The following article is an excerpt from a longer work of mine entitled The Deceivers. In it we look at a classic work by Reformed theologian Dr. Lorraine Boettner (1901-1990) called Roman Catholicism where he brings to our attention some of the many “traditions” the apostate Church of Rome has added to her counterfeit version of the Christian faith through her years of rebellion against the Christ she claims ro represent. For those who may not know Boettner himself was a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary where he studied the Systematic Theology of the great Dr. Charles Hodge.

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 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 2:18-19)

Evolving Away From The Faith

In Roman Catholicism Dr. Boettner brings out the critical fact that the Church of Rome has always been evolving away from what Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989), who was a renowned authority in Comparative Religion, often called “the historic orthodox Christian faith.” Boettner correctly informs us that:

One of the first things that we want to point out in this study is that the Roman Catholic Church has not always been what it is today. Rather, it has reached its present state as the result of a long, slow process of development as through the centuries one new doctrine, or ritual, or custom after another has been added. Even a superficial reading of the following list will make – [it is] – clear that most of the distinctive features of the system were unknown to Apostolic Christianity, and that one can hardly recognize in present day Romanism the original Christian doctrines (7, emphasis added).

* Prayers for the dead, began about A.D. 300
* Making the sign of the cross 300
* Veneration of angels and dead saints, and use of images 375
* The Mass, as a daily celebration 394
* Beginning of the exaltation of Mary, the term “Mother of God” – first applied to her by the Council of Ephesus 431
* Priests began to dress differently from laymen 500
* Extreme Unction 526 * The doctrine of Purgatory, established by Gregory I 593
* Latin used in prayer and worship, imposed by Gregory I 600
* Prayer directed to Mary, dead saints and angels, about 600
* Title of pope, or universal bishop, given to Boniface III 607
* Kissing the pope’s foot, began with pope Constantine 709
* Worship of the cross, images and relics, authorized in 786
* Holy water, mixed with a pinch of salt and blessed by a priest 850
* Canonization of dead saints, first by pope John XV 995
* The Mass, developed gradually as a sacrifice, attendance made obligatory in the 11th century
* Celibacy of the priesthood, decreed by pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand) 1079
* The Rosary, mechanical praying with beads, invented by Peter the Hermit 1090
* Sale of Indulgences 1190
* Transubstantiation, proclaimed by pope Innocent III 1215
* Auricular Confession of sins to a priest instead of to God, instituted by pope Innocent III, in Lateran Council 1215
* Bible forbidden to laymen, placed on the Index of Forbidden Books by the Council of Valencia 1229
* Purgatory proclaimed a dogma by Council of Florence 1439
* The doctrine of Seven Sacraments affirmed 1439
* Tradition declared of equal authority with the Bible by the Council of Trent 1545
* Apocryphal books added to the Bible by the Council of Trent 1546
* Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, proclaimed by pope Pius IX 1854
* Syllabus of Errors, proclaimed by pope Pitts IX, and ratified by the Vatican Council; condemned freedom of religion, conscience, speech, press, and scientific discoveries which are disapproved by the Roman Church; asserted the pope’s temporal authority over all civil rulers 1864
* Infallibility of the pope in matters of faith and morals, proclaimed by the Vatican Council 1870
* Public Schools condemned by pope Pius XI 1930
* Assumption of the Virgin Mary (bodily ascension into heaven shortly after her death), proclaimed by pope Pius XII 1950
*Mary proclaimed Mother of the Church, by pope Paul VI 1965

And then Dr. Boettner concludes:

Add to these many others: monks – nuns – monasteries – convents – forty days Lent – holy week – Palm Sunday – Ash Wednesday – All Saints day – Candlemas day – fish day – meat days – incense – holy oil – holy palms – Christopher medals – charms – novenas – and still others.

There you have it – the melancholy evidence of Rome’s steadily increasing departure from the simplicity of the Gospel, a departure so radical and far-reaching at the present time (1965) that it has produced a drastically anti-evangelical church. It is clear beyond possibility of doubt that the Roman Catholic religion as now practiced is the outgrowth of centuries of error. Human inventions have been substituted for Bible truth and practice.

Intolerance and arrogance have replaced the love and kindness and tolerance that were the distinguishing qualities of the first century Christians, so that now in Roman Catholic countries Protestants and others who are sincere believers in Christ but who do not acknowledge the authority of the pope are subject to all kinds of restrictions and in some cases even forbidden to practice their religion. The distinctive attitude of the present day Roman Church was fixed largely by the Council of Trent (1545-1563), with its more than 100 anathemas or curses pronounced against all who then or in the future would dare to differ with its decisions.

Think what all of this means! Each of the above doctrines or practices can be pin-pointed to the exact or approximate date at which it became a part of the system. And no single one of them became a part of the system until centuries after the time of Christ! Most of these doctrines and practices are binding on all Roman Catholics, for they have been proclaimed by a supposedly infallible pope or church council. To deny any doctrine or practice so proclaimed involves one in mortal sin.

What will be next? Indications are that it will be another proclamation concerning Mary. Two new doctrines are under discussion: Mary as Mediatrix, and Mary as Co-redemptrix. Important Roman Catholic authorities have already indicated that these will be the next doctrines officially proclaimed. Mary is being presented in current Roman teaching as a Mediator along with Christ. She is said to be the ‘Mediatrix of all graces,’ and the people are being told that the way to approach Christ is through His mother. “To Christ through Mary,” is the slogan. Her images outnumber those of Christ, and more prayer is offered to her than to Christ (7-9, emphasis added, copy on file).

The Reformation Was Brought About By The Lord Himself

This is by no means an exhaustive list of myriad additions to the professed Christian faith of the Church of Rome but the point has certainly been made, these dogmas–no matter how pious they might seem–could not possibly have been sanctioned by the God of the Bible. You’ll notice Dr. Boettner, writing in the early 1960’s, pointed out that two “new doctrines” that were then “under discussion” involving Mary. Since Boettner wrote those words both of these–Mary as Co-Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix–are now also Roman Catholic dogma.

There’s no real pleasure in pointing these things out but it has to be done. And frankly, I’m only doing something that more of our Evangelical leaders should also have been doing all along. When we look at this evidence–much like one would in a court of law–it is an incontrovertible fact that the Church of Rome considers herself as the one true katholikos (Greek means “universal”) Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is also beyond any question of a doubt that the Church of Rome has only grown further away from God since His Refomation.

And so I find myself returning to the defining question for this timid generation of Evangelical leaders: “What has changed?”