Compromises with Catholicism


Compromises with Catholicism

Richard Hollerman

Over the years many people who profess Christ have opposed the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church and the Roman Bishop (aka the Pope).  They have openly spoken and written against countless doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church for nearly two thousand years.

When the Roman Church rose to a place of prominence in the third and fourth centuries, there were some writers and leaders who opposed this arrogant claim to superiority. The Roman Church dominated the religio-political empire in the Middle Ages, however there were pockets of non-Catholics scattered in the mountains and elsewhere who refused to bow the knee to Rome.  Many thousands (and some say millions) of people objected to certain teachings of Rome and thereby faced cruel torture and death at the hands of the secular authorities under church supervision during the deadly Catholic Inquisition. 

At the time of the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, Luther and others boldly asserted that the Catholic Pope was the Beast of Revelation (the Apocalypse) whom Christ would overthrow at the proper time.

This opposition to Roman doctrines and practices continued through the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, with preachers and teachers claiming that the Roman Church was the “Mother of harlots” in Revelation.  It was thought that it was the Catholic Church that was “drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus” (Revelation 17:6).  It was thought that this city and religion was described in Revelation 18:5: “Her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.” Whether these identifications were accurate or not, we do know that Protestants and other dissenting groups have almost all condemned what the Roman Pope and the Roman Church have believed and taught.

The Second Vatican Council of the 1960s changed many of the Roman practices and beliefs.  Up until that time, Catholics considered Protestants to be heretics and they were under Rome’s Anathema. After the Council, they were simply considered “separated brethren.” Before that time, one had to belong to the Roman Church to be eternally saved; since then Rome has taught that even non-Catholics may possibly be saved (unless they actively opposed the Catholic dogmas).

As liberal Protestantism spread in the nineteenth century and especially in the twentieth century, some thought that at least some Catholics might be saved and be right with God.  Increasingly preachers of the last century taught and wrote that it was possible for Catholics to exercise saving faith and be born again, but they should be taught of the Roman errors and encouraged to leave the Catholic fold. 

However, as the twentieth century came to a close, some of these Protestant clerics went so far as to say that members of the Catholic Church could not only be saved but could remain in the Catholic Church with the blessing of God.  They should not be disturbed or confused with Protestant beliefs and practices!

Some of our Evangelical and Fundamentalist readers may be unaware of this Protestant compromise with truth and just assume that preachers and pastors continue to condemn Catholic beliefs and practices.  Yes, in some cases, preachers still urge Catholics to examine the Scriptures and escape from Roman false teachings. However, it seems that a growing number of Protestant leaders are urging unity with their Catholic “brothers” and “sisters.”  They claim that doctrine is not vital but what really matters is love—and with this love comes fellowship and sweet unity at any cost!

In a lecture given by former-Catholic Mike Gendron entitled, “Rome’s Strategy for a One World Religion,”[i] this speaker quotes a number of these well-known Protestant leaders who are advocating unity with the Roman Church. Notice some of these quotations and the ones who presented them:

·       “Evangelicals and Catholics have differences, but on the ancient creeds and the core beliefs of Christianity we stand together” (Chuck Colson).

·       “These people [Catholics] are brothers and sisters in God’s family.  I am looking to build bridges with the Catholic Church” (Rick Warren).

·       “I read the New Catechism, 1,800 points. I accept 99% of it. Why should we divide over 1%?” (Jack Van Impe).

·       “My meeting with His Holiness Pope John Paul II was very warm and . . . I pledged to work for Christian unity between Evangelicals and Catholics” (Pat Robertson).

·       “His goal was to bring everyone back to the Good Shepherd, the Pope. What do we have to do to suppress the differences” (paraphrase of Robert Schuller).

I suppose that many other quotations could be offered by preachers, teachers, pastors, and professors who want unity and fellowship so desperately that they are willing to overlook Scriptural teachings to have it. They desperately want to have one “Christian” Church composed of Catholics, Protestants, the Orthodox, and other factions—all composing one super church body.  Catholics also want a single super-body composed of all professing “Christians” but their version is one under the power and authority of the Catholic leader (aka the Pope).

Maybe one of the leading Evangelical leaders to accept the view that many Catholics are Christians is the well-known Billy Graham.  When the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s issued their ecumenical overtures to Protestants, Billy walked through the door to accept Catholics.  One article states:

The Council issued its “Decree on Ecumenism,” which referred to other Christian traditions as “separated brethren” and encouraged all Catholics to actively participate in ecumenical activities. The new spirit of openness gradually defused tension in religious discourse in the United States. Graham forged relationships with Catholics up to and including Pope John Paul II, whom he met in Rome in 1981. His Billy Graham Evangelistic Association wouldn’t hold a crusade unless a majority of local churches, eventually including Catholic churches, invited him.[ii]

Not only did Vatican II open the door to Protestants but Protestants opened the door to Catholics and Billy Graham was in the forefront of this outreach:

Despite theological differences, tactical partnerships between Catholics and Protestants on social causes became commonplace in the years after the Second Vatican Council — from the civil rights movement and the anti-war marches of the ’60s to today’s efforts to limit or ban abortion.

Yet Graham, now 93, is still vilified by some deeply conservative Protestants for his parallel embrace of Catholics and mainline Protestant groups.

“They opposed Graham for a number of reasons, but probably the main reason was his willingness to work with mainline Protestant liberals and Catholics,” said Grant Wacker, professor of Christian history at Duke Divinity School.

“It wasn’t that Graham’s own theology was bad as that he was consorting with the enemy.”[iii]

Graham has allowed Catholic priests and leaders to actually sit on the stage when he was preaching and participate in his campaigns. He has also allowed “converts” to go into the Catholic Church with his Association’s blessings.  He has had meetings with Catholic leaders and embraces them as brothers!  Through his extensive influence, surely many millions of others have been led to accept the idea that it is possible to be saved and yet remain in the religion of Catholicism.

How can this be in light of our Lord’s teachings?  Jesus declared, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:13-14).  Surely the Roman Catholic Church, composed of one billion souls, is a “plant” that God did not plant but the Lord will surely “uproot” it in His own time.  Further, surely we are to let the Catholic Church alone for if a spiritually blind man (like Billy Graham) will guide another who are spiritually blind, both will “fall into a pit.”

We can’t address this whole issue at this time, but the goal of the true Christian is not to maintain Protestantism or to return to Roman doctrines and practices (or any other “Christian” group).  No, the genuine follower of Jesus desires to return to the Word of God and seeks to be just what the early believers were (minus the false teachings and practices that were arising even during the New Testament period).  Christians know that the Scriptures are the only sure source of truth that will cause people to be Christians—and only Christians.

Paul the apostle wrote, “No man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).  If Christ is the very foundation of the people of God (the body of Christ), we need to heed what our Lord taught.  He asked, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).  We cannot rightfully call Jesus Lord unless we are willing to submit ourselves to His infallible teachings. 

In another context, Paul also wrote that we (Christians) are of God’s household, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).  As Christians, we are to follow the teachings of the apostles and prophets of the Lord—as contained in the new covenant writings (our New Testament). Christ’s body must be based on that solid foundation and not on the fallible and erroneous doctrines and practice of Roman Catholicism.

Those preachers who urge unity with the Catholic Church overlook vast amounts of truth.  In contrast, God says that we are to follow the will of God found in the Word of God and if one doesn’t submit to such teachings, he cannot be a true Christian. He cannot be considered part of the body of Christ (Romans 12:3-8) or the household of God (Ephesians 2:19). 

If we do consult with the Word of God—our Bible—we will see that to be true to the Lord, we must come to God through Christ Jesus just as the Word of God instructs.  We must order our lives according to that same Word. Further, we must seek to be nothing more or nothing less than what the early believers were.  This is what true unity means.  It is not found in Catholicism, in the Orthodox churches, in the Protestant Churches, or in any other human institution.  The Christian can’t compromise with Catholicism—and neither can he compromise with Protestantism.

Unity is found in Christ alone (John 17:20-24) and it only comes for those who are willing to come to God through Christ in the way God’s revelation reveals. That is the only way to have true unity.  That is the only way to have genuine fellowship in Christ.

 



[i] This was taken from the Worldview Weekend website. (worldviewweekend.com /worldview-tube/play. php?id=cwnVideo -4487).

[ii] usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/10/28/billy-graham-vatican-catholics/1627503/

[iii] Ibid.

 

 

 

 

   

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