By Elizabeth Prata
The Roman Catholic Church is Christian, right? It’s different from us Protestants, but we can learn from them/use some of their rituals/admire their spiritual fathers, right? We can partner with them in moral endeavors, right?
No. The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) is just as false as a Muslim mosque. The Catholic Church is apostate. The Catholic Church is a mission field.
Tom Doyle is a priest concerned with the Catholic church’s priesthood’s sex abuse cover-up. He was interviewed in 2013 by PBS’s Frontline in a story called Secrets of the Vatican. Doyle said,
The Holy See is the last absolute monarchy in the world today. The pope, when he is elected, is answerable to no human power. He has absolute authority over the entire Roman Catholic Church, direct authority that reaches down to individual members.
All of the governing officers in the Vatican itself, what we call the Vatican Curia, operate on delegated authority from the pope. They speak in the name of the pope. In the Roman Catholic Church, there are no separation of powers as we know of in most democratic societies. In the Roman Catholic Church, the office of pope includes the three main offices of government. He is the supreme judge, the supreme legislator and the supreme executive, so there’s no separation of powers. There is no possibility of checks and balances.
The above isn’t just one man’s opinion. Paragraph 882 and 937 of the Catechism of the RCC state that Papal supremacy is the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church and that
the Pope, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ and as pastor of the entire Christian Church, has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered: that, in brief, “the Pope enjoys, by divine institution, supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls.”
The pope’s title of ‘Vicar of Christ’ (Latin: Vicarius Christos) “is more expressive of his supreme headship of the Church on earth, which he bears in virtue of the commission of Christ and with vicarial power derived from Him. … He also declares that Christ has given such power only to His Vicar Peter and his successors”. Source Catholic Encyclopedia.
Vicarius (Latin) means ‘instead of’ so in the Catholic Church’s eyes, the Pope is the stand-in for Christ on earth, deriving the same powers and authority over the church that Jesus has.
That’s the spiritual side of things from the RCC. The temporal power the Church possesses is also extensive than most people know.
The Pope not only has (alleged) spiritual powers but monies, land holdings, property, bank, army, and more. Its treasury is vast and its complete wealth has never been revealed, but is suspected to be 10-15 billion dollars. It is certainly the wealthiest organization in the world. The Holy See is its own nation, with its own diplomats, borderland, and army.
The Pope owns dozens of cathedrals, palaces, homes, buildings; in all 177 million more acreage of various lands throughout the globe, including the hundreds of Vatican embassies that are legally titled to The Holy See as an independent nation. Land holdings started early on in the papacy a manifestation of the temporal power of the pope, as opposed to his ecclesiastical primacy.
The old preachers throughout history used to be unabashed in railing against the Papacy and the Catholic Church as it has grown to the apostate extent that it has. In this century we have grown soft. We not only refused to see that Catholic people are trapped in a false spiritual system and represent a mission field, but actually call its priests, bishops, and popes brothers, and partner with them.
Beth Moore, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, and others present the RCC as simply another denomination of Christ-lovers, which is a terrible disgrace to the honor of Christ and a travesty of spiritually enormous proportions tot he people who must come out of that system in order to be saved.
Here are some selected quotes from Protestant leaders throughout history who said what needed to be said about the Pope. Sermon The Pope and the Papacy, John MacArthur:
But at the top of the pile of all of this is the amazing, amazing papacy. And the Pope is the one at the top of the Roman Catholic Church who has, in a word, usurped the headship of Christ over His church. The Reformers have always understood this. With unashamed boldness, they understood this, and they declared this, and they faced death for it.
Martin Luther, 1483 to 1546. “Luther proved by the revelations of Daniel and John, by the epistles of Paul, Peter, and Jude,” says the historian d’Aubigné, “that the reign of Antichrist, predicted and described in the Bible, was none other than the papacy. And all the people said, Amen! A holy terror seized their souls. It was Antichrist whom they beheld seated on the pontifical throne. This new idea, which derived greater strength from the prophetic descriptions launched forth by Luther into the midst of his contemporaries, inflicted the most terrible blow on Rome.”
Based on his study of Scripture, Martin Luther finally declared – quote – “We here are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist. I owe the Pope no other obedience then that I owe to Antichrist.” Luther said, “I am persuaded that if at this time Saint Peter in person should preach all the articles of Holy Scripture and only deny the Pope’s authority, power, and primacy, and say that the Pope is not the head of all Christendom, they would cause him to be hanged. Yet if Christ Himself were again on Earth and should preach without all doubt, the Pope would crucify Him again.”
John Calvin, 1509 to 1564. “Some persons think us to severe and censorious when we call the Roman Pontiff Antichrist, but those who are of this opinion do not consider that they bring the same charge of presumption against Paul himself, after whom we speak and whose language we adopt. I shall briefly show that Paul’s words in 2 Thessalonians 2 are not capable of any other interpretation than that which applies them to the papacy.”
They saw in the Antichrist the papacy, the Pope. Why? Because they had some special insight that in fact the final Antichrist was actually to be a pope? No. Because the Pope personified everything that the Scripture described the Antichrist to be.
John Knox, 1505-1572, the great Scottish Presbyterian sought to counteract the tyranny which the Pope himself had, for so many ages, exercised over the church. He himself said the papacy is the very Antichrist, the Pope being the son of perdition of whom Paul speaks.
Thomas Cranmer, one of the great martyrs in England – died in 1556, said, “Whereof it follows Rome to be the seat of Antichrist and the Pope to be the very Antichrist himself. I could prove the same by many scriptures.”
The Westminster Confession was written in 1647. The Westminster Confession, the confession of the Reformers says, “There is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ, nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition that exalted himself in the church against Christ and all that is called God.”
And again I say it isn’t that he is the final Antichrist, but he is in his time and in this age the very embodiment of antichrist. “And there are,” says John, “many antichrists in the world” – before the final one.
Cotton Mather again, an American Puritan, died in 1728. “The oracles of God foretold the rising of an antichrist in the Christian church, and in the Pope of Rome, all the characteristics of that antichrist are so marvelously answered, that if any who read the Scriptures do not see it, there is a marvelous blindness on them.”
And Spurgeon, “It is the bounden duty of every Christian to pray against this antichrist. And as to what antichrist is, no sane man ought to raise a question; if it be not the popery in the Church of Rome, there’s nothing in the world that can be called by that name.”
Here are some resources covering the difference in Protestant and Catholic Doctrine, and other resources to help understand just what the Catholic Church is about. I didn’t write this essay to be mean to Catholics or to “bash” for the sake of bashing, as the word is bash bandied about lately whenever someone stands on biblical doctrine. It’s because I feel strongly that there is a constant need (in every era) to push back against the continual softening our finite and sin-drenched minds want to go. It has softened on the Roman Catholic Church. Let’s remember why the Protestant martyrs died and keep on working the Catholic mission field.
Christian Apologetics and Resource Ministry: Many links about Roman Catholicism
Mike Gendron is a former Catholic, here at Verse By Verse Ministry International 2017 Conference with helpful ways to reason with Catholics about the true Gospel. Breakout video session
Ligonier Teaching Series, free, by RC Sproul about Catholicism
Ligonier Catholicism articles, a selection