On 21 May I posted an article after I received a phone call from a very concerned Christian lady who had visited the MV Doulos [one of 2 ships that form O. M’s floating ‘book ministry’ fleet] that is currently visiting Londonderry. Whilst on board she noticed a book called –
- ‘A Guide To The Passion’
- 100 Questions About
- The Passion of The Christ
and when she asked how much it would cost she was told that it was ‘free’ and she was given a copy. She subsequently rang me to express her horror at what was contained in the book.
For those who don’t know, this book is produced by an organisation called ‘Catholic Exchange’ and its purpose is to explain the Roman Catholic dimension and teachings depicted in Mel Gibson’s movie ‘The Passion of The Christ’. It’s aim and purpose is to promote the religion of Roman Catholicism. Let me quote a few sections from the ‘Introduction’ that was written by Tom Allen, Editor and President of Catholic Exchange. Mr Allen wrote –
‘As someone involved in the distribution and marketing of the film, I noticed early on the fervour with which many Protestant communities were preparing to use the film for evangelistic purposes…the irony is that our Protestant brothers and sisters cannot adequately speak to many of the issues and questions the film evokes because the film is so distinctly Marian, so obviously eucharistic, so quintessentially Catholic…can their theology adequately or honestly mine such cinematic gems as the Last Supper flashbacks?’‘
To understand this reference to ‘Last Supper flashbacks’ let me quote question 83 that reads – ‘Why does the movie show a flashback to the Last Supper during the crucifixion?’ Part of the answer reads as follows
‘He [Jesus] required that this new ritual be practiced in memory of Him. We know this today as the Eucharist or Holy Communion…The once-and-for-all sacrifice of His body on the cross is represented tangibly on earth by the sacrifice on the altar, the bread and the wine that become His Body and Blood…The Son of God – the spotless, sinless Lamb – has become the sacrifice. Consuming the Passover meal in its new form – the Eucharist – is made the requirement to have life within you
’The ‘flashback’ is inserted to teach that The Mass is the perpetuation of Christ’s Calvary Sacrifice and in The Mass the bread and wine of ‘the sacrifice on the altar’ are miraculously transubstantiated into ‘His [Christ’s] body and blood’. Tom Allenwrote in his ‘Introduction’ –
‘The film quite accurately links the sacrifice of the cross with the sacrifice of the Mass. In doing so, it faithfully depicts biblical and Catholic teaching’.
Well, the film certainly ‘accurately depicts Catholic teaching’ in this area but such teaching is most definitely not ‘biblical’. It is totally foreign to the meaning of Scripture and repugnant to the Son of God who triumphantly declared on the cross that His once-and-for-all sacrifice of Himself was FINISHED!
Why was this book written – Tom Allen answered that in his ‘Introduction’ when he wrote –
‘the Eucharistic connections between the Passion and the Mass are not obvious to many Catholics today…so many people have not received an education in the Faith [Roman Catholicism] that equips them to see those connections, which are quite real and are, in fact, delineated for us in the teaching of the Church [Roman Catholic]. Therefore we at Catholic Exchange see a need for this book to provide…a full understanding of authentic Christianity [Roman Catholicism]’
Following the publication of our web site article I was contacted by John Satterly, OM’s Shop Literature Manager who is based in Germany and he explained that he had contacted the MV Doulos onboard Book Manager, Dennie Capell to discover how this book came to be freely distributed. This is the email I received from Dennie Capell –
Dear Mr Andrews,
Let me introduce myself. My name is Dennie Capell and I am the book fair manager on board the MV Doulos. Thank you very much for your letter expressing your concern. Sadly, your information is correct and we did start giving away the booklets you are talking about. I am not totally sure of where they came from but all I can assume is that they were brought on board by someone and given to one of my leaders who, in good faith, was offering them to visitors. Once I noticed these booklets [after] several hours, they were immediately removed and have now been disposed of. My calculation is that only a small number of booklets were distributed during this time. I would welcome your visit to the ship as I am sure you know that we are here until the 31st of May and if you do come, please feel free to contact me.
Book Fair Manager – MV Doulos
Let me at once say that the swift action taken by Dennie Capell to remove these ‘Passion Guide’ books is very much welcomed and to be commended. However, this incident has once again brought into focus OM’s past links with ‘things ecumenical and Roman’ – links that were highlighted in the following articles published in our New Year & March 2003 editions of NEWS FROM THE FRONT that stated the following
- [March 2003 newsletter article ]
- ‘OPERATION MOBILISATION’ [OM] AND
- THE ‘ALL INDIA CHRISTIAN COUNCIL’ [AICC]
On pages 14-15 of my ‘New Year 2003’ newsletter I drew attention to the questionable ‘Christian’ books distributed by STL who claimed that the views of authors like ‘Mother’ Teresa, ‘Father’ Henri Nouwen and ‘Cardinal’ Basil Hume [all now deceased] were ‘in full agreement with the OPERATION MOBILISATION statement of faith’.
This is what I wrote in that ‘New Year 2003’ newsletter –
Many other so-called ‘evangelicals’ such as Philip Yancey and Brennan Manning are mentioned in ‘A Time Of Departing’ as is the late ‘Father’ Henri Nouwen whose books are found in ‘Christian’ bookstores and whose books are supplied by STL [Send The Light] – the book publishing company that states in its ‘Stock Policy’ – ‘STL is a distribution organisation for Christian products operating on biblical principles and IN FULL AGREEMENT WITH THE OPERATION MOBILISATION statement of faith’. Other ‘Christian’ authors listed in the STL catalogue include the late ‘Cardinal’ Basil Hume, the late ‘Mother’ Teresa, USA ‘convert’ to Roman Catholicism Scott Hahn, the heretic Benny Hinn, Richard Holloway who according to The Guardian [G2 supplement of 18 August 1999 published during his tenure as Scottish Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh] reportedly ‘didn’t have any hang-ups about young people experimenting with casual sex or soft drugs’, stated in relation to the Bible that ‘obviously it is not meant to be taken literally’ and gave his view on Jesus as follows – ‘He was a sacred person. He had an encounter with the transcendent meaning we call God…My own preaching of the resurrection is evolving. I preach it as symbol, not necessarily as a brute physical fact. I’m agnostic on that’. Other ‘Christian’ authors listed include Ken Gott and Claudio Freidzon who played significant roles in the ‘Toronto Blessing’ debacle and finally Richard Foster whose dangerous and unscriptural teaching is identified in ‘A Time Of Departing’. Are the published views of all these so-called ‘Christian’ authors ‘IN FULL AGREEMENT WITH THE OPERATION MOBILISATION statement of faith’ as STL claim? If so, should evangelical Christians really continue to support OPERATION MOBILISATION?
[March 2003 newsletter article continued]
I recently received a copy of an ‘appeal leaflet’ issued by OM entitled ‘INDIA APPEAL’. On the leaflet it stated “Through the recent happenings amongst the Dalit people in India, God has provided the biggest open door since the Reformation happened in Europe” and this statement is credited to Joseph D’Souza: Executive Director OM India. Later in the leaflet we read, “As part of an initiative by the All India Christian Council, OM India is setting up Dalit Education Centres’. An examination of the web site of the ‘All India Christian Council’ revealed the following information.
The AICC is built around 2 commitments – The commitment to the unique person of the Lord Jesus Christ and his compassion to a needy humanity and the commitment to secular, pluralistic and democratic India…the AICC is fully committed to the Church’s mission of demonstrating the love of Christ in society through Word and deed.
I think it’s interesting to note that these commitments are directed at ‘social’ and ‘political’ activity rather than at ‘spiritual’ activity. There is no formal commitment to ‘proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ’ – could it be that there are parties involved in the AICC who would not be agreed as to what constitutes ’the gospel’? Well, from the web site we learn who is President of the AICC – ‘Dr. Joseph D’Souza, president of the All India Christian Council’ [who as we have already seen is stated on the ‘appeal leaflet’ to be Executive Director OM India] and we also learn who is the Secretary General of the AICC – ‘the fact-finding report authored by AICC secretary general John Dayal who is also the spokesman for the ALL INDIA CATHOLIC UNION’. An example of AICC ‘commitment’ reads as follows – ‘Expressing concern at Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi…The Christian Council takes particular exception to his uncalled for attack on Pope John Paul II, spiritual head of the worldwide Catholic community’. I spoke by phone to faithful believers in India who confirmed large ecumenical compromise by OM.
These articles showed clear ecumenical involvement ‘on the ground’ and also clear links to an organisation [STL] that distributes books by a number of Roman Catholic authors and this organisation [STL] would appear from what they themselves state in writing to be ‘inextricably linked’ to OM.
In addition in a 1992 interview published in the ‘Jesus Lifestyle’ magazine by ‘The Jesus Fellowship’, George Verwer of OM was asked by Noel Stanton, Senior Pastor of ‘The Jesus Fellowship’ – “Do you have relationships with Roman Catholics” and in reply George Verwer said “We acknowledge that there are born again, Spirit-filled individual Catholics but we don’t feel we can work with the Roman Catholic church. We have many people in our work who are converted Roman Catholics and they believe that to really function in the Holy Spirit you have to come out of the Roman Catholic church”.
Despite this apparent distancing from the Roman Catholic church, OM still saw fit to include in a “Fuel Appeal ‘97” leaflet, that contained a personal message from George Verwer, a photograph of 2 men [one in naval uniform] along with ‘Mother Teresa and the caption below the photograph stated “‘Mother’ Teresa welcomes Doulos crew to Calcutta”.
Today [26 May 2004] I drove up to Londonderry and spent almost 2 hours browsing through the bookshop on the MV Doulos. There are certainly a number of doctrinally sound authors and books on sale but sadly the majority of books would reflect the charismatic, doctrinally unsound age that we are living in.
The pseudo-evangelicals and ecumenists, Max Lucado and Charles Colson were well represented on the shelves as were Billy Graham, Philip Yancey, George Carey, James Dobson, C S Lewis and many others of similar ilk. Many books by the ‘face’ of ALPHA, Nicky Gumbel, were on sale as were books by the ‘user-friendly’ mega-church promoters Bill Hybels and Rick Warren.
There were books on sale by those actively involved in and promoters of the so-called ‘Toronto Blessing’ such as John Arnott [Pastor of the Airport Vineyard Church where the so-called ‘blessing’ manifested itself] and Guy Chevreau whose book ‘Share The Fire’ [referring to events at Toronto] was on sale. The unscriptural ‘Prayer of Jabez’ was available as was a book by Richard Harries, the creation-denying Bishop of Oxford.
Whilst there were books defending the truth of God’s creation as found in Genesis I was able to buy ‘In The Beginning – A New reading of the Book of Genesis’ written by former nun but now lecturer and regular broadcaster, Karen Armstrong.
On pages 18-19 in a chapter entitled ‘Fact of Fiction’? we read the following – ‘The first chapter of Genesis therefore was not intended to be a historical account of the beginning of life but a meditation upon the nature of being itself…There were obviously no eyewitnesses to God’s creative activity…Some Jews and Christians…have insisted that God himself dictated the text to Moses. Yet the editors of the Bible did not seem concerned with the literal viability of the creation account since they placed immediately after it an earlier story which contradicts…in several significant respects…by presenting us at the outset with two obviously conflicting creation stories the editors were demonstrating the basic religious principle that no one human account can ever comprise the whole of divine truth’.
 Both The Lord Jesus in Luke 24:27 and also Abraham [in an incident related by the Lord Jesus] in Luke 16:29 place absolute reliability in the inspired Scriptures penned by Moses.
 The psalmist David writes in Psalm 103:7 “He [The Lord] made known his ways unto Moses” – C H Spurgeon, commenting on this verse wrote, ‘To him [Moses] the Lord gave specially clear manifestations of his dispensations and modes of ruling among mankind, granting to him to see more of God than had before been seen by mortal man, while he communed with him upon the mount’.
 These arguments of Karen Armstrong have a very familiar ‘ring’ to them as they parallel arguments used by the Pastor referred to in my June 2003 newsletter article entitled “Partial” Agreement to “Plenary” Inspiration. I wonder did that Pastor ever read this book and use it as a source for his ‘sermon’.
The printed endorsements on the back cover of this book, referring to other books written by Karen Armstrong really speak volumes about her reliability –
‘She refreshes the understanding of what one knows, and provides a clear introduction to the unfamiliar’ – Robert Runcie on ‘A History of God’
‘A brilliantly lucid, splendidly readable book’ – Sister Wendy Beckett on ‘A History of God’
‘Strongly worded and fascinating’ – The Times on ‘The Gospel According to Woman’.
Then in relation to Roman Catholicism I was able to purchase the following books –
1. Doubleday Bible Commentary on 1 Corinthians by JEROME MURPHY-O’CONNOR. On the back cover we read ‘FATHER Jerome Murphy O’Connor has been teaching New Testament at the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem since 1967. On the following web site [http://ebaf.op.org/wsw/en/connor.html] it states – ‘Jerome MURPHY O’CONNOR – Born in Cork, Ireland, on 10 April 1935. After primary and secondary education at Christian Brothers College, Cork, and Castleknock College, Dublin, entered the Irish Province of the Dominican Order in September 1953, and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest on 10 July 1960’.
2. ‘Anne Maguire – Why Me – One woman’s Fight For Justice and Dignity’.
On the back cover we read this about the book ‘As she spends her first days in Durham high security prison, she knows a terrible mistake has been made and cries herself to sleep every night. Other prisoners and warders are kind to her and her strong Christian faith sustains her’. The true nature of her ‘Christian faith’ is evident through the identity of following endorsement also found on the back cover – ‘this book will make a profound impression on readers…Anne Maguire was caught up in a terrible situation not of her making, accused unjustly of a crime she never committed…she is a very exceptional woman whom it has been a privilege to know’. This endorsement was written by the late Cardinal Basil Hume, former head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, whose help along with that of many other Roman Catholic priests is acknowledged by Anne Maguire in the preface.
3. Doubleday Bible Commentary – Genesis by Henry Wansborough On the back cover we read the following – ‘HENRY WANSBOROUGH O. S. B. is Master of St Benet’s Hall in Oxford, England where he lives. In 1996 Pope John Paul 11 nominated him to join the prestigious Pontifical Biblical Commission, made up of twenty select international scholars.
Just in passing, in relation to creation, Mr Wansborough wrote this on pages 2-3 ‘The story is attempting to represent not the order in which things happened but their scientific structure. Sun and moon are not created until the fourth day and it is hard to envisage what can be meant by a day without sun and moon. The gap between the creation of light and darkness on the first day and the sun and moon on the fourth is also odd’.
The purging of ‘The Guide To The Passion’ from MV Doulos was very welcome but there still remains much ‘spring-cleaning’ to be done!
Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 26 May 2004