Archive for the ‘False Gospel’ Category

Does Rome Teach a False Gospel, Let me count the ways! (1 of ?)

June 13, 2012

I was recently asked to consider debating the topic, “That the Roman Catholic Church teaches a false gospel”. I do think that Rome teaches a false gospel, but I don’t think that for just one reason.  There are numerous grounds upon which we can conclude that Rome’s gospel is a false gospel.

In 1301, Boniface VIII wrote Unam Sanctam in which he not only declared that there is no salvation outside the church, comparing the church to Noah’s ark, but made the famous statement: “Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” (Porro subesse Romano Pontifici omni humanae creaturae declaramus dicimus, definimus et pronunciamus omnino esse de necessitate salutis. (full text)) The context of the statement is the subjection of the temporal power of earthly kings to the supreme authority of the pope, as well as the necessity of the “Greeks” (i.e. the Eastern Orthodox) to treat the Bishop of Rome as the supreme earthly spiritual authority.

This statement illustrates one way in which Rome’s gospel is not the apostolic gospel. The apostles never taught what Boniface VIII defines here. This is not an article of faith that was taught either explicitly or implicitly by the apostles, and consequently – even on Aquinas’ definition of papal power – it was not within the pope’s power to define this article of faith (“And since the Church is founded on faith and the sacraments, the ministers of the Church have no power to publish new articles of faith, or to do away with those which are already published, or to institute new sacraments, or to abolish those that are instituted, for this belongs to the power of excellence, which belongs to Christ alone, Who is the foundation of the Church. “) (source and additional discussion)  It is not an article of faith taught by Scripture or one to be found among the teachings of the early church. Unam Sanctam quotes Scripture, to be sure, but it does so inappropriately.

For example, Boniface VIII states:

Therefore, of the one and only Church there is one body and one head, not two heads like a monster; that is, Christ and the Vicar of Christ, Peter and the successor of Peter, since the Lord speaking to Peter Himself said: ‘Feed my sheep’ [Jn 21:17], meaning, my sheep in general, not these, nor those in particular, whence we understand that He entrusted all to him [Peter]. Therefore, if the Greeks or others should say that they are not confided to Peter and to his successors, they must confess not being the sheep of Christ, since Our Lord says in John ‘there is one sheepfold and one shepherd.’

The use of “feed my sheep” without specifying which sheep does not imply that Peter was to feed every sheep.  As Paul writes to the Galatians:

Galatians 2:8
(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)

So we see from Scripture that Paul fed the Gentiles, while Peter ministered to the Jews. 

Likewise, it is true that there is one shepherd, but that shepherd is not Peter, or his successors, but Christ himself.  As it is written:

Psalm 23:1
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Psalm 80:1
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.

Hebrews 13:20
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

Peter himself testifies:

1 Peter 2:25
For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

1 Peter 5:4
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

And, of course, Jesus himself in the context explains who the one shepherd is:

John 10:11
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

John 10:14
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

So, Boniface VIII is right that the church is not a two-headed monster, but the one head is Christ, not Boniface VIII. Peter was not the head of the church, and there is no unique successor of Peter – rather many have succeeded Peter in feeding Christ’s sheep.

Indeed, Boniface VIII himself confessed earlier in the same short work:

We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins, as the Spouse in the Canticles [Sgs 6:8] proclaims: ‘One is my dove, my perfect one. She is the only one, the chosen of her who bore her,’ and she represents one sole mystical body whose Head is Christ and the head of Christ is God [1 Cor 11:3]. In her then is one Lord, one faith, one baptism [Eph 4:5].

This ought to have informed Boniface VIII that Christ alone is the head, and he is not. But notice the strange apparent suggestion that there is one lord “in her”. The “one Lord” that Paul is referring to in Ephesians 4:5 is Christ, not a lord in the church. As it is written:

1 Corinthians 8:6
But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

So, the apostolic faith is that the one Lord of the church is not “in her” but over her. But if someone will insist that Boniface VIII here meant to refer to Christ, not himself, all the worse for Boniface VIII’s later statements!

Boniface also attempts an allegorical exegesis:

There had been at the time of the deluge only one ark of Noah, prefiguring the one Church, which ark, having been finished to a single cubit, had only one pilot and guide, i.e., Noah, and we read that, outside of this ark, all that subsisted on the earth was destroyed.

But the captain of our salvation is not the bishop of Rome, but Christ himself:

Hebrews 2:10
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

And it is the Spirit of truth that guides us into all truth:

John 16:13
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

Moreover, Noah was not the pilot or guide of the ark, for we are told that it was an ark. It is nowhere described as having rudder or helm nor yet a keel. Thus, God alone was the guide and pilot of Noah’s ark.

Thus, it is written:

Genesis 7:18
And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters.

Genesis 8:4
And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.

But Noah remained contained within the ark, so that he could not see to steer, if he had wished to:

Genesis 8:6
And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:

Genesis 8:13
And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.

We can easily add one final example of Boniface VIII’s misuse of Scriptures in this document:

Therefore, if the terrestrial power err, it will be judged by the spiritual power; but if a minor spiritual power err, it will be judged by a superior spiritual power; but if the highest power of all err, it can be judged only by God, and not by man, according to the testimony of the Apostle: ‘The spiritual man judgeth of all things and he himself is judged by no man’ [1 Cor 2:15].

Read the context in 1 Corinthians 2:7-16:

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.

So, here Paul is not describing a singular bishop of Rome, but rather he is referring to himself and the Corinthian believers. It is apparent, therefore, that Boniface VIII has wrenched this phrase about the spiritual man out of its proper context to make it refer uniquely to his office – an office that did not even exist in the time of Paul, as many of Rome’s historians today acknowledge.

I could go on and on, but surely the point has already been made. What Boniface VIII taught as being part of the gospel (“absolutely necessary for salvation”) is a false gospel.


Mike Murdock

September 10, 2011

I recently listened to a presentation by Mike Murdock. I have never heard a more materialistic presentation than his, except perhaps from a multilevel marketing spokesman. God hardly came up, except for Murdoch to deny that God is in control of what happens, that God tells people to give money, and that God can be asked for money.

In fact, the patter was very similar to MLM patter. The long and the short of it is to find a way to get wealthy without actually working for it.

Mike’s presentation was not bolstered by any sound exegesis of Scripture. Instead it was bolstered by vague and unverifiable anecdotes. The closest thing to exegesis was a pseudo-spirtualization of Biblical references to sowing seeds and reaping a harvest.

As with most false teachers, Mike’s presentation had a modicum of truth.  God is pleased when we give to the poor and the church.  God may also reward us in this life for our gifts.  Such a thing is possible.

Yet God does not promise to operate that way.  Indeed, we are encouraged to give in this way:

Ecclesiastes 11:1-2  Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.

Be generous to the poor, give to the church, but don’t expect something in return.  Do it because it is right.


Open Question for Michael Horton

November 13, 2009

Dear Prof. Horton,

In view of your article “Can We Be Confessional and Catholic?” and in view of your recent blurb for a book on the theology of Benedict XVI by Roman Catholic apologist Scott Hahn, we are wondering: Do you agree or disagree that Trent declared the Gospel of Christ to be Anathema and that Benedict XVI is the chief shepherd of another gospel?


UPDATE: A reader named ruberad provided the following quotation:

“As the gavel came down to close the final session of the council of Trent in 1563, Rome had officially, and according to her own commitment down to the present moment irreversibly declared that the gospel announced by the prophets, revealed in and by Christ, and proclaimed by the apostles, was anathema. The most relevant canons are the following…”

(source – 12’54” of this mp3)


That seems to answer the issue of Horton’s orthodoxy, although I’m still disappointed that he has decided to help Hahn sell that particular book. I’ll “close” this question if I get any direct answer from Horton.

Two Reasons I’m not a Romanist

July 12, 2008

Because (1) you can do everything Rome tells you to do and still perish, and (2) the religion of Rome makes no promise to be the unique way to heaven. (link) Now, obviously, these are not the traditional doctrines (pre-Vatican II), but I don’t think I could be a Sedavacantist for other reasons.

Warning: the priest in the video uses some ironic bad language in establishing point (1), and actually goes so far as to claim that atheists and Hindus will probably get to faster than him (an idea that I’ve never seen dogmatically defined anywhere in the documents published by the Vatican).

Second Warning: undoubtedly there are going to be folks who call themselves “Catholics” who disagree with this priest. Of course, 99% of them are not priests themselves. Regardless, even if someone will say that this priest just misrepresents “Catholicism,” then the question is how those who make that claim feel qualified to make it?

I think the answer to that question is intuitive: that we exercise judgment (personal judgment) and appeal to a higher authority. Eventually, though, appeals to higher authority run out. Where’s the stopping point? For the Reformed believer, the answer is – essentially – Scriptures. We accept the Scriptures on faith, and they are the authority by which we determine whether our churches are right. We do that, because Scripture is of greater authority than men – even than the men of the church. We could accept our churches on faith, but then we’d have no protection in the event that our church apostatized.

Since God has not promised to keep individual churches (even the church at Rome) from apostasy, it seems more reasonable to put our faith only in that which is deserving of it, namely the Word of God contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments: because by trusting the Bible we are trusting God who communicated clearly in it.


Mormon Theology from a Mormon

March 1, 2008

When the two young men show up at your door, most will not make a presentation like the one that follows. Nevertheless, for someone wanting to see some of the differences between Christianity and Mormonism (particularly with respect to the Gospel and the afterlife), the following blog entry from Mormon Matters provides some succinct distinctions.

Obviously, I do not endorse Mormonism. Nevertheless, the article may be eye-opening if the only thing you know about Mormonism is that they wear special underwear. (link)

It is key to be aware of the fact that we teach a very different gospel from Mormonism. We teach the pure gospel taught by Jesus and the apostles.


Interview with Great-Great-Granddaughter of Brigham Young

January 26, 2008

I stumbled accross this interview of BY’s descendent who came out of Mormonism. It’s actually a remarkable testimony. Praise be to the Lord!

It’s worth listening to, even if you have time only for the first few minutes (link).

It actually exposes the same flaw that we see in other false gospels:

1. Undermine the value or the reliability of Scripture.
2. Identify your church’s teaching as a necessary supplement.
3. Complain against those who wish to return to the Bible alone.


A Different Apologetic Approach – ANON vs. Scientology

January 26, 2008

As many of you may already be aware, a hacker group known as “ANON” (as in “Anonymous”) has recently declared war on Scientology. (open letter by video here) They are a very capable and elite group of hackers. Their stated goal is eradication of Scientology from the Internet. This not their first mission, and they have been generally successful in their past missions, from what we know.

Scientology is evil, and it is good news that it is being opposed. On the other hand, while ANON is taking a stand against an evil organization, we must not therefore fully endorse ANON’s methods or mentality, for both are contrary to a Christian worldview.

1. Christians must have a respect for the civil government.

Many of ANON’s techniques are illegal. There is no denying this, and ANON would certainly agree. ANON may seek to justify the illegality of its actions by appealling to the end (goal) of the actions. The ends, however, do not justify the means.

2. Christians must forgive

We have been forgiven much. A proper understanding of the sinfulness of our own sin should make any Christian willing to forgive others. ANON’s anthem is “We do not forgive, we do not forget …” but this is not Christianity’s message.

3. Christians must seek the glory of God

ANON’s message is that they have chosen to take down Scientology for a variety of reasons, but one of the top reasons is for their own amusement. I believe that this stated reason is sincere on their part. Scientology represents a very challenging target: it is far more litigious, technologically savvy and resourceful than virtually any other body. To defeat Scientology on the Internet would represent an enormous feather in their collective hat. Furthermore, Scientology represents much that hacker world hates most: censorship.

Christian apologetics, however, must be motivated by the glory of God. We share with ANON the goal of eradicating Scientology, but we have radically different reasons. We oppose Scientology because it is a false gospel.


It is difficult to predict the ultimate outcome of ANON’s attempts to destroy Scientology. I cannot think that it will be entirely successful (Scientology is very well connected politically and very wealthy), but I would be happy to be wrong. Nevertheless, unless those burdened with Scientology are brought to Christ, it will all be in vain. There is little value in removing someone from a false gospel, if they are not brought to the truth.


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