‘Evangelical Catholic’ suggestions for Belfast ‘Passion Café’ rejected

Several years ago as part of an attempt to maximize the publicity-potential of the deceptive and ecumenical ‘gospel’ charade known as ‘Power to Change’, a café was manned for about 7 months in the centre of Belfast by, I have no doubt, some well-intentioned but sadly misguided professing believers.

This group are currently planning, in their terms, to ‘ride the wave’ of the publicity that will be generated by the screening in Belfast of the Mel Gibson movie ‘The Passion of The Christ’ by manning a ‘Café Passionate’ close to where the movie will be screened. What was somewhat disturbing, about what may well be promoted as an ‘evangelical’ initiative, was that important aspects of the format were initially ‘checked out’ in a hope that Roman Catholic involvement would be both possible and encouraged.

One of the committee for the café submitted documents and planned training procedures to Eugene Boyle of the so-called Evangelical Catholic Initiative to see if he could identify any problems from a Roman Catholic perspective that would hinder Roman Catholic involvement. Eugene Boyle’s reply makes very interesting reading – here are some extracts –

‘The only point in the Application Form which might give some pause for thought to some Catholics is the phrasing of [the] second point in the statement of belief –

“We believe that the entire Scriptures are the…final authority for believers”

The Catholics are very wary of individualistic, one-text, wacko interpretations of Scripture which have led to so much heresy and heartache in the Church. They place a lot of (too much?) emphasis on the responsibility of leadership in the Church to guard against distortion of the truths of Scripture arising from a selective, individualistic approach. I suppose this is invariably the case in all Church groupings from exclusive brethren to the latest and freest of the new fellowships – they all acknowledge the need to guide and nourish their members in a right understanding of Scripture.

Catholics might therefore be happier if you were to rephrase the latter part of the statement and perhaps say something like – “and that in them properly understood, rests the final authority for believers”

That would allow space for the need for guidance in coming to a proper understanding of what that final authority is saying in specific cases. Just an observation!

Eugene Boyle has sought to pass off his suggested rewording of part of the proposed ‘Statement of Belief’ as merely an ‘observation’. It is in fact much more devious and destructive than that.

The plain fact is that Eugene Boyle has rejected that the Scriptures ALONE are the “final authority for believers” and has sought to inject the “need for guidance” before someone can say that for them the Scriptures are “properly understood” and are now therefore their “final authority”.

Christians do acknowledge from the Scriptures that they “need guidance” by God the Holy Spirit in understanding the Scriptures [see 1 Corinthians 2:12-14] but never do Christians relinquish the truth that these same Scriptures themselves are their “final authority” – as the Psalmist himself wrote “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” [Psalm 119:105].

What Eugene Boyle was doing by his apparently casual “observation” was to subtly make room for the real “final authority where Roman Catholicism is concerned and that “final authority” most certainly does not reside in the Scriptures ALONE.

Recently I wrote an article on ‘Alister McGrath and The Catholic Catechism’  [and herewith is an extract of what I wrote that will serve to illustrate where the “final authority” in Roman Catholicism really resides – ‘to those not familiar with the Roman system Paragraph 100 of the [Catholic] Catechism states clearly where the ultimate authority in the Roman system resides – ‘The task of interpreting the Word of God [remember that is both Scripture and tradition] authentically has been entrusted SOLELY to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him’.

If the café committee member were to accede to this suggested “observation” by Eugene Boyle he would in effect be surrendering the truth that for true believers their “final authority” is The Bible. I also mentioned that planned training procedures were set before Eugene Boyle for his comments and again herewith are extracts from what he said in reply –

‘I would focus strictly on the direct personal consequences of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus and avoid being drawn into any discussion on Mary, The Mass, the sacraments etc. Getting across the gospel message is what is paramount, not setting people straight on subsequent doctrinal issues.

I would be inclined, if at all possible, to sidestep questions on any other topic on the grounds that personal response to Jesus is the most radically important issue facing any human being. Without being clear on this the rest is meaningless.

Setting people straight on doctrinal issues is for another day, and we can trust the Holy Spirit to prepare the ground for that. Stick to Jesus is my best advice!

Following this advice would mean that a Christian would not be able to challenge any faithful Roman Catholic who comes into the Café and who is trusting in the false “gospel message” of Roman Catholicism. That false “gospel message” includes for instance these Catholic Catechism teachings on “the sacraments” [one of Eugene Boyle’s ‘no-go areas’]

Paragraph 1266: ‘The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptised sanctifying grace and the grace of JUSTIFICATION’

Paragraph 1992: ‘Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ…Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith

Paragraph 1129: ‘The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant ARE NECESSARY FOR SALVATION’

What faithful Christian could either work with or fail to witness to someone who is deceived by these papal approved teachings!

In giving this advice Eugene Boyle is simply following the pattern set by Rome in relation to ‘The Alpha Course. As long as ALPHA continues to present what I would describe as an ‘anorexic skeleton’ of Christianity, Rome is quite happy to let her people attend. However, afterwards, by way of follow up, Rome ‘fleshes out’ this ‘anorexic skeleton’ by showing her people a series of videos entitled ‘Drink From The Wells of The Church’ [not the Scriptures!]

This series of videos feature ‘Father’ Raniero Cantalamessa [a welcome guest ‘preacher’ at the Holy Trinity Brompton Church – home of ALPHA] who is a ‘Papal Preacher’ and in them he introduces those watching to all the “damnable heresies” [2 Peter 2:1] of Rome. On the order form to purchase these videos it states – ‘ideal for group use to follow Alpha’.

In the case of ALPHA Rome gets down to the business of “setting people straight on doctrinal matters” on “another day” when they present to them their “Drink From The Wells of The Church” video series. No doubt these videos or something with similar content will be used by Rome to “set people straight” after they have gone to watch ‘The Passion of The Christ’ and have afterwards perhaps popped into ‘Café Passionate’.

One of the churches involved in the ‘Power to Change’ café venture was ChristChurch, Belfast, pastored by Derick Bingham. The following notice appears at present on their church web site –

Passionate One of the core values we have at ChristChurch is to bring the message of the cross to the City of Belfast. Last year many of us were involved in the Power to Change coffee shop, which exceeded all expectations in terms of the level of interest it raised. But even more important than that were the opportunities it provided those with the gift of evangelism to share the gospel. In just a few weeks, Mel Gibson’s new film depicting the death and resurrection of Jesus will be released here. The film is entitled The Passion of the Christ, and although it is somewhat controversial, it is having a significant impact on those who watch it.

The movie is being viewed by many churches as a great opportunity to share the Gospel. Some (in the USA) are even planning special services to share details of the “Man behind the movie” — the Son of Man. “The Passion of the Christ” is a bloody, heart-wrenching depiction of the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life. Garry Poole, director of evangelism at Willow Creek Community Church, has seen the film twice. “It’s something that you don’t just watch, you experience it. You feel like you were there; it’s just a powerful picture of what Christ went through.”

Poole’s church is encouraging its members to take friends and co-workers to the movie, and then talk about it over a cup of coffee. He expects it to spark a flood of questions. Howard Davey was in America just before it was released, and he told me that the churches there were gearing up for the most significant spiritual response from non-churchgoers since September 11th. Peter Jenkins (our Youth Pastor) saw the film on Tuesday in Glasgow, and he believes that those who see the film will be moved by the impact of Jesus’ love for us. Others feel the film is too graphic, and are not intending to visit. But whatever our thoughts are on these issues, you can be sure that for a number of weeks after the film opens, thousands of people will sit for 2 hours watching images, which depict the most amazing events, the world has ever witnessed.

For months there have been a number of people praying together and working hard to see the Power to Change coffee shop open again in Cornmarket, and indeed it looked very likely that it would, right up until the last minute that is, when tenancy was given to a furniture business. When God closes a door that clearly, you know He is thinking differently!. So when premises right opposite a cinema, which will be showing this film become available, you start to see the amazing plans that God has.

So far, three Belfast cinemas have agreed to give out a voucher for a free cup of coffee in our cafe with every ticket purchased for the film, and we anticipate quite a response. Please pray with us that we in ChristChurch would be used as we work alongside Christians from other churches in this city, and that we would see the most unlikely of people coming to faith.

In closing, let me reiterate what I have said elsewhere, namely that whilst I do not believe that Christians should go to watch this movie, as I believe it violates God’s prohibition found in Deuteronomy 4 against making any “similitude” of God [and we must always remember that Jesus Christ was “Emmanuel – God with us”], I do believe that we must be ready to make use of any witnessing opportunities afforded to us by those who do go to watch the movie.

For that reason a strategically located café that will afford opportunities to present the clear message of the “Gospel of Christ” that Paul was “not ashamed of” [see Romans 1:16] is in theory a very good outreach idea. The tragedy might be that, unwittingly perhaps, the professing believers involved in ‘Café Passionate’ would, if they were to follow Eugene Boyle’s ‘observations’ be simply helping the Pope and his false ‘Church’ to successfully “ride the wave” of interest generated by ‘The Passion of The Christ’.

One final, but VERY important point. When Eugene Boyle wrote ‘Stick to Jesus is my best advice!’ Christians must always remember that Eugene Boyle’s ‘Jesus’ is the Roman Catholic ‘Jesus’ who is “another Jesus” linked to “another spirit” and central to “another gospel” [see 2 Corinthians 11:4] and those who are so deceived are sadly as “beguiled” by Satan as was Eve [see 2 Corinthians 11:3].

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 17 March 2004

PS – After writing this article I made a phone call to someone that I thought might have some contact and influence with the group planning the café. Through discussions held following my phone call I now understand that the ‘observations’ of Eugene Boyle will not be adopted and workers in the café will be free to discuss “doctrinal issues”. In addition, anyone professing saving faith in Christ, will be positively directed to Christian churches that do recognise both the true Biblical gospel of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone and acknowledge “that the entire Scriptures are the…final authority for believers”

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 18 March 2004