Arminian Today

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Dr. John MacArthur on Critiquing the Catholic Church

Here is a great post from Dr. John MacArthur on critiquing the Roman Catholic Church.  The Catholic Church is set to appoint a new pope.  How should disciples of Christ feel about this?  I believe Dr. MacArthur’s post is right on the mark about this.  Both Calvin and Arminius had very harsh words for the Catholic Church and both viewed the pope as the “spirit of the antichrist.”  I am reading some evangelicals who are fasting and praying for the Catholic Church, for the Lord to lead them in selecting a new pope.  What we need to be doing is praying for the gospel to radically save Catholics and for Bible-believing missionaries in Catholic nations to preach the gospel and see souls saved (1 Timothy 2:1-7).  This should be our heart, to see people saved by God’s grace through faith and apart from good works (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).

Can you imagine telling the great Reformers such as John Knox, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, Calvin, Arminius, or Wycliffe that you were praying for the Catholic Church as they select a new pope?  Their reaction would probably be one of, “Praying for what?  His salvation?”  Can you imagine, if you could, speaking to the countless martyrs who shed their blood for the cause of Christ against the Catholic Church in books such as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and telling them that you find no disagreement with the modern Catholic Church?

Friends, let us not fool ourselves.  Catholics need the gospel.  We are justified by grace alone, by faith alone, in Christ alone.  This is the heart of the Reformation and are we willing to lay that aside for false unity?  The gospel is what unites and the gospel is what divides.

Arminius saved his harshest words for the Pope writing:

First. The name of the Adulterer and The Pimp of the Church is his.

(1.) He is the Adulterer of the church, both by the public and mutual profession of each other; because he calls the [Roman Catholic] church his and she neither disowns the arrogance of this title nor is afraid of the odium [attached to such assumption,] and he is the adulterer in reality. For he practices spiritual adultery with the church, and she in return with him. He commands the apocryphal writings to be accounted divine and canonical; the ancient Latin version of the Scriptures, [commonly called] the vulgate, to be every where received as the true original, and under no pretense whatever to be rejected; his own interpretations of the Scriptures to be embraced with the most undoubting faith; and unwritten traditions to be honoured with an affection and reverence equal to that evinced for the written word of God. He enacts and rescinds laws that pertain to faith and morals, and binds them as fetters on consciences. He promises and offers plenary indulgences, and the remission of all sins, through the plenitude of his power. “He exalteth himself above all that is worshipped,” and offers himself as some god to be adored with religious worship. In all these acts the church, deceived by his artifices, complies with his wishes. He is, therefore, the Adulterer of the church.

(2.) But he is also the Pimp or Pander of the church, because he acts towards her as the author, persuader, impelling exciter and procurer of various spiritual adulteries committed, or to be hereafter committed, with different husbands, with angels, Mary and other deceased saints, with images of God, of Christ, of the Holy Ghost, of the cross, of angels, of Mary, and of saints; with the bread in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper; and with other inanimate objects.

X. To him likewise belongs the name of The False Prophet, whom the Scripture calls “the tail,” in opposition to “the head;” (Isa. ix, 15;) and this, whether it be received in a general acceptation, or in a particular sense and restricted to a certain and determinate person.

(1.) In its general meaning, whether it signifies him who teaches falsehood without arrogating to himself the name of a prophet, or him who falsely boasts of being a prophet, the latter of which seems to be the proper signification of the word. (2 Pet. ii, 1; Acts xiii, 6.) For, first, he partly introduced into the church many false dogmas; and partly those which were introduced when such a great mystery of iniquity was finished, he defends, maintains and propagates. Of this kind, the dogmas concerning the insufficiency of the scriptures without traditions, to prove and confirm ever necessary truth, and to confute all errors; that it is of the last necessity unto salvation for every human creature to be under subjection to the Roman pontiff; that the bread in the Lord’s supper is transubstantiated, or changed in substance, into the body of Christ; that in the mass Christ is daily offered by the priest as a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the living and of the dead; that man is justified before God, partly by faith, and partly by works; that there is a purgatory, into which the souls of those enter who are not yet sufficiently purified, and that they are released from it by prayers, intercessions, watchings, alms-deeds, indulgences, &c. In the Second sense, this epithet is due to him, because he says that he is a prophet, who, on account of the perpetual assistance of the Holy Spirit, which is attached to that chair, cannot possibly err in things which pertain to faith and morals.

(2.) But it also belongs to him in the restricted meaning of the word; because the Roman pontiff is “the false prophet who works miracles before the beast, (Rev. xix, 20,) “out of whose mouth comes out three unclean spirits like frogs,” (xvi, 13,) and who is not improperly understood to be “the tail of the great red dragon, that drew the third part of the stars of heaven.” (xii, 4.)

Charles Spurgeon’s advice regarding how to pray for the Pope is as follows:

“It is the bounden duty of every Christian to pray against Antichrist and as to what Antichrist is no sane man ought to raise a question. If it be not the Popery in the Church of Rome, there is nothing in the world that can be called by that name. . .It wounds Christ, because it robs Christ of His glory, because it puts sacramental efficacy in the place of His atonement and lifts a piece of bread into the place of the Savior and a few drops of water into the place of the Holy Spirit and puts a mere fallible man like ourselves up as the Vicar of Christ on earth. If we pray against it, because it is against Him, we shall love the persons though we hate their errors; we shall love their souls though we loathe and detest their dogmas. And so the breath of our prayers will be sweetened because we turn our faces toward Christ when we pray.”

Amen!  Let us love Catholics but let us love them enough to pray for their eyes to be opened to the truth of salvation and to pray that many Catholics hear and believe the gospel (Romans 10:4).

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/12/2013 at 1:29 PM

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