The Protestant Reformation, Part Two

worms-martin_luther

In this second installment of my series on the Reformation, we explore the theological foundations behind the hyper-religious system Luther and the other Reformers wrestled with. This system makes God’s salvation conditional upon the keeping of sacraments, doing penance, and obtaining “merit” from the mythical “treasury of merit” and “indulgences” that the popes dole out for a price to people to offset their sins.

Luther’s 95 Thesis’ posted on the Wittenberg Castle Church door attacked this unscriptural belief and sparked a theological revolution.

Click the arrow below to hear the streaming audio.

      The Reformation Part 2 - Dr. Bruce R. Porter

Happy Reformation Day!

On October 31st each year, we celebrate Reformation Day! This year marks the 499th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenburg Castle Church.
naileditThis courageous act sparked a theological revolution and the Protestant Reformation! Within weeks of Luther’s posting, copies of his theses were being reprinted in the German language and distributed across the nation! Claudia and I were privileged to visit this historic site in September and stand in the very place Luther stood on that momentous day!bcwittsml

Last Saturday evening, at our weekly gathering, I delivered a special message titled; The Protestant Reformation, and gave an overview of Luther and the influences in his life. This will be, God willing, the first in a series I will teach on the Reformation. This first message is now available for free in the player below. I hope you enjoy it and will pass along the link to anyone you think will benefit from it!
PART ONE

      The Reformation #1 - Bruce R Porter

 

Are You “Coming Home” to Mama Church?

WOLFEN2We are witnessing a growing and aggressive movement by the Roman Catholic Church in our times that seeks to draw lapsed Catholics back to Rome. It’s called the “Coming Home” movement.

However, if you think the Papacy’s aim is merely to draw non-observant Catholics back into the “Mother Church” of Rome, think again. The ultimate goal of the Papacy is to draw ALL Christians into Rome’s orbit, and through the efforts of zealous former non-Catholic Christians, the movement is gaining momentum.

A growing number of high-profile Evangelical pastors and Christian broadcasters are joining the call for “reconciliation” and “ecumenical unity” with Roman Catholicism under the rubric that the Protestant Reformation’s “war” against Rome is “over,” and we’re all free to “come home” to the “Mother Church” of Rome. The reason there is so little resistance to the movement among Protestants is the fact that most non-Catholics have very little awareness of the unbiblical theology taught and practiced by the Roman Church, or the issues that led up the Protestant Reformation, and are easily moved by the emotional “warm fuzzy” feeling associated with terms like; “ending the war,” and the entire concept of “unity.” Most Charismatic, Evangelical, and denominational Christians in this present generation have little understanding of the importance of history when dealing with the Roman Church.

The following audio by Pastor John MacArthur will provide a clear, concise, and well-documented analysis of the danger we are facing with this movement. While he does not directly address the “Coming Home” movement per se, he lays out many little known and often misunderstood unscriptural doctrines held by the Papacy.  I urge you to listen carefully to what Pastor MacArthur shares here. As a disclaimer, I do not agree with everything his ministry teaches on every subject, but I think he nailed the issue here.

For the sake of yourself, your family, and your children, PLEASE take time to hear this audio. It may be one of the most important things you will ever hear.

      temp (360p)

The Hand-Print on the Wall

By: Bruce R Porter, D.Div.

Scanning the empty classroom, my gaze fell upon a small hand-print on the wall just below the sill of a shattered window. It was small, belonging to a child of perhaps only 7 or 8 years old. Broken glass crunched as I stepped nearer to examine it more closely. It reminded me of the artwork little children often create with finger-paint and proudly sign with a crayon.

This was not an art project to display on a refrigerator however. It also didn’t bear a crayon signature, or even a “smiley face” sticker. It was printed in the life-blood of a wounded child while desperately trying to escape the monsters who invaded the child’s school.

Beslan School is located in southern Russia. On the first day of each school year, it is a custom for students, their parents, grandparents, and siblings, to gather for a special day of celebration. Dressed in their best clothes, students bring flowers and gifts for their teachers. On that fateful day of September 1st, 2004, Beslan’s festive occasion was cut short. At 8:45 am, fifty Islamic terrorists stormed into the school’s courtyard in full battle dress, armed to the teeth with military-grade weapons, and captured over 1,100 people within 15 minutes. The hostages were herded into the school’s gymnasium, and held for three days without food or water. Many of the hostages desperately resorted to drinking their own urine. The jihadists tortured and humiliated the captives, even raping many of the young girls right in front of their horrified classmates and parents.

Around 1 pm on the third day, some of the bombs planted throughout the school began detonating. Panicked hostages began jumping out of windows and rushed the exit doors to escape. The jihadists opened fire on the hostages with automatic weapons, and tossed grenades among them. Russian special forces rushed the building to save as many hostages as possible. After a room to room battle, hundreds of people lay dead or horribly wounded. In the end, nearly 600 perished.

When the news broke in America, I knew I had to respond. Over the years, I’d served in my local fire department as a firefighter and Critical Incident Stress Debriefer. I also served at the Columbine High School attack and Ground Zero in New York after 9/11. I believed I could help, and made plans to fly to Russia. This wasn’t easy, for Beslan was nearly closed to foreigners. I kept pushing for visas for my small response team. Miraculously, visas were granted, flights booked, and funds poured in to cover our expenses.

Six days later, we landed late at night at Beslan’s only airport. The next morning, we visited the school ruins. Amazingly, the authorities opened the buildings to anyone to see what the terrorists had done. Family and friends wandered the scorched corridors and classrooms of the buildings wailing and moaning. It was a house of horrors beyond our worst nightmares. In the gymnasium, thousands of open water bottles and flowers were displayed. The water commemorated the fact that the victims were deprived of water during their ordeal. The walls and ceilings of every hallway and classroom were splattered with blood, clinging bits of human flesh, shrapnel, and bullet-holes. Weeping, I stepped past pools of blood and debris, praying God would give me wisdom to help this broken community.

Our team visited hospitals to give small gifts, stuffed animals, and offer what encouragement we could to survivors. It was heartbreaking to see little kids suffering from bullet-wounds, and shrapnel. The vacant stares of little girls and young women who endured the most cruel and brutal abuse haunted me for months. Most physical wounds would eventually heal, but emotional scars can last a lifetime. A nurse remarked that we were the first American visitors, and it was the first time most of the children had smiled or laughed.

I met with Dr. Federov, Director of the children’s hospital in nearby Vladikavkaz. His eyes filled with tears as he described the first desperate hours when hundreds of injured children began arriving in private cars and trucks because there were only a few ambulances. They hurriedly set up a tent to triage the flood of wounded. He choked-up as he described having to use garden hoses to wash blood off the children so their wounds could be assessed. Later, a nurse wept and told me how they had to stack bodies up in the hallways because the morgue was overflowing. With each encounter, we sought to encourage, pray with, and share funds with families from donors in America.

We visited one of the families who survived the attack. They lost their 5-year-old son, Mark. We rode in a car with several bullet-holes. The terrorists shot at the father trying to escape the school with three other children huddled in the back seat. The mother, however, and two of their sons were captured.

While they were held in the gym, she saw little Mark put his hands together, bow his head, and pray. When asked what he was doing, he replied that he was praying for the terrorists so they would come to know Jesus like their family did. She was shocked at his simple, childlike faith. When pandemonium broke out at the end, little Mark was struck in the head by shrapnel from a nearby bomb and died in his mother’s arms. She didn’t want to leave him, but her older son shouted over the mayhem and explosions, “Mom! Mark’s with Jesus now, but we have to get out of here!” She gently kissed her little boy’s face one last time, leaped up, and they ran to safety.

I wept as I beheld in her face a heavenly serenity and peace. She said, “I have forgiven these terrible men, as I know my Markie did in his heart. He prayed for them, and I pray for their souls now.” Such a display of God’s peace in the soul of this mother was inspirational beyond words.

At the new cemetery on the edge of town, we laid a wreath and tried to comfort mourners. Walking among the fresh graves, I saw that whole families were often buried together. Flowers and cards covered the fresh mounds of dirt. I was moved to see thousands of packages with flowers and a letter from the State of Israel laid upon each grave. No other nation did the same. Who could empathize more with the pain of these brokenhearted people than the Jews, who have suffered such undeserved, evil hatred for centuries?

Looking back, I struggle sometimes wondering if our small team made any difference in the face of such a disaster. Hopefully, the hundreds of hand-written cards we gave out from Christian school students, and the stuffed animals and small packages of Columbine flowers assuaged, in some small measure, their grief. Only eternity will tell. I remain inspired by the example little Markie left us to pray for those ensnared in the matrix of evil and hate. I’m also haunted by a disturbing question. Will there be more bloody hand-prints on school walls, perhaps right here in America? I suspect we have a lot of praying to do.

Remembering Pearl Harbor (And My Dad)

A Date that will Live in Infamy

 

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941
—a date which will live in infamy—
the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked
by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

It’s a rare calendar coincidence that Pearl Harbor Day should fall on a Sunday, just as it did on that terrible day in 1941. My parents remembered it as an ordinary day, when America was slumbering. The Great Depression was beginning to fade from memory as the economy improved. The flames of war in Europe were raging, as Jewish smoke rose from Nazi crematoriums in extermination camps, yet the majority of Americans wanted no part in a war on foreign soil.
 
My father, along with millions of other young men and women across the nation, flooded military recruiting offices in the weeks following the Pearl attack, outraged, and seeking to enlist and “get even” with the “Japs.” Political correctness-that scourge of modern pop-culture that makes mice of men-was unknown in those days, and a sense of patriotism and duty to our great nation moved these men to leave farms, factories, careers, and families to battle evil.
 
Dad left his family farm in
Missouri along with some of my uncles to fight Nazis and Japanese imperialists. Shipped to the South Pacific, he saw combat in the Marshall Islands and Guam
. Although he returned home in one piece, the war left deep wounds upon his mind and soul, and as I was growing up, I remember his frequent visits to the veteran’s mental hospital as he tried to cope with all he’d seen and done. War is hell in the life of a combat veteran, sometimes for many years afterward. It’s hell on their families too, for I also carry some of my dad’s wounds in my own soul due to his inability to be an emotionally nurturing father to me. All is forgiven. I once wept because dad’s pain. I now weep for it.
 
Dad never spoke much about his war experiences. Like most WWII veterans, the memories were either too painful, or he just didn’t want to bring the horrors of war into our home and family. Men of his generation seldom revealed their inner feelings. I respected that, but later when I came home from service in
Vietnam
, I often thought it might have been healing for both of us to share our stories. We never really did. I had it infinitely easier than my father did, in that I never had to experience hand-to-hand combat that ended in death. Only last year did he share any of his war experiences with me, but his memories were mercifully dimmed by his long ninety-year journey.
 
Pearl Harbor triggered our entry into WWII, and a time of testing came upon what some have described as “the greatest generation.” With rare exceptions, these young men, along with dad, passed that test with flying colors. They stood for honor and country, and were fully convinced in the rightness of their cause. They liberated a world from the grip of evil tyranny, and when it was all over, they came home as heroes, not that they would ever admit it. “The real heroes fell on the beach at Iwo Jima, or on D-Day
,” is what these guys usually say.  
 

Final Taps for my father… 

Early this morning I was awakened by a call I’d been expecting for some time, but dreaded to receive. My father, Julian R. Porter, passed away last night in a hospital in Missouri at the age of ninety-one. In his latter years, dad embraced Jesus Christ as his personal savior, and just two weeks ago I had the joy of praying with him for the last time. We wept together, and I encouraged him to embrace what was coming next, and that when he breathed his last in this world, the veil would be lifted and he would behold the face of Jesus. I like to think that my mom, who went before, met him today, and he is rejoicing in the presence of God.
 
As we remember Pearl Harbor Day, let us remember to honor that generation of young people who stood up in their time and did what was right and necessary. Let us honor their sacrifices in defense of our freedom, and hold those who remain among us a little closer as they slip away into eternity.
 
Let us also honor that same spirit of duty, honor, and country that yet burns in the breasts of countless young patriots today, who have answered the call of their country after the dastardly attack on our nation on
9-11-01. Our new enemies killed more of our people that dark day than even the Pearl Harbor
attack sixty years before. Our soldiers today are battling a new evil-Islamo-fascism-and we must do all we can to support them in their mission. Make no mistake. We face a worse tyranny and enslavement at the hands of these medieval barbarians than we ever would have under a Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Tojo.  Let us continually remind our leaders that the path of appeasement with evil is the path of defeat and death.
 
I love you dad. Thanks for defending us before we were even born, and in spite of the fact that we didn’t even understand what you did for so many years. Thanks for all the selfless years you endured a numbingly mindless job in a factory to put food on our table, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our heads. Thanks for doing the best you could, and loving my mom and my brother and sisters with your faithfulness in spite of your inner pain. Your tour of duty is finished.
Mission accomplished. You’ve entered into eternal joy unspeakable and full of glory. Watch for me at the gates dad. I’m not too far behind.