In all history there is perhaps no more singular parallel than that which exists between Israel and the Roman Catholic Church.
Lust for Power
Both Israel and the Church had God for their founder. Both also soon became subject to attacks by Satan.
While Satan’s most frequent temptation is probably that against the flesh, his most potent attack consists in leading men into the sin by which he himself fell, namely, lust for power. “I will be like the most High,” he thundered in heaven. “Ye shall be as god’s,” he whispered to Eve. “You shall be the rulers of this world,” he prompted Israel and the Church. It was the very temptation with which Satan assailed Christ Himself: “All these things (all the kingdoms of the world—world power) I will give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Matt. 4:9).
Both Israel and the church bent the knee to power-offering Satan. Nor was their fall so difficult a task for Satan as at first it might seem. He had already won over to his rebellion a host of angels. The fall of Israel and the church was brought about slowly and gradually, beginning first with individuals in power. There is probably not one man in a thousand who, having once tasted power, will not covet more power, especially if he be an ecclesiastic. It is therefore no surprise that both Israel and the church lent a willing ear to Satan. Since that day the “church” has gone far on the road to world domination. The name “Roman Catholic” is well chosen, for the “church” is steeped in the empire spirit of pagan Rome, while “Catholic” expresses more its ambition for world rule rather than its factual global existence.
In the development and growth of this Satan-inspired illusion of world rule the most effective agents and promoters were of course the proud, arrogant, power-loving ecclesiastics. Step by step a religio-political machine came into being. It created a sharp distinction between people and clergy, consisting of various ranks, the Sanhedrin being the official ruling body.
In much the same manner the “church” came into being. The power-greedy overseers of the early Church soon emerged as “bishops,” whose successors have since raised themselves to such dizzy heights as even the most ambitious of the first bishops could never have conceived. The “church” outdid Israel in the multiplicity of officials and dignitaries in the oriental splendor of their vesture, coats-of-arms and self-imposed exalted titles. The high priest of old was a mere figurehead compared to the omnipotent pope bearing the pagan title of “pontifex maximus,” and who in his court resembles more an oriental potentate than the poor, humble, homeless Christ whose “vicar” he claims to be. The Sanhedrin finds its counterpart in the “sacred” College of Cardinals who rank as “princes” of the “church.”
Pomp and Glory
Another conspicuous exposition of organized religion was the Temple. It had become a showplace allegedly serving the honor and glory of God but in reality the glorification of the priesthood. The “church” also has its showplaces in its massive basilicas, lavish cathedrals, and stately churches.
Numerous surpliced flunkeys and lackeys flit about performing endless ceremonies for the greater honor and glory of the “church,” to impress the “subject” and regale a pomp-loving world, for the great enlightenment of which radio and television have been made ritualistic accessories. These magnificent piles of stone and marble, and the spectacular cultus within are flaunting proofs that the “church” no longer worships God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). It has long ago discarded I Peter 2:5 and I Cor. 3:17. “This people (like Israel) honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matt. 15:8).
Money, providing the means to influence and power, soon began to play a larch role in organized religion. The Jerusalem temple had been turned into a “den of thieves” (Matt. 21:13). Similar traffic is carried on by the “church.” Money was the real god of Israel and is in even greater degree that of the “church.” Jerusalem had nothing to compare with the huge variety of “religious articles” available in every city with a considerable Catholic population. Neither had Israel so many “shrines,” and certainly the Jewish jubilee year as proclaimed in Lev. 25:10 was something entirely different from the Roman “Holy Year,” which is based rather on the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem made by Jews from all over the world, allegedly to keep the feast, but in reality to fill the priestly coffers.
Corruption, the offspring of the power-lover, has a permanent home in the “church” as it did in Israel. Here again, history brands the former as the worst offender and belies its claim to holiness. The “church” claims to be holy because its founder is holy. So might Satan claim holiness because he came from God. Moreover, Christ never founded the Roman Catholic Church any more than God produced Satan. It claims to be holy in its purpose, but that purpose has long ago been smothered by its imperialism. It claims to be holy because it has produced saints. That there have been saintly men and women in the Church, as there were in Israel, there is no doubt; but they became so in spite of the “church” rather than because of it, even greater and more authentic saints than some of those holding canonized rank.
Tradition vs. God’s Word
Tradition became one of the leading laws of both Israel (Isa. 29:13) and the “church.” It is the inevitable offshoot of religion organized by man for man. To make religion fit into the blueprint of world rule, it partly set aside God’s Word, partly distorted it, and partly introduced new teachings which became “sacred tradition.” Not once do we read in Acts that the apostles appealed to any “tradition” in their preaching, but solely to God’s Word in the Scriptures. Such was also Paul’s instruction to Timothy (II Tim. 3:15-17). The “church” which claims to be apostolic threw apostolic practice into the ashcan, introduced its own teachings and practices and sanctified them with the hallow term “tradition,” and so made void God’s Word (Matt. 15:1-9). To the “church” apply equally the words Isaiah addressed to Israel: “We have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves” (Isa. 28:15).
Politics and the Sword
Like Israel, the “church” also became a political organization. Its headquarters, Vatican City, swarms with envoys, ambassadors, ministers and diplomats from every nation. Its nuncios, legates, and cardinals are found in every part of the world. Loyal “subjects” and “friends” are found in all departments affecting public life and world opinion. Their business is to keep headquarters well informed, promote the “church’s” policies for world rule and prevent any expos¾ of the “church” and its designs. Today it is the world’s most powerful political machine, in comparison to which all others pale into insignificance.
Christ never meddled in politics. He did not speak the language of politicians. To fulfill the work for which the Father had sent Him, Christ sought no entente cordial, made no concordats with either the secular or religious authorities. He neither compromised nor curried favor. His message admitted no arbitration and begged no patronage. In the same spirit and manner the apostles continued Christ’s commission to them.
The “church,” however, being no longer concerned with the kingdom of God but with a kingdom of its own, created its own government and political machine under the mask of religion. This made alliances, concordats, and deals with secular powers unavoidable and indispensable. In its greed for power, the “church” never scrupled to consort with any secular power, however radical and godless.
Neither Christ nor the apostles needed a sword. Christ told Peter to put away the sword, for he that takes the sword shall perish by it (Matt. 26:52). The kingdom of God with its message of peace abhors the sword. It is the weapon of the “prince of this world” (John 14:30), the “murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). Delivered by him to his children who do his will. All empires are founded by the sword and sustained by it. It was the sword that founded the “Holy Roman Empire.”
Persecution in one form or another marks the history of both Israel and the “church.” The faithful prophets sent by God were the objects of bitter hatred and many were killed, including Christ (Heb. 11:35-38). In the prosecution of its imperialistic program the “church” trampled on its own “subjects” no less than on its “enemies.” In the beginning Christians read the Scripture and were encouraged to do so by the apostles. They searched the Scriptures to verify for themselves what the apostles had taught them (Acts 17:11). Their exalted “successors,” however, condemned their “subjects” for reading the Bible, suppressed its reading for many centuries, and even now tolerate only their own version, properly doctored by explanatory notes. The momentous theory that no one can understand the Bible but the “church” remained undiscovered until said “church” came into being.
Dear God, how exceedingly you erred for thousands of years in revealing your Word! So did Christ in telling his hearers to “search the Scriptures” (John 5:39), and the apostles who exhorted the believers to read the Scriptures. Encyclicals, pastoral letters, and tradition are fare more important now than God’s Word in the Bible.
The “church” brought oppression and persecution to its foes by the instrumentality of secular governments. Whenever it was unable to offer resistance directly or indirectly, it raised the cry of “persecution.” Most of the opposition to the Church arose from the political meddling of the “church” which created much distrust, odium and injury for its “subjects.” The “church” has inflicted more suffering on the Church than any other persecutor.
Rejection of Christ
In aspiring to world rule, both Israel and the “church” turned away from God and Christ, the rightful ruler. Like Israel, the “church” wants Christ no more than it does a Caesar. But just as Moses served nicely as a front for Israel, so now does Christ for the “church.” If Christ were to come on earth today, the “church” would shout Him down as an anti-Christ as Israel cried Him down as anti-Caesar. What a contrast between the Acts of the Apostles and the history of the “church!” If the apostles and their “successors” were to meet today they would be utter strangers to one another. The official title of the “church” would be a puzzle to the apostles. There was no “Roman Catholic” Church in their time. Followers of Christ were then known as Christians, not Roman Catholics. Still less would they conclude from the title that the “church” had any connection with Christ. And if some “subject” should insist that it has, the apostles would be dumbfounded to note the glaring contrast between the “church” and Christ. It loves the world and the things of the world. It has stricken from its Canon Law God’s Word: “if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15), that “friendship of the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4), that “no man can serve two masters”—the prince of this world and Christ.
The rejection of Christ by Israel brought about its destruction, symbolized by the demolition of the Temple as foretold by Christ (Mt. 24:2). For the same reason the “church” will be destroyed and that will mark the last deadly parallel between Israel and the “church.” The end of the “church” is also foretold by God.
However the “church” will no more believe that prophecy than Israel believed the prophets predicting its doom. “The prince of this world” whom it served so long and so well will not permit it to break its “covenant with. . .hell” (Is. 28:15). Indeed, he has already so petrified it in its colossal pride and conceit and so shackled it with the chains of dogma that it cannot extricate itself without becoming its own executioner. In Is. 28:14-16 we read: “Hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men, that rule this people… because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death (with the killer, Satan), and with hell (have fallen down to worship Satan). When the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come upon us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, (i.e. Christ, cf. Dan. 2:44; Mt. 21:44), a tried stone (i.e. Israel & the Church–“which of you convinceth me of sin?” Jh. 8:46), a precious corner stone (cf. Ps. 118:22; Acts 4:11–“this is my beloved Son” Mt. 3:17), a sure foundation (i.e. decreed by God to be ruler of His kingdom, cf. Ps. 89:34-37).” This stone shall crush Satan and all his seed (Gen. 3:15).
All this we find further verified in the Apocalypse where the “church” is symbolized as a “great harlot. . .clothed round about with purple and scarlet and gilt with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of the abomination and filthiness of her fornication, and on her forehead a name was written: Mystery Babylon the great, the mother of fornication and the abominations of the earth. . .and she shall be made desolate and naked and burned with fire” (Rev. 17:1, 4, 5, 16). The first coming of Christ surprised Israel at the peak of its organized power. That the “church” will also come to utter and everlasting defeat in the midst of its triumphs seems to be indicated by Paul in I Thes. 5:3; cf. Matt. 24:36-39: “when they shall say peace and safety, then shall sudden destruction come upon them.
Testimony withdrawn due to family concerns.
Priests Accused of Genocide
Two Roman Catholic priests from Rwanda are accused of massacring 60 tutsis at the Nyundo Minor Seminary in Gisenyi. If found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity, they could face the death penalty.
Beatification May be Halted
An Israeli parliamentary committee has called a halt to the beatification process of Pius XII, who during the time of the Jewish Holocaust was silent in the face of the horrors. The process to declare the Roman Catholic pope a saint was opened at the Vatican in 1974.
Serbs’ Fear of Croations Fueled
For years, the Roman Catholic Croats and Eastern Orthodox Serbians in Yugoslavia have been embroiled in a savage bloodbath reminiscent of the Crusades. Six days after an urgent suggestion proposed by Richard West, diplomatic correspondent for Britain’s Sunday Telegraph, that “The one man who can and must take action to stop bloodshed in Yougoslavia is Pope John Paul II,” the Roman pontiff brought up the subject while preaching near the Croation border. Having learned that there were visiting Croatian separatists present, he said, “Once again I assure you I am close to your legitimate aspirations, renewing my appeals to the international community so that they can help you in this difficult hour of your history.” Imagine how this went over with the minority of Serbs living in the section of Yugoslavia that the Croats want to peel off as their own country? Like a horror renewed! Many of the battling Roman Catholic Croats are the children of the killers from the Nazi-allied Ustashe party which bore primary responsibility for the genocide of 1.5 million Serbs in the least publicized atrocities in World War II.
“I received your tract at the Promise Keepers event at the San Diego stadium. It was not long after the meeting started that I saw what the tract mentioned. Thank you for printing it.” CA
“Thank you for sending CHALLENGER to me. I do not doubt that you believe in what you are doing, but you are deceived. If you trust Him, God will provide a way for you to be reconciled to His mystical body, the Church, but you must ask with all your heart. You must do this before you die.” IN
“My dad is still Catholic but I believe he is under great conviction. His wife is dying with cancer and their hope is in the eucharist. She thinks that Jesus’ blood is going to mix with her blood and give her eternal life. Please pray for them to be delivered out of that darkness.” OH
Our schedule has left us feeling almost dizzy of late! But Rn. 8:28 and Is. 26:3 have kept us going. Two highlights of our trip to Ohio included an 82 year old RC woman trusting Christ alone for her salvation on a Thursday and then the Lord unexpectedly taking her home on Saturday! Close timing! Another RC lady, whose son had been witnessing to her, talked to me after a service. When it appeared that she was a saved person, I asked when she had been born-again, she replied: “While he (Bart) was speaking.” “Tonight?” “Yes, tonight!” What a great time of rejoicing we had! We also enjoyed fellowship with friends in Ohio and others who came to do jobs on the property. Praise God for sending helpers!
5/3 – Community Baptist Church @ Vista CA
5/13 – Hosting Beth Eden Youth from @ Denver CO
5/17 – Grace & Truth Arabic Church @ Long Beach CA
5/31A – Rheinland Baptist Church @ Kindsbach Germany
5/31P – Eifel Baptist Church @ Herforst Germany
6/3 – Independent Baptist Church @ Wiesbaden Germany
6/3 – Liberty Baptist Church @ Schweinfurt Germany