Program Description:Tom welcomes back his guest, Greg Durel, pastor of Heritage Bible Church in Gretna, Louisiana, and also one of the original speakers, along with Tom McMahon and Dave Hunt, of Reaching Catholics for Christ. Tom and Greg discuss some of the crucial differences between Catholicism and true Christianity.
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 wraps up his two-part series with 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. We are continuing our discussion with Greg Durel. He’s the pastor of Heritage Bible Church of Gretna, Louisiana, and we’re addressing the influence that Catholicism has had on evangelicals, and it’s huge. Let’s see, I got saved in the late ‘70s. How about yourself?
Greg: Early ‘80s.
Tom: Okay. Have you seen any changes since then?
Greg: Oh, immensely.
Tom: Just incredible.
Tom: And see, folks, this is a burden for the two of us as former Catholics, because we were delivered and—this may upset some people, but it’s the truth—we were delivered from the bondage of Roman Catholicism. Does that term meet with your approval—bondage?
Greg: Surely, surely.
Tom: We were absolutely in bondage, and our concern is that evangelicals today say, “Oh, you know, they’re Catholic. They believe basically the same things we do. Yeah, they have some differences and so on, but, you know, they’re still good people,” and so on.
Now, Greg, last week we talked about influences upon Catholics with regard to the official teachings of the church, the dogmas, and so on, and I mentioned last week that growing up Roman Catholic, I bought what the nuns and the priests told me, and a lot of the things they made up, a lot of the things—I’m not talking about officially, but—well, of course, that’s made-up stuff too…But they had different thoughts, different ideas, and so on, and as I received that, I basically—I call it a folk religion. Call it Roman Catholicism-plus. Basically, I had my own ideas about how I could get to heaven through the Roman Catholic Church.
Now, Greg, if—and maybe you’ve done this—have you ever stood outside a Catholic Church after Mass and maybe just asked some people, “Hey, how are you going to get to heaven? What’s going on in there, and can you tell me how you can get to heaven?” What primarily—I’m talking about the man on the street, you know, the everyday Catholic—what would they tell you?
Greg: They would have no definitive answer.
Greg: They would say, “Well, I’m a good person.”
Tom: There you go.
Greg: “I do the best I can. You know, I don’t lie, I don’t steal,” and then you can put that…
Tom: Except in that interview. [laughs]
Greg: Yeah, yeah, right. But that’s the bottom line. In Jim McCarthy’s video Catholicism: Crisis of Faith, they actually kind of—I would refer to it, like, as an exit poll: they’ve got the man on the street there, and they’re interviewing coming out, and, you know, it’s the same stuff. “Hope so, hope I’m good enough…” It’s a “hope so,” because Rome does not afford you the gospel. The gospel is a “know so.” You know that you’re the recipient of eternal life. You’re the recipient of the gift of God, and so from Rome’s perspective, they can’t let that out, because then you would no longer be under bondage to them.
You said a few minutes ago, “Your salvation is ultimately through Rome.” It’s through Rome. They tell you without the Church, you’re lost. That’s the bottom line, and so whether you’re a good Catholic or a bad Catholic—and I’ve been making this illustration, and I’ve argued forever…I’ve done—perhaps attended and personally performed—maybe 200 funerals in my life. I’ve never been to a funeral that I was attending for someone else I knew where someone ever said, or where it was ever said, that someone was in hell. Everybody’s always in heaven. And even at a Catholic funeral, they’re not even in purgatory, but yet we know the Catholic Church says that everyone must go to purgatory and purge their sins, even the sins that Christ paid for.
Carl Keating of Catholic Answers has that splatted all over his book Catholicism and Fundamentalism endorsed by numerous archbishops. And so the Church at Rome, again, is double-speak. The bottom line for them is that there has to be that hook. There has to be the bondage to the Church of Rome. As long as you’re a Catholic, you’re okay. You’ll make it in some form or fashion. But if you’re not a Catholic, then that’s the problem.
Tom: Yeah, and as I said, they have equivocated—they said, “Well, yeah, you know, depending on who’s the current pope, depending on…” I went back to—last week I mentioned the Council, the Vatican Council II, in which they say, “Well, no, now it’s a matter of conscience.” I mean, they softened some things up without having to, you know, contradict directly the Church’s teaching, because, again, they claim it’s infallible; it’s an infallible church.
Greg: Well, you know, they have multiple authorities. They would say—they would say that the Bible is God’s Word, that it’s authoritative. The ecumenical councils they say are infallible, then they would say the teaching magisterium of the Church is infallible, and then they would say the pope—when he speaks in matters of faith and morals—he’s infallible, as well. Now obviously then, a council—the Council of Vatican II could not contradict something that Vatican I—or Trent, for instance—said. But what they fail to address is that the first church council is recorded for us in Acts 15, and in the first church council, Peter himself says that we’re saved by faith alone in Messiah: faith alone in Christ alone, plus nothing. So then every Roman Catholic Church council in history after that contradicts the first church council where Peter makes that statement. They have no explanation for that.
Tom: Right, and they claim that Peter is the first pope, so…[chuckles]
Greg: Well, you would think if he’s the first pope, and he says that at the first council - end of story…
Greg: …but oh, no. No, because they understand that overwhelmingly - and I’ve said this forever—97 percent of professing Christians have never, ever read the Book…
Greg: …and so they don’t have to worry about a Catholic going home, reading Acts 15, or reading the Bible, for that matter, because they’re not going to do it. That’s why when you go in a Catholic Church, you don’t find Bibles in the pews, because there’s no need. They’re going to spoon-feed you what they want you to hear and what they want you to know.
Tom: See, that was a part of my growing up Catholic—elementary school, grade school, middle school, on to Catholic military school, then to Notre Dame High School, and then even in college—for a while I was in a Catholic fraternity. So basically, what did I hear from the beginning when I had a question? And I spent a lot—well, I can’t say a lot of time, but every once in a while I’d have to go out—be sent out to the hall, because I’d have a question during religion class, and the priest would be upset with me, and because I always got the same answer: “Because the Church says so. Because the Church says so. Because the Church says so.” Now…
Greg: That’s right.
Tom: …and you’d say, “Well, why can’t they be more definitive?” If they don’t go to Scripture…folks, let me tell you how perverse, how widespread or delusionary [those] teachings are.
Greg, can anybody explain tradition? You see, as Greg mentioned, it’s the Scripture; that’s their authority supposedly. But it’s on the same level—but it’s actually trumped by the magisterium, as Greg explained. But there’s also sacred tradition. Now, nobody can explain that, but really, my understanding, Greg, as how it works out is that—well, whatever the Church has done down through history—because it’s the body, you know; it’s the Holy Spirit working through the Roman Catholics, no matter whether they have high positions or low positions or whatever—it’s whatever the Church chooses to do based on tradition, and we’re going to see a lot of that coming up, which maybe we’ll get to. We’ll talk about the papal survey—Pope Francis is sending out a survey to priests and churches and all of that to see what the people—you know, where are the people? What are they understanding? That’s a part of tradition, and then it works its way into dogmas.
Now, if you think I’m pushing this a little bit—Greg, there’s a teaching in the Church called the Immaculate Conception, and it’s a—as you know—it’s a de fide teaching: in other words, you must believe it. If you do not believe it, then it’s a mortal sin, okay? The Immaculate Conception. Now, where did that come from, Greg? Is that in Scripture? Is that…I mean…
Greg: Well, if you apply it to Jesus, yes. Jesus was conceived without sin.
Tom: That’s right.
Greg: But the Church of Rome doesn’t.
Greg: They say that applies to Mary; and you cannot read the Gospel of Luke—you can’t go read the first two or three chapters of the Gospel of Luke and come away with that understanding at all. You come away with the exact opposite: that Mary was not born sinless. Moreover, their church scholar doctor Thomas Aquinas—Thomas Aquinas basically says, “That’s silly. That could not be. Mary could not have been born sinless.” But they don’t quote Aquinas there, because Aquinas contradicts what they want to put forth, but yet they’ll quote him on the transubstantiation. You know, so nobody says we’re misrepresenting something—and you’re right: tradition is key. [The] Catholic Church says that the whole Church is founded on two pillars: one being sacred Scripture, and the other being sacred tradition, and then all the councils and so forth and so on come off this sacred tradition. And I’ve said it forever, they only have one true source: it’s sacred tradition, because wherever sacred tradition is contradicted by sacred Scripture, sacred tradition always, always overrules.
Greg: And so it’s a false statement when they say that they believe in sacred Scripture, because they don’t believe Scripture has the final say. And again, back to Acts 15—if they did, then you have a council there that’s biblical. The words there are inspired by God, and even Peter himself enunciates the words, and “there is no more sacrifice for sin.”ß If that’s the case, then there’s no need for sacrificing, mediating priesthood, there’s not need for a Mass, etc. So where does the Church of Rome fall then?
Tom: Mm-hmm. Now, let’s—I want to give our listeners an example, a clear example: so the Immaculate Conception according to the Roman Catholic Church is that Mary was conceived without sin. Now where did they get this idea? Because, as you say, it’s not in the Scriptures. Well, Catherine Labouré—I think it was 1830—she has…she’s a nun, and she has a vision of Mary; one of these apparitions of Mary appears to her and instructs her to have a medal struck, and on the medal, it says, “Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us.” Did you wear a miraculous medal, Greg?
Greg: No, I didn’t.
Tom: I did, okay? [laughs] I’m a little older than you, okay?
Greg: Yes, you are.
Tom: [chuckles] Thank you. So, “Mary conceived without sin, pray for us.” So then the pope—can’t remember which pope it was, maybe Pious IX—I’m guessing at that—but anyway, that became an official teaching, a dogmatic teaching, of the Catholic Church: that Mary was conceived without sin. Now, we’ve got a problem here: the wages of sin is what, Greg?
Tom: Okay, so Mary doesn’t have sin; she’s sinless, okay? Does she die? Can’t! Can’t die. So what are we going to do? Is Mary still—you know, is she in Ephesus? Is she still running around today? So it wasn’t until much later in modern Catholic times that they had to figure out what to do with this problem. So they come up with the teaching that Mary is assumed into heaven, which the Church admits there’s no—well, there’s no basis for the Immaculate Conception now, but you see, when men make up their own teachings, they’re going to have holes in it that you could drive a 16-wheeler through. So they had to come up with, now, another dogma that you have to believe—and we even have feast days to this effect, where there’s no basis and logic—no basis certainly in Scripture and so on—that’s the Church of Rome.
Greg: Well, and you could take that across the board with everything they do. I would say this—listen: if you have something you believe is true, if you believe Jesus came on the scene, and He’s God in the flesh, and He had His apostles, and He sent them around, and you believe the Bible in fact is the Word of God, surely in the first hundred years you would find all the basic foundational truths that the church needs to possess.
Greg: You should be able to go back in the first 30 years for sure; then you’re dealing with eyewitnesses—you talk about auricular confession! You have auricular confession from the ears of the Savior himself to the apostles revealing to them all the precepts and principles and doctrines and dogmas, etc. Paul was discipled by Christ himself; Peter and the rest [were] all discipled by Christ. Paul writes two-thirds of the New Testament. In the Book of Acts, Dr. Luke gives you a 30-year panorama of church history from the cross to the transition to the destruction of the temple. You have the first 30 years of church history. Surely you would find everything—surely you would find water baptism for salvation there; you would find a sacrificing, mediating priesthood; you would find the seven sacraments; you would find all of that.
But now it’s conspicuously missing, and for the first 300 years, it’s conspicuously missing. How do you explain that? They have no explanation—no explanation at all. Now why would I want to follow something or buy into something that is not biblical, [and] that has its origins in men’s opinions? Why would I do that? Because I’m taught that, and I’m told that it’s biblical, but I never go read for myself. I challenge anybody listening: if you think Roman Catholicism is biblical, start in the Gospel of John. Read all the way to the end of the book and write down in a notebook all the chapters and verses which prove - in context - prove your theology. If you can do that, then send them to me, and I’ll go back to the Church of Rome in a heartbeat. But I submit you won’t find one. You won’t find one example of any of the doctrines that you’re told are true.
Tom: Greg, so we’ve been dealing with the authority for a Roman Catholic, although, you know, to me - sometimes I say, “Well, it’s a Church that is impossible from their writings - in what they say, it’s impossible to be saved by.” On the other hand, it’s also universalism. Everybody gets saved. “Well, Tom, what are you doing? You just contradicted yourself.” No, if you go to the Code of Canon Law, this is the law book of the Catholic Church: 1,752 rules and regulations, many of them dealing with your eternal destiny. Who can live by these things? Nobody can live by them. So…
Greg: Who knows them?
Tom: That’s the other side! But there’s a clause in there that says, “Well, if you didn’t really understand, if you really didn’t comprehend…” See, you just said, “Who knows them?” But even if they were laid out for somebody, they wouldn’t understand them. So it’s like a super loophole that turns it all into universalism. It’s absolute confusion, utter confusion.
Greg: That’s the best word for it.
Tom: Okay, now what about your authority? What about my authority? What’s our authority, Greg?
Greg: The Word of God, the Bible.
Tom: Yeah, but why would you say that?
Greg: Well, because you can demonstrate it. Just the very nature of the Book itself - and that’s not our discussion today, but the nature of the Book itself, the Author has to be supernatural. You can’t have 40 men who wrote the Book over 15 centuries put together a clear, cogent Book that fits hand in glove with continuity from beginning to end—as opposed, perhaps, to the Qur’an: written by one guy, 114 Surahs—the most incongruous nonsense in the world, and one guy wrote it.
Now, you’ve got a Book written by 40 guys over 1,500 years that’s perfect, fulfilled prophecies, etc., so you just read the Scripture. But even without that, without the Scripture, just look at the history: the resurrection of Christ is a historical fact. The words of Christ can be documented repeatedly. You even have lectionaries, which the church refers to. You basically have all the Scripture repeated in lectionaries in the ancient church. You have the words of Christ, you know who He is - how do you know? Because He’s risen from the dead. You have non-believing historians that validate the resurrection of Christ. That’s Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 15: “If Christ be not risen, then we believe in vain.”
So the bedrock and the foundation of our message is the reality of the resurrection of Christ. Now, if that’s true, what does that mean? It means that there is no more offering for sin, that I don’t have to pay; He paid for me; that I have eternal life, that I can be the recipient of the gift of God. I’m saved by grace; I’m not saved by works; I’m not saved by me, I’m saved by Him, so I must make Him the object of my faith, and if I do that, He gives me His righteousness. He imparts to me eternal life. That’s the good news.
Greg: The Church of Rome completely covers that. It hides it as far away from its followers as it can, and then the only hope they have is through the system they’re told that God established.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Now, Greg, our authority—let me throw it out in my simple-minded way: God is infinite, all right? You can learn that from general revelation, the universe, His creation down to a complex cell - the nucleus of a cell is more complex than New York City. I mean this is God’s hand. So we know He’s all-powerful; we know He’s omniscient. He knows everything, and so on.
Now, if that’s the case, and He’s our Creator - and this is where I’m going - if He’s our Creator, He has to be able to communicate to us! Don’t you think He has a responsibility if He’s infinite and we’re finite - and not only finite, but fallen - He has an obligation to communicate to us. So the way I see it is - look, either we have God directly communicating to us, which He did through the prophets, as you mentioned, through His Word - these are not their words, these are God’s words, okay? So that’s what we have. That’s our authority. That’s what we look to.
What are our other options? Well, our other options are - and we’re seeing this all over the place today - the other options are man’s opinions, guesses, speculations, feelings, all of this kind of stuff about what they think about God. Forget what you think about God unless you’ve gotten it from His direct communication.
So, you know, and the other side of it is a lot of people are mixing the two, which is a problem we’re having. But God - Greg, you mentioned earlier [that] if you want a proof that the Scriptures are God’s Word, all you need to do is look to prophecy; what, more than a quarter of the Bible is prophecy. God claims to be the God of prophecy. God knows what’s going to take place. He knows the end from the beginning, so that’s our proof. That’s the best apologetic that we can have.
Anyway, all that to say that, Greg, that’s why the Bible is your authority for your faith and practice; that’s why it’s my authority, and hopefully, for our listeners. If you don’t have God’s Word, if you’re not into God’s Word, if you’re not - then you’re not hearing from Him. You’re not knowing what He wants. Jesus said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and you don’t do the things that I say?” Well, my understanding of that could be because I haven’t checked it out. I haven’t gotten into your Word, Lord, and so on.
Greg, the Catholic Church has gone through many scandals historically, and the stunning thing to me is how they can survive all of these scandals from pedophilia to, I mean, bank scandals - I mean on and on and on - not that there aren’t problems among those who claim to be evangelicals. But these are huge things to millions and perhaps billions of dollars and so on. How do they keep keeping on?
Greg: Well, what you’ve been hammering on proves it: in other words, the Church, the system itself, is salvific. Your salvation is found in the system, so then all the scandals that - the rejoinder is these are just men that have fallen; it’s not the system itself, and so that’s what they hide behind. So the average person who’s a Catholic, he doesn’t care if they’re pedophiles. He doesn’t care if there’s bank fraud. He doesn’t care if the pope’s declaring that Muslims can be saved without converting to Catholicism. They don’t care about that, because as long as their Church is on the corner, and they can go participate in the system – that from the cradle they were told is the pathway for a shot at eternal life - then they’re going to be content, and they’re just going to follow along - follow the pied piper. And I think the pope knows that. I mean look at the recent stuff he’s said, you know: “spreading the wealth” nonsense and other things. These statements he’s made regarding the Palestinians in Israel - you can’t be a Bible-believing Christian and approve of those things. You can’t. God doesn’t approve of those things; those things are offensive to God. But yet he can say whatever he wants, because the system saves, and that’s what’s been inculcated in the minds of these people growing up, and that’s the only thing they know; and to think differently - that rocks their comfort zone, and they don’t want to move.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Well, we’re out of time for this second session, Greg, but our heart’s cry - yours, Greg, I know mine - is that evangelicals will wake up to the fact that Catholics are not saved; they have a false gospel. It isn’t just these issues that are going to be consequences of their false teaching and ideas, the scandals, and all of that stuff, but the issue is Roman Catholics are lost, and if you don’t understand that as an evangelical—whether it be, again, somebody at your workplace, a neighbor, or whatever - if you don’t minister the gospel to them, then you’ve left them on a path to hell. It’s as simple as that. Would you agree?
Greg: Amen. You’re absolutely correct.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with 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.
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