Tagged in: protestant reformation

Recovering our Protestant heritage: Why Baptists should honor the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

“The loss of many Baptists to the cause of Protestantism is one reason why Rome has made such gains in the past century in the United States. It is [an] amazing…ignorance that now exists in many Independent Baptist churches and in the mainline Baptist denominations, about the Protestant Reformation…. It is only in the United States, where the majority of Fundamental Baptist Churches are really Plymouth Brethren assemblies, that Baptists claim they are not Protestants.”[1]

There has been a tendency—particularly throughout the twentieth-century—amongst both fundamentalist and reformed Baptists to want to distinguish themselves from Protestantism. Even the revered Charles Spurgeon is recorded as stating:

“We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther and Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves….”[2]

Continue reading…

A vindication of reformed Baptists and their Protestant heritage

There is a tendency among many fundamentalist and reformed Baptists to want to distinguish themselves from “Protestantism” as a whole. Some Calvinistic Baptists—persuaded though they may be of God’s sovereign grace in salvation—take issue with the label “reformed”. The reason for this tendency is often due to the fact that while Presbyterianism’s roots (for example) are traced with ease to the Protestant Reformation, many Baptists think they owe very little to that great historical movement of God because they are convinced that their history does not depend on a developing separation from Romanism. Many Baptists tend to be under the impression that their roots run parallel and distinct from Reformation history and do not depend on it. Contrarily, I think it is plainly demonstrable that all Christians—particularly Calvinistic Baptists—owe a great deal to the glorious Protestant Reformation.

It is quite possible that many of us Baptists—whether fundamentalist or reformed—have taken for granted the truth of a proposition like the one put forth by John Henry Blunt when he wrote that, “…Anabaptists were the fathers of the modern English Baptists”.[i] In the margin of my facsimile copy of his work are the following handwritten words: “no connection whatsoever”. It appears that particular reader knew something of the Baptists’ Reformational heritage.

It is my contention that the terms “Protestant” and “reformed” need not be used exclusively of Reformed and Presbyterian churches and others who proudly admit to their sixteenth-century heritage. While I understand the argument of both sovereign grace Baptists and fundamentalists that we must trace our doctrine and practice directly to the NT, such a claim need not be antithetical to acknowledging and admitting the debt we owe the Reformers.[ii] Tom Ascol corrects a common misunderstanding concerning the history of the Baptists:

“Sometimes Baptists live under the mistaken notion that they came into existence with little or no influence from any other evangelical group. Some even believe that Baptist churches have existed from the time of John ‘the Baptist’ to the present. While the principles that Baptists hold dear originate in the Word of God and have been found in various degrees of purity throughout church history, our origin as a distinct group can be traced to the early seventeenth century. We are a Reformational people.”[iii]

Some typical objections

As a case in point of this “mistaken notion”, W.R. Downing’s paper, ‘A Vindication of the Baptists’[iv], is one such attempt at finding an unbroken succession of “Baptistic” churches linking modern Baptists with the Apostles. Such an attempt necessarily implies a diminished view of “reformed theology” even by Calvinists because the assertion is that Calvinistic Baptists can trace their roots to the Apostles without going through Luther and Calvin.

I do not interact here with William Downing because he is a soft target. He is not. He is a most brilliant pastor, theologian and scholar, and has authored numerous excellent and robust theological works. I would recommend reading as much as you can get your hands on by Downing (some of which is available for free here). He is a dear brother in Christ and I have learned a great deal from his books. I published a very positive review of his epistemological tome The Bible and the Problem of Knowledge and have regarded his Lectures on Calvinism and Arminianism as one of the best resources available on soteriology both for its theological depth and acuteness and detailed historical survey. Downing has also written textbooks on Hebrew and Greek as well as many other scholarly works. Even the book from which this paper on Baptist history is taken is highly recommended for all of its other fine content. I chose to interact with Downing on this subject because he is not a decisional regenerationist, he is not an SBC traditionalist, he is not a fideistic fundamentalist, he is not an evidentialist and, according to his own testimony on Iron Sharpens Iron [time stamp: 17:52], he is not a Landmarker.[v] He is a consistent Calvinist with a high view of Scripture and holds to the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith with minor reservations. We are dealing with someone who is both “in our camp” and exceedingly qualified to speak to these subjects. So, in the big picture, of course, this is a minor point of disagreement I have with Downing. I simply use his paper as a launching pad to deal with some of the arguments put forth by modern Baptists as to their alleged non-Reformational heritage.

Downing takes issue with the term “reformed” Baptist because he believes we should trace our roots through the remnant of believers in history from apostolic times until now. Like many other Baptists, he takes issue with the term Protestant as it is applied to Christians in general (as opposed to Romanists):

“[We are] Baptists not Protestants. We did not come from the Protestant Reformation. Our forefathers, known under different, often derogatory names, have existed from the time of the New Testament. Modern Baptists are the inheritors and progeny of countless hundreds of thousands who have held to the evangelical faith, believer’s baptism and freedom of conscience through the ages.”[vi]

It is worth noting that in many ways the seventeenth-century Particular Baptists deliberately followed on the heels of the Westminster divines making no attempt to distinguish their Calvinistic theology and heritage from the Reformation. Greg Nichols notes that “the Reformed Baptist fathers were not embarrassed to copy verbatim from the Presbyterian fathers of the previous generation when they could do so conscientiously”.[vii] One would think if such a clear line of succession back to the Apostles were discernible three-hundred years ago, these early reformed Baptists would have capitalized on that historical data to help them justify their separatism and theological distinctives. Rather, consider the following by Kurt Smith:

“From an historical standpoint, Baptists have always been known as ‘people of the Book.’ By this identification, Baptists (since their emergence in 17th century England) had gained the reputation of being that Christian body within Protestantism, whose declaration of doctrine and practice was solely governed and ruled by the Word of God. In fact, the great Reformation principle of sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone) can be argued as finding its fullest expression with Baptists than with any other Protestant group.

This is why church historian, Robert G. Torbet, in his History of the Baptists, made the case that:

‘Baptists, to a greater degree than any other group, have strengthened the protest of evangelical Protestantism against traditionalism. This they have done by their constant witness to the supremacy of the Scriptures as the all-sufficient and sole norm for faith and practice.’[viii][ix]

Smith, following Torbet, rather than separating Baptists from Protestantism at large, is quick to point out that they were the most scripturally devoted body “within Protestantism”, and admits their seventeenth-century heritage.

The simple fact is, in order for anyone to trace Calvinistic Baptists (or any other Christian group) back to the Apostles, they are forced to go through a series of very questionable sects. Considering the preponderance of anti-trinitarianism amongst many so-called Anabaptist groups, “questionable” is putting it mildly. Not only is it unprovable that all of these various groups actually held to believer’s baptism by immersion, their doctrinal aberrations should more than disincline us to forcibly trace our roots through them. Consider the broad and diverse groups Downing must list in order to assert that Baptists can trace their roots to the Apostles:

“These believers and churches have been known by various names in history, such as Montanists, Novatians, Donatists, Paulicians, Vaudois, Paterines, Albigenses, Berengarians, Bogomili, Cathari, Gezari, Arnoldists, Petrobrusians, Poor men of Lyons, Waldenses, Lollards, Wyclifites, Bohemian Brethren, Hussites, etc.”6

This list contains some dubious groups indeed. We will not examine the doctrinal distinctives of each of them here, partly because of the lack of information available, partly for the sake of space, and partly because it simply cannot be proven that all of these groups held to believer’s baptism by way of immersion anyway. It is true that many have been lumped into the broad and practically useless category, Anabaptist, but even that label does not prove that they practiced baptism by immersion! More accurately, there have been various people branded Anabaptists simply because they were antipaedobaptists. Their aversion to infant baptism (Romish, or otherwise) did not imply that they held to the doctrine, mode and method of baptism that post-Reformation Baptists adhere to. Ronald Cooke, drawing largely on the work of Baptist historian Albert Henry Newman, writes:

“Newman…says here, plainly, the method by which the first Antipedobaptists of the Reformation were baptized was affusion, not immersion. One of the other Baptist historians…mentions in connection with this decisive step of the Antipedobaptists, that the first group to be baptized were baptized out of a bucket of water…. It is difficult to document immersion before the Reformation times” [emphasis mine].[x]

Church historian George P. Fisher likewise maintains that, “The practise [sic] of immersion was not in vogue at first among the Anabaptists.”[xi] And Earle E. Cairns points out that even the esteemed Anabaptist theologian Balthasar Hubmaier, along with three hundred of his followers, “were baptized by affusion.”[xii]

The lack of documentation that can even substantiate a clear history of immersionists prior to the Reformation alone discredits the idea that a direct path can be traced from modern reformed or fundamentalist Baptists through to the Apostles. Anabaptists were a mixed-bag. With no consistency in their mode of baptism and total absence of doctrinal parameters, the term, “Anabaptist” is rendered practically useless for our purposes. It tells us very little about any particular group, and most of the groups placed under that label are not ones any orthodox Christian would want to be associated with.

It is true that amongst the varied and diverse people Downing lists there existed true believers, but it cannot be sustained that they all practiced believer’s baptism by immersion, simultaneously holding to other Baptist distinctives. To acknowledge this is to acknowledge that Presbyterians and evangelicals can equally claim this “pilgrim church”[xiii] as fellow brethren belonging to the true bride of Christ, being a testimony to the truth that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. The existence of these pre-Reformation Christians only proves that God has always preserved His remnant. It does not prove that Baptists have the right to disregard the importance of the Reformation when discussing their history and theology. Furthermore, as we will see, many antipaedobaptists employed methods and embraced doctrines that any Bible-believing Christian would deride as unscriptural. Is it even worthwhile, then, for us to attempt to trace our roots through them?

Note that some of the groups Downing lists to support his thesis are at the least unorthodox or at most, completely heretical. These groups’ particular method of baptism and view of church-state separation becomes irrelevant at this point since primary doctrines (such as the trinity or proper Christology) were sometimes outright rejected by many of the so-called Anabaptists in history. It is surprising that a Calvinistic confessional cessationist[xiv] like Downing would want to share a common bond with montanists, for example, all for the sake of trying to establish an unbroken doctrinal succession to the Apostles.[xv]

In this paper, Downing has nothing critical to say of the Montanists and says that the “movement was orthodox in its doctrine”.[xvi] He makes no mention of the excesses and charismatic chicanery practiced by those within the movement. I think those not so inclined to trace their doctrine and practice in a continuous line to the Apostles would give a more objective assessment of the Montanists. While Downing claims that Montanists predate Montanus himself, I am not sure that such would insulate the group he is referring to from the charismatic behavior which has come to be identified with Montanism in general.

Regarding Montanus, it is noteworthy that like modern charismatics, “[he] gave utterances as though the Lord were speaking directly to him.”[xvii] Victor Budgen quotes such examples of Montanus’ twisted “revelations” and says, “Here was a man who was undoubtedly, in his own estimation, on a hot line to heaven.”[xviii] If it weren’t for Downing’s strained effort to find early Baptists in church history, we could be sure that Downing would himself repudiate practically everything they taught as recorded in the Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics.[xix]

The error of imagining a line of Baptists right through church history is more characteristic of fundamentalists, traditionalists and Plymouth Brethren then it is of confessional Calvinistic Baptists. Let us not fall into the same trap. There is no shame in our Protestant, reformed heritage, and acknowledging it means we don’t have to sidestep doctrinal aberrations and make excuses for heretical trends in history. Downing exhibits a very high view of the Reformers and the Protestant Reformation in his Lectures on Calvinism and Arminianism, but in discussing Baptist history the importance of the Reformation is diminished.

Given the choice, I think any Christian would be wise to embrace the heritage they owe to the Reformation over inventing a lineage that must necessarily pass through various antitrinitarians, montanists, violent social radicals and theocrats and other heretics who have all been put under the heading Anabaptist (so labeled simply because they repudiated paedobaptism). Following the clear NT pattern, it is very likely that early Christians baptized in the method of the Apostles and restricted the ordinance to believers only. Certainly, I am convinced along with Downing that such is the biblical method. But we must stop short of asserting what cannot be legitimately established with regard to Baptist history. We have limited knowledge of many of the early groups Downing lists, and often what we do know is not very good.

Downing admits that “the distinctive doctrines of the Donatists were identical with the Montanists and Novatians before them”. David Christie-Murray’s assessment is much the same, noting that the Novatian movement “was heretical in so far as it allied with the Montanists”, and that “the Donatists were in the main orthodox, although some of them were tinged with Arianism….”[xx] Should we not be at least a bit cautious in trying to trace our roots through these groups? I am not consigning all of these men and women to hell. There was most definitely a remnant that existed through the ages that never submitted to the mongrel faith-works monstrosity of Rome. I am simply trying to state the obvious; that much of the information available concerning these people would be enough to exclude them from membership in Downing’s own confessional church. If Downing wants to include Montanists in his Baptist family tree, it follows that he would likewise be obliged to extend their modern counterparts in charismania the right hand of fellowship. I do not think that is something he is prepared to do.

Cooke notes that there was a strong tendency toward antitrinitarianism even amongst many of whom Baptist historian Albert Henry Newman calls the “sounder” Baptists. He notes that Newman’s sympathies to the concept of an unbroken line of succession force him to have a sympathetic tone concerning the heretical nature of their teachings. Cooke writes:

“Some non-Baptists would not describe men who denied the Trinity as being sound in their theology. To say they ‘fell considerably short of the orthodox view of the Person of Christ’ is a euphemistic way of saying that they denied the humanity of Christ. And to say that such men who taught the Adoptionist Christology were like many of the medieval evangelicals is again stretching the point in an effort to save them from the charge of heresy. For some non-Baptists would be more apt to call such medieval men heretics rather than evangelicals. Yet, this is the line to which any Baptist unbroken line must be linked.”[xxi]

We have seen some of the difficulties in formulating an historical line of succession from the Apostles to modern Baptists. I will briefly address one more point with regard to our theological heritage.

Baptist covenant theology has a Reformational heritage

Coming out of dispensationalism, some of us held a low view of the historic creeds and confessions and possessed an abysmal knowledge of church history. I believe this was no accident, for to know church history would be to admit the newness of dispensationalism as a “unified interpretive scheme”[xxii].  I, for one, was merely Baptist by default. That is, I found no evidence of infant baptism in the NT and that was enough to dismiss such a practice as unbiblical. “Believer’s baptism”, seemed to be the method employed in the book of Acts, but I had no real grasp of the other historic Baptist distinctives.

Instead of regarding Presbyterians as compromising Christians who simply hadn’t purged a residual Romish tradition, a mere “trapping of popery”[xxiii], it would have been far more beneficial to have pursued a basic knowledge of the theory employed to justify infant baptism. In other words, I think many twentieth-century Baptists were merely Baptists in the sense that they immersed believers. They were unaware of the rich hermeneutical system which seemingly undergirded both the practice of paedobaptism and Baptist opposition to it. Only recently are we reclaiming our confessional and covenantal heritage. Today there is a wealth of literature available detailing the specifics of Baptist Covenant theology.[xxiv]

Downing embraces and defends Baptist covenant theology in multiple books and properly distinguishes it from both paedobaptist covenant theology and dispensationalism. But I think he would be hard-pressed to uncover a chain of local churches through which he might trace this comprehensive theological system back to the early NT church. We do believe that covenant theology (with its Baptist distinctiveness) is thoroughly biblical and extremely useful as a hermeneutical framework. But just like eschatological schemes, not all hermeneutical systems and doctrinal frameworks were formally and systematically worked out by the first-century church. Downing should simply admit what reformed Baptist author Pascal Denault notes, that “this approach to Scripture [Baptist covenant theology] was born of the Protestant Reformation”[xxv], and, unlike many modern Baptists, seventeenth-century Baptists

“were concerned with identifying themselves with the heritage of the Reformation. This explains the close relationship of their official documents to those of the other reformed movements. This desire for unity did not keep them from stating their distinct convictions within these same documents. Nevertheless, they always did it with irenic attitude.”[xxvi]

Conclusion

I close off this post with a final quote from Dr. Ronald Cooke:

“The Baptist movement of the sixteenth century was a great hodge-podge of many different ideas and teachings, some of which would definitely be classed as heretical today by just about every believer in a fundamental Bible-believing church. And there is scarcely one man, whose teachings we know anything about it detail, whom any Fundamental Baptist would agree with today. In other words, the only link that Baptists today would have with such men is water baptism, and even some of those, whom Newman classes as the sounder biblical Baptists of the sixteenth century practised [sic] affusion, not immersion….

“To say that we never came out of Rome because we were never in Rome cannot be documented at all by any historical evidence which now exists. Almost everything we know about the men of the lower middle ages, the men of the higher middle ages, and the sixteenth century dissenters, suggests that the reformatory movements came out of the hierarchical Church, or from some man who had separated from it.”[xxvii]

“…It was not until the time of the Protestant Reformation that a clear break was made which was based upon a sound hermeneutical approach to the Scriptures, and which resulted in a sound theology which taught clearly salvation by grace alone, justification by faith alone and that Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to the believing sinner by faith alone.”[xxviii]

Fellow Baptists, let us celebrate the 500th year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation with our Presbyterian and reformed brethren and rightly recognize the great debt we owe those theological giants who went before us. I do not think I am being too liberal with the term “Protestant” in saying that we who adamantly protest the abominable false gospel of Rome should highly regard the Reformers’ protest and all of its fruits.

I, for one, consider myself both a Protestant and a reformed Baptist.

-Nick Sabato

[i] Blunt, J.H., The Reformation of the Church of England: Its History, Principles and Results, Vol. 1 A.D. 1514—1547 (8th edition), Longmans, Green, and Co., New York, 1897, p. 551.

[ii] Ryle, J.C., What Do We Owe the Reformation?, Protestant Truth Society, London, Obtain a reprint here.

[iii] Ascol, T.K., From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist Convention: What Hath Geneva to do with Nashville? (revised edition), Founders Press, Cape Coral, FL, 2013, p. 11.

[iv] Downing, W.R., Selected Shorter Writings, PIRS Publications, Morgan Hill, CA, 2013, pp. 231—283.

[v] “Landmark Baptists particularly emphasized the local, visible congregation as being the church in its true form, and they opposed the idea of an actual universal church” (Bush, L.R., and Nettles, T.J., Baptists and the Bible, Moody Press, Chicago, IL, 1980, p. 378). In contrast to Landmarkism, the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith 1677/1689 affirms the existence of a universal church. This is partly why Downing has an affinity for the First London Baptist Confession of Faith (1644/1646) (see Downing, ref. 4, pp. 257—59 and ref. 14, pp. 165 & 461). Sam Waldron comments that “The New Testament does speak of a universal church (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 1:22; 4:11—15; 5:23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 32; Colossians 1:18, 24; Hebrews 12:23). Such passages refute Landmarkism and its denial of a universal church” (Waldron, S.E., A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith [5th edition: revised and corrected], EP Books, UK, 2016, pp. 366-367). While Downing claims he is not a Landmarker, it is sometimes difficult to see precisely where he differs from Landmarkism.

[vi] Downing, ref. 4, p. 236.

[vii] Nichols, G., Covenant Theology: A Reformed and Baptistic Perspective on God’s Covenants, Solid Ground Christian Books, Birmingham, AL, 2011, p. 5.

[viii] Robert G. Torbet, History of the Baptists (revised edition), Judson, Valley Forge, PA, 1963, p. 483.

[ix] Smith, K., The only rule, Founders Journal 104, March 14, 2016.

[x] Cooke, R., Some Modern Baptists and the Protestant Reformation, Truth International Ministries, Max Meadows, VA, 2007, p. 15.

[xi] Fisher, G.P., History of Christian Doctrine, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1916, p. 319.

[xii] Cairns, E.E., Christianity Through the Centuries, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1981, p. 306.

[xiii] Broadbent, E.H., The Pilgrim Church (1931), Gospel Folio Press, Port Colborne, ON, 2009.

[xiv] Downing, W.R., Theological Propaedeutic, PIRS Publications, Morgan Hill, CA, 2010, p. 162.

[xv] Again, Downing does not claim to be a Landmarker, but his arguments here seem to be characteristic of that camp.

[xvi] Downing, ref. 4, p. 262.

[xvii] Budgen, V., The Charismatics and the Word of God (2nd ed.), Evangelical Press, England, 1989, p. 116.

[xviii] Budgen, ref. 17, p. 117.

[xix] Clifton, C.S., Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics, Barnes & Noble, New York, 1992, pp. 98—99.

[xx] Christie-Murray, D., A History of Heresy, Oxford University Press, New York, 1976, p. 96.

[xxi] Cooke, ref. 10, pp. 20—21.

[xxii] Erickson, M.J., Christian Theology (2nd edition), Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI, 1998, p. 1168.

[xxiii] While I agree with this assessment of paedobaptism by Shaun Willcock (Trappings of Popery, New Voices Publishing, Cape Town, South Africa, 2007, pp. 20—24), to ignore the particular version of covenant theology used to undergird the practice by Presbyterians means we have failed to interact with them at any intellectual level. Some of the strongest opponents of Romanism have retained paedobaptism not because they have some innate desire to retain papal traditions but as a “necessary” consequence of their own particular covenant theology.

[xxiv] Consider the work of Reformed Baptist Academic Press and Founders Ministries.

[xxv] Denault, P., The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology, Solid Ground Christian Books, Birmingham, AL, 2013, summary page.

[xxvi] Denault, ref. 25, pp. 10—11, footnote 13.

[xxvii] Cooke, ref. 10, p. 23.

[xxviii] Cooke, ref. 10, p. 24.

Antichrist’s Ecumenical Endeavors, by Thomas Juodaitis

The following article by Thomas W. Juodaitis was first published in the September/October 2016 issue of the Trinity Review (pdf available here). On the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, it is important to note that while Rome’s dogmas have by and large remained intact in their persistent opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ, Mystery Babylon’s tactics have changed over the centuries to accommodate Protestant resistance, or lack thereof.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, Rome’s strategy toward Protestants changed from the open hostility of the Counter Reformation’s anathemas against Protestant “heretics” to the covert co-opting of “Separated Brethren” since Vatican II. Instead of Antichrist openly persecuting true Bible believers, which he did when he had both the political and religious power to do so, his diabolical scheme has changed to deceive Evangelicals through his ecumenical efforts to bring the “Separated Brethren” back into the fold of Rome. Satan used the same scheme in the history of the early church. For the first three centuries he tried to stamp out the church through both religious and state-sponsored persecution. When that failed, and the church continued to grow, he turned to co-opting it by amalgamating paganism and Christianity, and the Roman Catholic Church-State was birthed. “If you can’t beat them, join them,” and then take them over. For the next eleven centuries Rome increased and exercised her power not only over rulers of nations, but also over dissenters who believed the Bible and not Rome’s damnable heresies. Then in the darkness, when the light of the Gospel seemed to be snuffed out, God raised up Martin Luther and others who recovered the Gospel from the Word of God, and Rome’s ecclesiastical power was broken. This also led to her political power being greatly curtailed, as Rome and her Antichrist received, as it were, a mortal wound. Though she tried by force and persecution to stamp out the Reformation, she could not, and the Gospel and Biblical Christianity spread throughout the world. Thus, lacking the power of force to put down the Reformation, she sought by her craft to co-opt and destroy it from within through her ecumenical endeavors. In her efforts she has received help from some well-known “Evangelicals,” a term that used to mean one who believed in sola scriptura and sola fide, but today it has become a wax nose to mean almost anything, and thus means nothing. Thus, as the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation approaches, Rome is doing all it can to eviscerate it, usher in a one-world religion, and she has the help of many from within “Evangelicalism” to do so.[1]

 

Vatican Council II: Decree on Ecumenism

The Second Vatican Council met from 1962-1965 under the pontificates of John XXIII and Paul VI. In its official decrees is a decree on ecumenism – the unity of the church. Notice the imperial language – Bible believing Christians have creeds and confessions – statements of what is believed among us, but Rome issues decrees as to what is to be believed. Though the Council of Trent was upheld, the tone and strategy especially toward Protestants had changed considerably – heretics are now separated brethren, and followers of other religions and even atheists will now be saved through Rome.[2] What follows is a selection of quotations from the Decree on Ecumenism from Vatican Council II.[3]

From the Introduction

The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ….

Everywhere large numbers have felt the impulse of this grace, and among our separated brethren also there increases from day to day a movement, fostered by the grace of the Holy Spirit, for the restoration of unity among all Christians….[4]

Notice the importance of the Mass from Chapter 1: “In his Church he instituted the wonderful sacrament of the Eucharist by which the unity of the Church is both signified and brought about” (453). Later in section 4: “The results will be that, little by little, as the obstacles to perfect ecclesiastical communion are overcome, all Christians will be gathered, in a common celebration of the Eucharist, into the unity of the one and only Church, which Christ bestowed on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the [Roman] Catholic Church[5] as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time” (457).

Other [Roman] “Catholic Principles on Ecumenism” from Chapter 1 are as follows:

In this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts (Cf. 1 Cor. 11:18-19; Gal. 1:6-9; 1 Jn. 2:18-19 – footnoted in original), which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable (Cf. 1 Cor. 1:11 ff.; 11:22 – footnoted in original). But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the [Roman] Catholic Church—for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame. However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the [Roman] Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers…. Without doubt, the differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the [Roman] Catholic Church—whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church—do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion. The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. (455)

It follows that the separated Churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from the defects already mentioned, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the [Roman] Catholic Church.

Nevertheless, our separated brethren, whether considered as individuals or as communities and Churches, are not blessed with that unity which Jesus Christ wished to bestow on all those to whom he has given new birth into one body…. For it is through Christ’s [Roman] Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help towards salvation (sic.), that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. (456)

The term “ecumenical movement” indicated the initiatives and activities encouraged and organized, according to the various needs of the Church, and as opportunities offer, to promote Christian unity. These are: first, every effort to avoid expressions, judgments and actions which do not represent the condition of our separated brethren with truth and fairness and so make mutual relations with them more difficult. Then, “dialogue” between competent experts from different Churches and communities; in their meetings, which are organized in a religious spirit, each explains the teaching of his communion in greater depth and brings out clearly its distinctive features…. In addition, these communions engage in that more intensive cooperation in carrying out any duties for the common good of humanity which are demanded by every Christian conscience. They also come together for common prayer, where this is permitted. (456-457) …

Nevertheless, the divisions among Christians prevent the Church from realizing the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her sons who, though joined to her by baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. (458, emphasis added)

From Chapter II “The Practice of Ecumenism”:

Church renewal therefore has notable ecumenical importance. Already this renewal is taking place in various spheres of the Church’s life: the biblical and liturgical movements, the preaching of the Word of God and catechetics, the apostolate of the laity, new forms of religious life and the spirituality of married life, and the Church’s social teaching and activity. All these should be considered as promises and guarantees for the future progress of ecumenism. (459-460)

Here in a nutshell is the blueprint for Evangelicals and Catholics Together I and II and the Manhattan Declaration. Ersatz Evangelicals are joining with Roman Catholics on social issues, meanwhile the Gospel is being denied all for the sake of making America moral again. This is made even more explicit in section 12:

Before the whole world let all Christians confess their faith in God, one and three, in the incarnate Son of God, our Redeemer and Lord. United in their efforts, and with mutual respect, let them bear witness to our common hope, which does not play us false. Since cooperation in social matters is so widespread today, all men without exception are called to work together; with much greater reason is this true of all who believe in God, but most of all, it is especially true of all Christians, since they bear the seal of Christ’s name. Cooperation among Christians vividly expresses that bond which already unites them, and it sets in clearer relief the features of Christ the Servant. (462)

Finally, from Chapter III, Subsection II, “The Separated Churches and Ecclesial Communities in the West” come the following quotations:

The Churches and ecclesial communities which were separated from the Apostolic See of Rome (sic.) during the grave crisis that began in the West at the end of the Middle Ages or in later times, are bound to the [Roman] Catholic Church by a specially close relationship as a result of the long span of earlier centuries when the Christian people had lived in ecclesiastical communion. (467) …

We are indeed aware that there exist considerable differences from the doctrine of the [Roman] Catholic Church even concerning Christ the Word of God made flesh and the work of redemption, and thus concerning the mystery and ministry of the Church and the role of Mary in the work of salvation….

A love and reverence—almost a cult—of Holy Scripture leads our brethren to a constant and diligent study of the sacred text. (468, emphasis added) …

Although the ecclesial communities separated from us lack the fullness of unity with us which flows from baptism, and although we believe they have not preserved the proper reality of the eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Orders, nevertheless when they commemorate the Lord’s death and resurrection in the Holy Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and await his coming in glory. For these reasons, the doctrine about the Lord’s Supper, about the other sacraments, worship, and ministry in the Church should form subjects of dialogue. (469, emphasis added) …

And if in moral matters there are many Christians who do not always understand the Gospel in the same way as [Roman] Catholics, and do not admit the same solutions for the more difficult problems of modern society, they nevertheless want to cling to Christ’s word as the source of Christian virtue and to obey the command of the Apostle: “Whatever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17). Hence, the ecumenical dialogue could start with the moral application of the Gospel.

This sacred Council urges the faithful to abstain from any frivolous or imprudent zeal, for these can cause harm to true progress toward unity. Their ecumenical activity cannot be other than fully and sincerely [Roman] Catholic, that is loyal to the truth we have received from the Apostles and the Fathers, and in harmony with the faith which the [Roman] Catholic Church has always professed, and at the same time tending toward the fullness in which our Lord wants his Body to grow in the course of time. (470, emphasis added)[6]

The Roman Catholic Church-State tapped into the ecumenical movement already begun, as witnessed by the cooperation between Roman Catholics and Billy Graham and his “Crusades” in the late 1950s, where Roman prelates were on stage with Graham, and those in the audience who came forward identifying themselves as Roman Catholic were steered back to the Roman Catholic Church-State. This assumes that Roman Catholicism is a legitimate branch of Christianity, and thus there is no need to evangelize Roman Catholics, but that “Evangelicals” and Romanists can work together in co-belligerency on social issues was enshrined in Vatican II, as witnessed in the quotations above. Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism paved the way for Evangelicals and Catholics Together I and II and The Manhattan Declaration. But Rome had not changed, especially concerning doctrine; rather, instead of open hostility and persecution, her strategy toward “heretic” Protestants became more seductive and dangerous, and many “Evangelicals” have fallen for her deceptions. As witness that Rome has not changed on her doctrines, Trent has continually been upheld by Rome, and in 2007 questions were asked if Vatican II had changed her understanding of the church, to which she replied, No.[7]

 

Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Francis I) and His Ramped Up Ecumenical Efforts

Argentinian Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio took for his papal name Francis I upon ascending the papal throne, and he has been busy in his pontificate trying to unite the major world religions. If the “separated brethren” are duped into this ecumenical Babylon, then they will certainly be separated, but their separation will be from Christ. Francis has been pushing for a one-world religion since the beginning of his pontificate, but 2016 has seen his efforts go into overdrive. In Francis’ first ecumenical meeting he made clear his agenda, following through with what Vatican II set in motion:

And now I turn to you distinguished representatives of the Jewish people, to which we are joined in a very special spiritual bond, since, as the Second Vatican Council affirms, the Church of Christ acknowledges that “the beginnings of her faith and her election are already, according to the divine mystery of salvation, in the Patriarchs, Moses, and the prophets” (Declar. Nostra aetate, 4). Thank you for your presence and I am confident that, with the help of the Almighty, we will be able to continue profitably that fraternal dialogue that the Council advocated (cf. ibid.) and that has actually been accomplished, bringing many fruits, especially in recent decades.

I then greet and cordially thank you all, dear friends belonging to other religious traditions; first of all the Muslims, who worship the one God, living and merciful, and call upon Him in prayer, and all of you. I really appreciate your presence: in it I see a tangible sign of the will to grow in mutual esteem and cooperation for the common good of humanity.

The [Roman] Catholic Church is aware of the importance of promoting friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – I wish to repeat this: promoting friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – it also attests the valuable work that the Pontifical Council for interreligious dialogue performs. It is equally aware of the responsibility that we all have towards this world of ours, towards all of Creation, that we should love and protect. And we can do much for the sake of the poorest, those who are weak and who suffer, to promote justice, to promote reconciliation and to build peace.[8]

In June 2014 Francis invited Israeli and Palestinian presidents to meet in a prayer meeting with him on the Vatican grounds. The meeting “will mark the first time that Jewish, Christian and Islamic prayers will be held in the tiny city state that is the headquarters of the 1.2 billion member Roman Catholic Church[-State].”[9] The article also noted that Bartholomew, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church will also be attending at the invitation of Francis “to show that the two main branches of Christianity that split in 1054 can work together for peace.”

In early 2014, Francis sent a video message to Kenneth Copeland and his conference of prosperity-gospel / Word of Faith preachers in which he called them brothers and emphasized two ideas, “his joy at their desire to worship together in prayer to the Father for the Spirit to come and his yearning for Christians to become one again.” Francis concluded by telling them to pray for him, and Copeland was more than happy to oblige. The meeting was facilitated through the efforts of Tony Palmer, an Anglican, who in his introduction to the video from Francis stated, “The protest is over.”[10]

Francis spoke in St. Patrick’s cathedral in September 2015 in his visit to the United States. In his opening remarks he said, “I would like to express two sentiments for my Muslim brothers and sisters: Firstly, my greetings as they celebrate the feast of sacrifice. I would have wished my greeting to be warmer.” Later in his speech he said, “In the words of the book of Revelation, I know well that you have come forth from the great tribulation and I accompany you at this time of pain and difficulty. And I thank God for your faithful service unto his people, doing so in helping you to persevere on the path of fidelity to Jesus Christ.”[11] Oh, the irony on so many levels! During the same visit, Francis addressed the full House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States Congress as well as the United Nations where he continued to push his agenda of Socialism, one-world religion, and one-world government, all the while castigating capitalism.

The year 2016 though has seen Francis’ interfaith and unity activities ramped up. Starting in January, Francis released a short video clearly stating his desire to unite the world’s religions into a new one-world religion combining elements of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism. In the video Francis repeats, “we are all children of God.” Francis also stated that the majority of the people on Earth profess some sort of religious belief, which he said, “should lead to a dialogue among religions. We should not stop praying for it and collaborating with those who think differently.” Also in the video are clips from clergy from the four world religions: a female Buddhist proclaims, “I have confidence in Buddha”; a Rabbi avers, “I believe in God”; a priest declares, “I believe in Jesus Christ”; and a Muslim cleric states, “I believe in Allah.”[12] Then on January 17, Francis visited Rome’s Great Synagogue, which was his first visit to a Jewish place of worship.[13] Later in January, Francis was invited to the mosque of Rome, one of the largest outside the Arab world.[14]

In February, Francis became the first pope to meet a patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, when he met Patriarch Kirill in Havana, Cuba. “The two men embraced, kissing each other twice on the cheeks and clasping hands before taking seats. ‘Now things are easier,’ Kirill said. Francis responded, ‘It is clear now that this is the will of God.’ … For Francis, the meeting was an ecumenical and diplomatic coup that eluded his predecessors…. Addressing the schism between their religions, the two also declared, ‘It is our hope that our meeting may continue to the re-establishment of this unity willed by God.’”[15]

 

Together 2016

On July 16, 2016, Francis addressed via video a crowd of “Evangelical” Christians gathered at the Washington Mall before the Washington Monument, an obelisk measuring 6,660 inches in height with a base of 660 inches. There was even more occult symbolism at the conference. In the Together 2016 logo, the “o” is actually an ouroboros, an “emblematic serpent of ancient Egyptand Greecerepresented with its tail in its mouth, continually devouring itself and being reborn from itself. A gnosticand alchemicalsymbol, Ouroboros expresses the unity of all things, material and spiritual, which never disappear but perpetually change form in an eternal cycle of destruction and re-creation.”[16] This occult symbol was also on the stage, and the speakers and performers stood in the middle of it. Confirmed speakers included Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell (both of whom also signed the Manhattan Declaration), Ronnie Floyd, Francis Chan, Tony Evans, and Mark Batterson, and a whole host of contemporary Christian musicians and bands (and speakers) affiliated with the New Apostolic Reformation. In Francis’ video address, he held up a t-shirt with the Together 2016 logo on it, encouraging everyone to put it on, and told the crowd,

I know there is something in your heart that moves you, and that makes you restless, because a young person who is not restless is an old person. And you have youthfulness and youthfulness breeds restlessness…. What is your restlessness? Do you know what it is or do you not know? Do you want to know what your restlessness is? … Find the One who can give you an answer to your restlessness…. God does not leave anyone disillusioned. Jesus is waiting for you. He is the One who planted the seeds of restlessness in your heart.[17]

Event organizers were hoping for a crowd of one million Christians to come together to pray for revival. With the occult symbolism and the pope addressing the crowd, to whom were they praying for revival? The event was supposed to go until 9 P.M., but due to heat in excess of 90 degrees, the event was cut short about 4:30 P.M. Was this God’s mercy mixed with irony? There is much about this event, the organizer, the venue, and some of the sponsoring ministries, that provokes many questions about what was really going on at this event. The organizer, Nick Hall, is “the founder and lead communicator of PULSE,” and his message is “reset,” which also was the title of a book he authored in 2016 – Reset: Jesus Changes Everything. The book is described as “an invitation to a second chance—a do-over—to get beyond past missteps and refocus our lives around the power of Jesus to change everything.”[18] The cover of the book as well as the website has the ouroboros prominently displayed. The Scripture says, “My people perish for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6), and “[W]e are not ignorant of [Satan’s] devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11), but one wonders how many of the speakers, performers, and attendees lack knowledge especially about Satan’s devices.

 

Amen: Three Great Monotheistic Religions Coexist

Finally, and to be as current as possible, Amen must be discussed. For one week during the month of September 2016 from the 4th through 11th during the festival of Mekudeshet (Hebrew for “holy” or “sanctified”), held from September 4 – 23, 2016, a part of Jerusalem’s Season of Culture Initiative, an interfaith place of worship known as Amen is set to open for Jews, Christians, and Muslims to pray and to spiritually gather together for what is called “Amen – A House of Prayer for All Believers.” The Alpert Youth Music Center will be transformed into AMEN, “a place of worship for the three Abrahamic faiths sharing ‘a passion for Jerusalem in which they will co-exist temporarily under the wings of the Almighty.’”[19] “The Amen event will seek to bring together Christians, Jews and Muslims who share a belief in one God and a boundless love for Jerusalem so that they can dialogue, study, sing and pray in one temporary house of worship. Amen will create both a physical and metaphysical space to encourage commonality, rather than to sanctify age-old divisions, say Mekudeshet organizers.”[20] Also of note, “With a motu proprio issued on September 15, Pope Francis has amended the canon laws of the Roman Catholic Church to bring them into harmony with the canon law of the Eastern Catholic churches.”[21]Additionally, “A joint Catholic-Orthodox theological commission has approved a statement on the primacy in Church history. … The agreement on the historic function of primacy is significant because the question of papal primacy is one of the key stumbling blocks in Catholic-Orthodox ecumenical discussions. The statement acknowledged that the Bishop of Rome enjoyed primacy, while also noting that synods set directions for the Church. The document reportedly says that the Pope did not exercise canonical authority over the Eastern churches, but acted as ‘first among equals.’”[22]Completely lost on such “ecumenical Babylonians” is the enmity that God put between the Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). For true Bible-believing Christians there is no spiritual coexistence with false religions. Even though Christians are mentioned in the titles and throughout the articles, they are really talking about Roman Catholicism, which is not Christian. What these three great monotheistic religions have in common besides murdering each other throughout their history is their history of persecuting true Bible-believing Christians.[23]

What are Bible-believing Christians to do? The Scriptures tell us clearly.

Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you” [Isaiah 52:11; Ezekiel 20:34, 41]. “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” [2 Samuel 7:14]. (2 Corinthians 6:17, 18)

And I heard another voice from Heaven saying, “Come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4)

In closing I wish to quote the conclusion from Richard Bennett’s article mentioned in footnote 1 above:

The Reformers proclaimed in their Biblical teaching that God alone is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in His being, goodness, holiness, justice, power, truth, and wisdom. Thus, He alone hears prayers; He alone is the all Holy One; He alone is the Holy Father; in a word, to God alone be the glory. Thus, plans for Pope Francis to visit Sweden on October 31, 2016, and the Archbishop of Westminster hosting an evening service at the former home of King Henry VIII, are obvious examples of the Roman Church’s apostasy. In 2016, sin indeed abounds. The holiness of God, the fear of God, the conviction of sin, and the gospel of grace are necessary. With all this abounding sin and deception, how do we live and reign with Christ Jesus at this time? The Scripture gives us the answer, “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one;much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one,Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). As you receive the abundant grace given by Christ, you are redeemed from the dominion of death; you will live and reign with Christ as you are sanctified daily through His Word by the Holy Spirit, and by constant fellowship with Him.  Also with Him, you shall reign forever and glorify Him for all eternity.  Believe on Him alone and you will be secure in Him, “to the praise of the glory of his grace, his free gift to us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6).

It is by the power of grace of the Lord Jesus Christ alone that we can truly live the Christian life, as did the Reformers in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The Lord’s sacrifice is for the believer, in that He substituted Himself in the place of sinners who would come to believe, and thus satisfied the law on their behalf. So authentic was this substitution that His sacrifice for them eliminated all necessity of punishment. In becoming the substitute for His people, Christ Jesus took their legal responsibility. In the wonderful words of Scripture, “when the fullness of the time was come,God sent forth his Son,made of a woman,made under the law,to redeem them that were under the law,that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4, 5). The Lord God has promised to be a Father to true believers—that they shall be His sons and daughters. This is the greatest honor possible. What rank ingratitude that anyone should slander such a gift and spurn Christ Jesus and eternal life in favor of the apostate Roman Catholic Church. Hence, the Lord promised, “all that the Father giveth me shall come to me;and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). Those who come at the call of God are given to Christ, because it is through His blood alone that they can be saved. The Lord God, by His Spirit, convinces of sin, righteousness, and judgment those who acknowledge their iniquity and their need of salvation. Is the Lord God calling you? Only in the Lord Jesus Christ is found freedom and eternal life! By His grace believe on Him and Him alone, “for by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

The Trinity Review, Number 337, ©2016 The Trinity Foundation, Post Office Box 68, Unicoi, Tennessee 37692, Telephone: 423.743.0199 Fax: 423.743.2005

 


[1] For further reading, see Richard Bennett, “Roman Catholic Endeavors to Overturn the Reformation,” http://www.bereanbeacon.org/new-blog/2016/5/24/roman-catholic-endeavors-to-overturn-the-reformation, May 24, 2016.

[2] See Michael Day, “Pope Francis Assures Atheists: You Don’t Have to Believe in God to Go to Heaven,” The Independent, September 11, 2013, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/pope-francis-assures-atheists-you-don-t-have-to-believe-in-god-to-go-to-heaven-8810062.html, September 14, 2016. In an open letter responding to questions published by Eugenio Scalfari, founder of La Repubblica, Francis wrote: “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience. … Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.” Jiminy Cricket could not have said it better. The article also stated, “In a welcoming response to the letter, Mr Scalfari said the Pope’s comments were ‘further evidence of his ability and desire to overcome barriers in dialogue with all.’” (Emphasis added.)

[3] All quotations from Vatican Council II are taken from Vatican Council II: Volume 1 The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, New Revised Edition, Austin Flannery, O. P., General Editor, Northport, New York, Costello Publishing Company, Inc., [1975], 1996.

[4] Vatican Council II, Decree on Ecumenism, 452.

[5] Another notable change at Vatican II was the name change of the Roman Catholic Church to the Catholic Church, as Rome seeks to bring the whole world under her “universal” sway again. Thus, Roman has been supplied back into the name in brackets.

[6] For more about Rome’s view of the church see Robert L. Reymond, “Roman Catholicism’s Recent Claim That It Is the True Church,” The Trinity Review, January 2008.

[7] See footnote 6 above. For more in depth analysis of ECT I and II, see John W. Robbins, “Bleating Wolves: The Meaning of Evangelicals and Catholics Together,” The Trinity Review, October-December 1998, and John W. Robbins, “Healing the Mortal Wound,” The Trinity Review, March-May 1998. For more in depth analysis of The Manhattan Declaration see Richard Bennett, “The Roman Catholic Agenda Embedded in the Manhattan Declaration,” The Trinity Review, May-June 2010.

[8] “Pope’s Address to Representatives of the Churches, Ecclesial Communities and Other Religions,” Zenit, March 20, 2013, https://zenit.org/articles/pope-s-address-to-representatives-of-the-churches-ecclesial-communities-and-other-religions/, September 14, 2016. Emphasis added. See also Michael Snyder “12 Times Pope Francis Has Openly Promoted a One World Religion or a New World Order,” July 31, 2016, http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/12-times-pope-francis-has-openly-promoted-a-one-world-religion-or-a-new-world-order, September 14, 2016.

[9] Reuters, “First Ever Jewish, Muslim, Christian Prayers at Vatican,” June 8, 2014, http://nypost.com/2014/06/08/first-ever-jewish-muslim-christian-prayers-at-vatican/, September 14, 2016.

[10] Dale M. Coulter, “Pope Francis and the Future of Charismatic Christianity,” First Things, February 20, 2014, https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/02/we-know-pope-francis, September 14, 2016.

[11] Emily Shapiro, “Read What Pope Francis Said at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral,” ABC News, September 24, 2015, http://abcnews.go.com/US/read-pope-francis-yorks-st-patricks-cathedral/story?id=34023376, September 14, 2016.

[12]See http://www.romereports.com/2016/01/06/this-innovative-video-of-the-pope-is-causing-a-sensation, September 14, 2016, emphasis added.

[13] Philip Pullella, “Pope Visits Rome Synagogue, Condemns Violence in Name of Religion,” Reuters, January 17, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-synagogue-idUSKCN0UV0V1, September 14, 2016.

[14] Papal Visit to Great Mosque of Rome Likely Taking Shape,” Zenit, January 20, 2016, https://zenit.org/articles/papal-visit-to-great-mosque-of-rome-likely-taking-shape/, September 14, 2016.

[15] Jim Yardley, “Pope and Russian Orthodox Leader Meet in Historic Step,” New York Times, February 12, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/13/world/americas/pope-arrives-in-cuba-for-historic-meeting-with-russian-orthodox-leader.html?_r=0, September 14, 2016, emphasis added. Apparently, the writer knows that the pope is both a religious as well as a political leader.

[16] “Ouroboros,” Encyclopædia Britanica, August 16, 2016, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Ouroboros, September 14, 2016.

[17] Brandon Showalter, “Together 2016: Pope Francis Urges Millennials to ‘Find the One Who Can Give You an Answer to Your Restlessness,’” Christian Post, July 16, 2016, http://www.christianpost.com/news/together-2016-pope-francis-urges-millennials-to-find-the-one-who-can-give-you-an-answer-to-your-restlessness166598/#q0LzrS5JSEvtIxmu.99, September 14, 2016.

[18] See http://resetmovement.com/, September 14, 2016.

[19] See JNS, “Muslim, Christian, Jewish Leaders Plan Interfaith Worship Center in Jerusalem,” July 1, 2016, http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/70931/muslim-christian-jewish-leaders-plan-interfaith-worship-center-jerusalem/#IZ9z5C17FzjfyMOy.97, September 14, 2016. Emphasis added.

[20] See “Historic House of Prayer Uniting Christians, Jews and Muslims,” The Philadelphia Jewish Voice, August 12, 2016, http://pjvoice.org/2016/08/12/historic-house-of-prayer-uniting-christians-jews-and-muslims/#.V-LQczX3hER, September 14, 2016. Emphasis added.

[21] “Papal Document Brings Code of Canon Law into Line with Law of Eastern Catholic Churches,” Catholic World News, September 15, 2016, http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=29354, September 22, 2016.

[22] “Catholic-Orthodox Commission Reaches Agreement on Primacy,” Catholic World News, September 22, 2016, http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=29420, September 22, 2016.

[23] See John W. Robbins, “Religious Wars of the 21st Century,” The Trinity Review, August, 2006.

J.C. Ryle: “No peace with Rome…”

“…The spurious liberality of the day we live in helps on the Romeward tendency. It is fashionable now to say that all sects should be equal, that all creeds should be regarded with equal favor and respect, and that there is a substratum of common truth at the bottom of all kinds of religion, whether Buddhism, Mohammadanism or Christianity! The consequence is that myriads of ignorant folks begin to think there is nothing peculiarly dangerous in the tenets of papists — any more than in the tenets of Methodists, Independents, Presbyterians or Baptists, and that we ought to let Romanism alone, and never expose its unscriptural and Christ-dishonoring character.

The consequences of this changed tone of feeling, I am bold to say, will be most disastrous and mischievous, unless it can be checked. Once let popery get her foot again on the neck of England — and there will be an end of all our national greatness! God will forsake us, and we shall sink to the level of Portugal and Spain!

With Bible reading discouraged,
with private judgment forbidden,
with the way to Christ’s cross narrowed or blocked up,
with priestcraft re-established,
with auricular confession set up in every parish,
with monasteries and nunneries dotted over the land,
with women everywhere kneeling like serfs and slaves at the feet of clergymen,
with schools and colleges made seminaries of Jesuitism,
with free thought denounced and anathematized,
with all these things — the distinctive manliness and independence of the British character will gradually dwindle, wither, pine away and be destroyed, and England will be ruined! And all these things, I firmly believe, will come unless the old feeling about the value of Protestantism can be revived.

I warn all who read this message, and I warn my fellow churchmen in particular, that the times require you to awake and be on your guard. Beware of Romanism, and beware of any religious teaching which, wittingly or unwittingly, paves the way to it. I beseech you to realize the painful fact that the Protestantism of this country is gradually ebbing away, and I entreat you, as Christians and patriots to resist the growing tendency to forget the blessings of the English Reformation.

For Christ’s sake, for the sake of the Church of England, for the sake of our country, for the sake of our children — let us not drift back to Roman Catholic ignorance, superstition, priestcraft and immorality! Our fathers tried Popery long ago, for centuries, and threw it off at last with disgust and indignation. Let us not turn the clock back and return to Egypt. Let us have no peace with Rome — until Rome abjures her errors, and is at peace with Christ. Until Rome does that, the vaunted reunion of Western churches, which some talk of, and press upon our notice, is an insult to Christianity.

Read your Bibles and store your minds with scriptural arguments. A Bible-reading laity is a nation’s surest defense against error….

I entreat my readers, beside the Bible and Articles — to read history, and see what Rome did in days gone by. Read how she trampled on liberties, plundered your forefathers pockets, and kept the whole nation of England ignorant, superstitious and immoral….

And do not forget that Rome never changes. It is her boast and glory that she is infallible, and always the same.

Read facts, standing out at this minute on the face of the globe, if you will not read history. What has made Italy and Sicily what they were until very lately? Popery. What has made the South American states what they are? Popery. What has made Spain and Portugal what they are? Popery. What has made Ireland what she is in Munster, Leinster and Connaught? Popery. What makes Scotland, the United States, and our own beloved England the powerful, prosperous countries they are, and I pray God they may long continue? I answer, unhesitatingly, Protestantism, a free Bible and the principles of the Reformation. Oh, think twice before you cast aside the principles of the Reformation! Think twice before you give way to the prevailing tendency to favor popery and go back to Rome!

The Reformation . . .
found Englishmen steeped in ignorance — and left them in possession of knowledge;
found them without Bibles — and placed a Bible in every parish;
found them in darkness — and left them in comparative light;
found them priest-ridden — and left them enjoying the liberty which Christ bestows;
found them strangers to the blood of atonement, to faith and grace and real holiness — and left them with the key to these things in their hands;
found them blind — and left them seeing,
found them slaves — and left them free!

Forever let us thank God for the Reformation! It lighted a candle which we ought never to allow to be extinguished or to burn dim. Surely I have a right to say that the times require of us a renewed sense of the evils of Romanism, and of the enormous value of the Protestant Reformation!”

-J.C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (1879).

John Gill on Revelation 18:4

“‘And I heard another voice from heaven,….’ Either of another, or of the same angel, or rather of God, or Christ himself, since the persons addressed are called his people:

‘saying, come out of her, my people;’ meaning either his elect ones, till now uncalled, being such whom God had chosen for his people, and were so by virtue of the covenant of grace, were given to Christ as his people, and were redeemed by him, though, till this call, in an unconverted state; or else such who had been secretly called by the grace of God, but had not made a public profession of the Gospel, nor bore an open testimony against the Romish idolatry; for as the Lord had a righteous Lot in Sodom, and saints where Satan’s seat was, Rome Pagan, so he will have a people in Rome Papal, at the time when its destruction draws near; and these wilt be called out, not only in a spiritual sense, to quit the communion of the church, to forsake its idolatries, and not touch the unclean thing, separate themselves from her, and bear a testimony against her doctrines and worship, but in a literal sense, locally; they shall be bid to come out of her, as Lot was ordered to go out of Sodom before its burning, and the people of the Jews out of Babylon before the taking of it, Jeremiah 50:8 to which reference is here had: and as the Christians were called out of Jerusalem before the destruction of it: this shows the particular knowledge the Lord has of his people, be they where they will, and the gracious care he takes of them, that they perish not with others; and that it is his will they should be a separate people from the rest of the world; and this call of his sufficiently justifies the Protestants in their separation from the church of Rome, and every separation from any apostate church;

‘that ye be not partakers of her sins’: by conniving at them, or committing the same; and all such are partakers of them, and have fellowship with these unfruitful works of darkness, that are in the communion of that church; and those that dwell at Rome are in great danger of being so, and cannot well avoid it: yea, even those that only go to see it, and stay but for a time in it, and that not only through the strength and influence of example, but through the force of power and authority:

‘and that ye receive not of her plagues’; or punishments; the seven last plagues, which belong to her, the vials of which will be poured out upon one or other of the antichristian states, and the fifth particularly will fall upon Rome, the seat of the beast, and is what is here referred to.”

John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible