Apologetics

Are Evangelical Churches Growing?

by Steve Ray on January 23, 2016

Lenny Alt (lennyalt1@att.net) shared the following:

MICHAEL CONTI SAYS in the FACEBOOK group “Roman Catholicism is Apostate”:  “I remember the first time after I got out of prison and went to a Calvary Chapel in North-East Philly, the Pastor was telling us that over 50% of the congregation were ex-Catholics…and this Calvary Chapel had over 12,000 members.”  

LENNY ALT SAYS: Now it appears that numbers of people attending Evangelical churches are going down at the rate of one  million a year.  For many years I have heard Evangelicals say they USED TO BE CATHOLICS and they would boast at how many ex-Catholics were  in their congregations.  Now it appears there is a change.  In fact a close friend of mind refers to herself as a “USED TO BE PROTESTANT.”  82% of Evangelical churches are not growing but, in fact, are declining.  I asked Michael Conti if his church was still growing last year and I was told his church was declining – but numbers don’t mean everything. Evidently there will be more ex-Evangelicals in the world.  

(Many of those dropping out of Evangelical churches are discovering the Catholic Church – ancient, yet forever young!)

- See more at: Evangelicals Dropping Out | Defenders of the Catholic Faith | Hosted by Stephen K. Ray

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Prepare for the Skyline of the Future: Islam!

by Steve Ray on January 20, 2016

I wrote this about two years ago while in Adana Turkey and thought it worthy to post again, especially since I am seeing it again, everywhere I go in the world. I my country hometown in Michigan the Muslims have built the largest mosque in America. But I shouldn’t get ahead of my story.

Europe is full of magnificent churches—Gothic, Baroque and even modern. Their steeples and crosses still dominate much of the skyline. They stand as impressive monuments to the Christian faith that built the free world and brought beauty and justice out of a pagan, barbarian wilderness.

Notre Dame.jpgToday the churches in Europe are becoming museum pieces recalling the lost faith and  collapsing backbone of Europe. (Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral to left)

Paganism is on the rise – and along with it something just as alarming. The skyline will soon change, not only for Europe but for the whole Western World, including the United States. You will soon see new structures piercing the sky!

But before I tell you how your view of today’s horizon will change, let me tell you about what happened to Turkey. Then you will see that it can happen—and if we don’t move quickly, it will happen again.

Janet and I are now in Turkey with our Skyline Productions video crew working on our next documentary Apostolic Fathers for the Footprints of God series. We are driving/flying with our crew from one Christian site to another. This country is often called the Second Holy Land—why? Because it contains more Christian sites than anywhere other than Israel.

For a few examples: Antioch is where we were first called Christians, Tarsus was the home town of St. Paul, and Lystra the home city of St. Timothy.

JohnsTomb.jpgBut, Turkey is also home to the Seven Church of Revelation. The Blessed Virgin Mary lived here with the Apostle St. John. Selçuk still boasts the tomb of St. John (see picture to right). Istanbul (Constantinople) was once a proud patriarchate of the Catholic Church and home to Ecumenical Councils.

Actually, the first Seven Ecumenical Councils were held here, including Constantinople, Chalcedon, and Nicea—from which we got Nicene Creed recited each Sunday. And don’t forget the Council of Ephesus which defined Mary as the Theotokos, the Mother of God.

And if you remember your New Testament, you will recognize cities that were in today’s Turkey: Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians. Turkey is also the land of martyrs, Fathers and Doctors of the Church like Sts. Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus, John Chrysostom, and Basil the Great to name just a few.

So, when I look out over the horizon from my hotel room window, do I see the beautiful churches that once marked the skyline of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey)?

Nope. Sorry. I see something else.

skyline.jpgFrom my window just now, I counted no less than nineteen minarets! What are minarets? They are the tall slender towers above an Islamic mosque from which the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer (Notice two pictures from my hotel window–one wide shot with no less than five minarets; the second at the bottom of this blog showing a large mosque across the river. There is only one Catholic Church within a hundred miles of where I am now).

What happened to the churches? Let’s go to Istanbul together and I will show you! I have frequently visited the Hagia Sophia—the Church of Holy Wisdom. It was the glory of Christendom and for over a thousand years it had the largest dome — until St. Peter’s was built in Rome. Many people thought the dome stayed up by a direct miracle of God. How else could something so expansive stay up without crashing down?

Hagia1.jpgBut when the Muslims conquered Contantinople they defaced the church, painted over the golden icons of our Blessed Mother and turned the spectacular church into a mosque. The crosses came down and the minarets went up.

Today the Hagia Sophia is a museum! (picture of modern Hagia Sophia to left)

It has been predicted that within fifty years Europe’s skyline will change. It will become a Muslim empire. Steeples will come down and minarets will go up. No longer will you hear bells – you will hear muezzin wailing from the balconies of slender minarets.

And America? We are losing our faith too, and our backbone. Will we be far behind Europe? I don’t think so. Islam has 1 billion followers, many of who will stop at nothing short of world domination. They won’t call it that, of course. They will say the world is now as Allah willed it.

Skyline3.jpgAnd like the Hagia Sophia—your church, and the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC and St. Patrick’s in New York will still pierce the skyline, but no longer as steeples. They will sport the latest in minarets. And our grandchildren’s’ children will wonder why we caved in so easily—why we lost our faith and our backbone.

Oh, so you don’t believe it can happen to us? Neither did the Byzantine Empire, the powerhouse of Christianity in the East! But, the East fell to Islam and the West may fall as well. Maybe not by military might, but by religious indifference, population control, and secularism. Islam can overtake us by persistence, population growth, and religious fervor.

What was once part of a powerful Christian Empire is now 99% Muslim. Out of a population of about 75 million, there are only 60,000 Christians (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestants, etc.). The past screams to us but will we listen.

Prepare to see the new skyline; prepare to be awakened at 4 AM with the wail of the muezzin.

Far-fetched? Read this article about Holland.

St. Ignatius, pray for us. Sts. Polycarp, Irenaeus and John Chysostom, pray for us!

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Sherlock Holmes an Idolater – Praying to People?

by Steve Ray on January 11, 2016

Last night my wife and I were watching an episode of Sherlock Holmes on TV. He has always been one of my favorite characters and I can remember reading all the stories to our kids as they grew up. On TV I think Jeremy Brett does the best portrayal and it is always a delightful evening to cuddle up and watch another episode.

Last night we were watching “The Copper Beeches” and Sherlock was interviewing a young lady. Her case bored him. But as her story developed, Sherlock became intrigued. He leaned back and said, “Pray, continue.” 

SherlockPrays.jpgMy wife hit the pause button! “What did he say?” We listened again. Sure enough, the Great Sherlock used the word pray when talking to a woman.

But doesn’t “pray” mean worship? In our old Evangelical Protestant days we assumed PRAY was synonymous with WORSHIP. But that was because we were ignorant of our own English language (blame the public schools). 

In the English language, the word pray is much less ostentatious than we Evangelicals blew it up to be. Here is what Wiktionary says,  

1. To petition or solicit help from a supernatural or higher being.
2. To humbly beg a person for aid or their time.
3. (Christianity) to talk to God for any reason.

The least significant usage of the word is to “talk to God” which is still a far cry from falling on one’s face in adoration and worship—an action reserved for the Trinity alone. 

It primarily means to ask of a higher being—which could certainly mean a superior in business, or law or in heaven—for a favor or for their help. It means to ask any person for aid or for their time.  

What was Sherlock Holmes asking when he “prayed” to this woman? He was saying, “Please, I ask you to continue.” Did he worship the woman? Of course not. 

But if we earthy humans ask the assistance and intercession of those who have preceded us to heaven, are we worshiping them or somehow giving them glory that belongs to God alone? CommunionofSaints.jpg

Well let’s ask this—if I ask my brother or sister in Christ on earth to “pray” for me, am I taking away from the glory of God by “praying” or asking them to “pray” or ask God to help me? Of course not, because prayer (talking and asking) and worship are two very different things. 

If I ask a saint who is already in heaven to petition God for me, am I committing idolatry? What foolishness, or course not. I am simply acknowledging that I am not the only Christian in the universe and that the Church is not just made up of me or many earthlings.

Christians, such as Mary and the Apostles, are not dead and gone. They are very much alive before the throne of God. It is made up of all of us still waiting for heaven, but it is also made up of those who have gone on before us with the sign of faith.

You may get asked, “Where in the Bible does it say we should pray to dead saints?” And my answer is always the same, “Where does the Bible say that saints are dead? We Catholic believe in Eternal Life!” 

Again, it is the Evangelical who not only misunderstands spiritual things, but also the English language. I was the most guilty of all, but I had ears to hear (thanks be to God) and I now understand the cosmic reality of the Church and the Communion of Saints. I am much the richer for it. 

Like Sherlock, I can pray to or ask any human creature for information or intercession or help. But it is God alone that I worship. I will ask or pray to any of his people, on earth or in heaven—asking them to intercede or pray for me to the Lord our God. We are after all a big family and the God whom we worship is the Father of us all.

I am so glad I found the Catholic Church and escaped the muddle of mucked up ideas I used to call “Bible-only Christianity.”

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Questions for “Bible Christians”

January 11, 2016

Here are questions for “Bible Christians” they cannot answer. Print it out and use it. Questions for “Bible Christians” For many more such documents by Steve Ray, click here.

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Interesting Explanation of Baptism from Protestant Dictionary – “baptism…in itself is unimportant”

January 10, 2016

I was looking up Greek definitions of the word baptism and found this interesting “definition.” This dictionary is usually very good but I found this summary of biblical passages on baptism very intriguing and disingenuous. Take a look at this definition and think about it for yourself. Analyze it and the verses used. Notice how they [...]

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Can Peter Walk on Water? Can Sinful Men be Infallible?

January 9, 2016

Is it possible for a sinful, fallible man to give an infallible interpretation of Scripture or an infallible definition of doctrine? If he is fallible and sinful, doesn’t that preclude his ability to be infallible when it comes to things of God? No. In fact while many Protestants would say the Pope cannot be infallible [...]

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Are You Born Again?

January 5, 2016

 Since we are all renewing our Baptismal Vows at the Jordan River today, thought this post from a year ago might be appropriate :-) It seems that God is kind of predictable in a way :-) since He always starts new things in the same way – with “water and the Spirit“. Consider the following: 1) The [...]

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Is there Evidence for Jesus outside the Bible?

January 4, 2016

Some people think Jesus is a mythical figure like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Others think Jesus might be historical but only mentioned in the Bible is the only source of information on the existence of Jesus. They question whether Jesus really existed as a real historical figure. Is the Bible the only source [...]

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Response to an Ex-Catholic, now Baptist

January 3, 2016

A while ago I received an e-mail from a Southern Baptist and decided to take a few minutes to respond. Thought others might be edified by it so I have posted it here without using his name. His e-mail is contained in regular text and my response is in CAPITAL LETTERS. **************************************************** HELLO FRIEND: I [...]

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Is DOGMA an Oppressive Catholic Word?

January 2, 2016

When I was an Evangelical Protestant, I thought DOGMA was a dirty word. It had bad connotations. It represented unbiblical teaching forced down people’s throats by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. They invented new doctrines not found in the Bible and then called them dogmas and told Christians if they didn’t believe them — [...]

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My Updated Article on Infant Baptism

December 30, 2015

Even among Evangelical Protestants there is much debate about Infant Baptism. My old Baptist tradition rejected it as a Catholic tradition of men. Dr. Francis Schaeffer, my favorite Evangelical Presbyterian theologian wrote a booklet entitled Infant Baptism in favor of the practice – my wife Janet was raised Presbyterian and baptized as an infant. It [...]

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“Seven Rules for Dealing with Non-Catholic Family and Friends over the Holidays” on Morning Air, Monday

December 21, 2015

This is always an interesting topic that floods the phone lines. I will be on Relevant Radio’s Morning Air on Monday discussing how we as Catholics can relate to and influence our family and friends.  Ready to go! Holidays often caused tension and strife among families. How can we take the high road and be a positive [...]

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Mary a Mediatrix? Isn’t there just One Mediator?

November 24, 2015

The Bible says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5). Yet Catholics refer to Mary as a Mediatrix (feminine form of the word mediator). So, isn’t that prima facie evidence that Catholics make up doctrines, worship Mary and disregard the Bible? [...]

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The Bible out of Context: “Saved by Faith Alone”?

November 19, 2015

When reading the Bible devoid of its historical and textual context, there is no context except the context which any person might supply for it. or put otherwise, A text without a context is a pretext. I always get frustrated when self-proclaimed Bible students or teachers start pontificating about the meaning of the Bible and [...]

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What Does God See When He Opens His Eyes?

November 18, 2015

Since we are in Capernaum today – where Jesus said, “Eat My Flesh and Drink My Blood.” I thought it would be appropriate to post again this popular blog post that explains the Sacrifice of the Mass. Recently we went to Mass with two Protestants.  As we walked in the door — there it was, [...]

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What Does the Word Catholic Mean? A History of the Word “Catholic”

November 17, 2015

As a Protestant, I went to an Evangelical church that changed an important and historical word in the  Apostles Creed. Instead of the “holy, catholic Church,” we were the “holy, Christian church.” At the time, I thought nothing of it. There was certainly no evil intent, just a loathing of the Catholic Church and a [...]

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