Friday, March 28, 2014

DOES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAVE THE FOUR MARKS OF THE TRUE CHURCH? (Part 2)



One… Holy… Catholic… and Apostolic… 

Last month (in Part 1) we talked about how the Catholic Church claims that these are the four “marks,” or attributes, of the true church of Jesus Christ, and how the Catholic Church sees itself as the only church that has the “fullness” of these marks / attributes.  We also shared some thoughts about their claim of “oneness” (their unity), and the weakness of that claim.  But today we want to talk about the second mark -- holiness.  Is the Catholic Church holy as they claim?  Do they have some special gift of holiness that others don’t have?

First of all, let’s define what “holy” means.  According to the Bible, someone or something that is holy is “set apart” for God’s special use (e.g., Exodus 3:5; 29:37; 30:22-33; Ezra 8:24-29).  It refers to something sacred.  When referring to a person, it also suggests the presence of a certain level of piety or godly living
(Mark 6:20; Ephesians 3:5; 1 Peter 3:5).

As an institution, how does the Catholic Church view its own holiness?  First of all, Catholics believe that they are the guardians of special gifts called sacraments, and it is (supposedly) mainly this “sacramental means" that sustains the person and makes him holy
(CCC #2030).

Also, according to the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, “Christifideles Laici,” given by former Pope John Paul II, the Catholic Church is to be considered thesign and instrument of holiness” (Chapter 1, Paragraph 16). 

Furthermore, according to the Catholic Catechism, "The Church ... is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy” (CCC #823).  [Emphasis added]

Pretty strong claims!  Let’s recap:  Their church is the “guardian” of that which makes one holy; it is the “instrument of holiness”; and it is “unfailingly holy.”  Wow!  They’re not just claiming a simple or basic holiness, but a very special type.  It would take some pretty convincing proof to support this kind of claim, but this proof is not to be found.

Just what is it that makes theirs a (supposedly) unique brand of holiness?  Is it the individuals in the Church?  No, to their credit, the Catholic Church admits that all its members are sinners (CCC #827).  So, it is not their individual members.  Many Catholics will say that their holiness comes from Jesus.  They’ll claim that the Catholic Church is holy because it is Christ’s church and it is founded upon Christ’s holiness and not upon the personal condition of its members.
 
Well, that’s really convenient.  No Christian should have a problem with admitting that Jesus is holy, but it’s the Catholic Church that we have a problem with.  Anyone can claim to get his holiness from Jesus, but that person needs to prove it by some level of personal holiness and by following the teachings of Jesus.  If you’re going to call someone or some particular group “holy,” then something should set them apart.

As far as claiming to be Christ’s church, this is begging the question, i.e., they are assuming that the Catholic Church is the church that Christ established.  Yet that, too, needs to be proven, not just assumed.  But there is much evidence presented on this blog (and many other websites) that demonstrates that the Catholic Church cannot be Christ’s church.

Generally speaking, a church’s morals or holiness reflects most in its leaders, those most likely to be true representatives of the group.  But some of the Catholic Church’s highest and most respected leaders have purposely committed, aided and abetted some of the most horrible sins.  Just a few examples include the sexual sins of popes during the “pornocracy” in the tenth century; the torturing and murders of the inquisitions; and in more recent times, the protecting of pedophile priests by secretly moving them to new locations, etc.  It was these types of acts of extreme UN-holiness by many Catholic leaders that have caused untold damage to the name of Jesus Christ and true Christianity, and have caused many to blaspheme (2 Samuel 12:14).  The apostle Paul warns us that even deacons are to be “beyond reproach” in their lifestyle (1 Timothy 3:1-10 - NASB).  How much more should popes (“Vicars of Christ”) be examples of holiness!  Not to mention the fact that the office of “pope” is not even biblical to start with.

Much has been written on this topic, but we want to point out, in particular, a book by the late Dave Hunt, “A Woman Rides the Beast” (Harvest House Publishers, 1994).  It contains many sobering and compelling arguments against the Catholic Church, and Hunt gives example after example of documented perversion and debauchery of Catholicism’s highest-level “role models.”

Hunt also equates the Catholic Church with the main character of Revelation chapter 17, i.e., the “woman” riding the beast, and her destruction in chapter 18.  It is hard to miss the connection or to deny the identity of this woman and how she fits the description of Rome / the Vatican in the Apostle John’s prophecy.  But contrast this with the sentimental, touchy-feely slogan that Catholics often use: “Come home to the Catholic Church.”  But before you give in to that warm and fuzzy ecumenical feeling, note that the Bible tells us to “… Come out of her, my people, that you may not participate in her sins and you may not receive of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4 - NASB) [Emphasis added]

See also these articles:



According to the book of Revelation, it may well be that the Catholic Church is indeed “set apart” by God, Himself… but for plagues, torment, mourning and destruction (Revelation 18:6-8), rather than for good.  John’s description of this “woman” is anything but holy.

Conclusion

The Catholic Church does not (and cannot) live up to its claims concerning its holiness.  We are not saying that no Catholic could be holy, but a truly holy person (i.e., one who is set apart for God, and who studies the Scriptures) would, at some point, recognize the false doctrine taught by that church.  And we believe that when he does recognize that, he would be compelled to leave that church.

The Catholic may point to certain Protestant leaders who also live less-than-holy lives.  That is a valid point, but we don’t know of anyone else who makes the type of exaggerated claims of special holiness and exclusive ownership of the “four marks” that the Catholic Church makes.  And if some Protestant group did indeed make such claims, or if its leaders live like the corrupt popes did, then its members should also be compelled to leave that particular church.

In conclusion, what makes the Catholic Church’s holiness better than anyone else’s?  If the Catholic Church is not holy on the basis of its individuals (as they admit), and if they are not holy on the basis of its leaders (which has been obvious in many cases), and if they are not holy on the basis of being the true church (as is biblically evident), then what exactly IS the basis of their claim of a “special holiness”?  There is no valid basis.  This is just another example of the many exaggerated, self-proclaimed Catholic boasts that are empty.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

DOES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAVE THE FOUR MARKS OF THE TRUE CHURCH? (Part 1)

There are many important choices that we must make in life.  For example, we need to make decisions on which career to follow or which college to attend.  Where should I live?  Whom should I marry?  How many children should we have?  Etc., etc.  But more important than all of these decisions are the ones that directly affect your eternal destination.  According to the Bible, all human beings (whether they believe it or not) have an eternal soul that will exist forever, and at the end of this life it will go to one of two places – to a place of eternal punishment, or to one of eternal life (Matthew 25:46).  And one of the things that can significantly affect your eternal destiny is the church you attend.

There are many churches out there, and someone may well ask, “But which one is the right one, i.e., which one is teaching the truth?”  Seems like a logical question.  After all, nobody wants to end up being wrong on eternal matters, do they?  Yet, many people (including some Protestants, some Catholics, and some otherwise) don’t really care about those things right now.  They’re only living for today, but they feel that they are safe as long as they go to church somewhere.  But this is a false security.  Jesus said, “You must be born again…” (John 3:3), i.e., you must allow God to change your heart and your life, and trust in the fact that Jesus paid the penalty for your sins on the cross.  Going to church is important, but trusting in church attendance (or any other good works) will not save you.   

But where can we locate the true church, the one teaching the whole truth?  Of course many of us know that the Catholic Church claims to be that “one true church” possessing “all the fullness of truth.”  And maybe some other groups will claim something similar, but our focus here will be on the Catholic Church’s claims of identifying itself as the one true church.

According to the Catholic Church, there are four “marks” of the true church, i.e., the true church must be “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic” (Lumen Gentium, Paragraphs 8 and 26).  And supposedly, not only is the Catholic Church the only one that has a valid claim on all four of these features, it is the only one that reflects the fullness of these four marks.  

In light of that claim, this article will be the first of four on these identifying marks, but today we will focus only on the first mark – the Catholic Church’s claim of being “one” in unity.  They tell us that the Catholic Church is an “undivided church” (Lumen Gentium, Paragraph 23) with an “undivided episcopate,” or leadership, (Paragraph 18), and that it possesses an “undivided charity” (Paragraph 32).  So, the Catholic Church thinks very highly of itself and its unity.

Is church unity important?  Yes, Jesus wants His church to have unity (John chapter 17), but He wants UNITY IN THE TRUTH.  What is the truth?  He lets us know in this same chapter when He tells the Father, “Thy Word is truth…” (Verse 17).  He wants our beliefs, our actions, and our unity to first of all line up with His Word (the Scriptures).  But this, by itself, disqualifies the Catholic Church from being the one true church, since they have many teachings that either contradict the Bible, or are absent from it, as this blog has demonstrated over and over.  Therefore, any unity they may have is pretty much irrelevant at this point.  Having all the unity in the world is not going to help if your doctrine is not based on Scripture.  So what if they have common participation in certain ceremonies, or have the same basic sermon on the same day of the week in every country, or they are reciting the same mechanical prayers?  Having such a unity proves nothing if you’re neck-deep in error.

Some Catholics mockingly point to disunity in Protestant (and other) churches, and make great and inflated claims of their own unity, and then try to use this as proof that they are the one true church.  Please understand, there certainly are divisions in Protestantism; it is unfortunate and we’re not denying that.  But the truth is that there is much division in the Catholic Church, as well.  One need only search the internet to verify this fact.  There are popular Catholic apologists who disagree with each other on many issues, for example, the significance and effects of the Second Vatican Council, salvation outside the Catholic Church, the New Mass, evolution, contraception, and the list goes on and on.  There are disagreements on all levels.  In days past, there were even popes who anathematized (condemned) one another.  So, they are really not the “undivided church” they claim to be.  Catholics seem to claim some kind of supernatural unity, but their unity is no better than the unity found in many other groups.  

So, if having divisions disqualifies Protestants (and others) from being part of the true church, then it also disqualifies the Catholic Church from being the one true church.  You can’t use an argument that defeats your own position. 

See also here:


In defense of their unity, they will say, “But 1) the Catholic Church is found in every country in the world, and it is the largest Christian church on earth, 2) we have one single human leader who can settle disputes when they come up in the church, 3) we are the only church that has all the proper sacraments, 4) we have the same readings weekly in every Catholic Church in the world, and 5) we have apostolic succession!  All this is evidence that we are the one true church.” 
 
Ok, let’s break down this last paragraph: 
 
1) Just because the Catholic Church is large does not prove that it is the right church.  Being a majority does not help in spiritual / eternal matters.  Remember, Jesus said that narrow is the gate that leads to everlasting life, but wide is the gate that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).  Being in the majority doesn’t help those poor souls entering the wide gate.

2) And their having a “single human leader” (the pope) also proves nothing.  It seems that such an important characteristic of the one true church would be quite evident in the Bible, but the office of “pope” is entirely missing from the pages of the New Testament.  It might sound good, but it’s unbiblical. 

3) Concerning the “proper sacraments,” see here:


4) Having the same “gospel readings” in every one of its churches on the same days really proves nothing, as well, since any group could do the same thing if they really wanted to. 
 
5) And of course their claim of having a legitimate, lawful, and uninterrupted chain of popes in “Apostolic Succession” is interesting, but lacking in truth.

See here:


Catholics will also tell us, “But those who are causing divisions in our ranks are ‘not truly Catholic,’ so these divisions don’t count.”  Well, it’s very convenient to try to exclude those who disagree with you, but if they are “not true Catholics,” then why does the Catholic Church still count their attendance and take their weekly offerings? 
 
It’s hard to claim exclusion of these from your church who still claim to be Catholic, attend Mass, give offerings to your church, and have never been excommunicated.  Maybe someone needs to tell them that they are “not really Catholic,” even though the Catholic Church still treats them as though they are.

But ANY group or church can make such claims of unity by excluding those who disagree with them!  The fact still remains… there are divisions in the Catholic Church, and they are not as “unified” as they claim they are.

And concerning the use of the term “the church,” you can’t limit the description of the church to a single denomination or organization or label – that’s not what “the church” is.  The church of Jesus Christ cannot be contained or identified in that way.  The Catholic hierarchy has an inflated view of itself and they often imply that THEY are “the Church.”  For example, they will often use the term interchangeably with their own hierarchy / leadership.  But the term is never used of “the leadership only” in Scripture.  The “church” (meaning “called out ones” in Greek) is made up of all true Christians throughout the world, not just those in a particular group or organization, and not just the leadership.  So, asking the “location” of the true church is starting out with the wrong premise.  And finding the “right” church is nothing more than finding a local church whose people truly believe, and live according to, the Scriptures.  

Conclusion

Is Catholic unity all it’s cranked up to be?  Is the Catholic Church really “one”?  There is nothing special about their kind of unity.  Only their claims are special.  Just know that there are many arguments and much confusion within its walls, in spite of its apparent unity.

Now, we don’t have a problem with the “four marks” themselves, that were mentioned above, but the Catholic Church certainly cannot claim that all four marks only apply to them.  Actually, we would say with assurance that NONE of these marks (in the manner that they claim) apply to them.  They are not “one” in the way they claim, and we will go on to demonstrate in this series that the other three marks do not apply to them in the manner they believe, either.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

HAS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH BEEN A FRIEND OF THE BIBLE?



Much has been written about the Catholic Church (both pro and con) concerning its faithfulness to the Scriptures.  But today we’d like to pose some questions concerning Catholicism and its attitude toward the Bible over the years:  Has the Catholic Church ever banned the Bible?  Have popes ever forbidden the Scriptures to the common people?  Have they ever tried to limit access to the Sacred Writings in the vernacular (i.e., the common language of the people)?  In this article, we hope to clear up some misunderstandings concerning this issue.

Sometimes the Protestant claims against the Catholic Church on this topic are exaggerated.  But there are extremes on both sides.  But for those who believe that the Catholic Church has never restricted the reading of Scripture, please note the following…

A Few Popes

According to the "New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia" (online), here is a short list of popes and brief comments concerning their restrictions on the reading, owning, printing, or distribution of the Scriptures:


  • Gregory VII (1080 A.D.) prevented the Bohemian people from obtaining the Bible in their own language because he feared it would lead to “irreverence and wrong interpretation of the inspired text.”

  • Innocent III (1199) wrote to the Bishop of Metz (a city in France) and said that the practice of reading the Scriptures, though praiseworthy, was “dangerous for the simple and unlearned.”    

  • Gregory IX (1229), in the Council (Synod) of Toulouse, prohibited the laity (non-clergy) from having the books of the Old or New Testament, and “most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.” (Canon 14 - Emphasis added)          

  • Gregory IX (1233), in the Council (Synod) of Tarragona, issued a similar prohibition, stating that no one (whether “cleric or layman”) may possess Scripture in “the Romance language” (referring to the vernacular).  If anyone had such books, he was to turn the writings over to the authorities (to be burned), until he was “cleared of all suspicion.” (Canon 2)                 

  • Gregory XII (1408), in the Third Synod of Oxford, only allowed the laity to read versions that were approved by the church authorities.

  • Pius IV (1564), in his constitution, “Dominici Gregis,” published the “Index of Prohibited Books.”  In it, Scripture reading was again limited to only those persons approved by the bishop. 

  • Clement VIII (1596) added the above restriction to the fourth rule of the Index.

  • Sixtus V (1598) reserved this power of approval to himself or to the “Sacred Congregation of the Index.”              

  • Clement XI (1713), in his Papal Bull “Unigenitus,” in condemning certain teachings, questioned the necessity of reading the Bible.

  • Benedict XIV (1757) allowed the reading of vernacular versions by the laity, but only with the Church’s approval, or with footnotes from the fathers or of “learned and pious authors.”

  • Pius VI (1794), in his Papal Bull “Auctorem Fidei,” continued the condemnation by Clement XI (above).
  • Pius VII (1816) warned against allowing the laity to read the Scriptures “indiscriminately” in the vernacular.
  • Gregory XVI (1836) again allowed only Church-approved reading of the Bible.

  • Gregory XVI (1844) repeated the same regulation (above) when writing against Bible Societies in his encyclical, “Inter praecipuas.”


A Few Others

All of these popes, and more, suppressed the Scriptures in some form or another.  Other popes issuing similar restrictions include:


  • Leo XII (1824) wrote against the work of the “Bible Society” in his papal encyclical “Ubi primum.”


  • Pius VIII (1829) wrote against unapproved vernacular versions of the Bible in the papal encyclical “Traditi humilitati.”

  • Pius IX (1846), in his papal encyclical, “Qui pluribus,” was writing against the Bible Societies who would “ceaselessly force on people of all kinds, even the uneducated, gifts of the Bible.”  How horrible!  What beasts these Bible Societies must have been, to “force” this gift of God’s Word upon the people!

  • Leo XIII (1897), in his apostolic constitution “Officiorum ac Munerum,” softened the punishment for these “crimes” of Bible reading somewhat, yet continued to prohibit the Word in the vernacular.  It was still only allowed by those who were approved by the Catholic Church.  

For anyone who would like to research / confirm these facts, most (if not all) of these can be found online on Catholic websites (e.g., EWTN, the “New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia,” the official Vatican website, etc.).

So, if anyone tells you that the Catholic Church (through its popes) never restricted or banned the Bible, he is either misinformed or he is a liar.  It may not have been a complete or total ban, but they were nevertheless bans which sometimes included severe (and punishable) restrictions. 

But Why?

But the question is, why would the Catholic Church ever ban Scripture AT ALL?

Catholics will say that these were only local bans, and supposedly, all these restrictions were only temporary regulations.  Supposedly, they were protecting the purity of Scripture.  They tell us that only the “unfaithful” or “corrupt” translations of the Bible were banned, or that it was only the “deuterocanonical-deprived” (Protestant) versions that were forbidden to be read by its members.  They will say that the Catholic Church has only forbidden Bible reading when “it was almost certain to cause serious spiritual harm.”  ("New Advent" article linked above)

Note that the Council of Trent’s Rule 4 on prohibited books (the section titled, “Ten Rules concerning prohibited books drawn up by the fathers chosen by the Council of Trent and approved by Pope Pius”) spoke of Scripture reading by the uneducated as doing “more harm than good” because it could be abused by certain people.  But if that’s the case, why take a chance with the Eucharist?  If they are afraid of having something precious (like Scripture) violated by abuse, then shouldn’t the Eucharist also be withheld for the same reason?  The possibility of “serious harm” is certainly present here in the Eucharist, as well, since it too can be abused by the individual (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).  But no one in the Catholic Church stopped giving the Eucharist to the poor and uneducated because of possible abuse.  The fact is, personal Scripture reading, like receiving the Eucharist (or Communion), is an issue of personal accountability.  Both are to be done responsibly, and with the right attitude.  But keeping it away from those who don’t abuse it is not the answer.

And if these bans were only temporary, then why did pope after pope continue to issue them?  It’s funny, but it seems that none of these quotes restricting the reading of Scripture ever mention being only “temporary.”  If there was indeed some abuse of Scripture, then keeping the people from reading it was hardly the correct way of handling the situation.  Remember, even in the days of the apostles there were Gnostics and other heretics who abused Scripture.  But Jesus and the apostles often pointed the people to the Scriptures; they never tried to ban anyone from reading them because of possible abuse or misunderstanding.  This would be like forbidding innocent couples to have children just because some might possibly abuse their children, or might not raise them perfectly.

Ulterior Motive?

One must ask, were these popes who restricted God’s Word really concerned about “maintaining the purity of the Scriptures”?  Were these bans really put into place to prevent heresy, or was it something else?  Could it be that they were trying to hide something?  Or that it was all about power and control?  According to Catholic Historian Paul Johnson:

“In the West, the clergy had begun to assert an exclusive interpretive, indeed custodial, right to the Bible as early as the ninth century; and from about 1080 there had been frequent instances of the Pope, councils and bishops forbidding not only vernacular translations but any reading at all, by laymen, of the Bible taken as a whole. In some ways this was the most scandalous aspect of the medieval Latin Church. From the Waldensians onwards, attempts to scrutinize the Bible became proof presumptive of heresy - a man or woman might burn for it alone - and, conversely, the heterodox were increasingly convinced that the Bible was incompatible with papal and clerical claims.” (“A History of Christianity,” Weidenfeld and Nicolson, Copyright 1976, page 273)

Why did it bother the Catholic Church so much to have the Bible in the language of the common man?  They seem to be saying that it would be better to be altogether deprived of personal Bible reading than to have some misunderstandings of it (even if these misunderstandings could be corrected later).

After all, if the papacy and Catholicism itself are truly scriptural concepts, what did the Church have to fear by allowing them to freely read the Bible in their own language?  Perhaps the Catholic Church was beginning to realize that many of its own members were recognizing the inconsistencies between Scripture and the Catholic Church’s doctrines. 

Why Latin?

And if the Catholic Church really wanted to clearly stress the pure truth to the common people, then why was the Mass performed for so long in Latin?  Since the majority of the people were uneducated and only the educated understood Latin, then why have the Mass done in that language?  If a proper understanding was so important (as they claim), why not have the Mass in a language that everyone could understand?  On the one hand, they claim that it is important to avoid heresy and confusion, yet, on the other hand, they shroud the message in mystery.

It is these types of things that cause us to doubt the sincerity of the Catholic Church when they say that they are concerned for the souls of the common people, and that they wanted God’s Word put into their hands.  There just never seemed to be any kind of priority, or much of a serious encouragement of Bible reading throughout the centuries on the part of the Catholic Church.  It seems that only recently that this has changed to some extent.

Leo XIII

There are also other reasons for questioning some popes’ concern for “protecting the purity of Scripture.”  We will use some of the popes listed above (who banned or restricted Scripture) as examples:

First, Pope Leo XIII was known as “the Rosary Pope,” since he wrote so much about (and encouraged the use of) the rosary.  He wrote at least eleven official documents on the rosary.  But reciting the rosary is a totally unbiblical and pagan practice.  See here:


If Leo XIII was truly concerned about keeping the truths of the Bible pure and undefiled, he would have led others away from this unbiblical (and anti-biblical) concept.  And no doubt many other popes have encouraged praying the rosary, as well.  But this does not support sound doctrine.

Pius IX

Next, Pope Pius IX also adds to our suspicion of an ulterior motive from the Church.  In 1854, he “infallibly” proclaimed that Mary (the mother of Jesus) was “immaculately conceived”; that is, from the moment that she was conceived, she had no sin (and remained sinless throughout her entire life).  This “infallible” teaching of Pius IX was not only not a biblical concept, but it was anti-biblical, as well.  See here:


Is the doctrine of the “Immaculate Conception” another example of a pope’s concern for “doctrinal purity”?  It seems that Pius IX was little worried about false doctrine or scriptural truth!

Another issue concerning Pope Pius IX is his behavior during the First Vatican Council, which he presided over, beginning in 1869.  According to the “New Catholic Encyclopedia” (Copyright 1967):

“One of the chief issues dividing Catholics on the eve of the council was that of a possible definition of papal infallibility.” (Volume XIV, p. 561) 
 
Pius IX’s definition of papal infallibility was different from many others in the Church, and this caused some very serious divisions in the Catholic Church.

Former Catholic (Jesuit) priest and historian, Peter de Rosa, gives us some interesting details on the events of that Council and how it was handled by the pope.  For all practical purposes, the vote was rigged in the sense that many who attended the council were on the pope’s payroll and under intense pressure, so most dared not vote against him.  For many bishops, it was either vote against their conscience or publicly offend the “Holy Father” by voting against him.  Therefore, many of them abstained.  Although many in the Church were against his constitution, “Pius IX refused to listen to the opposition, claiming he was ‘merely the mouthpiece of the Holy Ghost.’”  De Rosa points out that the council’s decision “did not adequately mirror the mind of the Western church.  A very important truth was at stake and the decree was felt by many to be defective.”  One outspoken bishop (Strossmayer) complained that this particular council “lacks both liberty and truth.” (“Vicars of Christ, The Dark Side of the Papacy,”, Poolbeg Press, Copyright 2000, p. 133-136) 
  
You see, for Pius IX, this was all about power; he was a power-hungry pope who pressured his subjects to “agree” with his unbiblical (and even non-Traditional) idea of papal infallibility.  At one point, Bishop Guidi of Bologna pointed out that Pius’ view of infallibility was not supported by Sacred Tradition.  Pius then thundered, “I AM Tradition… I AM the Church!”  What a fine example of humility and sound doctrine!  After this, any references to his concern for “purity of Scripture” ring hollow.  It is evident that his concern was not about the purity of doctrine, but about CONTROL of doctrine.

Innocent III

Another pope listed above, Innocent III, initiated the Crusade against the Albigenses, which gave rise to the medieval Inquisition.  So, the Catholic Church began putting many “heretics” to death.  Other popes would participate in other crusades and inquisitions, as well.  But is this the way Jesus taught us to deal with the enemies of the faith?  Can we trust these popes’ loyalty to the Scriptures when they showed such disregard for the most basic principles of the gospel?

Backlash

Question:  Why doesn’t the Catholic Church kill heretics today?  Obviously, they’d have to admit that this is wrong.  Jesus never said to kill heretics.  And if it’s wrong today, then it was also wrong in the days of the Crusades / Inquisitions.  All of this killing of “heretics” was to maintain power for the Catholic Church.  It was not about devotion to the truth or protecting Scripture.

What about the backlash from the Crusades and Inquisition?  It is our personal opinion that it is because of the Catholic Church and their involvement in these events that more people have turned away from God and have become atheists than for any other reason.

The well-known German Catholic priest and theologian, Johann Joseph Ignaz Von Dollinger wrote about the Catholic Church’s inquisitions:

“From 1200 to 1500 the long series of Papal ordinances on the Inquisition, ever increasing in severity and cruelty, and their whole policy towards heresy, runs on without a break. It is a rigidly consistent system of legislation: every Pope confirms and improves upon the devices of his predecessor. All is directed to the one end, of completely uprooting every difference of belief... The Inquisition ... contradicted the simplest principles of Christian justice and love to our neighbor, and would have been rejected with universal horror in the ancient Church.”  (The Pope and the Council, Roberts Brothers, Copyright 1870, p. 192-193)

Conclusion

No doubt, other examples could be given, but this is just a sampling of some popes’ attitudes and lack of true concern for Scripture.  Here we see that the ones who banned or restricted the reading of the Bible (supposedly for reasons of “faithfulness”) are the very ones violating that same Bible.  In at least some cases, their “concern” is at best, lip service, and at worst, deliberately withholding the Word of Life from the common people.  But to restrict personal Bible reading is to restrict personal spiritual growth.

In fairness, it is true that over the centuries the Catholic Church had its monks copy and preserve the Scriptures.   But we’ll have to give more credit to these monks than to some of the popes.  Popes speak of concern for “serious spiritual harm” in the Church, yet they are masters of spiritual harm, due to their false doctrine and their power and influence.  The bottom line is that the Catholic Church can hardly be considered a friend of the Bible, even today, when it has so many teachings contrary to the sacred Scriptures.