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HOLDING HANDS WITH THE POPE
The Current Evangelical Ecumenical Craze

Ernest D. Pickering

Please Note: Each coloured link within the article will lead you to a related topic on a different page of this site. However, while the text is part of the original article, the links are not. The author of this article may or may not agree with the views expressed on those pages, or anything else on this site..

See Salvation The Message of The Bible and  What and Where is Heaven?

Quotes by ‘leading’ evangelicals below

AND

Should Christians Participate in Inter-Faith Communion?

 

On May 28, 2003, the eve of Ascension Day, 200,000 Catholics and Protestants traveled to the German capital for the first-ever Ecumenical Kirchentag (literally, Church Day) jointly organized by both denominations. [Kirchentag Below]

A May 17, 2005 story in the Seattle PI said

    “The historical separation between Roman Catholics and Anglicans has narrowed after both found common ground on the position of Mary, mother of Jesus, according to a document conceived at the highest church levels and released in Seattle yesterday” [Catholics, Anglicans Reach Accord on Mary]

All of which makes me wonder what the sell outs in the Protestant church will make of Pope Benedict’s latest pronouncements.. saying that they do not have the "means of salvation." [See July 10, 2007 Fox News report... [Pope: Other Christians Not True Churches]

But what gets really confusing is that.. On the one hand the Vatican has made a concerted effort since 1965 to bring their "separated brothers back home to "holy mother the church." On the other hand the Catholic church fraternizes .. joins in prayer with ... and actively endorses other religions.. Pope John Paul II's bizarre involvement with and approval of other anti-Christian religions has caused even many Catholics to call Pope John Paul II the Anti Pope.... However many Protestants see this as a much more sinister sign. [The Two Faces of Catholicism]

 

Bible1-Bar

 

"The Word became flesh to make us partakers of the divine nature.......For The Son of God became man so that we might become God. The only begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in His divinity, assumed our nature so that He, made man, might make men Gods." (1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church, page 128, section 460)

Have Bible-believers been in error for centuries in refusing to recognize the Roman Catholic Church as a part of the true Church of Christ? Did the martyrs of old die in vain as they protested the false teachings of the "mother of harlots", and were burned at the stake for their efforts? Were Hugh Latimer, John Knox, and Martin Luther simpletons who failed to recognize the marvelous benefits of ecumenism and who, instead, boldly attacked the multiplied errors of Rome?

Strange things are happening today in Christendom. Many odd "winds of doctrine" are blowing about, threatening to sweep God's people away from their time-honored principles and God-revealed truths.

BUILDING BRIDGES TO ROME
One observer has called it 'the most significant event in almost 500 years of church history." It was the signing of a declaration entitled, "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium." Involving, as it did, both evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders, it was truly a. monumental statement. Signed March 29, 1994, in New York, it was an ecumenical document of supreme importance since it represented a combined effort by leading spokesmen to "bury the hatchet", ignore important theological differences which have existed for centuries, and work together as "teammates" instead of antagonists.

Who were the signers? One of the chief architects of the document was Richard John Neuhaus, a prominent author and former Lutheran theologian. His conversion to the Roman Catholic Church about four years ago made headlines in the evangelical press. In explaining his defection, Neuhaus stated that "the purpose of proclaiming justification through faith which seemed in the sixteenth century to necessitate a division, no longer warrants division."

In addition to Neuhaus, other evangelical luminaries signed the document. Among them were:

Bill Bright of Campus Crusade
Mark Noll of Wheaton University
Charles Colson, President of Prison Fellowship
John White, President of Geneva College and former president of the National Association of Evangelicals
J. Packer, noted British author
Jesse Miranda, leader in the Assemblies of God
Pat Robertson, television preacher and evangelical political leader
Richard Land, Southern Baptist official
Larry Lewis, Southern Baptist official
Archbishop William Murphy of Boston
Archbishop Francis Stafford of Denver
Cardinal John O'Connor of New York

What did it say? -The document attempts to broaden the definition of the word "Christian" to include as many as possible, notably Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox adherents, and Protestants outside the evangelical camp. It is mainly concerned, however, with relationships between Roman Catholics and evangelicals. It laments the division between them and proposes a moratorium on Catholic/evangelical conflict.

In defending the position that Roman Catholics are true believers along with evangelicals, it is argued that both camps accept the Apostles' Creed. How the acceptance of the Apostles' Creed would make one a Christian is not explained. The intellectual acceptance of any creed, no matter how correct, will not save one soul..

The document warns against "sheep stealing." It declares, "It is neither theologically legitimate nor a prudent use of resources for one Christian community to proselytize among active adherents of another Christian community". In other words, we are no longer to make concerted and earnest efforts to win our unsaved Roman Catholic neighbors to Christ. They are already Christians so why bother? The impact of such a notion upon evangelism and world-wide missions is readily apparent.

Acceptance and fellowship between evangelicals and Roman Catholics is also justified on the basis that both believe in salvation by grace. For the Catholic, however, salvation by grace refers to that divine grace which is mediated through the Roman Catholic sacraments administered by a duly ordained priest of Rome. The evangelical (or biblical) concept of grace is that it is unmerited favor which is received by faith alone. There is a vast difference between the two concepts.

IPS Note: There is no question that the Bible says nothing about “sacraments administered by a duly ordained priest of Rome”. However, while it is certainly a fact that the Bible teaches that faith is an essential ingredient, without which it is impossible to please God, it never ever teaches that faith is the only requirement for salvation. In fact the Scriptures point to a number of things by which a person is saved. See The Myth of Faith Alone.

THE SLIPPERY SLOPE OF COMPROMISE
How in the world did respected evangelical leaders come to such conclusions as described above? What has happened, or is happening, in Christ's Church today that could possibly account for such obvious departure from time-honored positions?

The lengthened shadow of a man. Much of the current theological confusion with regard to the Roman Catholic Church can be laid at the feet of one man--Billy Graham. Almost a living idol to large numbers of evangelicals, Graham more than any other single person is responsible for leading the evangelical community into a more cozy relationship with the Church of Rome. Many years ago he began to play up to the Catholic hierarchy. He received an honorary degree from Belmont Abbey, a Roman Catholic institution. He has sought the cooperation of the Roman Catholic leaders in metropolitan areas where he has held campaigns. He has sent the converts of his meetings back to Roman Catholic churches. He has publicly honored and praised Roman Catholic leaders. He has failed to warn of the terrible and unbiblical doctrines of Rome. Since Billy Graham sees no problem in having spiritual fellowship with the Roman Catholic Church, and since his influence is very great among evangelicals, is it any wonder that others have followed his lead? [See Article on Billy Graham]

The erosion of strong doctrinal commitment. In his notable work, No Place for Truth, David Wells wonders in the subtitle, "Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?" He gives abundant evidence of a fact that has been observed by many for years--doctrine is no longer of prime importance to many evangelicals. Emphasis has shifted in recent years to "shared experience" as a common ground for fellowship rather than common doctrinal convictions. "Everybody that loves Jesus" should get together without regard to doctrinal distinctions. Evangelicalism as a whole has been stricken with a bad case of the "warm fuzzies". "If a Roman Catholic loves Jesus, then I should embrace him as a brother in Christ." This is the common view of many.

The charismatic factor. It is interesting that, in reporting the signing of the ecumenical document, the National and International Religion Report commented: 'What brought the two communities together to this point, some signers said, are the experiences of worshipping together in the charismatic movement . . . . This is but another evidence of the impetus toward ecumenism which has been generated by the modern charismatic movement. Charismatics find common ground in their shared experience and see no doctrinal impediment to full cooperation with one another. Charismatics seem to be able to span the widest theological gulf with no problem whatsoever.

Common political causes. In recent years Roman Catholics and evangelicals have made common cause in the political arena, uniting their forces in struggles over the abortion issue, homosexuality, etc. These joint efforts have brought together leaders from both sides who had never worked together previously. Personal friendships have been formed, and, as a result, serious doctrinal differences have begun to be down-played. Since there is agreement on some social issues, and since these issues are so important in the life of America today, many leaders on both sides are willing to minimize doctrinal conflicts on the plea that we need to cooperate in "saving America.".


HAS THE LEOPARD CHANGED ITS SPOTS?
Has the Roman Catholic Church changed? Are Bible-believing Christians now free to join hands with Rome? Should we lay aside our "bigotry" in favor of a more magnanimous attitude?

In 1962, the 21st ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church was convened by Pope John XXIII. It was one of the most momentous religious gatherings of the century. An aggiornamento (a refurbishing) of the Roman Catholic Church was projected. The Church was to be adjusted to the changing conditions of the times. Many structural, procedural, and liturgical changes were made in order to improve the image of the church in the eyes of the world, and to make it seem more tolerant and open. Ever since this historic gathering was held, many evangelicals have had the perception that the Roman Catholic Church has changed sufficiently so as to render it an acceptable religious fellowship, no longer to be exposed as unbiblical but rather to be recognized as a legitimate church.

This perception, however, is fatally flawed. The Vatican Council II changed no fundamental doctrine of the Catholic Church. The changes made were cosmetic not substantive. Many years ago, James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore and a greatly-honored Roman Catholic leader, said that "the Catholic Church cannot be reformed . . . . The Church is not susceptible of being reformed in her doctrine (emphasis mine). The Church is the work of an Incarnate God. Like all God's works, it is, therefore, incapable of reform." It should be emphasized that Cardinal Gibbons was speaking of a change in doctrine, not a change in practice or worship. Were the Roman Catholic Church to say that it had erred in any doctrine, such an admission would effectively undermine its entire theological structure. Roman Catholic theology is built upon the foundational concept of papal infallibility and the absolute and binding authority of the "teaching church".

See Catechism Of The Catholic Church

Stray remarks by priests, cardinals, or other leaders of Rome do not constitute Rome's official position. Much has been made of the fact that the numerous charismatics now found within the Roman Catholic Church are "more like evangelicals", and have some views that may not be compatible with historic Romanism. This may be true, but individual communicants within the Catholic Church do not determine the doctrinal basis of the Church. Roman Catholicism does not accept, as do Protestants, the right of individual biblical interpretation. Authoritative teaching comes through the Church and is incorporated in the collective body of Roman Catholic dogma that has collected over the centuries.

The infallibility of the Church. Romish doctrine affirms that the Roman Catholic Church has been divinely constituted as the final authoritative interpreter of Scripture, and as the sole propounder of Christian doctrine. One Catholic source puts it this way: Infallibility is "exemption or immunity from liability to error of failure; (in particular) in theological usage, the supernatural prerogative by which the Church of Christ (Roman Catholic Church] is, by a special divine assistance, preserved from liability to error in her faith and morals".

Final teaching authority rests in the Pope when he is speaking ex cathedra (from the chair of Peter as the official Teacher of the Church). "The pope takes the place of Jesus Christ on earth .... By divine right the pope has supreme and full power in faith and moral, over each and every pastor and his flock. He is the true Vicar of Christ, the head of the entire church, the father and teacher of all Christians. He is the infallible ruler, the founder of dogmas, the author of and the judge of councils, the universal ruler of truth, the arbiter of the world, the supreme judge of heaven and earth, the judge of all, being judged by no one, God himself on earth."

Baptism. Since baptism is viewed by most alleged Christian communions as the "door into the church", many evangelicals have trumpeted the fact that Rome apparently relaxed somewhat her views of the Church at Vatican Council II, allowing for the fact that non-Catholics might be members of the Church. However, one must remember that in the minds of Catholics this true Church subsists within the Church of Rome. The statement of the Trent Catechism, an official declaration of the Roman position, still stands: "Infants, unless regenerated unto God through the grace of baptism, whether their parents be Christians or infidel, are born to eternal misery and perdition".Attempting to deal with the horror of such a doctrine, Catholic theologians invented the "Limbus Infantum", a residence where infants who die without baptism exist excluded from heaven but without conscious pain.

The Catholic Church still maintains, as it always has, baptismal regeneration. Baptism is "the door or entrance to the spiritual life, through which we become members of Christ .... baptism is the source of spiritual rebirth". How can fundamental believers in good conscience recognize and cooperate with a church that believes people become Christians through baptism? [See Baptism]

The Mass. Central to Catholic worship is the celebration of the Mass. Some non-Catholics mistakenly view the Mass as similar to the communion observance. It is not. "The Holy Mass is the sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus Christ really present on the altar under the appearance of bread and wine, and offered to God for the living and the dead". The Mass is not merely a memorial of Christ's death.

The Mass is a truly propiatory sacrifice [by which] the Lord is appeased [and] ... pardons, wrongdoing and sins . . . . Finally, the Mass is the divinely ordained means of applying the merits of Calvary. Christ won for the world all the graces it needs for salvation and sanctification. But these blessings are conferred gradually and continually ... mainly through the Mass .... The priest is indispensable since he alone by his powers can change the elements of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.... The more often the sacrifice [of the Mass] is offered the more benefit is conferred . . .

Such teaching of course is a deliberate denial of the biblical doctrine of the finished work of Christ. Christ was "once [once for all] offered to bear the sins of many" (Heb. 9:28). "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God" (Heb. 10:12). To view persons who believe this as "Christian brethren" is to deny the very heart of the biblical gospel. [More]

Penance A chief cornerstone of Roman Catholic theology is the doctrine of penance. "Penance is the sacrament by which sins committed after baptism are forgiven through the absolution of the priest." Baptism, according to Catholic teaching, brings forgiveness of sins committed prior to the reception of that sacrament. However, for sins committed after that time there must be confession, contrition, and the satisfactory completion of any good works that are required to be performed. A Roman Catholic communicant, therefore, is constantly in bondage to the priest who alone can help him get rid of his sins.

Salvation. A Roman Catholic who follows the teachings of his church can never hope to have a certain knowledge of salvation. The Council of Trent placed a curse upon those who claim to have eternal salvation. "If anyone shall say that he who is once justified cannot lose grace . . . let him be accursed." Catholics deny salvation by grace through faith alone. This was one of the principal issues at stake in the Protestant Reformation. Both faith and works are necessary for salvation. 'Good works are, therefore, the reason for which God gives the reward of eternal life." See Salvation

Some may think that more recent Roman Catholicism has rejected some of these ideas concerning salvation. They have not. Witness this contemporary statement by Catholic teachers:

    'Christ's death earned 'satisfactions and merits' which have been deposited into a Treasury' to which have been added the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary [and] the prayers and good works of all the saints .... From the most ancient times in the Church good works were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners . . . . Indeed [by] the prayers and good works of holy people . . . the penitent was . . . redeemed . . . . Following in Christ's steps, those who believe in him have always. . . carried their crosses to make expiation for their own sins and the sins of others. 'They were convinced that they could help their brothers to obtain salvation from God ...

Obviously such doctrine is completely contrary to the New Testament. This fact, however, does not trouble the traditional Roman Catholic. The statement to follow, from an official Catholic source, shows why:

    "When someone asks where the Catholic finds the substance of his belief, the answer is: from the living teaching authority..... This authority consists of the Pope and the bishops of the time, whose duty it is to promote the knowledge of revealed truth. The Catholic is thus freed from the necessity of personal investigation into doctrinal questions, and can live in a quiet certainty that the doctrine of the Church is the doctrine of Christ Himself."

The Roman Catholic is not disturbed if a given doctrine cannot be found in Scripture. If it has been declared a bona fide doctrine by the magisterium, the teaching body of the Church, it can be accepted as authentic, While, particularly in America, this has been challenged on a practical level by many Catholics, it nevertheless remains the firm teaching of Rome. Again it must be kept in mind that the position of the Roman Catholic Church is not defined by popular opinion, or even clerical opinion, but by the specific directive of the bishops and the Pope.
 

IS CONTINUED SEPARATION FROM ROMAN CATHOLICISM A SIN?
In the official statement, "Evangelicals and Catholics Together," the following statement is found: "We together, evangelicals and Catholics, confess our sins against the unity that Christ intends for all his disciples." Upon reading this statement one must ask: is it a sin to remain separated from spiritual fellowship with the Catholic Church? Should we who are practicing such separation repent of our bias and embrace the Catholic Church as a true Church? This is what evangelical ecumenicists are bidding us do.

Through the centuries no group has stood stronger against cooperation with Roman Catholicism than Baptists. With what amazement then do we read the following account:

    "Frank Ruff took his usual back-street shortcuts as he drove into the heart of the massive complex many call the 'Baptist Vatican.' 'Good morning, Father Frank,' called out security guard Richard Bennett, himself a Catholic, as Ruff entered the Southern Baptist Convention's executive offices. The priest's black clerical suit and Roman collar still stand out in a Southern Baptist crowd. But no one does a double-take as Ruff goes about his work as the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' representative in the halls of Southern Baptist power. The big news, these days, is that cooperation between some leaders of America's 59 million Roman Catholics and 15 million Southern Baptists is becoming old news."

Norman Geisler, well-known Christian apologist, was interviewed concerning his views on Catholic-evangelical cooperation. He concludes that "the differences are not as great as generally perceived and they are not as crucial. In my opinion, they don't involve heresy on either side of the fence." He was asked the question, "Is there a growing awareness among our fellow evangelicals of the theological common ground between themselves and Catholics?" His answer: "I would have to admit that more Evangelicals see the need to cooperate socially and ethically. That's good because it's forced evangelicals to re-evaluate their relationship to Roman Catholics. But I see also a growing awareness of this doctrinal understanding. I had a conversation with a couple of noted evangelicals at the last Evangelical Theological Society meeting and they were in total agreement with what I am saying here."

This is a frightening statement indeed! Not only does one of the leading evangelical theologians feel we should be accepting of Roman Catholicism, but he has many "buddies" who share his feelings. This bodes no good for thousands of young students as well as evangelical church members who will come under their influence. The perception will soon be widespread that we no longer need to oppose the heresies of Rome because they are not really "heresies."
 

JUST LEARN TO SAY "NO"
There are clear biblical principles that are being blatantly ignored by those who are promoting more rapport with Roman Catholicism.

Those teaching false doctrine should not be accepted but rather repudiated. Paul faced major theological deviations among the churches of Galatia. He faced the deviators in no uncertain terms. Their teaching was to be shunned. They were "accursed" (Gal. 1:8). When the apostle Peter gave in to their erroneous accommodations, Paul "withstood him to the face because he was to be blamed". (Gal. 2:11). He did not view the Judaizers nor their "evangelical" accomplices as having "fresh insights" or "exercising their rights as believer priests." He viewed their teaching as deadly and dangerous and took great pains to expose it.

IPS Note:
See What The Bible Says About Publicly Warnings Against The Wolves, And The Bible's Often Vitriolic Language HERE.

Let us face the facts. Key doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church are pure heresy. They are not supported by the Word of God. What should be the reaction, therefore, of those who would be true to the Lord? "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds" (2 John 10-11). Notice that God views the teaching of false doctrine as an "evil deed." That teaching may come from suave even sincere and pleasing religious instructors. Some Roman Catholic leaders are "nice" people and talk about Christ and His work. We must not be led astray, however, from the main point. The main point is this: are they teaching doctrines found in the New Testament? If they ate not, we must reject them.

Those who rely on false ways of salvation are not to be viewed as "brothers and sisters in Christ". The major emphasis of Paul in writing to the Galatians was this: If anyone corrupts the pure gospel of Christ, adding to it any kind of works, that person is to be repudiated. "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed"(Gal. 1:8-9). What were the Galatian Judaizers doing? They were saying that salvation by faith alone is not possible. Good works are meritorious and are necessary to earn salvation. As we have already seen, this is the exact teaching of Rome. They have not changed since the days when Martin Luther and other Reformers protested their corruption of the gospel. They have learned how to talk in ways that can seem convincing to gullible evangelicals, but they have not changed one iota their fundamental teaching in this area. Martin Luther went to Rome, while still a Catholic monk, and ascended the so called "Pilate's stairs," the scala. sancta, uttering pater nosters (our Fathers) and praying for souls in purgatory. He hoped by these good deeds to help deliver suffering souls from that place of torment. Where did he receive such notions? From the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church! They are still teaching these things today.

IPS Note: the Bible's instructions on how to deal with those who teach and practice false doctrine in the church are very explicit.
 See Fraternizing With The Enemy

Can persons who are depending upon good works (theirs or others) for assistance in attaining heaven be viewed scripturally as members of the Body of Christ, as truly born-again people? But, says someone, is it not possible that some Catholics are saved? No doubt this may be true, but some things need to be noted:

    1. The number of such would be very few in comparison to the total number of Catholics.

    2. A truly born-again person, taught by the Spirit, would be unable to remain in the bosom of such an apostate organization for long.

    3. The presence of such within the Roman Church does not in any way suggest that the official teachings of that church are acceptable. Born-again people are found within the membership of rank liberal Protestant churches, but this does not condone the apostasy of the system to which they belong. They should get out and so should believers who are still affiliated with Romanism. It is woefully sad that such leaders as Billy Graham have told inquiring Catholics that they should not leave their church, but remain in it and seek to reform it.

The bottom line is this. If a person is not trusting in Christ's finished work alone for his or her salvation, then that person is not a Christian. We are saved, 'not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy' (Titus 3:5). Christ's sacrifice is complete and cannot be perpetuated or duplicated. 'But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God' (Heb.10:12). The fact that he "sat down" underscores the completed nature of his work. Old Testament priests never sat down during the performance of their duties. This was because they always had something else to do. Christ has no more to do. He has done it all. To seek to add to what he has done by human good works is an insult to Him and a denial of scriptural teaching regarding His work.

The rescue of our society from it's moral catastrophe is not a sufficient reason for disobeying clear teachings of the Word of God.. "America is morally bankrupt. Those of us who believe in the Judeo-Christian heritage of morality must stand together. We cannot be divided by non-essential doctrinal differences". This is the plea of many evangelicals today. It is also being heralded by some Roman Catholic leaders. This was the substance of the argument of a Catholic lawyer, William Bentley Ball, when he authored an article published in Christianity Today entitled, "Why Can't We Work Together?" The summary of the article says: "A noted Catholic lawyer urges Catholics and evangelicals to become partners in the battle against rampant secularism. In this same article, Ball says he is often asked by fundamentalist clients whether he has accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. His answer reveals the terrible ignorance of the average Roman Catholic regarding the matter of the new birth. Ball replies: "The name of my parish, indeed, is Sacred Heart of Jesus--a reverent phrase loaded with the tenderest meaning. We . . . believe that we receive the actual body and blood of Jesus when we receive communion." Here is a man--an educated, leading Roman Catholic layman--who believes he has accepted Christ as Savior because he receives the Holy Sacrament on a regular basis! Could there be a more eloquent testimony as to the reason why Catholics need to be evangelized--the very thing contemporary evangelical leaders are telling us we ought not to do! May God have mercy on His Church in these days of awful confusion

Does the goal of rescuing America from the depths of moral bankruptcy into which it has fallen justify evangelicals in ignoring the blatant errors of Romanism, pronouncing orthodox and practicing Roman Catholics as true believers, and engaging with them in corporate worship? Should we minimize vast and vital theological differences in order to try to achieve a better standard of morality in our society? Many feel we should. This concept is reflected in the views of Norman Geisler, mentioned earlier, who is a noted evangelical theologian, having taught at both Dallas Seminary and Liberty University. His assessment of the relationship between evangelicals and Romanists is summed up in the title given to an interview which he had on the subject: "If we don't hang together, we're going to hang separately".

It is clear from Scripture that the primary task of the Church is not to reform society but to perpetuate and propagate the "faith once delivered to the saints". In good conscience we cannot abandon, compromise, or change the truths of God's Word on the plea that we are working with others toward rectifying society's ills. We are glad for those Roman Catholics who stand for the sanctity of life and oppose abortion. However, we cannot, because they hold such a position, overlook the monstrous errors of the Roman Church and brand its adherents as true believers. The genuine, Christ-honoring pastor is to be "holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers" (Tit.1:9). Several important elements are found in this verse:

    1. Sound doctrine is important and must be taught.

    2. There are those who will oppose sound doctrine.

    3. Sound doctrine must be strongly maintained and those systems that are contrary to it must be opposed,

Roman Catholics do not teach sound doctrine. They must be opposed, therefore, and their erroneous doctrines exposed.

To confirm Roman Catholicism as a valid expression of the Christian faith is to doom multitudes of Catholics to eternal hell. As we have already seen, Catholic doctrine does not set forth salvation by grace through faith alone. It adds works to faith as a necessary requisite of salvation. Jesuit theologian, Avery Dulles, tries to dance around issues carefully to as not to offend his mostly evangelical readers in an interview conducted by Christianity Today. Even he, however, admits there are great differences between what evangelical believe about salvation and what Roman Catholics believe. Dulles notes, in speaking of "justification" that "after you are justified you can be more justified still" [a confusion of justification and sanctification]. He also states that "we can merit salvation provided that we persevere in grace. . . we do not boast that we've already been saved in the sense that we cannot be lost . . . so we hope we will be saved . . . it is not an absolute assurance". What a sad testimony is this, coming as it does from a leading theological mind of the Roman Church! We can only "hope we will be saved". Yet leading evangelical voices are telling us that there is no heresy involved in Roman Catholicism.

What do Roman Catholics need? They need to hear of the wonderful salvation Christ has offered through His finished work. They need to hear that it possible to have complete assurance of salvation by resting in the promises of God's Word. They need to know that salvation is not through the so-called "Holy Sacraments", but through faith alone apart from priestly intervention. If evangelicals begin viewing Roman Catholics as people who are already saved, they will cease to give them the gospel and thus condemn them to everlasting hell. This is a very serious implication of the "new theology" being propounded by evangelical leaders today.

The impact of this new position upon foreign missionary effort will be staggering. Many of our fundamental missionaries labor in predominantly Catholic countries where the majority of the converts through the years have come from the Roman Catholic Church. Will we now cease our efforts to evangelize these people? What will we tell the people who have already left Roman Catholicism, many at great sacrifice? Will we tell them that we were mistaken and that the Church in which they were born and raised is really a New Testament church after all? What confusion such an admission would bring! Have we wasted centuries of time and multiplied millions of dollars of the Lord's money in an effort to get people saved who are already saved?

The evangelical ecumenism represented in this movement of conciliation will be a menace to those local churches and institutions that are trying to be true to God's Word. Because of the eminence of many of the propagators of the current "evangelical ecumenism," many Christians will be influenced by what they say. Their line of reasoning has already begun to be popularized through the Christian media. Young students in colleges and seminaries will be infected by this notion. Pastors and other leaders who are seeking to 'hold the line" for biblical truth will placed under increasing pressure. They will be viewed as "troublemakers," and will be accused of an overly militant and loveless spirit. Furthermore, Roman Catholics who hear about this new approach (and they will definitely hear as their leaders trumpet the news abroad) will be increasingly resistant to the gospel and hostile to those who witness to them since they say, "We are not lost. We are part of the Body of Christ. Your own leaders say so, We do not need to be evangelized."

Cleverly-worded statements of what Catholics believe are already being made by their leaders with the intent to impress evangelicals and cause them to embrace the idea that Catholics really are not that different from true Bible-believers. Such a statement appeared in a Catholic periodical and was entitled, "Biblical Fundamentalism: How Should Catholics Respond?" Ten questions commonly asked by fundamentalists were addressed by Raymond Brown, a priest. The answers were worded in such away that those not thoroughly familiar with Catholic teaching would think favorably of them. Such articles no doubt will continue to appear, written by representatives on both sides. Continuing and growing confusion will be the result.

CONCLUSION

We must recognize that there are various elements within the Roman Catholic Church. These are

    1. Liberals
    These would be persons such as Hans Kung who has authored books critical of Roman Catholic teaching but who himself is not fundamental in his doctrines, but shares the viewpoints of liberal Protestants.

    2. Traditionalists
    These are the persons holding to the traditional doctrines of the Catholic Church.

    3. Charismatics
    Many Catholics have come under the influence of the contemporary charismatic movement and are practicing their views within the pale of Roman Catholicism. However, as one writer has noted, they have "varying degrees of concern about bringing their new-found faith into harmony with the church's teaching."

    4. Cultural Roman Catholics
    They were born into the Church and have an emotional tie (and often an ethnic one too) to the Catholic Church though their involvement is more cultural than theological.

The official position of the Catholic Church, however, is not mandated by such groups nor by individuals within these groups. The official position of the Catholic Church is enunciated by its official teachers. It is this collective authority of the Church's official teachers that becomes "Catholic doctrine." The Roman Catholic Church "regards itself as the instrument of the Paraclete-Spirit promised by Christ, which would take what he had given and guide Christians along the way of truth in subsequent times (John 16:13)" In other words, the Catholic Church, embodied in its hierarchy, is the appointed "Teacher" for all Christians.

Are Roman Catholics truly "evangelicals?" One's answer to that question depends upon the importance one places upon New Testament doctrine. We are afraid David Wells was right when he wrote, "I see a faith which is being seriously eroded by assorted alliances with late 20th century culture. I'he upshot is that evangelicalism is now largely defined in terms of its experience rather than its truth. Since evangelical experience often sounds similar to Catholic experience, should theological differences be taken seriously or pressed unduly?" To many evangelicals, the answer to this question is "no". Such a spokesman as Kenneth Kantzer, noted author and former editor of Christianity Today, said we should "rejoice with the newfound evangelicals in the Roman Catholic Church" and that we should not "attack what we deem to be holdovers from Roman Catholic doctrine". As long as visible evangelical leaders such as this promulgate the idea that we should not challenge and refute the multitudinous errors within Catholicism, we will continue to see an erosion in the doctrinal position of evangelicalism as a whole, and a rapid development of ecumenism.

We are reminded of the consternation of the apostle Paul when hearing of the intrusion of the legalizers into the churches of Galatia. The "false brethren" [those persons claiming to be "evangelicals" but who were not]. These people "came in privily [secretly, unobtrusively] to spy our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage" (Gal.2:4). What was Paul's response to these persons, some of them illustrious, who sought to rob the gospel of its power? Paul said: 'To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you" (Gal. 2:5). He said that even though some of them "seemed to be somewhat" [that is, seemed to be important], Paul said he would regard no one's person, but rather defend the faith against all corners. We must do the same today. Our command from King Jesus is still valid: "Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand' (Eph. 6:13).

This booklet can be ordered from
Baptist World Mission
PO Box 1463
Decatur, AL 35602

END NOTES

1. David Hunt. 'The Gospel Betrayed," The Berean Call, May 1994.

2. "Neuhaus Leaves Lutheran Church for Catholicism," Christianity Today, October 8, 1990, p. 60.

3. National and International Religion Report, April 4, 1994, p. 1.

4. James Cardinal Gibbons. The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 73,

S. P. J. Toner. "Infallibility, " The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910 edition, VII, 790.

6. New York Catechism.

7. Trent Catechism.

8. N. G. M. Van Doornick, S. Jelsma, and A. Van de Lisdonk. A Handbook of the Catholic Faith, edited by John Greenwood.

9. Catechism of Christian Doctrine, "What Is The Holy Mass?"

10. Pocket Catholic Dictionary, pp. 248-49.

11. Baltimore Catechism, p. 300.

12. Council of Trent, Canon 23.

13. Van Doornick, et, al., op. cit., p. 217.

14. Vatican II, Flannery's Edition, I, 64-66.

15. Van Doornick, et. al., op. cit., P. 137.

16. Press release by Baptist Press, March 4, 1994.

17. "If We Don't Hang Together, We're Going to Hang Separately," Interview with Norman Geisler, The Southern Cross, January 13, 1994.

18. Loc. cit.

19. William Bentley Ball, "Why Can't We Work Together?" Christianity Today , July 16, 1990, p. 22.

20. Loc. cit.

21. op. cit., Interview with Norman Geisler.

22. "America's Catholics: What They Believe," Christianity Today, November 7, 1986, p. 27.

23. Raymond Brown, "Biblical Fundamentalism: How Should Catholics Respond?" St. Anthony Messenger, June 1950.

24. Kenneth Kantzer, editorial, "Church On The Move," Christianity Today , November 7, 1986, p. 17.

25. Raymond Brown, op. cit.

26. David Wells, "To Dialogue or Not To Dialogue," Action, March-April, 1987, P. 8.

27. Kenneth Kantzer, op. cit

{TOP OF PAGE}.

 

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Kirchentag

On May 28, 2003, the eve of Ascension Day, 200,000 Catholics and Protestants traveled to the German capital for the first-ever Ecumenical Kirchentag (literally, Church Day) jointly organized by both denominations. Over the long weekend, 3,200 events were to be held at 600 Berlin locations. As some 350,000 participants (out-of-town visitors plus locals) mingled in the center of the German capital a poll showed that 57 percent of all Germans believe that “no good reason” exists for the church’s division. Among church members, this attitude was even more pronounced: 66 percent of the Catholics and 60 percent of the Protestants said they favored unity. (Munich-based Polis Institute).

As the first ecumenical Kirchentag kicked off in Berlin, some participants said they hope the event would bring the Catholic and Protestant faiths closer to unity, while others said they have been behaving as if the churches already were unified.

A Catholic Mass outside Berlin in which non-Catholics received Communion drew an overflow crowd of more than 2,000. The crowd was more than organizers expected; they ran out of bread and wine before all members of the congregation were served. Several hundred people gathered outside the Lutheran Gethsemane Church in the Berlin suburb of Prenzlauer Berg, listening to the service over loudspeakers. The service was not an official component of the ecumenical Kirchentag, or church assembly, held in Berlin May 28-June 1. It was promoted as an official Catholic Mass in which all Christians were permitted to take part in Communion.

Diversity is the slogan of the day. The Dalai Lama will be there; interfaith events involving Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and others will occur, but Messianic Jews were denied a forum.

Among the guests of honor are Communists. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is there too, grinning broadly, even though he was the first postwar German head of government to have refused using the habitual phrase, “so God help me,” when swearing his oath of office.

There was no dearth of postmodern bad taste, either. As Catholics and Protestants came together, 20,000 “Kirchentag condoms” bearing the motto, “glaub’ dran” (believe in it) were distributed among the younger participants.

Ecumenical Charta signed in Germany

Sixteen Christian churches in Germany have signed a Charta to promote ecumenical work across Europe and uphold human rights at a joint four-day convention in Berlin. Signatories included the heads of Germany’s main Protestant and Catholic churches, plus bishops of Ethiopian and Syrian Orthodox congregations in Germany. Visiting the convention was the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who cheered by some 20,000 mostly young festival visitors. Earlier he met German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer who said Germany, like other EU member nations, regarded Tibet as part of a federated China but supported Tibetan aspirations for religious and cultural autonomy. The Chinese embassy in Berlin criticised the encounter. (Deutsche Welle. 30.05.03 )  {TOP OF PAGE}

 

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Catholics, Anglicans Reach Accord on Mary
Statement closes big gap between churches

By JOHN IWASAKI
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER

“The historical separation between Roman Catholics and Anglicans has narrowed after both found common ground on the position of Mary, mother of Jesus, according to a document (Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ.") conceived at the highest church levels and released in Seattle yesterday.

Anglicans, already close to Catholics because of liturgy and traditions, have moved even closer through their understanding of Mary as outlined in the joint statement, which took five years and an international committee to complete.

The document seeks to transcend past controversies on Catholic dogma, including the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary. While not spelled out specifically in the Bible, such beliefs can be interpreted through Scripture, according to the 80-paragraph document.

The result might be an elevation, or at least a heightened acknowledgment, of the place of Mary -- particularly for Anglicans, the denomination born in England during the Reformation and called the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Anglicanism is considered closest to Catholicism because it gives Mary a pre-eminent place among the saints, includes her in Communion prayers and holds six Marian feast days.”

Statements by Archbishop Peter Carnley, Anglican primate for Australia,  Seattle Catholic Archbishop Alexander Brunett of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, which wrote the document (Carnley is co-chairman ), and Rev. James Eblen, a Catholic who teaches ecumenical theology at Seattle University

    It is "a powerful reflection of our efforts to seek out what we hold in common and (to) celebrate important aspects of our common heritage," (Brunett)

    "This is the first major ecumenical agreed statement on Mary amongst all the current ecumenical dialogues," (Carnley)

    I hope they will be open to its challenge to take Mary seriously as a model of faith and as one pre-eminent amongst the saints of God," (Carnley)

    This will be a real jolt for some Roman Catholics who think Marian devotion is a Roman Catholic thing, period," (Rev. James Eblen)

    "Since it's not covered in the Bible, the church is free to make up its mind," (Peter Strimer, spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia referring to the corporeal assumption of Mary or her sinless life). {TOP OF PAGE}

 

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Pope: Other Christians Not True Churches
according to a July 10, 2007 Fox News report ...

    ”For the second time in a week, Pope Benedict XVI, has corrected what he says are erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, reasserting the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church and saying other Christian communities were either defective or not true churches.

    Benedict approved a document released Tuesday from his old office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which repeated church teaching on Catholic relations with other Christians.While there was nothing doctrinally new in the document, it nevertheless prompted swift criticism from Protestants, Lutherans and other Christian denominations spawned by the 16th century reformation.

    "It makes us question the seriousness with which the Roman Catholic Church takes its dialogues with the Reformed family and other families of the church," said the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, which groups 75 million Reformed Christians in 214 churches in 107 countries.

    "It makes us question whether we are indeed praying together for Christian unity," the alliance said in a letter to the Vatican's key ecumenical official, Cardinal Walter Kasper, charging that the document took ecumenical dialogue back to the pre-Vatican II era.

    One of the key developments from Vatican II, the 1962-65 meetings that modernized the church, was its ecumenical outreach....

    ...Benedict, who attended Vatican II as a young theologian, has long complained about what he considers the erroneous interpretation of the council by liberals, saying it was not a break from the past but rather a renewal of church tradition.

    The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said it was issuing the new document on ecumenism because some contemporary theological interpretations of Vatican II's ecumenical intent had been "erroneous or ambiguous" and had prompted confusion and doubt.

    The new document -- formulated as five questions and answers -- restates key sections of a 2000 text the pope wrote when he was prefect of the congregation, "Dominus Iesus," which riled Protestant, Lutheran and other Christian denominations because it said they were not true churches but merely ecclesial communities and therefore did not have the "means of salvation."

    "Christ 'established here on earth' only one Church," said the document released as the pope vacations at a villa in Lorenzago di Cadore, in Italy's Dolomite mountains.

    The other communities "cannot be called 'churches' in the proper sense" because they do not have apostolic succession -- the ability to trace their bishops back to Christ's original apostles -- and therefore their priestly ordinations are not valid, it said.

Yet Cardinal Hume long ago stated that

    "The Catholic Church possesses the wealth of the whole of God's revealed truth and all the means of grace. IT IS UNABLE TO CONCEDE A SIMILAR STATUS TO OTHERS. When Catholics pray for the restoration of full communion with other Christians, they are praying for that unity which the Church believes Christ willed and which is found in all its characteristics in the Catholic Church." (Cardinal Hume. Towards a Civilization of Love. Emphasis Added)

In other words the Roman Catholic church is the only true church and all unity would be under the authority of Rome. {TOP OF PAGE}

     

 

Other Examples of the Total Lack of Discernment and Even Common Sense Among the Evangelicals.

    "I'm eradicating the word Protestant even out of my vocabulary .. I'm not protesting anything ... It's time for Catholics and non-Catholics to come together as one in the Spirit and one in the Lord." — Paul Crouch on TBN

(Jack Van Impe Show, January 27, 1999)

Jack: Rexella, for years I was very bigoted and I knew every separatist text there was. Romans 16:17, "Avoid them," 2 Corinthians 6:14, "Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers," 2 John, verse 8, "If there comes any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God's speed." And I attacked many wonderful Christians, many wonderful Catholic Christians, and those in other groups. But about 15, 16 years ago, the Holy Spirit broke my heart to show me how wrong this all was, that all Christians from all denominations, including our wonderful Catholic brothers and sisters are members of that one body, for by one Spirit are we all, all baptized into one body, 1 Corinthians 5:13; that we're all members of the bride of Christ, Revelation 19:7; and our God is not a polygamist, having two brides, two wives, Catholics and Protestants, but we are one. And I saw Psalm 133:1, "Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." And I saw the prayer of Jesus in John 17:21 where He said, "Father, I will that they all might be one, that the world might believe that You sent Me." And I saw the command of God, of God, in Ephesians 4:3-6, where it says we are to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, for there is one body and one Spirit. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who's above all and through all and in you all.

God started to change me. I remember our papers in my separatist movement, how they constantly attacked Billy Graham because of his love for Catholics. One time they tore him apart, because Billy said, "the cross on the Catholic church is the same cross that I have on my Protestant church." And I said, "How can Billy Graham sleep at night." Oh, the bitterness that they heave out against this man.

But that man changed me and I saw that love. And then I appreciated the Southern Baptist Convention, because Billy was one of the members of their group, and they never once objected to his proclaiming love for Catholics and all of God's children. Thank you, Billy and the Southern Baptist Convention.

ALSO

Jack Van Impe

    I appreciated the Southern Baptist Convention, because Billy was one of the members of their group, and they never once objected to his proclaiming love for Catholics and all of God's children. Thank you, Billy and the Southern Baptist Convention…..

    So we preach the same bible. I read the New Catechism, 1,800 points. I accept 99% of it. Why should we divide over 1%?…

    We've been way ahead of the Catholics in apostasy.

Rexella

    Well, from the magazine entitled The Challenge which comes out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, they reported on an article from 1938 which had a prophecy in it by the Blessed Fastina. And it goes like this: "Out of Poland will come that spark that will prepare the world for the second coming of Christ." That spark was Pope John Paul, and you know, he is the first Polish pope in history, and out of Poland he would arise to prepare the people for the second coming. That's why he believes in it with all of his heart.  (Jack Van Impe Show, January 27, 1999) {TOP OF PAGE}

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