By Aude McKee
Note: Every quotation from Catholic writers is made from a book bearing the imprimatur of the Roman Catholic Church.
I. Thus far in our study we have traced the origin and early growth of the Lord’s church. We have also given attention to the warnings about apostasy sounded by the Holy Spirit.
II. Last week we traced the rise of the Catholic System.
A. Departures came in teaching, worship, work, and religious practices.
B. The rise of Catholicism can most vividly be traced in the departures from God’s pattern in organization.
1. Organization of the New Testament church.
a. Christ – head of the church universal.
b. Each local congregation overseen by elders (bishops).
2. Three fundamental points were made regarding elders:
a. Each local church had a plurality.
b. Elders in each local church were equal in authority.
c. The elders had authority only in and over the local church that appointed them.
3. These fundamental principles were ignored. Elders extended their authority until finally in 606 A.D., Boniface III, Patriarch of Rome, declared himself the Universal Bishop. It took hundreds of years for the church to go into apostasy, but eventually the process was completed.
III. Today we study some of the basic things that make Catholicism what it is.
I. Attitude Toward the Bible.
A. The Catholic Church makes the claim that the Bible is a Catholic Book.
1. Following are quotations from an advertisement placed in the newspaper by the Supreme Council of Knights of Columbus Religious Information Bureau, St. Louis, MO.:
a. “Yes, the Bible is truly a Catholic book. They were members of the Catholic Church who, under God’s inspiration, wrote the New Testament in its entirety.”
b. “It was the Catholic Church which treasured it and gave it to the world in its original and unaltered form.”
2. In the light of this claim, the following questions need to be answered: (If the Bible is a Catholic book, then . . . . )
a. Why is it not accepted as their authority in religion?
b. Why does the name “Catholic” or “Catholic Church” not appear therein?
c. Why is there no mention made in the Bible of the “Pope,” or of his exalted position in the church?
d. Why is there no reference to Peter as the Vicar of Christ on earth or of his being the head of the church?
e. Why does the Bible say that Peter was a married man (1 Cor. 9:5)?
f. Why is praying to Mary not mentioned in the Bible?
g. Why is the Bible so silent about the doctrines of “Purgatory,” “Limbo,” “The Rosary, ” “The Mass,” “Auricular Confession,” or “Indulgences”?
h. Why does the Bible expressly forbid the making or bowing down to images (Ex. 20:4-5), and the calling of a “priest” by the name of “Father” (Matt. 23:5-12)?
3. The fact of the matter is, the Bible was written between 1500 B.C. and 96 A.D., hundreds of years before the Catholic Church was born. The Catholic Church is too young to be the mother of the Bible – a mother must be older than her offspring! The Bible is not a Catholic book!
B. The Scriptures are not inspired and are not infallible.
1 . “Is the Bible the Infallible Word of God? . . . The Catholic’s answer is a decisive ‘No!’ Indeed, it is only by the divine authority of the Catholic Church that Christians know that the Scripture is the Word of God and what books certainly belong to the Bible. The Bible is not its own witness. It is like a will without a signature or probate. It is infallible only because of and to the extent of the Church’s infallible witness. Deny the Church’s infallible witness, and the Bible is at once reduced to the level of mere Oriental literature and utterly devoid of divine inspiration. The Catholic Church alone guarantees infallibly the authenticity of the Latin Vulgate, the contents of the Canon, and the inspiration of all the 72 books of Holy Writ. As St. Augustine could rightly say in the 5th century, ‘I would not believe the Gospel unless moved thereto by the authority of the Church.’ The Bible, therefore, is the infallible Word of God only inasmuch as the interpretation of the infallible Church makes it so” (The Catholic’s Question Box [Herbst), p. 653).
2. See 1 Cor. 2:1-13; Eph. 3:1-7; 1 Thess. 2:13.
C. The Scriptures are not sufficient.
1. “The New Testament does not bear the marks of having been drawn up to serve as a code of Christian belief. Neither does it anywhere direct us to take Scripture as our sole Rule of Faith, or free us from the obligation of believing more than is clearly taught in its pages. Therefore, to assume that the Bible is the sole and adequate rule of Christian Faith may perhaps be the only alternative left after rejecting the authority of the Catholic Church; but neither Scripture nor history seems to afford any warrant for such an assumption” (E.R. Hull, What the Catholic Church is and What She Teaches, p. 2).
2. See 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3.
D. Traditions are authority.
1. “The unwritten traditions which we receive from the mouth of Christ himself by the apostles or from the apostles themselves, have come down to us as if delivered from hand to hand on an equality with the books of the Old and New Testament” (Council of Trent, 16th century).
2. “It would be well to remember that the Bible was never intended to take the place of the living, infallible teacher, the Church, but was written to explain or insist upon a teaching, already preached. . . . The Catholic Church a divine, living, infallible voice, guarantees to every one not merely the written word, but also the unwritten teaching of divine tradition” (Catholic Box, pp. 653-654).
3. See 1 Cor. 4:5; John 20:30-31; Eph. 3:3-4; Rev. 22:18-19; Deut. 4:1-2; 2 John 9-11; Jude 3.
E. The Common Man is Unable to Interpret the Scriptures.
1. “That in matters of faith and morals, and whatever relates to the maintenance of Christian doctrine, no one confiding in his own judgment shall dare to wrest the sacred Scriptures contrary to that which has been held and still is held by the Holy Mother Church, whose right it is to judge of the true meaning and interpretation of the sacred writ; or contrary to the unanimous consent of the fathers; even though such interpretations should never be published” (Council of Trent, 16th century).
2. See Luke 10:21; Isa. 35:8; 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 4:11.
II. Papal Infallibility.
A. “We the sacred council approving, teach and define that it is a dogma divinely revealed; that the Roman Pontiff, when speaking ex cathedra, that is, when discharging the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith and morals to be held by the universal church, he by the divine assistance promised to him in the Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed the church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith and morals; and that, therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the church. But if any one – which may God avert – presume to contradict our definition, let him be anathema” (Declaration of Papal Infallibility made by Pope Pius IX, and adopted by the Vatican Council of 1870).
B. There have been numerous contradictions between popes
1. In 1088, Pope Paschall II (and in 1145 Pope Eugenius III) authorized duelling. In 1509, Julius II (and in 1560, Pius IV) forbade it.
2. In 867, Pope Hadrian declared civil marriages to be valid. In 1800, Pius VII condemned them.
3. In 1585, Pope Sixtus V published an edition of the Bible and by a bull recommended it to be read. Pius
VII condemned the reading of it.
4. In 1520, Pope Urban Vill excommunicated the famous Italian Galileo and put him in jail because he taught that the earth was round and revolves around the sun. Popes today state that Urban was wrong in condemning the teachings of Galileo.
C. For about 40 years in the 14th century, three men claimed the papacy.
D. Prior to 1870, Catholics denied Papal Infallibility. After 1870, they had to believe it or be guilty of heresy.
E. There have been many wicked popes. Archbishop Purcell, who debated Alexander Campbell, said: “Without doubt some popes are in hell.”
III. Primacy of Peter.
A. “Sitting in that chair in which Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, sat to the close of life, the Catholic Church recognizes in his person the most exalted degree of dignity, and the full jurisdiction not based on constitutions, but emanating from no less authority than from God Himself. As the Successor of St. Peter and the true and legitimate Vicar of Jesus Christ, he therefore, presides over the Universal Church, the Father and Governor of all the faithful, of Bishops, also, and of all other prelates, be their station, rank, or power, what they may be” (Council of Trent, 16th Cent.).
B. Catholic position can be summed up in three points.
1. Peter was appointed by Christ to be his chief representative and successor and head of the church.
2. Peter went to Rome and established the “diocese.”
3. Peter’s successors (popes) succeeded to his authority.
C. Papal claim based in part on Matthew 16.18-19.
1. “Thou art Peter (petros) and upon this rock (petra) I will build my church.”
a. Petros is masculine gender – Peter’s name. b. Petra is feminine gender and means “a rock, ledge, cliff.”
2. Jesus had just asked, “Whom do men say I . . . am?” Then he asked, “Whom do you say I am?” Peter replied, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Then the Lord said, “Upon this rock, I will build my church.”
3. The church was built on Jesus Christ.
a. Isa. 28:16.
b. Eph. 2:20; 1 Cor. 3:11.
D. There is no such office as “pope” in the New Testament (1 Cor. 12:29-31; Eph. 4:11-12).
E. Peter never claimed or assumed authority and superiority (Luke 22:24-27; Gal. 2:11; Acts 10:25-26; 1 Pet. 5:1).
1. All the apostles were given the same authority Peter had (Matt. 18:18).
2. Ability to remit and retain sins (by being allowed to reveal the gospel terms of pardon) was given to all the apostles (John 20:23).
3. Paul was not behind the chiefest apostles (2 Cor. 11:5; 12:11).
F. Peter was a married man (Matt. 8:14; 1 Cor. 9:5).
G. It cannot be proved that Peter was ever in the city of Rome.
1. Paul wrote the letter to the Roman Christians. In it he saluted 27 people but not Peter. In the Roman letter he did not mention the pope.
2. Paul wrote four books from Rome but never mentioned Peter or the papacy.
3. Peter wrote two books of the New Testament. He did not mention Rome or the pope.
4. No other writer of the New Testament ever mentions Peter and Rome together.
1. As we close this lesson, we need to be reminded of these basic principles:
a. John 8:32.
b. John 17:17.
c. 2 John 9-11.
d. John 12:48.
2. There is not a commodity more precious than truth. May we search for it, believe it, and obey it.
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 12, pp. 360-362
June 16, 1988