Vatican has declared the Roman Catholic Church is the only
"instrument for the salvation of all humanity." The
official statement issued September 5 by the Vatican’s Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith boldly proclaims
"individuals can attain full salvation from earthly sin only
through the spiritual grace of the Catholic Church." The
thirty-six-page document entitled Dominus Iesus
states that other branches of Christianity could not be
considered equal to Roman Catholicism because they "have
defects that place their followers in a ‘gravely deficient
situation’ in seeking salvation." The Vatican also
declared non-Catholic churches are disqualified as
"churches in the proper sense" because they reject the
papacy. The document was "ratified and confirmed" by
Pope John Paul II and bears his full endorsement.
In a subsequent letter to Bishops worldwide,
Pope John Paul II’s chief theological adviser, Cardinal Joseph
Ratzinger, said it was incorrect to call other Christian
churches, "sister churches" of the Catholic Church.
The Cardinal said the term was "sloppy terminology"
and could not be used to describe Christian communities that
were not actually in communion with Rome. The cardinal said,
"It must be always clear that the one, holy, catholic and
apostolic universal church is not the sister, but the mother of
all the churches." The term "sister churches’’
often has been used by Rome in the past to foster closer ties
among Christians. A key goal of John Paul’s papacy has been to
make steps toward unity with other Christians. But Ratzinger,
the Vatican official in charge of ensuring doctrinal
correctness, appears to be putting the brakes on such equal
terminology. He said, "It’s evident that it would go
against the faith to consider the (Catholic) church as ‘one’
way of salvation ‘alongside’ those represented by other
religions." The term "sister church" may now only
be applied to Orthodox churches, which broke away from Rome
1,000 years ago. Thus the churches born of the Protestant Reformation
are automatically excluded as "sister churches."
The Goal of Dominus Iesus
The stated goal of the Vatican’s
announcement is to counteract the dilution of its authority. The
wave of "religious pluralism," which suggests
Catholics are equal with other faiths, has eroded the supreme
authority of Rome. This effort to re-assert Roman Catholic
superiority may be an attempt to halt the exodus of many
Catholics who have joined evangelical churches in recent years.
In doing so the document may, at the same time, thwart the
Vatican’s ecumenical push for unity among all faiths. Pope
John Paul II has been successful in mending past rifts and
fostering unity between Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and
Lutherans. Church officials said the document was intended
primarily for Catholic theologians and was not intended to
discredit other faiths. While the initial reaction from other
Christian churches may be negative and disdainful, those who
lack discernment will continue to be seduced by Rome’s ongoing
method of operation. By distorting and perverting Scripture to
justify its claim as the only true church, the Vatican will
relentlessly call apostate Christians home to Rome for the
"fullness of salvation." Dominus Iesus
is just another deliberate step to call the world together under
the power and influence of the papacy. Let us examine the
document in light of God’s Holy word.
Sole Authority to Rule the Church and
claims that Peter and His successors were commissioned by Jesus
to "rule the church" (Para. 16). It dares to say that
the Bishop of Rome’s primacy over the entire Church is
"according to the will of God" (para. 17).
Rather the "will of God" is to
silence such ignorance of these foolish men with truth and
righteousness (1 Pet. 2:15). Jesus renounced such a hierarchy of
authority for the church (Mat. 20:25-26). He said, "But do
not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all
brothers (Mat. 23:8). The Vatican should learn from the rebuke
God gave to apostate Jews: "The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule on their own authority"
(Jeremiah 5:31). All Christians and church leaders are equal as
brothers and should submit to the authority of Jesus, the only
head of the church, who rules it through His Word (2 Tim.
3:15-16; Acts 17:11). The Scriptures also warn us never to put
our trust in men (Jeremiah 17:5-7; Psalm 49:13-14; 118:8). The
"will of God" calls Christians to silence such
ignorance of foolish men with the truth and righteousness (1
states that no one can "interpret Sacred Scripture outside
the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church."
But what does the Scripture say? (Gal. 4:30).
Each person will, one day, be held accountable for understanding
God’s word. It is His word that will judge the world on the
last day (John 12:48). The truth of God’s word is set forth
plainly to every man’s conscience in the sight of God (2 Cor.
Salvation Only Through the RCC
boasts that salvation is mediated only through the Catholic
Church and "the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is
necessary for salvation" (Para. 4). It declares that
"God has willed that the Church founded by him be the
instrument for the salvation of all humanity" (para. 22).
The Bible reveals that salvation is mediated only
through Jesus Christ, the only mediator between
God and man (John 14:6; Acts 4:12, 1 Tim. 2:5). The instrument
of salvation is not a church but faith in the Lord
Jesus Christ–His death for the forgiveness of sins and His
resurrection for our justification (Rom. 4:25). "Believe in
the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your
household" (Acts 16:31).
Salvation for Non-Catholics
states all non-Catholic churches "derive their efficacy
from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the
Catholic Church" (para. 16). "Those who are not
formally and visibly members of the (Catholic) Church, salvation
in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which…enlightens
them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and
material situation. The way in which the salvific grace of God
comes to individual non-Christians, God bestows it ‘in ways
known to himself.’ Theologians are seeking to understand this
question more fully. Their work is to be encouraged, since it is
certainly useful for understanding better God’s salvific plan
and the ways in which it is accomplished. Certainly, the various
religious traditions contain and offer religious elements which
come from God. Indeed, some prayers and rituals of the other
religions may assume a role of preparation for the Gospel.
Furthermore, it cannot be overlooked that other rituals, insofar
as they depend on superstitions or other errors, constitute an
obstacle to salvation" (para. 21). This quote of 145 words
suggests there is salvation for those who have rejected the
Gospel or never trusted the Lord Jesus Christ. The document also
states "the sacred writings of other religions may be
instruments by which countless people are able today to nourish
and maintain their life-relationship with God" (para. 8).
Why do Catholic Theologians study and ponder
how non-Christians are saved? The Bible is clear–those who do
not believe Jesus and His Word are rejected by God and under His
condemnation (John 3:36; 2 Thes. 2:12, 2 Tim 3:8; Rom 2:8).
Jesus is the fullness of grace and truth, not the Catholic
Church (John 1:14). Christians receive their efficacy directly
from God who is able to make all grace abound to
His children. He is sufficient and able to meet all
our needs (2 Cor. 9:8, 12:9).
Catholic Church the Only True Church
states "there exists a single Church of Christ, which
subsists in the Catholic Church." Other churches "lack
full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not
accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy." They
"are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who
are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated
in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect,
with the Church. These separated Churches…suffer from
defects" (para. 17).
The Bible reveals it is the Roman Catholic
plan of salvation that suffers from defects. God does not save
anyone on the basis of deeds which we have done in
righteousness, such as Baptism (Titus 3:5). God saves sinners by
grace—not by works, otherwise grace would not be grace (Eph.
2:8-9, Rom. 11:6). The true Church of Christ is made up of those
who have heard and believed the Gospel; those whose names are
enrolled in heaven (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph.1:13-14; Heb. 12:23).
All Catholics are Saints
states "the Church can say with Saint Paul: ‘You are no
longer strangers and sojourners, but you are saints
(italics mine) and members of the household of God’"
(para.23). If Pope John Paul really believes all Catholics are
saints why does he chose to elevate only a select few to
sainthood after a long and tedious examination of their lives?
In Dominus Iesus the Vatican has
once again tried to supplant the authority of God with an
authority of its own. By declaring that its bishops have sole
authority to interpret the Scriptures, it has renounced the Holy
Spirit’s authoritative role to illuminate and disclose the
Word of Christ (John 14:16; 16:14). By asserting papal authority
over all of Christianity with its faulty and self-serving
interpretation of Scripture, it has replaced Jesus as head of
the church. Finally, by declaring the Roman Catholic Church is
the mediator of salvation, it has replaced the Lord Jesus as the
only one qualified to reconcile sinners to God.
The false pen of the scribes certainly works
falsehood. Behold they have rejected the Word of the Lord so
what wisdom do they have. (Jeremiah