The Evangelical Counter-Reformation
I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen. –Martin Luther
Christianity, salvaged by God after centuries of suppression by the hands of Rome, through the great men of the Protestant Reformation, has always been under attack by those who deny Christ. Those great men of faith have been persecuted, and even martyred countless times for defending what they so strongly believed in. In an extravagant display of hatred, John Wycliffe’s bones were dug up forty years after he died, and burned for translating the Bible into English and speaking out against the Papacy. Martin Luther, a monk who nailed the 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg, was excommunicated from the church. William Tyndale, who also famously translated Bibles into English though it were illegal, remained faithful until his strangling death, and body burned by the King of England. Thousands upon thousands of Protestants gave their lives during the Reformation era, and against all odds, through all of the persecution, and against the evils of the Roman Catholic Church, Christianity prevailed.
For several centuries, Biblical Christianity’s influence grew enormously, while the influence of the Papacy dwindled. Though still a forceful presence throughout the world, Roman Catholicism stood in stark contrast to Protestantism, and the differences between them were clear. The reformation produced some of the greatest theologians and preachers of all time. John Calvin, best known for his theological works regarding the doctrines of grace, was very outspoken against the works-based doctrines of Rome. There was the Puritan, Thomas Watson and later there was Charles Spurgeon, and so on. There was no confusing Catholicism with Protestant Christianity–the doctrinal divide was clear.
But this time of biblical enlightenment didn’t come without it’s price. The Catholic Church launched a counter-reformation, in which Protestants were declared “anathema” for their beliefs. From the counter-reformation came the Council of Trent, in which many changes were implemented in the RC Church, and sprung many new religious orders, many who reported directly to the Pope. The most notorious, and well-misunderstood of these religious orders is the Jesuits. The Jesuits would silently infiltrate society, and even Protestant Churches, set with the ultimate task of bringing all Protestants back under the authority of the Papacy. For many centuries, this was a tough sell. With the iniquities of the Roman Catholic Church, the slaughter of innocent peoples, and the outrageous doctrinal claims made by the organization, there were too just too many faithful preachers preaching against Rome’s heresies–until recently.
Enter the modern Evangelical Church.
If you ask the average Evangelical church-goer today what the difference is between Protestantism and Catholicism, you’re likely to get a variety of answers. Some will tell you that Catholics believe in a works salvation, but many won’t really understand what that means. Others may tell you that Catholics worship Mary and Protestants don’t. But the overwhelming majority are likely to have no idea what the difference is, and this is rather disturbing. While many of these people will be able to articulate the Gospel, Catholicism is quickly becoming seen as “just another denomination,” with some strange twists. They are no longer being seen as the counterfeit Church, the ancient enemy of the Gospel that the reformers fought so hard and gave their lives to expose and separate from. The muddying of these waters is not unaccounted for, however, and it comes as no surprise, since today we have so many Evangelicals afraid to speak out against Rome, and fornicating with her in many ways.
Take heed that no man deceive you. … And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. …For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. – Matthew 24:4,11,24
As I wrote before, ecumenism is the new drug of choice in the Church today. It can be rolled up neatly, with a little Scripture twisted around it, and passed on to the next person to intoxicate themselves with. There are many change agents working against the Gospel in the Church. They creep in unawares–they’re very sly and deceitful with their tactics. One-hundred years ago, it would have been unthinkable to have a Protestant leader travel to the Vatican to work with the Church of Rome on cultural issues. Protestants knew that the Church of Rome was their enemy, and any of whom sought common ground with this apostate system would have been seen as a traitor. But through the endless efforts and sly disposition of these change agents, so many have changed their minds. People have been conditioned to believe that the Protestant Reformation was a mistake, and that joining hands with Rome is a great stride towards unification of the Church.
Scripture is very clear that we are not to seek common ground with unbelievers in a spiritual way. Working together to further the cause of Christ is spiritual. Though the Church of Rome may share some lip-service on the identity of Christ with Protestants, it is most certainly a different Christ than the Biblical Christ Protestants serve. While the Catholic Christ and the Biblical Christ may both teach marriage is between one man and one woman, and that abortion is murder, on the most important level, only the Biblical Christ teaches the true Gospel of salvation. Because of this, working together with Rome compromises the Gospel. Besides this, Scripture clearly forbids it:
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? … – 2 Cor: 14-16
The phrase, “unequally yoked,” in the above passage is “ἑτεροζυγέω,” transliterated “heterozygeō.” It is actually a compound of the two words “ἕτερος” (“heteros”), and “ζυγός” (“zygos”). It was metaphorically used to represent the unequal combining together of working animals, such as a donkey and an ox, to a plow. Because of their differences, these animals would have difficulty accomplishing the task. Paul is primarily speaking to the Church in this letter and he is literally commanding it members not to enter into enter into a formal working partnership, or alliance with unbelievers–specifically those that would cause them to compromise their witness.
But this “yoking together” has become so common within the Church, that most are blind to it. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, has built a veil of support for his ecumenism so strong, that if one even thinks about questioning him, you may as well hand over your reputation to the dogs. Though he has done much to advance the unity between Romanism and Evangelicalism, such as speaking at the Vatican without a Gospel message, advocating for more Roman Catholics to be present at the March for Life, and claiming not to know the difference between his “gospel focus” and the pope’s, the Evangelical world still looks to him as an authority on matters of faith and religion.
As I have written about before, Russell Moore has used his high-ranking position within the Church to bring about subtle changes without question. Since he is held in such high regards, he is considered to be the standard in which the Evangelical church aligns with. He successfully introduced socialism into the Church, and has made it seem normal. He has gained immeasurable support for his racial reconciliation program, his payday lending coalition, and his Creation Care environmentalism program–all programs of social justice, which advocate societal, rather than individual responsibility. Socialism has long been held as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ within the conservative Evangelical Church, but the average Southern Baptist pastor today holds these issues a “gospel demands.” This line of thinking is slowly taking the emphasis off of Biblical truth, and aligning Evangelicals with Catholics on common ground.
The brain-washing is far and wide. Rick Warren is another slick agent of change that has normalized relations with Rome. Rick Warren fully supports the Catholics Come Home program, in which he says:
The mission of Tom Peterson and Catholics Come Home to bring souls home to Jesus and the church is critically important during this challenging time in our history. I fully support this New Evangelization project.
Warren has also partnered with the Catholic Church on numerous occasions, yet Evangelicals are largely silent. Besides traveling to the Vatican with Russell Moore, he has appeared on Roman Catholic television praising the Catholic faith, and has referred to the pope as the pope of all Christians, not just Catholics. He also has laid out reasons why he believes that all Christians should be united under the pope. He says:
We have far more in common than we have differences … Sure there are important differences, but if you love Jesus, we’re on the same team.
Now, Rick Warren knows full well that the doctrinal differences between the Catholic and Protestant faiths are diametrically opposed to each other. He also knows full well that their is no common ground between the two. Let me be clear, Rick Warren is not stupid, nor is he ignorant of what he is doing. No man can love the Word of God, and truly understand and believe the Gospel, and think that Roman Catholics love the same Jesus that true Christians do. Rick Warren is serving one purpose, and one master, and he intends to do everything he can to unite all of the visible Church under the authority of the Roman Pontiff.
Though these two may be among the most influential of the visible change agents working in the Evangelical Church, there are many others. There are, of course, Purpose Driven disciples of Rick Warren, such as Francis Chan, Andy Stanley, Perry Noble, who are all highly influential Gospel compromisers who minimize the importance of doctrinal clarity in exchange for unity. And of course there are the women pastrices who have usurped their roles as teachers in the church, such as Beth Moore, claiming God gave her vision of uniting with the Roman Catholic Church, Joyce Meyer teaching Word of Faith Heresy, and Ann Voskamp, who sees the love of God as erotic. Yet, the once solid Southern Baptist denomination continually uses materials from these false teachers in their programs at Church.
Yet, perhaps the most influential change agent in the Church today is the most praised contemporary of modern Evangelicalism–Billy Graham. Billy Graham, a Southern Baptist evangelist out of North Carolina has held more conferences, with more people than any other confessing Christian of all time. His crusades attracted crowds in the hundreds of thousands, and even over a million. Almost every Southern Baptist pastor today speaks highly of Graham, referring to him as one of the heroes of the faith. They study and recommend Graham’s books, and even sell them at their bookstores in their churches. What you don’t hear from these preachers, however, is the great amount of work that Billy Graham did for the cause of ecumenism.
Billy Graham holds an honorary degree from a Roman Catholic, Jesuit University. He regularly had Roman Catholic priests with him at his crusades, and as people “made decisions” for Christ, counselors would then send these “new Christians” to Roman Catholic churches in their home towns. Graham has also come out in recent years, never retracting his statement, saying that one can be saved without Jesus. After Karol Wojtyla’s (Pope John Paul II) death, during an interview with Larry King, Billy Graham tells King that the late pope is in Heaven.
KING: There is no question in your mind that he is with God now?
GRAHAM: Oh, no. There may be a question about my own, but I don’t think Cardinal Wojtyla, or the Pope — I think he’s with the Lord, because he believed. He believed in the cross. That was his focus throughout his ministry, the cross, no matter if you were talking to him from personal issue or an ethical problem, he felt that there was the answer to all of our problems, the cross and the resurrection. And he was a strong believer.
One of only two things can be true here; either Billy Graham doesn’t know or understand the Gospel, or Billy Graham is knowingly compromising the Gospel. For a man who seemingly preached the Gospel for so long, it doesn’t seem as though he was an unlearned man. In a sense, Billy Graham can be viewed as the father of the modern Evangelical counter-reformation.
False teachers are mainstream in Christendom today. Rob Bell, Joel Osteen, Paul Crouch, Benny Hinn, the list goes on and on. While most of these are easy to spot, it’s the subtle ones that aren’t so easy to spot that are the most dangerous. These are the ones being promoted in what would otherwise be solid churches. Ones like Rick Warren, Billy Graham, Russell Moore, Ronnie Floyd, Beth Moore, Ann Voskamp, Francis Chan–the list goes on and on. Lifeway and the SBC is notorious for promoting these teachers for profit. The SBC is widely thought of as being the most conservative denomination, yet these subtle attacks weaken it’s members. This is what makes the SBC one of the more dangerous denominations to be a part of.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 2 Tim 3:1-5
With an unprecedented amount of compromise happening in the Church today, it’s astonishing that so few eyes are open to see what is happening. But this state of mind is exactly what these change agents are working to accomplish.These men seek to undo what the Protestant Reformation has accomplished by joining hands with the apostates and the ungodly. They don’t want people to hold fast to what is true. If people do stand on the truth of the Word of God, they cannot bring about the fundamental transformation they desire.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, – 1 Tim 4:1
There is so much emphasis being put on “experiential Christianity.” Feel-good music with watered-down doctrine–it takes the focus off of the truth of the Word of God, and places it on the individuals feelings. Everybody just wants to “get along” and “love eachother.” It’s now commonplace to practice Roman Catholic mysticism and Eastern Mysticism in a Protestant Church. Sola Scriptura means nothing to Evangelicals anymore. No wonder why Danny Akin and his supporters don’t see anything wrong with doing a promo video for Richard Dawkins. There is a common misunderstanding of what it means to be “salt and light.” People think this means to share the love of Jesus to unbelievers, but it’s much more than that. Being salt means to preserve the truth of Jesus Christ, by holding fast to it, and being light means exposing darkness and error by “shining the light” of the truth of God’s word against it.
The common gospel between all of the apostates is a man-centered ideology that seeks to bring about a Utopian society, instead of looking to Christ in hope and trust for salvation. Their goal is being accomplished. Christians as a whole no longer contend for the faith (Jude 1:3), stand up for the truth (1 Thes 5:21), or speak out against error (2 Tim 3:16-17), nor do they see any true purpose in standing apart from the wicked (2 Cor 6:17) and exposing the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph 5:11).
For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” – 2 Peter 2:20-22