The Forgery of the Shroud of Turin

The Forgery of the Shroud of Turin

The Shroud of Turin is the most controversial artifact in the world. Many claim that it is the original burial cloth of Jesus while others argue that it is a medieval forgery. I will argue here that it is without question a forgery. A glaring fact that is often ignored by those who support the genuineness of the Shroud is that there is no evidence for its existence prior to the fourteenth century. Even sites that support the Shroud admit this. And the known history of the Shroud corresponds exactly with its radiocarbon dating to the fourteenth century. There is also literary evidence that the Shroud is a forgery. In 1389, Bishop Pierre D’Arcis wrote a letter to Clement VII in which he claimed that the Shroud is a forgery:

“The case, Holy Father, stands thus. Some time since in this diocese of Troyes, the dean of a certain collegiate church . . . falsely and deceitfully, being consumed with the passion of avarice, and not from any motive of devotion but only of gain, procured for his church a certain cloth cunningly painted, upon which by a clever sleight of hand was depicted the twofold image of one man, that is to say, the back and the front, he falsely declaring and pretending that this was the actual shroud in which our Savior Jesus Christ was enfolded in the tomb. . . . Eventually, after diligent inquiry and examination, he discovered how the said cloth had been cunningly painted, the truth being attested by the artist who had painted it, to wit, that it was a work of human skill and not miraculously wrought or bestowed.”

The Shroud is also contrary to Jewish burial customs. Jesus’ body would have been washed before burial so that no blood would have been left on the Shroud.

Another problem with the Shroud is that the physical dimensions of the face of Jesus do not match that of a real person. As Tim O’Neal explains:

“The anatomical proportions of the figure depicted on the ‘Shroud’ do not match those of an actual human being, but conform to the proportions of the Gothic art of the Fourteenth Century. On a typical human the head from the top of the eyebrows to the top of the skull forms around 40% of the head, or about 80-100 mm. But on the ‘Shroud’ the head from the eyebrows up forms only 25% of the head or no more than 60 mm or less. This shortening of the upper part of the head is a typical anatomical mistake made by first-time life artists, and it is common for early lessons in life drawing to teach new artists not to make this naive mistake by showing that the proportions of the head are actually quite different to the way people tend to see them at first.”

This is an often overlooked argument against the authenticity of the Shroud which is completely ignored by those who believe in the genuineness of the Shroud.

In response to the carbon dating of the Shroud to the fourteenth century, many people have argued that the dating is inaccurate or that the portion of the Shroud which was tested comes from a medieval reweaving after the edges of the Shroud were damaged by fire. But scientists intentionally chose a portion of the Shroud that was not patched so that their results would be accurate. Scientists who specialize in carbon dating have refuted all of these charges. As H. E. Gove explains:

“Along these same lines is the claim that the 10mm x 70mm strip, cut from the edge of the shroud just above the place where a sample had been removed in 1973, contained stitching threads or possibly pieces of the backing cloth of much later than first century vintage. Not only would this have been spotted by the two textile experts present but subsequent examination by members of the dating laboratories would have instantly revealed such extraneous material. All the laboratories examined the textile samples microscopically and removed any foreign material. Another argument has been made (G Hoyas, pers commun May 2, 1989) that the part of the shroud from which the sample was cut had possibly become worn and threadbare from countless handlings and had been subjected to medieval textile restoration. If so, the restoration would have had to be done with such incredible virtuosity as to render it microscopically indistinguishable from the real thing. Even modern so-called invisible weaving can readily be detected under a microscope, so this possibility seems unlikely. It seems very convincing that what was measured in the laboratories was genuine cloth from the shroud after it had been subjected to rigorous cleaning procedures. Probably no sample for carbon dating has ever been subjected to such scrupulously careful examination and treatment, nor perhaps ever will again.”

But there is a simple solution to this problem: allow pieces from the rest of the Shroud to be carbon dated as well. But the Catholic Church does not want this to happen because they are afraid that the rest of the cloth will be dated to the fourteenth century as well. If that were to happen, it would be the final nail in the coffin for the veneration of the Shroud.

This is what Protestants who use the Shroud as evidence for the resurrection of Jesus don’t seem to understand: the Shroud is an icon which is venerated by the faithful in the Catholic Church as an aid to worship. For the Catholic Church to admit that the Shroud is a forgery would be to admit to the faithful that their veneration has been misplaced. It is an aid to worship because the picture of Jesus in the Shroud has become the mental image Catholics bring to mind when they think about and worship Jesus. If this is not what Jesus looks like, then they have a false image of Jesus in their mind when they worship. The depiction of Jesus in the Shroud is based on the artwork of the early church and medieval period which is additional evidence that the Shroud comes from an artist.

The papacy has always advocated for the historicity of the Shroud. Pope Paul VI declared that the Shroud is “the most important relic in the history of Christianity.” Pope Sixtus IV said that in the Shroud “men may look upon the true blood and the portrait of Jesus Christ Himself.” If the Shroud is a forgery, it would prove that the papacy has misled people and undermine the credibility of the Catholic Church. The Shroud of Turin is nothing more than a medieval forgery used to bolster the claims of Roman Catholicism. If it is a forgery, it calls into question papal infallibility since previous popes have declared that the Shroud is genuine.

As Joe Nickell concludes:

“Scholarship and science have proven the Turin ‘shroud’ a fake, from its incompatibility with first century burial cloths and procedures, its lack of historical record, and a bishop’s report that the forger had confessed, to the suspicious-looking ‘blood’ that is really tempera paint, pigments making up the body image, and the radiocarbon dating that confirms the cloth originated at the time of its documented appearance in the fourteenth century.”

I could not put it any better than Antonio Lombatti who laments at how unprofessionally many scholars have acted when it comes to whether the Shroud is authentic or a fake:

“The behavior of professional Bible scholars on this relic has been deplorable. It’s true, the Turin Shroud may be seen as a ridiculous topic to deal with. So, apart from Joe Zias, James Tabor, Rachel Hachlili, Shimon Gibson, and Levy Rahmani – experts on Second Temple Jewish burials and Early Christianity – scholars have rarely tackled the fancy claims made by the Shroud authenticity supporters. And this has left room for popular quackery both on library shelves and, above all, on the web. Lurid falsehoods and distorted reasoning have been repeated so many times that the common people and some scholars too may think they are facing the real burial cloth of Jesus. The method used by these ‘shroudologists’ bends the mind the wrong way, an insidious and real corruption, and it has nothing to share with scholarly analysis and philological tools. The Gospels don’t mention this double full-length image of Jesus left on his burial cloth. The Second Temple Jews used to bury their dead in a completely different way. There’s no historical record on the relic until 1355. When it was first displayed in France, the owner, the diocese bishop and even the pope called it a ‘representation’ of Jesus’ burial shroud. Finally, when the linen of cloth was carbon 14 dated in 1988 it turned out to be from 1325 circa. So, despite the fact that the historical and scientific data do match, the Turin Shroud enthusiasts, usually pushed by their faith, couldn’t stop and admit that the relic was a medieval forgery. They kept on finding all sorts of causes responsible for a wrong radiocarbon date: fire, smoke, fungi, bacteria, and even Jesus’ miraculous radiation emitted during his resurrection. As you can imagine, no scientist who performs carbon dating as a profession has ever imagined questioning the validity of the medieval date of the Turin Shroud.”

Christian apologists who use the Shroud to argue for the resurrection of Jesus need to stop immediately because they are undermining their own credibility in the process. There are far better arguments for the resurrection of Jesus. In an upcoming article, I will give my defense of the bodily resurrection of Jesus.


Claims to Extreme Fasting in Roman Catholicism

Claims to Extreme Fasting in Roman Catholicism

Breatharianism is the belief that humans can survive without eating or drinking by getting energy from the sun and the air they breathe. By definition, Roman Catholics cannot be breatharians because they must eat the bread of the Eucharist every Mass. But there have been many Catholic mystics who claimed to practice what I call “eucharistarianism” or the belief that a person can miraculously survive without eating anything except for the daily bread of the Eucharist.

The most extraordinary claim to extreme fasting in Catholicism is that of Therese Neumann who claimed to not have consumed any water or food except for the bread of the Eucharist from 1926 to her death in 1962. She also claimed to suffer from the stigmata of blood coming from her eyes (which looks more like bad Halloween makeup) because everyone knows that having blood coming out of your eyes is a sure sign of the power of the Holy Spirit.

Another popular example is that of Alexandrina da Costa who claimed to have survived while eating nothing but the Eucharist for thirteen years. I believe that there was a lengthy period in her life where she did eat nothing but the Eucharist because she died of starvation! At her death, she only weighed 73 pounds because she was so malnourished from only eating the bread of the Eucharist. If the Eucharist was miraculously sustaining her, why was she so malnourished? In contrast, when Daniel and his friends ate only vegetables, God miraculously caused them to be in better shape than those who ate from the king’s table (Dan 1:15). Her life is a sad example of how false religion kills people. We see the same thing today with faith healers who tell parents not to take their sick children to the doctor and they end up dying. If Alexandria had chosen to eat real food, she would not have died from starvation.

But these saints have nothing on Prahlad Jani. Jani is a Hindu mystic who claims to have never eaten any food or drunk any water for over 70 years. He claims that the Hindu goddess Amba appeared to him when he was 11 years old and promised him that he would never need to eat food again. In 2003, he was tested at Ahmedabad’s Sterling Hospital to see if his claims could be verified. He was locked in a room with no food or water for ten days straight and was constantly monitored by video camera. He was tested again in 2010 while in a room for 15 days straight without any food or water with even more people monitoring him. You can watch the following videos for yourself:

There are four possible ways to interpret this evidence:

  1. Hinduism is true and therefore Christianity is false.
  2. People can survive without any food or water for 15 days and still be in great health.
  3. There was cheating going on in these experiments.
  4. Jani’s body is being sustained by demonic forces.

It is very possible that there was cheating going on in these experiments, but I cannot prove this. I know that Satan is using Jani as a tool to deceive people into embracing Hinduism, but the question is whether or not any demon has given him a supernatural ability to survive without food or water. If his story about the goddess Amba visiting him is true, then this was a demonic apparition imitating the pagan beliefs of Hinduism. The Bible says that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and has the ability to transform himself as he did in the garden (2 Cor 11:14). We may never know on this side of eternity exactly how Jani was able to survive a 15-day experiment where it was never observed that he drank any water which is medically impossible.

The point of bringing him up is to show that even if the claims of the Catholic mystics are true, it would no more prove Catholicism than it would prove Hinduism. If Catholics believe in Catholicism because certain saints claim to have gone for extraordinary amounts of time without food or water, they should likewise embrace Hinduism or religious pluralism because the evidence for Jani living without food or water is vastly superior.

If Therese Neumann truly did not drink any water for over 30 years (which I seriously doubt), I would explain her survival the same way I would explain that of Jani if there was no cheating going on in these experiments: demonic deception. Besides, Protestants have their own fasting miracle in the example of Brother Yun who fasted for 74 days while in prison for his faith. That is a miracle I can believe in because the gospel he preaches corresponds to the one in Scripture.

Does the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe Prove Roman Catholicism?

Does the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe Prove Roman Catholicism?

The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most common arguments used in favor of Roman Catholicism based on the urban legend that the drawing could not possibly have come about by natural means. This was the main argument a Catholic priest used to try to convert our practical theology class in college to Catholicism when he came to visit us. It is also the main argument that Hispanic Catholics use to keep others in the church and reach out to those who have walked away from it. It is plastered everywhere in Catholic homes and businesses as a constant reminder of their ultimate argument. If you are a Catholic, this article will be difficult for you to read, but you need to know the truth.

According to legend, Juan Diego was visited by the Virgin Mary who transformed his tilma or coat into a painting of herself. This incident is supposed to have taken place in 1531, but the first recorded instance of the event only dates back to the 1648 account of Miguel Sanchez. He was followed by Luis Laso de la Vega who published another account of the story in 1649. This means that there is a 117-year gap between the events of Guadalupe and the first written record of them. All historians up until 1648 are silent about any Marian apparition to Juan Diego. Bishop Juan de Zumárraga, the person to whom Juan Diego was alleged to have shown the image to, never mentions him or this miracle in any of his writings or letters. Bernardino de Sahagún, who spent 50 years living in Mexico and compiled a 2,400 page history of New Spain in 1576 with 2,500 illustrations, makes no mention of Juan Diego, this miracle, or a Marian apparition which is rather odd considering that Catholics claim that this miracle is responsible for the conversion of nine million Native Americans.

The story of the miracle involving Juan Diego is a fictional account created to bolster devotion to the image and to be used as an evangelistic tool. The creators of this story justified themselves by rationalizing that it was better to use deception to win Native Americans to Catholicism than to let them go to hell. The deception was worth it because the ends justified the means. Remember, this was before Roman Catholicism redefined what “No Salvation Outside the Church” means. The Catholics who worked to evangelize the Native Americans believed that these people were going to hell apart from embracing Catholicism.

But this conspiracy is no isolated incident. The Catholic Church has a long history of using forgeries to prove their legitimacy and this story is no different. If Sanchez was not the inventor of the story, he was getting his information from those who did. The real reason so many Native Americans converted to Catholicism was not because of the image of Guadalupe, but because of force and syncretism by replacing the goddess Tonantzin with Mary.

But if the image of Guadalupe is not a miracle, then where did it come from? The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe existed before the myth did. The pre-existing image was used to promote the myth and the myth served to promote devotion to the image. The artist who drew the image had no idea that his painting, an evolution of the earlier Banner of Cortés, would be used to promote this myth.

The artist behind the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is Marcos de Aquino. Devotion to the image was given approval by Archbishop of Mexico Alonso de Montúfar who succeeded Zumárraga. But he was opposed by Fray Francisco de Bustamante who preached against devotion to the image as a form of idolatrous syncretism and claimed that the image was “recent” and “painted by an Indian.” As recorded by Montúfar, Alonso Sánchez de Cisneros claimed that Bustamante stated in his sermon against the image:

“With this new devotion of Our Lady of Guadalupe it seems that it was an occasion [for the Indians to backslide into idolatry], because it was a painting that Marcos, an Indian painter, had made, and that for that devotion to be approved and held as good it was necessary to have verified the miracles and confirmed them with many witnesses.”

The other witnesses affirm that Bustamante claimed that the image was painted by an Indian. Neither Montúfar or Bustamante make any reference to a Marian apparition or Juan Diego. This thesis is also supported by the research of Leoncio Garza-Valdés who discovered that there are two previous paintings under the current one that have been painted over. The image is anything but a miracle and was done using ingredients that were well-known at the time. According to José Sol Rosales, the canvas is made of flax and hemp or cactus fibers prepared with white primer. The paint is made using cochineal, calcium sulfate, and pine soot. The image was restored in 1947 and 1973 by D. José Antonio Flores Gómez because, like any painting, it fades and cracks with time.

Do Marian Apparitions Prove Roman Catholicism?

Do Marian Apparitions Prove Roman Catholicism?

A Marian apparition is an event where it is claimed that Mary miraculously appeared to faithful Catholics (who are almost always children) and delivers new revelation from God. There are nine official Marian apparitions that have been approved by the Catholic Church though there are many others which have not been given official confirmation. Eucharistic miracles and Marian apparitions are the two most common pieces of evidence brought up by Catholics to argue for the truth of Catholicism against Protestantism.

When discussing heavenly apparitions, we must always keep the words of Galatians 1:8 in mind:

“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.”

If anyone claims to be bringing a message from God, regardless of who they are, and preaches a gospel contrary to the one in Scripture, that person is to be rejected because God does not contradict himself. If some of these Marian apparitions are genuine, then we must conclude that they are demonic in nature since God alone is worthy of our prayers (2 Cor 11:14). Elliot Miller and Kenneth R. Samples in their book The Cult of the Virgin do a great job of responding to many of the claims for the truthfulness of these Marian apparitions and I will summarize some of their evidence here.

When it comes to the apparitions of Medjugorje, the visionaries reported that Mary said she would appear to them only three more times which turned out to be incorrect (131). They said that there would be five secrets that Mary would reveal which later became ten (132). The visionaries who claimed to have seen Mary report that she said, “All religions are good before God” and that “division among the religions is caused by man, not God” which is religious pluralism (132). Vicka Ivankovic, one of the visionaries, claimed in her interview with Kenneth Samples that Mary said, “Each man must respect his own religion, because there is only one God, and all of us are praying to the same God” (150).

Vicka also claimed, together with visionary Maria Pavlovic, that Mary endorsed the book by Maria Valtorta The Poem of the Man-God (150). The problem is that the book “suggests that the sin of Adam and Eve was sexual in nature” and “was placed on the Vatican’s Index of Forbidden Books on December 16, 1959 under the authority of Pope John XXIII” (177). The ban on this work was reconfirmed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who later became Pope Benedict XVI) in 1985.

Another alleged miracle used in favor of Catholicism is the miracle of the sun at Fatima, Portugal. But this event has always seemed to me to be a clear example of mass hysteria. If you have thousands of people all looking up at the sun at the same time expecting to see a miracle, if one person claims that he or she sees something miraculous taking place, then other people will begin to claim the same thing since they are expecting to see the miraculous. This is known as confirmation bias where peer pressure prevents people from acknowledging that the emperor has no clothes on.

When you have so many people staring at the sun for long periods of time, of course they are going to start seeing things. Looking at the sun for long periods of time results in blurry vision and seeing yellow and black spots. After gazing at a bright light, you continue to see it even after closing your eyes in what is known as afterimage.

What disproves the miracle of the sun as being an actual miracle is that there were many people who did not see the sun moving around in the sky as others claimed and what each person saw was different. This means that the miracle of the sun was a subjective phenomenon, not an objective reality as a true miracle is.

Do Eucharistic Miracles Prove Roman Catholicism?

Do Eucharistic Miracles Prove Roman Catholicism?

Now that I have finished my critique of the beliefs of Roman Catholicism in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I will turn my attention to examining the most popular miraculous evidence used in favor of Catholicism. When dealing with claims to the miraculous, we must always keep the warnings of Scripture in mind:

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him” (Deut 13:1-4).

“The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thess 2:9-10).

If someone makes claims to signs and wonders, even if it appears from our perspective that a miracle has taken place, we must not follow that person if he teaches contrary to God’s Word because the Bible is our ultimate authority in matters of faith and practice. This was the teaching of the early church fathers as well.

One of the most common arguments used to support the truthfulness of Roman Catholicism is the appeal to eucharistic miracles. The miracles of the Eucharist are what are claimed to be eucharistic hosts which have been literally transformed into the real human flesh of Jesus Christ. They are not merely a change of nature, but also a change in the species or outward form of the bread. It is claimed that the miracle of Lanciano preserves the literal flesh of Christ since it is reported that scientists claim that what remains of the eucharistic host is genuine tissue from a heart.

But there is an insurmountable problem with using eucharistic miracles to argue for Roman Catholicism: they violate the definition of Chalcedon which is part of the Fourth Ecumenical Council which Catholicism teaches is infallible. The definition states:

“We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach people to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God, the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.”

According to this definition, to the two natures of Christ (his full humanity and full divinity) exist together in one person inconfusedly with “the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved.” Each nature of Christ has its own distinct properties which distinguish it from the other nature. The properties or attributes of both natures are communicated to the one person who is Christ, but they are not communicated to each other. His humanity does not become divinized and his divinity does not become humanized. Christ, with respect to his divine nature, is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent (all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present at once). But with respect to his human nature, as a man, he is not all-powerful, infinite in knowledge, and present everywhere at once. Both of these things are true at the same time.

The reason eucharistic miracles violate the definition of Chalcedon is because if these body parts truly come from Christ, then the property of each nature would no longer be preserved resulting in some form of monophysitism. The distinction between Christ’s physical body which cannot be in more than one place at one time would be blurred together with his divinity which is omnipresent. Eucharistic miracles result in the conclusion that Christ’s literal heart of flesh can be in more than one place at one time: in heaven at the right hand of God and on earth in Lanciano. His physical body would then take on the divine attribute of omnipresence imputing omnipresence to Christ’s physical body and blur the distinction between the two natures of Christ. If eucharistic miracles are true, then the definition of Chalcedon is false. But since the definition of Chalcedon comes from Pope Leo I when he was defining the doctrine of the two natures of Christ, it cannot be false according to papal infallibility.

This is the same argument Calvinists use against Lutherans because Lutherans believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist without believing that the nature of the bread is transubstantiated into the nature of Christ’s body. Since Christ’s physical body is in, with, and under the elements of bread and wine in Lutheranism, they must conclude that Christ’s physical body is literally present every time the Eucharist is celebrated. Lutherans teach that since Christ is literally and bodily present in the Eucharist, his physical body must take on the attribute of omnipresence blurring the distinction between the two natures.

If these eucharistic miracles are truly the literal body and blood of Christ, then why hasn’t the Catholic Church done DNA testing on them yet to determine if they come from someone of Jewish ancestry? Why haven’t they compared the DNA from these miracles with the DNA on the Shroud of Turin or the Sudarium of Oviedo to see if they match? The reason is because they are afraid that the results will not turn out in their favor. They have already been disappointed once with the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin. If these eucharistic miracles are not from the body of Christ, then those who have been giving eucharistic adoration to them have been committing idolatry since they are not worshiping Christ.

The Catholic Church has a long history of manufacturing forgeries and these miracles are no different. If the flesh at Lanciano is heart tissue, then someone in the leadership of the church, driven by the philosophy that the ends justify the means, took heart tissue from the body of someone recently deceased and then presented it as a eucharistic miracle to aid the faith of the church. The fictional story behind it was created afterward to make it more believable. While it is claimed that this miracle took place in the eighth century, the first written record of the story behind it only dates back to 1636. This means that there is almost a thousand-year gap between when this miracle was alleged to have taken place and any written record about it.

The flesh of Lanciano appears to be rotten instead of being well-preserved as we would expect a miracle to be. Because the glorified body of Jesus cannot suffer decay and is imperishable, the flesh of Lanciano cannot be from the body of the risen Jesus (1 Cor 15:42). Jesus is alive forevermore, not partially alive in heaven and partially dead on earth (Rom 6:9).

Another reason eucharistic miracles are false is because they contradict Acts 3:21 which says that Christ’s physical body must remain in heaven until the time for restoring all things at his second coming. But if these eucharistic miracles are pieces from the physical body of Christ, then parts of him have not remained in heaven, but are also with us here on earth to be worshiped. Instead, Peter teaches that Christ will remain physically in heaven until the last day.

It should also be pointed out that many of the stories behind eucharistic miracles are anti-Semitic in nature involving Jews stealing eucharistic hosts only to have them spurt blood when they try to desecrate them. Does the Catholic Church really want to endorse these anti-Semitic stories as true? If these stories are not true, then it calls into question the truthfulness of the other stories associated with eucharistic miracles.

I have noticed in my research of claims to miracles in Catholicism that the evidence which is brought up to support these alleged miracles is almost never properly documented. The articles just quote each other in a circle spreading urban legends without any care to fact-check their arguments. It’s also frustrating because we do not have access to all of the scientific data we need in order to make a fair assessment of whether a true miracle has taken place. This is because the Catholic Church cannot allow the possibility that these alleged miracles could be proven frauds because they have already defined them as true. As a result, no new scientific testing is allowed that could potentially undermine their claims.

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.

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).