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, we begin a two-part series with guest Greg Durel as they discuss the New Catholicism. Here’s TBC executive director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Well, today and next week we’re going to discuss a number of issues related to the Roman Catholic Church, and my guest to talk about this is Greg Durel. He’s the pastor of Heritage Bible Church of Gretna, Louisiana, and he has a weekday radio ministry that is devoted to educating Catholics in biblical doctrine—biblical doctrine. Greg, like me, grew up a Roman Catholic, so he knows Catholicism experientially as well as from a study of Catholic Church tradition and its dogmas.
Greg, welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Greg: Always great to be with you, Tom.
Tom: You know, to say that the Church of Rome is presently in disarray, I don’t think that would be an overstatement.
But, Greg, before we discuss the current state of the Roman Catholic Church, we need to make clear the gospel which Catholicism teaches, and how it differs from the biblical gospel. In other words, we need to understand the way of salvation according to Rome versus what the Bible teaches about how one is saved, and the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church is that one gets to heaven through its sacraments, especially baptism, which must begin the process. Certainly other sacraments facilitate the process according to them, and Catholics have to keep those sacraments—perform those sacraments to stay in the state of sanctifying grace, and that state is required for a Catholic to be qualified for purgatory, which is with rare exceptions a necessary prerequisite for entering heaven. Purgatory is claimed to be a place where the final vestiges of sin are removed through a person’s suffering its purifying flames.
The Bible, on the other hand, teaches that a person receives the gift of eternal life by simply turning to God (that’s repentance) and by believing that Jesus paid the full penalty for his sins as He, our only Savior, hung on the cross.
Greg: Well, that’s an excellent synopsis of what Rome teaches, Tom. It’s a salvation by works. It’s changed its position. Matter of fact, Pope Benedict in ’07 came out and dogmatically declared again that in essence there’s no salvation apart from the Catholic Church. And why? Because they contend that’s the church that Christ established. And it’s true, as you pointed out, the sacramental system… For example, the Mass: the dogma is that the priest, when he puts on his vestments, becomes an alter Christus—he becomes another Christ. Then he calls down Christ from heaven, and then the transubstantiation takes place [where] the bread and the wine supernaturally become literally the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ, which is offered again in sacrifice for the living and the dead. So unless you participate in that, then you have no eternal life.
Again, you said baptism. I have five weeks of radio broadcasts on our website, heritagebiblechurch.com, entitled “The Child’s Catechism,” and we take the catechism of the Catholic Church—but it’s for children, given to adolescents 12 years old in the Catholic school—and it says dogmatically, “Without water baptism, it is impossible to go to heaven.” And my point is through this whole study is who would premeditatedly lie to a child? You say, “Well, obviously no one.” So then the Church of Rome has to believe that it’s an absolute truth. But then when you start it off by saying the Church is basically in chaos—well, how so? Because the present pope has basically jumped ship from that ideology. In other words, you can be a Muslim and be saved because you believe in the creator. You can be an atheist and go to heaven if you’re a good person. None of that makes sense, and I think that’s the reason for the turmoil today, and that’s again the overwhelming… Roman Catholicism, they’re the antithesis of biblical Christianity. I mean, that’s the bottom line.
Tom: Yeah. So some things have to change. And as you pointed out, Francis is at least clearly putting forth some major changes.
Greg, you [grew] up Catholic, I grew up Catholic, and there were always differences in what Catholics believe, whether it be liberal Catholics, conservative Catholics, and so on. And much of the confusion in our day, in my day, came from misinformation, or misunderstanding. You know, the nuns would kind of make up some things, and we bought it as kids, and so on.
But of late, and this is what you’re pointing to with Francis, there has arisen a clear separation of beliefs. You see, on the one hand you have what I grew up with—and mostly you, as well—I would call it traditional Catholicism, the practice of the Church’s rules and obligations. But on the other hand, there’s been a turning away, and we’re going to get into this in detail, but there’s been a turning away from the Church’s dogmatic beliefs and practices to an experiential and mystical faith system that denies the old rules and regulations. For the first 20 years of my life I followed the traditional teachings of the Church which were in place before the second Vatican Council, and most of those doctrines (or dogmas, actually) were based upon the decrees of the Council of Trent, which took place in the 1500s. But, well, let me just give you some examples: the Mass I attended was in Latin. The priest faced the altar with his back to the congregation, none of whom touched the communion host or drank the wine, and it was a sin to eat meat on Friday. That and many other changes followed Vatican II. So what’s your take on that, Greg?
Greg: Well, you know, the bottom line is while there was a cosmetic change, there were no doctrinal changes. That’s the fundamental issue here. And the Jesuit philosophy and mindset that it’s basically the end justifies the means, and Francis is a Jesuit. So in other words, it’s okay to lie to someone if your overall objective is to do good. In other words, that’s okay. That same philosophy you’ll find in Islam, same philosophy you’ll find…for example, Jehovah’s Witnesses. Same thing. It’s okay to say whatever is necessary to convince your opponent to walk the way you walk, or to think the way that you think. But when we come down to the dogma, the dogma can’t change, because if it does then the Catholic Church ceases to be. If there’s no Mass necessary, if there’s no sacrament of reconciliation necessary, sacrament of baptism necessary, etc…. Benedict XVI came out last November and profoundly said—he said, “If this is the case…” In other words, then why would anybody want to be a Catholic? We know Francis’s agenda because it’s ecumenical. He has to get all religions of the world to come under his umbrella. Well, how can you do that if you have definitive dogmatic doctrine that’s hostile to Islam and hostile to other religions? It’s never going to come together. So what do you do? You say, “Well, the catechism…”
Matter of fact, it’s kind of ironic, because Benedict XVI, who was Cardinal Ratzinger, I think it was in 1996 put out the latest Catholic catechism, and in that there’s a section that declares that Muslims can be saved simply because they believe in the creator. Now, that in and of itself is a contradiction of Catholic dogma.
Greg: They can’t be saved. If that’s the case, then, why would you want to go… You know, you talked about growing up Catholic: you couldn’t eat meat on Friday, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. Well, wait a minute: if all I have to do is believe in a creator, well, then skip the Catholic Church! Why go through all that stuff? Just believe in a creator, or just be an atheist and be a good person and you get a pass. Well, if Francis said we’re all children of God, that was just an overt, virtual blasphemous statement, because Paul declares in Galatians 3 that we become children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. No other way except for that. And so what is he suggesting? That the Lord Jesus is not necessary, so Acts:4:12 doesn’t apply anymore? You can believe whatever you want, you just want to be a good person, hold hands, we’ll come together, sing Kumbaya, and God will bless. That’s not a gospel; that’s a false gospel. But that’s what’s resonating with people today.
Tom: Yeah. And, Greg, one of the reasons that I want to focus on the changes within Catholicism—just this one example, and this has to happen with every religion that’s out there, okay? I believe our former Church, the Catholic Church, is going to play a large part in the religion of the Antichrist, but not without making changes that you’ve alluded to. I mean, even with Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI—you know, on the one hand, he’s a contradiction in terms. Listen, a lot of this stuff—I won’t say it started…it can go back to right after Pope Pius XII—but Pope Paul VI and those others, they were leading us, as Catholics, leading us in a direction. But then you really up the ante with John Paul II—incredibly ecumenical. Then you thought Benedict XVI was going to change some things back to traditional, but he didn’t. And now we have Francis. And so the Church, the Roman Catholic Church—you know, again, it’s a manmade theological system, and if that’s the case, it cannot be infallible, because there’s no humans or systems that are infallible. The Word of God is, okay? It’s inerrant and infallible, but outside of that you’re going to have contradictions and errors and changes are going to abound. So doesn’t it blow off even a thought that this is an infallible church? Isn’t it a delusion, grand delusion?
Greg: Well, certainly. And in the minds of the followers, in the minds of people who call themselves Catholic, they have that present mindset that it’s not infallible. I’ll give you an example: a few years back, I had a big conference in Purdue University, and then we had a debate sort of thing after, and I had a guy stand up and give opposition to what I said, and he presented himself as a fundamental, lifelong Catholic, etc. And so he’s throwing question after question after question to me, and I’m answering him. And so I said, “Wait a minute, let me ask you a question.” Now, he’s standing up—a crowd of maybe about 2,000 people, and he’s standing up and the only one standing, and I’m standing, and I said, “Let me ask you one question: do you believe when that priest says the words of consecration that that wafer turns literally into Jesus Christ?”
He says, “Oh, no. I don’t believe that.”
Tom: Oh, brother!
Greg: I say, “Well, how can you call yourself a Catholic? The Catholic Church says that if you don’t believe that, you are a heretic, that’s a mortal sin, and you have no salvation.” He turned around and walked out. Now I refer to those people as “cafeteria Catholics”; there are cafeteria Christians today, as well. Again, people just prefer to believe what they prefer to be true. In other words, “I’m comfortable with this. Well, you have your religion, I have mine.” So it becomes a subjective thing, and Francis is feeding that. That’s the whole idea: he’s feeding it. It can be whatever you feel—whatever you feel.
Greg: There’s no fundamental foundation in the Word of God, but it’s rooted in the minds of people.
Tom: Yeah. Well, folks, in case you’re wondering where we’re going with all this, I believe, as Dave Hunt believed and spelled out in his book A Woman Rides the Beast, that the Church of Rome will be a featured player if not the head of the religion of the Antichrist. But definitely not the Roman Catholicism that I grew up with and, Greg, that you grew up with. As you pointed out, it’s got to move into the realm of the subjectivity of experientialism and so on. You see, for one thing—and we could bring Islam into this—for one thing the religion of the Antichrist has to be ecumenical. In other words, pleasing everybody to some degree as opposed to an exclusive legalistic Catholicism that you and I practiced. And it’s becoming more ecumenical, but also more mystical, more subjective, more experiential. Don’t you agree, Greg?
Greg: Look, there’s no question about that, and Rome is as experiential and mystical as any religion. For example, when John Paul II was touring the world, right before he went to Cuba, he stopped in Haiti. He basically celebrated a Mass, in essence, with the high priest of the Vodun there, and he told the high priest of Vodun that he can convert to Catholicism and not have to give up any of his fundamental religious beliefs. In other words, what was he saying? Well, that practicing voodoo can be harmonious with Roman Catholicism.
A classic example as well: we had a Catholic theologian here in New Orleans talk at the seminary. His name was Ben Wren, and I remember it like it was yesterday, because it’s melodic: The Times-Picayune’s article says, “Ben Wren Teaches Zen.” Ben Wren was a proponent of Zen Buddhism to enhance one’s Catholic faith. Well, if you study Buddhism and you study Roman Catholicism, you say, “Wait a minute—there’s no basis for this.” But in the minds of men, it’s the way to open the door.
Revelation 13, the second half of the chapter, talks about a fellow who’s the head of a country and the head of a religion. Now, you tell me: does that exist? You think there could ever be a time in world history when a person could be deemed the head of state and the head of a religion? I’ll let the audience answer that question. Well, then who could that be? And then it goes on to say how he’s going to get basically the entire world to worship this Antichrist, to worship this beast, if you will. How is he going to do that? He’s going to do great signs, wonders, and miracles. How about if Mary appears? How about if Mary appears… You know, the Qur’an has a whole chapter on Mary. Muslims [refer] to Mary all the time. So what about if Mary appears and says something, or this guy does some miraculous thing? Obviously people gravitate to that—they gravitate to that. And again, Sharia law is going to have to go by the wayside just like dogmatic religious beliefs are going to have to go by the wayside.
Tom: Absolutely. Greg, one of the best resources that I’ve found in documenting these changes in the Catholic Church come from Catholics themselves. There’s many conservative Catholic resources and websites out there, and they refer to what’s going on as Novus Ordo, or the New Order of the Church. They stand against it, they’re not happy about it, but they’re pointing out…to them the last pope with any integrity was Pope Pius XII. But after that we had Vatican II, and that’s one of the issues of Vatican II was that it shifted from the law, okay—the dogmatic laws, the things the Catholics were obligated to—to “it depends on your conscience.” So that sort of opened the door to thinking whatever—not that we didn’t do that before, but at least with no support from any Catholic documents and so on. So that’s what we’re seeing: we’re seeing that whether the pope is the true pope…oh, by the way, the Catholic Church has two popes now, don’t they?
Greg: Yeah, that in and of itself is basically unprecedented.
Greg: And then it’s even more unfathomable: Francis, when he took the helm, said he didn’t believe he was going to be in there for a long time. He thought he might be retiring, too. So you have the potential to have three popes!
Tom: These are the Vicar of Christ! So how do you just step…I mean, that’s what they call themselves, okay?
Greg: Well, if God…supposedly they’re there because God appoints them till death, you know? That’s always been the case, but not anymore. Yeah.
Tom: And it’s not like Benedict XVI is out vacationing somewhere. He has an apartment, I understand, right at the Vatican right next to Francis’s quarters.
But again, here’s the problem: All of this I’m pointing out has left the Catholic Church, which is a false system, which we pointed out at the beginning. Nevertheless, it has left the people, a billion plus, in disarray and confusion and chaos, and the only way to solve that it seems, or at least the way the Catholic Church is going, is moving from dogmatism, from the laws, the rules… I have the Code of Canon Law in my office: 1752 rules and regulations. Those are going by the board, okay? Now it’s how you feel, and it’s moving into mysticism, into experientialism, and so on. And everybody can get along with that, right? Because how can…if it’s my feelings, Greg, I can’t be wrong about my feelings, can I? They’re my feelings!
Greg: You’re right, but what it’s doing is it’s impacting Catholics of our age and even younger. You find Catholics even in their 30s and 40s that are troubled by what they’re seeing inside of the Church, because they too grew up understanding that you went to Mass, you went to confession, you had to do these things; and now they find themselves being parents—they’ve had their children baptized, christened, whatever, so forth and so on. And now to see that that’s not necessary, or that you can reject all of that and still “go to heaven,” I think a lot of these people are finding it disconcerting. And then, you know, the Church of Rome next on the horizon is going to welcome homosexuals, same-sex marriage—they’ll be performing that… The Methodist church just openly ordained a homosexual bishop despite their fundamental foundation.
Greg: We’re seeing things, Tom, that are just unbelievable. Just unbelievable. And it’s not that it’s happening in secular segments of society, but inside of professing christendom! The Baptist church just joined forces to help a mosque be built. Wait a minute—what basis would a Baptist group convention, church, denomination, want a mosque built? They should never want a mosque built. They should want people converting to Christianity, not perpetuating this horrific thing called Islam. But nothing makes any sense anymore.
Tom: No, it doesn’t make sense, and you wonder what people are thinking. For example, something that should be clear, as we pointed out: the Catholic Church, a legalistic system, works-salvation, has its obligations, its rules—de fide. You have to believe or it’s a mortal sin, and many of their dogmas, and so on—that’s got to go by the board. That is too strict, too legalistic.
Now, let’s shift over to Islam for a minute, because you’re talking about that, Greg: we have Chrislam. Now look, all of that is—it sounds like a bad joke. And if you look at the particulars, that Islam with Sharia law…who’s going to buy into that except by the sword, okay, with somebody having a gun or a knife to your throat to convert? In other words, it’s not something that’s attractive to humanity, okay, because of the laws. But as we’ve mentioned, and we’ll get into more of this, we don’t have time for it in this session, but we’ll do it next week, the Lord willing, there has to be mysticism, there has to be experientialism, there has to be a subjective realm. Does Islam have that? Yes they do. It’s called Sufism. Maybe people are aware of the Whirling Dervishes; they would whirl themselves into an altered state of consciousness. But it’s very subjective, very experiential.
I’ll give you an example: Dr. Oz, Dr. Mehmet Oz, he’s a Muslim, okay? But he’s not a Sharia law Muslim, he’s a Sufi Muslim, so he can go along with anything! And you know, he’s also a New Ager, he’s also…the compatibility, the relationship between New Age, Eastern Mysticism—it’s all that. It’s all part of it. That is what is moving legal systems, whether it be Islam or Catholicism: they’ve got to get away from that part and move into the experiential, into the subjective, and that’s to me the attraction, the draw that Satan has in place for the religion of the Antichrist.
Greg: No question. The whole concept that the enemy has something for anybody. If you want to be Muslim but you don’t like Sharia, hey, join this particular bent of Islam.
Greg: “If you’re a Christian but you don’t like this, well, we have something else for you. You don’t want hell? We have whole multiple denominations that have no hell.” It becomes a total subjective thing. There’s no dogma, there’s no authority anymore. Tom, once upon a time the Bible was considered the Word of God. No more. And what is it the Apostle Paul warns? He said there’s going to be a great departure from truth; there’s going to be this apostasy, an abandonment of truth, and what is the truth? John:17:17: “Sanctify them with the truth; thy Word is truth.” That’s the bottom line here.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Greg, we’ve got about—just a couple of minutes left in this segment, but I want to mention some things that we’re going to talk about. You know, within the Catholic Church, there is—you know, you mentioned that Benedict XVI at least had some supervision over the Official Catechism of the Catholic Church. Well, it talks about, and I’ll quote these next week, it talks about that the purpose of God is to make us gods, okay? Now, I don’t know for how many years people have just blown past that. They didn’t quite understand it, but it absolutely makes sense if you’re talking about a worldview that has the leader, the Antichrist, setting himself up as God to be worshipped as God, and his deal is, “Hey look, I’m God, but we’re all God. God is in everything,” and so on.
So we’re going to see—we’re seeing now this shift within the Catholic Church. You’ve had people like Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, who have influenced evangelicals in a major way, okay? This is where it’s going. This is the new Catholicism, and this is what’s left many people scratching their heads saying, “Wait a minute, that’s not what I knew.” But that’s where it’s going, right?
Greg: Yeah, you’re absolutely correct.
Tom: So, Lord willing, Greg, we’re going to talk about that and some other things that, again, we are pointing out the changes in Roman Catholicism. But the changes have to affect evangelical Christianity. Not true believers—well, maybe true believers, they’ve just been seduced; they’ve bought off to a lie something that is in error. They’re drifting away, as it says in Hebrews:2:1: “Take heed lest ye drift away.” That’s what the program’s about, folks, and hopefully you’ll join us next week.
So, Greg, thanks for being with me on this segment, and we’ll look forward to next week.
Greg: Thanks, 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 thebereancall.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.