The other day on his popular and respected blog Tim Challies wrote something that certainly caught my eye as he described a recent email from “Andy Jackson of SmartChristian fame.” Tim says:“Andy noticed that Ken Silva, one of the writers at the Slice of Laodicea blog, quoted Robert Murray M’Cheyne and his suggestion that the beast of Revelation is the church of Rome.” This article will address the critical subject of the apostate Church of Rome and clarify a bit why I have been compelled by the Lord to write so much lately about Satan’s best counterfeit of the true Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Evangelical Compromise With Rome

They went out from us, but they were not of us: for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us (1 John 2:19).

I commend Tim Challies, whom I do not know, for being willing to even address this issue in his article The Beast Of Revelation. And whether he meant to or not Challies would lay out a very nice defense of my thesis that the evangelical community today–allegedly Reformed Protestant–is heavily compromised concerning the Roman Catholic Church. Challies says:

Every now and again I receive an email, often as part of a group mailing addressed to a wide variety of the most-read bloggers, asking me to use my site as a platform to post or provide comment on a particularly inflammatory issue. I got one of those emails today, this one from Andy Jackson of SmartChristian fame. Andy noticed that Ken Silva, one of the writers at the Slice of Laodicea blog, quoted Robert Murray M’Cheyne and his suggestion that the beast of Revelation is the church of Rome.

On his blog Andy declares that “this is absolutely ridiculous” and in his email says: “Please take a look at this post at Slice and either post on it or provide a comment. I understand apologetics and standing for right teaching, but I have concerns about this blog labeling and condemning others in the body of Christ that we might not agree fully with.”

Fortunately even though somehow it was taken down I was still able to link to the post referenced above on the link provided by Jackson at SmartChristian. Challies provides the quote that I used from the great Scottish pastor-teacher Robert Murray M’Cheyne:

Here is the offending quote from M’Cheyne:

Now, we know quite well that the beast is the Church of Rome; we are told that the beast sits upon seven hills; and we are told at the end of the second verse that the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. So that there is no doubt, dear brethren, but that the great enemy of the sheep the false shepherd, who comes like a lamb, but who has the paw of a bear – is Antichrist. Now, there can be no doubt but that he gets his power from Satan.

And then Challies goes on to correctly state that “M’Cheyne is by no means unique in suggesting that the beast is none other than the Roman Catholic Church.” Apparently Andy Jackson is like so many evangelicals today who are ignorant of the historic position of so many giants of what Dr. Walter Martin would often refer to as the historic orthodox Christian faith. Although I never met him, I claim Dr. Martin as one of my primary teachers because early in my training Jesus led me to his tape ministry which I studied diligently to better learn my trade. So concerning my writings on the apostate Church of Rome, and as a former Roman Catholic myself, I will say as Dr. Martin would: “I’ve done my homework and I’ll stand by what I say.”

I praise my Master that He would be kind enough to have Tim Challies confirm this as he goes on to say:

One could easily argue that this is nothing more than the consensus of historic Protestantism. If Ken Silva does believe this, and nowhere in the article does he affirm such a belief, he finds himself in good company. It is only in the past few decades that this belief has fallen out of favor. Not surprisingly, this change coincides with increasing efforts to bridge the theological gaps between Catholicism and Protestantism.

Roman Catholicism Is Another Religion

If the Lord wills I’ll have more to say about this article by Challies, as well as the subsequent My Beastly Article, where he ends up having to defend himself from the exact same charges often levied against my writings on Rome. O how low critical reasoning skills have fallen in this relativistic so-called “postmodern” pagan society. For now I will just share the following from Challies where he clarifies our position. I am indebted to Tim as well because he also preserves part of another post which is apparently no longer available:

Back at “Slice of Laodicea,” Silva posted a brief article to provide a point of clarification regarding his intent. “My intent with the Robert Murray M’Cheyne quote was simply to illustrate how far Christians have fallen from a proper view of the apostate Church of Rome, and not to state that I personally believe Rome is the ‘great whore’ or ‘beast’ in Revelation.” He does well to quote John MacArthur who says “The Catholic Church claims to be true Christianity. And…we [can’t] reverse 450 years of history and just throw our arms around the Roman system, which…we have to say in all honesty is not a group of wayward brothers, but is an apostate form of Christianity. It is a false religion; it is another religion.” It is, indeed. In fact, it is a false church that sets itself up not against but in place of the true body of Christ.

Like Silva, I am not arguing that I believe the Roman Catholic Church is the beast of Revelation, but am saying that one could make such an argument and make it forcefully. And of course, through the history of the church, many have made that argument. Those who do so today have many heroes of the faith on their side–men who knew their Bibles and loved God. Some of these were even put to death by the church they labelled antichrist. Among these was Thomas Cramner, who, when asked to renounce his heresies, said “And as for the Pope, I refuse him, as Christ’s enemy and Antichrist, with all his false doctrine.” He was soon led to the stake where he often spoke the “words of Stephen, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,’ till the fury of the flames putting him to silence, he gave up the ghost.” (emphasis his)

Let Us Not Forget The Reformers

Men and women, are we really expected to forget hundreds of brave Christians who were literally murdered at the hands of Roman Popes? Perish the thought! Do I hate Roman Catholics? Obviously not, I’m on record that the vast majority of my family–on both of my parent’s sides–are still enslaved in Roman Catholicism. But as Dr. Martin once said about the work of the apologist: “Sometimes you have to run the risk of being hated by the very people you are trying to reach.” I believe this to be the proper Biblical position, and this despite the prevailing false sense of the love of man being spread in the new evangelicalism through the contemplative spirituality taught by wayward men like Living Spiritual Teacher Richard Foster. He is a key mentor of the neo-pagan cult of the Emergent Church within Rome’s devious daughter The Ecumenical Church of Deceit (ECoD)

The Gnostic mysticism of Contemplative/Center Prayer (transcendental meditation for the Christian) has been bringing about yet another fulfillment of Scripture – This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves (2 Timothy 3:1-2). Can you see it? Mankind will love himself. The great men of God who have gone before us could see it, and that’s why the powerful preacher George Whitefield once said:

Whoever is acquainted with the nature of mankind in general or the propensity of his own heart in particular must acknowledge that self-righteousness is the last idol that is rooted out of the heart. Being once born under a covenant of works, it is natural for us all to have recourse to a covenant of works for our everlasting salvation. And we have contracted such a devilish pride by our fall from God that we would, if not wholly yet in part at least, glory in being the cause of our own salvation.

We cry out against Popery, and that very justly; but we are all Papists, at least I am sure we are all Arminians by nature; and, therefore, no wonder so many natural men embrace that scheme. It is true we disclaim the doctrine of merit and are ashamed directly to say we deserve any good at the hands of God; therefore, as the apostle excellently well observes, we go about establishing a righteousness of our own and, like the Pharisees of old, will not wholly submit to that righteousness which is of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord (The Lord Our Righteousness).

The Phony Faint Praise Of Compromise

Men and women, this you have just read from George Whitefield is consistent with what all of the mighty men of God throughout history–whom our Evangelical leaders say they respect–have always taught about salvation. These great preachers of the past have also said the same things about the apostate Church of Rome as well. However, all the candy-coated compliments and wishy-washy words of faint praise that we occasionally hear from evangelical leaders regarding such men of past renown–who were so obviously used by Jesus–just don’t line up with what they are actually preaching to us today. It brings me no pleasure to tell you this and it certainly isn’t making me popular. But as it has been very well stated elsewhere, if you are in the ministry as a popularity contest you have chosen the wrong profession.

Let me quickly tell you a little about George Whitefield who preached during the major revival in the mid 1700’s that we know today as the Great Awakening. In his very readable book Church History In Plain Language Dr. Bruce Shelley, who is Senior Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Denver Theological Seminary, tells us a little about this Great Awakening:

New Jersey. Virginia. Massachusetts. The winds [of revival] remained vigorous but regional until the Atlantic currents carried to America the father of modern mass evangelism, George Whitefield. In 1739, the Wesleys’ friend brought his powerful voice and magnetic style to the colonies, and preached his way through Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York.

In Philadelphia he spoke out of doors. Even the worldly wise Benjamin Franklin was impressed, especially when the audience “admir’d and respected him, not withstanding his…assuring them they were naturally half beasts and half devils.”

It was a surprise to the deistic Franklin to walk through the streets of his city and hear psalms ringing out from house after house (346).

Have We No Courage To Tell The Truth?

Now surely it is clear enough that even a blind man can see that the Church in America does not have this kind of effect on people today. So let me ask Billy Graham, and some of these other noted evangelicals now denying the Reformation, to think about something. Was it God Who changed? Or just maybe it was instead that Protestants simply have lost the courage to tell people the truth? That rather daunting quote from Ben Franklin’s own diary tells us a lot doesn’t it? Out of respect for God’s man Whitefield the unbelieving Franklin wrote that the people “admir’d and respected him, not withstanding his…assuring them they were naturally half beasts and half devils.”

We’ll resume this discussion in Part Two but for now, the Body of Christ desperately needs to get back to a proper understanding of the cardinal doctrine of justification, which we might refer to as part A of salvation. The absolute truth is, when God alone makes the decision that a person truly has placed his faith in Christ alone–then He alone–declares that person as righteous because of what Christ has already done. This is what Whitefield was saying, and what you will see for yourself from the very pages of the Bible itself as we move along in this series. It is literally what God the Holy Spirit has revealed, and I might add, the Lord has also revealed this quite plainly.

To see this clearly all one needs to do is to lay down his pride in self. Now, think about what Whitefield had just said – “Whoever is acquainted with the nature of mankind in general or the propensity of his own heart in particular must acknowledge that self-righteousness is the last idol that is rooted out of the heart.” And we need to remember that when people hear you present the absolute Truth of the Gospel in the power of God the Holy Spirit they will respect you. No doubt, they might not ever want to see you again, but they will respect you.

So I find I must ask again what has changed regarding Roman Catholicism?