Program Description: T.A. McMahon welcomes guest Pastor Greg Durel of Heritage Bible Church in Gretna, LA. They will be discussing the important distinctions between Catholicism and true Christianity.
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 tune in. In today’s program, Tom welcomes Greg Durel, pastor of Heritage Bible Church in Gretna, Louisiana. Now, along with his guest, here’s TBC Executive Director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Today and next week, we’re going to address the phenomenal influence of the Roman Catholic Church - the influence they’re having upon those who are not Catholics but call themselves evangelicals: non-Catholics who profess to be evangelicals. And my guest for that topic is Greg Durel. He is pastor of Heritage Bible Church of Gretna, Louisiana. Greg has a weekday radio ministry, which is devoted to educating Catholics as to the differences in what their church teaches and what the Bible teaches. He’s one of the founding directors of Reaching Catholics for Christ and a speaker at RCFC’s national conferences. Reaching Catholics for Christ has as its objective informing evangelicals as to what the Roman Catholic Church teaches and how to effectively witness to Catholics.
Greg, welcome to Search - actually, welcome back to Search the Scriptures 24/7!
Greg: Well, thanks, Tom. It’s always a pleasure to be with you.
Tom: Greg, before we get to some questions, I want to run something by you: when’s the last time we had a Reaching Catholics for Christ conference?
Greg: Oh, it’s been a few years.
Tom: Yeah, yeah. And the sad thing is, as somebody said, we can’t even get arrested (?) on that subject. In other words, the church - which is what we’re going to talk about - the evangelical church has been so influenced by Roman Catholicism, by Catholic leaders, those who would call themselves evangelical leaders, I bet I could - it would be difficult to define more than you can count on your hand those highly visible evangelical leaders that don’t support Roman Catholicism or speak out against it. Is that your take?
Greg: You know, it’s so true, and I’m glad you brought that up, because I’m thinking about something. I was rereading again Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf the other day, and he has a profound statement in there which is apropos to this, and I’ll paraphrase it: basically, what he says: “You have to get the focus on something.” In other words, let’s focus on saving the world - and that’s where the professing Christendom is headed today; it’s not on the gospel, but it’s on saving the world. And Hitler’s point was if you get the focus where you want it, then even Catholics and protestants can sit together in the same pew with no problems at all, because the doctrinal differences are completely erased because the focus is the same. And I submit to you the enemy has been working overtime, and apostasy is rampant. So if the gospel isn’t the issue, then there really isn’t anything to fight over if we have this commonality that we all believe in “God” - whether you call him Allah or whatever; if that’s the focus and we’re to save the world, then there are no differences, and that’s the path that professing Christendom is on.
Tom: Yeah. And, folks, it’s not like we’re looking for work here, but certainly Reaching Catholics for Christ conferences - they were important, and we were effective. Of course, it didn’t help things that Dave wrote a book called What Love Is This? which dealt with Calvinism like no other book that I know of; and, sadly, because Reformed churches - because Calvinist churches…they have a history of addressing Roman Catholicism. I mean, that’s what the Reformation was all about, and so consequently they were open to conferences dealing with Reaching Catholics for Christ. But, at least for us, Greg - for Dave and me - that closed every door.
Tom: So that’s a sad note. Greg, again, going back to the influence by the Roman Catholic church upon evangelicals - and, you know, I use that term, and I guess I have to use it in a general sense, because I don’t know what an evangelical is anymore, but it used to be those who really believed that the Bible was their authority: that the Bible, their life, and what they did - their instructions and so on - was basically the B-I-B-L-E. That’s not the case anymore. It’s either evangelical churches are not going by sound doctrine, they’re going by the latest trends, whether it be Rick Warren or Bill Hybels - whoever or whatever it might be, they have “drifted away,” as it says in Hebrews. They’ve drifted away from the truth. So…
Greg: Well, you know, you’re right, Tom, and evangelicals by the very name brings the connotation that they’re supposed to evangelize, so evangelicals will always - you know, the people labeled as “Jesus freaks” or “religious zealots” kind of thing, back when I was coming up as a Catholic. And why? Because they would evangelize. They would come sharing the gospel with you. I submit to you now the evangelical church by and large, the majority of people in it, probably can’t even enunciate the gospel, let alone contend for the faith that we’re commissioned to do. We’re to be ambassadors representing the Christ of Scripture, but the majority of people can’t even comprehend the Christ of Scripture, let alone share that reality with others, and I think that’s the box, you know, [in which] the church finds itself today: it has the four walls to look at and it has no outreach - no outreach at all.
Tom: You making that point - and because…and folks, we’re not just - I mean, Greg’s been doing this for a long time; certainly I have, and Dave Hunt, through The Berean Call - looking at trends in the church, looking as to where the church is and so on. So there’s incredible confusion out there. “Oh, yeah, well, such and such - yeah, they’re Catholic, but they love Jesus. They know Jesus.”
Now, for the sake of making some clarifications, what are the fundamental differences between what a Roman Catholic - well, you know, I mean Roman Catholic…what did you believe as a Catholic? What did I believe? We called ourselves cafeteria Catholics: a little of this, a little of that, and so on. But according to the official teachings, the dogmas of the Catholic Church, what are some fundamental differences between what Catholics are to believe and why are those differences critical? Now, let’s start with this, Greg: how is one saved? According to the Roman Catholic Church, what must a Catholic do to get to heaven?
Greg: You know, that’s a good question, too, because I remember a few years back, I was in a televised debate with a prominent Jesuit theologian - I won’t mention his name. But he was prominent; he’s on EWTN. He has his own program, and he was the guy: he was their champion apologist, and he and I had a live debate here at the Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. The archbishop was behind the whole thing, and the object was just to embarrass me and eliminate my ministry, and so it was a stacked deck. They controlled everything. It was in their venue, their programming, the whole thing, and I had two opportunities to ask him a question during the whole time, but only had 30 minutes - I mean 30 seconds to ask the question. And I had a quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia I wanted him to respond to, which would have ended the debate, but I couldn’t get it all read within the 30 seconds, so they said, “Stop.” So I had to stop. So he didn’t have to answer the question. So I realized I was in trouble, so for my second question, I asked him, “Just tell me what do I have to do to go to heaven?”
Greg: That was the question. Now, this is live television in New Orleans, probably the most Catholic city in the United States - live television. Here’s a debate that the Catholic theologian…the question’s given to him; the archbishop’s there; it’s taking place in the Notre Dame seminary; you have bishops there, you have priests there in the audience, everything, and the archbishop is there, and his response is - first thing he says was, first thing, “Well, you have to keep the commandments.” That was the first thing he said. Then he went on with a litany of things: you have to be baptized, you have to eat His flesh and drink His blood, you have to follow the [Catholic] Church…he rolled off a litany of about seven things.
But I go back to the first thing he said; he said, “You have to keep the commandments.” Now, anybody that has read the Bible knows that is preposterous. That’s the whole reason why Christ had to come; that’s the reason Messiah had to come, because the law was given to demonstrate to man that man cannot keep the law. He can’t even the first 10, let alone the 603 that follow after. So if you think you can keep the law, then you have a problem. Paul writes the epistle to the Galatians to demonstrate the fact that no one could keep the law.
So by his very answer - and that is the position in Rome - by the very answer is that their so-called “gospel” is the antithesis to the gospel of the Bible! It’s the exact opposite, and that’s why you have dogmas like the Council of Trent, which is said to be infallible: that if you believe “you’re saved by faith alone and Christ alone,” you are anathema.” So the Council of Trent basically says what? Every Baptist, every person who believes that you’re saved by faith in Christ plus nothing are not saved at all. So it’s the antithesis of biblical Christianity.
Tom: Yeah, Greg, let me interject this, because you mentioned Trent: sometimes when I speak and address Roman Catholicism, I’d say, “Well, you know, maybe the Catholics really don’t understand what evangelicals believe. Maybe they really don’t understand the gospel,” all right? Then I take them to Trent; Trent, the Council of Trent, which was really a reaction to the Reformation, it lays out the gospel so clearly that I wish that, as you mentioned earlier, I wish that evangelicals understood it as well!
Tom: I mean, it’s crystal clear, isn’t it?
Tom: And we’re condemned, we are anathematized for believing the biblical gospel, which the Catholic Church knows and understands, but rejects.
Greg: So how can there be fellowship there? How can there be harmony there? One’s the antithesis of the other. I’ve used the phrasing for years: there’s biblical salvation, okay, which we refer to as “divine accomplishment”; on the other side, you have the religions of the world, Rome being the champion, and they teach human achievement - that the salvation is not finished. You don’t possess salvation, but you’re placed on probation, and that the sin is still an issue. So they do not understand the doctrine of imputation. They don’t comprehend the fact that sin is no longer imputed to the world much less to a lost person or a believer. Christ took away the sins of the world, and the words of a dying Man on the cross, He cries, “It is finished!” and the language is emphatic - it’s finished now and forever; it’s paid in full. So what do they do? They come along - now, didn’t come along the first week - Rome didn’t evolve for centuries afterwards, but then they come and they put forth this idea that now you have to pay for your sin, or you have to sacrifice again and again and again, and hope perhaps, perchance, one day you’ll be saved. That’s not the gospel. That’s not good news at all.
Tom: No. And, you know, again, we’re talking about people who maybe don’t fully understand this, but this is what the [Catholic] Church teaches, and you’ve said, we can’t mix the two. One is antithetical to the other. So, folks, clearly, a Catholic who goes on the basis of what Greg articulated - you know, we’re going to get into some of that, some of the details, certainly - unless you’re baptized, you’re not going to get to heaven, right? That’s the first.
Tom: Even as the Church has sort of loosened up with - you know, I use that sort of tongue-in-cheek, because it claims to be an infallible church, but Vatican II, in the 1960s, sort of loosened up some things, and it said, “Well, yeah, now…” Greg, as a former Catholic, you’re an apostate. Me - I am, as a former Catholic, I’m an apostate. But for those good Baptists and Methodists and, you know, whatever it might be, if they are baptized, they don’t have the riches of the Church, but they could probably get in, right?
Tom: Is that accurate?
Greg: Well, yes and no. Let me tell you why. When you and I are talking as adults, and we’re talking - let’s say we’re talking to a Catholic adult, maybe a priest or some apologist or some Catholic who professes to know Catholic doctrine - the dance, or the waltz, is going to begin. Well, we’re going to focus on literally eating flesh or [if] water baptism saves or doesn’t save; we’re going to get all the rhetoric and fluff and stuff, and what I did to bypass that - I think I even have it on my website - what I did was I’d do a discussion of a child’s catechism, and my premise is this: no one would premeditatedly set out to deceive a child. No one would try to mislead a child. So I went back, and I got my own personal catechism from seventh grade in Catholic schools. And so what I do [is that] I take a catechism given to a 12-year old, and certainly the 12-year old does not have the mental capacity of a scholar; he doesn’t have a doctorate in theology, and he’s not learning theology, he’s learning the basic truths that the Catholic Church teaches. And so I take this catechism, and, step-by-step, teach what it in fact says and then contrast that with the Bible. Starts off by saying that it is impossible - it is impossible for anyone to go to heaven that’s not baptized. Obviously, water baptism.
Greg: Now, what do you do with that? Are there any ways to sidestep that? You can. So then water baptism is the pathway for your salvation. It’s not faith in Christ; it’s not the fact that Christ paid your sin debt; it’s the fact that you are baptized in water - baptized in water. So that’s essential.
Now, you’ll have a Catholic come up and say, “Well, there’s the baptism of desire, the baptism of blood….” All that’s fabricated. That’s not concrete in Catholic theology. But what’s concrete is water baptism is necessary. Then they go on; they inject the Mass: you must eat His flesh and drink His blood; when you see the priest holding up the Eucharist, the wafer, you’re seeing actually Christ Himself. The priest becomes another Christ, and he’s holding up Jesus - not a piece of bread, but in reality now, it’s Jesus Himself. And so all the doctrines that were reinforced by the Council of Trent are taught to children. So then today they try to waltz around it, and there’s just no way to dodge the bullet.
Tom: Right. Right. Again, the wafer, the piece of bread - how do they say it? “The body and blood, soul and divinity, of Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine,” which is worshiped in the Eucharistic holy hour; a piece of bread is worshipped. Folks, you can’t get around that.
The other thing about expiating sins - you know, when Jesus said, “It is finished…” “Tetelestai,” which means, “Paid in full,” all right? That’s what He cried. But it’s really not, according to the Catholic Church. You have to expiate your own sins either through suffering now here on earth - but that doesn’t cover it, no matter how much suffering you do - then you have to suffer in purgatory. Now, this is if you’re going to get to heaven, okay?
Tom: If you can’t, for your sake or my sake, being apostates, unless we repent and turn back to - actually, repentance doesn’t do enough; you’ve got to do penance, you know. If you do your penance and I’ll do my penance, we could get back to the Church, which is…no interest there on our part. But the sad part is, the sad aspect of all this is we’re talking about - what? A billion and a quarter souls?
Tom: Talking about your neighbors, people you work with, people you go to school with, people that are great, fun people, good to be around, and so on and so forth, but they’re on their way to hell…
Tom: …because of a false belief, and hanging to it. It’s not that there aren’t opportunities for them to turn to God, to turn to the truth, but they have to have a love for the truth. They have to hear the Word. That’s why I go back to - it’s sad that we couldn’t continue on with Reaching Catholics for Christ; the doors had closed - not just Reformed churches, but also charismatic churches, or churches that wouldn’t be a part of the Reformation mindset, Calvinistic mindset, and so on.
Greg: Tom, just to help your listeners who are Bible students on the thought process that you’ve given them, I would tell them three verses: John:19:30 - that’s where Jesus cries, “It is finished.” The church of Rome says it’s not. So then to follow Rome’s path, in essence, by your practice you’re declaring Jesus is a liar. You have 2 Cor:5:19 to which Paul says, “To whit that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses or sins unto them.” So there is no imputation of sin. And then Hebrews:1:3 says, “Jesus all by himself purged our sins.” There’s the purgation of sins I’ve taught forever.
Greg: Do I believe in purgatory? Yes, but purgatory is a Person, not a place, and so the sins of the world were removed by Christ; that was the reason He came. So if you’re going to embrace Roman Catholicism, then you have to be in overt denial of the very Person and work of Christ. I don’t know how you can rationally do that. Any person intellectually honest cannot buy in to Roman Catholic theology.
Tom: Mm-hmm. See, and you have sad things that have happened within the last 50 years or so, 50-60 years: for example, I’ve got a quote from Billy Graham talking about his good friend Pope John Paul II, and he said, “Well, basically, we agree on the basics. It’s just some of these incidentals that we don’t agree with.” Now, I’m paraphrasing him, but basically that’s what he said. Now, let’s take an incidental like the Mass. We just talked about the Eucharist. What goes on at the Mass, Greg?
Greg: Well, obviously, the Church of Rome teaches that the priest, when he puts on his vestments, becomes another Christ, an alter-Christos. And then when he says the words of consecration, that the bread and wine supernaturally change into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ; only the outward appearance of the bread and wine remain. So when you - not you and I, but somebody would say, “Well, you worship a wafer,” their response is, “Oh, no, I’m worshipping Jesus.” Now, is there a basis for that anywhere in Scripture? The answer is no. Is there a basis for that anywhere in the first 300 years of church history? The answer is no. Where did that concept come from? Thomas Aquinas in the 12th century, with his Thomasian logic, and he even concedes that the concept, or the origin of transubstantiation he got from Aristotle, a pagan philosopher.
So why would you even accept that? If it’s not biblical, if Christ and the apostles didn’t teach it, and for the first 300 years no one practiced it, no one believed it, why would you make that the foundation of all you do? I’ve said it forever, if the Mass were to be removed from Roman Catholicism, if they would recognize that there’s no point of this Mass at all, Christ is the final sacrifice for sins, then what would Catholics do if they went to “church?”
Tom: Mm-hmm. There…
Greg: They would do nothing. Rome would evaporate; take the priesthood and the Mass out, and Rome would go by the wayside.
Tom: Right. Now, Greg, it’s interesting - you know, I’ve had Roman Catholics who say, “Well, we’re evangelicals.”
And I said, “Well, what do you believe about the Eucharist?” And they explain; they give the Catholic view. I say, “Wait a minute, where do you get this idea?”
They say, “Well, it’s in the Bible.” And they’ll take me to John 6, you know, after Jesus had fed the five thousand, He said in those scriptures - He said, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you.” And, see, what’s interesting about that is that we’re accused by Roman Catholics of taking everything literally in the Bible. No, we don’t take everything literally. If we did, we’d believe God’s a chicken with wings and so on from the psalm. The issue here is - and I will take Roman Catholics who say this to me, if they call The Berean Call, I say, “Look, I want you to come to an understanding of this yourself,” and I have them read verse after verse in John 6. And I said, “Is that literal?”
“No, that’s figurative.”
“Well, what about that?”
“No, that’s literal. This is figurative. That’s literal.” They get it right every time.
Greg: Sure, sure.
Tom: And then when they get to verse - I think it’s sixty-something, John:6:60-something, He said, “These things I say to you, they are spirit and they are…” I think it’s “life.”
Tom: So the point is Jesus is saying, “This is figurative.”
Tom: But some left Him, because they misunderstood that. So if there’s any basis, and they say it’s biblical, it’s because it’s an erroneous understanding of what the Scripture actually teaches.
Greg: But you know how foolish that whole thing is. Let’s say for a second if that were true: Jesus is telling them they must do something a year before they can actually do it, because the Mass isn’t given, according to the Church of Rome, until the “Last Supper.” So Jesus is telling people what they have to do to be saved, but they can’t do it for a year. So what happens if somebody dies in the interim? What happens to all the people that came before? How were they saved? Rome has no answer.
Tom: Right. My guest has been and is Greg Durel. We’re going to have to end this session, but we’re going to pick up with this next week, so, Greg, you’re going to be back, and we’ll continue to speak about the issues related to Roman Catholicism, the gospel of Rome vs. the biblical gospel. So until next time, Greg, we’ll see you then.
You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 featuring T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. For more information about Greg Durel’s Ministry, go to heritagebiblechurch.com. To listen to Greg’s long-running radio program As It Is Written, go to WSHO.com. 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 P.O. 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 joining us and we hope you can tune in again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.