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CHAPTER XV

THE WOMAN OF REVELATION 17

Written By
S.R. Shearer


"And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
"With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
"So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
"And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
"And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
"And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
"And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.
"The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is."
(Rev. 17:1-8)

As we have previously indicated - and as Dwight Pentecost of Dallas Theological Seminary has already suggested - the various verses which refer to Babylon make it plain that the Scripture has in view something more than just a commercial and political reality; there is also a religious reality in view. Pentecost writes:

"... (in the end of days) we see the whole stage (i.e., the world) filled with two personalities only: a 'Beast' and a 'Woman' ..."

The Beast answers to the civil authority; the woman answers to the religious authority - and the picture given in the Revelation suggests the union of these two powers in the "latter days" - a condition of things not unlike what's happening today in the Islamic world - only here the picture depicts the Christian world, and the "players" are not the mosque and the state, but the church and the state! - and be clear here, we're not talking about some strange "New Age" religion, but one which is clearly characterized as "Christian" (an apostatized form of Christianity, no doubt, but "Christian" as the world counts "Christian," nonetheless) - and to this, most evangelicals - from Barnhouse, to Gaebelein, from Chafer to Pentecost, from Ironside to Ryrie - agree. Somehow or other - most likely as the result of what Professor Samuel Huntington of Harvard has labeled "Civilization Warfare" ["Ethnos shall rise against ethnos" (Matt. 24:7)] - the Christian world (i.e., the West) will be profoundly radicalized much in the same way the Islamic world is presently being radicalized - and indeed, it appears that the process has already started in the rise of the radical "Christian-right" parties in Europe and the Christian Coalition in the United States).

Specifically, the Bible says:

"So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
"And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
"And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
"And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
"And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.
"The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
"And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth." (Rev. 17:3-9)

THE TWO-FOLD NATURE
OF BABYLON THE GREAT

That TWO Babylons are spoken of here is evident from the fact that when Religious Babylon (i.e., the Woman) is destroyed shortly after the Abomination of Desolation, she is destroyed because of the jealousy and hatred of the Ten Kings and the Beast (Revelation 17:6); but when Commercial Babylon (i.e., the Beast) is destroyed, these same kings, together with the business leaders of the world, are sorrowful and mourn her destruction [see Revelation 18].

RELIGIOUS BABYLON

As to the identity of Religious Babylon, she is without a doubt the false Super-Church of the "last days" which will lend to Commercial Babylon and the Antichrist the religious legitimacy that they require in their headlong pursuit of world domination.

Many people - especially those who have grown up in this country during the last twenty or thirty years and who are thus accustomed to thinking that civil power can be separated from religious power - are puzzled as to why the Bible speaks of two Babylons in the "Latter Days" - one a religious entity and the other a civil entity. They seem genuinely bewildered by the picture the Bible uses to portray their relationship one with the other - a woman (the religious entity) riding a beast (the civil entity). Why, they ask, does the civil power (the beast) have need of the religious power (the woman)?

The fact of the matter is, however, there is a fundamental mutual interdependence between religion and politics, and today's multicultural and secular elites have been making a grave mistake in believing otherwise. Why? - because civil power, in the end, must be legitimized, and an appeal to the fickle and even capricious "democratic will of the majority" - while adequate enough during periods of cultural and economic stability - often fails to ensure that same stability during periods of turmoil and dislocation.

Religion gives sanction to obedience on the part of ordinary people and it legitimizes the exercise of power on the part of rulers. For this reason, religion has historically been impressed into all of society's experiences and actions - from simple family chores to the corporate activities of the state. The fact is, in most societies religion has been a state obligation and responsibility. It has manifested the very essence of the state itself - so much so that there has rarely been any question, at least at the popular level, concerning the vital link between the practice of religion and the health of the state. To most societies it has seemed self-evident that all authority emanated from the divine because from no where else could the certitude so necessary to social order be derived. The result of religion has been to put men and women in right relation to their society. It has assured the order and certainty so necessary to the stability of most social structures. The proposition that the state could be separated from a religious undergirding - embodied in the concept of "separation of church and state" - represents relatively new political thinking.

THE INTERPLAY BETWEEN
RELIGION AND THE STATE

Even today it may be somewhat premature to speak of true "secular societies" when talking about the more modern societies of the Western World. The fact is, they may not be so secular after all. There exists the very real and somewhat sobering possibility that the so-called "secular states" of the Western World are much more religious than many care to admit. Today's "secular state" may resemble nothing so much as a devout priest stripped of his clerical frock and dressed up as a modern businessman - but a priest nonetheless. It isn't necessarily the clerical garb that makes the priest, as it is his inner disposition of mind. One may strip a man of his garments and alter his outward appearance, but it is a far more difficult task to strip him of the way he thinks and to alter his inner most being.

If, on a broader scale, one compares the priestly garb to the outward trappings of a society's religion, and the inner disposition of mind to the society's culture, then one can begin to appreciate the relationship between religion and culture. While it is true that most western societies have been stripped of their religious trappings, it is a far different thing to believe this has really affected the "core dependence" of the society's culture on principles which can - in the end - only be fixed by religion or by an "appeal to the divine."

Governing elites and "politically correct" academicians in this country may have been making a very grave mistake in over estimating our society's freedom from a fundamental dependence on a religiously based ethical system.

Society organizes itself around culture. Culture sets the parameters of the society. It determines what is "right" and what is "wrong." It provides the underlying assumptions upon which society is based. But what a culture determines to be "right" or "wrong" must be anchored by something. For example, who is to say whether abortion is "right" or "wrong?" or whether homosexuality is acceptable behavior? or whether divorce should be condoned or not? or whether the society should be organized as a patriarchy? or maybe as a matriarchy? One may assert that he "feels" homosexuality is wrong; that abortion is murder; and that men should be the head of the family. But that's not enough. Others may "feel" the exact opposite. And an appeal to philosophy to end the argument is more often than not futile. Philosophical or ethical speculation in the absence of some kind of an anchor has normally proven useless for such purposes. Indeed, all it seems to accomplish is to further erode fixity and stability, the essential ingredients of the bonds of social existence. In the absence of an acceptable anchor, philosophical and ethical speculation exists in a state of perpetual agitation. Should the agitation continue unchecked, it may lead to the ultimate contempt of all authority.

Moreover, history is full of situations where even an appeal to the "will of the majority" has not sufficed to establish cultural parameters. It didn't suffice a century ago with regard to the question of slavery - where, contrary to popular belief, a majority of people, both north and south, saw the question of slavery not worth fighting over. Neither did it suffice to quell the controversy over "prohibition." And it does not seem to suffice today over the question of abortion. In all these instances, the turmoil was (is) kept boiling by a small minority driven largely by a religious absolutism which was (is) obsessed with its own righteousness.

Religious absolutism has, over the long run, a dogged and persistent way of carrying the day, of ultimately triumphing over people and ideas which are less solidly based. Iran, Algeria and the Sudan are only the latest in a long list of societies which have succumbed or are in the process of succumbing to religious absolutism - especially in this time of cultural disorder and confusion.

Too often, academicians have shoved religion aside, deeming it not fit for serious study. But what they have perhaps failed to recognize is the central - indeed, pivotal - role that religion plays in setting up a culture's parameters, of fixing its boundaries. In the end, one finds more often than not that it is religion upon which the cultural norms of a society are ultimately based, either explicitly as in the case of Iran, or implicitly as in the case of most of the nations of the Western World. All great societies - especially those which are expansive - must claim their legitimacy originates from a divine mandate. The cost of expansion is too terrible and heavy a load for average people to bear unless they can somehow be made to believe that "God is on our Side" - Gott mit uns - and that they are acting under a divine mandate.

CHRISTIANITY: CHANGING THE MOLD

Historically, then, the main function of religion has been to legitimize state authority - and this has been as true in Western societies as it is true in Islamic societies and the societies of Asia, India, Latin America and Africa.

But this is where Christianity - at least Biblical Christianity - has differed from all other religions of the world. All the early Christian literature attests to the fact that primitive Christianity had as its object the establishment of a heavenly kingdom - one of the heart, not one which was based on brute force; after all, what could worldly politicos do with a religion whose Author spoke of authority in terms of servitude:

"Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
"But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister (servant);
"And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your slave:
"Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:25-28)

And this is all that Christ and Christianity offered. The "New Testament" speaks of no "earthly state;" it has no earthly ambitions.

Unfortunately for Western leaders, after Constantine's acceptance of Christianity (312 A.D.), Christianity was the only religion the rulers of the West had to work with. The people had made it so. The ethical force and power of Christianity coupled with the withering force of Greek philosophy had reduced the hold of paganism on the people's imagination to the point where paganism proved insufficient a force to any longer undergird state power and authority.

THE SPIRITUAL & THE TEMPORAL
THE WOMAN & THE BEAST

(Regnum and Sacerdotium)

Every so-called "Christian" in "Western Christendom" has historically had two loyalties: one to the "spiritual" church and one to the "temporal" state, i.e., those twin powers of Regnum and Sacerdotium that govern the lives of "Western Man" - most especially in the Middle Ages, but also - more than secularists would care to admit - even today. To the Caesars of the state must be given some things, to the church of God must be given others. Hildebrand [Gregory VII (pope from 1073 to 1085)] put it this way: "... the spiritual (i.e., churchly) and temporal (i.e., civil) powers are entrusted to two different orders, each drawing its authority from God, each supreme in its own sphere, and independent, within its own sphere, of the other ... the king is subject to the bishop in spiritual matters, the bishop is to the king in temporal matters." This doctrine became known as the "Doctrine of the Two Swords" (i.e., the "temporal sword" and the "spiritual sword"). Ultimately, however, the spiritual power was held to be supreme. The church insisted that there could be no end to the validity of God's law, and where conflict arose between the power of the state over and against the power of the church, the state must give way. Why? - because the church held that spiritual laws were fixed and immutable, and as a result, "All customs and all written laws (i.e., all man-made laws and customs) which were adverse to natural (i.e., spiritual) law were to be accounted null and void." There was to be no gainsaying the voice of the church: Si Roma locuta sit, cause finita sit.

Secularists tend to believe that such thinking is dead and gone - but for them to think so is very naive. Indeed, most sincere Christians - even today - if given the choice between obeying the "Law of God" as opposed to the "Law of Man" (i.e., the state) would not hesitate to choose the "Law of God." One has only to look to the Culture War which is raging in the United States for confirmation of this fact - especially insofar as it pertains to abortion and homosexuality. Secularists are making a big mistake in underestimating the power of the "spiritual sword" - the primacy of "God's Law" over and against "Man's Law" in most people today - in doing so, they may be digging their own graves in the ever intensifying Culture War. There is, of course, nothing Biblical about this kind of thinking; indeed, it is precisely this kind of reasoning that will lead to the disaster of the "end of days." And it is exactly this relationship between the state (Regnum) and the church (Sacerdotium) that the Bible portrays as a woman riding a beast!

The problem then became how to reorient Christianity away from its primitive objective - the establishment of a heavenly kingdom - and replace the heavenly and spiritual calling of the church with the worldly goal of establishing of God's kingdom on the earth; then to use this "apostatized" form of Christianity to undergird Western political power. The church was reduced in this process to a mere tool in the hands of men who cared little or nothing for its true spiritual and heavenly message. Their only interest was in earthly power and their care for the church extended only as far as the ability of the church to secure that power. The tool these men used to transform the church was Roman Catholicism.

ROMAN CATHOLICISM AND STATE POWER

The touchstone of Roman Catholicism was (and still is) the integration of the church with the Roman state - the Western World. This is the antithesis to all that the church was meant to be - a heavenly reality, not something of the earth, and most especially, not something of Imperial Rome; indeed, the Bible - as we have already indicated - is very plain on this matter:

Jesus said,

"My kingdom [reign (basileia)] is not of this world (Kosmos): if my kingdom were of this world (Kosmos), then would my servants fight ... but ... my kingdom (is) not from hence." (John 18:36)

And the Apostle John warns,

"The whole world (Kosmos) lieth in the evil one." (I John 5:19) and -
"Do not love the world, or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world ... comes not from the Father ..." (I John 2:15-16)

Satan is the great KOSMOKRATER (world-ruler) of this earth, and he has directed all his strength and ingenuity into causing it to flourish. To what end? - to capture man's allegiance and draw him to himself. He has one object: to establish his own dominion in human hearts world-wide.

The Bible teaches that the world is under Satan's control, and he is its ruler. But many Christians - especially those who are being drawn into the effort to save the nation for "Christ and the church" - apparently have an extremely difficult time in understanding this. They seem unable to fathom exactly who really is in charge here. True, they will acknowledge that Satan has an "influence" in the world and among the nations, but that is all that they will ever ascribe to him - influence, not control. But that is not what the Bible says; the Word of God clearly states that Satan CONTROLS the world. Satan controls the entire world:

"And the devil, taking him (i.e., Christ) up into an high mountain, shewed unto him ALL the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
"And the devil said unto him ... (ALL THIS) IS DELIVERED UNTO ME AND TO WHOMEVER I WILL GIVE IT." (Luke 4:5-6)

The church is to have nothing to do with the world. Why? - because it belongs to Satan; therefore, it is beyond remedy; there is nothing that can be done to "reform" it - it is fit only for judgment. In Chapter II we used the parable of a ship to explain what apostasy is, but the Scriptures use a much harsher parable: they compare apostasy to harlotry. Why? - because as Christians we have been espoused to Christ and are no longer to consider ourselves citizens of this world, but rather we are now subjects of a heavenly kingdom "... which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:10)!

As we indicated in Chapter 2, we are now to think of ourselves as "pilgrims and strangers" to this world - to its politics and all such things; we are to have none of it - it no longer is of concern to us. Once it was of great and legitimate concern to us, but no longer, for we have been translated from this world to the kingdom of God's dear Son. Paul says,

"... for people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking (another) homeland ... that is a HEAVENLY one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He hath prepared for them a city (another country - a HEAVENLY one)." [Heb. 11:13-16]

And again, Paul writes:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ ... In (Whom) ... we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, in (Whom) ... we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will ... I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." (Eph. 1:3, 7, 11, 18, 19-23)

Where is our inheritance, then? - clearly, it's in the heavens with Christ Jesus our Lord.

THE CATHOLIC DOCTRINE OF "END TIMES"

So - again - what is apostasy? It is the turning back of Christians from faith in the heavenly kingdom of Jesus Christ to the worldly kingdom from which we came. And more - and at its subtle best - it is the seeking of Christians to advance the Kingdom of Christ through worldly means. How far and to what extent the development of this synthesis has proceeded in the Catholic world (and in those Protestant bodies which have embraced post-millennialism) can best be seen in a study of Catholic eschatology (doctrine of "end times") - because eschatology is the summation of a faith's theology: it defines the goals of that theology, what it is ultimately aiming at.

Catholic eschatology points unwaveringly to an earthly kingdom; there is little hint as to anything "heavenly" in its doctrine of "end times." Its aims are totally directed at earthly domination. And the twists and turns of this eschatology are mind boggling, especially in its manifestation as it relates to the reunification of the Western World under Vatican domination.

The Catholic tradition of "end times" pictures an era filled with great war and turmoil which will lead finally to the emergence of two breathtaking and towering personalities: (1) the "Great Monarch" (or "King of the West"), and (2) the "Angelic Pastor." The "Great Monarch" will emerge out of the wars and revolutions of the "end times," assuming control over the Roman World (Western Civilization), eventually triumphing over the forces of the "godless East," and finally seizing control of the entire world. Under his rule, mankind will enjoy a great world-wide peace.

During this time, there will reign on the Throne of Peter a saintly pope who will be known as the "Angelic Pastor." The "Angelic Pastor" will assist the "Great Monarch" in the destruction of Protestantism, Islam, and Jewry, and the conversion of the entire world to the Catholic faith.

CATHOLIC "PROPHETIC UTTERANCES" AS TO
THE GREAT MONARCH & THE ANGELIC PASTOR

The prophecies of the "Great Monarch" (or "King of the West") and the "Angelic Pastor" find their origin in Catholic "prophetic utterances" dating from Hippolytus (died 235) to the present. The following are examples of but a few of these "utterances:"

  1. Hippolytus: "The Great Monarch who shall subject all the east, shall come around the end of the world."
  2. Caesar of Arles (469-543): "The Great Monarch shall extend his dominion over the entire earth. At the same time there will be a great Pope (the Angelic Pastor), who will be most eminent in sanctity and most perfect in every quality. This Pope shall have with him the Great Monarch ... This Great Monarch will assist the Pope in the reformation of the whole earth."
  3. Chronicles of Magdeburg (12th Century): "There shall arise an emperor (the Great Monarch) ... who shall rule ... and by whom the decayed estate of the church shall be reformed and the ancient glory of the empire (the Roman) restored."
  4. Abbot Joachim (died, 1202): "After many prolonged sufferings endured by Christians, and after a too great effusion of innocent blood ... a remarkable pope will be seated on the pontifical throne, under the special protection of the angels. Holy and full of gentleness, he shall undo all wrong ... and recover the kingdom of Jerusalem ... In order to obtain these happy results, having need of a powerful assistance, this holy Pontiff will ask the cooperation of the King of the West (the Great Monarch)."
  5. Holzhauser (died, 1658): "When everything has been ruined by war, when Catholics are hard pressed by traitorous coreligionists and heretics ... then the hand of Almighty God will work a marvelous change, something apparently impossible according to human understanding. There will rise a valiant monarch (the Great Monarch) anointed by God. He will rule supreme in temporal (i.e., in civil) matters. The Pope will rule supreme in spiritual matters at the same time. Persecution will cease and justice shall reign. He will root out false doctrines and destroy the rule of Moslemism. His dominions will extend from the east to the west. All nations will adore God their Lord according to Catholic teaching. The reign of the Great Monarch may be compared with that of Caesar Augustus, who became emperor after his victory over his enemies, thereby giving peace to the world - also with the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great, who was sent by God, after sever persecutions, to deliver both the church and state. By his victories on water and land, he brought the Roman Empire under subjugation, which he then ruled in peace ... The Great Monarch will have the special help of God and be unconquerable."

[AND HERE IS SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT - TO THOSE EVANGELICALS WHO HAVE AT LEAST A MODICUM OF KNOWLEDGE CONCERNING THE "END OF DAYS" - THEY SHOULD ASK THEMSELVES WHETHER OR NOT THE "GREAT MONARCH" AND THE "ANGELIC PASTOR" DO NOT BEAR A STRIKING RESEMBLANCE TO THE BIBLICAL PROPHECIES CONCERNING THE ANTICHRIST AND THE FALSE PROPHET!]

The battle, then, which the Catholic faith pictures for the church is not one which is waged against "principalities and powers in heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12), but one which is totally earthly and is carried on by means of the arms of the flesh. It's a battle for the earth, not the heavens.

ROMAN CATHOLICISM
AND REVELATION 17:
THE WOMAN RIDES A BEAST

Of course, such a plunge into the immoral and debauched affairs of this world could not help but leave its smell on Roman Catholicism, and it was against this stench, which had over the centuries attached itself to the "Church of Rome," that the Protestant Reformers revolted during the Reformation; to a person, they found little difficulty in identifying the woman on the beast in Revelation 17 as the Church of Rome. Indeed, as late as the early Twentieth Century, the Rev. Alexander Hislop of England found little trouble in receiving widespread acceptance for his book, The Two Babylons, in which he wrote:

"There never has been any difficulty in the mind of any enlightened Protestant in identifying the woman (of Revelation 17) 'sitting on seven mountains', and having on her forehead the name written, 'Mystery, Babylon the Great', with Roman apostasy. No other city in the world has ever been celebrated, as the city of Rome has, for its situation on seven hills ... To call Rome the city 'of seven hills' was by its citizens held to be as descriptive as to call it by its own proper name. Hence Horace speaks of it by reference to its seven hills alone, when he addresses, 'Thy gods who have set their affections on the seven hills'. Martial, in like manner, speaks of '... the seven dominating mountains' ... Now while this characteristic of Rome has ever been well marked and defined, it has always been easy to show, that the church which has its seat and headquarters on the seven hills of Rome might most appropriately be called 'Babylon', inasmuch as it is the chief seat of idolatry under the New Testament, as the ancient Babylon was the chief seat of idolatry under the Old." 1

Most evangelicals today would consider such a statement extreme. But until the latter half of this century, such thinking was considered well within the evangelical mainstream. The fact is, Hislop's view here is the historic position of the Protestant / evangelical church: it was the view held by Luther, Zwingle, Huss, Calvin, Whitefield, Finney, Mueller, Moody, Ironside, Barnhouse, Gaebelein, Torrey, Warfield, Pentecost, Walvoord, etc., etc., etc. (for instance, Barnhouse, Ironside, and Gaebelein specifically endorsed the above passage) - and if there has in recent years been a softening of the evangelical / Protestant attitude towards the Catholic Church, it certainly hasn't been because the Catholic Church itself has changed - it's evangelicals who have changed!

The fact that many of the leaders of today's evangelical church - people like John Wimber, Paul and Jan Crouch, and even Chuck Swindall, the current president of Dallas Theological Seminary - find it difficult to continue in the vein of their Protestant and evangelical forefathers insofar as their attitude toward Catholicism is concerned only indicates the kind of craven duplicity that some of our present-day leaders are engaged in - hypocrites who present themselves as evangelicals and as the heirs of our evangelical faith, and who cavalierly trade upon the godly reputation of yesterday's evangelicalism, while all the while denying the very doctrines which empowered that church and made it what it was; it may be an indication of how close to the end we really are.

But it isn't as if "old-line" evangelicals (men like Barnhouse, Gaebelein, Ironside, etc.) had not anticipated such a change. Most of them - if they were alive today - would have had little trouble in believing that the reference to the "whore" of Revelation 17 as "the mother of harlots" [Rev. 17:5] was a clear reference to these so-called "new-evangelicals" - men like Gary DeMar, Ed McAteer, James Kennedy, Ray Sutton, Duane Gish, Pat Robertson, Morris Cerullo, etc. - who seem to be hell bent on racing one another to embrace Roman Catholicism as a "sister church," especially as the exigencies of political warfare press themselves ever more heavily on them as they jam forward with their program to "take the nation back for Christ and the church" - a program which they have come to believe cannot succeed without Catholic support. To the men and women involved in this kind of political activity, heresy and doctrinal differences cannot be allowed to stand in the way of their politics.

But in doing so - in placing more emphasis on political aggrandizement than on spiritual growth, these men - and the denominations they lead - are acquiring the same stench to themselves that has historically attached itself to Roman Catholicism. Political activity requires compromise, and compromise leads ultimately to apostasy - the process is inexorable and is as sure as the proposition that the sun rises in the east. And when apostasy has done its work, heresy and idolatry are the inevitable result. That is what happened to Roman Catholicism, and this is what will happen to those who follow in Catholicism's wake.

With this in mind, maybe it's time to back up a little and take a look at what the Protestant Reformation was all about, and to examine more closely why evangelicals have historically avoided any connection with that abominable institution.

WHAT IS THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH?

What was it that so repelled all the old-line evangelicals with regard to Catholicism? Put plainly, it is the fact that the Roman Church no longer has anything to do with Biblical Christianity and has become instead very much a heathen institution. Indeed, as not only Hislop, but Gardner, Edgar and countless other Protestant theologians have demonstrated - theologians endorsed not by the "pop" evangelists and whiz-kid luminaries of today's TV Christianity, but by such Protestant eminences as Donald Barnhouse, Charles Simpson, Dwight Moody, etc. - most of the so-called "mysteries" of the Roman Catholic Church are literally Babylonian in origin.

That almost the entire thrust of Roman Catholic teaching is anti-Christian in character (and denies salvation by Grace alone) there can be little doubt. To this fact, the teachings of all the great Protestant / evangelical leaders - some of whom were forced to forfeit their lives to Rome (and not because they were engaged in any kind of warfare against Catholicism as such, but simply because they denied Rome's pretensions and preached salvation through Grace), leaders like Huss (martyred by Rome), Lady Jane Grey (martyred by Rome), Luther, Zwingle, Calvin, Hun (martyred by Rome), Brown (martyred by Rome), Tyndale, Latimer (martyred by Rome), Ridley (martyred by Rome), Cranmer (martyred by Rome), Wesley, Whitefield, Carey, Raikes, Darby, Newton, Spurgeon, Moody, Pentecost, Walvoord and more names too numerous to mention - bear uncompromising testimony. One should study carefully the witness of these lives and the teaching of these men before one too quickly accepts the theological nonsense of a J.I. Packer or a Richard John Neuhaus - a kind of moronic theological dribble which tramples under foot the lives and testimony of these heroes of the faith and accepts in its place the "pop" religion of a Paul and Jan Crouch.

The great crime with which the Roman Catholic Church was (is) involved is the denial of salvation by Grace alone! - and the adoption of a "grail-like" (please see Chapter XVI) or Gnostic process of salvation by works based on mortification [often of an extreme nature leading even to self-flagellation (beatings and whippings) - a practice which is going on even today in Opus Dei, the Jesuits, etc., and especially in those monkish orders dedicated to Fatima - to say nothing of ordinary parishes in the Philippines, Latin America, etc.], and a kind of fleshly piety and strict adherence to the sacraments of the Roman Church.

Concerning these practices, Luther wrote after he had been saved,

"I was indeed a pious monk, and followed the rules of my order more strictly than I can express. If ever a monk could obtain heaven by his monkish works, I should certainly have been entitled to it. Of this all the friars who have known me can testify. If it had continued much longer, I should have carried my mortifications even to death ..."

Admission into heaven by his own works of piety, mortifications, flagellations and adherence to the sacraments of Rome is the end towards which Luther had aimed; and not only Luther, but countless other sincere Catholics - even today. What a shameless deception - and how cruel to those who are entrapped in this kind of system - for Protestant leaders, men like Chuck Colson, Pat Robertson, etc. to deny all this, and by doing so, leaving these poor souls entrapped in an unremittingly evil system of religion. There will be a reckoning some day for people who compromise the Gospel in such a way - maybe not in this life-time, but certainly in the life-to-come.

You still doubt, do you? You think, perhaps, that we are being too "sensational" and "extravagant?" - straining at gnats" Oh? Then let's pause for a moment to examine the sacraments of the Roman Church, and by doing so to appreciate more fully the "machinery of works" through which the Roman Church has enslaved its adherents.

In the New Testament, we only read of two sacraments, or divine institutions as connected with a saved people - baptism and the Lord's Supper. However, in the Roman Church five additional sacraments have been added - confirmation, penance, extreme unction, ordination, and matrimony; and concerning baptism and the Lord's Supper, both have been so convoluted in "infant baptism" and the Mass as to be totally unrecognizable to the true saints of God. In addition, the Roman Church adheres to a number of other doctrines which are so outrageous and / or idolatrous that no sincere Christian could ever involve himself with them; for instance, Mary-worship, worship of the saints, relic-worship [often of dead body parts (e.g., hands, fingers, bones, etc.) of the so-called saints of the Roman Church], confession, purgatory and indulgences (which follows logically the doctrine of purgatory), etc. [For a more thorough understanding of these sacraments, we refer the reader to Gardener's Faiths of the World and Edgar's Variations on Catholicism; in addition, we recommend Albert James Dager's excellent booklet on the subject - available through Media Spotlight (P.O. Box 290, Redmond, WA 98073-0290).] While we certainly don't have time to examine all of these "damnable heresies" [as the Bible refers to them (2 Peter 2:11)], we will examine quickly three of them: (1) the "Mass" or "Transubstantiation," (2) Mary-worship, and (3) Indulgences.

THE HERESY OF THE CATHOLIC MASS

The doctrine of the "Mass" or "Transubstantiation" occurs nowhere in the New Testament, or even the so-called "Greek" or "Latin Fathers" of the church. Nonetheless, in the year 1215 the Lateran Council held it to be among the settled doctrines of the church. By a cannon (decree or edict) of that council it was affirmed that when the officiating priest utters the words of consecration at the Lord's Table (or "Mass"), the "Bread" and "Wine" are converted literally and actually (not just symbolically) into the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ - the bread being "transubstantiated" into the actual body of the Lord, and the wine into His actual blood. This is witchcraft of the worst kind.

From this belief, an untold amount of superstition results. The now "consecrated" bread and wine receive divine honors. When the wafer (the bread) is held aloft, the people in most Catholic countries fall down and worship it (which is idolatry). On some occasions - especially in Latin countries - the wafer is placed in a casket, and carried in solemn procession in the church, and sometimes in the streets, and as it passes, the people are required to bow down in worship and admiration. So far have these superstitions been carried, that the wine is not even passed to the people anymore for fear that it will be profaned. How is it, then, that people like J.I. Packer can dismiss this sort of superstition and idolatry and still call themselves with any semblance of honesty and integrity "evangelical?" - or even "Christian?" People gave their lives to avoid the taint of this kind of Catholicism, and now Colson and others say its not worth troubling ourselves over - that it's all just a "misunderstanding." What a sham! What a deceit! - there will be a reckoning some day!

THE HERESY OF MARY-WORSHIP

In 1095, the Council of Clermont confirmed the adoration and veneration of Mary as the "Mother of God" [note: not the mother of Christ - but the "Mother of God," - the subtlety here is important!]. Romanists may affect to deny that they honor Mary with the worship due to God only, but in their books of devotion, it's quite another thing, and prayers to the "Virgin" occupy a prominent place. Consider the following prayers, and then judge for yourself whether Mary is being worshipped or not, the protestations of certain charismatic Catholics notwithstanding:

"If the winds of temptation arise, if thou run upon the rocks of tribulation, look to the star, call upon Mary. If thou art tossed on the waves of pride, of ambition, of distraction, of envy, look to the star, call upon Mary. If anger or avarice or the temptation of the flesh toss the barque of thy mind, look to Mary. If disturbed with the greatness of thy sins, troubled at the defilement of thy conscience, affrighted at the horrors of the judgment, thou beginnest to be swallowed up in the gulf of sadness, the abyss of despair, think upon Mary - in danger, in difficulties, in doubts, think upon Mary, invoke Mary."

If this isn't worship, I don't know what is. Indeed, what it really is, is idolatry - and the Bible has some very serious things to say about idolatry: "Cursed is the man who makes an idol ..." (Deut. 27:15) One should be very careful here because the curse falls on those who even countenance such things - and isn't that what evangelicals are doing when they ally themselves with Catholics "to take the country back for Christ?" - tacitly countenancing it.

And again:

"We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all dangers, O ever glorious and blessed Virgin."

And again:

"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and in the hour of death ..."

And again:

"Hail, holy Queen Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope! - to thee we cry, poor banished sons of Eve, to thee we send up our sighs, mourning, and weeping in this valley of tears; turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us, etc., etc."

And in the "mysteries" of the Rosary ["Fourth Glorious Mystery" (The Assumption)], this is written"

"Hail Mary:

  1. The eternal predestination of Mary as the masterpiece of God's hands.
  2. Her Immaculate Conception (i.e., incarnation), and her plenitude of grace and reason while within the womb of her mother, Saint Anne.
  3. Her nativity, which gladdened the whole universe.
  4. Her presentation and stay in the Temple.
  5. Her admirable life exempt from all sin.
  6. The fullness of her singular virtues.
  7. Her fertile virginity and painless birth.
  8. Her divine maternity and her alliance with the Most Holy Trinity (again, idolatry).
  9. Her precious and loving death.
  10. Her resurrection and triumphant assumption."

And the "Fifth Glorious Mystery [The Coronation]:

  1. The triple crown with which the Most Holy Trinity crowned Mary.
  2. The joy and new glory heaven received by her triumph.
  3. To recognize her as Queen of Heaven and earth, angels and man.
  4. The treasurer of the graces of God, of the merits of Jesus Christ, and of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  5. The Mediatrix and Advocate of men.
  6. The destroyer and ruin of the devil and of heresies.
  7. The secure refuge of sinners.
  8. The Mother and nurturer of Christians.
  9. The joy and sweetness of the just.
  10. The universal refuge of the living, the all-powerful consolation of the afflicted, of the dying, and of the souls in purgatory."

And again, some of her other titles and appellations:

  • "Ark of the Covenant."
  • "Gate of Heaven."
  • "Morning Star."
  • "Refuge of Sinners."etc.

And then evangelicals leaders like Glen Cole, the former pastor of Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, California (and one of the most important men in the Assemblies of God), Pat Robertson, Chuck Colson, J.I. Packer, etc. - to say nothing of countless other Protestant and evangelicals throughout the country - have the titanic temerity and enormous presumption to imply that the Reformation was all just a misunderstanding - after all, isn't that what "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium" all about (which all these men - and many more besides - have endorsed? - their lawyerly and weaselworded protestations to the contrary, notwithstanding)? The colossal insolence and artless naivet´┐Żof such thinking is breathtaking. What are these men thinking? - and it isn't as if all these heresies are hidden away somewhere in the deeper recesses of the Catholic Church - but rather quite to the contrary: they are reiterated daily in Catholic "Masses" throughout the world in which every Catholic is expected to participate!

THE HERESY OF INDULGENCES

History places the first formal practice of indulgences in the early part of the eleventh century, though the informal practice of indulgences had been carried on for centuries. Once again, the Council of Clermont (1095) - in which Mary-worship had been instituted - provided the forum through which this heinous doctrine was declared a dogma of the church. The theory behind the doctrine of indulgences was simple: from the earliest period, it had been the practice of the Roman Church to impose painful works of sufferings (even flagellations) on offenders. When these sufferings were discharged or undergone, they were called "satisfactions." But when the penance was shortened or entirely remitted because of some monetary consideration or good work, this was called an "indulgence."

And how exactly could one obtain an indulgence? It was alleged that the Roman Church had a vast Treasury of "Good Works" stored up in it as a result of the "works" of her saints - that these saints [who had been so recognized ("canonized") by the church] had done more than was necessary for their own salvation (notice here, salvation through works), and by their "excess" works a treasury had been formed of which the Pope possessed the keys, and which he could apply for the relief of offenders both in this life and in Purgatory. The Doctrine of Indulgences offered for a sum of money the pardon of sins, and even - in extreme cases - a license for sins to be committed.

Protestants tend to believe that this practice - which so outraged people everywhere in the sixteenth century that it was the immediate cause of the Reformation - has been abrogated by the Church of Rome. Tsk! Tsk! - No such thing! As any good Catholic can tell you, the practice is alive and well - and is continuing to line the pockets of Rome with untold amounts of money yearly.

Now let it be perfectly understood here, the doctrines, sacraments, dogmas, and practices described in the preceding paragraphs - and much more besides - are not simply the practices of the Medieval Roman Church, but are still the very current practices of today's "modern" Church of Rome. So astonishing is this to the mind of most Protestants everywhere (especially those of the charismatic persuasion), that they are tempted to exclaim (as with almost everything else they don't want to accept): "I simply don't believe it!" But a simple perusal of Catholic literature, easily available at any Catholic bookstore, will confirm the practice of all this in today's Catholic Church.

Indeed, the deification of Mary has reached such heights of idolatry today that even the Protestant Reformers would now be astounded; Vatican II, rather than reversing this process, accelerated it by reaffirming the Virgin Mary as the "Mother of God" (not Jesus). She was also declared the "Mother of the Church." As a matter of fact (and as we have just noted in the "mysteries of the Rosary"), the Roman Church now teaches that Mary was conceived without original sin (immaculate), was bodily received into heaven just like Jesus (the Assumption), and is now "CoRedemptrix" (Savior or Redeemer) with Christ.

This is heresy, plain and simple! - and make no mistake about it, the leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal all subscribe to these hideous, non-Christian, and even occult beliefs, their "saintly" "lifting up of holy hands" at ecumenical charismatic gatherings and their affirmation of the Nicene and Apostles' Creed notwithstanding. [After all, to affirm the Nicene Creed on the one hand, while on the other hand one involves himself in Mary Worship is oxymoronic! - and for people to say otherwise is just plain stupid! - and not a little disingenuous. The fact is, it's as oxymoronic for one to say that he is a member of the Nazi Party, but that he is not an antiSemite as to say he believes in the Nicene Creed but that it's still OK for him to involve himself in Mary Worship - and if Christians are willing to take such statements at face value and put their trust in such oxymoronic thinking, then they deserve the fate that will no doubt ultimately befall them.]

These things are not hidden except insofar as there is a stubborn Protestant refusal to look at the facts of the matter, coupled with a fairly well orchestrated effort by many well-known evangelicals to obscure them from the main body of Protestants and evangelicals.

The teachings of the Roman Catholic Church are just as aberrant as the Mormons or the Jehovah Witnesses, and if it were a modern sect, it would certainly be classified as such.

Many Catholics may not be fully aware of what their church teaches and others (secretly) may not agree with it. And, of course, there are no doubt many saved Catholics, but that despite the teachings of the Catholic Church, not because of them! The path which evangelicals must take to unity with such an institution must be one which rigidly refuses to examine the essential teachings of Catholicism.

We can have unity with the Roman Catholic Church only at the expense of the truth, or we can have the truth. Until recently, the former was not considered an option.

The Bible solemnly - and even forebodingly - cautions Christians not to have anything to do with Roman Catholicism, and especially as we see "that day" approaching. Specifically, it warns:

"And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth. "And after these things I say another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
"And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
"For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying,"

"COME OUT OF HER,"

"my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."

"For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
"Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
"How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
"Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her." (Rev. 17:18; 18:8).

FOOTNOTES

  1. Rev. Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons (A&C Black Ltd., London, 1916) pg. 1-2.

The following articles expand to one degree or another on the theme developed in this chapter.

Argentina, The Death Squads & Christian Activism
 
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The Business Right And The Christian Right An Alliance Made In Hell
 
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Christian Evangelicals And The Death Squads: Oh What A Tangled Web We Are Weaving For Ourselves!
 
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Council On National Policy
 
Creating A Common Partnership Between The Moneyed Elites And The Religious Elites
 
The Death Squads: Bringing In The Kingdom Of God Through Terror, Torture And Death
 
Death Squads - They're Closer Than We Think
 
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Ideological Origins Of The CNP
 
The Image Of The Beast [Part 2 in our series on Apostasy]
 
George Bush, The "Promise Keepers," The Principles Of Messianic Leadership
 
The Olson Salon: A Case Study Of The Machinations Of The Religious Right (Part 1)
 
The Organized Church And The End Of Days
 
Pat Robertson Who Is He? What Is he?
 
Paul Crouch, TNB, & The "Christian Unity"
 
Pahllus Worship & The New Charismatics
 
Political Christianity
 
The Rich Have Seized Control Of The Church!
 
Richard Mellon Scaife: The Evil That Money Can Do
 
The Right Wing Panics
 
Robertson, D'Aubuisson, & The Death Squads
 
Rutherford Institute & R.J. Rushdoony
 
Strange Bedfellows: The Religious Right & The Secular Right
 
Striking A Blow At Today's Pastoral System
 
Uncovering The Theological Compromises Evangelical Politicos Have Been Forced To Make
 
We Are All Being Played For Suckers

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