|My Final Word on "Religion"
Apologetics, the Catholic Church and Truth By Eric Barger
March 7, 2000
Well my friends, being involved in full-time apologetics ministry for the past 17 years or so has been interesting, challenging and sometimes very wearing. Above all though, it has always been worth it.
All those years we have done our best to faithfully communicate the message of Jude 3 "that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints". Through books, tapes, newsletters, articles, radio and television and primarily the Take A Stand! Seminar series Ive never backed down about my love for people, my disdain for the Devil and the primary goal which is to weigh all that we know in life by the evidence of Scripture. That is what apologetics is "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you". (I Pet. 3:15)
Since adding the web site over two years ago, we have seen a marked change in the scope of our outreach. Now, through the Internet, we are able to touch hundreds each week from cultures and backgrounds that Christian radio, television, bookstores and churches were not reaching. I have tried to stay focused on truth and not veer off that path no matter how intense the reaction to anything I have commented or reported on.
Now, because I have stood for biblical truth, I am again feeling the heat, but this time from those who proclaim they are Christians.
My heart has always been for souls. What else really matters? Isnt seeing souls won from the hands of the Devil and having their names written in the Lambs Book of Life what ministry should be focused on anyway? If we were in ministry for some other reason, then the rewards, especially financial, would have been hardly worth it from a worldly viewpoint. But souls being born-again and delivered from the grasp of Hell IS what we are all about.
So being no stranger to controversy, I expected some minimal negative response to my latest newsletter (March 5, 2000). The feature article details a day spent counseling with a struggling Roman Catholic, who is searching for the truth. (read it at http://www.ericbarger.com/quest_for_faith.htm) I just never expected such an outpouring of anger from some of those who receive our newsletter. In fact, I have yet to receive one positive email concerning what I wrote.
Beloved, let me set the record straight. Maybe I just didnt make myself clear that I love Catholic folks but do question the system their church teaches. Perhaps the negative response was due to the personal bias that some hold against anyone daring to suggest that Catholicism cannot save a soul from hell. Perhaps this is what triggered the barrage of emails I have received over the past few hours. Its interesting that I could say that being a Baptist or a Lutheran wont get you to Heaven (church membership cant do it), but the moment Catholicism is mentioned lookout, here comes the mail.
Years ago, I saw things in a very narrow perspective. Peripheral issues, practices and doctrines, let alone central doctrines had to line up with my thinking or I rejected them out of hand. As time has moved on, I have come to see that I can, must and will have fellowship with anyone who holds to the central doctrines of the Christian faith. The single prerequisite being that nothing is added to or subtracted from those precious major doctrinal beliefs by insisting some extra-biblical practice, belief or ritual be included as a condition for salvation. I havent turned the least bit liberal over the years but I have seen the need for unity among us who call Jesus "Lord".
As many of you know, last year I stood opposed to Hank Hanegraaff of the Christian Research Institute and have publicly called him to repent of his attacks on and attempts to undermine the ministry of others with whom he has peripheral bones to pick. So, if anyone has license to look beyond our differences from denomination to denomination and embrace others with open arms, I believe that I qualify. But when it comes to a system any system that holds itself up as the ONLY way to Heaven, it had better line up with the Bible and not add to or take away from Gods Word one iota. If it does, eventually I am going to deal with it and do my best to expose its flaws by letting Scripture light the way.
The folks who have written about my article may not have grasped that I mentioned Methodism and the Presbyterian church as two Christian entities that have particular churches and denominations in their ranks who have swayed to the left and have to some extent abandoned Scripture. As I have taught from coast to coast, there are churches all around our cities where a person couldnt pay money on Sunday Mornings to have someone explain the plan of salvation to them. Worst of all these "houses of Satan" claim to be "Christian", yet the Spirit of God has departed due to their forfeiture of the truth replacing it with the doctrines of man.
Now, let me say it again if ANY CHURCH denies Ephesians 2:8-9 by either adding to or subtracting from SALVATION BY FAITH then that church and all it stands for is a shallow shell or religion. Its teachings simply CANNOT and WILL NOT save anyone from an eternity in hell. Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian it does not matter. What matters is faith in the Savior not confidence in a religious system.
The latest newsletter (3/5/2000) was the first occasion I have ever written anything pro or con about the Catholic Church. While I want desperately to have fellowship with any believers who may still be in the Catholic Church, I want even more to reach the lost with the truth that Jesus and only Jesus indeed does save. You see, if I am true to the Scriptures and true to my calling as an apologist, how can I ignore in good conscience the fact that Catholicism the system is indeed merely religion? But worse, it is a religion that many millions trust in as a path to Heaven, instead of trusting in the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I will continue to lobby for unity among believers. I will seek to unite whenever possible with those who love Jesus. But, I cannot unite with any religion that teaches there is any other way to be saved. (Acts 4:12)
Rather than angrily write me, that I have "attacked the Catholics" (which I have not done) perhaps those writing should realize that I cared enough to take the heat, hoping that just one Catholic might examine and find for himself that Catholicism - itself - is not the way to be saved. No, Jesus is the way to be saved the only way. And any religious system that focuses on ritual rather than Him, teaching ANYTHING besides "Ye must be born again" must be forgotten.
Sincerely for the truth,
© copyright 2000, Eric Barger
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