Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Response to John H. Armstrong regarding Roman Catholicism

John H. Armsrong writes:
First, it utterly amazes me that there are evangelicals (more likely they are fundamentalists if this distinction is properly nuanced) who still think Catholics are not members of the Christian church. Some even think Roman Catholicism is a massive cult or “the synagogue of Satan.” This was not the view of the magisterial Reformers. And it most certainly was not the view of many Protestants since the 16th century; e.g. Lutherans, Anglicans, Reformed, etc.
This could hardly be more out of touch with reality.

Take this example of Calvin's writings:
This is why the Church is called the mother of believers. And certainly, he who refuses to be a son of the Church desires in vain to have God as his Father. For it is only through the ministry of the Church that God begets sons for Himself and brings them up until they pass through adolescence and reach manhood. This is a title of wonderful and highest honour. But the Papists are foolish and worse than puerile when they plead this to annoy us. For their mother is an adulteress, who brings forth into death the children of the devil. How foolish is the demand that the children of God should surrender themselves to her to be cruelly slain! Could not the synagogue of Satan at that time have boasted with far more honest claim than Rome today? And yet we see how Paul strips her of every honourable distinction and assigns to her the lot of Hagar.
- John Calvin, Commentary on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, at Galatians 4:26

Or consider Westminster Confession of Faith 24:3:
III. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry who are able with judgment to give their consent. Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord. And, therefore, such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, Papists, or other idolaters: neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are notoriously wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresies.
Or if you want to check in on what Luther thought, check out the Smalcald Articles (discussed here).

I'm sorry to put it this bluntly, but Mr. Armstrong is as out of touch with with history as he is, by accepting those who maintain damnable heresies, out of touch with Scripture.

But what is worse than the idiocy of supposing that the view of "fundamentalism" (as Armstrong disparagingly refers to it) today is different from that of our Reformation ancestors, is Mr. Armstrong's foolish notion that leaving Roman Catholics in Roman Catholicism is "love." It's exactly the opposite of love!

Love is sharing the good news with people. Love is warning people about their condition. Love is not letting an ill man think he is well, but rather love is persuading the sick man of his need for the Physician.

There's probably more that could be said to correct the many errors in Mr. Armstrong's article (for example, he writes that "Calvin and Luther make interesting reading here since they struggled against Rome yet still held some doctrinal beliefs that modern evangelicals remain uncomfortable with (views about Mary, etc.)," (see his article) yet Calvin did not hold "doctrinal believes" about Mary that modern evangelicals would "remain uncomfortable with" - see my discussion here). Nevertheless, the biggest error and most horrible error is Mr. Armstrong's encouragement to those in Rome to stay in Rome under the guise that this is more loving than evangelizing them.



louis said...

"This could hardly be more out of touch with reality."

Even that is an understatement. For Calvin, one can also look to his Institutes, Book IV, Chapters vii and viii, where he specifically identifies Rome as the antichrist.

Luther's views couldn't be any clearer than in the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, where he also identifies Rome as the antichrist, repeatedly and emphatically.

The Westminster Confession (and the LBCF) identified the pope the antichrist until the turn of the 20th century.

One could go on, but agree with their conclusion or not, historic protestantism has always thought Rome was a synagogue of satan, until fairly recently.

Anonymous said...


I was with you until the end! grrrrr!!

I guess this is as good a place and time to protest?

We'll see??

There are a couple of things left hanging out there when we read your words, recited here:

until fairly recently

For me, this is not very wise of an ending?

What do you think?

First off, the "reformation" needs a bit of clarity when making comments like "until fairly recently".

The Reformation did not start with Luther or Calvin.

The Reformation started the moment God spoke something to come into existence, out of nothing, through His Eternal Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding, that is, the Second Person of the Triune God.

What the RCC is trying to do is deflect that truth so that we keep our eyes on "mother" church causes and fail to step to the plate and swing at those hot potatoes being thrown at us constantly.

No, the Reformation is a process long started before the Luther awakening; from his own deception he came into and then came out of by the Grace and Truth of the Gospel understood by the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms! It is the same for John Calvin. It is the same for every one of God's Elect.

Secondly, the RCC is trying desperately to "relocate" authority from the top down to a local bent so as to fool all over again. That is a double entendre. Christianity is a top down experience, just not the way the RCC wants you to have it!

Their desperation is obvious as they go about trying to elevate the local authorities putting emphasis on ecumenical efforts that Rome can stamp approval for.

There will never be a time of repentance for Satan, his angelic following or his earthly followers destined for the eternal lake of fire prepared for them all. With them there is "no" heart to redeem. There never has been and there never will be. This fight is to the death; "heart to heart"!

It is not the main goal of the Reformation here that salvation of the world comes about. They want to define for us what Eternal Salvation is. What they want is unity of purpose and peace on earth and good will towards all mankind.

You will never have it, ever, as long as this temporal world exists.

Don't settle in for peace on earth and goodwill towards all men! If you do, you are being deluded. Proclaim the Gospel like the farmer throws his seeds upon his fields he is planting!

If ever there was a time and place for a renewed reformation, seed time, planting an understanding of what the Reformation is, now's the time and this is the place. These present heavens and earth are destined for the fires of destruction.

Isaiah and the err of Judah and Jerusalem that God moved upon him to prophesy to them about, is tantamount to the err of the RCC and her capital, Rome, that Luther, Calvin and everyone in every generation of God's people are called upon to prophesy about and oppose!

This is the Will of God.

So, there is "no" until fairly recently in this world. There shall never be. There is only complete and utter hostility towards God and His Eternal Purpose. And His Elect, called out of every nation, in every generation, is always on a collision course with hostility/destiny.

No mother church will ever be able to bring you into world peace and good will. There is only hostility because of His eternal purpose.

It will be done one soul at a time, or, of a few, twelve, or, maybe three thousand, or, five thousand at a time, as the exception is. No, generally peace comes individually to one soul at a time.

We were singularly born into a world of hostilities and ungodly purposes! The question remains, is the hostility that comes from you towards the anti-christ spirit come out of God into you, first? Does your hostile purpose line up with His Eternal purpose so that it is Christ's Words that are the central eternal purpose and focus of everything, everywhere, that you do?

louis said...


Thanks, I agree with you. I meant that fairly recently many Protestant churches have stopped calling Rome a synagogue of satan. That was not the position of the Reformation.

Tom said...

I just read a very pertinent quote from Calvin which clearly proves that Armstrong is either completely ignorant, or blatantly lying, on the subject.

Banner of Truth a few years ago published Calvin’s “Sermons on the Beatitudes”; preached by Calvin in 1560, so this represents his thought in the last years of his life. On p. 60, Calvin preached:

“To be at peace with everyone, we would have to turn our backs on God. Since that is so, on what basis could be possibly agree with the papists? What understanding could we come to? They would be delighted to have us on their side, but on what terms? We would have to become apostates like them, shut out of the kingdom of God; we would have to join them in their foul, putrid cesspool; in a word, we would have to become the devil’s children, as they are.”