See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8, ESV)
The Roman Catholic Church Speaks
We will begin this Apprising Ministries short piece concerning apostate Roman Catholicism by looking at what the Church of Rome herself has to say about her “infallible definitions” of her dogma i.e. essential doctrines. First we’ll examine the document Unam Sanctum — “a Bull of Pope Boniface VIII promulgated November 18, 1302.” And this has never been changed, nor has the Roman Catholic Church ever denied it—even to this day.
Pope Boniface the VIII said:
Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to maintain that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic. We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins,… 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].
We venerate this Church [of Rome] as one,… 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, [the Pope]… For since the Apostle said: “There is no power except from God and the things that are, are ordained of God” [Rom 13:1-2],…
Hence we must recognize the more clearly that spiritual power surpasses in dignity and in nobility any temporal power whatever, as spiritual things surpass the temporal…This authority, however, (though it has been given to man and is exercised by man), is not human but rather divine, granted to Peter by a divine word and reaffirmed to him (Peter) and his successors by the One Whom Peter confessed, the Lord saying to Peter himself, ‘Whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in Heaven’ etc., [Mt 16:19].
Therefore whoever resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God [Rom 13:2],…Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff. (Online source, emphasis added).
The late Dr. Walter Martin who founded the Christian Research Institute was a recognized authority in the field of Comparative Religion. He informs us that this papal decree Unam Sanctam was declared by Cardinal Henry Edward Manning—himself “an authority on papal bulls and decrees”—to be “infallible and beyond all doubt an act ex cathedra” (Roman Catholicism, Walter Martin’s Religious InfoNet).
Ex cathedra means that when the Roman Pontiff—the Pope—speaks “from the Chair of Peter,” with his alleged supreme apostolic authority as the supposedVicar of Christ, Head of the universal Church, and makes a decree on faith and morals, this statement would therefore be considered an infallible decree.
And as such, Unam Sanctum has to be considered as “irreformable.” The fact is that this Bull from Pope Boniface the VIII is indeed considered official dogma by the Church of Rome even to this day. Which, of course, would be understandable from the point of view of Roman Catholic theology. After-all, how could one ever change an infallible doctrine by the supreme representative of Jesus Christ on earth!
Now this would seem clear enough but most people you are going to run into, whether they are active Roman Catholics or just “cultural” ones, will simply tell you that they personally don’t believe all of that. And we would have no reason to doubt that this indeed may be so. However, what they don’t know is that what you’ve just read is the official position of the Church of Rome and the individual Roman Catholic does not have the freedom to deny this. Not if they wish to actually be Roman Catholics.
First we need to make sure that you understand that James Akin writing for Catholic Answers, which is actually a pro-Roman Catholic apologetic organization tells us that:
The anathemas do not apply today, since the 1983 Code of Canon Law (CIC) abolished the canonical penalty of anathema, which was a form of excommunication. This does not mean that the Church no longer rejects the beliefs that had been anathematized. The formula “let him be anathema” is a traditional expression that ecumenical councils used when making infallible definitions. Therefore, the dropping of the canonical penalty of anathema does not “undo” the infallible definitions expressed in Trent’s canons. An infallible definition, by its very nature, can never be “undone.” The Church still believes and teaches all the definitions Trent issued.
(Online source, emphasis added)
So the late Dr. Carl F.H. Henry a leading evangelical theologian is actually proved right when he says, “evangelical–Catholic dialogue must now begin with [the Council of] Trent.” The aforementioned Council of Trent was held by the Roman Catholic Church in response to Luther and the Reformers and ran from 1545–1563, a span of some 18 years. This would appear to be more than enough time to make sure that you have fully formulated the doctrine of your Church.
In addition this would also give one ample opportunity to be quite certain that you have then articulated it in such a way as to let people know exactly where your organization stands. Wouldn’t you agree? Dr. Henry goes on to say:
The Reformers affirmed the full authority of the Bible. They were prepared to accept in Catholic tradition only what Scripture authorizes. The [Roman] Catholic church rejected the Reformation emphasis on both the Bible alone (”sola scriptura”) and on faith alone (”sola fide”). It excommunicated Luther, who sought to remain in its ranks in the interest of reform, while it accommodated critics who deplored the Roman church’s very existence. The church defended its institutional vices, many of which it later rectified or moderated. Yet the basic issue was not moral and institutional corruption alone, but the legitimacy of established and inherited church doctrine as well. In the doctrinal decrees of the Council of Trent (1545–1563) the Roman church officially approved and canonized the doctrine of justification by faith-and-works, and thus condemned what had earlier been one strand in its own message, justification by faith.
The opportunity that the Reformers offered of a reformed church that would remain unified and universal was therefore rejected. A historic moment for theological dialogue and a major opportunity for doctrinal understanding were squandered. In consequence, evangelical-Catholic dialogue must now begin with Trent. Trent cannot be bypassed as merely the time-bound echo of one spectrum of influential Catholic dogmatics, since it expresses church doctrine that Rome identified as authoritative and irreformable. (Online source, emphasis added).
The True Roman Catholic Must Obey The Church
At this point it’s important that we return briefly to the subject of an individual American Roman Catholic who would tell you that they do not “agree” with some of these so-called infallible teachings. Let us take a moment to consider the following from the Second Vatican Council of the Church of Rome, which many are under the mistaken impression somehow changed the the RCC’s views on the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and his supposed authority over all churches as well as individuals within who would be considered Christian:
just as the office granted individually to Peter, the first among the apostles, is permanent and is to be transmitted to his successors, so also the apostles’ office of nurturing the Church is permanent, and is to be exercised without interruption by the sacred order of bishops. (14*) Therefore, the Sacred Council teaches that bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles, (15*) as shepherds of the Church, and he who hears them, hears Christ, and he who rejects them, rejects Christ and Him who sent Christ. (149)(16*) (Lumen Gentium, emphasis added).
Further, in the current edition of The Catholic Encyclopedia we are informed:
The title pope, once used with far greater latitude…is at present employed solely to denote the Bishop of Rome, who, in virtue of his position as successor of St. Peter, is the chief pastor of the whole Church, the Vicar of Christ upon earth… The primacy of St. Peter and the perpetuity of that primacy in the Roman See are dogmatically defined in the canons attached to the first two chapters of the Constitution “Pastor Aeternus”:…
[the Pope] is “the supreme teacher of the [universal] Church, whose it is to prescribe what is to be believed by all the faithful,… [and he] can legislate for the whole Church, with or without the assistance of a general council;… (Online source, emphasis added).
And then finally in The Code Of Canon Law from the official Vatican Website itself we read:
Can. 212 §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church (Online source, emphasis added).
Can. 333 §1. By virtue of his office, the Roman Pontiff not only possesses power offer (sic) the universal Church but also obtains the primacy of ordinary power offer (sic) all particular churches and groups of them.
§3. No appeal or recourse is permitted against a sentence or decree of the Roman Pontiff. (Online source, emphasis added)
Now these citations above are, beyond any reasonable doubt, the official declarations of the Roman Catholic Church herself. And as you can very plainly see according to the above authoritative Church resources, no individual Roman Catholic can disagree with these dogmas and remain in good standing with this communion—well, at least on paper. So let’s stop playing the word games shall we?
The time has now arrived for evangelical Protestant leaders to make a firm public stand and to bring this issue to a head. Either the Church of Rome formally repents of these teachings; or, she should stand firmly by them. Don’t you agree? And the question we should ask someone who tells us that they don’t believe these teachings of the Church of Rome is this: If you don’t agree with these things, then why would you even want to be a Roman Catholic and waste your time and money on this man-made organization?