Is the Church of Rome Christian?

Is the Church of Rome a Christian Church? Acts 11:19-26, 26:22-29

Many today do not give any consideration to this question they merely assume it to be so. The child of God should never make assumptions about spiritual matters, I John 4:1. This being the case the question is a valid one and one which should be carefully considered by every Christian. For the answer we have only one objective standard to make reference to — the word of God. The answer must not be a matter of personal/denominational prejudice; we must get to the truth of the matter by getting the mind of God. The opinions of men are utterly irrelevant, it is the verdict of Holy Writ that we must find. What saith the Scriptures? Having determined what the Bible teaches then we are to act accordingly or else be guilty of willful disobedience. To find the answer to this question we must consider:

I A Biblical picture of a Christian Church.

  1. One of the senses in which the word ‘church’ is used in the Bible refers to the visible, public assembly of the saints of God on the earth — either generally on locally. Does the Church of Rome belong to this category? When its congregations meet together is it an assembly of God’s people? To answer this we must discover what it is that makes a church Christian. The answers to this all important question may be deduced in this portion. Here is an assembly referred to as a Church, an assembly composed of Christians, v26.

  2. The term Christian is one which God bestows, v26. The language indicates that that the use of this term to describe those who met at Antioch was by direct Divine revelation. Cp Luke 2:26, Acts 10:22. The name Christian is one which God revealed and required these people to use. The significance of this fact is that the term is one which must only be used where God’s criteria are met — i.e. it lines up with the teaching of Scripture.

  3. The term Christian describes an assembly where the word of God is preached and believed. Cp v19. The message that was preached from the word is also clear, v20. The Lord as He is revealed in the Scriptures is the focus of this Christian Church, v21, 23, 24. Cp 26:22-23. When Paul taught at Antioch this is what he taught — always only all of the Bible. The use of the words believed, v21; disciples,v26, indicates their attitude to the word. It was one of believing loyalty and devotion. They learned from the book and followed the Lord as their Master and this is what qualified them for the Divine description as Christians.

II How does the Church of Rome compare with this Biblical model of a Christian Church?

As an organization the Church of Rome is to be seen in stark contrast to this model. The following statements are taken from the Roman Catholic catechism and each statement is linked back to the page on which it appears online on the Vatican website.

Rome’s attitude to the Bible itself.

The written word of God has long been hated by the Church of Rome. In 1229 the Bible was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books — a list still maintained today in a modified form. This Authorized Version of the Scriptures is still officially banned; the text of the original languages is banned; every translation or commentary that is not officially sanctioned by the Church of Rome is a banned book. History proves Rome’s hatred of the Bible especially the Bible in the vernacular. J Wycliffe (132?-1384) produced the first English translation. His Bible was condemned and his followers burned as heretics. Tyndale (1500s) was hounded in England and on the continent. Every Tyndale New Testament (pub. 1525) Popish authorities could find was burned and eventually Tyndale was martyred (1536). The Bible may be found in and used by the Church of Rome in a limited sense yet its contents are still locked up by the Church.

Rome’s attitude to the teachings of the Bible.

  • The Church of Rome takes to itself the role of sole infallible interpreter of the Bible. Catechism #100 states: “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”.

  • Her traditions are placed on an equal footing with the word of God. Catechism #82: “As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, “does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”

  • In reality Rome’s traditions are given more prominence and authority. Catechism #113: Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”. According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church’s heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God’s Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (“. . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church”. No private individual therefore has the right to read and discern the meaning of Scripture for themselves.

Rome’s system of doctrine perverts the central doctrine of Scripture. In contrast to those believing disciples God called Christians in Antioch, The Church of Rome has introduced her own methods of salvation. The sufficiency of Christ’s work of atonement is the single theme of God’s word, 26:22-23. Rome’s teachings all pervert the once for all finished work of atonement that Christ did on the Cross

Rome’s teaching on Baptism

  1. Catechism #405:  Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin – an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence”. Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

  2. Catechism #1262: The different effects of Baptism are signified by the perceptible elements of the sacramental rite. Immersion in water symbolizes not only death and purification, but also regeneration and renewal. Thus the two principal effects are purification from sins and new birth in the Holy Spirit.

  3. Catechism #1263: By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.

  4. Catechism #1265: Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a “partaker of the divine nature”, member of Christ and coheir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit.

All of the above destroys the Bible’s teaching on regeneration as a work of the Holy Ghost quite apart from visible signs and symbols. Sin is removed by the atoning work of Christ and is experienced by the regenerate sinner as he acts in faith and repentance.

Rome’s teaching on the Mass

A. As a sacrifice:

  1. Catechism # 1330: The memorial of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection. The Holy Sacrifice, because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Savior and includes the Church’s offering. the terms holy sacrifice of the Mass, “sacrifice of praise,” spiritual sacrifice, pure and holy sacrifice are also used, since it completes and surpasses all the sacrifices of the Old Covenant.
  2. Catechism #1350: The presentation of the offerings (the Offertory). Then, sometimes in procession, the bread and wine are brought to the altar; they will be offered by the priest in the name of Christ in the Eucharistic sacrifice in which they will become his body and blood. It is the very action of Christ at the Last Supper – “taking the bread and a cup.” “The Church alone offers this pure oblation to the Creator, when she offers what comes forth from his creation with thanksgiving.” The presentation of the offerings at the altar takes up the gesture of Melchizedek and commits the Creator’s gifts into the hands of Christ who, in his sacrifice, brings to perfection all human attempts to offer sacrifices.
  3. Catechism #1414: As sacrifice, the Eucharist is also offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead and to obtain spiritual or temporal benefits from God.

B. As the body and blood of Christ

  1. Catechism #1333: At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ’s Body and Blood. Faithful to the Lord’s command the Church continues to do, in his memory and until his glorious return, what he did on the eve of his Passion: “He took bread….” “He took the cup filled with wine….” the signs of bread and wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ; they continue also to signify the goodness of creation. Thus in the Offertory we give thanks to the Creator for bread and wine, fruit of the “work of human hands,” but above all as “fruit of the earth” and “of the vine” – gifts of the Creator. the Church sees in the gesture of the king-priest Melchizedek, who “brought out bread and wine,” a prefiguring of her own offering.

  2. Catechism #1374: The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as “the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.” In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.” “This presence is called ‘real’ – by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.”

  3. Catechism #1376: The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.”

  4. Catechism #1378: Worship of the Eucharist. In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. “The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession.”

This is in defiance of the clear doctrine of Scripture. “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God…For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Hebrews 10:10-12, 14.

Rome’s doctrines of Confession, Penance, Indulgences, Justification by works; Mary and the Saints and every other Romish perversion destroy the teachings of God’s word.

III What should the attitude of every Christian be toward a false church?

  1. Recognize that where an individual or organization does not adhere to the word of God as the only rule of faith and practice, that person or organization has no right to use the name Christian.

  2. Separate! No Christian can engage in fellowship with a false church. It is possible to have friends and acquaintances who are Roman Catholic or who belong to one or other of the many unchristian religions today but it is not possible to have fellowship in spiritual matters.

  3. Speak out against Rome’s errors. The modern way seems to be to speak of Rome in such a way as to avoid direct criticism and seek out ‘common ground’.

  4. Every true Christian is to pity those who are carried away with the false doctrines of Popery and every other false religious system. Our duty does not end in recognizing the error and separating from it in protest. Our duty includes every possible means endorsed by Scripture to recover sinners ensnared in error by exposing error and teaching the truth.

3 Replies to “Is the Church of Rome Christian?”

  1. Wonderful article! If only the Christians of today would take a stand and remember Wycliffe, Tyndale, Huss, Luther, Cranmer, the Waldensians, the Lollards, the Albigenses, the Huguenots…and the 700 year Inquisition.

  2. Glad you enjoyed it. The problem is that those who stand today where the Reformers stood are looked upon as troublemakers – even by supposed Reformed evangelicals. We need not only to remember our history but to get back to the same old truths and the same Biblicial view of Rome that the Reformers had.

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