Pick and choose your rituals

It’s ironic to see Protestants having fallen in to the Catholic tradition of annual observances like Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, and other religious dates. Before long, they’ll be adopting the veneration of saints, too.

Most of them didn’t used to do this. But when you don’t really have a basis in the Bible, you pick and choose your rituals.

Like righteous Lot of long ago, the holy ones of God feel distress at this and other religious customs that have nothing to do with the original faith given to humankind by the Lord Jesus Christ.

#pattern, #protestantism, #ritual

One thing that “American Atheists” and several Protestant churches will have in common this holiday season

The title of this post may sound a little weird, but assure you that “American Atheists” and several Protestant churches will have something in common this holiday season that you may never fathomed.

What is it?

They think you Continue reading

#atheism, #christmas, #irony, #protestantism

Chose one of these statements. Your eternal life depends upon it.

In an article called, “Obedience Unlocks God’s Power,” a popular evangelical writer states:

While effort has nothing to do with your salvation, it has much to do with your spiritual growth.

This is the standard evangelical disclaimer about obedience. If you read anything by evangelicals, you’ll see similar statements all over the place. Now this: Continue reading

#evangelicalism, #obedience, #protestantism, #salvation

‘I never wonder if I’m wrong.’ Where did Bart go amiss?

“The truth of the matter is I never do wonder if I’m wrong.” So ends Bart Campolo, son of famous evangelical Tony, an interview on World Mag. A few years back he rejected his father’s religion and turned to atheism.

Below, a few thoughts of mine after reading the interview. Continue reading

#atheism, #protestantism

What is the Difference Between Catholics and…

“What is the Difference Between Catholics and Protestants?” is the title of an article on a popular Protestant website. You can probably imagine how the author answers the question. (I didn’t bother to read it. I have other priorities.) As a New Testament Christian who eschews sectarian divisions, how would you answer this question? Are there any real differences between the two groups? If so, what are the basic differences? Feel free to share your perspective in the comments area.

#catholicism, #denominationalism, #protestantism, #religious-differences

I’ll Tell You What To Give Up For “Lent”

I’m no protestant, but has the “protestant” world all but completely forgotten what and who they originally protested??? It seems like more and more I see signs in churchyards and hear people talking about what they’re going to do (or not do) for “Lent.” Sadly, even members of the Lord’s church have gotten caught up in this outward display of religious ignorance!

The Bible doesn’t have much to say about “Lent” but it does say enough to be clear:

Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations – “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:20-23)

Do we get it? Outward restrictions don’t correct inward sins! “Lent” is the first thing I think of when I read Colossians 2:20-23 and then think of the religious world today. There is no biblical principle for this manmade doctrine. You don’t live it up on “Fat Tuesday” to give it up on “Ash Wednesday!” Sackcloth and ashes never changed a heart! Forty days of neglecting our self is not the same as forty days in the wilderness. Biblical prayer and fasting and “Lent” are not the same thing. One is about devotion to God and the other is about devotion to values that have no true value against wicked and sinful indulgences. It’s not what does or doesn’t go into the mouth that affects a person’s relationship with God – it’s what does or doesn’t come out of the heart that affects one’s relationship with God (Matthew 15:1-20). Depriving the body doesn’t equal feeding the soul! Never has, never will.

If something is not sinful it does not have to be given up to improve our relationship with God – but if something is sinful we best not wait for a time of self-imposed religion to correct something that needs to be addressed immediately. In other words, don’t wait for the “preparation of the Holy Week” to start living a Holy Life (1 Peter 1:13-16).

If you’re still looking for something to give up, my answer would be that the best thing to give up for “Lent” is “Lent” itself!

#catholocism, #christianity, #colossians, #heart, #lent, #manmade-doctrines, #outward-righteousness, #protestantism, #religion

“Compelle Intrare”

In Jesus’ banquet parable (Luke 14:12-24), the master sent his servant to gather up guests for the feast. His instructions were, “Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled” (v. 23, ESV).

In Latin, “compel people to come in” is written, “compelle intrare.” From early centuries of church history through medieval times and beyond, the Roman Catholic Church leaned on a grotesquely twisted interpretation of “compelle intrare” in Luke 14:23, concluding that governmental authorities had the right to coerce people into the church. In a perverse marriage, Catholicism and the state were so tied together that the former could dictate the latter use deadly force against the church’s enemies. And, the church’s enemies included whatever men and doctrines were not in lock step with what the Catholic Church taught. Forced conformity to Catholicism was the glue holding society together. Naturally, if people were allowed to study the Bible for themselves, voluntarily practice what they believed from their own study, and freely preach their views, it would be a fundamental threat to the church’s power (and the crumbling of society, as they knew it).

Reformers such as Martin Luther are often hailed for their courage in confronting the status quo in religion (i.e. Catholicism). Yet, what they created in the Reformation was simply another state religion like Catholicism—only with certain different doctrines. In other words, while Luther opposed the Catholic Church, he very much endorsed the idea that the Reformed church could use force against its own enemies.

While the reformers (such as Luther, John Calvin, etc.) were battling Catholicism, there were others insisting that both sides were wrong in their concept of a church which forced itself on everyone in a given locale. The view of these objectors was that the church of Christ consisted of voluntary believers, and that it had no connection to the state; nor was it biblical to use force in spreading the gospel. They studied their Bibles and clung to their convictions. They also found themselves mercilessly persecuted by both the Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformers.

Martin Luther commissioned his friend, Urbanus Rhegius, to fight those who were calling for a church formed only of voluntary believers. Rhegius said:

“The truth leaves you no choice; you must agree that the magistracy has the authority to coerce his subjects to the Gospel. And if you say, ‘Yes, but with admonition and well-chosen words but not by force’ then I answer that to get people to the services with fine words and admonitions is the preacher’s duty, but to keep them there with recourse to force if need be and to frighten them away from error is the proper function of the rulers….What do you suppose ‘Compelle intrare’ means?” (quoted in Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, p. 74).

Those who thought the church and state were separate, that the state should not interfere with the church, and that the church should be organized along New Testament lines, were considered radicals and hated as enemies. One of them was Felix Manz, of Zurich, Switzerland. His goal was “to bring together those who were willing to accept Christ, obey the Word, and follow in His footsteps, to unite with these by baptism, and to leave the rest in their present conviction” (ibid.). In other words, Manz was opposed to coercion and held that the church should consist of true believers—those who wanted to accept and obey the gospel.

For his “heretical” ideas, Felix Manz had his hands tied around his bent knees, with a big stick shoved between his elbows and knees so that he could not move his arms. He was put in a boat and rowed into the Limmat River, where he was thrown into the frigid water to drown. The date was January 5, 1527.

Over the recent centuries, both Catholicism and Protestantism have had to back off of “compelle intrare,” but neither the former nor the denominations that sprang from the latter have gone all the way back to the primitive church’s organization and practice. Therein lies their insuperable problem.

If we, in the church of Christ, had lived back then, we would have been hunted like dogs by both Catholics and the Reformers. We are still at spiritual war with their religious descendants, but, thanks be, at least they cannot come after us today with a death warrant.

#catholic-church, #catholicism, #denominations, #felix-manz, #john-calvin, #martin-luther, #protestant-reformers, #protestantism, #reformation, #roman-catholic-church, #urbanus-rhegius