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WhyProphets.com

 

Catholics are Good Christians
See also: "who are the Christians?" - part of the "Why Mormonism" page

In this web site I suggest that Rome is "The Beast" of Revelation. An important part of Rome in medieval times was the medieval church. Indeed, the church was in apostasy during the time when the Catholic church held its greatest power. Yet I am not anti-Catholic! How can this be? Read on.

Introduction

Modern Catholics should not be blamed for the honest and well-meaning mistakes of people who lived a thousand years ago. Modern Catholics are (on the whole) very good Christians. (When compared with other Christians and the world as a whole).

Of course, I think Catholics would be even better Christians if they were Mormons. But even so, we should recognise the great work that Catholics do. Catholics should be praised and supported, not condemned for something that happened long ago.

For a review of how the "Pope is antichrist" idea started and later died off, see the pages of William Smith's Bible Dictionary available here.

Other churches are good, too

I could have written a similar page about Protestants of various denominations, other Christian churches, non-Christian churches, and so on. This web site is not here to condemn other churches. This web site simply says, "what you have is wonderful, but if you want to agree more closely with the Bible, there is something even better!


The whore of Babylon is NOT the Roman Catholic church

Some Protestants seem to delight in attacking the Roman Catholic church, calling it the "whore of Babylon". But it is not the whore. During the Dark Ages it may have acted as the mouth of the beast, but it was not the whore then, and it is certainly not the whore today. The modern Catholic church is not the beast either.

How religious is the whore?

The imagery of adultery suggests religion. Yet the details about Babylon suggest economics. There is no contradiction. Put simply, "the love of money is the root of all evil". "You cannot serve God and Mammon". The false religion is a religion of money. Faith in money. Love of money. Trust in money. An eye single to obtaining money. Being drunk with money. The religion of Babylon is a religion that worships money.

In ancient times it was fine clothing and gold that often set apart false priests. In medieval times it was the sale of indulgences that finally prompted Martin Luther to break from the Roman church. In modern times people trust their bank accounts to give them happiness, and forget God. Always the greatest false religion is a religion of money.

Church and State

Often the simplest way to identify the Whore is by the union of Church and State. The church ceases to trust in God for its survival, but instead makes deals with the powers of this world. It thus becomes more comfortable, more wealthy, and a route to political advancement. A lot has been written about the evils of combining church and state - the Whore riding on the beast - so I will not discuss it here.


Why the little horn cannot be the Pope

Many Protestants claim that the Pope is the "little horn". (See the links page for Protestant interpretations of Daniel). Granted, it does seem likely that the Medieval church was involved in some of the little horn prophecies. But it was not center stage:

  1. The little horn grows in power and is still the most significant power when Jesus returns. The Roman Catholic church did not. It lost most of its political influence centuries ago.
  2. The little horn "prospered in all it did" (Daniel 8:24, NIV). The Roman Catholic church did not. The Catholic church was not as powerful as some Protestants like to believe. History shows there were many times when the individual kingdoms held most of the power, and could even pick and choose who was Pope. Right from the earliest times (specifically, from the death of Zosimus in 418, according to Philip Smith's history) temporal princes had influence over the election of Popes.
  3. An important part of the prophecy was the humbling of three kings. If you check out any Protestant web site that interprets these verses in terms of recorded history, you probably find these kingdoms helpfully identified as the Heruli, the Vandals, and the Ostrogoths - the kingdoms that ruled Italy before the rise of the Catholic church. If these are indeed the three kingdoms in question, then it destroys the theory that the Catholic church is the horn, since that church did not directly destroy any of the three. But it supports the theory that the horn is Europe, as the three kingdoms were destroyed by Byzantium and the Lombards, the key players in the rise of Europe. They were not even Roman Catholic by belief. Byzantium was Eastern Orthodox, and the Lombards were Arian in their beliefs.
  4. In fact, in the early medieval period the Eastern church (which was subservient to the eastern emperor) was at least as powerful as the Western church. Throughout the medieval period, Byzantium/Constantinople was far larger and wealthier than Rome. Even today, when Eastern (Byzantine) and western (Roman) catholic priests get together, the difference is clear. As H. Morton noted in is visit to Palestine ("in the Steps of the Master", 1934), beside the gold and crimson robes of the eastern Catholics, the Roman Catholics in their simple robes look like very humble Protestants.
  5. Looking at the period from Rome to the end as a whole, the Catholic church did not commit as much evil as other kingdoms. What about religious wars? The best known is the "hundred years war": The Pope was only on the sidelines. What about persecution? The best known example is the Spanish inquisition: its worst excesses (e.g. under Torquemada) came after it left papal control and became a civil department under the crown. The Pope tried to make it gentler and less cruel, but Spain had its own ideas. What about blasphemy? Perhaps the Catholic position could be interpreted as blasphemous, but there is worse blasphemy elsewhere. When modern man rejects religion entirely, he is worshipping mammon openly and defiantly.
  6. Talking of the inquisition, it should be noted that this was often an improvement on the alternative. We tend to look back on the inquisition as a single event, but in fact it was a policy that was carried out by numerous different people over hundreds of years. Some officers were monstrously evil, but many tried to be fair and moderate. It shouldbe judged by the standards of the time. The inquisition, or "holy office", however unjust it may have been, at least did allow appeals. As one Catholic site points out, "through the inquisitorial process the Church brought the appeals procedure into the legislation of the Middle Ages, for appeals were quite out of character for the local, feudal manorial courts." Feudalism was one of the great evils of the 1260 years, as discussed elsewhere. For the related issue of burning witches, see the page on pseudoscience.
  7. The Protestant interpretation relies on a huge difference between Protestantism ("good") and Catholicism ("bad"). But is there really so much difference? Both groups claim to represent God, yet reject living prophets. Both are built on the same Catholic traditions. And at least the Pope claimed to honour St Peter - when Henry VIII helped start the Protestant movement, he was only honoring himself. The Protestants has their fair share of wars, witch burning, and hatred of anyone who thought differently, especially in the early years. Maybe I am biased by living a few hundred miles from Northern Ireland, but I see equal amounts of good and bad on both sides.

 


"The Beast" is not the modern Roman Catholic church.

This cannot be overemphasized:

The Beast in Revelation 13 follows on from Daniel's beasts, which were all political. Hence the beast was a political and economic entity. Further support for this is:

The medieval church was deeply involved in the political processes of Europe. Hence it was an important part of the beast. The modern Roman Catholic church is not involved in anything like that way. Hence it is no longer such a significant part of the beast.

Do not be misled by the strong language

So The Bible referred to the medieval church as led by Satan. So what? That just means that those particular works were inspired by Satan. It does not mean that everything it did was Satanic. It especially does not mean that the modern Roman Catholic church is guilty of those things.

When any of us do something wrong, we are being led by Satan. Just remember what Jesus said to Peter, the chief apostle, a man who deservedly has the respect of every Christian church. peter had just suggested that Jesus should be saved from suffering unjustly.

Matthew 16:23 "But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."

Peter was referred to as Satan! If the Roman Church was also once referred to as Satanic, it is in very good company. The fact that it has sinned and repented (modern Popes are not like the Borgias) is an argument in favour of its truthfulness!

Let he that is without sin cast the first stone

It seems strange to me that modern Christians can attack the Roman Catholic church as if it is the Antichrist. Yet they practically owe their origin to the Catholic church!

  1. First, all Protestant churches trace their authority through the Catholic church! (Many Protestants would argue that they trace their authority instead to the scriptures. But the scriptures were compiled and preserved by the Roman church. The argument of authority from the written word is anyway nonsense, as discussed in the page on the apostasy)
  2. Second, all modern churches (except one) rely on the Catholic church for their essential doctrines. Very few Protestants, for example, would condemn Augustine. Even those who claim to have developed their own doctrines from the Bible, do not claim to have new revelation. So they are inevitably in the shadow of the last 2000 years of Christian tradition.

Besides all this, anyone who has read the New Testament should know that Jesus Christ will judge us on what we do now, not on what our ancestors did. Jesus reserved his strongest criticisms for those who hid behind religion and condemned others for not doing the right kind of religion. Jesus had his to say about those who pretend o be religious but are not.

Matthew 21:31: "Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you."

So Rome is Babylon, "the mother of harlots"? All that matters is what they do today.


Catholics are better than many people think

To drive home the point that Catholics are unfairly criticized, I was recently reading a "Why I left the Catholic church" page at http://bible.ca/cath-why-I-left.htm It struck me that the criticisms just did not stack up.

A non-Catholic defense of Catholicism

Criticism 1:
"The Catholics Do Not Have The Right Attitude Toward The Truth", meaning "They do not invite others to point out where they think they are wrong, and do not appreciate when others try to do so." Is this logical? Must everything good and true be tested every day? If you have a good marriage do you spend time analyzing it, and spend valuable time listening to people who want you to divorce? If you have something that tastes sweet do you listen to people who say it really tastes salty? If something works for you, why look for faults?

Criticism 2:
"The Bible Only Is The All Sufficient Guide To Salvation, But The Catholic Church Teaches That It Is Not". Actually, Jesus Christ himself says it is not. In Matthew 4:4 "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." The critics seem to think that "the word of God" means only the written word. Catholics at least realise that you cannot limit God in this way.

Criticism 3:
"Christ Did Not Make His Church Infallible As The Catholic Church Teaches." This really depends on what you mean by "infallible". Even Catholics would limit the definition to just some ways. Are the critics saying that the church must not be infallible in any way, even when making important statements of doctrine? But the church wrote the Bible! If the church is fallible then the Bible must be fallible! Have the critics thought through the logic of this?

Criticism 4:
"Christ Did Not Make Peter A Pope". OK, I'd agree with this one. I never said Catholics were perfect - just pretty good!

All the other criticisms are based on these in some way - the authority of the written word, the use of reason, and historical practices. Like I said, the Catholic church is not perfect, but it is a lot better then people give it credit for.

Conclusion: Roman Catholics are good Christians

Of course you have people in any church who are believers in name only. And any church with 600 million members is going to have its share of scandals - with so many priests, it seems there is a new scandal every week. But it has been my experience that committed Roman Catholics are among the best Christians today:

I believe that Catholics would be even better if they were Mormons, but in my experience Catholics include some of the best Christians you could hope to meet.


A Catholic response to this page

A Catholic (who runs a very large and comprehensive web site) made the following response to this page.

"Briefly, I would disagree that the Catholic Church now is different *in essence* from the medieval (Catholic) Church. I don't accept the Protestant (I used to be one) and Mormon notion of 'defectibility' - that the true Church could have ever completely apostatized. I believe that apostolic succession began with Peter and the Apostles and that the 'apostolic deposit' has always been preserved in its fullest manifestation in the Catholic Church. This was a large reason for my conversion - the 'historical argument.'"

"I disagree with Mormonism on biblical and historical grounds: its distinctive doctrines cannot be found in the early Church."

[For evidence that they can, see Barry's Early Christianity Page: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Parthenon/2671/EC.html]

"Christology in historic Christianity was always trinitarian. It merely developed in complexity and understanding. I will always fall back on the hundreds of biblical proofs for the divinity of Christ and the Holy Spirit and for the Trinity, when confronted with what I consider to be "heretical" Christological claims. My main experience with and research of, non-trinitarian groups is primarily with Jehovah's Witnesses, which can easily be classified within the ancient heresy of Arianism. No JW has ever been willing to confront my biblical arguments about Jesus (and I have dialogued with dozens of them). Here are my papers on the Trinity, if you are ever interested in studying our rationale for believing in that doctrine:

- Dave"

[For "Who Holds the Keys?," an educated discussion between Catholic and a Mormon, see http://transporter.com/apologia/lds_rcc ]

 

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