|Unity, Tolerance and
|The Vatican is urging
all "separated brethren" to return home to Rome. Ecumenical
unity with all Christians is riding the wave of tolerance in many
churches and denominations. Clearly the Roman Catholic Church has been
the driving force behind this push for unity. It continues to build
bridges to all Christian denominations, in the hopes of luring members
back to the "one true church." The Catholic Church has long
taught that there is no salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church.
Consider the following quotes of Catholic popes throughout history…
"We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff"—Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam 1302.
"Those who are obstinate toward the Roman Pontiff cannot obtain eternal salvation"—Pope Pius IX, 1864.
"...the only true union is by the return of separated Christians to the one true church of Christ. Otherwise none can be assured of eternal salvation"—Pope Pius XII, June 29, 1943.
More recently, John Paul II said he intends: "to promote every suitable initiative to increase the unity of all Christians until they reach full communion and to encourage the efforts of all who work for the cause of unity." We must "gather all people and all things into Christ, so as to be for all—an inseparable sacrament of unity... expressed in the common celebration of the Eucharist"—Et Unum Sint, 1995.
Referring to the second Vatican Council, Pope John Paul II said: "The council rightly defined the division among Christians as a scandal." The council Fathers felt the need to beg pardon of God and other brethren for the sins committed against unity. He asked Catholics "to cultivate an authentic spiritual ecumenism" through the Virgin Mary.
The Vatican’s Strategy for Christian Unity
The Vatican’s strategy for bringing all of Christianity under the authoritative power of the papacy has been observed by discerning eyes. They are seeking to….
• Redefine evangelical terms to make them more
ambiguous and acceptable.
Evangelicals & Catholics Together
One of the significant bridges Rome built into the evangelical community in 1994 is known as the Evangelicals and Catholics Together Accord. In a follow up document, known as The Gift of Salvation or ECT II, we see Rome’s strategy to suppress doctrinal truth for the sake of unity with this statement. "All who truly believe in Jesus Christ are brothers and sisters in the Lord and must not allow their differences, however important, to undermine this great truth, or to deflect them from bearing witness to God’s gift of salvation in Christ."
According to the document, these following differences are said to "require further and urgent exploration:"
• baptismal regeneration
These differences should be significant for all Roman Catholics based on a decree from the Council of Trent. "If anyone says that those baptized are free from all the precepts of the holy church, whether written or unwritten, so that they are not bound to observe them...let him be anathema" (Canon 8, 7th Session). Likewise these differences should be significant for all Christians because they nullify or oppose the essential doctrines of the Gospel. Let us see how each of these doctrines is defined according to Roman Catholic authorities…
"Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte a new creature, and adopted son of God, who has become a partaker of the divine nature member of Christ and co-heir with Him and a temple of the Holy Spirit" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1265).
"Baptism is necessary for salvation" (CCC, 1257).
"If anyone says that the sacrifice of the mass...is not a propitiatory one or that it profits him only who receives and ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins punishments satisfactions and other necessities let him be anathema" (Trent, Canon 3).
"If anyone says that the sacraments of the New law are not necessary for salvation but are superfluous...let him be anathema." "If anyone says that grace, so far as God’s part is concerned, is not imparted through the sacraments...let him be anathema" (Trent, Canon 6 & 7).
"If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning nothing else is required...let him be anathema." "If anyone says that the justice received is not preserved and also not increased before God through good works...let him be anathema" (Trent, Canon 9 and 24).
Those imperfectly purified "undergo a purification after death." Sins are expiated in Purgatory "through a cleansing fire" and we "must strive to accept this temporal punishment for sin as a grace" (CCC, 1030, 1031 & 1054).
Indulgences—the taking away of temporal punishment due for sin
The Catholic Church "teaches and commands that the usage of indulgences—a usage most beneficial to Christians—should be kept in the Church, and it condemns with anathema those who say indulgences are useless or that the church does not have the power to grant them" (Vatican Council II, Sacred Liturgy, Chapter 4).
Mary "did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation." She is "Mediatrix" and the cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race" (CCC, 969, 494).
The Assistance of Saints in Salvation
A treasury called "the spiritual goods of the communion of saints" contains "the prayers and good works of all the saints...in this way they attained their own salvation and at the same time cooperated in saving their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body" (CCC, 1476, 1477).
The Possibility of Salvation for Those Who Have Not Been Evangelized
"The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims" (CCC, 841).
The signers of ECT II stated these 9 differences "require further and urgent exploration." Why? Each one denies the sufficiency, efficacy or necessity of Jesus Christ and His finished work of redemption! Each one opposes, contradicts or nullifies the glorious gospel of grace!
Yet, Bill Bright, one of the signers of ECT II, in a letter to the founders of ExCatholics For Christ, dated February 16, 1999 wrote: "I urge you to...withdraw your personal and organized opposition to something which, while it may not be letter perfect, the Holy Spirit has so greatly used. One of us, either you or I, is opposing the Holy Spirit, a most serious matter of the highest order... millions of people worldwide have already come to trust Christ and thus have entered God’s eternal kingdom because of doors that ECT has opened."
Both ECT I & II promote the false premise that the RCC gospel provides salvation. Clearly the Roman Catholic gospel is not the true gospel but another gospel which only provides a false hope of salvation. Those who proclaim it are under the anathema of Galatians 1:6-9 for adding the following requirements for salvation.
Divided in Doctrine
Evangelicals and Catholics are so divided by doctrine that they stand directly opposed to one another. Following are just a few doctrines to consider…
• By definition an Evangelical is one who has repented and believed the Gospel, while a Roman Catholic is one who adheres to the official teachings and traditions of Roman Catholicism.
• An evangelical is regenerated by the baptism of
the Holy Spirit.
• An evangelical is saved by God’s unmerited
• An evangelical is saved for good works.
• An evangelical is justified once by
• An evangelical is saved for all eternity.
• An evangelical believes salvation is offered to
those outside the church (the body of Christ).
• An evangelical receives Jesus once,
spiritually in the heart.
• An evangelical is purified by the blood of
• An evangelical believes the Lord’s Supper is a
• An evangelical believes Scripture has authority
over the church.
In conclusion we can see how Evangelicals & Catholics are divided on...
• the essentials of the Gospel
Same Story Different Verse
When Rome attempted to re-unite Catholics and Protestants in Germany in 1541, Martin Luther warned the believers. "Popish writers pretend that they have always taught, what we now teach, concerning faith and good works, and that they are unjustly accused of the contrary, thus the wolf puts on the sheep skin till he gains admission in the fold."
We must heed the warning of another great preacher concerning unity with the Roman Catholic Church. "There is a deep and indelible sentence of damnation written upon the apostate church...the curse is registered in heaven...its infamy is engraven in the rock for ever...followers of Jesus, for their own sake as well as for their Lord’s, should oppose it with all their might"—Charles Haddon Spurgeon, April 1868.
In closing we must remember two things.
1) Never are we called to make unity but to
"keep the unity of the Spirit." (Eph. 4:13)
KNOW DOCTRINE—KNOW DIVISION
Reaching Catholics For
Copyright 2001, Ankerberg Theological Research Institute