Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 14, 1961
NUMBER 32, PAGE 4,12-13a

Errors And Dangers Of Roman Catholicism --- No. 7

Frank Van Dyke, Henderson, Tennessee (From Spiritual Life, September, 1961)

In this issue, we should like to discuss some of the current, present day threats and dangers of Roman Catholicism.

The first danger and threat which we wish to mention is this: It is a system of error which will condemn the souls of men. We mention this one first, because if the system did not endanger the souls of men, whatever else might be said about it might not be so bad after all. But our study thus far has shown beyond a doubt that Catholicism is a mixture of elements of scripture teaching, traces of paganism, a vast amount of human tradition, and a trace of old Judaism. In the Catholic religion, we see a mixture of all those elements. Enough truth to give it the appearance of something benevolent and good for humanity, yet corrupted by human tradition and vestiges of paganism to the point that, like all other systems of error, the souls of men are jeopardized thereby. That is my main complaint against Catholicism, just as it is against all other systems of error. The curses and anathemas in the word of God against the systems, creeds, doctrines and corruptions of men must forevermore rest upon this system known as Roman Catholicism. When Jesus said, "In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men," he expressed a principle that condemns the system which we have been studying. The same condemnation was pronounced upon this system in Galatians 1:8. We read, "Though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema." As long as Catholicism stands, it will therefore remain a constant threat to the souls of men.

The next danger which I mention is that which is posed by Catholicism in that the very nature of that system makes it impossible to reform it. She claims to be infallible and immutable, and boasts that she has never changed and will never change her system of faith and doctrine. We saw in our last issue that such a boast is not substantiated by the facts, yet such a claim by her would make her adverse and immune to the possibility of ever getting her to reverse a teaching and acknowledge that she has been teaching error. Through the centuries, with all the accumulations of traditionalism, pagan practices, the addition of new dogmas along the way, though they disclaim the fact that they are new ones, are like a snow-ball that rolls along getting larger and larger. The very nature of the system makes it impossible for her to throw off any of those matters of faith and doctrine. If she were to do that, she would automatically be giving up her claim to infallibility. Her system closes the mind and forbids any admission that would say, "Well, we just made a mistake on that One."

That you may know that I am not just making those charges on my own, let me give to you another statement from that book THE FAITH OF OUR FATHERS by Cardinal Gibbons, page 74: "If only one instance could be given in which the church ceased to teach a doctrine of faith which was previously held, that single instance would be the death blow to her claim of infallibility....her record in the past ought to be sufficient warrant that she will tolerate no doctrinal variations in the future." There you have it, then, in the very words of one of their most prominent cardinals. If there can be found just one time in which they ever changed a doctrine of faith, such would be an admission that they were in error in some other things, especially the doctrine of infallibility. Hence, you can see why we say that the very nature of the system makes it impossible ever to reform it. As an example, take their practice of sprinkling and pouring for baptism. At the council of Ravenna in 1311 A.D., they accepted sprinkling and pouring as baptism. Since that time this practice has been the official doctrine of faith of the Catholic Church. They cannot afford to say that they are wrong about it, for such an admission would be the "death blow to her claim of infallibility." In spite of the fact that the Bible teaches that baptism is a "burial and a resurrection" — Romans 6:3, 4, and that when men were baptized, they "went down into the water" — Acts 8:38, the Catholics cannot afford to admit that they are wrong. They are saddled with a false doctrine of faith which they must hold to the end of time, or else render a "death blow to the doctrine of infallibility." "Her record in the past ought to be sufficient warrant that she will tolerate" no such admission! I insist that this is one of the vicious dangers of the Catholic system.

You know, it is difficult to get people to throw off those practices of error even when, theoretically, they admit the possibility of such, because of prejudice and pride. But when you get the minds of people so disciplined and their thinking so moulded that they have even closed the door to a remote possibility of accepting error, I believe you have a fortress and a barrier that is almost impossible to tear down from within insofar as reformation of the system itself is concerned.

The next danger and error of the Catholic system that I want to mention is this: The Catholic Church claims absolute power both spiritual and temporal. The Catholic Church still claims the inherent right to control, not only the spiritual lives of people, but also the governments of earth involving the temporal and civil affairs of our life. Now, I am not engaging in wild claims and accusations, and I propose again to give you their claims in their own words. The union of church and state is one of the fundamental and cardinal, doctrines of the Catholic Church. I know that sometime you can find statements from Catholics themselves that seem to be contrary to that. They will talk about the spiritual realm and the civil realm as being separated in some sense, and unless you are acquainted with their teachings and understand how that they can use words and phrases with certain qualifications that may be a little misleading. What do they mean when they talk about church and civil powers being separate?

There are the ecclesiastics — the clergy, then there are the people who actually hold the civil offices; hence, they can talk about the two being different. But what is not revealed is that in the final analysis, they think the church should exercise the same control over the temporal rulers as she does over the ecclesiastes. Here is a quotation from the Great Encyclical Letters prepared by Leo XIII quoting Gregory XVI: "Nor can we hope for happier results, either for religion or for the civil government, from the wishes from those who desire that the church be separated from the state, and the concord between secular and ecclesiastical authority be dissolved." Now what was he saying? He was saying that we can never hope for better things for the church and for civil government if we listen to those who desire for the church and civil government to be separated. Let us notice another one. This is a statement from Leo XIII himself: "Catholics cannot be too careful in defending themselves against such a separation." Leo XIII was discussing separation of church and state. As I have said before, you will find statements sometimes that recognize some kind of a separation between church and state, but the misleading thing about it is that such separation is not the kind that we are talking about when we advocate separation of church and state. Theirs is a separation only in the sense that there are two wings of power or influence but are not separated in the sense of the church exercising no power or control over the temporal rulers, but they affirm that the church should exercise absolute power over temporal rulers or governments.

In his book FAITH OF OUR FATHERS, Cardinal Gibbons made this statement: "A pope's letter is the most weighty authority in the church." Now these letters which we have just quoted parts therefrom are from popes themselves concerning the idea of separation of church and state. If their letters are the "most weighty authority in the church," then certainly what they say about separation of church and state takes precedence over what any other Catholic authority might say and nullifies Catholic propaganda to the contrary. Does that mean that we are charging the propagandists among them with falsehood? No, not outright falsehood, but in the final analysis, it is deception, for they use the term "separation" in a special sense. There is the idea. When they say they believe in separation of church and state, they are not using the term in the sense in which we mean separation of the two. They use the term in the sense that the two exist and are not identical, but they do not go on to tell you that the one is to have absolute power over the other.

I think the climax, perhaps, to this idea can be given in matters of more recent date. You no doubt have heard of the books published by Mr. Paul Blanchard. If you have not read those books, I should like to recommend that you read them, One of those books is called AMERICAN FREEDOM AND CATHOLIC POWER. A second volume is called, I believe, DEMOCRACY, COMMUNISM, & CATHOLIC POWER. They are books which have been published in the last few years by Mr. Blanchard. He gives a cold objective, and I think a fair and impartial analysis of the Catholic problem. I want to read to you a few words from Mr. Blanchard himself in the preface of his book, AMERICAN FREEDOM & CATHOLIC POWER. "It (Catholic influence) must be reckoned with as an organ of political and cultural power. It is in that sense that I shall discuss Catholic power in this book. The Catholic problem as I see it is not primarily a religious problem. It is an institutional and political problem." In other words, Mr. Blanchard was saying, "I am not attacking the Catholic system as a religion. I am attacking its cultural and institutional power and influence." He says it is an institutional and political problem. Now, then, that brought forth an answer from one of the prominent men in the Catholic organization. This answer was written by Thos. J. McCarthy, Director of the Bureau of Information of National Catholic Welfare Conference and was published in Newsweek Magazine, June 4, 1951. Remember now that Mr. McCarthy was replying to Mr. Paul Blanchard's distinction between the Catholic religion and Catholic power and influence in the institutions and organizations of our national life. Let us see what Mr. McCarthy said: "Blanchard's assumption that a distinction can be made between the church's religious life and what he chooses to call her system of power, underlies the whole thesis of his book. Actually Blanchard's target is the Catholic religion. The authoritarian spirit which he fears and denounces derives from the staggering claims of the church herself." Do you get what he is saying? He says that Mr. Blanchard made an assumption that there is a distinction between the Catholic religion and her system of power and influence; that he cannot attack one without attacking the other; that actually Blanchard's target is the Catholic religion. The reason is clear. They are inseparable. "The Catholic Church refuses to restrict her activities to the devotion and spiritual life of her members, because her religion, a part of it, is this other exercise of this power even beyond the religious activities of her communicants to govern and influence and control every phase of their being." Don't you see there is an acknowledgment from a prominent man in the Catholic organization today that Catholic power and influence in the political, economical, and social affairs of life is an inherent, integral part of the Catholic religion itself. You cannot separate them. To attack one is to attack the other.

Let me give you another statement from Cardinal Gibbons: "The sole end of the temporal power has been to secure for the pope independence and freedom in the governing of the church. The Holy Father must either be a Sovereign or a subject." The temporal power therefore is looked upon by Cardinal Gibbons as a tool to secure the Sovereignty of the pope who in turn is subject to none upon the earth. Section 6 of Pope Pius's syllabus condemns as one of the principle errors of our time the statement that the church ought to be separated from the state and the state from the church. One of the basic principles of democracy is that the church must be separated from the state and the state from the church, and here is one of the articles of the syllabus of one of the popes of Rome to the effect that this is one of the principle errors of our time.

Without rancor, without bitterness, with a desire to be honest and fair with everyone, I think we are justified in this statement: The principles of the Catholic system are diametrically opposed to the principles of our democratic way of life and our institutions of freedom such as the freedom of the press, freedom of speech, our public school system and other things which we cherish so much. Do not be deceived into thinking that this is theoretically a claim, and that they are making no effort to accomplish such. Listen again to a statement from Gibbons talking about the papacy having lost its temporal power: "Have not numbers of popes before Pius IX been forcibly rejected from their see, and have they not been reinstated in their temporal authority? What has happened so often before may and will happen again. For our part, we have every confidence that ere long the clouds which now overshadow the civil throne of the pope will be removed by the breath of a righteous God and that his temporal power will be re-established on a more permanent basis than ever." That was the hope of a cardinal in the Catholic Church in the last century.

Listen again. Here is a statement from a work called the LIFE OF LEO XII: "But ecclesiastics should at the same time resume their ancient authority and an interdict or an excommunication should make kings and kingdoms tremble as in the days of Nicholas I or Gregory VII." Gregory VII is Hildebrand, the pope who had so much power that he could make Henry IV, the emperor of Germany, stand bare-foot in the snow seeking an audience with him. That is the kind of power that Gregory VII had and the kind that this author in his LIFE OF LEO XII said should be resumed.

I think this gets before us the ambitions, desires and aspirations of the Catholic Church today, and it should awaken us to the dangers which face us.