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Swedish Pentecostal Megapastor converts to the One True Faith March 11, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Bible, catachesis, Ecumenism, error, foolishness, General Catholic, Interior Life, Lent, mortification, sanctity, Tradition, Virtue.

Thanks to my wife for sharing this with me.  A Swedish Pentecostal pastor of a 3300 video board toting megachurch announced last Sunday he is joining the Catholic Church.  God be praised, such conversions are rare:

The founder of a 3,300-member megachurch in one of Sweden’s largest cities announced yesterday [Sunday, March 9] his decision to leave his charismatic congregation and join the Roman Catholic Church.

Ulf Ekman, who introduced Sweden to the prosperity-emphasizing Word of Faith movement when he founded Word of Life Ministries and Word of Life Church, had stepped down from the pastorate at the Uppsala church last spring.

“I have come to realize that the movement I for the last 30 years have represented, despite successes and much good that has occurred on various mission fields, is part of the ongoing Protestant fragmentation of Christendom,” Ekman wrote in an op-ed for Swedish newspaper Daegens Nyheter.

Well that’s all very good to see.  However, here is an interesting tidbit that might prove a bit controversial:

In a note on his ministry website, Ekman explains that he and his wife, Birgitta Ekman, have undergone a slow transformation over the past decade as they have come to know practicing Roman Catholics, including many charismatic Catholics.

As my Norwegian ancestors would say, Uff da!  I am one of many who has grave problems with charismatic Catholicism.  At the very beginning of my conversion, a religious priest tried to suck me into this movement, and I actually participated in several months of classes to sort of form into a charismatic.  While there was some very good catechesis, no doubt, it was all fundamentally disordered by all this protestant aping “life of the spirit” stuff – I might say garbage – involving speaking in tongues, “resting in the Lord,” etc.  Such practices are quite distant from traditional Catholic piety, and can even be seen as leading one in a disordered direction away from true sanctity.

In my experience, charismatic Catholics have some misunderstandings of mortification and cooperation with Grace, and some seem even to operate under a protestant “once saved, always saved” mentality.

This ties in with another piece I saw last night, which just about floored me, wherein an American protestant pastor opines that Lenten mortification are “spiritually dangerous.”  This piece is a veritable dossier on protestant errors, so let us see a few of them:

 The spiritual-minded experience fasting positively because it conforms to our default position about spiritual matters. Deep down, we are all born as Pharisees, believing that sin and salvation are a matter of discipline, something within our control. [This pastor admits that he tends to take things too far – fasting to the point of passing out in the past. Protestantism has a fundamental error, in that because something can be abused and done in a disordered way, it should never be done at all.  That is what is being argued here.  They overlook that it is our interior motivations that make an act virtuous or full of vice. If we fast for our own glory, or feel that if we just check some boxes on a list we are saved (the ultimate evangelical protestant belief – accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior ONCE and you are saved forever!), then our mortifications will merit us nothing, and could add to our sins.  But if we do it in the hope that we are simply cooperating with Grace in establishing control over our bodily lusts, the better to love God and our fellow man, then these acts are incredibly efficacious of Grace.  But protestants don’t believe in such efficacy, as we will see below]  The ascetic way of the penitential partakes of the natural religion of the natural man, not the revealed religion of the Gospel.  [Here we see the constant protestant tendency to latch onto certain bits of Scripture while ignoring others, or radically misinterpreting certain passages.  Here, we see the total neglect of “take up your cross and follow me,” as well as the definitive exhortation in Mt XXV:31-46] Which is one reason why fasting is so widespread in most every world religion.  [This guy is really taking a strong stand. He hates him some mortification.  Once again, mortification done absent Grace will avail nothing supernatural. But with Grace, it is everything, and was the prime, one might even say entire, focus of early Christian spirituality.]

Back to Mark 7, where Jesus hit the nail on the head.  [This is where Christ advises us not to fast as the Pharisees do, but even here this guy misses the point.  Christ plainly commands us to fast – we are simply not to do so in a manner similar to the Pharisees, who did so for public show and with the thought that they could make themselves holy absent any work of God. This is Pelagianism, a condemned heresy, but most protestants are ignorant of both the heresy and its errors]  We all desperately want to believe that sin is outside of us, something that goes into us and defiles us. [I would say that orthodox Catholics are quite aware that our sins come from within us] That it is a particular act, or behavior, or excess, that we can readily regulate and control should we choose. Though Jesus never sinned, he became sin on our behalf, and understood sin better than we do, and boy did he understand the sin of Phariseeism. [Which, I would argue, this protestant is actually promoting, through his rejection of Grace accompanying works as the means for personal interior conversion.  Again, another major protestant error, in that following pure Calvinism – to which this guy surely adheres – we are faced with the idea that man is irretrievably evil and unable to perform any works that will merit Grace. This is the “total depravity” garbage, one of the worst errors ever posited, and directly counter to what all the Fathers of the Church believe.  It is founded on a complete perversion of Scripture, and fundamentally illogical, because even the “faith alone” on which it is posited is a work.  Faith is a work.  It is a non sequitur to claim otherwise.]

…..Two problems present themselves with this view. First, it underestimates our sin. Remember, Jesus listed pride and deceit as two of the things that bubble up from within our hearts. As sinners, we can’t help taking pride in the things we do to give our salvation a little push, so engaging in such self-prescribed spiritual disciplines just gives us more sin — the sin of pride — to repent of. [As I said, total depravity and complete misunderstanding of Grace and how it works]

Second, and more fundamentally, is the uniqueness and purpose of Christ’s sufferings. Jesus didn’t die to purify his own soul, but ours. He fasted for forty days in the wilderness on our behalf, so we wouldn’t have to; not as a model, but as a substitute. His passion was not a discipline that made his heart pure in its love for his Father, it was the price to be paid for our sins, and he paid it in full.

And this is where the completely inverted image of Christianity that comes with hardline protestantism reveals itself.  We are total dung. We can do nothing good. All we can do is proclaim a faith in Christ (one time!) and we are saved, because St. John wrote in Chapter 45 of his Gospel that God is contractually obligated to admit into Heaven every soul that makes a one time declaration of Faith.*

The problem with all this, aside from the self-serving “individual interpretation of Scripture” on which it is based, is that it fundamentally perverts right understanding and practice of the Faith.  It literally inverts Christianity, taking away the fundamental vehicle of sanctification – cooperation with Grace which is demonstrated through our joyfully willed acts of mortification, propitiation, adoration, etc, and changes into a model where we just lay back and wait for that good Grace to just run all over us after we make a profession of Faith.  It is counter to Scripture, such as the aforementioned Matthew 25:31-46 makes clear: our salvation is predicated on good works.  And we will not have the wherewithal to perform external acts of good until we have permitted God to sufficiently quieten our fallen tendencies towards sin through mortification.

The guy ends his paean to error with the claim that Christ doesn’t want us to do good for ourselves, but for others!  Really!  That’s why He constantly counseled on the need to lead a sinless life and to follow the narrow, rocky way to salvation, not the broad protestant-built highway of self-will masquerading as virtue. Because that’s the deadly trap, in the protestant-calvinist way of thinking, with no mortification, it is incredibly easy, almost assured, that unmortified souls will mistake vice for virtue, or perform virtuous acts absent Grace which net them no supernatural gain at all.

The Catholic/Orthodox belief, firmly grounded in Scripture and built upon the incredible sanctity and wisdom of the early Fathers, posits that we must permit Christ to mold us into His image through cooperation with Grace, which entails constant mortification, in order to then have the virtue required to serve others in a truly Christ-like, selfless manner. That does not mean we wait to serve others until the process is complete, for it will never be complete, but it does mean we do our very best through mortification, prayer, partaking of the Sacraments, which actions will provide the very seedbed of virtue on which to base our acts of charity – our entire life of charity – towards others.  It is impossible, according to too many Saints to list and even more so according to the experience of millions of pious souls, to practice truly selfless virtue towards others without mortification.  It is the very basis of the interior life.  This piece in the Federalist is really just a vile calvinist attack on a timeless, fundamental Christian practice.

In conclusion, I think what the author truly wanted to say is that protestant practice of mortification is a danger to protestantism, not to the souls in question.

It just goes to show how twisted off and erroneous one can become when there is not an Authority to provide settled understandings of Scripture and its meaning, which St. Peter – the First Pope – warned us about in his 2nd Catholic Epistle.

And this is what true ecumenism should involve, refuting in the strongest terms the soul-endangering heresies of protestantism, and calling them to conversion.  I pray for that Swedish couple, that they develop a proper understanding of the Faith.

*Just in case you don’t know, there is no 45 Chapter of St. John’s Gospel.


1. The Proof of Love | A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics - March 11, 2014

[…] In light of the previous post, a re-post, on how we demonstrate our love for God not with a onetime altar call that in almost all cases produces no lasting conversion, but through a lifetime process of mortification, prayer, and similar works of piety done in cooperation with Grace. […]

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