False teachings go all the way back to the first century. We were warned by Jesus, Paul, Peter and other Apostles to trust the Holy Spirit for the truth — discernment. In my quest to uncover where the Catholic Church started going wrong — away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ — I had no idea, I’d uncover so much blasphemy and heresy. The Roman Catholic Church claims to have total authority over Catholic parishioners and the world. Therefore taking the word “catholic” to its meaning — “universal”. The “Councils” are infallible and have equal authority as the Bible. The Bible is “extra” — basically, non-essential. The Pope, known as the “Vicar of Christ”, claims supreme authority over the church and all Christians all over the world. He also claims that everything he says is “infallible”. Where and how did this supreme papal authority and infallibility start? Certainly, not in the Bible…
The Gospel Truth
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.”Matthew 28:18 NLT
Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.Galatians 1:8-9 NLT
Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”John 18:37 NLT
He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.Daniel 7:14 NLT
21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.Ephesians 1:21-23 NLT
22 Now Christ has gone to heaven. He is seated in the place of honor next to God, and all the angels and authorities and powers accept his authority.1 Peter 3:22 NLT
And the leaders of the church had nothing to add to what I was preaching. (By the way, their reputation as great leaders made no difference to me, for God has no favorites.)Galatians 2:6 NLT
Where the Roman Catholic Church Went Wrong on Papal Supreme Authority
The Middle Ages
c. 340s AD – The head of the church in Rome starts to take on authority over all the bishops throughout the Roman Empire. If a bishop of a church within the empire did something wrong, the bishops from nearby churches would get together for a trial. Sometimes, the Bishop or Rome was not informed.
What would happen was the accused bishop(s), if found guilty, would then appeal to the Roman church. Moreover, that bishop, would then appoint arbitrators.1
Since Constantinople (New Rome) was the capital of the Eastern Empire, that bishop wanted equal standing with the Bishop of Rome.
440-461 AD – Leo I, he made use of the title “papas” where we eventually get the title of Pope. In 452, Leo was able to persuade Attila the Hun to let the city of Rome alone. But later the city would be sacked by the Vandals for 2 weeks, but the majority was left alone because of Leo. Leo is considered the savior of Rome.
494 AD – Pope Gelasius wrote that God gave both sacred and royal power to the pope and the king. Because the pope was accountable to God for the king — he crowned him — the sacred power of the pope was more important than that of the king.2
590 AD – Gregory I – First Bishop of Rome to take on more pope-like power – Gregory the Great – 1st to take the title of Pope. In “papal succession” from Peter, he was the 64th Pope.
1049-1294 AD: The Papal or Dark Ages
1049 AD – Popes installed kings and emperors – Papal Authority – No emperor or king could be crowned without the Pope or one of his designated representatives. There was no separation of church and state. The Pope had a say in government and military.
1073 AD – Pope Gregory VII – “Dictatus Papae” – declared papal supremacy over temporal rulers.
1198 AD – Pope Innocent III on Empire and Papacy: He declared that God created the sun and the moon — the sun to rule by day and the moon by night. Thus, he claims that God created the Holy See — or “pontifical authority” to rule over “royal power” by saying that as the moon derives its light from the sun, so the king or emperor derives his light (or power) from the Pope. “The further it is removed, the more it increases in splendour.”1
1202 AD – The Pope has to have a say in who gets chosen or elected king — to make sure it’s not someone who may have been excommunicated or cut off from the church for committing a mortal sin.
1302 AD – “Unam Sanctum” – “…we declare, state, define and pronounce that it is altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman pontiff.” They are declaring this as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah 1:10:
See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.Jeremiah 1:10 NIV
That, was God talking to Jeremiah about that time and the kingdoms of the Babylonians and others that would come and rule over Israel and take them captive. The Catholics do love to take scripture out of context! Here’s what they skipped… Read Jeremiah 1:9-19… I also highly recommend the lesson on Jeremiah chapter 1 in ThroughTheWord.org. If you read the whole book of Jeremiah, you’ll see that as he faced kings and princes, he suffered imprisonment because the rulers did not like God’s warnings to leave their idolatry behind and worship Him only. Read the whole book and you’ll see the truth.
Continuing with the History of Papal and Church Authority and Supremacy
1294 -1517 AD – Pre-Reformation Era
Popes were very decadent — rich and powerful – breaking the rules. The Renaissance was brought on by the Crusades as the fighters started bringing back from the Middle East the art and cultures.
1302 – Boniface VIII – “…of the one and only Church there is one body and one head, not two heads like a monster; that is, Christ and the Vicar of Christ, Peter and the successor of Peter, since the lord speaking to Peter Himself said: “Feed my sheep” [John 21:17], meaning, my sheep in general, not these, nor those in particular, whence we understand that He entrusted all to him [Peter].”
1429 – Council of Florence – Pope has a primacy throughout the whole world; is the successor of “Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles; the true Vicar of Christ, Head of the Universal Church and of all Christians; received in Peter by the Lord Jesus Christ, the fullness of power to feed, to rule, and to govern the Universal Church.”
1439 – Council of Florence – Basically stated that only members of the Holy Catholic Church could be saved — no one can be saved unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.
Reformation Era – 1517 – 1648 AD
After the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic church leaders had a big problem. So, they convened the Council of Trent….
1545-6 – Council of Trent – only the church can tell you what the Bible means and what to believe. Only their interpretation of the Bible is true. They can spin it any way they want. They followed Augustine’s views that people were born inherently evil because of Adam’s sin, and they were slaves to sin, “utterly reliant on God’s grace for salvation.”3 Hey, they had that right! It became formalized dogma at the Council of Trent. The problem was that they still needed to buy “grace points” through the sacraments to be saved!
Original sin was a keystone of Catholic theology. It provided the rationale for the doctrines of…
- The Incarnation
- The Atonement
- The Immaculate Conception of Mary
- It explained the need for infant baptism and the spiritual realm of “Limbo” – which doesn’t exist, just like purgatory doesn’t exist.
- It supported the view of the church as the sole source of spiritual redemption, Christ as the second Adam, and the prohibitions regarding human sexuality.”3
1648-1790 – Denomination Era
1856 – Pius IX “There is only one true, holy, Catholic Church, which is the Apostolic Roman Church. There is only one See founded in Peter by the word of the Lord (St. Cyprian, Epistle 43), outside of which we cannot find either true faith or eternal salvation. He who does not have the Church for a mother cannot have God for a father.”3
So, basically, he’s calling St. Peter a liar for this is contrary to Acts 2.
1863: They did give outsiders the possibility of salvation: “We all know that those who are invincibly ignorant of our religion and who nevertheless lead an honest and upright life, can under the influence of divine light and divine grace, attain to eternal life; for God who knows and sees the mind, the heart, the thoughts, and the dispositions of every man, cannot in His infinite bounty and clemency permit any one to suffer eternal punishment who is not guilty through his own fault.”3
1869-70 AD – Papal Infallibility – Dogmatic Constitution “past or aeternus” (or future) – “Every time a Pope as Vicar of Christ issued a statement on faith and morals, … he was making an infallible declaration… All encyclicals [a papal letter sent to all bishops] were dispatched ex cathedra (from the throne of St. Peter), and hence represented teachings that were binding for all believers in every age.”3
1961-1965 – Vatican II: Clarification on papal infallibility… Could the popes have been wrong on:
- The divinity of Jesus
- Apostolic succession
- The Holy Trinity
- Same-sex marriage
- Human life
- Canon laws
“Therefore, the dogma that was meant to bolster the power and prestige of the papacy eventually came to create a fissure within the Roman Catholic Church that would contribute to its collapse.”3
Vatican II put an end to the old feudal system giving the council of bishops, who had power over the Pope. Any papal pronouncements were to be made in accordance with the majority vote of the episcopate. The pope was reduced to a symbolic figurehead. The bishops, along with the pope were vicars of Christ. 3
Why have a pope at all? Like why have a president, when you have a cabinet — appointed by the president only, with no senate confirmation, who has equal power? It doesn’t make sense! I see all these as a bunch of power-hungry people only interested in their own status while being oblivious to the salvation of the parishioners — which is Christianity’s purpose in the first place!
Furthermore, regional or national gatherings of bishops have the same weight of authority as a papal proclamation.3
So, in review…
The Pope is the vicarious representative of Christ here on earth. Free to interpret, review, or extend canon law of the church –or is he? Final court of appeals is sovereign for doctrinal disputes. He alone could absolve certain sins, issue indulgences, and canonize saints.3 The Roman Catholic Church calls itself the sole source of truth for all mankind (built on lies – man-made “truth”).
“He [the Pope] cannot err in matters of faith and morals.”Mike Gendron
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven and that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, this is what you have to do…
Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.
Pray this prayer humbly and wholeheartedly…
“Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe You died for my sins. Please forgive me. Right now, I turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and my life to you. I confess You as my personal Lord and Savior. I surrender my whole life to you and I will follow you for the rest of my life. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Next Steps in Your New Walk with Jesus…
- Start reading the Bible daily. If you don’t have one, I recommend the YouVersion, Bible.app and Through the Word app — both are free and have a lot of great daily devotionals and Bible studies.
- Pray every day. Talk to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you daily.
- Find and join a Bible-believing church — preferably a non-denominational one and be baptized!
Jesus Christ is coming back soon! Are you ready?
Soli Deo Gloria — To God Alone Be the Glory!
- Documents of the Christian Church, 1999, 3rd edition, Edited by Henry Bettenson and Chris Maunder
- Christianity Through the Centuries, Earle E. Cairns, 1996, Zondervan.
- Among the Ruins: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Catholic Church, by Paul L. Williams, 2017