The Catholic Church: A Friendly Discussion with Our Catholic Friends (4b)

The Catholic Church

The Catholic Church

 A Friendly Discussion with Our Catholic Friends

(Part 4b)

  1. The Apocrypha in the Bible

Many may wonder why the Catholic Bible has included the Apocryphal books but other Bibles do not have them.  Chacon and Burnham point out that most citations in the New Testament (some 340 places) are to the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament books) and only a minority (33 places) are quotations to the Hebrew.  This would be 90% of the quotations are from the Greek rather than the Hebrew.[1]  Catholics maintain that since the Septuagint includes the Apocrypha, the Church should also consider these books as part of their official canon.  This would include Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, Baruch (or 1 Baruch), Tobit, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Letter of Jeremiah, and portions of Daniel and Esther.

The Catholic Church also cites the regional Council of Rome (AD 382), the Council of Hippo (AD 393), and the Council of Carthage (AD 397) that approved the 39 Old Testament books of the Hebrew canon along with the additional books of the Septuagint.  Besides this, Catholics contend that some of the co-called “church fathers” (Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria) accepted them as genuine Scripture and inspired.  Only later, in the sixteenth century, did Luther remove the apocryphal books from the Old Testament.  In addition to this, some of the apocryphal books have been found at Qumran along with Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament books.  For these reasons, Catholics maintain that the Bible should include the apocryphal books and additions.  They use these books to help support some of their controversial doctrines.

Finally, the Catholic Council of Trent (1545-1563) canonized these books, especially as a reaction against the Protestant Reformation.[2]  They went so far as to say:

If anyone . . . should not accept the said books as sacred and canonical, entire with all their parts . . . and if both knowingly and deliberately he should condemn the aforesaid tradition, let him be anathema.

This “anathema” or curse rests on those who reject the apocryphal books as inspired and part of the canon.

How should we view these disputed books?  Many reasons may be offered for rejecting these books as being part of the inspired Old Testament canon.[3]

  1. The Apocryphal books do not claim inspiration from God.
  2. No Apocryphal book was written by an apostle or true prophet.
  3. No Apocryphal book contains predictive prophecy.
  4. New Testament writers do not quote the Apocrypha. “There is not a single clear quotation in the New Testament of any apocryphal book.  This is completely unlike the Old Testament books, for these books are quoted consistently throughout the New Testament.”[4]
  5. Many “church fathers” denied the inspiration and canonicity of the Apocrypha (e.g., Origen, Jerome, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, etc.).
  6. Melito of Sardis in about AD 170 listed the canonical books of the Old Testament (except Esther), but did not mention any Apocryphal book.
  7. Athanasius (AD 367) mentioned some Apocryphal books but stated that they are “not indeed included in the Canon.”
  8. Early Jews of Palestine rejected the Apocrypha (including the Jewish Council of Jamnia in AD 90).
  9. Josephus excluded the Apocrypha.
  10. Philo of Alexandria quoted from nearly every Old Testament book but didn’t from the Apocrypha.
  11. The Apocrypha contains clear historical errors, whereas the canonical Old Testament books do not.
  12. The Apocryphal books contain many doctrinal errors (Mass, world created out of preexistent matter, alms can make atonement for sin, intercession of the saints, worship of angels, purgatory and redemption of souls after death).
  13. The Apocrypha apparently wasn’t in the original Septuagint but was attached in the fourth century.
  14. The apostles quoted from the Septuagint but not the Apocrypha.
  15. The Church Council argument has no weight since Councils are not infallible; they have made many mistakes.
  16. The acceptance of the Apocrypha was influenced by Augustine who was responsible for many theological errors.
  17. The Apocrypha fails the tests of canonicity that were applied to the Biblical books.

For these reasons, the Catholic claim that we should accept the Apocrypha as part of Scripture is proved false.  One of the supports for Catholic doctrine crumbles.

  1. No Salvation Outside the Catholic Church and Ecumenism?

The Catholic Church

Traditionally, over the centuries, the Roman Church has taught that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.  As early as Cyprian, who has been called “the first Catholic” (although that label is going too far since there was no formal Catholic Church at that time), we notice the affirmation: “Outside the Church, there is no salvation.”  Since the Roman Catholic Church believes that the Catholic Church is Christ’s Church and salvation is only found in this Church, therefore one must be a member to be saved.  On the other hand, since we have observed that the Catholic Church is not Christ’s Church, we can see that their contention was unfounded.

When the Vatican II Council convened in 1962-1965, it declared this in reference to the Church:

Basing itself on scripture and tradition, it [this holy Council] teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation; the one Christ is mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church.  He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door.  Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it, or remain in it.[5]

This sounds like the traditional teaching that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.  In regard to the subject of ecumenism, the Council stated:

For it is through the Catholic Church alone, which is the all-embracing means of salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained.[6]

How is it that Catholics can have such strong views on the necessity of the Roman Catholic Church and the need to belong to this institution?  Rhodes explains:

Understanding the Roman Catholic view on the sacraments helps us to comprehend why the Church has traditionally viewed salvation outside the Church as being impossible.   If it is true that sacraments performed by the priest are necessary for the reception of the grace that is essential for salvation, then obviously, if someone places himself or herself outside the Church, that person is cut off from this necessary grace.  The Roman Catholic Church has historically viewed itself as the “true” and “only instrument” of salvation.[7]

But this is not the full view of these subjects.  Today certain changes have occurred.  The Vatican II documents, reflected in the authoritative Catechism of the Catholic Church, makes allowance for “separated brethren.”  They acknowledge that those who departed from the Catholic Church are guilty of “human sin,” but those born into separated bodies (after the separation occurred years ago) may be saved.  “The Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers.”  If they have been “justified by faith in Baptism,” they have been “incorporated into Christ” and “have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by children of the Catholic Church.”[8]  Although people can be saved in non-Catholic groups, “anyone who wants to have the full truth and who desires to join the true church on earth must leave their group and join the Roman Catholic Church.  These “separated brethren” are urged to return to the “Mother Church.”[9]

In one way, the Catholic position does have an element of truth in it.  One who belongs to Christ Jesus and is saved from sin is part of His spiritual body, and this body is identified as the “church” in most translations (cf. Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4; Colossians 1:24).[10] How important is it that we be part of this body or community of Christ?  Paul refers to “the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).  Only members of this body are “purchased” (or redeemed) from sin by the blood of Christ!  We also read that Christ is “the Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23).  He is not the Savior of those outside the body!

Paul also says that “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (v. 25).  Jesus gave Himself in a special way to die for members of the body—and not for those who refuse to be part of the body.  Christ is the “head of the church” (v. 23), and one must belong to the “head” to be saved.  Thus, the traditional view of the Catholic Church was correct in believing that one must belong to the body of Christ or the “church” of the Lord to be saved.  But they made their monumental mistake in identifying the Lord’s body with the Catholic Church.  They are two entirely different entities.  In fact, a member of Christ’s body cannot be a member of the Catholic Church, and vice versa.

Vatican II appears to change many of the traditional Catholic views on salvation and the Church.  It even suggests that one doesn’t need to believe in Jesus Christ to be saved from sin!  It suggests that pagans and other non-Christians may be saved:

The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions.  She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrines which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men.  Yet she proclaims and is duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

Even Muslims may possibly be saved, according to the documents:

The Church has also a high regard for the Muslims.  They worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the creator of heaven and earth, who has also spoken to men.  They strive to submit themselves without reserve to the hidden decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to God’s plan, to whose faith Muslims eagerly link their own.  Although not acknowledging him as God, they venerate Jesus as prophet, his virgin mother they also honor, and even at times devoutly invoke.  Further, they await the day of judgment and the reward of God following the resurrection of the dead.

It would seem that the Catholic Church continues to assert that the Church is God’s necessary instrument of salvation and that we must be in that Church to be saved.  On the other hand, the Church acknowledges that some non-Catholics may be mistaken about these “truths” and they may possibly be saved as well, apart from actively endorsing the Catholic Church and apart from the knowledge that the Catholic Church is essential for our salvation.  The ecumenical posture of the Roman Catholic Church came to full light when years ago John Paul invited men from many different world religions to join in mutual prayer at the Vatican.  How different from his spiritual ancestors!

Scripture shows that the Catholic view of salvation is very mistaken.  God’s Word plainly says that Jesus—the Son of God—is the only possible way of salvation:

  • Jesus is the only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5)
  • Jesus is the only way to reach heaven (John 14:6).
  • Jesus is the only means of salvation (Acts 4:12).
  • Jesus is the only way to escape condemnation (Mark 16:16).
  • Jesus is the only means of forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:47).
  • Jesus is the only means of eternal life (John 3:16, 36).[11]

Other religions do not lead to God. . . . The Bible implies and states that God hates, despises, and utterly rejects anything associated with heathen religions and practices.  Those who follow such idolatry are not regarded as groping their way to God, but rather as having turned their backs on Him, following the ways of darkness.[12]

Consider the world religions with me.  Hinduism believes in hundreds of millions of different “gods,” whereas the Bible affirms the truth that there is only one true God.  Muslims reject Jesus as God’s Son and deny His crucifixion for our sins.  Jews refuse to believe that Jesus is God or the Son of God and the means of salvation.  Buddhists do not believe in a personal God at all and exalt Buddha to a semi-godhood status.  The same compromises and falsehoods may be seen in all of the other non-Christian religions of the world.  As we look at Romans 1, we see how Paul declares that all are lost in sin and under God’s judgment and righteous wrath unless they come to Him through Jesus Christ (cf. vv. 16-25).

God does give light of truth and, if one accepts this light, God will provide more light (John 3:19-21).  Someone has rightly said, “Light received brings more light; light rejected brings night.”  Cornelius was a Gentile seeker of truth and God worked to give the light of the good news of Christ to him and his family through Peter (Acts 10:1; 11:14).  Jesus is the only way.  The former Catholic position (of salvation only through the Catholic Church) was in error, and the present Catholic position (that salvation may actually be open to some good and decent non-Catholics or non-Christians) is also wrong and unscriptural.

  1. Venial and Mortal Sins

Catholicism has formulated a distinction between “venial” and “mortal” sins.  Venial sins are lesser sins.  The term comes from the Latin, venia, meaning “pardon” or “easily forgiven.”[13]  While it is taught that these are wrong and a disobedience to God’s will, they have no bearing on whether one will enter heaven or not.  They involve “a less serious rejection of God’s love” but not a deliberate choice against God.  These lesser sins may send one to Purgatory to be cleansed or punished, but they will not consign one to hell.

On the other hand, mortal sins are serious sins that bring death.  “We commit mortal sin when we transgress a commandment of God of a serious matter, with full knowledge, and free consent of the will.  Serious matter is, for example, unbelief, hatred of our neighbor, adultery, serious theft, murder, etc.”[14]

There is a serious problem with this doctrine.  Many (vast numbers of?) Catholics tend to look on “venial” sins as small and not very serious.  “Mortal” sins, on the other hand, are more “grave” or “serious.”[15]  The term “mortal” comes from the Latin, meaning “deadly,” hence, very serious sins.  Conditions for this type of sin would be (1) sin or a serious nature; (2) knowledge that the sin is serious; (3) full consent of the will—and freely choosing to do wrong.[16]  These mortal sins are thought to send the Catholic to hell—unless he repents and receives forgiveness from a priest.

The problem with this artificial and non-Scriptural distinction is that the Catholic is not that concerned about some of his sins.[17]  The Bible, on the other hand, says that “the wages of sin [all sin] is death” (Romans 6:23).  All sins—whether they be deemed large or small—will bring spiritual death or separation from God!  While some sins may be more serious than others (cf. Mark 12:28-31), all sin is worthy of death.  This is what Paul says of the result of sin (Romans 1:32) and he gives examples of such sins, ones that most would consider smaller sins—greed, envy, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, arrogance, boasting, disobedience to parents, and untrustworthiness (vv. 28-32).  All of these sins are worthy of death and hell.

Such sins will keep one from the Kingdom of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21) and will bring the wrath of God (Ephesians 5:3-6; Colossians 3:5-6).  All sin must be confessed (1 John 1:9) and forsaken (Proverbs 28:13).  Apart from this, one will be sent to hell or the lake of fire for all eternity (Revelation 21:8).  Jesus died to pay for all sins—whether they be great or small—and we may be forgiven by God through Him and His shed blood (1 John 1:7; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 5:6-11).  All sin may be forgiven if we will only humble ourselves and come to God through Christ in the way he has specified in Scripture.

  1. Positions and Officers

The Catholic Church

Without doubt, the Roman Catholic Church has the most complex hierarchical arrangement than any other sect or group claiming to be Christian.  (Notice our discussion earlier on Holy Orders.)  Several of the offices or positions would be as follows:

  • Pope
  • Cardinal
  • Archbishop
  • Bishop
  • Abbot
  • Friar
  • Metropolitan
  • Monk
  • Nun

Many other positions may be found in the Roman Catholic Church.  (This is not meant to imply that many other unscriptural positions or offices are also found in most Protestant Churches.)  One source offers these positions within the Catholic Church:

  • Primate
  • Metropolitans
  • Diocesan bishops
  • Auxiliary bishops
  • Vicar general
  • Episcopal vicar
  • Archiepiscopal
  • Vicars Apostolic
  • Apostolic Exarchs
  • Diocesan administrator
  • Apostolic administrator
  • Apostolic prefects
  • Exarchs
  • Apostolic vicars
  • Prelates
  • Vicars general
  • Deacons
  • Chaplain of His Holiness
  • Honorary Prelate
  • Protonotary Apostolic[18]

Anyone who has read his Bible knows that this system is far removed from the simplicity found in the early community of Christ found in the Scriptures.  Earlier we noticed that the leading position in the local house assembly was called the “elder” (presbuteros).  This functionary was also called an “overseer” (episkopos) or “shepherd” (poimen).  The overseer has been corrupted in our day to read “bishop” which has connotations that were not found in the word episkopos.  Further, the shepherd has been corrupted in the form of “pastor” which is somewhat different from the word poimen.  (We might add that the eldership or overseers were always found in the plurality in the early house assemblies—cf. Acts 11:30; 14:23; 15:2; 20:17, 28; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:5; cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:17; James 5:14; 1 Peter 5:1).

Only those men (males) who were qualified could be appointed as elders/overseers/shepherds of the flock of God (cf. 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).  Alexander Strauch explains this more thoroughly:

The New Testament uses a term other than elder to describe local church leaders.  That term is overseer, and it come from the Greek word episkopos.  The term overseer was a common designation used by Greeks for a variety of officials.  In contrast to all priestly or lordly titles, nothing in the title overseer (or elder) violated the local church’s family character, humble-servant nature, or priestly and holy status.  The fact that the apostles and first Christians used the term overseer as a synonym for elder demonstrates flexibility in the use of leadership terminology and the desire to communicate effectively among Greek-speaking people. . . .

The term episkopos (overseer), for example, developed a meaning that was quite different from the New Testament usage.  It became one of the most significant ecclesiastical titles of the hierarchical church.  We know the term in English as bishop, meaning a church official who presides over many churches and the lower clergy.  Thus the original sense of the term episkopos, which was a synonym with elder and indicated a local church official, was lost.[19]

Strauch is saying that the common expression, “overseer” or episkopos, has radically changed meaning. Instead of it meaning a local married and family man who had certain character qualities, it came to mean a high-ranking church official that was over many lower clergy.  This is just what happened in the post-apostolic church that evolved into the Roman Catholic Church.

Historically, we may summarize the situation in the first and second century in this way:

This Spirit-gifted leadership had largely disappeared by the early second century. . . . Local leaders emerged at an early stage.  Congregational life was directed by a team or group, commonly known as “presbyters”—that is, elders or fathers in the faith (possibly based on Jewish or Old Testament models)—or “bishops” (that is, guardians or overseers, probably derived from the Hellenistic pattern, although there were interesting parallels at Qumran).  Other titles were used—pastor or shepherd, teacher, deacon or servant, ruler and president. . . . There was no counterpart to “the minister” of today in earliest Christianity.  Churches met in small, house-based gatherings until at least the third century.[20]

Evidently, the basic positions in the early New Testament body of Christ (the “church” or the assembly) included:

  • The elders (or overseers, shepherds)
  • The servants (or deacons)
  • The teachers
  • The proclaimers or preachers (or evangelists)

As we have noticed, not only does Catholicism violate the simple instructions on leadership in the body of Christ, this religious body has added multiplied unscriptural and anti-scriptural positions unknown to the early Christians.  In fact, no Catholic functionary is identical to the New Testament pattern.  “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32).

But why were professing Christians unwilling to be content with the arrangement that the apostles maintained in the New Testament era—simply consisting of the overseers (elders) and servants (deacons) (Philippians 1:1)?  Why were they unwilling to maintain the proclaimers (evangelists), teachers, and apostles and prophets (although the latter two may have been primarily intended as the foundation of the house of God—Ephesians 4:11; Ephesians 2:20)?  We can say with confidence that the Roman Church departed significantly from the first century pattern by bringing in multiple unscriptural innovations and unbiblical positions.  Regardless of the Catholic claim to be the very same church described in the Bible, it differs radically in many points.

  1. Elaborate and Ornate Churches

The Catholic Church

One of the most conspicuous features of Roman Catholicism pertains to their ornate and elaborate sanctuaries and edifices.  Whereas the early Christians met in homes without special “religious” architecture, the opposite may be said in describing both ancient and modern Catholicism.  Catholic authorities admit that the early Christians met in homes and had no interest in public “church” edifices.  Notice this description from one Catholic authority:

In the earliest days of the Christian religion, there were no buildings specially consecrated to Eucharistic worship; the assemblies for liturgical service were held in private houses (Acts 2:46; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:15; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 2). The assemblies which the first Christians held in the Temple of Jerusalem, in the synagogues or even in hired halls, were assemblies for instruction or for prayer (Acts 5:12-13; 17:1-2; 19:9). At the end of the second century and even later, during the period of persecution, assemblies for Christian worship were still held in private houses.

During this epoch, however, we begin to hear of the domus ecclesiae (the house of the Church), an edifice used for all the services of the Christian community, in which one apartment was specially set apart for Divine worship. At an early date this apartment took on a special importance. During the third century the other parts of the building were detached from it and the domus ecclesiae became the Domus Dei (the house of God) known also as the Dominicum or the kyriakon oikon (Duchesne, Origines du culte chrétien, 399-400, Paris, 1902; Wieland, Mensa und Confessio: Studien uber den Altar der altchristlichen Liturgie, Munich, 1906, I, 27-35, 68-73).

All such churches were situated in towns, and the inhabitants of the rural districts came thither on the Lord’s Day, in order to assist at the Eucharistic Sacrifice; in large cities, like Rome, Alexandria, and Carthage, there are several churches, but they did not constitute separate parishes (Duchesne, 400; Wieland, 73-76). They depended upon the cathedral church, in which was established the see (sedes), or the chair (cathedra) of the bishop.[21]

The same source speaks of the growing emphasis on edifices for public worship.

This division was confirmed by the Congregation of Rites, 23 January, 1899 (Decreta authent. Congreg sacr. Rit. no. 4007, Rome, 1900). Churches are edifices set apart in perpetuity for the public exercise of Divine worship; such are basilicas, primatial, metropolitan, cathedral, collegiate and parish churches, and lastly the conventual churches of regulars, properly so called. Public oratories are buildings of less importance, definitely given over to Divine worship, and accessible to the public, whether the entrance itself be upon the public road or upon a passage-way leading to the latter. A private oratory is one established in favour of a particular family or even of a single individual. Finally, a semi-public oratory is established for the benefit of a number of people; such is the chapel of a seminary, a college, a congregation of simple vows, a hospital, a prison, etc. With these may be classed the chapels of cardinals and of bishops.[22]

When the Edict of Milan (313) was issued, many features of established Christendom changed, much to the worse (although the Catholic Church is convinced that this opened the door to the Christianization of pagan society).  “The Emperor himself built a new church in Rome which symbolized the dawn of a new era.  This Church of St. John Lateran was a basilica, and in all the main centres of the Empire this style of church seems rapidly to have replaced the house-church.”[23]  “Occasionally pagan temples were taken over and adapted by the Christians for their own worship, but this was done only in smaller or less wealthy communities.”[24]  Hand in hand with the change in church buildings was a change in the makeup of the congregation itself and the roles of the “clergy” and “laity.”  In the first century, there was no special “clergy” class, for all believers were on the same level and equal before God.  As the centuries passed by, this radically changed until there was a priestly class and the laity class.

By the beginning of the fourth century the distinction between clergy and lay people was becoming more prominent.  About this time the liturgy changed from being “a corporate action of the whole church” into “a service said by the clergy to which the laity listened.,”  This may have influenced the choice of the basilica plan for the new churches.[25]

We can see the vast difference between the “family” atmosphere of the early Christians who met in homes and rented quarters and the highly-developed and elaborate churches of modern Catholicism. The early believers considered themselves as brothers and sisters in the family of God, and this was fostered by the “family” atmosphere of the early believers as they met in private houses for edification, for love feasts, and for worship (cf. Acts 2:42-46; 12:12; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34; 1 Timothy 3:15; James 2:15; 1 John 3:1-2).

The Cathedral is the special center where the Bishop resides and reigns:

The chief church of a diocese, in which the bishop has his throne (cathedra) and close to which is his residence; it is, properly speaking, the bishop’s church, wherein he presides, teaches, and conducts worship for the whole Christian community. The word is derived from the Greek kathedra through the Latin cathedra, throne, elevated seat. In early ecclesiastical literature it always conveyed the idea of authority. Christ Himself spoke of the scribes and Pharisees as seated on the chair of Moses (Matthew 23:2), and it suffices to recall the two feasts of the Chair of St. Peter (at Antioch and Rome) to show that, in the language of the Fathers as well as among the monuments of antiquity, the cathedra was the principal symbol of authority. (Martigny, Dict. des antiq. chrét., Paris, 1877, s.v. Chaire)[26]

Some of the more popular and familiar cathedrals in the United States are the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington D.C., and the Basilica-Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.[27]  Years ago I visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan and the edifice is definitely large and ornate.  The towering structure and the spacious interior were meant to impress all of those who would visit.

Why would Catholicism emphasize ornate churches?  This was the very issue that Benedict XVI addressed.  He answered: “Roman catholic churches are more ornate because they were designed to be impressive.”[28]  Our question would be: “Are our meeting places intended (by God) to be “impressive”?  Would God approve of building large and ornate structures to “impress” the members or to impress the visitors?  The huge and elaborate cathedrals of Europe are testimony of the shameful treatment of the peasants who could barely survive yet they contributed to the erection of grand and lavish buildings that towered above their surrounding squalid dwelling places.

Significantly, the first “church buildings” after Constantine’s adoption of Christianity were formerly Pagan basilicas!  Through the following centuries, the Catholic Church erected and outfitted ostentatious cathedrals, replete with religious images and complete with relics of the saints.  Sadly, the embellished architecture of the edifices only housed and fostered the paganistic worship practices of an empty and dead religion.


Please check all of the articles in this series on the Catholic Church:

Part 1a

Part 1b

Part 1c

Part 2a

Part 2b

Part 2c

Part 3a

Part 3b

Part 3c

Part 4a

Part 4b

Part 4c



[1] Beginning Apologetics I, pp. 10-11.

[2] Ron Rhodes, Reasoning, p. 32.

[3] Ibid., pp. 33-45.

[4] Ibid., p. 45.

[5] Quoted by Albert J. Nevins, Catholicism The Faith of Our Fathers, pp. 62-63; cf. Ron Carlson and Ed Decker, Fast Facts, p. 231.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Rhodes, Reasoning, p. 174.

[8] Catechism, 817, 818.

[9] Rhodes, Reasoning, p. 174.

[10] The Greek word ekklesia is better translated as assembly, community, group, gathering, congregation—words that do not have the institutional connotation that “Church” has.

[11] Our booklet, Is Jesus the Only Way?, deals with this subject much more thoroughly.

[12] Rhodes, Reasoning, p. 334.

[13] Rhodes, Reasoning, p. 212.

[14] Dogmatic Theology for the Laity, quoted by Rhodes, Reasoning, p. 213.

[15] Essential, p. 214.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Rhodes, Reasoning, pp. 212-220.

[18]; see also; World Book Encyclopedia. “Roman Catholic Church.”

[19] Biblical Eldership, p. 32.

[20] Eerdmans’ Handbook to the History of Christianity, p. 117.


[22] Ibid.

[23] Eerdmans’ Handbook to the History of Christianity, p. 150.

[24] Ibid., p. 151.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27]; Catholic Encyclo-pedia, p. 183;

[28] 16sbDfv7D

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