I've encountered many different chat rooms in which I have not gotten very far with my witnessing, and I have gotten somewhat discouraged about this at times. I have wondered what is it that makes these people believe so soundly in their beliefs, and yet I know that it is not the gospel that they have placed their faith in, although they use much of the same language. Certainly they use the Bible, but as Matthew 4 and Luke 4 show, even Satan is masterful in using Bible verses to twist things away from the truth and to deceive. I have been told things like I am Satan's wolf in sheep's clothing and a deceiver with my own agenda. Some of the "logical" questions that they also ask are, "Why should a church that was started by Christ Himself for over 2000 years, and given the promise that evil would not prevail against it, submit to someone like me that pushes so many things that weren't around until the sixteenth century?" The really confusing part of this is when these people back themselves with the fact that so many of them were raised as professing evangelicals, former pastors that have changed now into a Roman Catholic. The thought process continues with the idea that if I am right, then how can these Bible scholars be wrong? Many times the debate ends with them saying that they would continue their prayers for me, so that I would see that I had been taught so poorly by those when I was growing up, and did not really know what the Catholic Church actually believed. Simply they say that I should stop lying and that I should "Come back home to Rome," and they include many names of those that have written of their return to the Catholic faith.
Not knowing just what to say, I do recognize that the Bible is clear about this type of reaction having Jesus tell us in Matthew 24:24, "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." And I get no where showing them that 1 Corinthians 1:27 tells us, "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." And you can imagine the response to my telling them that Acts 4:13 says that Peter and the others were uneducated, but God used them, not because they had degrees or knew Greek or how smart they were. So what is the answer?
The answers came to me as I was thinking about this, when I came across an article written by Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministry at his Pro-gospel.org website. I have quoted much of it below. In his article he tells us that "the key is how they say the best way to reinvent Christianity for the present generation is to reintroduce ideas and experiences from the past. Emergent leaders say God's Word no longer holds the answers to life's questions. Experience must become the key factor to encounter spiritual reality. The experiential attractions which are being promoted by the emerging Church include: statues, prayer stations, incense, liturgy, candles, icons, the sacraments and calling communion the Eucharist. In other words, it is because he rejects the Word of God as the objective authority for truth and exchange it with an experience."
Mike writes of Protestants who have experimented and then converted to Catholicism because of their "joyful experience." And part of his article includes the well known Catholic apologist named Scott Hahn. "His subjective experience was participating in the ungodly pagan practice of praying the rosary (Mat. 6:7). Hahn was convinced "Mary" performed a miracle after he prayed the rosary. By contrast, those who have been gloriously converted to the Lord Jesus Christ have believed the objective truth of His Word."
"A common characteristic of Protestants who have converted to Romanism has been a dissatisfaction with their former Christian experience. One convert cited several things that drove him away from his evangelical church.. He said, 'We tried the Catholic Church across the street and immediately enjoyed the formal liturgy, the religious rituals and a reverence for God.' They left a shallow worship experience and replaced it with an idolatrous worship experience. The lesson here is that churches which emphasize entertainment over the preaching of God's Word will always have people looking for a more satisfying experience. Whatever you win then 'with' is what you win them 'to.'"
The more I thought of it, the more I began to understand what was behind the deception. I recalled my pastor talking about this type of "feel good/ear tickling theology" that was sweeping the world. I recalled an aunt of mine that would not be budged from Catholicism because shortly after her husband died, she claimed that he appeared to her, so how could she be mistaken? And I thought of a recent co-worker that said that she had no problem praying to Mary because she experienced Mary's providing for her and answering her prayers. All these things add up to how Satan can and does "appear to us as an angel of light." (1 Corinthians 11:14) and of how Paul warned us about this type of last days events when he wrote that although it is disheartening and discouraging, we should not be surprised because: "the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1).
In closing I'd like to quote Mike Gendron one more time as he explains, "Emergent leaders say God's Word no longer holds the answers to life's questions. Experience must become the key factor to encounter spiritual reality. That is part of the problem, but we have no choice as as true believers but to be prepared to offend them with the truth, knowing that the Gospel will offend those who are offensive to God." Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and having given us the gospel once for all, we therefore must be diligent in our efforts to learn, and then to spread, the salvational message to whomever we can. This is not just the Catholics problem, but is a world wide trend. May God help us reach them in this increasingly difficult, spiritual war before they really get an experience, God's wrath on judgment day