Rome claims to be the one, true church. “For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained.” Rome claims a unity in the one faith received from the apostles; she claims unity of divine worship, through the sacraments; and she claims historical unity (based on apostolic succession) with one head, the Pope. There is also a uniformity of liturgy that promotes solidarity. When you eat at McDonald’s, you know what to expect. Similarly, wherever you attend mass you can expect the same liturgy to occur.
Is Christian unity to be found in Roman Catholicism? What does Catholic unity look like? We shall explore nine marks that distinguish the unity of Catholicism. Then, we will answer the charge of Evangelical disunity.
Mark #1: It is an Adulterous Unity
According to Rome, every sincere person alive in the world today belongs, however imperfectly, to the Roman Catholic Church.
“All men are called to this catholic unity of the People of God…And to it, in different ways, belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind…Those who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church…The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims…Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart…who try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience — those too may achieve eternal salvation.” 
Jesus says that we must enter through the narrow way – by trusting in Him alone. Catholicism promotes her broad way, either through ceremonial water baptism or in the case of unbelievers, a “baptism of desire.” It is a mystery how Muslims and unbelievers are part of the Body of Christ. Nevertheless, Rome claims that it is so. Rome commits “spiritual adultery” when she incorporates unbelievers into her fold. An example of her flirtatious behavior occurred in 1986 at the World Day of Prayer in Assisi: video here. So, Rome’s unity is inclusive and adulterous. True unity is exclusive and chaste.
Mark #2: It is an Impure Unity
How do you bind together an inclusive “church?” The unity of Roman Catholicism is not an organic unity of like-minded believers in Jesus, who is our Vine. Rather, it is a syncretistic union that exists by the permissiveness of Rome. J.A. Wiley writes, “As a corporation, having its head at Rome, and stretching it limbs to the extremities of the earth, she is of gigantic bulk and imposing appearance; but, closely examined, she is seen to be an assemblage of heterogeneous materials, held together simply by the compression of force. It is a coercive power from without, not an attractive influence from within that gives her being and form… It is combination, not incorporation; union, not unity, that characterizes the Church of Rome.”
The entry (overnight) of countless unconverted pagans into the Church at the time of Constantine; the inclusion of unconverted Africans and Native Americans, who practice animism mixed with Catholicism; Dominicans opposing Franciscans; Jesuits battling Benedictines. Liberation theologians. Sedevacantists. What are all these various orders and branches, if not the result of Rome’s laissez faire attitude toward impurity? As long as each group is willing to remain within the huge tent of Rome, under the infallible papa, there is no compelling reason for family discipline. Catholicism, post Vatican II, is an extremely ambiguous religion. A Georgetown University survey in 2008 found that: 43% of Catholics do not believe that Jesus is really present in the eucharist; 88% of Catholics do not attend mass on Holy Days of Obligation; and 74% of Catholics do not go to Confession at least once a year, the minimum required by the Church! Clearly the majority of Catholics are RINO – Romish in Name Only. Catholic unity is an impure mirage.
Mark #3: It is a Lying Unity
In order to appear credible and desirable, Catholicism must have a veneer of truth. So the basic fundamentals of Christianity are found in Her. There is a growing movement toward unity based on the idea of “mere Christianity.” Since both Protestants and Catholics agree on the historic creeds, godly separation based on truth is deemed “scandalous.” Division is now considered to be the sinful wounding of the Body of Christ. Rome has the same “cast of characters” as revealed in God’s word (a self-existent and eternal Jehovah; a trinity of the Godhead; a mankind made in God’s image; a fall of Adam; a redemption of mankind by the incarnate Jesus; His death, resurrection and ascension; and His bodily return at the Last Day). But the interpretations and applications of these realities are diametrically opposed to true Christianity. Catholicism’s truth claims are superseded by layer upon layer of error. Rome claims that the Bible is the revelation of God, but contradicts the Word by adding a second source of divine revelation, Sacred Tradition. She usurps Christ’s authority with her popes, priests and wafers. Rome claims to control the Holy Spirit, calling Him down during baptisms and confirmations. The reality is that Catholicism holds sacred truths only to further her idolatrous lies.
There are many means that Rome has used to spread counterfeit unity. A recent tactic, quite powerful, is to enter into ecumenical agreements that are written deceptively. Then the agreements are used to further her aim of global religious and secular dominion. There is a lying spirit sent into the world, claiming to be the Queen of Heaven, that promotes Catholicism. And Rome uses her political power to entice evangelical organizations to join with her to fight the “culture wars.” The Catholic Church is utilitarian. The end justifies the means. The end is the promotion of a false, compromising, and wicked unity under the papacy. The means are “whatever works” in the furtherance of her megalomania. Historically, Rome used forged documents to support her claim of apostolic succession (False Decretals) and her temporal dominion (Donation of Constantine). Many of the writings of the so-called “Church Fathers,” used to support extra-biblical doctrines, have been found to be forged or taken out of context. In short, she exhibits unity only through lies and counterfeits.
Mark #4: It is a Degrading Unity
God gave us our intellects to enable us to pursue the light of His truth. How can Rome assure the least controversy within the fold of her religion? She has declared herself to be infallible in all matters touching faith and morals. All discussion is over: Rome has spoken! The Pope, by virtue of his office, is infallible. He has “full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power that he can always exercise unhindered.”  The teaching of the Church (her Magisterium) is also infallible. As a result of this infallibility, faithful Catholics everywhere are taught to submit entirely to the religious hierarchy. “Religious submission of the intellect and will must be given to a doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops declares concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act.” Priests must submit their minds and wills to their bishops by a vow of obedience. Bishops must submit their minds and wills in obedience to their superiors, on up to the pope. In such a manner, unity is promoted. But at what cost?
Historically, Rome endeavored to keep the Scriptures out of the hands of the laity, lest they be enticed to private judgment that might contradict her teaching. The Bible for centuries was included on Rome’s Index of Forbidden Books. She is like a helicopter parent, hoping to control all her children’s actions. To further ensure no conflicts arise that might endanger unity, she set up a system to keep “heretical” writings out of the hands of her children. All Catholic religious materials are censored. They must be granted the “Good Housekeeping seal of approval”: the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur.
Wylie writes: “Put out the eyes of men, and there will be only one opinion about colour; extinguish the understandings of men, and there will be but one opinion regarding religion. This is what Rome does. With her rod of infallibility she touches the intellect and the conscience, and benumbs them into torpor.” Rome claims to “sit as Queen” of the conscience and intellect. She even expects dominion over the senses, telling her followers to deny the reality “bread and wine” and believe “body, blood, soul, and divinity.” In so doing, she degrades her followers.
Mark #5: It is an Enforced Unity
Having obtained submission of intellect and will from her subjects, Rome saw only one danger to unity. This danger is the light of truth that shines out of authentic Christians who dare to ignore her infallible fulminations. An important biblical doctrine is that of the remnant. From the time of the Roman persecution by the Caesars to the great outpouring of grace at the time of the Reformation, there has been a godly people that remained separate from the infallible “Church.” The Christians hidden in the Roman catacombs; the Ambrosians of the fourth through the eighth centuries; the Paulicians of the East; followed by the Waldensians and Albigenes who were hidden in the valleys of the Alps; the Wycliffites and Lollards of England; and the Hussites of Bohemia.
Rome set out with a vengeance to persecute and slaughter those peoples who dared to question her authority. The slaughter of the Albigenses (see Beziers), the founding of the Medieval Inquisition, the interdiction of England, and the wars against the Bohemians were some of the ways Rome sought to extinguish the light of the gospel. At the Reformation she redoubled her efforts, slaughtering the Huguenots of France (see St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre), hunting down all Protestants that she could using her inquisitions and treachery. The Society of Jesus was founded by Ignatius of Loyola to submit to and defend the papacy using all means necessary, including political espionage and assassinations.
There is no denying history. Rome has been a staunch opponent to religious liberty, and has persecuted the Church of Jesus Christ.
Mark #6: It is a Man-Made Unity
Investigation of the rise of the Roman spiritual empire reveals that it has always sought a man-made unity. This is a reflection of the human urge that commenced at the fall, when Eve succumbed to the serpent’s temptation (when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God). After the flood, we see this urge in the construction of the Tower of Babel (Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves). Rome follows suit, using building materials from three great civilizations: the Jews, the Greeks, and the Romans. From the Jews, Rome recreated the forms of the Jewish religion (that were meant to be only types pointing to fulfillment by Jesus). The Judaizing combination of faith and works, the physical temple, ceremonies and law-keeping, a priesthood, and a sacrificial system all descended from Israel to Rome. From the Greeks, Rome has built a philosophical system by which to amalgamate and justify her doctrines. And from Pagan Rome she has rebuilt Caesar and his pagan superstitions, from the design of miraculous medals, relics and scapulars to the intercession of dead men and women.
Wylie writes: “The Papacy is the most wonderful of all human systems. It stands alone, unrivalled and unapproached, throwing all former systems of error into the shade…The ancient polytheisms were comparatively simple in their plan and tolerant in their spirit. Not so the Papacy. It selects the worst passions of our nature, –the sensuality of the appetites, the idolatry of the heart, the love of wealth, the lust of dominion, pride, ambition, the desire to dictate the faith of others. It gives these passions the largest development of which they are capable; it combines and arranges them with exquisite skill, and thus enables them to act with the greatest effect. It is the most powerful organization that ever existed on the side of error and against the truth.”
Rome is the “City of Man”; she opposes the “City of God.”
Mark #7: It is a Temporal Unity
In order to better accomplish her mission of domination, Rome has sought to combine the sacred with the secular. She has employed her armies. She has wielded authority over kings and princes since before the time of Charlemagne even to the present day. The Holy See is a religio-political entity, sending and receiving ambassadors to all nations. [The United States held out until 1984, when Ronald Reagan appointed the first ambassador to Rome]. Rome has terrorized entire nations with spiritual threats, denying her sacraments to entire nations until their leaders submitted to her authority (see interdicts). She has entered into concordats with numerous nations, seeking favorable treatment from governments in exchange for her influence. She received 1.75 billion lire through a concordat with Mussolini, and hundreds of millions of dollars arising from the concordat with Hitler. The Pope and his ambassadors travel the world, networking with politicians, and influencing foreign governments.
We see the strategy of combining the spiritual with the temporal in Rome’s attempts at ecumenical unity today. Two of her most ambitious projects are with Pentecostals and with politically conservative evangelicals. Both projects place the temporal over the spiritual. Pope Francis recently begged for unity with Pentecostals in a video he recorded for a Kenneth Copeland conference. He also requested prayer and asked for their blessing. “Be blessed!” bellowed Copeland and the leaders of Pentecostalism over and over in response to the pope’s request. In 1994 the notorious “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” movement was founded, which seeks unity in order to promote co-belligerence in the culture wars. This was followed in 2009 by the Manhattan Declaration, (or should it be called “City of Man”-hattan?) with similar cultural aims.
What does the Pope seek to get in returns for his ecumenical overtures? The compromise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: the only thing standing in the way of Rome’s global supremacy.
It is a fundamental principal of the Papacy that the pope is Vicar of Christ on earth. Since Christ is both Head of the Church and King of Kings, the pope, as His sole representative on earth seeks both roles. By divine right he holds himself both bishop of bishops and king of kings. Wylie writes: “The object of the Papacy is, in brief, to exalt a man, or rather a class of men, to the supreme, undivided, and absolute control of the world and its affairs.”
Mark #8: It is a Spiritually Impotent Unity
The gospel of Jesus Christ is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Rom. 1:16. By the sovereign and mighty power of the Holy Spirit, men and women are born from above, die to self and are a new creation in Christ. We “like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1Pet. 2:5. Those redeemed by Jesus belong to the City of God – we are citizens of heaven. But those who belong to the City of Man are bereft of heavenly spiritual power. That is not to say that they are without power, for the Evil One, the god of this world, gives out temporal powers within his dominion.
The counterfeit Roman religion has “the appearance of godliness, but denies its power.” 2 Tim. 3:5. We can bear Rome witness that she “has a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” She is bereft of spiritual light. She is a religion of dead idols, that like the lifeless Dagon must fall down before the true God. 1 Sam. 5:3. Looking at the distinctive doctrines of Rome, we find that there is:
- No power…in a baptism that doesn’t regenerate
- No power…in praying to saints who are doubly dead
- No power…in priests who usurp the authority of Jesus
- No power…in a fallible pope and magisterium
- No power…in superstitious sacramentals
- No power…in the idolatrous wafer-god of transubstantiation
- No power…in the intercession of the false Queen Mary
- No power…in moldy relics
- No power…in indulgences, masses and penances
- No power…in last rites
- No power…in a false gospel that condemns its adherents
There is no spiritual power in the adulterous, impure, lying, degrading, persecuting, man-made, and temporally united religion of Rome – headed by the Pope. Where does one find true spiritual power? In the chaste, holy, honest, discriminating, persecuted, God-ordained, and spiritual church – headed by Jesus Himself.
Mark #9: It is a Condemned Unity
Does God warn us in His Word about a wealthy, pompous, religio-political, worldwide entity, headquartered in Rome, that would arise and enter into adulterous spiritual trysts, declare herself sovereign over all humanity, degrade her followers, with doctrines founded on truth but entirely distorted by man-made traditions which are spiritually powerless, and who persecutes the saints of God? Why, yes! There is such a woman presented in chapters 17-20 of the book of Revelation. She is the woman wearing precious jewels, adorned in purple and scarlet, described as “Mystery, Babylon” (the great city of man), who is seated on seven hills (the Holy See of Rome), yet seated on many waters (wielding worldwide political power), with whom the politicians of the earth commit sexual immorality. She makes drunk her degraded followers, invents doctrines of demons, and is drunk with the blood of the saints. Does this not describe perfectly the Church of Rome? If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. Rome definitely passes the “duck test” of Revelation.
God will not permit this wicked woman to go unpunished. “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit…For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her…For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.” Rome, and all her false unity, is condemned by God.
Some evangelicals argue that there are multitudes of true born-again believers to be found within Catholicism, and say that this justifies rapprochement with Rome. There may be at any given time some Christians who are in the process of leaving Rome. But those who are truly trusting in Christ alone for salvation, and who are placing no confidence in the sacramental salvation of Rome, are not truly Catholic. God warns them, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins.” Rev. 18:4. To remain in an idolatrous worship system, after receiving knowledge of the truth, is disobedient and foolish.
Are You a Spiritual Terrorist?
Several months ago, I wrote an issue on the Charismatic Bridge to Rome. In the article, I mentioned South African “evangelical Anglican Bishop” Tony Palmer. Here is a link to another video, in which he states the following:
- He and Pope Francis have covenanted to work for unity.
- Francis consecrated Palmer to be a bridge to promote unity
- It is a theological fact that we (Catholics and evangelicals) are one in Christ.
- No denominational doctrine can destroy this fact.
- Since 1999, the protest of Luther is over.
- We are living in a post-Protestant era.
- Even though our “Christian apartheid” is over, there are still many evangelicals who suffer from spiritual racism.
- This is a sin against the cross; anything that causes division, when we elevate any doctrine, we place that above the cross.
- The cross unites; that’s what makes us one – not doctrines.
- Diversity is divine; it’s division that’s diabolical.
- Christian unity is the basis of our credibility.
- Division destroys our credibility.
- Fear separates us; this fear is based on propaganda.
- If there is no more protest, how can there be a Protestant Church?
- Maybe now we are all Catholics again.
- We now preach the same gospel.
- We should throw more resources toward reconciliation than toward evangelism.
- Otherwise, we are building walls without foundations.
- I challenge you to find a bridge-builder, and back him or her.
My dear fellow Christians, I confess that I am a spiritual racist. I believe in spiritual apartheid. Not only that, I must be considered a spiritual terrorist in the eyes of the Pope, Tony Palmer, and his fellow ecumenists.
I lived the first ten years of my life in Buffalo, NY. In Buffalo there is a bridge to Canada called the “Peace Bridge.” The Pope, a/k/a the Pontiff or “bridge-builder” is seeking to lure unwary evangelicals across the “peace bridge” that spans the Tiber River into Rome – the “City of Man.” It is a frightful decision to abandon the evangel for the unity of Rome. It is said that “all things are possible with God.” But Heb. 6:5 says that it is impossible, in the case of those who have once tasted the heavenly gift and tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance. We need to do everything we can (with spiritual weapons) to blow up the “peace bridge” that leads to Rome. And we need to point Catholics to the “heavenly bridge” that crosses the river Jordan and leads to eternal life. That bridge is Christ, not the Roman pontiff.
Some of you, I’m sure, have seen the movie, Bridge on the River Kwai, the story of British POW’s forced to build a strategic bridge for the Japanese. One of the prisoners escapes, and eventually connects with a British Major in Ceylon. They return to Burma to plant dynamite and destroy the bridge. For all ex-Catholics, that should be our mission: having escaped the prison camp of Rome, we are to return and sabotage the strategic bridge leading back to the prison camp.
We live in the post-modern age of tolerance, where only the intolerant are not tolerated. What I have been arguing is probably considered “hate speech” in many countries. But the gospel is divisive and causes separation. The truncated gospel of “god has a wonderful plan for your life” is not the gospel. The true gospel is “repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” This gospel tells people they are wrong, and if they continue in their error they are bound for hell. In fact, they are condemned already. Despite the beliefs of the Pope and Tony Palmer, the protest is not over; the war is indeed still raging. May we be found to be good soldiers, persevering until the end.
How can evangelicals answer the allegation of disobedient disunity? Some thoughts:
- There exists a spiritual unity of all true Christians, despite appearances. This unity is based on the indwelling Spirit of Christ that binds them together.
- Even amid the diversity of evangelical churches, there is unity in essential matters, especially regarding justification.
- Even with numerous denominations, there are still marks of unity. David Murray, in the June 2014 issue of Tabletalk, lists various shades of cooperation: ecumenism, association, endorsement, and friendship. With Rome, there is an “all or nothing” attitude toward unity.
- The plan of God is to work through, and be glorified in, our weakness.
- There is no record in the NT of a super-hierarchy; there are geographical churches and even house churches.
- Unity in diversity is a display of God’s workmanship. God even uses separation to spread more widely His gospel.
- Disunity is unavoidable because of our sinful natures which are still present within us. Rome is delusional in claiming infallibility of teaching and the holiness of her adherents.
- Many small errors, spread out over numerous churches, is safer than one fatal error being enforced by a monolithic hierarchical structure. Sin is magnified in the Papacy.
- The Bible requires discernment by Christians, and calls for godly separation and church discipline.
- Challenges to unity promotes humility, patience and forbearance.
- No doctrine, no division; know doctrine, know division.
- “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Lk. 12:51.
Please check out the recommended books for this month: The History of the Papacy, by J.A. Wylie; The History of Protestantism, by J.A. Wylie. A Woman Rides the Beast, by Dave Hunt.
When Michael first became a Christian, he was amazed at the glorious book that is the Bible. He also loved to sing the praises of his Savior. One of his favorite songs was “New Lives for Old” by Wayne Watson. Here are some of the lyrics:
They say he ran a carnival, used to come to town,
New lives for old!
He puts it in the paper, he goes from door to door.
The people say, “He’s such a fool to come back for more.”
New lives for old!
Now Michael loved his Catholic family, and was eager to share the story of his death and rebirth. He was surprised when they did not joyfully receive his testimony concerning his new life in Christ. They felt he was attacking their Catholic beliefs, and that he was wrong. His sister, thinking he had “lost his mind” even set up an appointment for him to see a psychiatrist. At first he was frustrated, but then he remembered that the Spirit blew when and where He chose; he would pray for his family. Eventually, Michael left the Catholic religion, and began attending an evangelical church that explained to him more fully the new birth that he had experienced.
“I, D. Michael Rudiger, have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. I have died to the elementary principals of religion. I have died and my life is hidden with Christ in God. Christ bore my sins on His body on the cross, so that I might die to sin, and live to righteousness. For the love of Christ controls me, having concluded this, that He died for me, therefore I died; and He died for me, so that I might live no longer for myself, but for Christ who died for me and rose again for my behalf. Jesus was delivered over for my transgressions, and was raised for my justification. Having received the gift of repentance and faith to believe in Jesus, I have peace with God. I have been raised up with Christ and in my spirit I am even now seated in heaven with Christ at the right hand of God. I have experienced the first resurrection. Therefore the second death has no power over me. Halleluia! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”
Dale (11/23/56-12/8/90; 12/8/90 to forever)
Out of the Fire
Are you a brand snatched out of the fire (Zech. 3:2)? To be rescued is the desperate need of every sinner. But many do not recognize the danger. It is my earnest plea that those deceived by Satan will escape Hell’s eternal punishment by fleeing to Christ. In this article, I will use stories from the 9/11 World Trade Center (WTC) timeline as metaphors. I do this with some trepidation, knowing that memories of the attack are still vivid and troubling for many people. Please do not read too much into the metaphors. I do not use them to question the intentions of WTC personnel or victims, nor to question the wisdom of any decisions made that day. The metaphors are to demonstrate the serious consequences of our decisions and compare them to the consequences of religious deception.
There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible, but God used one single chapter to snatch me out of the fire. I call it the “smoke detector” chapter of the Bible. It is Colossians 2. Paul gives specific warnings concerning Satan’s three powerful strategies. He tells us: “let no one delude you” (Col. 2:4); “let no one take you captive” (Col. 2:8); and “let no one defraud you, acting as your judge” (Col. 2:16). I will explain how these three warnings relate to Satan’s master plan, and how Satan’s plan impacts Catholics.
Paul’s Three Warnings
Warning #1: Let No One Delude You
Shortly after the first plane crashed into the North tower of the WTC, several P.A. announcements were made telling people it was safe; they should return to their offices. From 8:47 to 9:02 security officials at the base of the South Tower instructed people who had evacuated to head back up to their offices so as to avoid those evacuating the North Tower. Stanley Praimnath was persuaded and returned to his office on the 81st floor. He arrived at 9:01. At his desk, he watched as the second plane angled into the South Tower at 9:03. The wing of the aircraft tore through the 81st floor. The safety of the South Tower was an illusion. Many victims in both Towers had a false sense of security. No one thought a second plane would hit. No one thought the Towers would fall.
Having declared the abundant treasure found in the person and work of Christ, Paul warns us in Col. 2:4: “I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.” I am convinced that this warning is particularly applicable to four persuasive claims of the Catholic religion:
- Rome teaches that she is the One True Church outside of which there is no salvation. The Catholic is persuaded “not to leave the building” – the safety of the Roman Catholic Church.
- Rome claims to be the only Church that has the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus, in the sacrifice of the Mass.
- Rome proclaims that the Pope is the only infallible interpreter of God’s word; he is Christ on earth (Catechism of the Catholic Church – CCC 882).
- Rome claims that only her priests (acting as alter christus) are able to absolve Catholics of their sins. Salvation is through the Church’s sacraments.
These are powerful and attractive claims. Who wouldn’t want to belong to Christ’s true Church? Who wouldn’t want to receive the physical Christ? Who wouldn’t want certainty of doctrine? Who wouldn’t want the forgiveness that leads to heaven? The trouble is these Catholic claims are false, unbiblical and dangerous, as we shall see.
Warning #2: See to it that No One Takes You Captive
Brian Clark was at his brokerage firm on the 84th floor of the South Tower when Flight 175 crashed several floors below his office. Given emergency training and supplied with a flashlight after the 1993 WTC bombing, Clark gathered seven colleagues and started down Stairway A. [This was the only staircase that remained intact from top to bottom]. Reaching the 81st floor, they encountered two people who were going up the stairwell to get to the roof to avoid the smoke and get fresh air. They claimed that the stairwell below them was impassable. While the group debated their next move, Clark heard a cry for help near the stairwell. Mr. Clark left the stairwell to free Stanley Praimnath who was trapped behind a wall under fallen debris. Returning to the stairwell, they were alone. The others had already ascended toward the roof. Clark and Praimnath chose to descend the stairs. They were two of only four people to survive who were at or above the impact zone. Those who went up to higher floors to escape the fire and smoke perished. Going up, they were trapped by the fire, with no means of escape.
In Col. 2:8, the Apostle Paul warns: “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary spirits of the world, rather than according to Christ.” Rome teaches that Catholics are to seek other mediators beside Jesus. Supposedly these mediators provide spiritual assistance so that Catholics may achieve salvation. Foremost is the Catholic Mary, who is considered the Co-Mediatrix of salvation: “Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation.” (CCC 969). Instead of fleeing to Christ alone for salvation, Catholics are instructed to “flee to the higher floors” where Mary, the Saints, the Pope, and the priests reside. They are taken captive (trapped) by these “elemental spirits.” Christ, the only way out, is hidden from them. They head in the wrong direction and fail to “exit the building,” and find salvation “outside the camp where Christ is” (Heb. 13:13). “There is a way that seems right to man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12).
Warning #3: No One is to Defraud You by Acting as Your Judge
Almost 2,000 years ago, another tower located in the south end of a great city collapsed. This occurred in the city of Jerusalem. The Tower of Siloam fell. Jesus spoke of this tragedy to drive home a critical issue concerning salvation. He said, “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4-5). The scribes and Pharisees, leaders of the Jews, committed two evils. They focused on externals, and they ignored internals. They added man-made traditions, and judged the people based on their obedience to these traditions. They subtracted the weightier issue, the condition of the heart. We use a common expression for repentance: a “change of heart.” Unless a person’s heart is changed, he or she will not see the kingdom of God (Jn. 3:3; Acts 11:18). Jesus confronted the Jewish leaders, saying: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also” (Mt. 23:25).
Paul’s third warning: “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of angels [Veneration of Saints?], taking his stand on visions [Marian Apparitions?] he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head…Why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees such as, ‘Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!’ (which all refer to things destined to perish with use) – in accordance with the commandments and teaching of men?” (Col. 2:16-22).
Rome dilutes (actually, negates) the saving gospel of Jesus Christ by adding man-made traditions, such as mandatory fasts and Holy Days of Obligation. Catholics are promised that if they obey the Church’s five precepts, they will accomplish the “indispensable minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort” (CCC 2041-2043). By declaring salvation through meeting five external requirements, Rome defrauds Catholics by subtracting what is truly necessary to receive salvation. They omit the righteousness of Christ that is received through repentance and faith. They are told that salvation is through habitually “doing penance,” a form of self abasement.
Paul concludes Colossians 2 as follows: “These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.” (Col. 2:24). Self-discipline and adherence to rules and ceremonies (as a means of salvation) provide no refuge from the “flames of passion.” To the contrary, legalism tends to fan the flames of sin. For the law was given to accentuate sin, that we might recognize our need and flee to Christ (Gal. 3:19; Rom. 10:5-10). Through repentance and faith, we become “new creations” (2 Cor. 5:17). The inside of our cup is cleaned, and we show our gratitude by following Christ.
Though we deserve an eternal fate no better than those who died in the collapse of Siloam, we receive mercy. Jesus told the legalistic Pharisees to “Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice, for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mt. 9:13).
The Strategies of Satan
Here are the strategies that Satan employs to keep people out of heaven and in the domain of eternal fire. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Therefore, Satan seeks to:
1) Replace the way (gospel), the truth (Scripture) and the life (church) through delusion,
2) Hide the way, the truth, and the life through deception, and
3) Dilute the way, the truth and the life through fraudulent addition and subtraction.
Satan has produced a masterpiece that does all nine (3×3) of these – the Roman Catholic religion.
1) Jesus (the Way) is replaced by a piece of bread; He is replaced by the priest (alter Christus); and He is replaced by the Pope (Vicar of Christ).
2) Jesus is hidden behind many mediators (Pope, priest, Mary, Saints, Church, Sacraments).
3) The gospel is diluted by the addition of works and ceremonies.
4) The truth (Jesus, the Word) is replaced by an infallible Magisterium, the teaching authority that subjugates the conscience of the Catholic.
5) The truth is hidden by convincing Catholics that only Rome can correctly interpret the meaning of Scripture. Historically, the Church placed the Bible on the “Index of Forbidden Books, withholding it from the laity.
6) The truth is diluted by a second source of revelation, known as “Holy Tradition.”
7) The life of Jesus (His body, the Church) is replaced by an institution claiming to be the One, True Church.
8) The church is hidden through deception. Rome claims a false apostolic authority, supported by forgeries (False Decretals) and improper interpretations based on the so-called “Church Fathers.” Historically, it was considered a “mortal sin” for a Catholic to even enter a Protestant church.
9) Rome dilutes the church by claiming that Jews, Muslims, Separated Brethren, Hindus, and even sincere atheists are mystically added to her saving barque (CCC 836-845). And she subtracts true Christians, former Catholics who have left her fold (CCC 846).
The Roman Catholic Church is truly a “Synagogue of Satan” (Rev. 3:9). Satan is the Antichrist (replacer), the Deceiver (hider of truth), the Father of Lies (adder), and the Thief (subtracter). Satan wants to fraudulently steal the deed to your eternity. He will accomplish this by keeping you from Jesus. I urge you to consider the question, “Where is Jesus?” Paul answers this question in Col. 3:1 – he is “seated at the right hand of God.” Jesus warns, “Enter through the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Mt. 7:13-14). Jesus is this gate. You must “flee the building,” the broad way of false religion, and enter through Him. Christians are warned to flee idolatry. Catholicism is a religion of idolatry.
Urgent Action is Necessary
Neither Brian Clark nor Stanley Praimnath thought that the towers would collapse. They did not have a sense of urgency. Arriving on the 31st floor, they found some working telephones. They both made personal calls, and then Brian waited over three minutes on 911 to report a medical emergency on the 44th floor. When they finally exited the Tower, rescue workers advised them to run to avoid falling debris. When they had gotten about two blocks away, they found shelter near Trinity Church. Suddenly, Praimnath turned to Clark and said “I think the towers are going to collapse.” Clark started to argue otherwise when he turned and witnessed the horrific implosion of the South Tower.
My friend, your time may be running short. (1) You do not know the day of your death. You could be facing an eternity in hell much sooner than you think. (2) You may become hardened in your sin, and may lose any interest in seeking the Savior. My Catholic father, grieved by his sinful behaviors and his failure to measure up to his religion, gave in to hopelessness. (3) The Lord promises to return in judgment, on a day known only by the Father. A voice from Heaven shouts: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive her plagues…she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong” (Rev. 18:4, 8). The Roman Catholic religion is destined to fall. “Her smoke will rise up forever and ever” (Rev. 19:3). Please do not continue to let Satan and Catholicism hide Jesus from You! Flee to the Savior while there is still time!
The Heroes of 9/11 – A Type of Christ
We celebrate the heroism of the police and fireman who sacrificed their lives on 9/11. These heroes may be seen as a “type of Christ.” They gave their lives to save others. Similarly, Jesus willingly laid down his life for His sheep. The Port Authority police stayed at their posts and finished their work unto death. Jesus stayed attached to His post, and cried out “It is finished.”
We all have a sin problem. We all need to be rescued from the building. Unless we repent, we will all perish. We must be carried to safety in the arms of the Eternal Fireman. Jesus endured the fiery hell of God’s wrath on the cross as our substitute. Through faith in Him, we receive the flame-proof garments of his righteousness. Satan stands to accuse us – for our filthy clothing testifies against us. But Jesus rebukes Satan, and orders that our filthy garments be replaced by His festal robes (Zech. 3:1-5). Our iniquity is taken away, and replaced with Christ’s righteousness. What should be our response? As a nation, we are grateful for the courageous acts of the first responders. As Christians, much more should we display gratitude for the saving acts of Jesus. He grants forgiveness of sin by His sacrificial death. He grants righteousness through His sinless, resurrected life.
We need a hero, because no one is able to span the infinite distance from earth to heaven. Our sin separates us. I leave you with lyrics from the Point of Grace song The Great Divide:
There’s a bridge to cross the great divide A way was made to reach the other side The mercy of the Father, cost His son His life His love is deep, His love is wide There’s a cross to bridge the great divide
Postscript: A Word to My Fellow Evangelicals, Especially Former Catholics
Listening to the miraculous personal testimony of Brian Clark, I could not help seeing him as a “type of Christian.” Before proceeding, please watch Brian’s testimony here:
The Marks of the Christian Evangelist
- Brian, a volunteer fire marshal, was equipped to save people from disaster. As Christians, we are equipped with the gospel of salvation.
- Brian was guided to the correct stairway. As Christians, we receive the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- When Brian was stopped on the 81st floor, Stanley noticed his flashlight. This caused him to cry for help. As Christians, our light should so shine that we are noticed, that it “gives light to all who are in the house” (Mt. 5:15).
- Brian was compelled to seek out Stanley and rescue him. As Christians, we are compelled to represent Christ and rescue sinners with the gospel.
- Brian was miraculously protected when he went in to find Stanley. As Christians, we are protected during fiery trials by the helmet of salvation.
- When Brian pulled Stanley out of the rubble, Stanley was overcome with gratitude. He cried out, “Hallelujah, I’ve been saved!” As Christians, we share in the joy of the salvation of the lost.
- Stanley then cried out, “We’ll be brothers for life!” At this point, Brian noticed that both he and Stanley had wounds on the palm of their hands. He grabbed Stanley’s hand, pressed it to his, and said, “In fact, we’ll be blood brothers for life.” As Christians, those who receive the gospel truly become our blood brothers. “For henceforth let no one bother me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus” (Gal. 6:17).
- The meeting of Brian and Stanley was providential. As Christians sharing the gospel, we are to be on the lookout for “divine appointments.”
- Brian still needed to lead Stanley out of the burning building. As Christians, we are to lead immature believers out of false religion and into the pure air of true worship.
- Brian eventually led Stanley to the shelter of a church. As Christians, it is our responsibility to help establish those we evangelize by discipling them and baptizing them into the local church.
- Throughout the trial, Brian was protected by a strange peace. When enduring trials, Christians receive the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, which guides our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7).
- Looking back on his experience, Brian realized that he should not ask unanswerable questions, such as “Why me?” As Christians, we do one thing: we press on, forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead (Phil. 3:13).
As “found sinners” we are responsible for reaching out to those who are in bondage to false religion. We must be ready to warn the deceived and to overcome their objections. On the 81st floor, Brian encountered a large woman who blocked the stairwell. She claimed the way out was blocked, and urged Brian to join her by going up to the roof. Hearing this part of Brian’s testimony made me consider how difficult it is for Catholics to overcome the persuasive pull of their religion. Besides theological issues, there are the cultural and family connections which keep Catholics in bondage. And there are false ecumenical teachers who seek communion with Catholicism, thereby leading astray both Catholics and unwary evangelicals.
We live in treacherous times. It appears that we are in the midst of apostasy. But God has His elect who will be saved from Satan’s darkness and brought into the light of Christ. May we be bold in seeking them out and leading them to the Savior!
Sola Fide? Sola Scriptura?
Sinclair Ferguson answers this question here.