Examples of Papal Fallibility

Examples of Papal Fallibility

The belief in papal infallibility was defined as dogma by Pope Pius IX in Pastor aeternus:

“We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable. So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema.”

The problem with papal infallibility is that it is impossible to defend historically. There have been many instances where a pope taught as doctrine things which later popes came to reject:

1. Pope Honorius I taught the error of monotheletism in his letter to Sergius I of Constantinople when he said, “We confess one will of our Lord Jesus Christ.” His teachings were condemned at the Sixth Ecumenical Council. I encourage you to listen to the debate between James White and Tim Staples on papal infallibility to see how indefensible it is. If you had died believing in the teachings of Honorius, you would have died as a heretic.

2. Pope Boniface VIII in Unam sanctam declared that submission to the Roman Pontiff is absolutely necessary for salvation. But today, the Catholic Church has completely redefined what “No Salvation Outside the Church” means. They also teach that Jews don’t need to believe in the gospel to be saved and that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

3. Pope Pelagius II in Dilectionis vestrae and Pope Eugene IV in Cantate domino declared that Jews who do not become communicant members of the Catholic Church cannot be saved. This stance was overturned at Vatican II and by Pope Francis.

4. Pope Zosimus gave approval to the theology of Pelagius and opposed Augustine and the North African bishops before reversing his decision only after facing pressure from the emperor.

5. Pope Paul IV in Cum nimis absurdum forced Jews to live in ghettos segregated from the rest of society. The papacy has a long history of supporting anti-Semitism.

6. Pope Pius IX in his Syllabus of Errors opposed religious liberty and the separation of church and state.

7. Pope Gregory XVI in Mirari vos opposed freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

8. Pope Clement XI in Unigenitus opposed the idea that reading the Bible is for all people.

9. Multiple popes taught that Mary was not immaculately conceived.

10. Pope Leo X in Exsurge Domine taught that it is in accordance with the mind of the Spirit to burn heretics to death.

11. Pope Innocent IV in Ad extirpanda gave approval to the use of torture to get heretics to confess.

12. Pope Innocent I, Pope Leo the Great, and Pope Gregory the Great taught that deacons must have no sexual relations with their wives.

13. Pope Gregory the Great condemned the idea of a universal bishop calling it a blasphemous title.

14. Pope Vigilius refused to condemn “The Three Chapters” of the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrus, and Ibas of Edessa. He initially condemned them but then reversed his decision and refused to condemn them because they were already dead. The Fifth Ecumenical Council then condemned them and anyone who refused to condemn them. Vigilius then reversed his decision a second time and condemned them.

15. Pope Eugenius IV opposed the Council of Basel which reaffirmed the Council of Constance’s teaching on conciliarism. Eugenius eventually reversed his decision and approved the teachings of the council. But conciliarism was finally condemned at the Fifth Lateran Council and Vatican I after being approved by two previous ecumenical councils.

16. Pope Paul V, Pope Urban VIII, and Pope Alexander VII condemned Galileo for teaching the heliocentric model of the solar system as being contrary to the teachings of Scripture. Some Catholics even today still believe in geocentrism.

17. Pope Gregory the Great rejected the book of 1 Maccabees as canonical which is included in the Catholic canon today. The Apocrypha is filled with doctrinal and historical errors.

18. Pope Gelasius I denied the doctrine of transubstantiation by teaching that the nature of bread and wine remain the same during the Eucharist. Without transubstantiation, there can be no sacrifice of the Mass or worship of the Eucharist.

19. Pope Pius V in Quo primum taught that the practice of the Mass is to remain unchanged “henceforth, now, and forever, throughout all the provinces of the Christian world” which was overturned by Vatican II.

20. Pope Hormisdas rejected the Transitus Beatae Mariae as heretical which is the first historical witness to a belief in the bodily assumption of Mary.

21. Pope Pius IX misinterpreted Genesis 3:15 in Ineffabilis Deus based on a textual variant in the Latin manuscript tradition.

22. The Seventh Ecumenical Council’s decrees on modesty of dress have been completely thrown out the window by the modern papacy.

23. The papacy has historically taught that the Donation of Constantine is genuine.

24. The papacy teaches that the Shroud of Turin is the original burial cloth of Jesus despite the evidence to the contrary.

25. Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis both teach that the theory of evolution is true in contrast to Pope Pius X who condemned theistic evolution.

26. Pope Francis teaches that, “It is not licit to convince them of your faith. Proselytism is the strongest venom against the ecumenical path” in a speech to a group of Lutherans. Contrast this attitude with that of Augustine as cited approvingly by Pope Leo XIII in Satis cognitum: “You are not to be looked upon as holding the true Catholic faith if you do not teach that the faith of Rome is to be held.”

27. Pope Francis believes that Martin Luther’s doctrine of justification was correct in contrast to Pope Leo X in Exsurge Domine.

28. Pope Francis has redefined the Catholic Church’s teaching on cohabitation by giving approval to some cohabitating relationships. Many Catholics have accused him of heresy for his teachings on divorce and remarriage.

The changes that Francis has made have caused many Catholics to leave their faith and become atheists jettisoning science in the process. But please remember, just because the pope is a deceiver does not mean that Jesus Christ was a deceiver. True biblical Christianity existed long before Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy did and is still changing lives. It is built on the foundation of Scripture and fulfilled prophecy.

I realize that not all of these examples fit the definition of papal infallibility in Pastor aeternus. But the documents Unam sanctam, Cantate domino, Exsurge Domine, Quo primum, and Unigenitus certainly do since they were invoking the power and protection of God in their declarations.


Sunday Meditation – The Gardener’s Rose

Sunday Meditation – The Gardener’s Rose

I remember at a funeral of a friend hearing a pretty parable which I have told before, and will tell again. There was much weeping on account of the loss of a loved one, and the minister put it thus. He said, “Suppose you are a gardener employed by another; it is not your garden, but you are called upon to tend it, and you have your wages paid to you. You have taken great care with a certain number of roses; you have trained them up, and there they are, blooming in their beauty. You pride yourself in them. You come one morning into the garden, and you find that the best rose has been taken away. You are angry: you go to your fellow servants and accuse them with having taken the rose. They will declare that they had nothing at all to do with it; and one says, ‘I saw the master walking here this morning; I think he took it.’” Is the gardener angry then? No, at once he says, “I am happy that my rose should been so fair as to attract the attention of the master. It is his own: he has taken it, let him do what seems good to him.”

It is even so with your friends. They wither not by chance; the grave is not filled by accident; men die according to God’s will. Your child is gone, but the Master took him; your husband is gone, your wife is buried—the Master took them; thank him that he let you have the pleasure of caring for them and tending them while they were here, and thank him that as he gave, he himself has taken away. If others had done it, you would have had reason to be angry; but the Lord has done it. Can you, then, murmur? Will you not say—

You at all times will I bless
Having you I all possess
How can I bereaved be
Since I cannot part with thee

Charles Spurgeon

The Pope’s Violation of the Seventh Ecumenical Council

The Pope’s Violation of the Seventh Ecumenical Council

The Seventh Ecumenical Council is best known for anathematizing iconoclasm and giving approval to the veneration of icons. In addition to decrees, each council has individual canons which govern the discipline and practice of the church. For example, while the Council of Chalcedon rightly taught the two natures of Christ in its decree, in canon 16, it declared that any monk or nun who marries is to be excommunicated from the church. Many of these canons are problematic which is why I can’t take any Protestant seriously who says that he believes in the first six ecumenical councils while only rejecting the seventh. But when it comes to the Seventh Ecumenical Council, canon 16 of it is in keeping with the Bible’s teaching on modesty of dress:

“All indulgence and adornment bestowed on the body is alien to the priestly order. Therefore all those bishops and clerics who deck themselves out in brilliant and showy clothes should be called to order, and if they persist let them be punished. The same holds for those who use perfumes. However, since the root of bitterness has sprouted, there has appeared in the catholic church the plague of a heresy which delights in the defamation of Christians. Those who adopt this heresy not only heap insults on representational art, but also reject all forms of reverence and make a mockery of those who live pious and holy lives, thus fulfilling in their own regard that saying of scripture, For the sinner piety is an abomination. So if persons are found who make fun of those who wear simple and respectful clothing, they should be corrected with punishment. Indeed, from the earliest times all those ordained to the priesthood have been accustomed to present themselves in public dressed in modest and respectful clothing, and anyone who adds to his apparel for the sake of decoration and not out of necessity deserves, as the great Basil remarked, to be accused of ‘vainglory’. Neither did anyone dress in variegated clothes made of silk, nor did they add various coloured ornaments to the fringes of their garments. They had heard the tongue that spoke God’s words declare, Those who dress in soft clothes are in the houses of kings.”

This canon was reaffirmed by the Second Lateran Council:

“We also enjoin that bishops as well as clergy take pains to be pleasing to God and to humans in both their interior and exterior comportment. Let them give no offence in the sight of those for whom they ought to be a model and example, by the excess, cut or colour of their clothes, nor with regard to the tonsure, but rather, as is fitting for them, let them exhibit holiness. If after a warning from the bishops they are unwilling to change their ways, let them be deprived of their ecclesiastical benefices” (Canon 4).

These councils condemn any bishop who wears “brilliant and showy clothes” or “anyone who adds to his apparel for the sake of decoration and not out of necessity.” No bishop is to wear “variegated clothes made of silk” or “add various coloured ornaments to the fringes of their garments.” Rather, they are to dress modestly and “wear simple and respectful clothing.”

But what do we see when we look at the clothing of the pope? Just the opposite of this. It is as if they have no idea these canons exist. To see the pope wearing extremely gaudy and luxurious clothing covered with jewels flies in the face of the decisions of these councils which the Catholic Church proclaims are infallible. In fact, there are entire websites dedicated to showing off the clothing of the pope. And it is not just the pope who is living in violation of these rules, the wardrobe of a Catholic Cardinal costs over $20,000. In addition to his clothing, the pope wears a golden crown of jewels known as the papal tiara. When Catholics ask why the pope gets to wear such expensive clothing, they get shut down fast.

But far more problematic is the depiction of the pope sitting between two golden cherubim. This artwork is based on the ark of the covenant where God is said to be seated between the cherubim:

“There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel” (Exod 25:22).

“So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God” (1 Sam 4:4).

“Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth” (Ps 80:1).

“O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth” (Isa 37:16).

We are forbidden to bow down to anyone but the Lord (Exod 20:4-5; Esther 3:2). But during their ordination ceremony, priests are commanded to bow down in front of the pope. The pope is called “Holy Father,” “the head of the church,” and “the Vicar of Christ.” But these are titles which are only true of God. The title “Holy Father” is only used once in the Bible and it is in reference to God the Father (John 17:11). Christ alone is called “the head of the church” (Eph 5:23). The Holy Spirit is the representative of Christ on earth who speaks on his behalf (John 16:13). The pope is a usurper who takes upon himself the names of God, pretends to sit on God’s throne, and receives worship from man. It is no wonder then that Pope Leo XIII declared in Praeclara gratulationis publicae that, “We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty.” As Pope Boniface VIII declared in Unam Sanctam: “Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

But God shares his glory with no one and all such boasting is an abomination to him: “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another” (Isa 48:11). The same warning Jesus gave to the Pharisees applies to us today, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matt 23:12).

Sunday Meditation – Christ our Advocate

Sunday Meditation – Christ our Advocate

“Christ pleads as an advocate for his people. He pleads the very weaknesses for which Satan would have them damned. ‘Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?’ The reason we are not totally extinct is the Father’s mercy: he is gentle, longsuffering and merciful to us. He knows we are sick, weak and subject to slips, stumbles and falls. His heart is towards us and he carefully measures affliction lest we sink. He does not pay in measure of our offence or we could not stand. He spins out his patience to the utmost length. He will count our little as much. He will excuse the souls of his people, and lay the fault upon their flesh. Christ our advocate stands as friend, and pleads for us as he does. Christ pleads the infirmity of his people against Satan for our advantage. Are we not saved from sin by grace? He has given us the Spirit of grace to help us, for we can do nothing good. God has put the righteousness of Christ upon us to cover our nakedness. We have no merit of our own. God allows us to ride in the bosom of Christ to the grave, and from there, in the bosom of angels to heaven. His Son is our head, priest, advocate, savior, and captain. God’s foresight of our weakness kindles his heart of compassion to us, and puts him to devising things for our relief. I have seen men provide for their children that have been most infirm and helpless. So our Advocate gathers His lambs in his arms and carries them in his bosom. I know the tears that stand in a parent’s eyes as he searches to the bottom of his purse to find out what he may do for his sick child. Christ pleads for us in our infirmities against the devil. And the Almighty yearns for us and wraps us up in his compassions. When God reveals all things to us, we will see how many times he pleaded for us and redeemed us by his pleading.”

John Bunyan

The Worship of the Eucharist in Roman Catholicism

The Worship of the Eucharist in Roman Catholicism

The worship of the consecrated host, also known as eucharistic adoration, is one of the most important dividing lines between Catholics and Protestants. In the Catholic Mass, the substances of bread and wine are transubstantiated into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. The consecrated host is then placed in a monstrance or tabernacle for perpetual adoration. While the Catholic Church claims that this practice is in accordance with the unanimous consent of the fathers, the reality is that there were a wide variety of different views on the Eucharist in the early church. The Council of Trent declared concerning the Eucharist:

“Wherefore, there is no room left for doubt, that all the faithful of Christ may, according to the custom ever received in the Catholic Church, render in veneration the worship of latria, which is due to the true God, to this most holy sacrament. . . . If any one saith, that, in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, is not to be adored with the worship, even external of latria; and is, consequently, neither to be venerated with a special festive solemnity, nor to be solemnly borne about in processions, according to the laudable and universal rite and custom of holy church; or, is not to be proposed publicly to the people to be adored, and that the adorers thereof are idolaters; let him be anathema” (Session 13, Chapter 5).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says concerning eucharistic adoration:

Worship of the Eucharist. In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. ‘The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession’” (1378).

“Because Christ himself is present in the sacrament of the altar, he is to be honored with the worship of adoration. ‘To visit the Blessed Sacrament is . . . a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord’ (Paul VI, MF 66)” (1418).

According to Pope Paul VI, the consecrated host is to be given the worship of latria at all times, not just during Mass:

“The Catholic Church has always displayed and still displays this latria that ought to be paid to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, both during Mass and outside of it, by taking the greatest possible care of consecrated Hosts, by exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and by carrying them about in processions to the joy of great numbers of the people” (Mysterium Fidei).

In Redemptionis Sacramentum, a document released by the Vatican, the Catholic Church encourages the faithful to engage in daily Eucharistic adoration:

“In addition, this reservation also permits the practice of adoring this great Sacrament and offering it the worship due to God. . . . The Ordinary should diligently foster Eucharistic adoration, whether brief or prolonged or almost continuous, with the participation of the people. For in recent years in so many places ‘adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament is also an important daily practice and becomes an inexhaustible source of holiness.’”

Convictional Protestants have always opposed eucharistic adoration as an act of idolatry because the eucharistic host is simply a piece of bread unworthy of worship. If eucharistic adoration is idolatry, then practicing Catholics who believe in all the teachings of their church are idolaters because they worship the Eucharist, pray to Mary and the saints, and bow down to statues and images. Paul warns us that idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-11). Because the Catholic Church does not teach the true gospel, it is little wonder that Catholic youth are overwhelmingly embracing gay marriage. A large portion of the Catholic Church has already given in to the LGBT plea to be given full communion within the church. I believe those few Catholics who are saved because they believe the gospel of Scripture instead of that of Catholicism will eventually leave because Christ’s sheep listen to his voice instead of that of false teachers (John 10:8, 27).

I am shocked by how many Protestant pastors view Pope Francis as their brother in Christ when he not only believes and teaches all of this, but says that it is not permissible to convince others of our faith. The response of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 1:6-9 to false teachers was much different than that of so much of what calls itself Protestantism:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”

The most common verse in the Bible used to defend theologies of real presence, whether they be Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, or Anglican, is Luke 22:19 where Jesus says, “this is my body.” Since Jesus said the bread of the Eucharist is his body, they believe the substance of the bread of the Eucharist really becomes the body of Jesus. But Jesus meant “this is my body” in the same way he meant “this cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” The cup of wine Jesus was holding was not transubstantiated into the new covenant. To say “this cup is the new covenant” means that the cup signifies or represents the new covenant. In the same way, to say “this is my body” means that this bread signifies the literal body of Christ. It is given to us so that we might remember, proclaim, celebrate, and rejoice in the death and resurrection of Christ for our salvation in the same way the Passover meal was given to the Jews as a sign of their deliverance from Egypt. The Lord’s supper is the Passover meal of the church which is an actual meal, not a sacrifice. The Passover sacrifice corresponds with the sacrifice of Christ and the Passover meal corresponds to the Lord’s supper.

Sunday Meditation – To Glorify Christ

Sunday Meditation – To Glorify Christ

“Oh, to glorify Christ! Methinks heaven would lose half its charms for me if I could not glorify Christ there; and the waste howling wilderness were heaven on earth to me if I might but glorify his name here below. To glorify Christ is far more to the Christian’s mind than harps of gold, streets of crystal, or gates of pearl. This is the true music of the soul; the true paean of triumph; the true chorus of eternity-that he ever liveth; that the crown is on his head; that God also hath highly exalted him. Oh! this is our exultation, this is our joy, our triumph, our blessedness. If we can but promote his glory, the place where we can best promote it shall be our heaven. The sick bed, the hospital, or the poor-house, shall be our heaven, if we can there best serve the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the King of Glory.”

Charles Spurgeon

Theistic Evolution in Roman Catholicism

Theistic Evolution in Roman Catholicism

The historic belief of Roman Catholicism is young-earth creationism. But today, the predominant belief among Roman Catholics is theistic evolution. That is, all life evolved from a common ancestor which means Adam and Eve were not the first human beings and they had human parents. This viewpoint must allegorize Genesis 1-3 instead of treating it as literal history. Theistic evolution fits in well with the allegorizing tendency Rome has toward the Bible.

Pope John Paul II embraced theistic evolution as true in his address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences:

“Today, nearly half a century after the publication of the encyclical, new knowledge leads to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor provoked, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of this theory.”

This belief is shared by Pope Francis and Vatican astronomers who argue that young-earth creationism is “almost blasphemous” and that the Bible should not be used as a science textbook. Things have certainly changed from the time Galileo was condemned by the Catholic Church for teaching that the earth revolves around the sun. Now contrast what Pope John Paul II said with the Pontifical Biblical Commission of 1909:

“Genesis 1-3 is historical, not a fictional or mythological narrative, nor derived from pagan mythologies nor are they allegories, nor partly historical and partly fictional.”

It affirmed as true the creation of all things by God at the beginning, the special creation of man, and the formation of the first woman from the first man. The statements of this commission were given approval by Pope Pius X. Because this commission and Pius X believed that all of Genesis 1-3 is historical and not allegorical or fictional, they believed that Adam was literally created out of the dust of the ground by an act of special creation. But in theistic evolution, Adam had a mother and a father and was not literally created out of the ground. This means that John Paul II and Pius X had two different interpretations of Genesis and approaches to the question of evolution. So, which one are we supposed to believe? How does papal infallibility help us out when it comes to the question of evolution?