Are Catholics Christ’s Chosen People?

ST. GUINEFORT, A GREYOUND “VENERATED” BY FRENCH CATHOLICS DURING THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY, WAS A SUPPOSED PROTECTOR OF INFANTS.

ST. GUINEFORT, A GREYOUND “VENERATED” BY FRENCH CATHOLICS DURING THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY, WAS A SUPPOSED PROTECTOR OF INFANTS.

My Catholic in-laws get together one Saturday each month to break bread and to pray the rosary. They always invite me and my wife to join them – in hope, I suspect, that my wife will return to the Catholic faith of her youth and that her husband, a lifelong Protestant, will convert.

With the start of the new year, we decided we would attend the family’s very first montly gathering. And I very much enjoyed spending time with my in-laws.

But during the almost hour-long, ritualistic praying of the rosary, I never felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, with each “Hail Mary” recited that evening, a nagging question would come to mind.

And were I not wary of offending my in-laws, were I not concerned that I might put them on the defensive about their Catholic faith, I would have asked them, respectfully, the following questions:

Why do Catholics deify the Virgin Mary?

Catholics refer to Mary as, variously, the “Mother of God” and the “Queen of Heaven.”

The Church teaches that Mary was immaculately conceived, without the stain of original sin inherited from Adam and Eve. It also teaches that, at the end of life here on earth, Mary did not die, but was “assumed” – taken up into heaven by God.

Now, the Bible tells us that Jesus was immaculately conceived. It also tells us that Enoch and Elijah never knew death, but were taken up, alive, to heaven. But nowhere does the Bible mention Mary’s Immaculate Conception or Assumption.

The same goes for the Catholic notion that Mary is the “Queen of Heaven.” The Bible never refers to her as such.

The Gospel According to Luke tells us the angel Gabriel appeared before the Virgin Mary, telling her she was blessed among women and that the Lord was with her. But the angel of the Lord never told the handmaiden of God she was anything other than mortal; that she had any kind of otherworldly powers.

Moreover, her Son, Jesus, certainly didn’t suggest that His earthly mother should be exalted, as evidenced by a passage from the Gospel According to Matthew.

As the Lord Christ was addressing a multitude, His disciple, Matthew, recounted, “His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.” When the Lord was informed, He responded, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” Then He stretched His hand toward his disciples and said, pointedly, “Here are My mother and My brothers.”

So, it seems clear, the Lord never intended his followers to worship His earthly mother, Mary, like some sort of goddess.

Would Jesus approve of the rosary?

The Gospel According to Luke tells us that, “it came to pass, as Jesus was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John (the Baptist) also taught his disciples.’”

Jesus taught them what we know today as the “Lord’s Prayer.” He didn’t also teach them to recite the rosary while clutching prayer beads.

Moreover, the ritualistic recital of the rosary seems to this Protestant to be contrary to the Lord’s admonition against rote prayer.

Indeed, in the Gospel According to Matthew, the Lord cautioned his followers that, “when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think they will be heard for their many words.”

Then there’s the matter of praying in the name of Mary – rather than in Jesus’ name – for intercession with God.

That practice owes its origin to the Catholic “tradition” that the rosary was given to St. Dominic de Guzman, a Spanish priest, when the Virgin Mary miraculously appeared to him in 1214.

That was followed, in 1569, by a so-called “papal bull” issued by Pope Pius V, which officially established the Catholic Church’s devotion to the rosary.

Then, in 1883, Pope Leo XIII declared the Virgin Mary’s apparition to St. Dominic six centuries earlier not merely a Catholic “tradition,” but a historically established “fact.”

His Holiness also declared the rosary as the one – and only – road to God for the faithful: First to Mary, then through her to Christ, then through Christ to God.

But neither the declarations of Pope Leo XIII, the papal bull issued by Pope Pius V, or the Catholic “tradition” of St. Dominic comport with the Epistle to the Hebrews, which tells us “we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God,” who intercedes for us with the Father.

There is no Biblical mention of Mary being a great high priestess who intercedes for us with Jesus, who then intercedes for us with God.

Why do Catholics fail to observe the Second Commandment?

No one knows what became of the tablets Moses received on Mt.Sinai. But we know what God inscribed on those tablets – the Ten Commandments – because it is recorded in the Torah, which was written by Moses.

The Second Commandment declares: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness or any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.”

The early Catholic Church was faithful to the Second Commandment.

In 305, the Synod of Elvira pronounced, “Pictures are not to be placed in churches, so that they do not become objects of worship and adoration.” And in 730, Pope Leo III forbade the veneration of religious symbols, declaring it a “craft of idolatry.”

But that all changed in 842, when the Synod of Constantinople restored “icons” to the Catholic Church, going so far as to decree that the repudiation of the Second Commandment should be commemorated each year with a so-called “Feast of Orthodoxy.”

Twelve hundred years later, the worship and adoration of “icons,” the veneration of religious symbols, is endemic to the Catholic Church.

The Catholic faithful bow before statues of Mary; they kiss the feet of statues of Jesus. They cherish their graven images depicting Our Lady of Guadalupe (or Fatima or Lourdes) or the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

No less disturbing to this Protestant are the medals bearing the likenesses of dead “patron saints”  to whom the Catholic faithful pray for heavenly intercession. That includes the well-known St. Jude, supposed patron of hopeless causes, and St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers.

It also includes the not-so-well-known St. Martin de Porres, patron of hairdressers, St. Fiacre, patron of cab drivers, St. Bernardine of Siena, patron of gamblers, and St. Nicholas, patron of pawnbrokers.

And even Catholics are embarrassed about St. Guinefort, a greyhound “venerated” by French Catholics during the thirteenth century, which was a supposed protector of infants. The cult of the so-called “dog saint” reportedly lasted all the way up until the 1930s.

Has the Vatican succumbed to the influence of the evil one?

In the Gospel According to Matthew, Christ warned his followers to beware of deceivers, who appear pious, but are spiritually corrupt.

“You will know them by their fruits,” He advised. “Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.”

So what does that say about the Holy Roman Catholic Church, which has been beset by scandal?

Father Gabriele Amorth, who has been the Holy See’s chief exorcist (that’s right) for the past three decades, has gone so far as to declare, “The Devil resides in the Vatican and you can see the consequences.”

The influence of the evil one at the highest levels of the Catholic hierarchy, he told the Telegraph newspaper, is evident by the legion of “cardinals who do not believe in Jesus and bishops who are linked to the demon.”

Father Gabriele also attributed the epidemic “violence and pedophilia” committed by Catholic priests to the work of the Devil.

Pope Francis actually addressed himself this month to the Catholic priest scandal. “Are we all ashamed of those scandals, of those failings of priests, bishops, laity?” he asked.

The pontiff suggested that the Catholic Church, itself, bears no blame; that the stain resides with the individual priests guilty of molesting children, who, he explained, “did not have a relationship with God.”

Meanwhile, in the same week in which Pope Francis delivered his homily, disassociating himself with “corrupt priests,” he inexplicably granted a private audience to Cardinal Roger Mahony, the retired Los Angeles prelate, who covered up hundreds of sex crimes committed by clerics in his diocese. Mahony actualy boasted about it on his blog.

Those corrupt priests, and the cardinal who concealed their crimes, are bad fruit. And the tree that bore them, every one, is the Catholic Church.

Do Catholics consider Protestants their brothers and sisters in Christ?

I understand there is still vestigial resentment of Martin Luther within the Catholic Church, nearly 500 years after the Augustinian friar nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, Germany, setting in motion the Protestant Reformation.

Today, the official view of the Vatican, which was affirmed in 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI, is that the 800 million of us worldwide that are Protestants do not belong to true “churches,” but to inferior “ecclesiastical communities.”

Some Catholic “traditionalists” are even blunter, like Marian Horvat, a columnist for the Daily Catholic.

“Every time I hear the term Christian used for Protestants, I cringe,” she wrote. “Its usage clearly nourishes a trend toward a dangerous religious indifferentism, which denies the duty of man to worship God by believing and practicing the one true Catholic Religion.”

When I reflect upon Pope Benedict’s pronouncement, when I consider the dogmatism of Catholic traditionalists like Horvat (and like my in-laws, I’m afraid), I’m reminded of the incident at Antioch, which is recounted in the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians.

“When Peter came to Antioch,” Paul wrote, “I opposed him to his face, because he was to be blamed.”

That’s because, “before certain men came from James,” leader of the nascent Christian church in Jerusalem, Peter “would eat with the Gentiles.”

But when the Jerusalem delegation arrived in Antioch, “Peter withdrew and separated himself,” fearing condemnation from the Jerusalem Church for associating with Gentile Christians, who did not observe Jewish law, nor follow Jewish tradition.

Is not the Catholic Church today like the Jerusalem church of two thousand years ago, looking askance upon non-Catholic Christians that do not observe its dictates, nor follow its traditions?

The Holy See should be reminded of the Council of Jerusalem, which is recounted in the Acts of the Apostles.

Tacitly conceding his hypocrisy in the incident at Antioch, Peter rose up and addressed the gathering of apostles and elders on the matter of whether Gentiles had to convert to Judaism as a condition of becoming Christians.

“God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them (Gentiles),” said Peter, “by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”

And so it is that God has acknowledged those of us who are Protestants by giving us the Holy Spirit and purifying our hearts by faith. In so doing, He confirmed that we are members of the Body of Christ and full heirs to the Kingdom.

The Christmas Carol For the Christian Right

'THE WRONG SHALL FAIL, THE RIGHT PREVAIL, WITH PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD-WILL TO MEN.'

‘THE WRONG SHALL FAIL, THE RIGHT PREVAIL, WITH PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD-WILL TO MEN.’

Exactly 150 years ago this Christmas Day, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem “Christmas Bells.” It would later provide the lyrics for  the familiar carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

Most of those who love the song – which has been recorded by arists ranging from Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Kate Smith to Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Ann Margaret – know little about its backstory.

Indeed, the lyrics actually were written by Longfellow during a time of despair.

The poet had learned that his first-born son, Charles, a lieutenant in the Union Army during the Civil War, was severely wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church in Paulding County, Georgia.

That heartbreaking news arrived while Longfellow was still grieving the loss of his beloved wife, Fanny, who died from burns she sustained in a fire in their Cambridge, Massachusetts home.

Longfellow’s melancholia over his family tragedies and his sorrow over the deaths of so many of America’s sons during the Civil War came across in the penultimate stanza of “Christmas Bells”:

And in despair I bowed my head;/“There is no peace on earth,” I said;/“For hate is strong,/And mocks the song/Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

But Longfellow does not leave it there. The poet appears to have suddenly been filled with the Holy Spirit. For in his final stanza he proclaims:

Then peeled the bells more loud and deep:/“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;/The wrong shall fail,/The Right prevail,/With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

This has been for those of us who are Christ followers a most trying year. Our traditional, Bible-based values have been under assault on many fronts.

The atheists mock our faith this Christmas with 52 billboards in the state capital of California that tell us our God is a fairy tale. A cable channel bows to pressure from a homosexual activist group and suspends the God-fearing star of its most-popular series for daring to speak the truth. And the supposed leader of the free world says nothing as Christians are persecuted throughout the Muslim world.

But as Longfellow wrote 150 years ago today, God is not dead. Nor is He asleep. The unGodly element in this country ultimately will fail. And the Right will prevail, by God.

Is Social Liberalism Compatible With Christianity?

THE CHRONICLE OF PHILANTHROPY CONFIRMS THAT THERE ARE NONE MORE GENEROUS TO THE NEEDY THAN CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES.

THE CHRONICLE OF PHILANTHROPY CONFIRMS THAT THERE ARE NONE MORE GENEROUS TO THE NEEDY THAN CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES.

Karen Owen, a writer for the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Virginia, authored a recent column in which she sneered that “the term Christian conservative” is “an oxymoron.”

How, she asked, “can we call ourselves – and practically insist that we are – a Christian nation when we seemingly ignore so many teachings of Christ?”

So what examples does she cite to make her dubious case?

Well, there’s the decision by greeting card giant Hallmark to alter the lyrics of “Deck the Halls” on a Christmas ornament from “don we now our gay apparel” to “don we now our fun apparel.”

“Why aren’t we bothered,” asked Owen, “by the insult to a subset of the U.S. population?”

Well, maybe it’s because “gay” has a different meaning in 2013 than it did in 1862 when Thomas Oliphant’s original English lyrics were published. Also, Hallmark hardly can be considered “homophobic” when it sells gay wedding and gay Valentine’s Day cards.

Owen also claims that Christian conservatives “actively despise” the “down on their luck,” the “mentally ill” and the “substance abuser.”

Those canards do not stand up to scrutiny.  

Indeed, a recent study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy found that states in which residents are most generous to the needful are overwhelmingly red states populated by God-fearing folk, most of whom are Christian conservatives.

Another study, sponsored by the UCLA/Rand Research Center on Managed Care for Psychiatric Disorders, found that “faith-based providers are the only source of care for some persons with mental disorders.” That is, the mentally ill residing in “low-income, ethnically diverse communities.”

And as to substance abusers, there is no more effective program for treating alcohol or drug dependency than Celebrate Recovery, which was launched 20 years ago at Saddleback Church in Southern California and which has since been adopted by 20,000 other churches.

Then there’s Owen’s suggestion that Christian conservatives “have no problem with poor people or the uninsured dying rather than receiving quality medical care.”

She obviously hasn’t heard of Methodist Healthcare in Memphis, the largest provider of medical care for the Volunteer State’s poor, often for no pay. Nor Texas Health Resources, a faith-based nonprofit that is the largest health care provider in North Texas.

Nor the many other faith-based health care systems around the country – most guided by Christian conservative principles – that provide most of the uncompensated indigent care in this country.

Owen suggested she learned compassion “as a little girl attending Sunday school at the family Presbyterian church.” But her grown-up view of compassion has been corrupted by her doctrinaire social liberalism.

Indeed, the column writer suggested Christ would look favorably upon homosexuality. But as the Lord declared, when God created humankind, He “made them male and female.” If the Almighty was okay with gay couplings, He could have given Adam a boyfriend. But He did not.

As to the needful, Owen places her faith in the welfare state to feed the hungry, to provide drink to the thirsty, to shelter the stranger, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick and to rehabilitate the prisoner.

But those of us who are Christian conservatives know that faith-based organizations do a much better job than government in ministering to the least of those in our communities.

For instance, the government proffers food stamps. But faith-based organizations – like Second Harvest – not only provide food and drink but also the Good News of Jesus Christ, who promised: “I am the bread of Life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

Finally, Owen agrees with other disciples of social liberalism who maintain that Christ would support Obamacare.

But there’s no way the Lord would give His blessing to government-mandated contraceptives for the unmarried, tacitly condoning sexual promiscuity. Nor would He condone taxpayer-funded abortions under Obamacare.

Owen’s brand of Christianity is amoral and soulless. But because of her socially liberal world view,  she’s too blind to see it.

Dear Christians, We Hate You. Sincerely, Atheists

JUDY SAINT, DIRECTOR OF THE NEWLY FORMED SACRAMENTO CHAPTER OF THE ATHIEST FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION SUGGESTS THAT SHE AND HER NEW 'WIFE' ARE MORAL EXEMPLARS.

JUDY SAINT FEATURED WITH HER SAME-SEX WIFE KATHY IN A BILLBOARD SPONOSRED BY THE SO-CALLED FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION, AN ATHEIST HATE GROUP. 

Imagine if an activist group blanketed a major city with 55 billboards urging that illegal aliens go back to their own country. Or that homosexuality is a crime against nature. Or that Muslims are responsible for most of the world’s terrorist attacks.

The mainstream media would be all over the story. Organizations – like La Raza, like  GLAAD, like CAIR – would organize protests. President Obama would publicly condemn the billboards (while defending illegals, homosexuals and Islam). And the sponsors of the billboards would be branded a “hate group.”

Yet, there has been little outrage over the 55 billboards that started going up last week in Sacramento, California that mock Christians, that blaspheme God. They are sponsored by the so-called Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist organization based in Madison, Wisconsin that truly is a hate group.

“I don’t believe in Odin, either,” sneers one billboard. “Studying the bible made me an atheist,” disparages another. “Without god I am full of love,” declares still another.

Yet, Judy Saint, director of FFRF’s newly formed Sacramento chapter, insists that the 55 billboards are not anti-Christian, not anti-God. They just thought it would be a good way to encourage atheists on the down low to “come out of the closet”

“There are thousands of us here,” she said, “and we are reaching out to them because it’s such a maligned minority. If the message at all is to believers, it would be that we are good moral people, too.”

But, by her own words, Saint reveals the nefariousness of the atheist movement in this country.

She suggests that atheists are an unfairly maligned minority. But if the noisome atheist community – which constitutes less than 1 percent of the U.S. population – is maligned, it’s because of their attacks on Christians by in-your-face atheist groups like FFRF.

Indeed, not only are the atheists putting up 55 billboards that bash the religious faith of more than three-quarters of Americans, they have deliberately chosen to do so during the Christmas season, defecating on a holy day on which Christians celebrate the birth of Christ the Lord.

Saint also claims that she and her fellow atheists are both “good” and “moral.”

But there is no good in the atheists’ (un)holy war against Christianity, using billboards as their weapon of attack. And there is no morality in the atheist community’s endorsement of such practices as same-sex marriage.

Indeed, one of FFRF’s 55 billboards features Saint, the atheist hate group’s Sacramento front woman, and her wife with the message:  “Reason. Equality. Doing Good – All without gods.”

That’s the arrogance of atheists that they inherited from their father, the devil. They think that “doing good” means they are good. But the Bible advises that their good works, whatever they might be, “are as filthy rags” before the Almighty.

The Word of God also  tell us, everyone, “There is none righteous, no not one.”

The difference between unrighteous Christians and unrighteous atheists is that Christians are born again; their sins covered by the blood of Christ. Atheists, on the other hand reject Christ, and shake their fist at God.

And for their unrepentant, unforgiven sin, the unGodly will spend their existence beyond this fallen world  in everlasting torment.

Honor God – Not Mammon – On Thanksgiving

FOR MUCH OF THIS NATION'S HISTORY, THANKSGIVING WAS ABOUT GOD AND FAMILY, NOT ABOUT SHOPPING.

FOR MUCH OF THIS NATION’S HISTORY, THANKSGIVING WAS ABOUT GOD AND FAMILY, NOT ABOUT SHOPPING.

There was a time in this nation’s history when merchants had proper respect for Thanksgiving, a holy day our Founding Fathers set aside “to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor,” as President George Washington proclaimed in 1789.

Until 1939, merchants dared not even kickoff the end of year shopping season until well after Thanksgiving for fear they would be accused of defiling a day sacred to the nation’s Christian faithful.

Not until 1939 would merchants totally commercialize the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Indeed, they wouldn’t even advertise the shopping season – reminding Americans how many days left until Christmas – until after Thanksgiving Day, for fear of accusations of defiling a holy day for the nation’s Christian faithful.

The change occurred when Fred Lazurus Jr., founder of Federated Department Stores, the forerunner of Macy’s, successfully lobbied President Franklin Roosevelt to move Thanksgiving up a week to give the nation’s retailers more time to peddle their dry goods before Christmas.

By the early 1960s, the day after Thanksgiving came to be known as “Black Friday,” the unofficial start of the profanely secularist holiday shopping season; during which Mammon is worshipped, and Jesus Christ, the reason for the season, is an afterthought to the retail money changers.

Now, in 2013, merchants aren’t even waiting until Black Friday to get the holiday selling and buying started. Their doors will be open, their cash registers ringing this upcoming Thursday, which, as Abraham Lincoln said in 1863, should be “set apart” as a day of  “Thanksgiving and praise for our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

What particularly outrages are the buckraking retailers who dare to suggest they are performing some sort of public service by opening on Thanksgiving.

“As part of our commitment to helping parents fulfill kids’ wishes as they check off the items on their lists, we’re providing a unique opportunity for Rewards ‘R’ Us members to snap up a selection of Thanksgiving Weekend deals one day early,” said Peter Reiner, Senior Vice President for Toys ‘R’ Us.

“This year, we’re adding to the anticipation and excitement around Black Friday shopping with a sweepstakes that could change an Old Navy’s shopper’s life overnight,” said Stefan Larsson, Old Navy Global President, promising that one lucky shopper will become an “Overnight Millionaire.”

“Wal-Mart associates are really excited to work that day,” said Mac Naughton, Executive Vice President of Walmart.

What’s noteworthy about the remarks by Reiner, Larrson and Naughton that not one of them explicitly stated that their stores would be open on Thanksgiving Day.

Reiner said Rewards ‘R’ Us parents would be able snatch up a selection of toys for their kids “one day early,” which means one day before Black Friday, which means Thanksgiving Day.

Larsson mentioned added “anticipation and excitement around Black Friday shopping.” But to take part in that Black Friday sweepstakes, a shopper has to pass through the doors of an Old Navy store on Thanksgiving Day.

And Naughton maintained that Wal-Mart rank-and-file are “really excited to work that day.” But that day is Thanksgiving and it’s hard to believe that the mass of Wal-Mart employees would prefer to be at work than spending the holy day with their families.

And those are not the only retailers, not the only company execs, determined to secularize Thanksgiving; to removing God from the holy day.

Fred Lazurus Jr.’s old company, Macy’s, will be open Thanksgiving. As will Best Buy, Target, Kmart, J.C. Penney, Hollister, H&M, Forever 21, American Eagle, Kohl’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and who knows how many other unGodly retailers.

That represents a test to those of us who share the faith of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln: Will we honor Almighty God, our beneficent Father, on Thanksgiving?  Or will we worship in the latter day temples of Mammon?

Let us be informed by the words of the Lord God: “Those who honor Me I will honor, but those who despise Me will be disdained.”

Is There an ‘A-List’ in Heaven?

EYE HAS NOT SEEN, NOR EAR HEARD, NOR HAVE ENTERED INTO THE HEART OF MAN, THE THINGS GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.

EYE HAS NOT SEEN, NOR EAR HEARD, NOR HAVE ENTERED INTO THE HEART OF MAN, THE THINGS GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.

In a letter to newly planted churches in the Roman provinces of Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia and Asia, the Apostle Paul explained how lost souls might receive the gift of God, which is eternal life through Jesus Christ.

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

Many, if not most, of us have received the gift of salvation; have the promise of everlasting life.

We look forward to heaven, which the Book of Revelation describes as having twelve gates of pearl and streets of pure gold.

We can hardly wait to take residence in the mansions that, according to the Gospel of John, the Lord Jesus has prepared before us.

But many, if not most, of us will find heaven very much different than we are expecting. We mistakenly believe heaven will be egalitarian; that all who are saved will enjoy the same standing in the hereafter.

But that’s not what the Word of God teaches. It promises us – it warns us – that heaven is a meritocracy.

That, while our salvation guarantees us a place in heaven, our works on this side of eternity determine what exactly that place will be in the hereafter.

Indeed, the Lord declared, “I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”

The Book of Matthew tells us the Son of Man will sit on the throne of His glory. That before Him all the nations will gather. That He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

That He well set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on His left. That those on His right hand will inherit the kingdom prepared for them. And that He will say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, you cursed.”

Those of us who are saved are the Lord’s sheep. An inheritance awaits us, everyone. But everyone does not have the same inheritance awaiting.

For some devote their lives to being good and faithful servants. To standing in the gap for the Lord. To fulfilling the Great Commission. To fighting a good fight, finishing the course set before them, and keeping the faith. To suffering persecution in the name of the Lord, even unto death.

There is laid up for those saints crowns of righteousness. They are on heaven’s A-list.

And it is written, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Those who truly love Him are those who let their light so shine before men, that they might see their good works, and glorify the Father which is in heaven.

As to those of us who do not lead such a purpose-driven life, who do not labor in the Lord’s harvest fields bringing the lost to Christ, who do not feed the hungry, offer drink to the thirsty, take in the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and minister to the prisoner, there is a place prepared for us, too, in eternity.

But let us not delude ourselves that we can do little or nothing in service to the Lord and enjoy the same rewards earned by such great men (and women) of God as Abraham, Moses, David and Esther or John the Baptist, the Virgin Mary, the Apostle Paul  and St. Peter.       

Papias of Hierapolis, who authored five books on Christian oral tradition, who said he received the sayings of the apostles from those who accompanied them, taught that “there is this distinction between the habitation of those who produce an hundred-fold, and that of those who produce sixty-fold, and that of those who produce thirty-fold.”

The first, wrote Papias, “will be taken up into the heavens.” The second, “will dwell in Paradise.” The last “will inhabit the city.” Everywhere, he explained, “the Savior will be seen, according as they shall be worthy who see Him.”

Salvation earns us a place in the city, with its “splendor” beyond anything we have seen or experienced in this fallen world.

But more is required of those who will spend eternity in paradise, with the “delights” far beyond the splendor of the city. And much more is required to be “deemed worthy of an abode in heaven,” where God, the Father, sits on His throne, and His Son, Christ the Lord, sits on His right hand

That’s why the Lord, Himself, advised us, encouraged us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy,” but “store up treasure in heaven,” where our good works will be eternally rewarded.

Really? The Gospel According to Britney Spears?

CREATORS OF NEW MUSICAL DESCRIBE AS THE “BRITNEY SPEARS AND JESUS CHRIST MASH-UP.”

THE CREATOR OF A CONTROVERSIAL NEW MUSICAL DESCRIBES IT  AS  THE “BRITNEY SPEARS AND JESUS CHRIST MASH-UP.”

Patrick Blute is no Andrew Lloyd Webber. 

Webber was 23-years old when he famously staged the rock musical “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which debuted on Broadway in 1971. Blute, a 23-year-old ColumbiaUniversity grad, is the creator of  “Spears The Musical – The Gospel According to Britney,” for which there is a funders preview this week.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” was fairly faithful to the Gospel account of the last week in the earthly life of Christ before He went to be with the Father. It featured such notable songs as “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” “Gethsemane,” and, of course, “Superstar,”with music by Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice.

‘The Gospel According Britney,’ on the other hand, is Blute’s twisted account of the greatest story ever told, which he conveys through the songs of Spears, including ‘Stronger,’ Crazy,’ ‘Lucky,’ and ‘One More Time.’

“These are Britney’s lyrics,” said Blute. “These are Britney’s lyrics. The Britney Spears you see is not Britney Spears. The Jesus Christ you read is no Jesus Christ. These are manifestations. Accounts through the media, through the words of followers, of friends, of foes, of villains, of heroes, of liars, of biases.’

Say what?

The tell-tale word Blute uses is “‘biases.”  The native of San Francisco – Sodom on the Pacific – perceives those of us who hold fast to traditional Christian values – like the sanctity of life and marriage strictly between man and woman – as foes. We are villains. We are liars. We are biased.

Blute prefers his own version of the Gospel, where anything goes, no matter how unGodly; where all are automatically absolved of sins – without confession, without repentance – by “the power of forgiveness.”

That’s not the Gospel to which true Christ followers subscribe, who are informed by the words of the Apostle Paul: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Blute is an idol worshipper who has made Britney his personal Jesus, like all too many of her 33.6 million Twitter followers.

He no doubt hopes his bizarre, sacrilegious tribute to Britney will somehow endear him to the pop star – because she is gay friendly. But he may very well find that just the opposite occurs – not the least because Blute has appropriated his idol’s copyrighted music without permission or payment.

And young Miss Spears may also be offended that Blute has used her work to mock the Gospel she grew up with as a Southern Baptist. For while she may have fallen away in recent years from the faith of her youth, the Holy Spirit still resides within her.

Yet Another So-Called Reality Show Mocks Christians

PASTOR JAY HAIZLIF AND WIFE CHRISTY GO HOLLYWOOD AT THE PREMIERE OF 'PASTORS OF L.A..'

PASTOR JAY HAIZLIF AND WIFE CHRISTY GO HOLLYWOOD AT THE PREMIERE OF ‘PASTORS OF L.A..’

First came “The Sisterhood,” a supposed Christian reality show, which debuted this past January on TLC network. It was advertised as “a candid look into the lives” of five Atlanta preachers’ wives who “aren’t your typical church ladies,” TLC teased.

Indeed, these pastors’ wives were very much in touch with their sexuality, as they explored such topics as pornography and masturbation. They also “kept it real” when talking about getting high, with one of the wives telling her fellow “first ladies” about her crack smoking. And they burnished their “street cred” by getting tatted up.

Then came “Preachers’ Daughters,” another supposed Christian reality show, which launched on Lifetime TV this past March. “God made the world in seven days,” said a promo. “Moses parted the Red Sea. But if these preachers can control their teen-age daughters, it would really be a miracle.”

That included Taylor, the rebellious teen-age daughter of a Lockport, Illinois pastor. She’d sneak out the house, make out with boys and yield to who knows to what other temptations. Indeed, she confessed, “My alter ego kind of wants to be a porn star.”

Now we have yet another supposed Christian reality show on cable – “Preachers of L.A.,” which premiered this month on Oxygen.

It offers “a rare glimpse into the lives of six high-profile pastors from Los Angeles,” who are “Living the God Life,” according to Oxygen, which apparently includes multi-million dollar homes, private jets, luxury cars, designer clothes and expensive jewelry.

“P. Diddy, Jay-Z. They’re not the only ones who should be driving Ferraris and living in nice houses,” says Bishop Ron Gibson, pastor of Life Church of God in Christ in Riverside, California (not L.A.), purveyor of the so-called “prosperity gospel.”

Then there’s Minister Deitrick Haddon, who pastored a Detroit church before moving to L.A. to further his career as a gospel singer. In 2012, Haddon parted ways with his wife of nearly 15 years, Damita, amid rumors of adultery, which were confirmed when the pastor’s mistress gave birth to their love child.

“I met this young woman, Dominique, and I fell in love with her,” Minister Dietrick explained on the first episode of “Preachers of L.A.”

When he found out he had gotten his mistress pregnant, the pastor remembers thinking, “Oh my God, my career is over.” He knew, he said, “it was going to look scandalous because I have a young lady pregnant out of wedlock when my divorce is not final.”

Yet, that didn’t stop Minister Dietrick from performing a “comeback” concert on Oxygen’s surreal Christian reality show.

And none of Hadden’s fellow “Pastors of L.A.” was more willing to overlook his lust of the eyes, lust of flesh and pride of life than Pastor Jay Haizlip, spiritual leader of the Sanctuary Church in Huntington Beach, California (not L.A.), who enjoyed the concert with his wife Christy.

“I loved how they were just crunking up there,” said Christy, getting her groove on. “It was just phenomenal.”

We’ll have to wait until a future episode to see what Pastor Jay and wife Christy think of Minister Dietrich’s nude “selfie,” which was released last week by yet another woman of ill repute who enabled the minister’s serial adultery.

Meanwhile, Pastor Jay’s ministry has issues of its own. In a recent episode of “Preachers of L.A.,” he’s approached by a former church member, April, who has undergone a sex change operation since he last saw her. 

Pastor Jay didn’t  want to tell her straight up that she has committed an abomination in the eyes of God and that she should pray for forgiveness. So, instead, he asks the transsexual how he can help. And the former April responds, “You can call me David,” to which Pastor Jay, no stand up man of God, all too willingly acquiesced.

The execs at TLC, Lifetime and Oxygen who green-lighted, respectively, “The Sisterhood,” “Preachers’ Daughters” and “Preachers’ of L.A.” are insidious, maintaining that the intention they had in airing those reality shows – which most Christ followers almost certainly would find outrageous – was only to entertain their viewers.

But their real motive is to mock Christianity by portraying as somehow representative of the faith high-living preachers, oversexed, drug-abusing, tatted up preachers’ wives, hell-raising preachers’ kids, and gender-confused church members.

What if ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’ is Wrong?

'THE LAST JUDGMENT,' BY MICHELANGELO, ON THE ALTAR WALL OF THE SISTINE CHAPEL.

‘THE LAST JUDGMENT,’ BY MICHELANGELO, ON THE ALTAR WALL OF THE SISTINE CHAPEL.

Once upon a time, Groucho Marx hosted the popular game show, “You Bet Your Life.” At the start of the show, a “secret word” was revealed to the studio audience. If a contestant said the word during the course of the show, a reward would descend from the rafters (a one hundred dollar bill).

Whether we know it or not, we are all, Christians and non-Christians alike, contestants in the spiritual equivalent of “You Bet Your Life.” If we bet wisely, our reward is eternal life. But if we bet foolishly, we condemn ourselves to eternal damnation.

That brings to mind Pascal’s Wager, credited to the seventeenth-century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal. He famously posited that every human being bets his or her life on whether or not God exists.

“Let us,” he wrote, “weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.”

To put this in terms to which most of us can relate, even if the odds of God’s existence are, say, 1 in 175 million – the odds of winning Powerball on a single ticket – it is worth the wager.

Because, if we have bet on God, and God does not exist, we lose nothing. That is, save for indulging in certain behavior proscribed by God, including sexual promiscuity, idol worship, adultery, homosexuality (and other sexual perversions), thievery, greed, substance abuse, slander and robbery.

But if we bet against the Almighty, and indeed He does exist, we shall be cast into the lake of fire, eternally separated from God. We shall be condemned to place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Where we will be burned with unquenchable fire.  Where we will be tormented day and night forever and forever.

Most of us are rational. So we heed Pascal’s advice.

Even if we are uncertain there is a God, we hedge our bet. We respond to an altar call at some point in our lives. We say we accept Jesus as our personal Savior. We get baptized.

In so doing, we believe we have ensured our eternal security. We believe that, because we went through the ritual of being “saved,” we have a lifetime “Get Out of Hell Free” card. And that we can live our lives as it pleases us – not God – with impunity.

But what if we are wrong? What if this doctrine of “Once Saved, Always Saved,” espoused by many Godly pastors, preached in many purpose-driven churches, is errant? What if it actually is possible for us to forfeit our eternal salvation, to condemn ourselves to hell, by living brazenly and unrepentantly in defiance of God’s law?

That presents a corollary to Pascal’s wager, one that has not been considered by those who profess themselves Christ followers, but who are not truly leading a Christian life.

Let us call this corollary the Salvation wager, in which we weigh the gain and loss in betting on “Once Saved, Always Saved.”

Those who reject the doctrine, who believe those of us whom the Son sets free, must go and sin no more, must faithfully strive to live in obedience to God, have everything to gain if the doctrine is wrong and nothing to lose if the doctrine is right.

But those who subscribe to the doctrine, who believe that, having been saved, they can commit any and all manner of sin and it doesn’t matter in the eternal scheme of things, have hell to pay if they are wrong.

So what might Pascal advise?

That even if it’s more likely that once a person is saved, there is absolutely nothing they can do to lose their salvation, and that even if the odds are, say, 175 million to 1 that the widely-accepted doctrine of “Once Saved, Always Saved” is right rather than wrong, it still is wise to bet against the doctrine.

Because there are many who claim themselves Christians, who think their names have been written in the book of life, who will appear before the great white throne of judgment, who will find themselves sinners in the hands of an angry God.

They will look to Jesus and say, “Lord, Lord,” hoping He will spare them from punishment. But He will declare to them, “I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice wickedness.”

That’s a warning to those abiding unabashedly and unrepentantly in sin. They have bet their lives on “Once Saved, Always Saved.” And if they are wrong, eternal torment awaits.

Nobel-Winning Physicist Rebukes Atheist Extremists

PETER HIGGS, CO-RECIPIENT OF THE 2013 NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS, DEVELOPED THEORY FOR THE SO-CALLED ‘HIGGS BOSON,’ WHICH IS BETTER KNOWN AS ‘THE GOD PARTICLE.’

PETER HIGGS, CO-RECIPIENT OF THE 2013 NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS, DEVELOPED THEORY FOR THE SO-CALLED ‘HIGGS BOSON,’ WHICH IS BETTER KNOWN AS ‘THE GOD PARTICLE.’

The atheist community hailed last year’s scientific confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson, for which the British theoretical physicist Peter Higgs was co-recipient this past week of the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Higgs had theorized, all the way back in 1964, that there must be something that gives subatomic particles their mass, which enables them to form atoms, which, in turn, form molecules, all of which is integral to creation as we know it.

That something turned out to be the Higgs boson.

And its discovery, declared Dan Barker, co-president of the so-called Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist hate group, based in Madison, Wisconsin, “gives God one less place to hide.”

Barker and his fellow unbelievers would like to worship Higgs like, say, they worship Charles Darwin, who wrote the book of evolution. Not the least because Higgs, the 84-year-old physicist, has publicly stated that he does not believe in God.

Yet, Higgs has nothing but contempt for in-your-face atheists like Barker, as fellow atheist Richard Dawkins, the British evolutionary biologist found out last year when the physicist ripped him in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

The Dawkins approach to promoting his atheist views, which are emulated by Barker on this side of the Atlantic, are “embarrassing,” said Higgs. He noted that Dawkins concentrates his attacks on those he deems religious “fundamentalists.” But, said Higgs, “Dawkins, in a way, is almost fundamentalist himself, of a different kind.”

And while Barker sneeringly suggested that confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson undermines the idea of a “hypothesized intelligent designer holding the universe together,” that’s not how Higgs sees it.

“The growth of our understanding of the world through science weakens some of the motivation which makes people believers,” said Higgs. “But that’s not the same thing as saying they’re incompatible.”

Indeed, he said, “Anybody who is a convinced, but not a dogmatic believer, can continue to hold his belief. It means, I think, you have to be rather more careful about the whole debate between science and religion than some people have been in the past.”

Higgs noted that a lot of scientists in his field actually are religious believers. And while he doesn’t happen to be one of them, as Dawkins and Barker and their fellow atheists have pointed out, repeatedly, the physicist himself said “that’s just more a matter of my family background than that there’s any fundamental difficulty about reconciling the two.”

The irony in the discovery of the Higgs boson, long regarded as “the most sought after particle in modern physics,” is that it is more famously known as “The God Particle,” which it was dubbed in a 1993 book authored by Leon Lederman, a Nobel-winning physicist in his own right.

Lederman title wasn’t meant to pay homage to the Almighty, but to suggest that creation as we know it just happened on its own.

That the name Lederman facetiously created for the Higgs boson has actually brought more glory to the Lord – without Whom neither Higgs nor his boson would exist – only goes to prove that, truly, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world,” like snarky book titles, “to put to shame the wise.”

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