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The Pope’s New Evangelization Program: Bishop Ricken, Greg Laurie and Calvary Chapel

Commentary by Roger Oakland

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One of the main goals we have at Understand The Times is to analyze the news in light of insights found in the Word of God. With regard to Bible prophecy, we should be very aware that doctrines of demons are taking place as part of the great falling away.[1] Even those who have been known for teaching the Word of God can will be misled as they get caught up in this Last Days apostasy.

Recently an article caught my attention with regard to Rome’s New Evangelization program. This program, put into place by Pope John Paul II, is still being promoted by Pope Benedict XVI in order to bring people to the Roman Catholic Eucharistic Jesus through a variety of plans.

The title of the article I read was “The Blessed Mother – The Vatican’s Secret Weapon?” [2]Notice that the title asks a question, which the article proceeds to  answer showing how two Roman Catholic leaders, one from the USA and the other from Europe, have been both brought on board by Pope Benedict to provide leadership for Rome’s worldwide New Evangelization program

These two men from different parts of the world had something in common, which I found to be very interesting. As the article states:

Two esteemed men, one a United States Catholic Bishop from Green Bay, WI., the other a Cardinal based in Europe, serving as the Archbishop of Vienna, suddenly seem to have very much in common.
Both men, charged with revitalizing the Catholic faith, have courageously taken action that acknowledges the supernatural presence of Our Lady.[3]

The phrase supernatural presence of Our Lady is important when studying about Last Days deception dealing with the topic of lying signs and wonders. Both of these men are promoters of the unbiblical idea that Mary, the mother of Jesus, appears in apparitions giving messages from heaven as if they were even more important than the Word of God. In their effort to revitalize the Roman Catholic Church and establish what they believe will be the kingdom of God on earth, they are promoting supernatural appearances of an apparitional woman they claim is Mary the mother of Jesus. Paul warns about this very deception in the letter he wrote to the Galatians, saying: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” [4]

The American is Bishop Ricken from Wisconsin.  He has been elected as the new chairman to The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop's committee for Evangelization and Catechesis. The European is Cardinal Schonborn. He is one of the first members assigned to the new Vatican department called “The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.”

While perhaps not many see the significance of the appointments of these two men by the pope, those who take Bible prophesy seriously believe the Last Days will be characterized by lying signs and wonders. This would include appearances of a woman claiming to be “Mary the mother of Jesus.”

Therefore this announcement is very significant because both men have a great interest with apparitions of Mary. Further, it appears that both men see how these appearances could be useful in the Roman Catholic Church’s evangelistic efforts to lead people to the Roman Catholic Jesus.

From a biblical perspective, this is not evangelism; this is outright deception that is authored by Satan to lead people to another Jesus and another gospel by another spirit. [5]

There is More to the Story

It was the name Bishop Ricken that caught my attention when I read the article about the Roman Catholic churches plan to use appearances of “Mary” to enhance the New Evangelization plan. I had heard of Ricken before from other articles I had read. Bishop Ricken shared the platform with Greg Laurie in Wisconsin at a city wide Lifest evangelistic crusade in the spring of 2011 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

It is also a fact that Bishop Ricken investigated and approved an apparition of “Mary” that supposedly occurred 150 years ago in Door County, Wisconsin known as "Our Lady of Good Help.” Now people are flocking to this apparitional site endorsed by Bishop Ricken as they believe this is a legitimate and holy place.

So what does this mean? Will people who attended the meeting in Wisconsin where Laurie and Ricken both spoke on the same platform be somewhat confused? What if there are those who attended the Lifest ecumenical meetings who are now convinced that Ricken’s program to promote Marian apparitions is a good thing with regard to the New Evangelization? Apparently, Ricken and his colleague from Europe plan to promote Marian apparitions as a means of pointing people to the Eucharistic Jesus. As the article states:

Bishop Ricken has acted boldly in the United States, with his approval of an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In Europe, Cardinal Schonborn has acted fearlessly as well with his activities. Both men, charged with revitalizing the Catholic faith, have courageously taken action that acknowledges the supernatural presence of the Our Lady and importantly her motherly role in leading us to her son. [6]

Since Greg Laurie shared the platform in Oskosh, Wisconsin at the Lifest Celebration with Bishop Ricken much more has happened. Ricken has now been promoted to be a key player in the pope’s New Evangelization program.

It is well known that Jesuits are behind the devotion to “Our Lady of Peace,” also called the "Queen of Heaven," that leads to the promotion of the Eucharistic Jesus. This will be an important part of developing a One-World Religion for Peace that will usher in the Antichrist. For more information about this, read Queen of All: How Marian Apparitions Plan to Unite the World Religions by Tetlow, Oakland and Meyers.

Therefore, the questions that should be asked are these: Why would Greg Laurie endorse Roman Catholic Jesuit Bishop Ricken by sharing the platform with him at the Lifest gathering in Oshkosh? Is Laurie aware of the damage he has done by forming this association, or is this just part of a much larger game plan that has not yet been revealed?

One could also ask, why does Laurie link hands with Rick Warren who has linked hands with Rome through Tony Blair and the P.E.A.C.E. Plan? The Bible clearly teaches there will be a counterfeit bride prepared for a counterfeit Christ in the Last Days. Shouldn’t the Church of Jesus Christ be warned about this rather than covering up Satan’s plans? And shouldn’t Christian leaders be concerned about the “fruit” of being unequally yoked those with an unbiblical agenda? 

Now that Bishop Ricken is becoming more and more active and well known for promoting a Roman Catholic signs and wonders style of evangelism, Greg Laurie is responsible to make a public announcement to clarify that he is not on this same bandwagon. Or, if there is silence, someone from Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa headquarters needs to make an announcement over KWAVE just before Greg Laurie’s daily Monday through Friday programs to set the record straight so that the sheep will have the wool removed from covering their eyes.

While Understand The Times realizes that some reading our commentaries regarding Calvary Chapel will think that we are “out to get them” and hope for their destruction. But nothing could be further from the truth. It is only the lies and deceptions of the enemy we wish to see come to an end. As for Calvary Chapel, we continue to pray that both the leaders and the followers will have their eyes opened to what is taking place.

For those who are skeptical that the Roman Catholic New Evangelization program is overtaking Calvary Chapel, we think you should listen to two short audio clips from recent Pastor’s Perspective radio shows. In each clip, Chuck Smith is addressing questions about Catholicism. After listening to these, we think you will agree with us that the road to Rome has found its way into the Calvary Chapel movement, and it is time for its leaders to start taking spiritual deception serious.

Clip One:'sPerspective11_23_11edited.mp3

Clip Two:   (Start at 48:10 mark; also see the transcript below.)

Either we take a stand for apostasy, or we are against it. Confusing the sheep is not acceptable. It is time to swallow pride and do what is right.


Don Stewart: Alright back we go to the phones to Orange, California with Ben on the line. Ben welcome to Pastors Perspective, Hi!

Ben: Hi how are you?

Don Stewart: Fine thank you!

Ben: I uh, I am a loyal listener, I um love going to uh your men’s conferences [Don Stewart: “Good!”] and I fellowship with a bunch of people at Calvary Chapel’s, um I visit Greg Laurie’s Harvest, and I have a question because I sometimes I have a hard time understanding um how I um, communicate with people um of the Protestant faith because I am Catholic, and sometimes we um have communication issues and, they want to get into apologetics and um, you know I love the worship and the fellowship with those - with the different people but um I’m going to hang onto my faith as well, and I am just curios what you think about it.

Don Stewart: OK, good question there Ben in fact were glad your going to these events we’re glad you listen to this program. OK Chuck what about that?

Chuck Smith: Ben I have a cousin who was a mother superior in the Catholic Church, and uh, she was just a wonderful Christian, loved her and we had great conversations together, and I didn’t try to convert her from Catholicism nor did she try to convert me uh into becoming a Catholic, its just we both recognize that uh you know we have, we had the same Lord, and the same uh faith ya know and so uh we just uh you know on those things we agreed upon we just agreed upon and we didn’t really bring up the things where there were disagreements.

Don Stewart [Minute 49:42]: Ya um again the question is Ben if you love the Lord Jesus, if you’re trusting Him and Him alone for your salvation that’s the key, what are you trusting in, what’s going to get you to heaven is it Jesus and something else or Jesus and Jesus alone and that’s the question that needs to be answered, and of course the Bible said its Jesus alone by grace through faith we’re saved, it’s not of ourselves, not of works lest anyone should boast, cause Chuck it wouldn’t be heaven would it if people were walking around bragging what they’ve done...and uh no peacocks strutin’ around, na na it’d be real miserable we’re not going to see that in heaven. Alright let’s go now to Aurora, Colorado and talk to Jay on Pastors Perspective, Jay welcome to welcome to the program [Minute 50:20].

[1]  I Timothy 4:1
  Galatians 1:8
2 Corinthians 11


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