Pope Francis Says Christians Cannot Personally Know Jesus

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must confess (pun intended) that I am not personally a Catholic, having grown up as “black sheep” Protestants in a large, extended Catholic family (we needed color-coded name tags at our last reunion). However, due to family relationships I am often sympathetic to the plight of Catholics. Besides, I also believe in angels and demons — a Catholic exorcist probably would be on my speed-dial, were I ever be convinced that I had literally encountered a demonic entity. I wouldn’t fool around or waste time with any rank amateurs in spiritual warfare.

When in doubt, trust the professionals.

However, in the year 1517, Martin Luther famously nailed his 95 theses protesting the corruption and sin within the Catholic church, under the official title “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences”, for good reason — the church had become corrupt. Only the priests could read the Bible, because it was written in Latin. The congregation members were being taught that the church could literally sell them permission to sin, called “indulgences.”

The Catholic church lost a great deal of power as a result of the Protestant Reformation. In particular, the perception that the church served as an essential intermediary between God and humanity and the idea that the Pope was God’s messenger on Earth diminished quite a bit after Martin Luther translated the Bible from Latin into German so that anyone might be able to read it, not just a formally trained priest. It seems that old (and bad) habits die hard.

Pope Francis recently gave a speech in which he (assuming the translation is accurate) said this:

There are those who believe you can have a personal, direct, and immediate relationship with Jesus Christ outside the communion and meditation of the (Catholic) church. These temptations are dangerous and harmful.

Say what?

No offense meant to my Catholic friends and relatives, but that doesn’t sound very Christian of the Pope. In fact, it directly contradicts the Bible.

Naturally, as the leader of one of the world’s largest religions, Pope Francis is not immune to making controversial statements. Sometimes, we even agree, at least to some degree. For example, not long ago, Pope Francis said,

God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life. Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.

Fair enough. In my book Counterargument for God, I worded it differently and simply said that “Life cannot evolve until it exists.”  Meaning before evolution (which simply means “change”) becomes possible, the thing that changes must first be created.

Creationism is often portrayed by “intellectuals” in society as the inferior solution compared to the theory of evolution, but that simply isn’t true. Things do change over time, but only after God — or some quite remarkable (even unbelievable) good luck — could have created them.

The universe came to exist by accident, or it was created on purpose, with specific intent. There is not a logical third option.

But rather than quibbling with the Pope about the possibility that humans might have “evolved” from apes, the more fundamental question remains this: is it really dangerous and harmful to think that humans don’t need anyone or anything to intercede on their behalf in order to have a relationship with God? Conversely, Romans 10:9 tells us this:

If you declare with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

During his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus himself said:

Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

And Revelations 3:20 reads:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and them with me.

It seems to me that Pope Francis is clearly wrong to claim that a human being must belong to some church in order to have a close relationship with the risen Christ. However, as Alexander Pope so eloquently once wrote — “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”

All things considered, I think we should forgive Pope Francis for this (admittedly egregious) mistake. After all, he’s only human. Just like the rest of us.

Producer of Modern Family Attacks Christianity Over DACA

Danny Zuker, producer of the television show Modern Family, went on Twitter to savagely attack Christians that support our President, in response to President Trump’s decision to end DACA, saying their religion is “bulls**t” before throwing the f-bomb at Christians, in a tweet that has since been deleted.

Zuker went on to suggest that people who adhere to Judaeo/Christian values should oppose the rule of law in regard to illegal immigration, because actually enforcing the law would force the government to tear families apart. Several subsequent tweets were also salted with expletives to add emphasis.

With the predictable rant of a typical Hollywood liberal, Zuker tried to use the tenets of Christianity, a religion he neither believes or truly understands, against devout believers. The problem with that tactic is that most Christians know the Bible well enough to recognize both errors in logic and the misinterpretation of Scripture. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said,

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish but to fulfill them.

Granted, the typical liberal will point out that the United States didn’t exist when Jesus lived on Earth, so U.S. immigration laws were not what he meant. It is true that Jesus was only talking about laws that originated with God, the laws of Moses and the Ten Commandments. And it is relatively easy to cherrypick Bible verses that seem to support the idea that Israelites showed compassion to foreigners in their midst.

However, it is equally easy to cherrypick verses that talk about Nehemiah building a wall around Jerusalem to protect the city from foreign invaders. Is there room for any compromise?

Many Christians have strong but conflicted feelings about the importance of the rule of law, balanced with our sense of human compassion. No one wants to see young people who have spent their whole lives in the United States deported to a country they’ve never known, but the solution must be legal.

President Trump did the right thing, whether we like it or not. The law of the land must be consistently upheld. If the laws are unfair, it is the duty and obligation of Congress to pass a bill that the President can sign to create a new law. And now he has a bargaining chip for getting his wall funded.

President Obama correctly acknowledged that he did not possess imperial powers as the leader of the Executive Branch and could not sign DACA into law without Congress, but then he violated his oath of office by doing precisely what he claimed that he lacked the authority to do.

If people like Mr. Zuker would think and listen before reacting with emotional outrage, they might learn that Christians are not evil or lacking compassion.

And they might not risk alienating half of their potential audience or more in the process. Ratings are crucial in their business.


DR Radio

DR Radio: The White House Circus

Welcome to Dead Reckoning Radio! In this edition of DR Radio, the team looks at the ObamaCare repeal debacle, musical chairs in the White House, and the temptation to compromise our faith for a seat at the table or power. Also, Jay also takes the reins in the latest installment of DR Recommends.

For full show notes and to subscribe to our podcast, visit our website.

In the Midst of Turmoil, Weekly Bible Study Has Become a Thing in the White House (GOOD)

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Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT – “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

A recent report from CBN News reveals that some members of the Trump White House have undertaken the noble effort of weekly Bible study meetings.

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Ralph Drollinger, a former NBA player and founder of Capitol Ministries has worked to bring together lawmakers in Washington in this study of God’s Word, believing that building up warriors for Christ in the White House will be carried out in the principles and policies these men and women promote for the nation.

And while this will surely set off the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments by the left, who will shriek about the separation of church and state, we should all be used to that, by now. What these leaders do in their free time should be of no concern to the humanist elements of the left, and to everyone else, it should be a comfort.

Drollinger says that there are currently about a dozen members of the Trump Cabinet participating in weekly Bible study, and he is encouraged.

“It’s the best Bible study that I’ve ever taught in my life. They are so teachable; they’re so noble; they’re so learned,” Drollinger said.

It’s groundbreaking since he doesn’t think a formal Bible study among executive Cabinet members has been done in at least 100 years.

Of those regulars at the Bible study, there are Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Health Secretary Tom Price, Agriculture Secretary Sunny Perdue, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

America’s top cop, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, also attends the study.

“He’ll (Jeff Sessions) go out the same day I teach him something and I’ll see him do it on camera and I just think, ‘Wow, these guys are faithful, available and teachable and they’re at Bible study every week they’re in town,'” Drollinger said.

Knowing Attorney General Sessions is taking part in these study groups is especially comforting, if not for those who understand how important it is for our leaders to have a grasp on some moral grounding, but for his own mental/emotional well-being.

Sessions has been targeted by President Trump for a consistent campaign of demeaning and demoralizing social media taunts, surprisingly, because of a very principled stand Sessions took early on (in recusing himself from the Russia probe).

I’d say he can only benefit from the fellowship of likeminded believers and the consistent pursuit of godly study.

That is the value of fellowship, when the world comes against you.

Romans 1:11-12 NASB “For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be [a]established; 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.”

And Trump, himself?

So far, he has not made time to attend any of the Bible studies, although he is invited each week and receives copies of Drollinger’s teachings from each meeting.

Many have already determined that Trump’s alleged faith was “campaign trail faith,” which is to say, lip service to draw in the evangelical vote. This is not a new thing among politicians, but rarely have those who identify as “Christian” been so eager to support a man so openly profane as Trump, with the hope that he can be changed, afterwards.

Indeed, Drollinger has likened Trump to Samson – a man consecrated before his birth to God, destined to save the Israelites from the Philistines, in the Book of Judges.

I have some issues with that characterization, not the least of which is this urge to compare a man who has openly rejected God in one breath, while claiming to be a Christian in the next to a Biblical figure, in an attempt to justify support.

If our purpose is a higher calling of pursuing and promoting a godly agenda, we don’t wishcast about who we hope our leaders might be, but we lean on what Scripture teaches about leadership.

And we pray for them.

Vice President Pence, on the other hand, has planned to join the meetings, when it becomes feasible for him to do so.

In Pence, Drollinger sees many similarities to biblical figures like Joseph, Mordecai and Daniel – all men who rose to the number two position in governments at different times in history.

“Mike Pence has respect for the office. He dresses right – like it says Joseph cleaned himself up before he went to stand before the Pharaoh,” Drollinger told CBN News.

“Mike Pence has uncompromising biblical tenacity and he has a loving tone about him that’s not just a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal,” he continued. “And then fourthly, he brings real value to the head of the nation.”

Many are leaning on Pence to be the faith-filled leader in the dark corridors of Washington’s political elite. Time will tell.

For now, it should be a comfort to know that some of our leadership are taking the time to meet, study the Word, and presumably, to pray.

Proverbs 11:14 AMP “Where there is no [wise, intelligent] guidance, the people fall [and go off course like a ship without a helm], But in the abundance of [wise and godly] counselors there is victory.”

Image of Jesus Christ Left at Mosque Considered Offensive

Someone left an image of the crucified Jesus Christ outside a mosque in New York and now the police are investigating it as a possible “bias incident” (i.e. a hate crime).

There are a number of things which make this news story interesting.

First, the mere fact that an image of Jesus left at a mosque is considered a hate crime is indicative of the increasing hostility to Christ in this country.  The police do not know who left the image or why.  In fact, the people at the mosque have stated that they do not consider it offensive.  Instead, the self-appointed guardians of “fairness” and “inclusion” have decided that the image of Jesus Christ is offensive.

Second, it brings to the forefront that the religious differences between Islam and Christianity are centered on just who Jesus Christ is.  Indeed, Muslims consider Jesus to be a prophet (and therefore are not offended by the image left at the mosque).  A quote in the original article from the NY chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) states: “Bias may have motivated this incident, but it could serve as a teaching moment for the perpetrator and for the community if it leads to greater understanding of the love Muslims have for Jesus, peace be upon him.”

However, Christians believe that Jesus is more than a prophet.  He is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (cf. Matthew 16:13-20).  In fact, Christians believe that Christ is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, Holy Spirit.  He is the Word spoken by the Father in Genesis to create all things and who became flesh for our salvation (cf. John 1:1ff).  In contrast, Islam rejects the Trinity and the divine nature of Christ.

Third, have we regressed so far as a culture that images or ideas with which we may disagree cause us to invoke the police power of the state to remove these from our presence?  I know the answer is, sadly, “yes.”  If the state can force a person to perform work they don’t want to do (see the article about the Christian baker), then it also has the power to control speech and other forms of free expression.

Finally, at what point does the proclamation of the Christian Gospel itself become a “bias incident” and a hate crime?  Other countries are already headed down this path (e.g. Canadian and UK examples).  Will America follow?  Will the Church rise to the occasion to maintain the truth of its witness to God’s Word?

Star NFL QB Explains the Secret to His Successful Marriage: Jesus is the Foundation

Los Angeles (formally San Diego) Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is known for many things. Since taking over the reins as starting quarterback in 2006, Rivers has never missed a start, thrown at least 20 touchdowns a season, and passed for more than 4,000 yards in eight of the last nine. He is well on his way to being the greatest QB in Chargers history, and while his records and accolades are readily bandied about, less discussed is his unwavering commitment to his family and his strong connection to his faith. In a recent sit-down with Rock Church’s Pastor Miles McPherson (a former San Diego Charger himself), Rivers opened up about his Catholic upbringing and how his relationship with Christ informs every decision that he makes.

Watch the conversation below:

Read the full story at Faithwire.com.

Britain’s Liberal Democrat Party Leader Resigns Because Of His Christian Faith

It’s a statement we hear a lot coming from conservatives: “I don’t understand how a person can be a Christian and be a liberal.” Between remaining faithful to policies on abortion, transgenderism, and the size of government that fly in the face of Biblical beliefs and the general hostility toward faith on the Left, political liberalism is becoming increasingly less of a place for a Christian to feel at home.

The latest example has happened across the pond, where Tim Farron, once the leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrat Party, has stepped down from that position because he found it difficult to reconcile his party loyalty and his faith in Jesus Christ.

“The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader,” he said in a televised statement.

“To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.”

It’s easy to leave a party whose numbers in Parliament paled in comparison to the giant Tory and Labour parties, but Farron – whose record included support for gay rights and a pro-choice position on abortion – found himself repeatedly grilled about his Christian faith in television interviews, largely hounded about whether he thinks homosexuality is a sin. He addressed this treatment in his statement (including an admission that he hadn’t always handled himself well in those interviews).

“From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith. I’ve tried to answer with grace and patience. Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.”

He also said:

“I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in. In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.”

Part of the problem with Farron’s party is that its leader was forced to spend too much time in interviews debating the religiosity of his political positions. This wasn’t so much Farron’s fault as it is the fault of contemporary liberalism. The secular Left (a term which is becoming increasingly redundant) views faithful Christianity as something to be ignored at best and stamped out at worst.

Over at National Review, Michael Brendan Dougherty put it this way:

The entire elite culture and much of the popular culture is secular in a quite specific way. It is not a secularism that encourages public neutrality while maintaining a generous social pluralism. It’s a secularism that demands the humiliation of religion, specifically Christianity. And in Britain it has a decidedly classist flavor, one that holds it impossible for an Evangelical like Farron — one of those people — to represent the better sort of person.

In supremely secular Britain, Farron’s Christianity was seen as more of a freak show than a valid system of belief. It stood to reason that he would one day have to choose between his faith in Jesus Christ and his devotion to political party.

In a uniquely British way, Tim Farron was made to care. Good for him for choosing to care about the right things in life.

Bethlehem 90210

The Hollywood Reporter recently hosted a round-table discussion with six television showrunners on the current state of the business, and the pressures of cranking out a hit in this age of streaming and binge watching.  I love this kind of stuff, because I’ve long been fascinated with the process of creating television and even had the opportunity to pitch script ideas to Star Trek a lifetime ago.  The landscape has changed so much since then, however–and while there are more opportunities in scripted television available at any time in history, the competition for eyeballs is that much more intense.

So it only makes sense that in television, a medium in which the writer is truly king, boundaries are constantly being pushed.  Subjects that the networks wouldn’t have touched even five years ago are now routinely explored on HBO, FX, Netflix, Amazon Prime–outlets where they’re not worried about an FCC license, and can serve up all manner of content without having to worry about getting yanked off the air.  Of course, this situation also comes with a downside:  In an anvironment where the shocking becomes routine, how much to you have to ratchet up the controversy just to keep the viewer’s attention?

Enter Jenji Kohan, the creator of the popular Netflix women-in-prison show Orange is the New Black. The Hollywood Reporter asked the panelists about this subject, and here’s what happened:

Collectively, you’ve explored themes including harassment, rape, murder, racism, misogyny, mental illness, etc. When was the last time you were genuinely nervous to tackle a big subject?

KOHAN: I don’t get nervous about that, although we had to take terrorism insurance out …

[RYAN] MURPHY (Creator of American Horror Story):  Really?

KOHAN:  Yeah, we’re developing a teen Jesus project [for Netflix] that got some people nervous. It’s like The Wonder Years but with Jesus, and there are all sorts of things where we cross lines — and there are crazies out there. I remember Shonda [Rhimes] telling a story of people camping out outside her house when she killed McDreamy [on Grey’s Anatomy]. People get crazy because they bathe in these characters, and they take it personally.

So…  The Wonder Years.  But with a teenage Jesus.

As the Reverend Jim might have said, “Ohhhhhhhkey doke.”

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not dismissing outright what Kohan is trying to do here.  In fact, it’s quite possible that she’s approaching the subject matter respectfully, and using Scripture as the basis for Jesus as a character.  After all, there’s some fascinating stuff in there.  Jesus was the original rebel, and even as a teen was bucking the system.  It’s what God sent him to do, and in the end He literally changed the world.

Given what Kohan said about crossing lines, however, I have some serious doubts.  I’m guessing that, in a quest to be “edgy,” her Jesus character will probably be wrestling with issues of sex, drugs, popularity and whatever else she can dump on him from the litany of modern teen angst.  To top it off, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kohan made Mary a single mother and Joseph an absentee dad, and made one of Jesus’ brothers gay.  Hollywood is nothing if not consistent.

What really chaps my hide, though, is the idea that any of this is somehow risky or transgressive.  People like Kohan love to pat themselves on the back for their bravery–quite a feat, considering she works in a town where literally everyone around her thinks exactly the same way she does–but in reality, we’ve seen all of this before.  From Andres Serrano dropping a crucifix into a jar of urine and taking a picture of it, to Chris Ofili flinging poo like a drunken zoo monkey onto a portrait of the Virgin Mary, we Christians have had to put up with a lot of “artists” openly mocking our faith.  In fact, these days, it seems like the only kind of bigotry sanctioned by the popular culture is against white Christian men.  If Kohan wants to take a shot at us, she’ll have to get in line.

And this bit about having to take out terrorism insurance?  That one actually made me laugh.  Perhaps if Kohan was working on a screwball comedy about the Prophet Mohammed, she might have something to worry about.  But until she starts working on Big Love meets The Five Pillars of Islam, I don’t think she has much to worry about.

At any rate, unless Kohan wants to stick a little closer to the source material, I don’t think she’ll get many of Jesus’ biggest fans to watch her show–which would seem kind of silly, especially if the pressure is on for her to crank out another hit.  No matter what happens with the series, though, Christians will soldier on.  That’s because we’ll always have the book–and as everybody knows, the book is much better than the movie.