In an earlier article posted to our website called “Irish Presbyterianism: Then and Now” I highlighted how some 50 years or so ago The Youth Committee of the General Assembly of the Irish Presbyterian Church published a ‘Handbook on Romanism and Evangelical Christianity’ to meet what they described in the preface to their booklet as ‘one of the urgent needs of our Church’. In the article I quoted a number of the Question and Answer contents of the booklet that were set out in ‘catechism’ format and it was evident that those who compiled this booklet were fully versed, not only in the unscriptural errors of Roman Catholicism, but also in the truths of Biblical Evangelical Christianity.
That was the ‘Then’ of Irish Presbyterianism and I contrasted it with the ‘Now’ of Irish Presbyterianism as represented by the invitation issued by the [at the time of the writing of my article] about to be installed Presbyterian Moderator, Ken Newell, to the Roman Catholic Primate of Ireland, Archbishop Sean Brady to be one of his ‘personal guests’ at his installation on 7 June 2004. The contrast was that according to Ken Newell’s journalistic ‘spin-doctor, Alf McCreary of the Belfast Telegraph, there can be ‘joint mission’ with a Roman Catholic system that was clearly identified 50 + years ago by The Youth Committee of the General Assembly as being totally unscriptural when it comes to genuine Christian ‘mission’.
Sadly even worse has since emerged to show the dangerous agenda being pursued by those currently charged with directing the spiritual well being of today’s Irish Presbyterian Youth. Representatives of the Youth Board of the Irish Presbyterian Church are currently actively promoting an initiative known as ‘PYP – Preparing Youth for Peace’.
Perhaps you’re wondering why I titled this article as I did, especially my use of the phrase – State-Sponsored ‘Peace’. Well the explanation lies in the fact that the funding for this PYP initiative doesn’t come from the Presbyterian Church itself but has come from a variety of British and interested Foreign sources and it is clear that State/Secular thinking has shaped much of this initiative.
1. The ‘peacemaking’ being promoted here is clearly a State/Secular concept of ‘peacemaking’ and does not equate with the Biblical concept of ‘peacemaking’. In this State/Secular concept, Presbyterian Youth are being encouraged to ‘celebrate difference’ – to ‘celebrate’ the fact that they belong to a Church system that in theory claims to promote Biblical Christianity and to ‘celebrate’ the fact that their young Roman Catholic neighbours belong to a Church that totally contradicts the truths of Biblical Christianity. In acquiescing to this State/Secular concept of ‘peacemaking’ an approach is being encouraged that would mitigate against the Biblical concept of ‘peacemaking’ which would of course be for young Christians within the Irish Presbyterian Church to actively evangelise their young Roman Catholic neighbours with the truth of Biblical Christianity.
2. Christians are of course as far as is possible to “live peaceably with all men” [Romans 12:18] but the Biblical concepts of ‘living peaceably’ and of being a ‘peacemaker’ are two entirely different things altogether and they must never be either equated or confused with each other. For faithful Christians, a State/Secular concept of ‘peacemaking’ must never be sought at the expense of holding back from evangelising those who are spiritually lost.
3. Experience in other so-called ‘evangelical’ quarters has shown that when ‘The State’ funds ventures, those involved tend to defer to ‘The State’ view of things rather than to Biblical truth even though those involved would no doubt claim otherwise. The advice of Peter that “We ought to obey God rather than men” [Acts 5:29] will not go down well with those ‘paying the piper and calling the tune’.
Amongst the PYP resource materials is a DVD and known endorsers of it are Russell Birney, Alistair Dunlop and Trevor Morrow [3 former Presbyterian Moderators]. All 3 of these men have a track record of pro-active promotion of false ecumenism. As a ministry we highlighted the scripture twisting of Paul’s letter to the Galatians by both Russell Birney and Trevor Morrow to justify their condemnations of those who opposed the concept of so-called ‘Evangelical Catholics’.
In 1998, Trevor Morrow, as well as being listed as a ‘Group Participant’ in the accompanying official booklet, acted as chairman for some of the July 1998 meetings featuring J I Packer and ‘Father’ Pat Collins that were held to launch the Irish version of ECT [Evangelicals and Catholics Together] and Alistair Dunlop was one of those who were named in the booklet as a ‘Signatory to ECT Ireland [July 1998]’
Another organisation associated with the DVD is ‘Youthlink: NI’. The agenda of ‘Youthlink: NI’ was set out very concisely in an advert placed by them in the Belfast Telegraph of 18 September 1993 when they were seeking to recruit a ‘Training Development Officer’.
Part of the advert read – ‘Youthlink: NI is the inter-church youth service set up to promote the spiritual, social and personal development of young people in Northern Ireland. Its member bodies are the Catholic, Church of Ireland, Methodist and Presbyterian churches and the Religious Society of Friends…Applicants must have a firm commitment to working within a Christian and cross-community context’ – clearly an ecumenical body.
The very first ‘Development Director’ of ‘Youthlink: NI’ was Peter Moss who for 6 years was ‘Youth Director of the World Council of Churches’ – the very body that the Irish Presbyterian Church voted to withdraw from some years previous. Mr Moss was also involved with the ecumenical groupings of the ‘Irish Council of Churches’ and the ‘Corrymeela Community’.
In the August 1992: Issue 1 newsletter ‘Youthlink Update’, incoming chairman, Presbyterian minister Ivan Patterson paid tribute to ‘the work of founding chairman ‘Father’ Colm Campbell without whose perseverance Youthlink wouldn’t have got off the ground’. Mr Patterson also revealed that ‘Youthlink’s operating costs are being sustained by the department of education through the Youth Council for Northern Ireland’ [more State/Secular involvement!].
The same newsletter carried endorsements for ‘Youthlink NI’ from entertainment and sporting personalities such as James Galway, Gloria Hunniford, Dana and Barry McGuigan. It also listed the then 4 ‘Church Leaders’ as ‘Patrons’ – Roman Catholic Cahal Daly; Church of Ireland Robin Eames; Presbyterian Samuel Hutchinson and Methodist Edmund Mawhinney.
In 1993 ‘Youthlink NI’ ran ‘A Self-Awareness Course’ called ‘The Enneagram’. The ‘tutor’ was Jesuit Priest, Myles O’Reilly and one of the training officers was ‘Father’ Paddy White who was consulted in relation to a ‘fact sheet’ [more will be said about this later] that features as part of the ‘resource materials’ that accompany this PYP initiative. The opening line of Helen Palmer’s book ‘The Enneagram: Understanding Yourself and the Others in Your Life’ [part of the recommended reading for the course] states ‘The Sufi Enneagram represents a journey into self’. ‘Sufi’ of course refers to Islamic Mysticism. In the Youthlink leaflet promoting the course it states ‘The Enneagram came from the East via Russia’.
Two endorsements on the back of Helen Palmer’s book state – ‘Explores the mysteries of personality and points the way to the cultivation of extraordinary abilities’ YOGA JOURNAL and ‘Palmer’s focus on the practical import of this unique personality system gives her book special power, power to transform’ AMERICAN HUMANISTIC PSYCHOLOGY REVIEW. I simply ask, what is the Presbyterian Church in Ireland doing by being associated with such an organisation as ‘Youthlink: NI’ that promoted such a programme as ‘The Enneagram’?
A Roman Catholic contributor on the PYP DVD is referred to as ‘Bishop Donal’. This is Bishop Donal McKeown and his inclusion on the DVD reminded me of one of his former Irish ecclesiastical colleagues who was another ‘Donal’ namely Donal Godfrey who is a ‘Jesuit’ priest. Some years ago, at the same time as the launch of the Irish version of ECT mentioned earlier, a book was produced by the so-called ‘Evangelical Catholic Initiative’ called ‘Adventures in Reconciliation – 29 Catholic Testimonies’. The ‘Preface’ was written by Roman Catholic Cardinal Cahal Daly; The ‘Foreword’ was written by the current Presbyterian Moderator, Ken Newell and one of the ‘Protestant’ ‘Commendations’ was by former Presbyterian Moderator Trevor Morrow and it was in this ‘commendation’ that Trevor Morrow penned his ‘scripture twisting’ of Paul’s letter to the Galatians… to justify [his] condemnation of those who opposed the concept of so-called ‘Evangelical Catholics’’. One of those whose ‘testimony’ appeared in this book was Donal Godfrey SJ. Here are some extracts from what he wrote –
‘I was born in Liverpool in 1959…I was brought up as a Catholic in a neighbourhood where faith did not seem to be very important for most people. In fact we were considered rather odd because we actually went to church each week!…My parents sent me to a boarding school called Stonyhurst College. It was run by Jesuit priests. ..I met a visiting American who was an evangelical Christian. Doug helped me to see that being [note – not ‘becoming’] a Christian was not about working at pleasing God by my own efforts, but rather about surrendering to Jesus as my personal Lord and Saviour. I thought about it and decided that I would trust in Jesus as my personal Saviour and see if He would help me…I had found a new beginning and a new life. In Jesus I now knew that I was loved and accepted exactly as I was…I had discovered a personal relationship with Jesus…I now experienced this NEW BIRTH which is always God’s work…Now many years later I am an ordained priest. I am also a member of the Jesuit order which was founded by St Ignatius of Loyola…As part of my Jesuit training I did the ‘SPIRITUAL EXERCISES’ of St Ignatius…Although I was born and raised a Catholic I know I cannot be a Christian by birth, by custom or by tradition. I can only be [note – not ‘become’] a Christian by deciding to choose Christ and accept Him into my heart…Being reborn in [note – not ‘into’] Jesus is about surrendering to the power of the Spirit and allowing Jesus to take over’.
This is truly ‘Jesuitical spin’ designed to convince the unlearned that Mr Godfrey shares evangelical convictions on spiritual ‘new birth’ and on ‘being a Christian’. On reading these excerpts one might think that Mr Godfrey was ‘born again’ after his encounter with an ‘evangelical Christian’ called ‘Doug’. The question must be asked – how many times can an unregenerate sinner be ‘born again’. By reading the Lord’s conversation with Nicodemus as recorded in John 3 it is clear that such a spiritual regeneration takes place only once.
Mr Godfrey would have us think that his ‘new birth’ or his being ‘reborn in [note – not ‘into’] Jesus’ took place when he was an adult but yet he also informed us that he was ‘brought up as a Catholic’ and that his family ‘actually went to church each week’. I can only assume [and if wrong I will readily retract] that his parents would have brought Mr Godfrey as an infant to the Catholic Church for the Catholic Sacrament of Baptism and that, as they subsequently faithfully attended the Catholic Church, that they would all have witnessed many other infants being baptised by their priest.
Mr Godfrey has informed us that he himself is ‘an ordained’ priest’ and I would be most surprised if he has not himself baptised many children of Roman Catholic parents. ‘The administration of Baptism’ is one of ‘The functions especially entrusted to the parish priest’ [Code of Canon Law: 530]. What are the claimed effects of Roman Catholic baptism by a parish priest – ‘Baptism, the gateway to the sacraments, is necessary for salvation, either by actual reception or at least by desire. By it people are freed from sins, ARE BORN AGAIN as children of God and made like to Christ by an indelible character, are incorporated into the Church. It is validly conferred only by a washing in real water with the proper form of words’. If Mr Godfrey was baptised in the Catholic Church as an infant and then in his capacity as a priest he has likewise baptised many babies, is he by his ‘testimony’ inferring that through the Sacrament of Baptism babies are not ‘BORN AGAIN’ as Roman Catholicism teaches but that an experience, later in life, such as he related in his ‘testimony’ must be sought in order to be ‘reborn in [note – not ‘into’] Jesus’.
There are serious consequences for Roman Catholics who reject the claims made by Rome for the Sacrament of Baptism – ‘If anyone saith, that in the Roman Church, which is the mother and mistress of all churches, there is not the true doctrine concerning the sacrament of baptism; let him be anathema’: ‘If any one saith, that baptism is free, that is, not necessary unto salvation; let him be anathema’. [Council of Trent; Session 7: Canons III & V].
Mr Godfrey is a Jesuit priest and I think we can safely assume that he would not continue in this position if he did in any way reject the claims of the Roman Catholic Sacrament of Baptism, as otherwise he would be under the ‘anathema’ [curse] of the Roman Catholic Church.
Certainly ‘being [not ‘becoming’] a Christian’ involves ‘surrendering to Jesus as…personal Lord and Saviour’ but becoming a Christian through ‘new birth’ happens only and sovereignly through the “quickening” work of the Holy Spirit. ‘New birth’ only happens as He, the Holy Spirit, sovereignly chooses and moves and not automatically [as defined in Roman Catholicism as ex opere operato (which means ‘from the work performed’)] through any Roman Catholic Sacrament of Baptism.
This ‘testimony’ of Donal Godfrey is full of theological ‘double-speak’. In the ‘Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus – 21st Century Edition’ the following entry is found under the definition of ‘Jesuit’ – ‘a person given to subtle and equivocating [ambiguous] arguments’. Someone who ‘equivocates’ is as this dictionary also states ‘deliberately misleading or vague; avoiding speaking directly or honestly; of doubtful character or sincerity’. These definitions lie at the heart of ‘Jesuitry’.
Mr Godfrey confirmed that in his training he ‘did the ‘SPIRITUAL EXERCISES’ of St Ignatius’. In these ‘Exercises’ there is a section entitled ‘RULES FOR THINKING WITH THE CHURCH – The following rules should be observed to foster the true attitude of mind we ought to have in the church militant’ and one of those ‘Spiritual Exercises’ 365:13 teaches – ‘If we wish to proceed securely in all things, we must hold fast to the following principle: What seems to me white, I will believe black if the hierarchical Church so defines…For it is by the same Spirit and Lord who gave the Ten Commandments that our holy Mother Church is ruled and governed’ [‘The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius by Louis J Puhl SJ: Loyola University Press – Chicago: pages 157 & 160].
Earlier I referred to those who compiled the Presbyterian Youth Handbook some 50 + years ago as being ‘fully versed, not only in the unscriptural errors of Roman Catholicism, but also in the truths of Biblical Evangelical Christianity’. Sadly and worryingly, the same cannot be said of today’s Irish Presbyterian Youth Board. This really should come as no surprise when we examine the ecumenical credentials of some of those in positions of major influence on today’s Youth Board. The Northern Ireland co-ordinator of the Rome-endorsed, pro-ecumenical Alpha Course is a member of the Youth Board as are a number of others who signed their endorsement of the 1998 Evangelicals and Catholics Together in Ireland agreement.
Section 5 of the PYP Initiative purports to answer the question ‘What are they all about? The faith and culture of the Roman Catholic Community’ and encourages the idea of bringing ‘a local Catholic lay person to talk for a short while about their faith and culture’ It may well be that the ‘Catholic lay person’ invited may have thoughts and beliefs that differ from official Roman Catholic teaching and perhaps that is the aim of the whole exercise. If it is then there is one simple but very important point that needs to be made and it is this. If someone ‘thinks and feels differently to what the Roman Catholic Church teaches’ they are in the eyes of that Church no longer a ‘Roman Catholic’ for freedom of conscience to believe as a Roman Catholic, other than what ‘Holy Mother Church’ teaches, is not permitted.
The only HONEST way to consider ‘Roman Catholic Faith’ is by considering what the officially approved Roman Catholic Catechisms, Council Decrees, Canon Law etc teach. The wrongly titled ‘Catholicism Fact Sheet’ [another PYP resource material] that can be used in conjunction with section 5 [and which will be analysed later] will only lead to false conclusions being drawn about the TRUE nature of ‘Roman Catholic Faith’.
The Council of Trent [4th Session], which dealt with The Canonical Scriptures stated ‘no one relying on his own judgment shall, in matters of faith and morals…presume to interpret them contrary to that sense which holy mother Church, to whom it belongs to judge of their true sense and interpretation, has held and folds…Those who act contrary to this shall be made known by the ordinaries and punished in accordance with the penalties prescribed by the law’.
Pope Paul VI in an Apostolic Letter in 1971 wrote –
‘Even though [scriptural] scholars must pursue their studies in accordance with recent scientific method, they know nevertheless that God has entrusted the Scriptures not to the private judgment of learned people but to his church. The Scriptures, therefore, must always necessarily be interpreted according to the norms of Christian tradition and hermeneutics, under the guardianship and protection of the church’s magisterium’.
The notion of a ‘free-thinking’, scripture-interpreting ‘Catholic lay-person’ is a total non-starter where Rome is concerned and those perhaps contemplating and floating such an idea are in the words of 2 Timothy 3:13 “deceiving and being deceived”.
As you shortly read the ‘Catholicism Fact Sheet’ I am sure you will sense as I did that there is a clear strategy, not only to highlight supposed ‘agreements’ but also to downplay or minimise ‘differences’. This is particularly evident in the handling of ‘The Sacraments’. When you read on the ‘Catholicism Fact Sheet’ – ‘Through the sacraments we invite Jesus into our personal lives by celebrating with other Christians what we are, and what we hope to become in Him’ – you may well assume, as others who read this document will, that this infers that Roman Catholics are all in favour of what might be termed ‘Shared-Sacraments. All I would do at this point is quote the text of our ministry – “Take heed that no man deceive you” [Matthew 24:4]. In the eyes of Rome, the differences in The Sacraments are not ‘minor’ but ‘major’, so much so that there can for instance in their view be no shared ‘breaking of bread’ until Christian ‘unity’ is achieved on Rome’s terms. The following will illustrate clearly what I mean.
In the 1998 booklet ‘One Bread One Body’ produced by the Catholic Bishops of England & Wales, Ireland and Scotland’ it states
‘An understanding of the Eucharist [The Roman Catholic Mass] is essential, therefore, to the search for Christian unity. There can be no full unity among Christians that does not embrace unity in the Eucharist…It is right to expect that anyone who receives Holy Communion in the Catholic Church should manifest Catholic faith in the Eucharist…When no priest is available Catholics cannot celebrate Mass…through the Eucharist Christ’s saving power reaches not only those gathered in celebration, but also those in communion with us in any way, both the living and the dead.
We offer the Eucharistic sacrifice for ourselves and those who are dear to us and for those who have died and gone before us marked with the sign of faith…Catholics believe that Christ in the Eucharist is truly, really and substantially present. We can preserve intact our faith in this unique gift of Christ to His Church only by insisting on a change in the inner reality [transubstantiation] of the bread and wine [pages 7,11, 23, 26, 33].
These then, from Rome’s perspective are what can only be termed as ‘major’ differences.
Finally, as we approach the analysis of the ‘Catholicism Fact Sheet’ it might be good to remind ourselves as to what being a Christian really is. Based on my own Christian experience of some almost 20 years is the conviction that at the heart of every true Christian is the knowledge, that salvation has been bestowed by grace alone, has been received through faith alone, is founded on Christ alone, is revealed in the Scriptures alone, and is to the glory of God alone. That is what it means to be a ‘Christian’ – to be a possessor of God’s so great salvation – to be permanently and securely ‘justified’.
In conclusion I want now to reproduce the PYP ‘Catholicism Fact Sheet’ [with some comments added by myself] and compare it to official Roman Catholic ‘facts’ [again with occasional comments added by myself] and as I do so I am very much reminded of Neville Chamberlain who in 1938 brandished a white piece of paper and declared with confidence that it was a basis for ‘peace’ – the following year World War II broke out.
This ‘Catholicism Fact Sheet’ is no basis for theological ‘peace’ between Christianity and Roman Catholicism.
- The PYP Catholicism Fact Sheet states that ‘official
- Catholic teaching affirms’ [with comments added]
Official Roman Catholic Documents also teach and affirm the following facts’ that may be obscured by the PYP ‘Fact Sheet’
1. Salvation cannot be earned but is a free gift received by faith. [The object of this ‘faith’ is not focussed ALONE on the work of Christ namely His sinless life and His substitutionary death but also involves a ‘meritorious’ human input as well].
‘Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity we can then MERIT for ourselves and for others the graces needed for…the attainment of eternal life’ [1994 Catholic Catechism: paragraph 2010]
‘If anyone saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works, but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof, let him be anathema’ [Council of Trent: Session 6: Canon XXIV].
2. There is only one mediator between God and us, the person of Jesus Christ: 1st Timothy 2: 5 [This really means that there is only ONE MEDIATOR with God, THE FATHER and that is, His Son but Rome allows place for other mediators between God, THE SON and mankind and chief amongst these other mediators is Mary as the quotes below will show].
‘The Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress and MEDIATRIX’ [1994 Catholic Catechism: paragraph 969]
‘God has committed to her [Mary] the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, every salvation. For this is his will, that we obtain everything through Mary’ [Pope Pius IX Ubi Primum]
‘Every grace granted to men has three successive steps: By God it is communicated to Christ, from Christ it passes to the Virgin and from the Virgin it descends to us’ [Pope Leo XIII Jacunda Semper]
‘Father’ John Duffy in his introduction to his translation of Alphonsus Liguori’s book ‘The Glories of Mary wrote ‘The impression that devout readers take away with them when they have read any part of the Saint’s [Liguori’s] commentary is wonder and awe at the realisation of Mary’s power. But the Saint, masterful theologian and Doctor of the [Roman Catholic] Church, is careful to place that power in its proper context. It is God’s own goodness and mercy which comes to us through Mary’s intercession. She is the channel – to Jesus and from Jesus – by God’s own arrangement’.
In his book [page 160], Liguori himself wrote ‘The world would have been destroyed long ago if it were not for Mary’s intercession. And now that we have the Son as Mediator with the Eternal Father, and the Mother with the Son, we have full access to God’
3. All human beings are born into a state of separation from God as a result of the fall. [Rome views humanity as having been ‘wounded’ spiritually by the sin of Adam and its consequences rather than having suffered a ‘mortal’ spiritual effect by it. The theological ‘total depravity’ view of natural man would not be the view of Rome].
‘Adam’s sin was personal and grave and it affected human nature…and it affected the whole human race by depriving his progeny of the supernatural life and preternatural gifts [‘infused knowledge, absence of concupiscence (the propensity of human nature to sin) and bodily immortality’] they would have possessed on entering the world had Adam not sinned’ [Pocket Catholic Dictionary: John A Hardin SJ; pages 301 & 342]. ‘Father’ Hardin further identifies these ‘preternatural gifts’ as ‘grace’ on page 166.
By comparison The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter VI spells out clearly the ‘total depravity’ of man that resulted from ‘the fall’ – ‘By this sin, they [Adam & Eve] fell from their original righteousness and communion with God and so became DEAD in sin and WHOLLY DEFILED in all parts and faculties of soul and body’
In a ‘Brief Statement concerning Faith and Order’ published by the PCI in 1974 for the guidance of Church Members it states that ‘our whole being, body mind and spirit…are all so affected by sin that we live under the judgment of God and are COMPLETELY UNABLE to restore ourselves’.
By comparison again, Jesuit ‘Father’ Henri du Lubac in his book ‘Salvation Through The Church’ [pages 113-114] wrote ‘If God had willed to save us WITHOUT OUR OWN CO-OPERATION, Christ’s sacrifice by itself would have sufficed. But does not the very existence of our Saviour presuppose A LENGTHY PERIOD OF COLLABORATION ON MAN’S PART? God did not desire to save mankind as a wreck is salvaged…MAN’S CO-OPERATION was always necessary if his exalted destiny was to be reached and HIS CO-OPERATION is necessary now for his redemption. Christ did not come to take our place – or rather this aspect of substitution refers only to the first stage of his work – BUT TO ENABLE US TO RAISE OURSELVES THROUGH HIM TO GOD…HUMANITY WAS TO CO-OPERATE ACTIVELY IN ITS OWN SALVATION’.
4. Jesus died on the cross in atonement for all sins, and that in His death, He took the place of sinners in bearing our guilt: Isaiah 53:6 [Please note this does not say Christ bore all our ‘punishment’]
‘The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains’ [1994 Catholic Catechism: paragraph 1473]
‘TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT’ – ‘The punishment that God in his justice inflicts either on earth or in Purgatory for sins, even though already forgiven as to guilt’ [Pocket Catholic Dictionary: John A Hardin SJ; page 428]
‘If any one saith that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema’ [Council of Trent: Session 6: Canon XXX].
5. Jesus as the only way to salvation – one day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord [The Scriptures also make it clear that knowledge of and faith alone in Jesus is essential for ‘saving belief’ as we read in Romans 10:14-15]
‘But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Moslems: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day’ [Vatican 2: Volume 1: page 367]
By way of response can I point to 1 John 4:14 “the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” – Moslems do not believe that! And then in John 5:23 Christ Himself says “He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father who hath sent him”. Moslems do not correctly honour “the Son” so they in consequence do not honour “the Father” so they do not ‘adore the one, merciful God’ as falsely claimed in the Vatican 2 documents.
6. Heaven for those who accept salvation won by Jesus and hell for those who die unrepentant [This is only part of Roman Catholic belief about those who die as the quotes below will demonstrate].
Concerning ‘hell’ Rome teaches ‘Those who die in a state of mortal sin [Rome categorises sins as either ‘mortal’ or ‘venial – the Bible knows no such distinction] descend into hell’ [1994 Catholic Catechism: paragraph 1035]. Earlier in paragraphs 1030 & 1031 Rome teaches ‘All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation, but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect’.
So, Rome affirms and teaches a third possible destination for those who die and that is Purgatory. Purgatory is ‘The place or condition in which the souls of the just are purified after death and before they can enter heaven…The souls are certainly purified by atoning for the temporal punishment due to sin by their willing acceptance of suffering imposed by God…Moreover these sufferings can be lessened in duration and intensity through the prayers and good works of the faithful on earth.’ [Pocket Catholic Dictionary: John A Hardin SJ; page 356]
These false Roman Catholic teachings on ‘Purgatory’ are a denial of the truths of the following Scriptures. Speaking of God’s forgiveness to His ‘elect’ we read God’s promise to them in Hebrews 8:12 & Hebrews 10:17 “their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more”. Speaking of Christ in Hebrews 1:3 we read “when he had by himself PURGED our sins” and as for those alive helping to atone for the sins of those supposedly in ‘Purgatory’ we read in Psalm 49:7 “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him”
7. The Eucharist [or Mass] is not a repetition of Calvary. When Catholics celebrate the Eucharist, Christ’s Passion is made present: the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present. [Please note, this does not say that ‘the effects and benefits of the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present’ which is true, but that ‘the sacrifice [itself] … remains ever present’ which is not true.
It is true that Rome does not claim to ‘repeat’ Christ’s sacrifice but rather to ‘perpetuate’ it in time. Paragraphs 1367 & 1414 of the 1994 Catholic Catechism teach ‘The sacrifice of Christ, and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice…the same Christ who offered Himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and offered in an unbloody manner…for the sins of the living and the dead’.
Rome claims that Christ continues in time to die in her ‘unbloody sacrifice’ of the Mass and yet on the Cross, in time, Christ declared “It is finished” [John 19:30]. Ordinary human common sense asks how can something that was “finished” in time be subsequently perpetuated in time? It can’t if “It is finished”. Also, in Romans 6:9-10 Paul declares “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died once, but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God”. These scriptures totally refute any notion of Christ continuing to be ‘offered’ sacrificially unto death on any man-made Roman Catholic altar. God did not ordain the perpetuation of Christ’s sacrifice as the means to be used for dealing with ‘the sins of the living and the dead’ but rather the saving effects of Christ’s ‘finished’ sacrifice are to be PREACHED as Paul preached in Acts 13: 38-39 “Be it known unto you men and brethren that through this man IS PREACHED UNTO YOU THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS; And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses”.
8. The priesthood of all believers which means that a Christian has direct access to the Father through Jesus [Rome also has another ‘priesthood’ for people to first have access to Jesus and then access to the Father]
‘By Christ’s will, THE CHURCH possesses THE POWER to forgive the sins of the baptised and exercises it through bishops and priests normally in the sacrament of Penance’. In the forgiveness of sins, both priests and sacraments ARE INSTRUMENTS which our Lord Jesus Christ…wills to use in order to efface our sins and give us the grace of justification’ [1994 Catholic Catechism: paragraphs 986&987].
On the ‘Catholic Encyclopaedia’ website, under the heading of ABSOLUTION we read ‘Absolution is the remission of sin, or of the punishment due to sin, granted by the Church…That there is in the Church power to absolve sins committed after baptism the Council of Trent thus declares: “But the Lord then principally instituted the Sacrament of Penance, when, being raised from the dead, He breathed upon His disciples saying, ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.’ By which action so signal, and words so clear the consent of all the Fathers has ever understood that the power of forgiving and retaining sins was communicated to the Apostles, and to their lawful successors for the reconciling of the faithful who have fallen after baptism” (Session XIV, i)… It were foolish to assert that the power here granted by Christ was simply a power to announce the Gospel (Council of Trent, Session. XIX, Can. iii),…In virtue of Christ’s dispensation, the bishops and priests are made judges in the Sacrament of Penance’
“Individual and integral confession [to priests] and absolution [by priests] are the sole ordinary means by which the faithful, conscious of grave sin, are reconciled with God and the Church” [Pope John Paul II: 7 April 2002].
In 1989 the Los Angeles Times reported as follows ‘Rebutting a belief widely shared by Protestants and a growing number of Roman Catholics, Pope John Paul II on Tuesday dismissed the widespread idea that one can obtain forgiveness directly from God and exhorted Catholics to confess more often to their priests’.
‘The human race has always felt the need of a priesthood: of men, that is, who have the official charge to be mediators between God and humanity, men who should consecrate themselves entirely to this mediation, as to the very purpose of their lives, men set aside to offer to God public prayers and sacrifices in the name of human society…The priest is the minister of Christ, an instrument, that is to say, in the hands of the Divine Redeemer. He continues the work of the redemption in all its world-embracing universality and divine efficacy, that work that wrought so marvellous a transformation in the world.
Thus the priest, as is said with good reason, is indeed “another Christ”; for, in some way, he is himself a continuation of Christ…Now a priest is the appointed “dispenser of the mysteries of God,” for the benefit of the members of the mystical Body of Christ…The Christian…finds at his side the priest with power received from God…If he fall, the priest raises him up again in the name of God, and reconciles him to God with the Sacrament of Penance…
Thus the priest accompanies the Christian throughout the pilgrimage of this life to the gates of Heaven…But among all these powers of the priest over the Mystical Body of Christ…there is one of which the simple mention made above will not content us…the power to remit sins…What a comfort to the guilty, when…he hears the word of the priest who says to him in God’s name: “I absolve thee from thy sins!”… We have been at the feet of a man who represented Jesus Christ’ [Pope Pius XI: 20 December 1935]
9. Scripture in its entirety (both Old and New Testaments) is the inspired word of God. [Yet again this statement fails to tell the whole story about the make-up and authority of ‘the inspired word of God’ as properly understood in Roman Catholicism]
‘Sacred Tradition AND Sacred Scripture make up a SINGLE DEPOSIT OF THE WORD OF GOD…The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted SOLELY to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the Bishops in communion with him’ [1994 Catholic Catechism: Paragraphs 97&100].
The ‘supreme authority’ in the Roman Catholic Church is not ‘The Word of God’ (Tradition and Scripture) but the Pope and his Bishops.
10. Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead. [Scripture affirms that Jesus, having offered His one, all sufficient, finished sacrifice, will remain in heaven until His enemies are made His footstool (see Hebrews 10:12-14). Roman Catholicism teaches otherwise].
‘With regard to the power of the priests over the real body of Christ, it is of faith that when they pronounce the words of consecration, the incarnate God has obliged Himself to obey and come into their hands under the sacramental appearance of bread and wine. We are struck with wonder when we find that in obedience to the words of His priests –Hoc est corpus meum – (This is my body) – God Himself descends on the altar, that He comes whenever they call Him, and as often as they call Him, and places Himself in their hands, even though they should be His enemies. And after having come, He remains entirely at their disposal and they move Him as they please from one place to another. They may, if they wish, shut Him up in the tabernacle, or expose Him on the altar, or carry Him outside the church; they may if they choose, eat His flesh, and give Him for the food of others. Besides, the power of the priest surpasses that of the Blessed Virgin because she cannot absolve a Catholic from even the smallest sin’
[‘The Dignity and Duties of the Priest’ by Alphonsus de Liguori as quoted in ‘Roman Catholicism’ by Loraine Boettner: page 175]
11. That Mary is not to be worshipped but respect and devotion to her comes from her unique role as the mother of Jesus and as a model of faith [Rome may claim that ‘Mary is not to be worshipped’ but the place afforded to Mary in the Roman Catholic church, the prayers offered to Mary in the Roman Catholic church and the piety to Mary tolerated in and by the Roman Catholic church constitute only one thing – ‘worship’]
‘Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Immaculate Queen and Mother, the refuge and consolation of all troubled souls! I kneel here before you with my family and choose you for my Lady, Mother and Advocate with God. I dedicate myself and all who belong to me to your service forever, I beg you, O Mother of God, to receive us into the company of your servants. Take us under your protection. Help us in life and at the hour of our death….Queen of Heaven, most holy Mary, I was once a slave of sin, but now I consecrate myself to you as your client forever. I give myself to your honour and service for the rest of my life. Do not reject me as I deserve, but accept me as your servant…I rejoice that God Himself loves you alone, more than He loves all human beings and angels together…Pray for me, Mary; pray and never cease until you greet me in heaven…And when at last the hour of death arrives, O Mary my hope, help me in that terrible anguish in which I will find myself. Strengthen me against despair over the remembrance of my sins which the devil will call up before me. Obtain for me the grace to call upon you over and over in that dread hour, so that I may die with your name and the name of your most holy Son on my lips. You have granted this grace to so many of your clients. I too desire it and hope for it. Amen. [Extracts from ‘Prayers to Our Lady’: Alphonsus de Liguori]
12. The Sacraments are meant to help us encounter Jesus our risen Lord [Roman Catholic sacraments are not merely designed to ‘foster fellowship’ with the Lord as this statement might suggest: They are claimed to be necessary for salvation and this is an error similar to the error of the Judaisers who insisted that Mosaic ritual was needed for salvation as we read in Acts 15:1. Such false teaching constitutes “another gospel” and those promoting it are ‘accursed’ by God as we read in Galatians 1:6-9.
‘The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New covenant are necessary for salvation’ [1994 Catholic Catechism: paragraph 1129]
‘The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us’ [1994 Catholic Catechism: paragraph 1131]
‘If any one saith that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification…let him be anathema’ [Council of Trent: Session 7: Canon IV]
13. Through the sacraments we invite Jesus into our personal lives by celebrating with other Christians what we are, and what we hope to become in Him [This basically teaches that salvation is “by works of righteousness” and Titus 3:5 totally rejects such false teaching and declares that salvation is “not by works of righteousness” God’s appointed means for bring people to saving faith is through ‘faithful preaching’ and not through ‘pious practice’ as the quotes opposite show]
‘If any one saith that the sacraments of the New Law were not all instituted by Jesus Christ, our Lord; or that they are more, or less, than seven, to wit, BAPTISM, CONFIRMATION, THE EUCHARIST, PENANCE, EXTREME UNCTION, ORDER and MATRIMONY; or even that any one of these seven is not truly and properly a sacrament; let him be anathema’ [Council of Trent: Session 7: Canon 1]
- “Christ sent me not to baptise, but to preach the gospel” [1st Corinthians 1:17]
- “Preach the word” [2nd Timothy 4:2]
- “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” [1st Corinthians 1:21]
- “So then, faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” [Romans 10:17]
Whilst analysing this ‘Fact Sheet’ some words from a sermon preached by a former Pastor of mine came to mind – ‘When a half-truth is proclaimed as the whole truth it becomes a lie’. This ‘Fact Sheet’ has such a capability inherent in it.
At the close of my article “Irish Presbyterianism: Then and Now” previously referred to, I reproduced the thoughts of C H Spurgeon from his Daily Devotional ‘Morning and Evening’. In closing this article I shall once more return to this devotional and let Mr Spurgeon have the final and very appropriate say with his ‘Evening’ thoughts for 11th July.
Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 30 July 2004
This evening’s verse
“Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.” Joel 1:3
In this simple way, by God’s grace, a living testimony for truth is always to be kept alive in the land–the beloved of the Lord are to hand down their witness for the gospel, and the covenant to their heirs, and these again to their next descendants. This is our first duty, we are to begin at the family hearth: he is a bad preacher who does not commence his ministry at home. The heathen are to be sought by all means, and the highways and hedges are to be searched, but home has a prior claim, and woe unto those who reverse the order of the Lord’s arrangements. To teach our children is a personal duty; we cannot delegate it to Sunday School Teachers, or other friendly aids, these can assist us, but cannot deliver us from the sacred obligation; proxies and sponsors are wicked devices in this case: mothers and fathers must, like Abraham, command their households in the fear of God, and talk with their offspring concerning the wondrous works of the Most High. Parental teaching is a natural duty–who so fit to look to the child’s well-being as those who are the authors of his actual being? To neglect the instruction of our offspring is worse than brutish. Family religion is necessary for the nation, for the family itself, and for the church of God. By a thousand plots Popery is covertly advancing in our land, and one of the most effectual means for resisting its inroads is left almost neglected, namely, the instruction of children in the faith. Would that parents would awaken to a sense of the importance of this matter. It is a pleasant duty to talk of Jesus to our sons and daughters, and the more so because it has often proved to be an accepted work, for God has saved the children through the parents’ prayers and admonitions. May every house into which this volume shall come honour the Lord and receive His smile.