Thursday, December 19, 2019
There is a big push today in the Catholic Church for ecumenism. According to the Oxford dictionary of English, ecumenism is “the principle or aim of promoting unity among the world’s Christian churches.” In fact, not only are they interested in uniting with Christian denominations, but with those in other world religions, as well. So, how would this unity with other religions affect the groups involved? Would they each be able to keep their respective beliefs or would they have to change their doctrines in order to unify?
A Schoolyard Story
There were several elementary school kids playing a game together on the schoolyard. One of them was older, bigger and stronger than all the others. Although all the kids knew the rules of the game, the big kid was cheating. Not only was it quite obvious that the big kid was cheating, but his cheating was getting worse and worse. But no one dared to point out his dishonesty, since they were afraid of him and didn’t want to be kicked out of the game. Finally, a few of the other kids had enough! They must face this cheating giant and confront his dishonesty.
The group was relieved that someone finally spoke up. But after their protest (which humiliated him) the big kid not only continued cheating, but he began to create ridiculous new rules for the game to his advantage, while all the others were harshly treated when they didn’t give in to his unfair demands and his new rules. He was showing his true colors by demonstrating his childishness. In any case, no one wants to play with a deceiving cheater.
The story above is an analogy (although not perfect) of something that actually happened in history. The Catholic Church was a large and powerful force in the 1500’s. She had no equal in the religious world. Not only was she corrupt, but the corruption kept increasing. It seemed that no one dared to point out her corruption, lest they be kicked out of the church (excommunicated), and therefore, be unable to partake of her sacraments and lose “access to Heaven.” Finally, a few men (later known as reformers) had had enough of this corrupt giant. They were going to confront the Catholic Church concerning her unbiblical teachings and her corruption, thus starting the Protestant Reformation. The people were relieved that someone finally spoke up and this movement caused many to leave the Catholic Church after hearing biblical truth.
But the Catholic Church didn’t take this lying down. After the reformers’ protest, which humiliated and angered the Church, she began to persecute the reformers and made ridiculous and unscriptural demands on these “protesters.” The Catholic Church didn’t want to play by the biblical rules, so she started the “Counter Reformation” and established the Council of Trent in 1545. In this council, she issued multiple “anathemas” (formal curses) to those who refused to play by the Church’s rules, thus demonstrating her childishness and her unwillingness to abide by Scripture. Again, no one wants to play with a deceiving cheater.
“Let Him be Anathema!”
But what exactly were these anathemas with which the Catholic Church was threatening these protesters? According to the Oxford Dictionary of English, an anathema is:
“A formal curse by a pope or a council of the Church, excommunicating a person or denouncing a doctrine.”
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it is:
“A ban or curse solemnly pronounced by ecclesiastical authority and accompanied by excommunication.”
According to the online New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, an anathema from the Church is declaring the gravest, most serious, form of excommunication possible within the Catholic Church… an excommunication which eternally condemns the person to Hell… unless and until he does penance to the Church’s satisfaction.
The word “anathema” is used 150 times in the Council of Trent (including a couple of times using the variant, “anathematize”). The anathemas of the Council of Trent pertain to, and protected, teachings like the canon (list of Bible books) of the Catholic Bible, veneration of saints, relics and “sacred images,” indulgences, the Catholic priesthood, the Mass, the Eucharist, sacraments, the Catholic view of justification (salvation), and original sin. Interestingly, they seemed to focus their anathemas on those who were against these mostly Catholic ideas, desiring to maintain their unbiblical teachings and (through the power of anathema) force people into accepting them.
Catholics will tell us today that these anathemas were intended only for Catholics, since it is an excommunication (they can’t excommunicate non-members), but in practice it is obvious that the anathemas were directed toward the protesters and their biblical arguments.
But what about the unity that we mentioned at the beginning of the article, and this desire in the Catholic Church for “peace” and “cooperation” with other religions? How can any group enjoy peace while having anathemas hanging over their heads? How can all these different religions cooperate if they don’t even believe in these teachings?
Catholics will sometimes tell us that all these anathemas were canceled in the 1983 Code of Canon Law. So, does this mean that there are no more anathemas? You mean to tell me that these anathemas were all just a big mistake, after all? Do they not count today? If this is the case, this change in policy is little comfort for those profoundly affected by these anathemas in the past. What about those who refused to comply and ended up persecuted or killed? Would an apology hundreds of years later help them? Because of this “change” in 1983, are those who perished because of these anathemas now released from Hell?
The Catholic Church likes to brag that it has not changed its doctrine for 2000 years. But if these “infallibly pronounced” anathemas are wrong or somehow unacceptable now, they must have also been wrong back then! So much for an “infallible” church. I pray that Catholics will see and understand this deception.
The Catholic Church has been flinging anathemas for a long time now. If they really are considered to be in force today by the Church, it is irrelevant because many, if not most, of the Council of Trent’s anathemas were not even biblical to start with, therefore, were never binding. If they are considered to be no longer in force today, then the Catholic Church’s supposed “infallibility” has been exposed as fraudulent. Either way, she has a problem.
Worst of all, it is ironic that the Catholic Church anathematizes HERSELF by preaching a false gospel, according to Galatians 1:8-9.