P R E F A C E
It was an angry Paul who wrote to the Galatians, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Jewish christians were trying to impose circumcision and the Law upon them, and the gullible Galatians were adopting their false doctrines.
Yes, angry. Recent was the founding of the Galatian church, and already the perversion had begun. The message of redemption and freedom burning in the apostle’s heart, the good news of Jesus Christ revealed to him by Christ Himself, was already diluted. The good news no longer good, the people were now burdened with something heavy and tasteless. Yes, the Adders and Subtracters had arrived, taking away from and adding to, thinning and polluting, imposing conditions and bondages.
It had been a good word Paul preached to the saints. Profound, actually, yet simple. A message of salvation and forgiveness, justification and freedom. He told of the promise made by God centuries previous, and the fulfillment of that promise in the person of Jesus Christ.
The gospel had revolutionized Paul’s life and he was urgent to take the life-giving message to the pagan world. He traveled and proclaimed. Under such aggression many bastions of paganism and ignorance crumbled. Nation after nation were visited by this man of holy energy. Nothing withstands the awesome power of the Word in pure form. The untampered Word is sharp and brutal, and darkness submits to its light. Soon the entire world would be conquered for Jesus, and sadness and sickness and spiritual death would cease to be.
he quivered. his kingdom of darkness would soon be obliterated by the saving knowledge of the ancient promise fulfilled. Only a few years since Christ’s resurrection and already strongholds of christianity had been established – in Jerusalem, Corinth, Galatia, and even Rome. he had roused the Roman empire against the early church but to no avail. Beatings and imprisonment only resulted in new waves of expansion. Insults and threats and teasing purified rather than stunted the early church. What to do?
Always the cunning tactician, satan tried an alternate strategy.
he realized if he could simply remove the “two-edged sword” from the church’s grip, the church would be crippled and eventually die. And so his second campaign against the body of Christ began, a crusade to loosen the church’s hold on the Word, the promises, the truth – an assault of lies and compromise.
he surmised, I surmise, the assault must come from within the church; outsiders lacked the necessary credibility. And so he he did what any reasonable person would have thought impossible – he raised an army of spokesmen within the body of Christ, mostly Jewish converts whose love for legalism and tradition surpassed their love for truth.
Thus the rise of the Compromisers. The Adders and Subtracters. A pathetic people who had gone back. Having returned to their yoke of slavery, their aspiration was now to seduce the entire body to join them. A religious people these Compromisers, these Adders and Subtracters – but not illegitimate. True sons – not bastard tares but the reborn and blood-washed – damaged the Father’s kingdom in a way outsiders could not, their devastation a fruit of betrayal to His Word. What the enemy failed to do through his own he did through His own.
Compromise dulls the two-edged sword, the only power of God unto salvation. As salt water and fresh become salted when merged, so also lies and truth become a lie when merged. As truth sets free, fiction imprisons.
he, the father of lies, knowing all this, perpetuated his lies through the spokesmen he seduced (who, in turn, seduced others, who in turn….). Their harm must have hurt Paul much more than the stripes and prisons and deprivations. When he left they came. He the sower, they the ravens plucking his seed before germination. Always the soldier, Paul retaliates:
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.
Oh foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?
Do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
Ruthlessly Paul wields the sword of the Spirit, admonishing the wayward saints to act like offspring of the freewoman, Sarah, and not Hagar the bondwoman. He didn’t seek middle ground but exposed the Compromisers as false and treacherous.
I wish those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!
But that was all yesterday. What about today?
Today – not a nice picture.
Today the same enemy has raised the same army of spokesmen to wrestle the same Word from the same church. But unfortunately there is no Paul – at least I haven’t heard of him/her. Indignation is scarce. Men are not men and women are not women. The Adders and Subtracters have paved various ways. Negotiators and Compromisers seat each other in places of prominence. The lordship of Christ in heaven, the lordship of christians on earth. Where is the retaliation?
A Catholic No More is a retaliation.
A Catholic No More is a book of hard sayings.
It is a message to that group within the body of Christ that might be best described as ‘traditional charismatics’. And, equally, to those considering themselves evangelicals.
A Catholic No More is a resistance to the present-day onrush of misapplied conviviality, discretion, hospitality and accommodation in most charismatic, denominational and interdenominational quarters.
A Catholic No More is a backlash against tolerance given to humanistic reasonings and traditions that have subverted the christian message.
A Catholic No More is a word to many charismatic and evangelical leaders who, after a time of testing in various fiery furnaces, proved themselves faithful to old ties, and led their groups back into the stagnation of old wineskins.
It is a view behind the curtain of “Praise the Lord!” and “Alleluia!” enshrouding the charismatic way and into the real world where the masses live, where ecstasy of multitudes rescued from darkness spirals down, down, down into real desperation as these same born-again believers are brought to painful crossroads as the Holy Spirit reveals contradictions between the Word and many teachings and practices of their traditional churches.
A Catholic No More is a reminder that our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but rather powers and principalities of darkness in which the sword of the Spirit is our most potent weapon, and softening or altering it for the sake of accommodation, or being double-minded in our allegiance to this sword, will certainly dull its edges. We are in a battle of good verses evil, truth verses lie, and compromise, while bringing momentary reprieve, weakens the awesome power of Truth, and the cause of our Christ suffers.
Compromise. How skillfully we compromise. The more we do it the more we do it; drinking from its cup makes us thirsty for more. Every christian community is pressured to compromise, and to those capitulating it becomes a way of life.
Compromise insults God. Compromise is a return ticket to to the old yoke of slavery. Compromise is the chief weapon of the enemy. Oh, if someone could just go get Paul – perhaps borrow a time-machine from a neighbor – and bring him to our day. What would he say to us? I unleash my imagination….
Oh foolish christians! Who has bewitched you? Has the church not matured in wisdom since my day? Must history repeat itself?
How is it you turn back again to the weak and worthless things to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? Why obey traditions of men over the Word of God? Do you not know you are slaves to the one you obey? Do you not know new laws bring old curses?
Some want to change the gospel of Jesus Christ. They want to win you over to themselves. They are to be condemned! No man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Only the house built upon the rock of Christ’s words can hope to stand. The church of my day was more powerful than yours, with more signs and wonders. Yet, except for a remnant, it eventually collapsed.
Christians, wake up! satan is still the god of this world, and his campaign against the body of Christ has lost no inertia whatsoever. If you lay down your sword you lay down your most potent weapon. The Word, pure and undefiled, can still be likened to a mighty fire, like a hammer that can break a rock to pieces. Scripture, not visions and prophecies, is the basis of doctrine – for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. The Word is the power of God unto salvation. It is above refining – don’t mess with it!
I fear, lest somehow your minds be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. Let there be no adulterating the Word of God…. the Father still insists on being worshiped in Spirit and in truth…. a different gospel is a perverted gospel…. do not be bound with unbelievers…. come out from their midst and be separate…. do not seek man’s approval…. if you yet please men you cannot be the servants of Christ…. unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it….
Paul! How you loved Him! You were totally dedicated to Jesus. Oh, that our consecration would one day equal yours. A compromiser you weren’t. You stood up to Cephas himself. A man of holy energy. They beat you but could not quench your spirit aflame. Though a prisoner, you were a slave to no man. No hardship was a hindrance, such your fervor for Jesus.
Paul! How my generation of believers needs your voice of righteous indignation. Your angry rebuttals. Your passionate call to reason and repentance.
There are so many winds of doctrine…. so much compromising…. such a falling away from simple devotion to our Lord….