The Roman Catholic Church
Before writing anything else I want to emphasize the following
point. One of the first things that must be understood about the Catholic
Church is this -- it is not the apostate church of Christ. Catholicism
developed and formed out of the apostate church. It never was the Lord's
church in any way, form, or fashion whatsoever. It is human in origin.
Therefore, in reality, it is the oldest and longest existing sectarian
denomination on record. I say this in the beginning of this article because
I have often noted that Protestant denominationalists (and some brethren)
often refer to the Roman Catholic Church as, "the apostate Roman Catholic
Church". The Catholic Church did not come from or fall from anything
scriptural. It came from the fermented minds of men who were long separated
from the church revealed on the pages of the New Testament. Having made and
emphasized that important point I will now begin our study of Roman
In this brief study I will not attempt to investigate the many facets of the Roman Church. Such would be an impossible task in the limited space. Furthermore, such an exhaustive study is not necessary in order for one to see the falsity of Catholicism. I will, therefore, deal with the fundamental and foundational erroneous tenets of Catholicism. Thereby, I shall have proven that Catholicism is from man and not God.
WITHOUT BIBLICAL SUPPORT
The following seven stones in the foundation of the Catholic Church are mere assumptions without biblical support. They are,
In their attempt to prove that the church was built on the apostle Peter, Catholics go to Matt. 16:18 where the apostle records that Jesus stated, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Let us examine the passage. In the Greek language "Peter" is in the masculine gender (petros). Petros means a small stone or pebble. Jesus used the feminine gender in the Greek language for "rock" (petra) when He said, "upon this rock I will build my church". Petra means a ledge or cliff of rock. In the light of the meaning of these two Greek words translated "rock" in Matt. 16:18, are we to conclude that Jesus built His church on a pebble or a cliff of rock? Indeed, Jesus built His church on the foundation rock of truth that Peter confessed, namely that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God", the New English Bible notwithstanding (Matt. 16:16).
Catholics try to attack the previous "gender argument" by pointing out that Jesus spoke Aramaic and not Greek, that the book of Matthew originally appeared in Aramaic, and, unlike Greek, the genders are the same in Aramaic. I point out that it is Catholic tradition—nothing more, nothing less, or nothing else that says the book of Matthew originally appeared in Aramaic. It is merely a Catholic assertion that such is the case. Where is the proof? Furthermore, if Jesus originally did speak the words of Matt. 16:18 in Aramaic, it was the Holy Spirit who infallibly guided Matthew to write Matt. 16:18 in Greek. Does anyone doubt that the Holy Spirit knew how to say infallibly in Greek what Jesus said infallibly in Aramaic and, thus the different tenses?
Please consider the following points regarding the tenses in Matt. 16:18.
In the Catholic attempt to state that Peter and the popes to follow him were authorized to "define" our Lord's laws they go to Matt. 16:19. In the passage Jesus said, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
All the apostles of Christ had the same authority given to them by Jesus as did Peter (John 20:21-23). Among other things, in order to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15), one must have and examine the totality of what the Bible says on any given subject before reasoning with the information and drawing a conclusion. Matt. 16:19 is only part of what the Bible says on this matter (and the Catholics do not understand it). Does not John 20:21-23 bear on the question of who and how many of the apostles received authority from Jesus Christ?
The truth of the matter regarding what Matt. 16:19 literally says in the Greek language is as follows. Jesus said, "and whatever you forbid on earth must be what is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth must be what is already permitted in heaven." The Greek terms, "must be what is already forbidden" and "must be what is already permitted" are passive participles. The same is true of the grammar of Matt. 18:18. Thus, the truth of the matter is that Jesus told the apostles that they were permitted to bind on earth only what had already been bound in heaven and loose on earth only what had already been loosed in heaven.
The apostles of Christ are the ambassadors of Christ to earth "eyewitnesses" of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:20; Acts 1:8). They and they alone possessed plenipotentiary power. This is the authority that an ambassador from one government has in representing his government to another. It means that he alone may speak the official position of his government to another government. An ambassador may not change any part of what his government has previously determined. He may only state it accurately. The same is true of all the apostles (not just Peter) of Jesus Christ in representing the will of the court of heaven to men on earth (John 16:13; Luke 24:29; Acts 2:4; 1 Cor. 2:4; 2 Pet. 1:21; regarding Paul's apostleship see Gal. 1:11-17). Thus, Christians continue today in the apostles' doctrine (Acts 2:42).
It is interesting to note that in 1870 when Pope Pius IX was "defined" by the Vatican Council to be "infallible" it was by a majority vote of the cardinal and bishops after many days of heated debate. The Holy Spirit had nothing to do with the decision. There is no scripture that supports (1) Peter being given the authority Rome asserts was given to him and (2) successors to Peter's office. Therefore, (3) how could Peter pass down to his successors that which he never had?
Catholics site John 21:15-17 in an attempt to prove their claim that Christ made Peter to be head over all the church. The scripture reads, "So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again a second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep."
In interpreting this scripture three assumptions are made by Catholics.
The first scripture to which Catholics appeal to attempt to prove that Peter was made chief of all the apostles is Acts 8:14, 15. It reads, "Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost." Question: If Peter was "prince of the apostles" how was it that the other apostles sent him (Peter) on a special mission? Would not the "prince of the apostles" have been doing the "sending" rather than the "going"? Recently it was the Pope who called the American Cardinals to Rome, not the Cardinals calling the Pope to America.
In Acts 15:19-22 Luke records the meeting of the elders, apostles and others as well as the subsequent letter produced by them to be sent to the Gentile brethren concerning the relationship of the Law of Moses to the Gentiles. Peter did not run the whole shebang! Notice that the scripture reads that: "it seemed good to the apostles (not Peter alone DPB) and the elders (not Peter alone DPB), with the whole church" (not Peter alone DPB). [ RSV -- webservant ] The Roman hierarchy does not operate this way today. In the case of the decision just noticed and the subsequent letter produced, the scripture reveals that, "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things." This means that the apostles, elders, and the whole church were in complete accord with what the Holy Spirit had revealed.
Paul by inspiration of the Holy Spirit declared that he was "not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles" (2 Cor. 11:5). How could Paul truthfully make the preceding point if Peter was the "prince of the apostles"? Moreover, in Gal. 2:11-14 we have the record of Paul rebuking Peter for his hypocrisy regarding not eating with the Gentile brethren at Antioch of Syria. Question: What cardinal, archbishop, or bishop today would dare say or write what Paul did of Peter to the "infallible" "Right Reverend" "Holy Father" "prince of the Apostles" his "eminence," the Pope?
Literally, "tradition" is the only thing Catholicism has left to attempt to uphold the supremacy of Peter. However, the meaning of the word "tradition" is that which is handed down. And, if that which is handed down finds no support in the scriptures, then it has no weight and must be repudiated and rejected (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16, 17; James 1:25; John 12:48; Heb. 4:12; Eph. 6:17: Lk. 8:11). It would be nothing less or more than the tradition of men. Of such men Jesus said, "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. 15:9).
In this brief article we have seen that the scriptures do not teach that,
It is my desire that all those who espouse the name of Jesus Christ as their Savior would turn to the Bible and the Bible only, knowing that it is capable of making Christians only — members of the church of which we read in our own New Testaments — the church of Christ (Acts 2:38, 41, 42, 47; Rom. 16:16). Why not be a Christian — nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else? Why not renounce all sectarian denominationalism and have a "thus saith the Lord" for all you believe and practice (Col. 3:17)? This is the way that is right and cannot be wrong.
EDITOR'S NOTE: If you or someone you know desires to learn much more about Roman Catholicism you can order the book ROMAN CATHOLICISM, Editor David P. Brown, hard back, 657 pages, for $16.00 plus $2.00 S&H. Texas residents must add 7.25% tax. Order from:
P. O. 2357
Spring, TX 77383-2357