Robert Jeffress of FBC Dallas invited a Roman Catholic to take the stage on the Lord’s Day, the week before Reformation Sunday. Sean Hannity, who is still a member of the Roman Catholic Church and still refers to himself as a Catholic, talked about politics and promoted his ‘Christian’ movie to Jeffress’ church members. Given that this happened in the season of Reformation celebration, many were taken aback that Jeffress would do such a thing, particularly in light of his previous criticisms of Catholicism as a “cult-like pagan religion” that came from Satan.
Jeffress claimed that he never said such a thing about Catholicism, and if he had, it was taken out of context. Jeffress said, “What they did was they went back and recycled old quotes from years ago that were either completely manufactured at the time or ripped out of context.” He would never ever say that Catholicism was a cult or inspired by the devil. After all, he has said for years that Roman Catholics are his “brothers and sisters in Christ.”
If we fact-checked Jeffress, however, would we find that he never said such a thing? In reality, Jeffress did say that Catholicism was not Christianity, was indeed a cult, and was inspired by Satan. In fact, he was taken to task for it at the time by the Catholic Anti-Defamation League. There’s audio in which he elucidates on the links between Catholicism and Babylonian Mystery Religion. He very explicitly calls it a “cult-like pagan religion.”
Nothing was out of context. And yet, when it comes to mixing religion and politics, Jeffress is quick to call Roman Catholics “brothers and sisters in Christ” (and even bring them to promote their stuff at his church). To call this “flip-flopping” is an understatement. And so, hence the outrage from Protestants that Jeffress has seemingly sold out Protestantism for the sake of politics.
Jeff Durbin, who sports a gawdy costume jewelry crucifix on a bed of chest hair made visible by three open buttons on his shirt, spent inordinate time on Reformation Sunday’s version of his late-night comedy show, Next Week, praising Jeffress for his political activism. And then, as Jeffress mentioned the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, Durbin cat-called a whoop and his sound-effect audience followed with applause.
Durbin asked Jeffress to clear up the issue regarding what he called his “obvious and firm position on justification by faith,” asking, “…We do believe there are many people within the Roman Catholic communion who truly do know Jesus Christ and love him, we think personally that’s despite the Roman Catholic church, but you’ve recently made comments that created some controversy and we wanted to give you an opportunity to address it because you have such a love for the Gospel…”
Jeffress, apparently not picking up the cue that ostensibly Durbin is asking Jeffress to shore up his belief in Sola Fide, instead discussed criticism of President Trump for calling Jeffress a wonderful man “in spite of his attacks on Roman Catholics,” and Jeffress instead shored up his compromise regarding Rome.
Jeffress says, “The fact is there are many Roman Catholics who have placed their faith in Christ alone for their salvation…Nobody goes to Heaven or Hell in a group…I’m always asked ‘Are Baptists going to be in Heaven? Are Jews going to be in Heaven? Are Catholics going to be in Heaven?’ Nobody goes in a group…I believe there will be millions of Roman Catholics in Heaven who have trusted in Christ as Savior and I believe there will be multitudes of Baptists in Hell who have never trusted in Christ alone for salvation…”
Durbin said immediately, “There’s no doubt about that. I appreciate the explanation.”
So on Reformation weekend, Durbin chose to affirm the salvation of “millions” of Roman Catholics who – inexplicably – believe directly contrary to the teachings of Roman Catholicism. Jeffress, and Durbin with him, claimed that there are many Roman Catholics who are saved and will be in Heaven (in spite of their gross idolatry and the whole plethora of heresies they take part in aside from anathematizing Sola Fide). Jeffress went on to affirm Sean Hannity as a born-again Christian in a similar way he affirmed Donald Trump’s status as a born-again believer.
When finished, Durbin told him, “You are an uncompromising man.”
Supposedly, Durbin adheres to the Second London Baptist Confession (1689), which says,
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner; neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God; whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.
That a Protestant, let alone a supposed Reformed Protestant, would gladly affirm the born-again status of millions of idolaters actively worshipping false gods in a false church is grotesque. That he would do such a thing over Reformation weekend is unconscionable. The Reformers would be rolling over in their graves.
Jeff Durbin did for Robert Jeffress what Mark Driscoll did for TD Jakes at the Elephant Room. It was shameful. Durbin and Jeffress demonstrate that the old adage is true, “When you mix politics and religion, you get politics.”