Apprising Ministries will show you in this piece that the subtitle would be: Nor can she; not without admitting her popes are but fallible men, not vicars of Christ, and that her dogma asseverated at the Council of Trent was wrong.

I have already covered this further in Has The Roman Catholic Church Really Changed? Here I’m going to point out a rather huge fallacy that’s being perptrated by Roman Catholics and spiritually obtuse evangelicals right now.

Take for example this lunacy in the Lord’s name, Southern Baptists Assist The Roman Catholic Church To Infiltrate Evangelicalism. The fallacy is that the Church of Rome has somehow actually become orthodox.

However, it can’t; not without destroying itself as an institution. Let’s take a moment to consider the following from the Second Vatican Council, which was held by the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) in the early 1960’s.

Please look very carefully at the following quote from Lumen Gentium – “Solemnly Promulgated By Holiness Pope Paul VI On November 21, 1964.” I have added emphasis:

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*) (source).

Click the source and you’ll see I quote this right from the online Vatican Library itself. Note: “the office granted individually to Peter, the first among the apostles is permanent and is to be transmitted to his successors.”

We must ask ourselves an important question here: In all its ecumenical dialogues, do we really think that the RCC ever had any actual intention of changing that dogma, which is the very reason the Church of Rome exists?

No, it can’t and still remain the RCC. It doesn’t matter what individual Roman Catholics or RCC theologians believe; it matters what the RCC itself set in stone. Here is her official position concerning herself and her pope.

From the Code of Canon Law, again my emphasis:

Art. 1. THE ROMAN PONTIFF Can. 331 The bishop of the Roman Church, in whom continues the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the pastor of the universal Church on earth. (source)

Again, individual Romans Catholics might disagree; but it doesn’t change the fact that the RCC sees its pope as the head of the Body of Christ on earth. Next let me show you a critical part of the document Unam Sanctum.

This was “a Bull of Pope Boniface VIII promulgated November 18, 1302.” And it’s never been rescinded even to this day; nor can it ever be. 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 Godresists 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. (source)

Certainly, this is a Roman Catholic pope speaking concerning faith and morals. 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.”[1]

Ex cathedra is an RCC term which refers to when the Roman Pontiff—the pope—speaks “from the Chair of Peter,” with his alleged supreme apostolic authority as the supposed Vicar of Christ—Head of the universal Church.

It’s important at this point to consider the following from the First Vatican Council of the RCC:

we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that

  • when the Roman pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA,
    • that is, when,
    • 1. in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians,
    • 2. in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority,
    • 3. he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole church,
  • he possesses,
    • by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter,
  • that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals.
  • Therefore, such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the church, irreformable. (source)

The meaning is crystal clear: When the pope makes a decree on faith and morals, this statement would therefore be considered an infallible decree. And as such then, Unam Sanctum also has to be considered as irreformable.

So also the Canons from the Council of Trent; they cannot be changed[2], so leading RCC apologist Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers is correct when he tells us:

An infallible definition, by its very nature, can never be undone.” The [Roman Catholic] Church still believes and teaches all the definitions Trent issued

Many of Trent’s definitions concern articles of faith, and for a Catholic to doubt them culpably or to deny them constitutes heresy (CIC 751), which in turn incurs excommunication (CIC 1364 §1) (source)

This now properly positions you upon the battlefield to better understand what’s being discussed by John Ankerberg, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, and the late D. James Kennedy in the video to follow below.

You’re about to see the second of six programs by The John Ankerberg Show entitled Protestants and Catholics: Do They Now Agree? on Evangelicals & Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium.

Even though that ecumenical document came out in 1994, what they talk about on this edition of Ankerberg’s show is crucial for people to understand as the spread of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism continues.

With it has come a romanticizing of apostate Roman Catholic mystics and a sappy sentimentality that somehow the RCC is now to be considered part of the Body of Christ. However, our difference involves the very Gospel itself.

And as you’ll hear Dr. R.C. Sproul say below:

The Roman Catholic Church condemns “sola fide! (L.)” Now if, please understand this, if “sola fide (L.)” is the gospel, then the Roman Catholic Church has condemned the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, nobody who went to the Council of Trent, as a delegate, went there with the intention of condemning the gospel. The theologians of Rome really believed that they were defending the gospel and that the Protestants had in fact committed apostasy.

And I admire the Church, the Roman communion of the 16th century for at least understanding what apparently people don’t understand today, and that is what is at stake here. That they understood that somebody is under the anathema of God! And we can be as nice, and as pleasant, and as gentle, and as loving, and as charitable, and tolerant as we can possibly be, but it’s not going to change that folks.

Somebody is preaching a different gospel! And when Rome condemned the Protestant declaration of “Justification by faith alone” I believe, Rome, when placing the anathema on “sola fide (L.),” placed the anathema of God upon themselves. I agree with his [John MacArthur] assessment, that the institution [Roman Catholic Church] is apostate!

Part 2

JOHN ANKERBERG: Welcome. We’re here in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at the beautiful Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church with this wonderful audience tonight. And my guests are Dr. D. James Kennedy, who is the pastor of this beautiful church. The well known and popular Dr. John MacArthur and Dr. R.C. Sproul. Now our program is about a document called Evangelicals & Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium. We’re also going to be talking about a new clarifying statement that was just written by the evangelical signees of this document. You may not know, but the Evangelicals & Catholics Together document was written by evangelicals and Protestants and signed by twenty well known leaders in the evangelical world and twenty well known Roman Catholic leaders. Now Chuck Colson, who helped to draft this document, has acknowledged that it has caused a lot of controversy.

And he has admitted that it raised genuine concerns over whether this document clearly represents what evangelical Christians believe. So just a few weeks ago we met with Chuck, at his request; we had ten evangelical leaders there—the for of us were there. And Chuck expressed his concern over the confusion the document has caused—the lack of clarity concerning what evangelicals believe. And he wanted to resolve and remove any contentious issues, so that there would no longer be any doubt as to where he and the other Protestant signees stood. To this end—together—we all composed a statement that clarifies, and clearly defines, our evangelical distinctives. Not all of them, but some of the primary ones.

Now, Dr. John MacArthur, when we met together, we agreed that the ECT document, the “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” document was attempting to join Roman Catholics and Evangelical Protestants together as “cobelligerents,” the word the Francis Schaeffer coined “working at the grass-roots level” in terms of social issues. And we were going to work together against the many social evils, including secular humanism, the riding tide of Islam, pornography, abortion, and things like that. But we also agreed that this work [ECT] has been perceived as going too far in proclaiming the kind of unity that exists. I would like you to define the kind of unity that can exist between Evangelicals and Roman Catholics, and the kind of unity that cannot exist until the doctrine of “Justification by faith alone” has been dealt with clearly.

JOHN MACARTHUR: Well, I might be a little bit radical on this, but I will go ahead. I think the way we can work together on it is for the Catholics to work against those things, like they want to work against them, and we will work against those things, like we want to work against them, but we can’t really throw our arms around each other in a common effort because that confounds the issue of spiritual truth.

Look, if the Catholic Church is already a cobelligerent, if they are already anti-abortion, and pornography, and homosexuality; they are going to use all of their energies within the framework of their system to go after that. We are committed to that, and we are going after that. There is already a collective movement. Once you then sort of try to define that as “common spiritual mission” built on “common spiritual unity” you just take doctrine and throw it out the window, and perception is violated, particularly because the Catholic Church claims to be true Christianity, and when we reverse 450 years of history, and just throw our arms around the Roman system, which I think we have to say, John, in all honesty, is not a group of wayward brothers but is an apostate form of Christianity.

It is a false religion, it is another religion. When you throw your arms around that you literally have to undo any doctrinal distinction. In fact, ECT doesn’t just do that implicitly, they do that explicitly. In the document, in effect, they say, “we have to accept all baptized Roman Catholics as brothers and sisters in Christ. In an article that followed that up in Christianity Today, J. I. Packer said, “We should acknowledge as brothers and sisters in Christ, anyone who lives to the highest ideals of their communion.” My response to that is the opposite. I maybe could fellowship with a bad Roman Catholic, that is, one who has rejected the system, but was still in the church and came to know Christ. But one who holds the highest ideals of Roman Catholicism—on what grounds do I have spiritual unity? And when you get spiritual leaders from both churches, coming together to sign a common effort—you may say that it is to fight a cultural war, but people are going to see it as confusion over doctrine.

R. C. SPROUL: John, can I say something?

JOHN ANKERBERG: Yes, let me just throw in here, that is why we put in here, paragraph one in this new doctrinal statement, which, let me read it:

“Our parachurch cooperation with evangelically committed Roman Catholics, for the pursuit of agreed objectives, does not imply acceptance of Roman Catholic doctrinal distinctives, or endorsement of the Roman Catholic Church system.”

R. C. SPROUL: That is important, John, that Chuck and Dr. Packer, and Bill Bright wanted to make that point clear. I just wanted to comment on John’s statement that he prefaced by saying he was “a little bit radical,” you know, like being a “little bit pregnant” I think. Because when somebody, representing evangelicalism makes the comment, “that in their opinion or their judgment, the Roman Catholic Church is apostate—it is not a true Christian community.” In this day and age of tolerance and pluralism and relativism, and the milieu or irenic peaceful, gentle coexistence. . . .we live in a world that is fed up with theological controversy and disputes, and divisions and all of that. You see we don’t live back in the 16th century where people burned each other at the stake over that.

For John MacArthur to make a statement like that, about the Roman Catholic Church, which is the largest professing body in the world, that claims a Christian position—it’s just flame inflammatory, incinderary (sp.), and will provoke a howling outcry of people—you’re going to get an enormous amount of mail for saying that John, you know that! [Great Applause].

The one thing that the spirit of tolerance of our day cannot tolerate is intolerance, because relationships have become more important than truth. Now what’s at stake here, if I understand the New Testament where the Apostle Paul writes the Galatians and says, “If anybody, anybody, if it’s Peter, if it’s Barnabus, if it’s an angel from heaven teaches any other gospel—let him be anathema.” That’s not Sproul, that’s not MacArthur, that’s not Kennedy, that’s not Ankerberg—that is the Apostolic position, and Paul wanted to make sure that he made himself clear so he repeated that.

And then he goes on to say that he had to resist Peter himself, as Peter started to crack and compromise and negotiate the gospel. Now think about the people in the first century who got that letter—they were horrified. They said the last thing we can have happen is a break-up of fellowship and unity between Peter and Paul! All I have listened to for ten months is “Oh, my goodness, what would happen if we saw a split among people like Colson, Packer, and Sproul, and MacArthur—we cannot have that happen! Well, I am the last person in the world to want to have that happen—I can’t stand that either, these people are my friends, my comrades and everything. But John, what he [John MacArthur] is saying here, the Catholic Church understood in the 16th century, and Trent and Rome placed its unambiguous anathema on the Protestant doctrine of “Justification by faith alone” and has never, in any magisterial sense removed that anathema.

The Roman Catholic Church condemns “sola fide! (L.)” Now if, please understand this, if “sola fide (L.)” is the gospel, then the Roman Catholic Church has condemned the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, nobody who went to the Council of Trent, as a delegate, went there with the intention of condemning the gospel. The theologians of Rome really believed that they were defending the gospel and that the Protestants had in fact committed apostasy. And I admire the Church, the Roman communion of the 16th century for at least understanding what apparently people don’t understand today, and that is what is at stake here. That they understood that somebody is under the anathema of God! And we can be as nice, and as pleasant, and as gentle, and as loving, and as charitable, and tolerant as we can possibly be, but it’s not going to change that folks. Somebody is preaching a different gospel! And when Rome condemned the Protestant declaration of “Justification by faith alone” I believe, Rome, when placing the anathema on “sola fide (L.),” placed the anathema of God upon themselves. I agree with his [John MacArthur] assessment, that the institution [Roman Catholic Church] is apostate!

JOHN MACARTHUR: I don’t want to leave Jim [James Kennedy] out of this, but I think that it is so important to know this. In a time like this of tolerance, listen, false teaching will always cry intolerance. It will always say you are being divisive, you are being unloving, you are being ungracious, because it can only survive when it doesn’t get scrutinized. So it cries against any intolerance. It cries against any examination, any scrutiny—just let’s embrace each other; let’s love each other; let’s put all that behind us. False doctrine cries the loudest about unity. Listen carefully when you hear the cry for unity, because it may be the cover of false doctrine encroaching. If ever we should follow 1 Thessalonians 5, and examine everything carefully, it’s when somebody is crying unity, love, and acceptance.

JOHN ANKERBERG: Dr. Kennedy, not Chuck, and not J. I. Packer, and some of our Evangelical buddies that came out with the ECT document, but others have gone one step further, and have said, “You know, Evangelicals and Catholics should overlook doctrinal differences and distinctives and unite to survive today here in America. If we don’t stand together; if we don’t fight together; we are all going down. How does that come into your theology of the sovereignty of God? Should we give up doctrinal distinctives just to survive? What do you think about that?

JAMES KENNEDY: John, first of all, let me if I could just add one little thing to this discussion that went on here, and then I will get back to that. For those lay people here that are not familiar—the Council of Trent, eighteen years that they spent examining the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation, and at the end of that time they came out with many Canons of the Council of Trent, and this is the particular one that R. C. was referring to, and I just like to have you hear the words. This has never been altered or denied by the Catholic Church, “If anyone says that the faith which justifies is nothing else but trust in the Divine mercy, which pardons sins because of Christ, or that it is trust alone by which we are justified” Which is what every Evangelical Christian would say. And they end with, “let him be anathema,” which means “let him be accursed.”

Every Evangelical Christian in the world stands under the official, never changed curse of the Roman Church, and we need to be aware of that fact. Now, the Bible says that we are to hold to the truth—in love. Now, that is difficult to do. Only Christ did that perfectly. We always tend either to slip into a rigidity or a legalism or to slide on the other side into some sort of “wishy-washy” compromise of the gospel.

But, getting to your question, and that was one of the reasons for ECT, that we live (as Chuck told me on the phone when he called me). We live in a time when the concept of truth is under attack. When the values and morals that Christians hold in common are under enormous assault, that we must stand together, or we are going to fall together. But, the problem with this document is that it gives the appearance of compromising the basic doctrine of the gospel of the Bible, which is the gospel, and this is the heart of all Christianity. This is why we had this meeting, right here in my office, to try to work these things out so there would not be a schism among Evangelicals, and happily got all of these gentlemen to sign a statement that they do affirm the basic Reformational truths. I still would have difficulty having my name on that document [ECT], which it is not, because I think of the ambiguity of it; the lack of clarity, and the way it opens a door for people to think that there is no difference of any significance, pertaining to the Gospel of Salvation between Protestants and Catholics.

JOHN ANKERBERG: It is very important right now, that we, for the people who are tuning in, because they want to know, “Where do we stand right now?” “What does this doctrinal statement mean in terms of where we are at?”

R. C. SPROUL: That’s what I was going to address, John, so that we have an understanding of this. The purpose of this meeting for the clarification, was as Chuck Colson had a compassionate concern to communicate. He said, can’t we come together and agree to disagree as brothers in Christ, because the controversy had escalated to such a point that the issue became now: not what is the relationship between Catholics and Evangelicals, but what will the relationship now be between evangelicals who endorse this position and those who didn’t. Are we facing a serious and permanent breach within Evangelical ranks? I mean, are we going to break fellowship over our disagreement over ECT, and that is what provoked this. At that meeting everybody expressed their concerns in a candid way, and Chuck, of course, said, “The whole thing was provoked in the first place because of their deep concern of what was happening in Latin America, and they didn’t want to see another Belfast erupt, and trying to come to a united front to an increasing hostile secularism.” And we all said, “Hey, we share that concern. We don’t want to see Latin America become a Belfast, and we recognize the hostility of secularism.”

Our concern was, as I stated it in that meeting, as clearly as I knew how, “that as far as I could see ECT, in my judgment, betrayed the gospel of Jesus Christ.” I also went on to say, and I have said this as loudly as I can every time that I discuss this, “I don’t for one minute think that Bill Bright, Jim Packer, Charles Colson, et all, ever in their wildest dreams, ever intended any such thing. But by the same token, neither did the signers of the Council of Trent.” This is not a personal thing with me. I was saying the document, in what it says and proclaims because it goes beyond this standing together as cobelligerents—it declares a unity of faith, John, where there is not a unity of faith. That’s what deeply, deeply, concerns me. So what the concern of the men was, at this meeting was to say, “Hey, look, let’s say to the world, `We do believe in `sola fide (L.)’ and Chuck Colson says, `I believe in Justification by faith alone’ and he wanted to put his print on paper his statement that this is central to the gospel of Jesus Christ, because he realized that people were interpreting the document the way that I was interpreting it, and he believed that that was a misinterpretation. Packer thinks that it is a misinterpretation. I think that it is the one that the document screams, but we still disagree on that, and Chuck is still committed to ECT—my fondest hope was that these men would remove their names from it—”A.” And if they couldn’t do that, if they couldn’t formally recant of it, “B” that they would at least revise the document itself, and if we couldn’t get them to do that—at least, please give a clarification that we can print separately of what you meant.

JOHN ANKERBERG: Next week we’re gonna continue our conversation. And we’re going to look at: Are there any people that are off limits in terms of evangelism? Sheep-stealing, prostelization between Catholics and Protestants. And we’re going to look at this very controversial area newt week. And I hope that you’ll join us. (source)

End notes:

[1] Walter Martin, Roman Catholicism, CD Rom, available at Walter Martin’s Religious InfoNet.

[2], accessed 5/24/12.

See also: