That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. (James 1:8-9, NASB)
Believing Reformation Doctrine And That The Church Of Rome Is Christian?
In the Apprising Ministries feature article Rick Warren Says “Great Spiritual Awakening Coming” I brought to your attention that Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren has recently said:
I believe God is preparing the church for another reformation. The first reformation focused on what the church believed; this one will focus on what it does.
For too long we’ve separated the Word of God from the work of God. As the church, we’re called to be the body of Christ – the whole body. (Online source)
Then in Rick Warren Reversing the Reformation (RWRR) I showed you that he has also made his own personal position quite clear concerning the apostate Roman Catholic Church, “The small group structure is the structure of renewal in every facet of Christianity — including Catholicism” (Online source). But in RWRR you’ll also read that at the same time out of the other side of his mouth Warren is telling us, “the First Reformation, begun by Martin Luther, was about the creeds (doctrine). Our doctrines were established by the First Reformation.”
The question we need to ask here is: Which Rick Warren are we to believe? The one who says the Church of Rome with their false gospel of grace plus works—which negates grace—is part of the Body of Christ; or should we instead listen to the Rick Warren who tells us, “Our doctrines were established by the First Reformation.” These statements are actually diametrically opposed because Reformers like Luther and Calvin clearly called the Roman Catholic Church apostate (and worse), so Biblically we would really have to refer to Warren as being double-minded when it comes to the Church of Rome.
The Reformation Was About The Very Gospel Itself
Men and women, this involves the very Gospel of Jesus Christ itself, which Warren as a pastor who would be sent by the Lord is supposed to preach publicly, not just privately affirm while meeting with his critics. The doctrine of salvation is no minor issue and Warren also happens to be a pastor with the Southern Baptist Convention, which is still—at least for now—reputed to be a Protestant denomination. Further Warren has also even claimed he is a “Kuyper-Calvinist.”
In his article History of the Doctrine of Justification Dr. John Gerstner begins:
“The doctrine by which the church stands or falls.” So said Martin Luther about justification by faith alone. John Calvin agreed, calling justification by faith the “hinge” of the Reformation.
Dr. Gerstner then correctly informs us:
It was not until the Council of Trent (1545-1563) that justification was officially confirmed as a process based on human merit derived through divine grace. This was the article in Session VI, Canon 7 of the Council of Trent which led the Roman Catholic Church away from the orthodox teaching on justification. (Online source)
The doctrine of justification speaks to what happens because Christ Jesus rescues from death and Hell all sinners who will believe. Let me give you a little working knowledge as we get set to wrap up this message. Here is a good brief definition for what the historic orthodox Christian Church means by justification. Dr. Charles Hodge (1797-1878) esteemed professor of theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, before the Cult of Liberal Theology swallowed it whole, writes:
Justification is defined in the Westminster Catechism, “An act of God’s free grace, wherein He pardoned all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone”
(Systematic Theology, Vol. III, 114).
As simply as it can be stated—the Bible teaches that justification happens the nanosecond a human being through God’s grace alone, truly places his complete trust in Christ alone by faith alone. And it is the act whereby God as the righteous Judge declares a guilty sinner instantaneously absolved of his sins by crediting the merit of perfect life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth to the believer.
But this proper Biblical Gospel preached by Christ’s Apostles is literally cursed by the Roman Catholic Church. As our expert witness I’ll call in Dr. Ron Rhodes, who even praises Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life, and could hardly be considered a hostile witness. In his book Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics Dr. Rhodes tells us, “One of the greater challenges in engaging in discussions with Roman Catholics involves the issue of salvation.”
He then goes on to explain, “Certainly Catholics deny that their Church teaches a works salvation.” It should be clear now that Rhodes believes the Roman Catholic Church preaches another gospel just the same as did Luther and Calvin of the Protestant Reformation. And that would be the very same Reformation where Warren told us earlier our “doctrines were established”. Here we note that even though he is supposedly a “Protestant” pastor, by embracing apostate Roman Catholicism as a viable Christian expression, Rick Warren is thereby saying that Luther and Calvin were in fact wrong.
Rhodes now continues:
[Roman Catholics] will talk about how their salvation is impossible apart from the grace of God. But though things start out by grace in the Roman Catholic system of salvation,…works do indeed get mixed into the picture. By virtue of the fact that a life of meritorious works is necessary to gain final salvation, it is clear that in reality the Roman Catholic view of salvation is works-oriented. (121)
Roman Catholic Church That Warren Says Is Christian Condemned The Gospel
And this is exactly what Reformers like Luther and Calvin correctly rejected as a false gospel when their “doctrines were established” through the leading of God the Holy Spirit by appealing to the Bible as their final authority because He wrote it. Dr. R. C. Sproul now puts this all into perspective for us on The John Ankerberg Show, which concerned the Evangelicals And Catholics Together document when he stated:
the Catholic Church understood in the 16th century, and Trent and Rome placed its unambiguous anathema on the Protestant doctrine of “Justification by faith alone” and has never, in any magisterial sense removed that anathema. The Roman Catholic Church condemns “sola fide! (L.)” Now if, please understand this, if “sola fide (L.)” is the gospel, then the Roman Catholic Church has condemned the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, nobody who went to the Council of Trent, as a delegate, went there with the intention of condemning the gospel.
The theologians of Rome really believed that they were defending the gospel and that the Protestants had in fact committed apostasy. And I admire the Church, the Roman communion of the 16th century for at least understanding what apparently people don’t understand today, and that is what is at stake here. That they understood that somebody is under the anathema of God! And we can be as nice, and as pleasant, and as gentle, and as loving, and as charitable, and tolerant as we can possibly be, but it’s not going to change that folks. Somebody is preaching a different gospel!
And when Rome condemned the Protestant declaration of “Justification by faith alone” I believe, Rome, when placing the anathema on “sola fide (L.),” placed the anathema of God upon themselves. I agree with his [John MacArthur] assessment, that the institution [Roman Catholic Church] is apostate! (Online source)
So now I will ask the key question yet again: How is it that one of the most powerful and prominent pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention—the largest Protestant denomination in America—flatly contradicts the doctrine of the Reformation, which he also says he believes in, and no SBC leader has stepped forward to call him to account for his sin?