Fundamentalists Roaming Catholic
There has always been a sort of glory and reveling when a person or group makes a bold and determined stand against an ancient powerful foe. So the little boy in the zoo makes faces at the caged lion, thinking himself to be quite a champion to face off such a powerful fiend. When, in reality, if the lion were let loose out of his cage, the boy wouldn’t be around to make faces, and if he stayed, he wouldn’t remain very long.
It has always been easy and exciting to poke the stick into the cage of wild animals, but how many are willing to face off a loose beast and fight bare fisted in an open arena? There are many "Fundamental Christians" (by that term in the following article, I do not mean the strict, literal definition, but people who are esteemed to be so today) who think well of themselves for standing against traditional Roman Catholicism. They consider themselves strong, brave and daring warriors of Christ, and they include themselves among the many faithful Christians of old who withstood that damnable Romish system. But, there is a grave difference between them and us -–as different as a zoo is from a jungle. To them, the beast was loose, roaming and powerful, but to us, he is at the moment, weak, helpless and limited.
The Roman Catholic Church was given a severe blow by Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation way back in 1517. While it does have some power and furry today, especially in third world countries, it is quite limited over all from what it used to be. This is not to say that Roman Catholicism is dead; nor is it a requiem over a defeated false religion. It is merely an observation of so many comical Fundamentalists in the zoo, jeering and scoffing at the caged Roman Catholic beast, while a jungle has taken over their own home turf.
Martin Luther said, "where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved." True soldiers today are not the kids in the zoo beating their chests and crying "Tarzan!" True soldiers today are advancing on the open fields where the raging Goliaths are presently mocking and defying the God of the Christians.
While many esteem themselves to be quite far removed from the damnable heresies of the Roman Catholic Church, a closer evaluation reveals quite a similarity. In fact, the very reason that so many denominations and religions today are getting together and merging an forgetting their differences, is because there no longer is much difference between the average Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian, Jew or Catholic. When you boil them all down, and sort them all out, they really live the same kind of lives, wear the same kinds of clothing, talk the same way and have the same habits, opinions, beliefs and practices.
The History of the Roman Catholic Church is a history of evolution. Catholics didn’t believe the same detailed things five hundred years ago that they do now. There was a time when they began making the sign of the cross (300 AD.) There was a time when they began making prayers for the dead (300 A.D.) There was a time when they adopted the doctrine of Purgatory (593 A.D.) There was a time when they began teaching to kiss the Pope’s feet (709 A.D.) There was a time when they began worshipping relics and icons (786 A.D.) There was a time when they declared the doctrine of Transubstantiation (1215 A.D.) There was a time when they began teaching the Immaculate Conception of the virgin Mary (!854 A.D.) The details of the Roman Catholic Church have changed, but the essential dogma has not.
The distinguishing marks of Roman Catholicism are 1) Repudiation of Scripture alone as authoritative. Tradition and men’s opinions are esteemed above Scripture. 2) Roman Catholicism rejects faith alone as the basis of salvation and includes works. 3) Roman Catholicism rejects Christ alone as the only mediator between God and man. A Roman Catholic would have simply had the Pope many centuries ago, but today, Catholics have since included Mary, Anne, the Saints, etc. The details have changed, but Roman Catholic dogma still remains the same – a rejection of Christ as the sole mediator between God and man. 4) Roman Catholics reject God’s grace alone as the only means of our salvation, and do not accept the free, unmerited favor of Jesus Christ. They must add merit, desert and obligation.
Now, at first glance, there is a big difference between old Roman Catholic dogma and Fundamentalism today. However, in practicality and actuality, there is not a great deal of difference between the old Roman Catholic and the modern-day, self-professing Fundamentalist.
A comparison between old
Roman Catholics and modern day Fundamentalists--
Forbidding the Bible to laymen or forbidding the Bible of laymen?
The Roman Catholic Church has historically been the enemy of the doctrine of priesthood of the believer. In William Tyndale’s day, the priests argued that if the common man had the Word of God in his own tongue, he would corrupt, take out of context and abuse the pure meaning and application of the text. They claimed that it was the priesthood only, that had the authority from God to interpret the real meaning of Scripture for the common "lay" man. Consequently, the priests became mediators between God and man, thus requiring the faith and trust of men. William Tyndale is still remembered today as saying to the priestcraft, that if God allowed him, he would see to it that the common ploughboy of England knew more of the Scriptures than they.
However, if William Tyndale were alive today, he would be dismayed at the people who garnish his tomb and praise his accomplishments, yet practice the same things that his enemies
practiced -- a priestly mediatorial power over the common lay people - that if they wish to know what the Scripture really says, they must first come to those who can interpret it for them. Do Fundamentalists today really believe that the common man can pick up a copy of the Scripture alone and understand it apart from their linguistical and intellectual interpretations? Would the Fundamental scholar today dare be corrected by a Bible wielding ploughboy? Are they really that different from the Catholics in seeking to be mediators between the Bible and the layman?
Tradition above Scripture or Fundamentalism above Scripture?
One of the main historical heresies of the Roman Catholic Church has been to hold tradition (teachings taught by other Catholics) above Scripture. The result in so doing is that the Scripture takes second place to tradition. Roman Catholic dogma and teachings are not doubted, they are actually used to interpret the Bible, thus resulting in an authority outside of the Bible -- tradition.
While many "Bible believers" claim to hold to the Scripture alone as the only and absolute infallible authority for all creed and conduct, in practice, many Fundamentalists hold Fundamentalism (teachings taught by those who call themselves Fundamental Bible believers) above Scripture. The result in so doing is that the Scripture takes second place to Fundamentalism. Fundamentalism’s teachings and doctrines are not doubted, but are actually used to interpret the Bible, thus resulting in an authority outside of the Bible -- Fundamentalism. Are we really that far from the mentality of Rome?
Services in Latin or services in Greek and Hebrew?
Roman Catholics have historically been a people ignorant of the very message of the priest they have attended. The reason is due to the fact, that historically, Roman Catholic priests have kept services out of the language of the common man. The priests would speak in Latin for a more pure, holy and unadulterated service. Being an ancient language, it has a sort of mystery and aura to it that demands reverence from the lesser educated. The question for the Roman Catholic priest is, "Why not speak in the language of the people?"
Many self-professing Fundamentalists today fill their English services with Greek and Hebrew -- There is a mysterious authority, commanding reverence to the high and lofty man of knowledge who can speak such a higher language than the common man can understand today -- one more pristine and complex than the vulgar English language can handle. The question for the Fundamental preacher is "why not speak in the language of the people?" Do Fundamentalists really believe the
Scripture alone is sufficient for the ploughboy?
Popes, Priests and Fathers or Doctors and Experts?
Roman Catholics have historically trusted in the popes and priests and fathers for their salvation, and would do whatever necessary to hear them pronounce blessings of grace upon them from heaven. Because such men have been so greatly revered and respected, no matter what they would say, they have become powerful.
Most Baptists today have a special trust and confidence in those men who have more credentials attached to their name. A doctor is revered and respected today as a wise man of learning and understanding and given a higher status than merely a minister of God. Specially trained experts are trusted to be correct and exact in whatever assessments they make (even though most of them are thoroughgoing liberals), and therefore exert much more power than a mere preacher of the Gospel.
The Bible however says that it is the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of knowledge, wisdom and understanding. It says that the faith was once delivered unto the saints, not the textual critics. It says that there are not many wise men after the flesh whom God has called, and that He has rejected most of the doctors and experts of the day, for the base, despised, rejected and off-scouring poor people of the earth. But then again, why should Baptists hold the Bible as such an authority when they have authoritative scholars they can trust? Can a man be a respected Fundamentalist today, who has spent all his time at the feet of Christ alone?
Lavish cathedrals or state-of-the-art church facilities?
Roman Catholicism has historically been represented by vast and lavish physical structures of tremendous value and wealth. The Roman Catholic Cathedral is almost always the most elaborate building in its neighborhood and city, especially among third world countries. The people are encouraged to give sacrificially to the work of the Lord -- which virtually always entails a physical work. Their religion consists in beautiful and glorious things which are seen.
Christianity, however, has never been represented by physical wealth and grandeur, but by an emphasis on that which is not seen -- the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the preaching of the cross which is esteemed foolishness by unbelievers. For the first three hundred years of the church, believers met in homes. All throughout church history, believers have almost always been assembled as a "little flock." The church building was simply a structure to house the people of God when they came to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. The structure was often used in American history for a schoolhouse or other useful purpose during the week. Unlike the Catholics, the religion of Christians did not consist in a physical work, but a spiritual work -- obedience to the Word of God, godliness and love for one’s neighbor.
However, the church of the Fundamental Baptist today is continuing more and more to attract the wealth of its occupants. Rather than using their money as good stewards in the spread of the Gospel and help of the needy, particularly poor Christians, they have bedecked their facilities to the point that Protestants now rival the Catholics in elaborate buildings and structural designs. And members are taught that by giving sacrificially to the building program, they will receive the blessings of God. Where would the ministry be today of most churches if their buildings where destroyed, when virtually all of their money and efforts go into their physical facilities? Are they really all that different from Catholics in their physically glorious and carnal religion? Do Fundamentalists today really labor for those things which are not seen, or is the preaching of grace alone esteemed to be foolishness to them as well?
Rich Popes or rich preachers?
Roman Catholic priests have historically been a wealthy lot of men. When Martin Luther went to Rome, he was amazed at all the wealth and extravagance among the priestcraft. The Son of Man had not where to lay his head, but Pope so-n-so is bedecked in gold, fine raiment and lavish facilities?
Many Fundamental "ministers" of the Gospel today merely assume that they should drive new cars, live in beautiful houses, send their children to get annual doctor check-ups, and then send them off to college. The thought of not having a place to lay their heads would be heresy to most Fundamentalists today-–just like it has been historically to Roman Catholic priests.
Most Fundamentalist preachers handle so much money today, that seminaries require those studying for the ministry to take business classes on money management and investment. According to recent statistics, the average Fundamental Baptist preacher makes over $50,000 dollars a year. Such a ministry is certainly an attractive field to make many feel called of God unto. All one has to do is to espouse fundamentalism – whatever it may be at the moment -- smile, dress nicely, speak comfortably and don’t rock the boat, and you’re set for life! Why work a hard job of sweat and labor? And once you’re in, it’s even harder to get out. A poor preacher who lives by faith alone today is about as rare as a saved Catholic. Are Fundamentalist preachers today closer to being like our poor Christ, or the fat Roman priests?
Monasteries or seminaries?
Throughout history, Roman Catholics who have occupied monasteries have been considered to be more spiritual and holy. Because of their life of difficulty and denial, monastics have been looked upon as more blessed individuals, closer to God and heaven for all of their sacrifice, seclusion and study. Their study was very rarely that of the Bible, in-and-of-itself, but the Fathers and traditions intellectualism. Men such as Peter Lombard and Thomas Aquinas were studied as if they were oracles of God. A serious Roman Catholic was esteemed to be more "qualified" if he had a background of life and service in monasticism.
Today, modern Fundamentalist seminaries are very similar in many essential ways to the old monasteries. A man is more revered and respected as being more qualified to handle a church, if he has been through a seminary of higher learning, where he has devoted his life, service and time through sacrifice and denial. Rather than studying the Scripture itself, seminaries have given themselves over to study men of letters, scholars and intellectuals by whom they interpret the Bible. Many Baptists will study Josephus, Origen and self-professing liberals to lay the background for the real meaning of Scripture. Rather than studying the Scripture in English as all-sufficient for creed and conduct, they spend time waxing eloquent on dead languages which gives them an edge on the common "lay" man.
Today, the appeal is quite strong in Fundamentalism that the calling of God is not sufficient in-and-of-itself, but a man called of God should also be "qualified" by a Fundamentalist seminary. It is about as probable to hear of a ploughboy preaching at a Fundamentalist convention as it is to hear of a ploughboy speaking at the Vatican. Do Fundamentalists really believe the Scripture alone is sufficient, all by itself?
It is no wonder that so many Fundamentalist churches also reflect the same philosophy on their church signs. When is the last time the reader has passed by a Fundamental church and actually read a Bible verse on the sign? Rather than choosing a good, all-authoritative Bible verse to reach the people who pass by, most Fundamental churches now choose some intellectually witty or humorous saying by some man, which they think will do better to advance their cause than the all-sufficient Word of God. Are Fundamental Baptist churches today really that different in their practical rejection of the all-sufficient Word of God than the Catholics of bygone years?
A pilgrimage or a trip to the holy lands?
Roman Catholics have historically considered pilgrimages to certain "holy" places to be spiritually beneficial and rewarding. To be able to walk where some "saint" walked in days gone by, is so highly esteemed, that Roman Catholics will sometimes kneel and crawl to certain places for a greater spiritual reward.
Many Fundamental Baptists so highly venerate the "holy lands" that they believe it necessary to visit them at least once in a lifetime. The thought of seeing actual mountains, valleys, dirt and water where the Son of God walked and was baptized is so spiritually uplifting to some, that they actually think themselves better for having gone. Did it make Judas any better? The Jews who crucified Jesus? "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29b). Is faith alone sufficient for Fundamentalists today? Is God really all that impressed with Fundamentalism?
A Franciscan Monk or a zealous Baptist on a mission trip?
Roman Catholics have historically emphasized mission trips. It is quite a thing in which to glory, if you can take a shipload of priests to another country, baptize them and then claim the country for Pope So-n-so. In fact, during the age of Exploration and navigation, both Spain and Portugal had the world split up, each owning and claiming one half. Whether the people had repented and turned from idols to serve the Lord didn’t matter, because they didn’t believe in Lordship salvation. As long as the people made a decision for the Pope, got baptized and partook of the Mass, they could continue on living as they had always lived and be promised eternal life in heaven after some purging years of purgatory.
Many "Fundamental" Baptists today do the same thing. Get ‘em in, get ‘em saved, get ‘em baptized, and add ‘em to the list of successful results. Changed lives by God’s grace alone doesn’t actually figure in to the program at all -- That is called heresy by many Baptists today, to which the Catholics would historically, practically agree.
Charms, icons and relics or charms, icons and relics?
Roman Catholics have throughout history been an idolatrous people, using images and icons in their spiritual worship. They vainly think that if James or Peter wore a certain garment, it is somehow magical and able to heal and bless those who come into contact with it. They will travel far distances just to be able to touch a piece of wood, reputed to be a part of the cross of Christ. They will give lavishly to obtain some spiritual relic that will bring the blessing of heaven down upon them.
A look at Fundamental Baptists reveals a very similar type of worship. How many people consider themselves blessed if they wear a cross around their neck, or have a picture of what they think represents Jesus on their wall? How many will spend much time gawking over a chair that some great saint of God is reputed to have sat in?
Today, Fundamentalists venerate ancient manuscripts no less than Catholics have venerated pieces of wood, shrouds and vestures throughout history. In fact, the number of manuscripts claimed to be "the Word of God" today seem to be mounting up to equal the number of pieces of wood reputed to be the cross of Christ. As many Catholics would crawl on their hands and knees just to touch an original piece of the cross, so many eager Baptists would crawl on their hands and knees, barefoot and in the snow, just to catch a passing glance at a reputed original manuscript of the Bible. Do they really trust in Christ alone or in mysterious magical relics? Are Fundamentalists today really that far removed from pagan, idolatrous Catholics?
A basket to the poor or a social gospel for the starving?
Roman Catholicism has historically provided handouts for the poor. Monastics and special workers are known to give their lives caring for the sick, dying and starving. By providing for the bodies of the unregenerate, Catholics have vainly imagined that God would add blessings to their own spiritual souls.
Israel, on the other hand, never sent a relief package to the enemies of God who were under His curse, except once, and they were judged badly for it (Josh. 9). Jehoshaphat was cursed God for helping the ungodly and loving them that hated the Lord (II Chron. 19:2). But many Fundamental churches today believe it a spiritual practice to send a "social gospel" of food baskets to those who will not work, and physical assistance to blasphemers "of Christ. Do Fundamentalists still believe salvation comes by grace through faith alone? Shall God bless churches that spend their time giving physical bread to people who are starved of the bread of life? Shall heaven rejoice that pastor so-n-so put groceries on the table of a drunk and a thief? Is there really that much difference between mother Theresa and most Baptists neighborhood relief services today?
A moment of meditation or quiet time with Jesus?
Roman Catholics have historically been known for their meditations. A moment ever once in a while of serious contemplation makes the mediator feel better about himself, especially any sins he has committed, or will commit. His religion does not consist in a changed life of holiness and obedience and conformity to the Word of God, but a moment of mediation which he simply tacks on to his current normal way of living.
Most "Fundamental" Christians today, vainly think that if they spend five minutes with Jesus every morning, God will bless their day. Rather than changing the way they live, 24 hours a day, meditating on the Scriptures day and night, continuing instant in prayer, and bringing themselves into conformity with the Word of God, they vainly think a little solemn quiet contemplation will fix any current problems they are presently in. Shall God respect their spiritual exercise any more than that of a sincere Catholic on his knees? Don’t most Fundamentalists today believe, along with the Catholics, that if they are sincere, the Lord will bless them? Do the just still live by faith alone?
Habits or prayer veils (head coverings)
Roman Catholics have historically been identified by certain customs (habits) of dress and behavior. Even today, nuns are easily identified by their characteristic dress and head covering. They vainly imagine that if they look plain, covered from head to toe, they must be pictures of true virtue, purity and graciousness. The mistake they make is to assume that external piety makes one internally pure: they put the cart before the horse. Most of their women who hide under their sacramental works religion are really cold, bitter and dead on the inside.
Many fundamentalists vainly imagine that if they make their women look submissive on the outside, "that it is therefore true of them on the inside. Even though Paul said of head coverings "But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God" (I Cor. 11:16), many seek to add such a custom as a requirement for true, heart holiness. Yet, the Bible emphasizes "chaste conversation" "the hidden man of the heart," and "the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price" (I Peter 3:1-6).
It is no wonder that many of their women are just as cold and bitter and hollow on the inside, seeking by their outward customs to be covered in the sight of God. Is faith alone not sufficient for a Fundamentalist woman who accidentally left her habit at home?
While there are some who will be angry that we address issues like this which are practiced by good Christians, we answer that that is exactly how the Roman Catholic Church has evolved through the years -- everybody avoided the controversial issues of the day. Weren’t some "offended" in the early church when controversial preachers told them that they shouldn’t be making the sign of the cross?
A sign of the cross or a walk down the aisle to the altar?
Throughout history, Roman Catholics have practiced the sign of the cross as a means of obtaining the grace of God. The act of making a sign of a cross is deemed to be a good work which imparts favor and forgiveness from heaven. It is a quick and easy substitute for a prayer and leaves the doer feeling better after having done so, regardless of whether be repents of sins or lives a holy life.
Many Fundamentalists now believe that their movement down the aisle to the "altar," is a means of obtaining the grace of God. They believe such an act by the doer not only imparts favor from heaven, but is a sign of the working of the Holy Ghost. Fundamentalists move their feet to the altar to obtain forgiveness of sins just like Catholics have moved their hands to the cross to obtain forgiveness of sins and favor from heaven. Some Fundamentalists have actually walked more aisles than some Catholics have made crosses.
When the Catholic priest, Martin Luther, finally believed in his heart, he joyfully got up off his hands and knees and trusted Christ alone as his altar. And when some Fundamentalists finally get saved, the Spirit won’t have to wait for them to get to the front of the church, He won’t have to wait for them to raise their hands, He will save them immediately, unconditionally and everlastingly all by himself, without their Romish rituals.
The rosary to Mary or a decision for the preacher?
Throughout history, devout Roman Catholics have prayed the Rosary. Each time they move a bead on a string, they pray the same prayer, something like, "Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee." They might do so hundreds or thousands of times, repeating the same prayer to Mary, vainly imagining that she, a sinner, would here them for their much speaking and intercede on their behalf.
Many devout Fundamentalists today vainly imagine that if they make lots of decisions for their preacher, it indicates that they are growing spiritually. If they raise their hands, he will intercede on their behalf, and they can leave their burden with the preacher and continue living the same life they have always lived. It doesn’t matter if they make one decision, ten decisions, or a thousand. They might even throw a stick in a bonfire to symbolize their sacrifice to Christ, but they aren’t any better for having done so than the deluded Catholic praying his rosary. And heaven watches in amusement at all the multitudes of vain Baptists in the valley of decision imagining themselves to be more saved than the old fashioned Roman Catholics.
Jesus said that it is not the man who simply says he is going out to do his father’s will that has done it, yet many Fundamentalists commend themselves on their decisions, and the more, the merrier! Is that all they have to show for -- promises of what people claim they are going to do? John rejoiced to hear that his children were walking in the truth, not making decisions. How many fools could Fundamentalism attract if all the fools had to do was to make decisions?
Again, the Lord speaks about those who ran, but He sent them not. They prophesied, but He spoke not to them (Jer. 23:21). Here the Lord was speaking about some who actually stuck to their decisions, yet they were not commended but condemned, because they decided apart from the Lord.
Does the Fundamentalist convert trust in Christ alone for his salvation, or does he really trust in a decision that he made?
When Fundamentalists give "testimonies," do they speak about the Grace that God so wonderfully bestowed upon them, and how God has made them into new creatures, or do they appeal to a time when they prayed a prayer and then "backslid" and then did this and that? Can’t Catholics also appeal to times when they prayed prayers? Shall God reward them for their prayers alone?
Sale of indulgences or sale of salvation?
Roman Catholicism has historically given grace to sinners who could afford it. Drunks could pay ahead of time for an indulgence to drink without guilt. Tetzel is remembered as saying to his followers that as soon as they heard their coin plop into his bucket, a soul from Purgatory would plop out. Roman Catholicism has acquired the assets of its parishioners by first acquiring their souls. When a man’s soul is owned, his worldly goods are no problem to get.
Fundamentalists have picked up on this lucrative way to fatten their coffers -- money for souls. A look at a current, typical advertisement from a prominent fundamental organization today, reads, "I am asking that you make a generous gift for the salvation of precious souls. I am asking that you give for the building of strong Christian young men and young women."
Fundamentalism today wouldn’t work without money. The Holy Spirit is simply assumed to fit into the program, and the absolute necessity of God’s grace alone is mysteriously forgotten; money is all that is needed to get souls saved today. And if you send your money, the preacher might even say a prayer for you and put your name on a brick as helping to build the work of God. Don’t the Catholics have nicer bricks? Why be a Fundamentalist at all? Perhaps we should all just merge?
Fathers with bustard children or preachers with reprobate children?
It has been a historical Characteristic of the Roman Catholic priesthood to have bastard children. Since the priests are not allowed to marry, many fall prey to fornication, adultery, and sodomy. If that didn’t forfeit their "ministry" alone, their own illegitimate children would. As a result, many live private, elusive lives to cover up their sins and remain justified before the people.
Many Fundamental Baptist preachers who claim to believe in the authority of the Bible are not any more qualified to preach based upon their children, than a Roman Catholic priest is. The Bible says that a Bishop is to have his children in subjection with all gravity, ruling well his house, "for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" (I Tim. 3:4-5). It is amazing to hear a man justify his calling of God, when his own children are a living condemnation of his profession. Do Fundamentalists really hold to the Scripture alone as the absolute authority, even above the Pastor?
A confession to a priest or accountability to a counselor?
Throughout history, the Roman Catholic Church has been an organization of confession. Since the priest as a mediator between God and man, claims to be able to forgive sins, sin-laden, guilt-ridden parishioners come to him eager to be forgiven and absolved from the penalty of their sins. They completely pour out their hearts and souls to him, trusting him and committing themselves to him. It is no wonder the priests lead such sinful lives, hearing things which are "a shame to speak" (Eph. 5:12).
Since Fundamentalists have embraced a new thing in recent years -- Psychology -- they have begun to bear a striking resemblance to the old Roman confessional system. Accountability partners and counselors have stepped into the booth to solve the sin and guilt problems of the day. Laying the Bible aside, Baptists today have turned to psychology, confiding themselves in the confidence of another person who is supposed to be of greater spiritual "maturity." The result is the same old problem of ungodliness, sinfulness and immorality among those who claim to be holy men of God. Do Fundamentalists not believe that the Scripture alone is sufficient to solve the age-old problems of sin, guilt and shame? Is psychology a "truth" which can be trusted outside of the Bible as some Fundamentalists maintain?
The Inquisition or the Black List?
One of the reforms in the Roman Catholic Church was to instigate the Inquisition. A ruthless, merciless body of men was chosen to inquire, question and probe into matters of persons who were accused of sin against the Roman Catholic system. There was no guarantee of any council for the accused, and the accused person was automatically presumed to be guilty. It was his responsibility to prove his own innocence. Torture and death were often the result for those who would not cower before the pope or grovel in the dust before the priestdom who were above reproof.
Many Fundamentalists today have their own forms of inquisition which persecute those who will not grovel in the dust or lay down their conscience before a powerful organization. Whether the accused can support himself from Scripture alone, is rarely sought out, for Fundamental institutions and organizations cannot err.
A simple allegation or accusation against an individual can result in his being placed on a "Black List." This, of course, leads to a fear and terror on the hearts of those within Fundamentalism, that if they dare speak out against any abuse or accepted sin within the hierarchy, they could lose their church, their job, their family, their reputation and so much more. The natural result for the majority is to go with the flow, be silent on controversial issues and be flexible. After all, how dare an individual speak out against a "Fundamental" institution of God? Such has always been the argument of the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, within serious Christianity today, Fundamentalism can do more to send a man to the stake than Roman Catholicism.
Takers of the fourth vow or modern day Fundamentalists?
There was a group of sincere Roman Catholics in history that went a step further than the traditional monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to the Pope. They were called the "takers of the fourth vow" – "a willingness to deny reality in the interest of obedience." Whatever the Pope said, they believed it and acted upon it. If the Pope said that black was white, they would call black, white. If the Pope said the moon was made of green cheese, they would teach such a thing as fact.
Christians have throughout history yielded their consciences to no man, but the Scripture alone. Since Christ alone is our priest and mediator to God, and he has made us kings and priests, we do not need a body of men to follow. We have the Holy Spirit of God who guides us into all truth – which is not blind or unreasonable, but clear and simple to understand.
There are some sincere Fundamentalists today who worship "Fundamentalism" no less than monastics have historically worshipped Catholicism. Some are so devout in their obedience to Fundamentalism today, giving lavishly towards its furtherance and staying true to it alone, that they have sold their soul to Fundamentalism. If modern Fundamentalism espouses the same arguments as historic Liberalism, these people will swear up and down that they are still the same, have not changed and still stand on the Word of God as their authority. If modern Fundamentalism comes out with a resolution or proposition, these people will blindly and eagerly accept it before they even read it. And they are as easy to recognize today as people in any day who would readily believe in a moon of green cheese, for the simple fact that they have abandoned reason for recognition.
Apostolic Succession through Peter or through John?
Roman Catholics have historically traced the succession of their Popes back to Peter, who is reputed to have been the first Pope. They claim that the legitimacy of the Roman Catholic Church is based upon Peter, even though the Bible does not teach anything about popes, nor does it call Peter a Pope in any sense, and it mentions that he had a wife, which pope’s have historically been denied. Basically, the Catholics have to supply the missing information that inspired writers of Scripture left out and contradicted.
Many Baptists do the same today, who are followers of J.R. Graves of the last century. They have picked up on the power that can be achieved by claiming sole authority and legitimacy. Like Roman Catholics, they claim sole authority and legitimacy of "Landmark Baptist" churches from a direct line of apostolic succession back to John the Baptist (who is alleged to be the first Baptist.) Without being able to mysteriously prove that one’s church is directly descended from John the Baptist, the members cannot be considered part of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Such an exclusive claim has caused membership to rise out of fear of being left out of the true church. Even though the Bible does not teach such a thing whatsoever, they reject the authority of Scripture supplying their own imagined and man-made traditions. However, the true church continues to be built by Christ alone. What’s humorous is that of all Fundamentalists, these people are most vehement in their anathemas against the Roman Catholic Church!
College of Cardinals or the home mission board and denominational headquarters?
The power exerted by Roman Catholicism lies within its ability to lord it over the people and make binding decisions. The College of Cardinals is quite a powerful body of men within the Catholic church which does important things, such as choosing the next pope.
Baptists today, far from being autonomous – which is supposed to be one of the distinguishing features and qualities of Baptists – are just as driven by large bodies of men and organizations as the Roman Catholic Church ever was.
Most Baptist churches today belong to some kind of association, "fellowship" or group which would kick them out if they practiced their faith solely according to the dictates of their own conscience to the Scripture alone. The Pastor looks to other more important men to lead him, rather than looking as an undershepherd to Christ alone. Mission Boards will drop missionaries who change their eschatology by faith alone as they believe the Bible teaches. Boards do not allow churches to practice true autonomy, or priesthood of the believer. They dictate what the creed and conduct is to be, resulting in rear and reverence from the slaves who have bored their ear to the door of the denomination. Shall such "Fundamentalists" yet imagine that they will be saved by grace alone?
Someone has said, "Heresies never die, they just change their garb." Most Fundamentalists should bite their tongue the next time they call Roman Catholics heretics. Are Fundamentalists today really that different from the "Established Church" throughout history? Are they that different from the horrible, hideous, monstrous, persecuting Anti-Christ whore as they think themselves to be? Are Fundamentalists today really that far from the door of her house?
Could it be that those jeering the beast in the cage are turning into werewolves themselves? Oh, you poor Fundamentalists! Go home and look into the mirror and get your own house in order and save what’s left!
"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" (Revelation 18:4).
The Definition of a Heretick (Titus 3:10),
--by John Gill
"An heretic is one who, having professed Christianity, and received the Scriptures as the only rule of faith and practice, and still professes to abide by the same, and that all doctrine is to be tried by them, stands condemned by those Scriptures, which he himself allows to be the rule of decision and determination; and so may be said to be self-condemned."
In August of 1996, our family attended the Unitarian funeral of 79 year old Frank Messer Fellows. He was the father of Timothy Dwight Fellows, Sr. He named his son after the famous preacher of the Second Great Awakening, Timothy Dwight.
Among other occupations in his life, Frank Fellows, my grandfather, was an undercover criminal detective; he was also a poet, and he was a Methodist minister. He lived most of his life in New England but spent the last part of his life in Southwest Florida.
Frank Fellows was a very polished and articulate speaker and had quite a pleasant personality. He was friendly, kind, jovial and intelligent. He was quite modest in character, demeanor and dress, and separated from worldly practices of lust and vice.
During his twenty-year ministry within the Methodist Church, he followed conservative men such as Carl McIntyre and admired men such as Dr. Bob Jones Sr.
He sent my dad to a prominent, promising, popular Fundamental school (Bob Jones University), in order for him to learn polish, pose, etiquette and debonair, but instead, my dad got saved while he was there – much to the disappointment of my grandfather.
Frank Fellows was a moral man. When he preached in the Methodist church, he preached a moral message – one devoid of Christ and His blood. My dad said that while he was growing up, he often heard his dad speak derogatorily of Christianity as a "bloody religion."
The day finally came when Frank Fellows decided that he could no longer remain in the Methodist Church, so he became a Jew. By doing so, he rejected Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the only sacrifice for sin, and the only way to heaven. He came to reject the New Testament as inspired of God, and relegated it rather to the general category of inspirational ancient writings.
He remained with the Jews for a few years until he grew disheartened by the immorality and sinfulness among them. He once reported a Jewish Rabbi for showing pornographic films to his people. Frank Fellows was quite a moral man.
The last couple years of his life, he spent in the Unitarian Church. He died a moral man, but at the judgment, "his self-righteous rags will not do. The men who crucified Jesus had passed off as moral men too."
He rejected the cleansing blood of the Lord Jesus Christ in his life, and when he died, he stained his own carpet with his own blood. And today, he lifts up his eyes in hell, being in torment.
At what point in the life of Frank Fellows would it have been appropriate to say that he was dead in sins and on his way to hell? He had over one hundred people in his congregation. Were they all deceived?
How many professing Christians today would say that Frank Fellows is in heaven, a sincere, righteous servant of God? Only those who must deny that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Only those who vainly imagine that God takes people to heaven apart from the blood and imputed righteousness of the Lamb of God. Only people who foolishly think, like Cain, that God will accept the best of their filthy hands.
While he was yet a professing Christian preacher earlier in his life, Frank Fellows wrote the following poem which became the story of his own life --Vestments
Speak! Speak! thou fearful soul
Poised for such righteous role
Clad in thy robe and stole
Haunting the people.
While saints in prisons writhe
And ecumenics thrive
Cadavers pass for live
In many pulpits.
---Then from those muted lips
Platitudes, yes and quips
Poured forth like smoke from ships
With heavy cargoes.
Stunned, as his tale I learned;
O, how my heart it burned
To think this shepherd spurned
The Lord of Glory.
"I was a man of God
Withstood both scourge and rod
Like as the saints who trod
The earth before me.
When there went forth decree
To heed the hierarchy ---
‘Conform, or forthwith flee!’
I first resisted.
God’s Word of Truth divine
Where love and mercy shine
I preached it every line,
But as the Word describes
Some colleagues turned to bribes
Cursed me with diatribes
Finally, I recall
Compromise, O so small
Caused me just like King Saul
To reap dishonor.
Easy the course was then
Seeking the praise of men
Like thousands more times ten
Obey their masters.
Came I the Truth to scorn;
Among men most forlorn,
Would I had not been born
To chains of darkness!
Poised here pathetically
This robe and stole you see
Clothe not a mortal free
In mind and conscience.
Scarce do the people know
All this vain pomp and show,
Tares which I freely sow
Are my instructions.
Lo, stand they here aghast
Accepting what is passed ---
My final word and last."
O, SOUL BENIGHTED!
-- Frank Messer Fellows