they knew there was no basis for commonality. That there was no gospel there at all. And so they would witness to those people. That’s long since passed. Now the viewpoint is…what? “Well, we all believe in the same God.” As if that’s a qualifier for eternal life. You can believe in God. You can believe in a Creator. That doesn’t mean you're saved. Acts:4:12: “No other name under heaven whereby we MUST be saved.” And that name is the Lord Jesus Christ. So, you can’t go around that. But they’re working overtime. Why? To just beef up their coffers.
Tom: You mentioned the bottom line – money. There’s no doubt about Kenneth Copeland. He’s all about the prosperity gospel. Certainly his wife is the same way. That’s what they preach and promote. And you could say a similar thing about the Church of Rome. At least, one aspect of it. Don’t Roman Catholics pay for indulgences? Don’t they buy Mass cards to get their loved ones quickly out of purgatory? That seems to be a money route.
Greg: Sure. Sure. You’ve got to build up Peter’s pence. The pope has expenses. But that’s basically everybody. And the sad part is, how about the so-called “first pope,” Peter, to the Catholic? You go back – what did Peter say? Kenneth Copeland, go read the book of Acts. What did Peter say? “Silver and gold have I none.” What happened to Peter? He didn’t get on the prosperity bandwagon? He didn’t understand what he was supposed to do? He couldn’t name it and claim it?
Obviously, these people’s positions, irrespective of who they are, if you read the Scripture for itself, you cannot come away with that mindset. This stuff is contrived, it’s fabricated, it’s inserted, and again, only 3 percent of professing Christianity has ever read the Bible from cover to cover. So you have 97 percent of professing Christians that are biblically ignorant. And so what would you expect them to believe? The guy who’s got the most bells and whistles.
I mean, Pope Francis comes into town, thousands and thousands of people, etc., etc., and every body wants to get on the bandwagon. It’s not about biblical truth. It’s not about salvation. There’s no conviction there. People out in the audience are not convicted that they need to be saved. There’s no focus on the Person of Christ. You don’t get a gospel from these people. You never get a gospel from them. It’s always about you. It’s psychology maxed out. It’s about narcissism running rampant. The world revolves around you, and if you do what we say, then you’ll have paradise here. That’s the exact opposite of the gospel. That’s the devil’s lie. But it’s successful, and that’s why they use it.
Tom: And as far as the gospel, I agree with you, but there, incidentally…and maybe not so much incidentally…Copeland has a gospel. It’s a false gospel. He believes that Jesus, after he descended into hell, He was tortured by Satan to pay for our sins. So there’s an overt false gospel. On the other hand, how could Francis recognize that and stand back from Copeland when he’s got a false gospel as well? There’s no discernment there on either side.
Greg: Well, because if you had discernment, then eventually, maybe they would find the gospel. And then they would close up, and say, “Hey, all this is nonsense. This is the gospel.”
It’s not, you know, sadly to say, it’s not about discernment. Maybe on Copeland’s…maybe it is discernment. It’s discernment from a perspective, “What is the best interest for me here? What will make me better in this life?” Because irrespective of who they are, the focus is always on the here and now. It’s never on the hereafter. It’s never on what’s coming. Nobody’s telling you to look up because “your redemption draweth nigh.” Nobody’s telling you that the King is coming, and in fact, Rome has no –has no kingdom, has no Israel, has no Christ returning to ascend the throne of His father David. That’s been removed from their mindset. So what would you expect from somebody who eradicates the Jew and moreover removes the gospel? What would you expect from them? Nothing. Nothing at all.
Tom: Well, again, you’re referring to Replacement Theology, which goes back. “Israel is defunct,” you know. “It’s the church. The church is the New Israel.” Christ? When is He going to return? Well, we’re already, according to the amillennialists, which, that’s Catholic eschatology, according to their view – we’re in the millennium, okay?
Nevertheless, the other thing that bothers me about that is that, okay, if people take me to task for talking about greed and love of money among both parties, as it were, the real issue may be ecumenism. In other words, if you look at…from the standpoint of Rome, well, look what Francis had to deal with when he was in Argentina. It was the Pentecostals, the charismatics, that were stealing their sheep, as it were, according to them. But here in the US, they have hundreds of thousands – millions – of followers within the charismatic/Pentecostal perspective. Now, those are numbers, and to think that Francis isn’t turning to that group to draw them to himself and to Rome, somebody would have to be blind to miss that.
Greg: Well, certainly, and Rome has even started getting into evangelism, which is unprecedented. The United States, I mean, I’m getting old, but as long…as far back as I can remember, Roman Catholics never went door to door witnessing to people. They never witnessed to anybody, much less going door to door! Now, here in metro New Orleans, they actually have a system set up where they have teams going door to door, giving you a little brochure, giving you a rosary, that shows you how to pray the rosary and telling you how to make a good confession and come back to the Church of Rome, if you’re a fallen away Catholic. Or if you’re not a Catholic, come to the Church of Rome, because that’s where you’ll find your home, and that’s where you’ll be welcome. And they’re going door to door now, doing this. Now forty years ago, that would be unheard of – unheard of! But now, what do you see? They’re doing it. What do you see from evangelical Christianity? Nothing! The only people going door to door are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they’re spreading…what? A false gospel.
So now, you have two teams going door to door – actually three, when you include the Mormons. And you have three groups spreading a false gospel; people with the gospel do nothing today – more or less, do nothing. It’s a sign of the times. Paul said, “What would precede the coming of Christ? A great apostasy.” A departure from truth. For most people, the Bible is not the final authority. It's not the truth. We don’t find the protocols to operate from scripture. It’s a subjective thing. It’s what you “feel.” And political correctness has stifled the average Christian today, and which is just sad, because I think that now’s the time for Christians to do what they’re called to do, and that is to witness to other people.
Tom: Greg, we referred to Pentecostals and charismatics, certainly, many of them would not accept Copeland and their views, but many would, as well. So… but what about conservative evangelicals? Now, we’re out of time for this segment, but next week, the Lord willing, I want to talk about Rick Warren, who’s perhaps the most highly visible and influential evangelical leader in the world today. I think folks would be surprised. I’d hope they would be shocked at his perspective on Roman Catholicism. So, we’ll take care of that, as I said, the Lord willing, next week. So, Greg, thanks for being my guest today, and I look forward to picking up with this conversation next week.
Greg: Thank you, Tom.
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, thanks for being here, and you’re invited to join us again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.