Yet another article by a former nun.
When the Disciples asked Jesus what the signs of the End Times would be, the first thing that He said was, "Take heed that no man deceive you." (Matthew 24:4) The main sign of the End Times is deception. If every Christian reads the Bible and checks things out against Scripture (like the Bereans did), then the devil and his demon cohorts will have a tough job deceiving each of the Christians individually.
However, if Roman Catholics are required to accept whatever the Pope says "with docility" (like a trusting, unquestioning child), then the devil's job is much easier. If he can just deceive the Pope to the point where he declares an error to be doctrine, then the devil has successfully deceived everybody who is under the Pope's authority.
The Apostle Peter was so deceived by the devil that Jesus rebuked him saying, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." (Matthew 16:23, Mark 8:33, Luke 4:8) The devil successfully deceived Peter concerning an important matter of faith (the death and resurrection of Jesus, as prophesied by Jesus Himself). So how can the popes (who claim to be the successors of Peter) say that the devil is incapable of deceiving them?
Even without claims of infallibility, Christians become vulnerable if any one man has too widespread an influence. If that man is persuasive, and if the devil succeeds in deceiving him, then that man will pass his deception on to his followers.
As Lord Acton said, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." When you give any one man (the Pope) or group of men (the Magisterium) the power to define what people are required to believe in order to be able to go to Heaven, then you invite abuses of power.
History is full of examples of this abuse of power. Paul Johnson is a devout Catholic and a historian. His book A History of Christianity shows many examples of abuses of power.
I realize that there have been scandals in many Christian denominations throughout Church history. Jesus warned us about wolves in sheep's clothing. (Matthew 7:15) Therefore, we should not be shocked when we discover some of them.
In Matthew 7:15, Jesus is talking about false prophets. Prophets are people who claim to speak for God. That is precisely what the Pope does. He claims to be the vicar (representative) of Christ. The Magisterium also claims to speak for Christ. The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" says that whoever listens to the Pope and the bishops (the Magisterium) is actually listening to Christ.
There have been tares among the wheat, and wolves among the sheep, throughout Church history. No denomination has been perfect. However, only the Catholic Church claims to be infallible. That claim makes wolves in sheep's clothing far more dangerous because of the power that it gives them over the minds (and therefore the lives) of other people.
Jesus promised us that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church. That requires the supernatural intervention of God. According to the Bible, God has done this by sending us the Holy Spirit to teach us and to guide us. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that Scripture is the key to sound doctrine and instruction in righteousness.
According to the Catholic Church, God has miraculously protected the popes from making errors when they make pronouncements about faith or morals. This idea has a natural appeal. We would all like to have magical protection from error. Also, it is nice to be able to be passive spectators, receiving "with docility" whatever our superiors give us, without having to face the responsibility of checking it out for ourselves. But attractive or not, this idea is not supported by Scripture or by Church history.
What is our source of authority? God. He reveals Himself and His ways in the Bible, which He has given us for instruction in doctrine and in how to live a Godly life. (2 Timothy 3:16) And He has sent the Holy Spirit to enable us to understand Scripture, and to "guide us into all truth." (John 16:13)
USE OF THIS ARTICLE
I encourage you to link to this article. You have permission to quote from this article, as long as you do it fairly and accurately. You have permission to make copies of this article for friends and for use in classes.
1. Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 80, 84, 86, and 97. The Catechism comes in numerous editions and languages. Because it has numbered paragraphs, statements can be accurately located in spite of the variety of editions.
2. Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 78, 98, 113, 2650, and 2661.
3. William Webster, The Church of Rome at the Bar of History(Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1996), pp. 22-33.
For a description of how pious practices can become official Catholic doctrine, and how this conflicts with both Scripture and the writings of the Early Fathers, see James G. McCarthy, The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1995), pp. 281-309.
4. Joan Carrol Cruz, Miraculous Images of Our Lady: 100 Famous Catholic Portraits and Statues (Rockford, Illinois: Tan Books & Publishers, 1994.) This Catholic devotional book has 125 pictures, 32 of which are full color. The tradition about Our Lady of the Pillar is described on pages 401-406, along with 4 black-and-white pictures of the statue.
6. Paul Johnson, A History of Christianity (New York: A Touchstone Book, Simon & Schuster, 1995), pp. 105-107 and 161-166.
7. Paul Johnson, A History of Christianity, p. 226, op. cit.
8. Joan Carrol Cruz, Miraculous Images of Our Lady: 100 Famous Catholic Portraits and Statues, pp. 401-406, op. cit.
9. Joan Carrol Cruz, Miraculous Images of Our Lady, op. cit.Following page 238 there are 32 pages with full color pictures, numbered 328-1, 328-2, 382-3, etc. There are color pictures of the statue of Our Lady of the Pillar on pages 238-2 and 238-7. The picture on 238-7 is a close-up of the crown and sunburst (large halo), showing the jewels clearly.
10. William Steuart McBirnie, The Search for the Twelve Apostles(Wheaton, Illinois: Living Books, Tyndale House Publishers, 1973, 1982), p. 103.
11. Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 85, 87, 100, 862, 891, 939, 2034, 2037, 2041, and 2050.
12. Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 890, 891, 939, 2033, 2034, and 2049.
13. Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 892, 2037, and 2050.
14. William Webster, The Church of Rome at the Bar of History, pp. 34-55, op. cit.
15. William Webster, The Church of Rome at the Bar of History, pp. 63-71, op. cit.
16. William Webster, The Church of Rome at the Bar of History, pp. 81-85, op. cit.
17. Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 85, 100, 891, and 2051.
18. Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 87, 1310, and 2037.
19. Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (Apostolic Constitution on the Immaculate Conception), December 8, 1854. Near the end of this encyclical there is a section called "The Definition." The statements that I described are in the last paragraph of that section. If the link doesn't work, then search for Ineffabilis Deus. (Accessed 10/1/08)
20. Paul Johnson, A History of Christianity, pp. 67-124, op. cit.
21. Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 87, 862, 891, and 2051.
Copyright 2001, 2008 by Mary Ann Collins. All rights reserved.