Do’s and Dont’s

I encountered a sad and disheartening situation in the last couple of days that is really bothering me. It involves a Christian who I have been following for about four years now. I am not going to identify who he is, so we will just call him “M”. Infrequently we will indicate we “like” a post that each of us has authored, to one another, and more infrequently we have exchanged complementary words with one another. “M” is a talented individual and for all intents and purposes, I liked a good number of his posts. “M” struck me as an individual who had a “common sense” touch and ability to grasp some of the broader strokes that Jesus asked us to consider, in our dealings with one another. “M” impressed me, as a down to earth individual, that I could frequently identify with, and agree with, on a given topic he was writing about.

Was “M’ exactly like me? No, he wasn’t and that’s OK because very few, if any of us, are exactly like one another, in our preferences and style of writing. I always try to remember that when I am reading something that someone else has written. It isn’t necessary that everyone think or express themselves exactly like I do or have the same preferences that I have.

But then, in the last couple of days, a bump in the road was encountered. “M” had written a post where he showcased another, now deceased individual, who was well known for reaching out and caring for others. Another follower of “M”, took exception to whom “M” had showcased, because of the individuals connection to the Roman Catholic church, and the numerous differences between specific Roman Catholic doctrines, that differ from most main line Protestant denominations. “M” responded to the exception taken by the other follower, by responding that his post was not about differing doctrines, but rather the “idea” that we need to reach out to those near us.

One might easily think that is a reasonable response, but the person who had raised the objection, provided additional documented information, in a secondary comment, that even further identified serious doctrinal differences between Roman Catholic doctrines and beliefs and what most Protestant denominations adhere to, as they applied to the showcased individual . “M” chose not to respond to this secondary comment submitted by the follower of “M” who had raised the objection.

This raised a question in my mind as to WHY “M” had deliberately not responded. In the last four years of my following “M”, I had never seen anything that would indicate that “M” was a Roman Catholic and I had assumed that “M” was indeed, a Protestant. A number of his posts are addressed to “Pastors and teachers”. Topics which would have identified differing doctrinal beliefs were from my observation, not there.

So I decided to do a little research.

“M” also writes and produces movies and I’ve seen him mention them many times before. The themes of the movies were always described as being in line with fostering faith and forgiveness, and no where at any time had there been a “Catholic” connotation assigned to them, from what I had personally seen, in any of “M”‘s posts.

“M”‘s movies have all been produced by St. Michael Movies, part of St. Michael Records, Inc., a 501(c)(3) Catholic charity founded in 1998. According to the filed purposes of St Michael Records Inc, it is to perform publish; and produce books, musical recordings, and movies of an evangelical nature which will promote a way of life based upon Catholic teaching. This link refers: https://nonprofitlight.com/oh/dayton/st-michael-records-inc This is confirmed by a christiannewswire.com post which can be viewed here: http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/2272684196.html where “Healing Rivers” is notated as a “Catholic” movie. Upon further investigation I discovered that the movie “Healing Rivers” does promote Catholicism throughout the entirety of the movie.

A quote from the latter link reads as follows: “The 70 million Catholics in America, by and large, are wholly secularized and apostatized from their faith in practice. Today’s culture is openly hostile to Catholicism, and Catholics need counter-cultural films and other content that reflects the moral teachings of the Church to guide them. Our responsibility is to stand for the truth of the faith against the tide of lies.”

That’s a commendable objective towards Catholics, but when promoting this movie towards “today’s culture”, it would have been a nice touch if “M” had of let all of his readers know that this movie promoted a way of life based upon Catholic teaching.

I’m not going to go into why “today’s culture is openly hostile to Catholicism”, but I would submit that ONE of the reasons why this is so, is due to the doctrines and teachings of the Roman Catholic church that differs from the doctrines and teachings adhered to by most main line Protestant denominations.

I submitted the findings of my research to “M” in a comment on one of his latest posts, but “M” chose not to release my comment for public viewing, which is obviously “M”‘s right. But the question “WHY”, still leaves many unanswered questions. Could it have been my request for him to clarify as to whether he adheres to the doctrines and teachings of the Roman Catholic church? Possibly so. Based on “M”‘s non-response, the non-release of my questioning comment and the findings of my research, I can only assume that “M” does adhere to the doctrines and teachings of the Roman Catholic church and sought to gain a wider audience for his readers and his movies, by withholding this information. I understand the rationale, I disagree with the dishonesty.

I mentioned at the onset of this post that I was sad and disheartened. I am sad that I have to assume that “M” deliberately chose to withhold this information and subject an element of dishonesty into our exchanges. Not only did he do that with me, but also with some of his other readers. Honesty is a vital element of our standing in Christ. If we have disagreements with regard to the doctrines and teachings of the Roman Catholic church or Protestant mainline denominations, then state so at the onset. Letting me think that you and I are on the same song sheet, when in fact we are not, is not being honest. I am also disheartened that I feel a Christian responsibility to disclose this information. To those of you who may know who “M” is, what you do with this information is left entirely to you. As for me, I have written this post and “M” is in my prayers. To those of you who do not know who “M” is, there is a lesson to be learned here, if you look for it.

There may be some who think this dishonesty does not matter, that a greater good is being achieved. I disagree. It does matter, because the doctrines and teachings we believe and trust in matter. It mattered in the early church, it mattered during the Reformation and it matters now. And if you disagree, so be it. At a minimum, you know where I stand.

Post Update: Without going into great detail, some clarification from “M” was eventually provided. “M” has stated that he is not Catholic, nor does he agree with all RC doctrines and teachings, but he is also not anti-Catholic. He stated that he builds bridges, not fences. I would have loved to have requested further clarification on what not being anti-Catholic, more specifically means, but he drew our exchange to a close and I was obliged to agree. I could argue the inconsistency of this particular “position”, that was identified in the original objection raised by Tom, to “M”, as articulated by Pastor Tim Challies at this link (Please take the time to actually read Tim’s post), but I am not going to. Not here, not now. There are however, still numerous complicated lessons to be learned from how this evolved and now ceased exchange ended, which we all are obviously, free to surmise. The sadness remains.

Worthy is the Lamb. Blessings!

23 comments

  1. I have a very vague memory of having read about this recently, but I cannot remember where. I had discussed it with my son as I remember.
    Either way you are right about how honesty matters in our walk as believers. As I read your post the dishonesty being practiced is similar to that of the Mormons and other such sects. They cloak themselves in Christian phrases and images to appear Christian, when they are clearly not. You are right in saying that the best we can do for such folk as “M” is to pray for them.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am pretty sure “dishonesty” is about to be in Capitol Letters for most of what we think we know. Our Heavenly Father Creator of all things is cleaning house…so to speak. It’s going to be great shock to all of the world.

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  3. Bruce, thank you for the enlightening information, especially regarding the specific information about St. Michael Records/Movies being a decidedly Catholic operation. I’m not into conspiracy theories and I know you are not either, but I’m aware of other individuals out there who promote ecumenism with Rome (or with LDS or with Universalism, etc.) who know not all evangelicals are “on board,” so they often communicate their messages/information subtly as if it’s a “no big deal” afterthought. M’s reluctance to engage you or myself speaks volumes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ‘M’ posted a blog called ‘Harvest Time’ a couple of days ago. I read it, immediately after my last comment to you about ‘M’. The post features a graphic with Matthew 9:36-38, followed by these words:
    “Out of a hundred people, one will read the Bible, and the other ninety-nine will read the Christian.” ~Dwight L. Moody
    Be what you believe.

    I had unfollowed ‘M’ immediately before I read that post. The only reason I read it, was because I went to my WP reader a few minutes after unfollowing his blog, and was surprised to see his then latest blog post there. I guess it takes WP awhile to clear out your reader list, after you unfollow someone.

    I intended to delete it from my reader, but I felt in my spirit that I was supposed to read it and then respond to it. So I read it: the scripture from Matthew 9, and the D.L. Moody quote, followed by the words written by Mitch in bold italic: Be what you believe.

    I prayed, and then left this comment on that post:

    Yes, I must be what I believe, even when it’s hard. Years ago, when I was agnostic, almost an atheist, I prayed and asked the Creator to show me if He exists, and to show me which religion, if any, is true. In due time, I was shown that Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In the Bible, Jesus said that no one can come to the Father, except through Him. He also said that narrow is the way that leads to eternal life, and few there be that find it. Christ taught His followers to pray only to our Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, and never to pray to any other person, ‘saint’, or idol. He taught us that we are saved by grace alone, through our faith in Jesus, in His completed work on the cross, and that we are not saved by any works of righteousness which we have done. Our works, according to scripture, reflect our inner nature, and our inner nature is changed to do good works, through our salvation in Christ and the infilling and empowerment of His Holy Spirit. In the Bible, Christ said to call no man ‘Father,’ and He told His followers that Mary, His earthly mother, and His brothers, were no more special than any other Christian believers. Therefore, I cannot fellowship any longer, in good conscious, with someone who in any way promotes a religion that advocates a works righteousness, praying to ‘saints’ and to the ‘mother of God,’ and calling priests ‘Father’.

    I will miss you. But I must be what I believe.

    …That’s the end of my comment. ‘M’ liked my comment, and responded with this:
    You will miss whom, Linda?

    I have not responded. I have been so saddened by this, that I have not been on WP at all for the past couple of days, and I have made my blog private. I will continue to seek the Lord on what He wants me to do from here.

    I am so grateful for you, brother Bruce.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Linda Lee, I had read your comments to “M” and his response. It is truly sad, that this “approach” to evangelism was deemed appropriate. I had hoped that “M” would respond to my comments but no acknowledgement on one and no release for public view on the other. If my assumptions are wrong, he could easily clear them up, but he has chosen not to and that in itself, says a lot. Leave this with our Lord, keep him in your prayers and I am doing in mine and God will give you peace in your decision. Sometimes it takes time. Gods grace, peace and blessings, to you and yours sister Linda Lee.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Linda, I’ve missed you too. I thought your comment above was under the ‘Person to Person’ post, and that you’d deleted it. In fact, after trying to access your blog and being told I needed “Permisson,” I gathered you’d blocked me. I lost sleep that night, because I don’t take lightly missunderstandings with people I care about (for what it’s worth I dedicated a post to you a couple of days later). As I told Bruce, I don’t consider posting a quote by Mother Teresa about charity promoting Catholicism any more than I consider posting a quote by Seneca about courage the promotion of pagan Stoicism. Bruce and Tom of Ex-Catholic for Jesus disagree with this. Which I’m OK with. What I’m not OK with is being labelled a hypocrite because I hold a different view. Blessings always, Sis.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I feel like I have been caught in a hurricane. I am very sorry for my part in it. I am praying for the Lord to give me wisdom to stay out of situations like this. God is love, and if my behavior is not loving, then clearly I am missing His will. After years of living far from His will, I never want to stray again.

        Several years ago, I posted about how I became a Christian. Two long-time blogger friends, both of whom wrote Christian themed blogs, chastised me — and one unfollowed me — because they objected to something in my testimony. The one who unfollowed me objected to the part where I said that when I became a Christian believer, I repented of my sins. He accused me of having a ‘works righteousness’ mentality, as though my act of repentance was what saved me, rather than Christ’s work on the cross. I was like, uhmmm… WHAT? Of course my repentance did not save me, Jesus saved me, when I turned to Him. The other blogger objected to a picture I had posted on that blog, with a quote by Albert Einstein. The quote is something like ‘Either everything is a miracle, or nothing is a miracle.’ I am probably not quoting it exactly, but that is the gist of what it says. A Christian blogger friend took offense because “Einstein wasn’t a Christian, so why are you quoting him?” My reaction was: these 2 self proclaimed Christian men are not rejoicing with me for having turned from a life of unbelief and sin, to a life of believing in Jesus and living for Him. Instead, they are nitpicking my testimony of how I was once lost, but now I am found!

        Mitch, I apologize with all of my heart for doing to you, what those two Christian bloggers did to me. And no, I did not block you, I made my blog private and I stayed off of WP a few days, while I prayed and tried to sort through the confusion.

        God is love. I know He loves you, and I know He loves me, and Bruce, and Tom, and every human being, for we were all created by Him, made in His image. I pray that we all will learn how to speak the truth, as we understand it, in love.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Aw, bless you, dear Sis. Those two rebukes you received previously were clearly wrong-headed, and I’m glad you realized it. I’ve used that Einstein quote myself, too, btw (he wasn’t a believer, but he was intrigued by Jesus–no small thing for a secular Jew during his time). Onward and upward!

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  5. You are correct Bruce the ends do not justify the means. Honesty is always best and one should be upfront but there are snakes in the grass. It does hurt when it’s a trusted friend. To disagree is one thing but to deceive is devilish not Christian.

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  6. Bruce, I’ve only just discovered that you and Tom have have had a lot to say about “M” in the last few days. Knowing him as I do, I feel I can respond on his behalf. First, he did, in fact, reply to ALL of your and Tom’s comments on his site, but apparently you did not see them all. So the implication that he has somehow been disengenuous or evasive is simply untrue.
    Secondly, the film ‘Healing River’ was, in fact, produced by a Catholic production company, St. Michael Movies, but has zero connection to M’s use of a Mother Teresa quote regarding charity; he has posted thousands of quotes on hundreds of subjects over the last eight years, none of them on or about Catholicism (and far more by protestants, btw–C.S. Lewis is his spiritual mentor).
    M is was hired by St. Michael Movies to write and direct two feature films (the second being a monster movie spoof entitled ‘Notzilla’). In both cases, M’s upfront deal with them was that his films would NOT preach or teach Catholic doctrine. ‘Healing River’ was green-lighted first because it had two lead characters who were Catholics, and that appealed to them. It does not, however, preach Catholicism, just as many Hollwood films have featured Catholic characters without preaching Catholicism. ‘Healing River’ is no more about Catholic doctrine than ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ with its soldier characters, is about military theory.
    ‘Healing River’ IS about learning to forgive and love our enemies, as Jesus compels us to do. In other words, it’s about grace. I say this with complete assurance because I literally know what the writer was thinking when he wrote every word of the script.
    True, M is not, as you’ve accurately reported, anti-Catholic. But neither does he consciously or unconsciouly promote it. That is simply not what he’s about.
    You may think he was wrong to use a quote by Mother Teresa without including a warning about her theology (he did not and still does not think the context warranted that). But please stop saying or implying that he has some kind of hidden agenda. M is a Jesus-follower with a ministry to both believers and non-believers. That is his passion and his calling. Blessings, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mitch, it is true that you did eventually respond to the comments that were directed to you, but there was a lapse of almost three days before those responses were forthcoming. Additionally, I sent a lengthy comment to your “Harvest Time” post on the 9th Oct that you chose not to release, which is your prerogative, but it still left me with a silent response, at that time, from your end. At no time did I question your faith and I did address you as a fellow Christian throughout. We may disagree on the freedom you exercise with quoting, because of the false impressions, that I and some others feel, it can imply, but once again, that is your call. Unfortunately, I can’t read the mind of “M” like you can, so during your silence, I had a tad less to go on than you did. One of the statements in the comment I sent you on the 9th that was not released states: “I have no animosity towards you personally, whatsoever Mitch. I have enjoyed many of your posts, as you have indicated you have enjoyed many of mine.” I also invited you to correct me if I was making false assumptions. That particular comment was not released by you and was not responded to, by you. I don’t question your faith, passion; or calling. For any assumptions I made during the silence I encountered, that you deem as false, I apologize. Blessing to you also, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bruce, I just now found your comment to the ‘Harvest Time’ post in WordPress’s “Pending” file. I didn’t (as you have assumed) “choose not to release it” and have no idea why WordPress put it there. And I haven’t been silent or evasive, I have been busy. I receive 300 to 400 emails a day, and often don’t get around responding to Likes or Comments for several days (and sometimes miss them altogether).
        Re. Issues you raise in that Comment:
        I didn’t “sidestep” Tom’s questions re. “doctrinal differences between the Roman Catholic church (which Mother Teresa was directly connected to) and the vast majority of mainline Protestant denominations,” I explained that I didn’t think doing so was necessary or relevant in the context that her quote was used. You and Tom disagreed. Fine, that’s your opinion. It is not mine.
        Finally, I have never “avoided identifying myself with the Catholic church” or “deflected that association” because you and Tom are iterally THE ONLY TWO PEOPLE who have EVER suggested I had or needed to avoid such an association!
        I honestly don’t expect this answer to satisfy you any more than the previous ones have, making my efforts to answer these questions seem like wasted time. I like you as a person, Bruce, but I must admit I’m at the end of my proverbial rope re. this issue. We hold differeing views. That’s OK with me. I hope it’s OK with you because, either way, I need to move on to other things.
        Blessings, Mitch

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