DEVELOPMENTS IN THE HIERARCHY
Earlier, in this Notebook, we have said that the Roman Catholic Church is a developing institution. It was and is being built by Satan himself. Truth never changes. Error must always change and develop for one lie necessitates another. In this lesson we wish to notice some changes and developments in this anti-Christ system.
There is good reason for doing this in a study of Baptist History. When Constantine embraced false Christianity, he reshaped it after the model of Roman Empire government. This meant that the power of the State was behind the unholy church. When anyone opposed the teachings of this unholy church they were guilty of treason against the empire. This meant that, when caught, the offenders must recant or die. Millions died. When the different dogmas were incorporated by the Roman Church, they were opposed by the Montanists, Novatians, Donatists, Cathari, Paterines, Albigenses, Paulicians and all other true churches by whatever name they were called. This brought down the sword of the Beast upon them. So we review some of these developments because they directly affected our ancestors.
The Sign of the Cross
"The symbolic act known as the sign of the cross appears very early, signifying, of course, Christ's death on the cross; but inevitably importance came to be attached to he mere act and it was believed to be helpful in receiving the blessing and efficacy of this holy event and of the exalted Christ. As early as about the middle of the second century a superstitious conception and application had so far developed that the popular faith of the church, not without support from theology, sought by performing the act a powerful device against the will of demons, by whom people imagined themselves beset and threatened. The expedient was also applied in case of sickness and other perils, before battle and elsewhere. The sign was usually made on the forehead, but also on others parts of the body, which were supposed to need its protective operation. The sign is also used contemporaneously in public worship as conferring a blessing or consecration and protection against the ungodly world. Its supposed efficacy comes to light especially in exorcism."1 The exact date of its beginning is not known. Most of the writers list this dogma, along with Prayers for the Dead, at about 300 A.D. Dr. Loraine Boettner, in his excellent book, quotes a Roman Catholic authority: "It may be safely assumed that only after the edict of Milan, A.D. 312, was the cross used as a permanent sign of our redemption. De Rossi (a Roman Catholic archaeologist) states positively that no monogram of Christ, discovered in the Catacombs or other places, can be traced to that period anterior to the year 312 (The American Ecclesiastical Review, p. 275, Sept. 1920)."2 It would seem to me that Constantine (author of the edict of Milan) and his supposed vision of the fiery cross in the sky was responsible for this superstition. At any rate, the true churches would preach against such ignorance and thus incur the wrath of the State-Church.
A. A. Davis says this began about 320 A. D.3 All the historians say this began very early. The Roman Church keeps these wax candles constantly burning before the shrines and images of their saints. This custom was incorporated from paganism. "The primitive writers frequently expose the folly and absurdity of this heathenish custom. 'They light up candles to God,' says Lactantius, 'as if he lived in the dark; and do not they deserve to pass for madmen, who offer lamps to the author and giver of light?'" This quote is from John Dowling.4 When our Baptist ancestors preached against such superstition, and they did, they angered the State. Dear reader, such superstition was nonsense and it still is.
Mother of God
The phrase "Mother of God" began in the Council of Ephesus, called by Theodosius II and Valentian III in 431 A. D. At this council there were 250 bishops present. The phrase occurs in the Creed of Chalcedon, adopted in 451 A. D. Mariolatry, the veneration and worship of Mary, has grown over the years. "As we have seen the expression 'Mother of God,' as set forth in the decree of the Council of Ephesus gave impetus to Mary worship, although the practice did not become general until two or three centuries later. From the fifth century on the Mary cult becomes more common. Mary appears more frequently in paintings, churches were named after her, and prayers were offered to her as an intercessor."5 The Catholic teaching about Mary develops. Boettner writes: "The doctrine of the 'Immaculate Conception' teaches that Mary herself was born without sin, that from the very first moment of her existence she was free from the taint of original sin. It holds that while all the rest of mankind is born into an inheritance of original sin, Mary alone, by a special miracle of God, was excepted. The original decree setting forth this doctrine was issued by Pope Pius IX, on December 8, 1854, and reads as follows: 'We declare, pronounce and define that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, by the singular grace and privilege of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, and that this doctrine was revealed by God, and therefore must be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful' (From the papal bull, Ineffabilus Deus, quoted in the Tablet, December 12, 1953)"6 The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Mary remained a perpetual virgin all her life. This, of course, is contrary to the plain declarations of Scripture. See Matthew 13:54-56; Psalms 69:8; Matthew 1:24-25; etc. Listen to Boettner again: "... on November 1, 1950, with the ex cathedral pronouncement by pope Pius XII from St. Peter's chair that Mary's body was raised from the grave shortly after she died, that her body and soul were reunited, and that she was taken up and enthroned as Queen of Heaven. And to this pronouncement there was added the usual warning that anyone who may henceforth doubt or deny this doctrine is utterly fallen away from the divine and Catholic faith.' That means that it is a mortal sin for any Roman Catholic to refuse to believe this doctrine."7 In 1965, pope Paul VI proclaimed Mary the Mother of the Church. Who knows what shall come next. Mary was a highly favoured woman but she was just a woman. She had to believe on Christ to be saved like anyone else. This is what Baptists believe and always have. In ages past this belief was treason against the State-Church.
The Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory was established by Gregory I in 593 A. D. Boettner describes Purgatory as follows: "The Roman Catholic Church has developed a doctrine in which it is held that all who die at peace with the church, but who are not perfect must undergo penal and purifying suffering in an intermediate realm known as purgatory. Only those believers who have attained a state of Christian perfection go immediately to heaven. All unbaptized adults and those who after baptism have committed mortal sin go immediately to hell. The great mass of partially sanctified Christians dying in fellowship with the church, but who nevertheless are encumbered with some degree of sin go to purgatory where, for a longer or shorter time, they suffer until all sin is purged away, after they are translated to heaven."8 Boettner again: "The sufferings in purgatory are said to vary greatly in intensity and duration, being proportioned to the guilt and impurity or impenitence of the sufferer. They are described as being in some cases comparatively light and mild, lasting perhaps only a few hours, while in others for thousands of years. They differ from the pains of hell at least to this extent, that there is eventually an end to the sufferings of purgatory, but not to those in hell. They are in any event to end with the last judgment. Hence purgatory eventually is to be emptied of all its victims." "As regards the intensity of the suffering, Bellarmine, a noted Roman Catholic theologian says: "The pains of purgatory are very severe, surpassing anything endured in this life." The manual of the Purgatory Society, with the imprimatur of Cardinal Hays, says: "According to the Holy Fathers of the Church, the fire of purgatory does not differ from the fire of hell, except in point of duration. 'It is the same fire' says St. Thomas Aquinas, 'that torments the reprobate in hell, and the just in purgatory. The least pain in purgatory surpasses the greatest suffering in this life.' Nothing but the eternal duration makes the fire of hell more terrible than that of purgatory."9
Origin of Purgatory
How could such a damnable doctrine as purgatory come into being? Who could have dreamed up such a teaching? No one, except he be instructed of the devil. Folks, credit for this heresy goes to Augustine. And, to spite this, we often hear Augustine bragged on by Baptist preachers in Baptist churches. Surely they are uninformed who would exalt Augustine in one degree. Listen to Dowling: "He (Gregory I) seriously inculcated a belief in the pagan doctrine concerning the purification of departed souls by a certain kind of fire, which he called Purgatory, and which doctrine, as Gieseler asserts, was first suggested by Augustine, the bishop of Hippo, towards the close of the fourth century."10 Fisher: "The introduction of the doctrine of purgatory was due to the influence of Augustine, who suggested that imperfect Christians may be purified in the intermediate state, by purgatorial fire, from their remaining sin. His conjecture was converted into a fixed belief."11 Boettner says, in his book on page 229, "In the writings of Augustine (died, 430 A.D.) the doctrine of purgatory was first given definite form...." It goes without saying that the true churches opposed such a teaching. Doing this incurred the wrath of the Church-State or State-Church!
Notes on Chapter 10
1 The New Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia, Volume 3, page 309.
2 Roman Catholicism, page 286.
3 Sermons on the Trail of Blood, page 308.
4 The History of Romanism, page 121.
5 Roman Catholicism by Boettner, page 136-137.
6 Roman Catholicism, page 158.
7 Roman Catholicism, page 162.
8 Roman Catholicism, page 218.
9 Roman Catholicism, page 220.
10 History of Romanism, page 108.
11 History of the Christian Church, page 142.
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