Dear praying friends,
It is always a matter of great sadness and regret in coming to the realisation that individuals or organisations that were in former times a source of much spiritual blessing have now chosen a path of compromise and so there must be a parting of the ways, a separation, in obedience to God’s Word. The first and last articles in this newsletter represent just such matters of sadness and regret for both Margaret and I myself personally. We would ask you to join with us in praying that God, by the convicting work of His Holy Spirit, might draw both the individual and the organisation to ‘the straight and narrow’ and that they would depart from the broad, but no doubt popular road of compromise.
Earlier this year during the ministry visit of Gary Gilley, we were alerted to the unscriptural, gospel-denying views of American, Brian McLaren, regarded by many as ‘the God-Father’ of what is known as ‘The Emerging Church’. Mr McLaren has been invited by the large youth gathering known as ‘Summer Madness’ to be one of their speakers in June 2007 [DV]. I hope to write further on this in due course but meantime, if you have any influence where ‘Summer Madness’ is concerned, please encourage them to rescind the invite to Mr McLaren. Thank you for all your ongoing encouragement and support.
Your servant for Christ
Derick Bingham: ‘A catalogue of compromise’
Over quite a number of years now it has been sadly evident that Derick Bingham has been pursuing a path that is very far removed from that of traditional, historic, biblical evangelicalism. A defining moment, and what has prompted the publication of this article, came with his published ‘Thought for the weekend’ in the Belfast Telegraph of Saturday 4 February 2006. God, in His Word, issues a clear command to His people – “be ye separate saith the Lord and touch not the unclean thing” [2 Corinthians 6:17].
Some years ago The Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, [Spurgeon’s old church] published a booklet called ‘Separation and Obedience’. An article in it entitled ‘The Command to stay Separate’ began as follows
‘The Bible teaches that we must remain strictly separate from any form of religion which contradicts and undermines the essential, soul-saving doctrines of the Christian faith. This is a primary and binding command of the Word which is given in several passages, none of which are in the slightest degree unclear or controversial’. The article then goes on to quote the passage 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 [see above] and adds this – ‘The word “separate” comes from the Greek word “aphorizo” which is related to the English word “horizon” and it means ‘to mark off by boundaries’. Paul tells us that we are to be separated in the sense that a boundary is determined or set which we must never cross…We must never have fellowship with false religionists at any level. The apostle uses the strongest available words to command us never to be in fellowship with any religious teachers or denominations which deny the Word of God and uphold false doctrine’.
Traditional, historic, biblical evangelicals in times past had no difficulty applying this to the Church of Rome and so, in obedience to God’s Word, they would not be present at any form of Roman Catholic religious service. In his Belfast Telegraph article Derick Bingham wrote
‘She lived in New Bond Street. No, not in London but in the markets area of Belfast. Was she rich? Very rich. Wherein lay her wealth? She had a heart full of love for children in need and fostered them. I sat at her funeral in St Malachy’s Roman Catholic Chapel recently and heard the priest say that she had fostered so many children she had lost count of them…she cared lovingly across the years for her seven children and her seemingly endless stream of foster children…Her children rise up to honour her. And so do I’.
Despite the clear command of the Word of God Derick Bingham chose to attend this Roman Catholic funeral service. His description of this loving lady’s life, whose memory he could well have honoured without attending the chapel, emphasises what former Roman Catholic, Rob Zins, once said to me with sorrow in his heart – ‘Roman Catholic people are taught to behave rightly but to believe wrongly’ and that is the real tragedy of situations such as those described by Derick Bingham. By his article he appeared to imply that all is now eternally well with this lady because of what she did during her lifetime.
Who are those who are truly ‘rich’? God’s Word makes it clear that it is only those who truly are “in Christ”, by faith alone and not by their works, who are “rich”, for Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 8:9 “For ye [true believers] know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that, though he was rich, yet for your [true believers] sakes he became poor, that ye [true believers] through his poverty might be rich”.
For many years now Derick Bingham has regularly failed to ‘separate’ either ‘by walk or talk’ from the spiritual error that is Roman Catholicism and has publicly conveyed the impression that the eternal destiny of some of its best known figures was not a matter of any concern.
In the early part of 2000 I wrote to Derick Bingham and sent him details of some ‘matters ecumenical’ involving himself that were of concern to both myself and my then Council of Reference. In total I wrote 4 times to him offering to meet with him in the company of my own then Pastor. Not once did I receive any form of acknowledgement from him. My own Pastor even called at his house but he refused to discuss the matter with him. At that time I informed Derick that I was going to publish in an upcoming ministry newsletter details of the ‘matters ecumenical’ that were of concern to us. However, in my last letter to him I told him that I would keep my report ‘on file’ and only disclose it to those who would perhaps raise his name with me. For six years that has been the case but in the light of this recent public challenge by Derick to the clear teaching of God’s Word on ‘separation’ I have written to him and informed him that for me to continue remaining publicly ‘silent’ would be sinful. The following are the matters of concern [up to 2000] I have not previously been made public – on our website there are other published articles such as ‘Derick Bingham and George Harrison’ [April/May 2003]; ‘Derick Bingham and Philip Yancey’ [July/August 2003] and ‘Derick Bingham and “Father” Henri Nouwen’ [February 2004]. This then is the ‘catalogue of compromise’ that was compiled and sent to Derick Bingham in 2000 plus some additions –
DERICK BINGHAM – “ TRUMPETING OUT OF TUNE?”
“if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” 1st Corinthians 14:8
I want to begin this article by saying that I do not relish going to print on this particular subject. In most [but not all] cases where I am confronting error there is a degree of ‘abstractness’ in that I have often had no personal, direct contact with the person being considered or confronted. This is not the case in this instance.
Not long after my conversion in 1984 I began to attend a large bible class in Belfast. It was known as ‘Tuesday Night At The Crescent’ and Derick Bingham was the resident speaker. As a young convert I was particularly blessed and instructed through a series of messages given by Derick on the subject of ‘The Tabernacle’. When Margaret and I married in 1987 we continued for several years to attend these meetings and found helpful instruction there.
However in the early 1990’s I began to feel uneasy about the direction I perceived Derick to be going. There seemed to be no appetite on his part to confront what or who, although popular, obviously represented or consorted with error. Because of past blessing received through his ministry I have been reluctant to say anything critical of Derick in public. However in the wake of the televised ‘Millennium Service’ from the Belfast Waterfront Hall [2nd January 2000] I feel I would be failing in my calling if I did not now advise people to “Take Heed” of what he has been saying and doing over recent years.
Back in November 1990 Derick wrote an article in the Belfast Newsletter called ‘A Life In Search Of Truth’. It chronicled the spiritual journey of a journalist/broadcaster called Malcolm Muggeridge who had just died. Of Mr Muggeridge, a supposed convert to Christianity, Derick wrote ‘His conclusion from all of his life’s experiences, recorded in his brilliant autobiography, ‘Chronicles Of A Wasted Time’, is one which all of us could do well with heeding’.
Very briefly can I say that Malcolm Muggeridge held views that were in opposition to God’s revealed truth. In his book ‘Jesus Rediscovered’ Mr Muggeridge wrote ‘I firmly believe there is a divine light in every human being ever born or to be born’ [p167]. Shortly after he wrote ‘On that same visit to the Holy Land I came to feel quite certain that not even Judas had irretrievably cut himself off from the love of God’ [p168]. When asked what he thought was going on at Calvary Mr Muggeridge stated [p170] ‘I think that men had to be shown that the way to revelation [not redemption?] was through suffering…that the image of a man dying because of the truth he embodied [not giving his life a ransom for many?] established for ever what truth is – something you die for’. When asked if that was how he understood the atonement Mr Muggeridge replied ‘Absolutely, absolutely’.
Speaking of the devil Mr Muggeridge said ‘I am not particular about a personal devil. I shan’t be distressed if there isn’t one’ [p172]. On page 173 when asked ‘Do you think that Jesus was a product of evolution or do you think that this was a miraculous intervention?’ Mr Muggeridge replied ‘I’m always allergic to miraculous interventions because I don’t observe them in life [every spiritual ‘new birth’ is a miracle!] and I don’t think that it makes Jesus any more remarkable if he represents a miraculous intervention…how Christ came into the world doesn’t matter’ [If Christ entered the world through natural procreation, as a ‘sinful son of Adam’, He could not have offered Himself for sacrifice as the spotless ‘Lamb of God’!]. Having supposedly ‘Rediscovered Jesus’ which church did Mr Muggeridge proceed to join? – The Roman Catholic Church – and this is the man of whom Derick Bingham wrote ‘all of us could well do with heeding’.
In December 1997 Derick reviewed a book on the life of ‘Mother Teresa’ in the Belfast Telegraph. He rightly paid tribute to her humanitarian work amongst the poor and underprivileged of Calcutta. The problem was that he credited her with true spiritual insight. He quoted where Mother Teresa said that ‘physical hunger was relatively easy to resolve with a loaf of bread and a vitamin tablet, while the spiritual poverty of the West was a far more complex problem’. This is the same Mother Teresa who said of her mission to the poor in India ‘Oh, I hope I am converting. I don’t mean what you think …If in coming face to face with God we accept Him in our lives, then we are converting. We become a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Catholic, a better whatever we are…What approach would I use? For me naturally it would be a Catholic one, for you it may be Hindu, for someone else Buddhist, according to one’s conscience. What God is in your mind you must accept,’ [as quoted by Dave Hunt in ‘The Seduction of Christianity’ – page 71]. Is this the spiritual truth that will solve ‘the spiritual poverty of the West’?
Later in his review Derick quoted approvingly from the speech given by Mother Teresa when she received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. She said ‘If we could only remember that God loves us and we have an opportunity to love others as he loves us, not in big things but in small things with great love, then Norway becomes a nest of love’. Who is this ‘God’ spoken of and to whom we are directed? We have already seen that he appears to be the ‘God’ of non-Christian religions. He is also the false ‘God’ of Roman Catholicism. When addressing a Worldwide Retreat For Priests in the Vatican in October 1984 Mother Teresa said ‘At the word of a priest, that little piece of bread becomes the body of Christ, the Bread of Life. Then you give this living Bread to us so that we too might live and become Holy…I was so struck with the thought that only when the priest is there can we have our altar and our tabernacle and our Jesus. Only the priest can put Jesus there for us…This is why I love priests so much’ [as quoted by David Cloud in his booklet on Mother Teresa – pages 13-14].
Another whom Derick has positively promoted and endorsed in public is Billy Graham – Derick gave an enthusiastic endorsement of the man and his ministry in a number of articles published in the Belfast Telegraph in October 1996. Billy Graham’s compromise with and courtship of the false Roman Catholic system is well documented and makes sad reading to the faithful child of God.
The March 1999 issue of the Ulster Tatler featured an article on the awarding of a PhD to Cecil Stewart who heads up the locally based Christian Communications Network. The ceremony took place in one of the studios of Ulster Television and amongst the invited guests featured in some of the photographs published were Derick Bingham and Monsignor Tom Toner. Mr Toner is the Catholic priest who some years ago presided at the funeral mass for the IRA bombers shot dead in Gibraltar. At the meetings held in Belfast in October 1999 by Kenneth and Gloria Copeland – promoters of the heretical ‘Health and Wealth gospel’ – the ministry of Cecil Stewart was amongst those with a display stand in the foyer of the Waterfront Hall where the Copeland meetings were held.
Earlier I made reference to the televised ‘Millennium Service’ and anyone who watched this broadcast was left in no doubt as to its wholehearted ecumenical bias. Representatives of the so-called 4 main churches were there, resplendent in their robes and ribbons. Ken Wilson, current President of the Methodist Church was there. Mr Wilson back in 1987 was one of the organisers of the infamous joint ‘celebration’ linking together John Wesley and Alphonsus De Liguori. Representing the Presbyterian Church was former moderator John Dunlop – well known for his approval of things ecumenical in contrast to the present incumbent, evangelical moderator, John Lockington. The ‘head’ of the Church of Ireland, Robin Eames who has a long record of support for the ecumenical movement was there along with fellow-prelate from Armagh Sean Brady the current Roman Catholic primate of Ireland.
As the TV cameras panned around the audience many leading ecumenical figures from both Protestant and Roman Catholic circles could be seen. Also clearly visible in the gathering was Derick Bingham. In the light of advance publicity for this event no one could have been in any doubt about the ecumenical character of this ‘service’.
As I said at the start, this has not been an easy report to compile, but even personal feelings must be set aside for the defence of God’s truth as Paul’s public challenge of Peter demonstrates in Galatians chapter 2.
I want to close by quoting some words of Mr Spurgeon on Genesis 1:4 “And God divided the light from the darkness”. In his ‘Morning’ thoughts for January 5 Mr Spurgeon wrote ‘Our Churches should by discipline divide the light from the darkness and we should by our distinct separation from the world do the same. In judgment, in action, in hearing, in teaching, in association, we must discern between the precious and the vile, and maintain the great distinction which the Lord made upon the world’s first day’. In humility I would contend that Derick Bingham has for some considerable time been failing to draw the biblical distinction between ‘the precious and the vile’ and should be shunned until he returns to wholeheartedly promoting “the narrow way” of Matthew 7:14.
Cecil Andrews – “Take Heed” Ministries – 5 January 2000
- APPENDIX [January 2002] TO – DERICK BINGHAM “TRUMPETING OUT OF TUNE?”
Sadly the early days of 2002 have proved to be further days of concern as to the direction that Derick is pointing people to in matters ‘Christian’.
1. ‘Christ Church’ Belfast [where Derick is the according to the Belfast Telegraph of 5 January 2002 the ‘teaching Pastor’] displayed the following information on their web site
ALPHA COURSE STARTS
Derick Bingham will be leading a new Alpha Course in the new aka restaurant in the YMCA on Wednesday evenings from January 9th starting at 6.30pm.
The failings of ALPHA in areas of doctrine, ecumenism and charismatism are well documented and in addition, sadly the YMCA as an organisation has in recent decades declined to such an extent that in the light of God’s Word they should really drop the ‘C’ from their title.
2. I mentioned the Belfast Telegraph of 5 January 2002 for it was in that issue that another area of concern where Derick is concerned manifested itself. Derick is one of a rota of writers who contribute to a ‘Thought For The Weekend’ in each Saturday issue of the paper. In his article Derick devoted most of the content to the relationship between J R Tolkien and C S Lewis. Tolkien is currently riding a wave of popularity with the release of the movie based on his book ‘Lord of the rings’ and likewise Lewis is at the top of the popularity ratings having been voted by readers of ‘Christianity Today’ as ‘the most influential theological writer of the 20th century’. The influence of Lewis can be seen in ALPHA where he is often quoted. Derick finished off his article with these words “Tolkien and Lewis still speak. And how!” Is anyone in doubt that he has just given them a glowing endorsement? Perhaps where Tolkien is concerned Derick was praising his literary acumen for in matters spiritual Tolkien was a committed Roman Catholic. However, where the recommendation for Lewis is concerned I am sure that Derick had matters ‘Christian’ in mind and that’s what concerns me.
I have a number of reports detailing the strange beliefs and theology of C S Lewis and in my view it is irresponsible to direct people for help on matters ‘Christian’ to his writings. In the January 2002 issue of Evangelical Times, Roger Fay in his article, ‘The Legacy of C S Lewis’ wrote ‘It is debatable whether C S Lewis was regenerate. Surprised By Joy has nothing to say about Jesus Christ while A Grief Observed finds him seemingly without hope’.
In a separate report I read ‘He [Lewis] believed in prayers for the dead and purgatory and confessed his sins regularly to a priest. He received the Catholic sacrament of last rites on July 16, 1963. Lewis also rejected the doctrine of bodily resurrection [BDM letter Sept-Oct 1996] and believed there is salvation in pagan religions’.
3. At the beginning of January 2002 much of my time was taken up with investigating the emerging ‘Power To Change’ initiative and as information came to hand it was evident that this was the latest ploy to involve ‘Evangelical Catholics’ as full ‘partners’ and ‘participants’ in mainstream so-called Evangelical Mission efforts. Full details of this initiative are available in a separate report but it was clear that this was not something that true and faithful evangelicals should be part of. Sadly however, one of the promotional leaflets for ‘Power To Change’, included an endorsement by Derick Bingham. When I checked the lists of participating churches on the ‘Power To Change’ web site I was very surprised to see one particular church listed and so I phoned their ‘contact person’ who was known personally to me. He was completely unaware of the ecumenical nature of this venture and told me that his church had ‘signed up’ because he had read Derick Bingham’s endorsement and thought that it must be ‘ok’ if Derick had given it the ‘thumbs up’. Being now fully aware of the true nature of ‘Power To Change’ my friend’s church has withdrawn their participation in it. Derick’s ‘drift’ sadly seems to be continuing unabated.
On our ministry website, at the conclusion of the item written quite a few years ago and entitled ‘History of Take Heed Ministries’ I wrote the following and I think it has application in this whole sad case of Derick Bingham
The ‘spirit’ of the present age could be summed up as one of ‘tolerance at the expense of truth’ – our prayer is that we shall be kept from that and, because “we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (1st Thessalonians 2:4).
In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul identifies a number of gifts imparted to believers by the Holy Spirit and in verse 10 we read “to another discerning of spirits”. Pastor John MacArthur in his Study Bible writes concerning this – ‘Christians with the gift of discernment have the God-given ability to recognise lying spirits and to identify deceptive and erroneous doctrine…Though its operation has changed since apostolic times…it is still essential to have people in the church who are discerning. They are the guardians, the watchmen who protect the church…’ To illustrate just how much Derick Bingham has failed when it comes to the “discerning of spirits” let me quote from a Roman Catholic apologetic website [featuring articles posted by a supposed former ‘evangelical’, Dave Armstrong] on 3 of those individuals mentioned earlier that Derick Bingham ‘looked on favourably’.
MALCOM MUGGERIDGE- [excerpts from his ‘testimony’]
‘The only Church I would join is the Roman Catholic Church, which I have a sort of insane love for…One reason for my hestitating so long before becoming a Catholic was my disappointment at some of the human elements I saw in the Catholic Church…It was the Catholic Church’s firm stand against contraception and abortion which finally made me decide to become a Catholic…The Church’s stand is absolutely correct. It is to its eternal honour that it opposed contraception, even if the opposition failed. I think, historically, people will say it was a very gallant effort to prevent a moral disaster…I have found a resting place in the Catholic Church…Father Bidone, an Italian priest…and Mother Teresa have been the major influence in my final decision…Our entry into the Church is settled, which gives me, not so much exhilaration as a deep peace’.
On November 27, 1982, Malcolm Muggeridge and his wife Kitty were received into the Catholic Church
ON MOTHER TERESA – [excerpts from an interview with Dave Armstrong]
Question to Dave Armstrong: Who were the most influential instruments of your conversion? [To Roman Catholicism]
Dave Armstong’s answer: ‘My friend John McAlpine, a fellow pro-life activist…and who suggested I read Newman…The late Fr. John A Hardon S.J….Cardinal Newman was the biggest intellectual influence; I had also read (early) Thomas Merton, Karl Adam, G K Chesterton and Thomas Howard…I had long enjoyed Malcolm Muggeridge and of course I admired tremendously John Paul II and Mother Teresa’
C S LEWIS – [excerpts from article by the Roman Catholic Ignatius Press]
‘Forty years after his death, many have wondered why C S Lewis never officially became a Catholic…Lewis is credited, however, with playing a significant role in bringing many converts to Catholicism – like Peter Kreeft [author of ‘Ecumenical Jihad’ that was unbelievably (well, on reflection, maybe not) endorsed by J I Packer & Charles Colson]…Lewis – while “Catholic” in many aspects of his Christian faith and devotion – never formally entered the Catholic Church…Lewis believed in the Church’s sacraments, spoke of “the Blessed Virgin,” made his confession to his Anglican priest regularly, believed in Purgatory, and even referred to the Eucharist as the Mass!.. World-acclaimed literary biographer, Joseph Pearce sees C S Lewis as being among two great literary giants of orthodox Christianity of the 20th century, the other being G. K. Chesterton’ [a Roman Catholic!].
PS Earlier I quoted from the comments on 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 as found in the Metropolitan Tabernacle London’s booklet on ‘Separation’ where it said – ‘We must never have fellowship with false religionists at any level’. In contrast to the compromising line adopted by Derick Bingham, the recently ‘retired’ Presbyterian Moderator, Dr Harry Uprichard, obeyed God’s Word and refused to take part in a police service that would have involved joint/leadership/worship with Roman Catholic clergy. As a result he has been mercilessly pilloried by, in particular, Alf McCreary, the Religion Correspondent of the Belfast Telegraph who, to his hypocritical shame, is an ordained Presbyterian elder. The Church of Ireland magazine also weighed in to the attack and branded Dr Uprichard’s biblical fidelity as ‘a scandal’. I attempted, without success, to have several letters published by the Belfast Telegraph but they failed to ‘make the publishing cut’. This was the second letter sent –
True worship of God will according to the Lord Jesus Christ be “in spirit and in truth” [John 4:23]. As a result of the Reformation, a direct work of the Holy Spirit, the “truth” of the Gospel that had been overwhelmingly obscured by man-made tradition and pagan trappings was rediscovered. In the Reformed churches that emerged, their distinctive understanding of Scripture was encapsulated in various subordinate standards such as ‘The Thirty-nine Articles’ and the ‘Westminster Confession of Faith’. Christians who organise worship have a Biblical duty not to afford leadership in services to any whose declared understanding of Scripture does not reflect being “in spirit and in truth”. For that reason, Presbyterian Moderator, Harry Uprichard, quite rightly declined to participate in a Police-related service where Roman Catholic clergy would have been given a leadership role in the service. When Christians organise a service they welcome both believer and unbeliever alike to form the congregation. For the believer they hope that it will strengthen their faith and for the unbeliever they hope that it may bring them to faith. Dr Uprichard’s presence in the congregation in Armagh [as a guest of the Church of Ireland] along with [the Roman Catholic] Sean Brady gave visible testimony to those aspirations. Having a ‘mixed’ congregation is not unscriptural, having a ‘mixed’ leadership in services of worship most certainly is. Alf McCreary’s ‘Jesuitical slur’ [Church News: 13 May] on Dr Uprichard says more about himself than the Moderator. A dictionary definition of a Jesuit reads ‘a person given to subtle and equivocating arguments’ ie someone who expresses ingenious, yet indirect or less than honest opinions. Bearing in mind that Alf McCreary is an ordained Presbyterian elder, in the light of his regular column and comments, I would say to him – if the [Jesuitical] cap fits, wear it. One final thought for Mr McCreary to ponder is the fact that Paul Symonds of Ballymena, whose praises he has been singing in recent weeks, is a Jesuit.
Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries
Roman Catholicism and Indulgences: Any changes since Luther’s days?
The following is an edited item that was included in the Roman Catholic Zenit news agency bulleting for 24 May 2006 – Plenary Indulgence Offered for Pentecost Meeting
VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2006 (Zenit.org)
A plenary indulgence can be gained by participants in the meeting of ecclesial movements and new communities with the Pope in St. Peter’s Square on the eve of Pentecost. The decision was made by the Apostolic Penitentiary, a tribunal of the Holy See…According to the Enchiridion, a plenary indulgence is granted “to the faithful who, in a church or oratory, participates devoutly in the solemn signing or praying of the hymn ‘Veni, Creator’ … on the solemnity of Pentecost”…Those faithful will be able to gain the indulgence “even if they cannot get into the patriarchal Vatican basilica,” stated the Apostolic Penitentiary…participants…’must have a “spirit removed from all sin and fulfill the usual conditions” — sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion and prayers for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff’
Canon 992 of the Code of Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1471, state: “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ AND the saints.”
Let me just make some very simple points on this matter. Forgiveness of sin from the divine perspective can only be ‘dispensed and applied’ by God Himself. Having heard the Lord ‘dispense’ forgiveness of sins to the man, sick of the palsy, the on-looking scribes, [no doubt familiar with the words of Isaiah 43:14& 25 “Thus saith the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel…I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions”] asked in anger “Who can forgive sins but God only?” [Mark 2:7] The Lord did not challenge their statement but used it to affirm that He was the Incarnate Son of God by saying in response “that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins” [Mark 2:10]. ‘The Church’ does not possess any authority to ‘dispense and apply’ remission of sin but can preach and affirm that such remission of sin comes directly from God and it comes alone through repentance toward God and faith alone in Christ crucified alone. In Acts 5:30-31 Peter said “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. HIM hath God exalted with his right hand, TO BE a Prince and a Saviour, TO GIVE repentance to Israel and [to give] FORGIVENESS of sins”.
In Acts 13:32-33 & 38-39 we read these words of Paul “And we declare unto you glad tidings, how the promise that was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children in that he hath raised up Jesus again…through this man [Jesus] is PREACHED [not ‘dispensed and applied’] the forgiveness of sins. And BY HIM [Jesus] all that believe are justified [permanently pardoned from all penalty due because of their sin – this allows no room for the Roman Catholic teaching of ‘temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven’] from all things which ye could not be justified by [keeping] the law of Moses”.
In short, Rome, in blatant contradiction to the teaching of God’s Word,
Usurps God’s unique prerogative to forgive sins from the divine standpoint.
Rome arrogantly usurps the right to ‘dispense and apply’ a GIFT that only God can give and then compounds its error by burdening those, seeking forgiveness of their sins, with work that they must do – “to the faithful who, in a church or oratory, participates devoutly in the solemn signing or praying of the hymn ‘Veni, Creator’ … on the solemnity of Pentecost.” They compound it even further by stating that the forgiveness ‘dispensed and applied’ by them is “with authority, the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ AND the saints.” They again, in contradiction of the Word of God, declare that forgiveness can be ‘dispensed and applied’ thanks, not to the work of Christ ALONE, but due to the work of ‘Christ AND the saints’.
Bill Jackson of ‘Christians Evangelising Catholics’ explains this concept of a ‘Treasury of Merit’ or ‘Treasury of the Church’ as follows –
‘The superabundant merits of Christ and the saints from which the Church draws to confer spiritual blessings, as Indulgences. The thought is that some saints had a surplus of merit (more than they needed for Heaven). Rather than lose these, God stored them so others who have need can draw from their superabundance’. [‘Christian’s Guide to Roman Catholicism’ p120].
But let me make one further point about this GIFT. In my dictionary a GIFT is defined as ‘something given, a present’ but because of Rome’s conditional requirements this ‘Indulgence’ is not a GIFT but a REWARD that is defined in my dictionary as ‘something given in return for a deed or service rendered’.
Former Roman Catholic, Jim McCarthy, in his book ‘The Gospel According to Rome’ writes on page 101 – ‘though the Bible teaches that God will reward faithful stewards in heaven, it never says that He will reward them with heaven’ – yet that is precisely what Rome teaches. Jim identified this false teaching with this quote from Rome’s Council of Trent on page 98 of his book
‘To those who work well to the end and keep their trust in God, eternal life should be held out, both as a grace promised in his mercy through Jesus Christ and as A REWARD to be faithfully bestowed, on the promise of God himself FOR THEIR GOOD WORKS AND MERITS’ [Council of Trent: Session 6: ‘Decree on Justification’ chapter 16].
Every true child of God should know that if a GIFT from God is “by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work” [Romans 11:6]. We learn from Romans 6:23 that “eternal life” is a GIFT from God and so it cannot be a REWARD for any human works or merits and yet Rome falsely and oxymoronically teaches that ‘eternal life’ is both ‘by grace ‘ and by works’! What spiritual blindness and deception!
In the heading to this article I wrote – ‘Any changes since Luther’s days?’ I want to answer that by quoting from the ‘Introduction’ to a helpful little booklet ‘Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses’ published in 2002. ‘Stephen J Nichols, an associate professor at Lancaster Bible College and Graduate School’, edited it and in his ‘Introduction’ he wrote –
‘Tradition has it that one evening Martin Luther, while walking the streets of Wittenberg, happened on a parishioner lying drunk in the gutter. As Luther rebuked him for public drunkenness, his parishioner fumbled around in his coat. Finally his hand emerged holding a piece of paper. He waved it before his priest claiming that Brother Tetzel had issued him an indulgence that offered “complete forgiveness of all sins – past, present and future”. Such a scene, as depicted in the 1955 classic, black and white film, Martin Luther, may be difficult to verify. It illustrates however, the dilemma facing the young parish priest and theologian. In response, Luther retreated to his study, wrote a list of arguments to address this problem, and the next day, October 31, 1517, nailed his list to the church door at Wittenberg. Little did Luther realise the outcome of his action…All who call themselves Protestants trace their roots to this protest in the Ninety-Five Theses’.
The answer to the question I posed – ‘Any changes since Luther’s days?’ – is a resounding ‘No!’ Sincere, faithful Roman Catholics are still being ‘spiritually hood-winked’ by the present Pope Benedict XVI and his Magisterium, every bit as much as in the days of Luther and for that we, as God’s people, should not only weep for them but also witness to them concerning the breadth of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ as proclaimed by Paul in Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to them who are in Christ Jesus”.
Pastor John MacArthur in his ‘Study Bible’ comments as follows on the expression ‘No condemnation’ – ‘Occurring only 3 times in the New Testament, all in Romans [5:16&18; 8:1] “condemnation” is used exclusively in judicial settings as the opposite of “justification”. It refers to a verdict of guilty and the penalty that verdict demands. No sin a believer can commit – past, present or future – can be held against him, since the penalty was paid by Christ and righteousness was imputed to the believer. And no sin will ever reverse this divine legal decision against someone whom God has declared righteous’.
That is the glorious biblical truth about God’s gracious [unearned, unmerited] forgiveness – what a contrast this to Rome’s soul-damning proclamation of their ‘plenary indulgence’.
The ‘leaven’ in ‘Our Daily Bread’
Pastor Ken Siva, a fellow-contender based in America wrote a short article in June and herewith are some excerpts from that article –
‘For years I have enjoyed, and readily recommended, the ministry of Radio Bible Class (RBC)…many have been blessed by their devotional booklet known as Our Daily Bread (ODB). Listening to Christian radio not long ago I caught a snippet of a program from RBC that sounded a little “off.” I also had noticed that on occasions ODB had been striking me as a little “soft” as well…Today’s [16 June 2006] entry in ODB from Julie Ackerman Link entitled “Family Stories” is built around the late contemplative Henri Nouwen’s book The Return Of The Prodigal Son. This is yet another strong indication of just how far into the mainstream of the evangelical camp the Gnostic mysticism of contemplative spirituality has spread…Henri Nouwen…was a Roman Catholic priest and essentially a universalist who believed that men could be saved apart from Jesus Christ. Today I strongly admonish you in the Lord to stay away from contemplative spirituality’.
In the light of this latest, what can only be regarded as ‘endorsement’ for Henri Nouwen, I sent the following letter to Radio Bible Class. On the blue photocopy enclosure** with this newsletter you will read RBC’s response to me and my further letter to them. You will also read another brother in Christ’s letter to RBC [prompted by our website article on this] and my own added comments.
Dear Radio Bible Class,
On 12 April 1995 I wrote to you to express my concern about your reference to Henri Nouwen as merely a ‘devotional writer’ in your devotional ‘Our Daily Bread’ thoughts for 7 March 1995. My concern at that time was that by failing to identify him as a then Roman Catholic priest [since deceased] you would be responsible for some readers being led to purchase writings by this man. Since 1995 I have become even more aware of the expanded range of unscriptural errors and heresy of Henri Nouwen particularly in the occultic areas of ‘mysticism’ and ‘contemplative spirituality’. By way of example let me cite this
“Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.” (From Sabbatical Journey – Henri Nouwen’s last book )
It was therefore with great dismay that I read how you again cited the thoughts of Henri Nouwen, once more without any ‘caveat’ about the heretical/unscriptural nature of his beliefs, in the ‘Our Daily Bread’ devotional of 6 June 2006. In obedience to God’s Word and for the Honour of His name and truth I must therefore ask you to remove me from your mailing list for ‘Our Daily Bread’ and my prayer is that you will “Purge out therefore the old leaven that ye may be a new lump” for “know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” [1 Corinthians 5:7&6].
In ‘Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words’ it states the following concerning ‘leaven’ on page 363 – ‘“Leaven” was forbidden in all offerings to the Lord by fire, Leviticus 2:11; 6:17. Being bred of corruption and spreading through the mass of that in which it is mixed, and therefore symbolising the pervasive character of evil, “leaven” was utterly inconsistent in offerings which typified the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ…In the New Testament it is used [a] metaphorically (1) of corrupt doctrine, Matthew 13:33 and Luke 13:21, of error as mixed with the truth…the history of Christendom confirms the fact that the pure meal of the doctrine of Christ has been adulterated with error’
**‘Our daily Bread’ enclosure referred to earlier
Dear Mr Andrews,
Thank you for writing with your concern about reference to writings of Henri Nouwen. Especially in the light of the example of his doctrine you present, which is a contra Biblical statement and contrary to the mission of Radio Bible Class. I believe that it is important to look at the overall theology of writers even if some of the things they say may touch truth, if their overall theology is wrong it can give a wrong signal to our readers.
In Nouwen’s case, his writings reflect his personal struggles with the imposed celibacy of the Roman Catholic priesthhood and his sexuality, as well as the natural God-given need for human intimacy. There is no doubt that they contain insights which may help some, but they could be found in other places also. A teacher is accountable to the Lord above all for the things he passes on.
I will pass your concerns to Grand Rapids, and again thank you for your vigilance. I find that you need a great deal of discernment when you examine the spectrum of what passes for Christian reading these days. We have in our hands the ‘book of Books’, which when used aright is all we need.
- David Whitfield, Biblical Correspondence
- Radio Bible Class, PO Box 1
- LA5 9ES
1 July 2006
Thank you for your letter of 27 June and as you will be contacting Grand Rapids about Henri Nouwen perhaps the following additional comments could also be passed to them. I hope they will be of help to them in this context and also personally be an aid to you in the matter of ‘discernment’.
Mr Nouwen was not a Christian, he was a Roman Catholic, a member of a religious system that tells people what they must do to save themselves rather than telling them what Christ has done to save sinners – in his book ‘Creative Ministry’ Henri Nouwen wrote on page 26 “And the core of the Gospel –You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and you must love your neighbour as yourself”. That is a Gospel of ‘works’ not of ‘grace’.
Mr Nouwen was a member of a ‘sacrifice-offering/sin-pardoning’ “priesthood” that finds no sanction whatsoever in the Bible and indeed challenges the finished work and forgiving prerogative of the Great High priest of true believers, the Lord Jesus Christ, the only priest forever after the order of Melchizedek [Hebrews 6:20 & 7:24].
Radio Bible Class need to realise that Henri Nouwen and other faithful Roman Catholics who have been quoted favourably in other issues of Our Daily Bread are unregenerate, lost sinners whose perceived ‘wisdom’ is in the sight of God ‘foolishness’ [1 Corinthians 1:21&25]. They should never be quoted favourably in ‘Christian reading’ as that conveys an impression of “fellowship” which is ‘Contra-Biblical’ [Ephesians 5:9-11].
I have been your servant for Christ
Over the past year or so we have become concerned on occasions with the content of “Our Daily Bread”. Initially we assumed that these were perhaps just blips but now we are not so sure, “who hath bewitched you?”
Two random examples:
(i) 3rd December 2005 A eulogy on G. K. Chesterton and a commendation of his book Orthodoxy. Has your writer read “The Thing” by Chesterton and can he or she thoroughly approve and promote Chesterton’s theology and arguments. Mostly, Chesterton compares Roman Catholicism with Protestantism, we should all accept that Protestantism does not necessarily equate with Biblical Christianity. Chesterton’s journey, so lauded by your writer, led him into the Roman Catholic Church and he became one of their main protagonists and today he is still given much publicity by that church. It is strange that you have associated yourselves with the apostate Roman Catholic Church in this commendation and promotion of false doctrine.
Why mention such people in what is assumed to be a commentary on Christian Biblical Doctrine. We are warned in Scripture to avoid “all appearance of evil”. This must include recommending authors such as Chesterton. Personally I see no great need to go beyond Scriptural examples; there are ample studies therein which would have brought out the same thought in the notes, which your writer sought to explain without resorting to false Popish teachers.
(ii) More recently you have been promoting Henri Nouwen. Why promote this New Age writer and his works? There are numerous writers true to the Doctrine and Teaching of Scripture without resorting to such teachers of error. Incidentally, included in your notes without even a hint of disapproval, would lead one to the assumption that Nouwen was kosher. I am assuming that you do not approve of Nouven’s teaching – or am I mistaken?
There appears to have crept into Christian thinking a pseudo intellectual mindset, a desire to show that we Christians are so very well read and not narrow-minded bigots. Sadly, for this reason many today seem more eager to read the writings of men rather than the Word of God. The Word of God is sufficient for all aspects and circumstances of my life. 2 Timothy 3.16/17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works”.
1 Corinthians 1.25/27 “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty”;
As C. H. Mackintosh, a respected 19th century Christian writer, said, speaking of the sufficiency of the Bible “We feel that we have a solemn duty to perform, at a moment like the present, in the which Superstition, Expediency, and Rationalism are all at work, as so many agents of the devil, in his efforts to sap the fundamentals of our holy faith. We owe it to that blessed volume of inspiration, from which we have drunk the streams of life and peace, to bear our feeble testimony to the Divinity of its every page – to give expression, in this permanent form, to our profound reverence for its authority, and our conviction of its Divine sufficiency for every need, whether of the believer individually, or the church collectively”. With a Book like that we have little need for advice from Chesterton!
In the light of the foregoing, I must very sadly ask you to remove us from your mailing list and I will obliged to advise friends of the end time leaven which is creeping into RBC.
In true Christian concern. CB
Many thanks for your very encouraging email – how good to see folks who ‘Take Heed’. I was very interested to note your comments about Chesterton who appears to be a ‘must read’ or ‘must influence’ on the ‘CV’ of every leading ‘intellectual [liberal] Christian’ * [see comments below]
Every blessing Cecil Andrews
*A prime example would be Ravi Zacharias.
- In an interview detailed on this website
- Ravi Zacharias was asked this question
- What are the most influential books you have read?
- And this is part of the reply from Ravi Zacharias
I think the most influential books that I have read generally come from authors who introduce me to many other authors other than themselves. If I were to list a handful of writers who have had a profound impact on me I would say Malcolm Muggeridge, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis…In my present reading, I think the book that I have most recently picked up which has thoroughly impressed me is one that is called ‘Asking the Fathers’ and that is by Alfred Squire. He is of English stock and Cambridge…Oxford educated I think and now lives in the U.S. West Coast, he’s a Dominican monk
In the light of these ‘revelations it’s frightening to think that Ravi Zacharias is viewed by many as a solid ‘evangelical’!