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 be here. In today’s program, Tom continues his visit with guest Greg Durel, as they discuss Rome’s evangelism. And now, here’s Tom.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Today we’re in part 2 of my discussion with Greg Durel about the Roman Catholic Church, and in particular its increasing relationship with evangelicals and the influence of Pope Francis. My guest, again, Greg Durel – he’s the pastor of Heritage Bible Church of Gretna, Louisiana, and he has a weekly radio ministry that’s devoted to educating Catholics in biblical doctrine. Greg, like me, grew up Roman Catholic, so he knows Catholicism experientially as well as his study of Catholic Church tradition and its dogmas.
Greg, welcome back to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Greg: My pleasure, Tom.
Tom: Greg, last week we talked about Pope Francis, and I want to concentrate on that because of the huge change that he has made within the Roman Catholic Church. He didn’t start it. We could go back to John Paul II, as we mentioned last week, and even, surprisingly, Pope Benedict XVI, and we thought he would get back to, you know, the rules and regulations, decrees of the Catholic Church in terms of obligations and all of that…. Well, he did a little bit, but he certainly made the way for a man like Pope Francis.
Now, Greg, talking about Pope Francis – but I want to mention this because of last week’s program: you know, I sometimes forget that when Roman Catholicism is discussed, as we’re doing, that it can sound to maybe our listeners like a political discussion, as though the issues were just matters of different opinions with no biblical basis or that’s not the emphasis. But it is our emphasis. If someone were listening and has that impression, what would you say to them, or how would you straighten them out as to the eternal significance of what we’re talking about regarding the gospel of the Church of Rome in contrast to the biblical gospel? That’s the issue.
Greg: Well, I think, Tom, the transference of the issue to the political world is significant, and that follows the plan that the Word of God lays out for us. You find today that you can get in a dialogue with Roman Catholics about politics, and they won’t want to kill you; they might disagree with you, but you get to the issue of the gospel, the Person and the finality of the work of Christ, well, then they’re going to give you the boot. They don’t want to talk anymore.
And again, you’ll find that across the board, even in “evangelical” circles, the same thing. Where is this going? It’s going to the political realm! The gospel is lost, by and large, across professing Christiandom today. You don’t find it. I listened to a person the other day – there was a thing that President Trump was speaking somewhere, I think it was – some big gathering – and they had a member of the clergy was going to come up and give the invocation. And I said, “Well, this will be interesting.” And he comes, and everything he said never mentioned Jesus one time, never closed in Jesus’s name, etc. One time used the term “God,” and that’s a generic term today, and we’re seeing that. We’re seeing that. Again, Acts:4:12: “No other name under heaven whereby we must be saved.” It’s obligatory.
So we’re finding the Person and the work of Christ is being swept away out of the room. The Person of Christ is a subjective thing. “We all believe in God. Now, whether you want to believe in Jesus, that’s something else.” It’s not something else! It’s the fundamental issue. So I think Rome has been successful because they’ve removed that out of the equation, and what are we talking about? “We don’t want walls, we want love,” you know, just the “Kumbaya” mindset, and they want it to go global. That’s the agenda. The endtimes, there has to come to what reality? A one-person salvific moment when we’re looking at the man of sin to embrace him, and people will believe on him, and it’s the Second Coming.
That’s the lie, and so to promote the lie, you have to get rid of the truth, and they’ve been overwhelmingly successful in that. They’ve worked at it a long time, and then since Vatican II they’ve crept inside, we could say, Protestantism, or evangelical Christianity, and now they’re dragging that along with them. And so now today, if you’re politically correct, you can’t judge. And I get that all the time: “Greg, you’re judgmental.” You know, the Matthew 7 out of context: “You’re judging others.” We’re not judging people! We’re judging the gospel. If you have a different gospel, then I’m commissioned to “earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all delivered unto the saints.”
And so that’s the purpose of being a believer! We’re ambassadors. You’re representing your King; you’re a minister of reconciliation. What are you doing about it? If you’re not doing anything about it, then shame on you!
Tom: Mm-hmm, right. In effect, you know, as Romans says, “You’re ashamed of the gospel.” Paul was not ashamed of the gospel! It’s the power of salvation.
Now, Greg, I want to go back to Pope Francis: the first thing, that wasn’t surprising because we saw this, the influence of Rome, the way Rome was seducing “Protestants,” but evangelicals, it was there. But the acceptance of Francis, you know, we had acceptance of John Paul II by evangelicals; we had maybe even more acceptance of Benedict XVI, but nothing like the acceptance of Francis. I mean, everybody who you would call conservative evangelical leaders, they were thrilled with this guy! We saw on the basis of Francis making overtures toward people like Kenneth Copeland and Rick Warren and many others, but they weren’t just the only ones. This was their guy among many leading evangelicals, so that was a problem.
Greg: Well, look, the principle thing here, I think, is that if you look at Francis, where is he from a Catholic perspective? He’s not promoting Roman Catholicism. He’s promoting unity under the guise of Roman Catholicism. Now, you look at the Copelands, the other people that you mentioned – you look at these guys, and what are they promoting? They’re promoting numbers. There’s this false concept that there’s some sort of global revival – I’m talking from an evangelical perspective – there’s some sort of global revival that has to occur. That’s baseless, and you referenced earlier that we “will not endure sound doctrine.” Paul tells us that before the return of the Lord or before the Rapture and the translation of the church, what’s going to occur? Apostasy, a departure from truth, and that’s – the truth is what? The Word of God.
So we have to have a wholesale abandonment of the authority of Scripture; it has to be set aside. We get it all the time: “Well, that’s your interpretation of the Bible,” so forth and so on. So you’re finding Francis is paving the way. He’s embracing – listen, I bet you within a year or so he’ll be promoting same-sex marriage, he’ll be promoting transgenderism, whatever is politically correct today, despite the fact it’s despicable from a biblical point of view, that’s what he’s going to promote to welcome everybody in. Now, people like you and I who say, “I’m not going to compromise, because I have a judgment seat of Christ to stand before and I’m going to have to give an account of my service to my King. What am I going to tell the Lord Jesus when I say, ‘Well, I folded. I joined the flow for the sake of humanity’?”
Look, this is a lost and dying world! Paul tells us in Ephesians:2:10 that we’re saved for good works. In Philippians 2 he tells the believer to “Work out,” not work for, but “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Why? Because you’re representing the Lord Jesus Christ! You’ve been commissioned, you’re given this gift of eternal life. Now, bear witness to a lost and dying world. What is the Catholic Church? It’s a false religious system. It’s a system that does not offer anyone eternal life if they follow it with every jot and tittle. Go across the board to the Kenneth Copelands, the rest of them, what do they offer you? A false gospel, a gospel with no security, a gospel with no sufficiency in Christ alone. Where does that lead us? Then must everybody get in one bowl and everybody will just say, “We all believe in God”? That’s the direction. Now, who defines God? I think you and I, the body of Christ, will be gone by that time, but that person to be “God” is going to be this person who’s going to arise and he’s going to deceive the world, and I think it’s forthcoming, Tom.
Tom: Right. And for the sake of Catholics, if there are any Catholics listening to this: folks, you’ve got problems with your pope! Conservative Roman Catholics, cardinals, are going after him with – and, you know, according to the rules and regulations, if they have any more, or if they’re still using that, but they’re trying to do that according to the issues that they’ve recognized that Pope Francis is presenting. Well, what are the issues? Try infallibility. Now, he’s made many statements that would [make you] say, “Wait a minute, that’s not – what he’s saying is not what the Church has taught.”
I’ll give you an example: some of his statements related to, certainly, matrimony – you know, you mentioned that maybe down the line he’s going to do some things. So what’s he doing right now? Well, he’s saying that communion should be available for Catholics who are living together outside the sacrament of matrimony. He’s saying that Catholics who have been divorced and then remarried, he’s saying, “No, we need to open the sacrament of the Eucharist for them.” Now, what’s the problem for conservative Roman Catholics, leaders? Well, for their priests, they say, “We don’t know what to tell the people anymore. ‘No, you can’t do this, the pope said that’s okay,’” and so on and so forth. So he’s moving away, you know, from the objective teachings of the Catholic Church, and now there’s nothing but confusion.
And, Greg, you’ve been saying this: once this takes place, well then, it’s “Que sera, sera” – “Whatever will be will be.” You know, we all just come together, we sing “Kumbaya,” and, you know, everybody gets along with everybody else. But that’s not the Catholic Church that I grew up in or you grew up in. It was false, but the point was they had rules and regulations. Those are gone by the board, right?
Greg: Well, you’re right, and what he’s doing is he’s sanctifying sin!
Greg: He’s saying, “Listen, you can live in sin with a woman, but you can still receive the sacraments.” Well, wait a minute! Once upon a time, no way – rightly so! But ultimately, when he says that even an atheist can be saved if they’re good people, you would say, “Wait a minute, that must be the devil talking!” Well, who would say that? If I can come out as the sitting pope and make a statement like that, what does that say about me? What do I believe? So in other words, what is the point of the incarnation of God? What is the point of the Lord Jesus Christ? What is the point of the cross? What is the point of [He came] to take away the sin of the world, the Lamb of God? What is the point of the Bible? It has no point. And I’m telling you, he’s a master at this! Charming, got a big smile, and he’ll say things like this. Every Catholic should have – the churches should have been empty following that statement.
Greg: No one should have gone. Everyone should have said, “Hey, close up, because we have no leadership anymore.
Tom: Yeah! Well, and, Greg, who’s talking here? Isn’t he – isn’t his title the Vicar of Christ?
Tom: Aren’t we supposed to – you know, not “we,” but the Roman Catholics, faithful Roman Catholics – say, “Hey, this is Christ speaking,” because he’s the Vicar of Christ.
Well, now let’s shift gears here a little bit. Let’s go over to the evangelical church. How did this system that you grew up in and I grew up in, how did this become today such an incredible seducer of evangelicals, of non-Catholics, especially in America, which we’ve kind of held the Catholic Church at bay – “we” being true believers, biblical Christians, we’ve held the Catholic Church at bay – but no longer anymore. And I want to go back to historically the – it started, I think, in the 1950s, at least in this country, by what’s called “accommodation,” especially with the Church of Rome. And, you know, I don’t think there’s any doubt that Billy Graham – well, he seems to have led the way. His crusades were – you know, we’re talking about in the ’50s in particular – his crusades were Catholic supported. They were assisted by nuns and priests as counselors who sent Catholics who came forward back to the local Catholic Church.
Now, I’m not making this up, folks. You read his approved biography – it has it all in there. And then what happened? A magazine that he helped start, Christianity Today – well, read some of them! I mean, you know, I’m not recommending that, but just check it out. These are promotions for the Roman Catholic Church and every other heresy that’s ever come along. This is basically Anti-Christianity Today.
But let’s move on to, you know, people like Bill Bright and Luis Palau and Rick Warren. Again, when you want to talk about accommodations (or really, compromise), the Church of Rome, you’re going to see it in spades. And then you’ve got para-church organizations like Intervarsity Fellowship and Campus Crusade and Navigators and Prison Fellowship – many of them had Catholic leadership, and others just completely cooperated with Rome. Again, Greg, how can we explain that to people?
Greg: Well, I think you hit the nail on the head when you started with Billy Graham. I think it was either 1948 or 1949 – Graham said the three greatest dangers were communism, Muhammadism, and Catholicism. Wow! Graham said that – Billy Graham said that! He made Catholicism – because he said Muhammadism, or Islam, and communism equal, and they were the greatest threats to humanity.
Now, within two-and-a-half to three years, that changed, and obviously then he embraced Roman Catholicism, because they began to support him, and he no longer said anything negative regarding their teachings. And you see that – you mentioned Rick Warren, who came out with just the nonsensical idea of “Chrislam,” a merging of Christianity and Islam. There is no commonality between Islam and Christianity. One’s the antithesis of the other. I mean, there’s no way that you could say that we could have any humble unity here. It can’t happen. And that’s part of the plan, and that’s what we’re seeing.
You know, I think that – well, look, even early ’60s, the Bible’s removed out of schools, prayer is stripped away, and I think once upon a time the reason that you had people contending, because people still believed the Bible was the Word of God. You had Sunday school; kids were taught the Bible. The Bible was preached from pulpits – not sermonettes, not the Joel Osteen “you’re going to be blessed,” or whatever – but fundamental, biblical teaching you got from pulpits.
You rarely get that anymore. Matter of fact, I think it was George Barna, maybe 20-25 years ago, did one of his surveys, and he said that people are (a paraphrase) that people are straying away or they’re staying away from serious Bible study. They don’t want to go sit down for a 45-minute or an hour Bible study anymore. They don’t want that. And so what are you seeing in most of the evangelical circles and all the mega-churches, what are you seeing? You’re seeing nothing that resembles what used to be – nothing that resembles – serious Bible teaching and Bible study. You’re seeing – what? You’re seeing basically entertainment. You have to entertain them. You want them to come and – you know, the old “nickels and noses” concept – that’s the goal. The goal should never be that! It should be the edification of the believers attending and then the motivation of those believers to go out into their respective mission fields and evangelize the lost. But the church has failed wholesale in that regard today.
Tom: Yeah. Just mentioning Rick Warren, for example, the Catholic Church was using his church growth program! They looked to him for it, and he had no problem with that. He said one of his favorite times for rest and relaxation is to listen to the Catholic TV station! You know, Mother – is it Mother Angelica?
Greg: Angelica, yeah.
Tom: Yeah. So – but I want to also go back to Billy Graham. Here’s a side note: when I was in high school in southern Ohio in a very small community – I was dating the head cheerleader, okay? – and she was a Methodist. Her family was Methodist, and so on, and they knew I was Roman Catholic, and she was always trying to get me to go to a crusade or to watch Billy Graham on TV, or whatever – that was one of her deals. And, of course, I resisted that completely. I said, “Look, if you will – I’ll do that for you, if you will sit in my home and we’ll watch Bishop Fulton J. Sheen,” who was one of the most popular – that was one of the most popular television programs around, especially on a religious basis. And she wouldn’t do that. Now, Greg, what I came to find out – and read it in his biography, folks – one of Billy Graham’s best buddies was Bishop Fulton J. Sheen! So there’s some irony right there.
So, you know, we’re seeing this today, and we don’t have those distinctions anymore – one that I had, as we mentioned earlier, and so on.
But, Greg, you’re a pastor in a very Catholic community. How do you prepare your fellowship to go about living for Christ and interacting with the community? How do you do that? And being steadfast – how do you get them to be steadfast in the faith and witnessing in such a community, yet not being seduced by Rome?
Greg: We have Delta Force believers. We have Seal Team 6 believers, because I’m not interested in promoting anything. And I’m interested in growing people to be able to fulfill their commission. And we try to convey to every believer that your salvation is critical. You get saved, but that’s just the beginning! You’re saved for a purpose. Ephesians 1 says we’re the recipient of all spiritual blessings. There’s no such thing as a “have not,” and everybody’s immensely important because Christ died for them and paid for their sins.
Now, He’s commissioned them to do what? Paul tells the church at Rome, “How shall they hear if no one tells them?” So we instruct them how to witness. We give them tracts and other things to distribute, to give to somebody – not confrontational stuff, and we tell them it’s not a point of being confrontational, but it’s a point of asking a question. You know, “Pardon me, but I’m interested: Why do you believe this?” Or, “Could you help me here? I don’t understand this. You say I have to do this to be saved – how so? How did you come to that conclusion?” And you make people think. That’s the bottom line.
And, you know, if we go to the Book of Acts, what do we see Peter doing? What do we see the apostles doing? What do we see the early believers doing? The church at Thessalonica’s a glaring example of that. They took their salvation so seriously and evangelized to the point that Paul didn’t even have to go in certain areas where he was going because people had already heard the gospel from the Thessalonians. That’s what every body of Christ should be doing. Once upon a time, that was the reality. Once upon a time, churches taught biblical truth, people grew in the grace and knowledge of Christ and people witnessed. People just don’t do that anymore. Especially when you’re in a religious community it’s very difficult, because again, political correctness, and then you’re called a judgmental person, or you’re bashing, or whatever. But you just have to take a deep breath and press on.
Tom: Yeah. And what’s the objective? If just one person – if one of those of your fellowship got to minister the Word of God… You know, the Scripture says, “One man plants, another waters, God gives the increase. Neither he that plants nor he that waters is anything.” But on the other hand, if one will receive that, they have the gift – by faith alone – the gift of eternal life.
You mentioned – I think it was Philippians:2:12 earlier, Greg: “Work out your own salvation.” That’s the salvation that you’ve been given, okay? You’re not working for it; you’ve already received it. Now what are you doing with it? And that’s…so your point and your message to our listeners, Greg, is just critical.
Now, we’ve got about a minute left. You got a last comment for us?
Greg: Well, I would tell people to grab a bunch of Non-negotiable Gospels, grab small booklets, whatever, that Dave wrote – other things that are available, stock up on them, but don’t keep them in your car or in your closet – use them! And I leave tracts in my local post office when I go in every day. I mail them with my bills – I put a tract in the bill, so they have to open the tract to get the check. Do they have to read the tract? Maybe not! Maybe they’ll throw it in the trash. Maybe somebody taking out the trash will find it. The bottom line is if one person, just one person, gets saved by your efforts, what a success you are! That’s the bottom line.
Tom: Wow, exactly. Exactly. And, folks, as you’ve been following us, you know that we’ve printed 10,000 “The Four-Minute Gospel,” and we make it available! And, you know, just write to us – we’ll send you a stack of them, whatever you’d like. Because just as Greg said, I can’t think of anything more wonderful than the Lord using us. You know, it’s His deal, but He can use us to get the message out.
So, Greg, thanks for being with us. It’s always a blessing to talk to you. God bless you, brother.
Greg: Oh, thank you! Take care, man.