The Christian Research Inst.

What Is It? Whose "Side" Does It Take?*

Some are wondering, "Who is running things at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) -- the Jesuits, or confused pseudo-evangelicals?

CRI is a "parachurch" organization in Irvine, California [since moved to Rancho Santa Margarita], founded by the late Walter Martin; it enjoys parasitical support from "evangelicals" who need "help" on the Russellites, Mormons, Hare Krishnas, Moonies, Chick publications, "Alberto," and other assorted ding-bats, teachings, and groups. Some think CRI is "soft" on Romanism, fence-straddling, pussy-footing, and "milky-toast." Presumably, those who are dependent upon CRI for help do not seek, or cannot find, the anti-cult information from their local churches and pastors, so they become followers of CRI -- sort of an "evangelical cult" for anti-cultists.

Since Martin's death, some think CRI has adopted a bent to Romanism. The old Jesuit ploy of convoluted writing permeates CRI writings ( la Peter Ruckman). For example, the statement that Romanism is "unlike" and "different from" Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science, etc., is typical Jesuit convolution, as the same thing may be said of Islam, the Jim Jones' cult, the Robert Tilton' cult, Scientology, and all other modern cults.

The "key" in convoluted writing and speaking is to make your point without actually saying anything of substance. Somewhat like the comedian Norm Crosby. And the "point" CRI makes on Romanism is that, It may have a few abuses, but it's not really all that bad. Jack Chick and "Alberto" furnish CRI with a stereotypical "anti-Romanist" strawman which CRI can "burn" while embellishing the "positive elements" of a "changing"(?) Romanism. You might say that Chick and CRI are "convolution in action," somewhat like the staged "debate" between Ruckman and Catholic apologist Karl Keating. Chick and Ruckman create the type of image which makes the CRI and Keating representations of Romanism appear plausible, relegating to obscurity the classic foundations of the Protestant Reformation's opposition to the Romanist doctrine and practice.

In CRI's Forward (Vol. 4, No. 2), CRI contends that "God is still at work within" Roman Catholicism, as if to say that God has always been "at work" in the Papacy and the Roman hierarchy since formulation centuries this side of the New Testament.

The same article contends that "Catholicism is clearly orthodox on every doctrine essential to the faith but one," namely, justification. On justification, CRI allows that Rome has "several faulty beliefs and practices," but these serve only to "weaken a biblical understanding" of justification. Despite these "faulty beliefs," CRI contends there are "thousands of Catholics who profess the correct doctrine of justification." To our knowledge, Romanists have always professed to be "correct" on justification. Romanist Karl Keating assures us of Rome's infallibility on doctrine in his book Catholicism and Fundamentalism (Imprimatur: Archbishop Roger Mahony, 1988). Keating, by the way, does not name CRI as an adversary of Romanism, despite CRI's claim about being "outspoken" on Rome's abuses. Keating probably appreciates the "positive" conciliatory approach which CRI takes toward Romanism.

CRI says the "enemy" is Satan, not a "human entity or institution." Does this mean that CRI does not believe that Satan is involved in the false gospel, doctrines, and practices of Romanism? Or does CRI regard the Roman Catholic Church as being a "divine" entity as opposed to being "human"? Does Satan only dabble with JWs, Mormons, Moonies, etc.? Convolution is a "tricky" game of words, not easily deciphered!

CRI wants us to "extend the right hand of fellowship" to Romanists as "brothers and sisters in Christ," pointing out their "biblical inconsistencies" whenever "appropriate" (whenever that is).

In a recent letter to [Bob Ross], CRI claims that "the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) holds to all the historic creeds of the church," even Eternal Sonship. What "creeds"? What "church"? Does the RCC hold to the Baptist "creed"? The Presbyterian "creed"? Although the RCC holds to the Deity of the Son, this is no more that what is admitted by Satan and demons.

CRI claims it has "always been outspoken on the abuses within the RCC." But I can think of perhaps thirty or more RCC abuses of Bible doctrine and practice on which I have yet to hear the current CRI "speak out." Perhaps CRI can mail out their "Perspective" paper which exposes the Papacy and the Roman hierarchy as the farces that they are -- that is, if CRI has such a paper. They already have mailed out some of their papers which promote "dialogue" with Rome.

CRI claims to have so much "common ground " with Romanism that CRI "can share and discuss the gospel in love and understanding," making us wonder WHICH "gospel" CRI has in mind -- the Gospel preached by such Baptists as C. H. Spurgeon, or the "gospel according to Karl Keating," as presented in his book and "imprimatured" by Archbishop Mahony of Los Angeles? (Gal. 1:8; 2 Cor. 11:4).

CRI refers to ongoing "dialogue between Protestants and Catholics," but doesn't name any Protestant "leaders" and doesn't refer to the fact that Rome has been "dialoging ever since the Protestant Reformation, trying to facilitate the "return" of her "estranged children" [such as the Church of England] to the protective arms of the great shepherd of the flock, the Pope. One can read the account of Cortez' conquest of Mexico, and being a good Romanist, he "dialogued" with the Indians before killing those who would not "convert." Yes, Romanists have a high regard for "dialogue," going way back.

CRI hopes that "these important issues can be resolved in a biblical fashion," but if this were to occur, would not the Papacy and the Roman hierarchy have to dismantle? Is this what CRI "hopes"?

In a sheet on the "Mass," CRI minimizes the differences between Romanism and Bible teaching, saying that "how you conduct Communion is not the real issue. The real issue is whether or not you have been born again spiritually -- through the finished work of Jesus Christ alone." More convolution. The truth is, Communion should properly represent the real issue, and the Romanist "Mass" is about as close to that as a Voodoo ritual.

CRI alleges that the RCC "is genuinely different than the Church of 400, 100, or even 25 years ago." As much "different" as CRI is different than those who led the Protestant Reformation? Wherein lies Rome's difference? All the cults change over the years, but what significance is there to the changes? The last time anyone looked, Rome still had a Pope and the usual paraphernalia.

CRI even commends the so-called "spiritual renewal" professed by Romanism and says "the Charismatic Renewal" has "strong positive elements." Rome has ALWAYS been an advocate of the unscriptural "elements" in the "Charismatic Renewal." No one claims more religious "hokey" than Romanism.

CRI says we ought to "support those Catholics who are working for true spiritual renewal with our prayers." Well, we'll do that ... just as soon as any of the "true" stuff shows up. We don't regard CRI's strong positive "elements" true spiritual renewal.

[Since writing the foregoing article, CRI President Hank Hanegraaff's book, Christianity in Crisis (Harvest House), has been published. This book is offered as an antidote to the "cultism" of the "Faith Movement," yet Hanegraaff doesn't raise a word against the oldest and most heretical cult of all -- Roman Catholicism. He lists as "cults," groups such as the Mormons, the Armstrongites, Russellites, and Eddyites. How could a truly uncompromising writer compose a book of 450 pages against cults, cultism, and false claims and never once mention the "Queen of Cults," Mother Rome? Those Christians who have been backers of CRI should "take inventory" on CRI's pro-Rome stance. Has CRI been infiltrated by Romanists disguised as "evangelicals"?]

*This material has been excerpted and/or adapted from a 7/93, BBH Perspective article by the same name (Bob L. Ross, Editor, Baptist Biblical Heritage, Pilgrim Publications, P.O. Box 66, Pasadena, TX 77501).

Biblical Discernment Ministries - 7/93