Co-Ministry With Roman Catholics?

Click here to see a response by Francis Schaeffer to this article.

If it is true that the Roman Catholic Church preaches a different gospel than the gospel of the New Testament, then Scripture is clear that we cannot co-evangelize, or co-minister with those within that church.

Does the Roman Catholic Church preach and stand for a different gospel? Let us examine some evidence

The epistle to the Galatians seems to address itself to a very similar problem. It is here that the Apostle Paul talks about those who are preaching “another gospel.” He says “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8) The people that Paul suggests should be “accursed” are Jewish men who profess belief in Jesus. The problem is, however, that these same men also teach that one needs Jesus plus circumcision, in order to be saved, “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:2-4)

It is commonly understood among all true Christians that one is saved not by faith plus any specific rite or ritual, (i. e. circumcision), but by faith in Jesus alone (Romans 3:28, etc.). However, Vatican II

(the Roman Catholic hierarchy) states a different gospel. A gospel of faith plus the Roman Catholic Church, etc. states Vatican II: “For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, (and they define this as the Roman Catholic Church) which is the universal help towards salvation that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained.”

Is this true? Can one fully obtain the means of salvation only through the Roman Catholic Church? Do we need faith in Jesus plus the Roman Catholic Church to be saved? I do not believe so. I believe this is a different gospel.

States Vatican II about Mary: “Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation.” And, “Therefore, the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. This, however, is so understood that it neither takes away anything from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator.”

Is this true? Does Mary bring anyone the gifts of eternal salvation? Is she co-mediatrix with Jesus? Scripture says that there is “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 2:5) Mediatrix is just the feminine version of the word Mediator. What is the evidence to support Mary being the one, unique, co-mediatrix? As the apostle says, “Prove all things.” (1 Thess. 5:21) As the 1950 Infallible pronouncement stated “…seated at the right hand of God as co-mediatrix with Jesus Christ.” Either there is one mediator, or two, or many. Scripture says there is one. What can the Roman Catholic Church possibly mean by this “being so understood that it neither takes away anything from nor adds anything to…Christ the one Mediator?” No wonder John Calvin considered Roman Catholic doctrine a “mass of confusion.”

Now this is a very important teaching. For God demands all the glory for Himself. He alone deserves all the glory. Jesus alone saves. One mediator. If you add other mediators, you have a different gospel. As John Calvin writes “Let it be carefully observed, that we are removed from Christ, when we fall into those views which are inconsistent with his mediatorial office.” (Commentary on Galatians, Chapter 1, verse 6)

States Vatican II: “In the mystery of the eucharistic sacrifice, in which the priest exercises his highest function, the work of our redemption is continually accomplished.” Daily celebration of Mass, therefore, is most earnestly recommended, since, even if the faithful cannot be present, it remains an action of Christ and the Church, an action in which the priest is always acting for the salvation of the people. Is this true? Is the “work of our redemption” “continually accomplished” in this “sacrifice”? When conducting a mass, is the priest really “acting for the salvation of the people”? As Scripture says “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” and “for by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 9:12, 14 etc.)

This too, is a different gospel. A gospel in which the Roman Catholic priest is able to turn the communion elements into the body and blood of Christ and then offer a “sacrifice” in which the “work of our redemption is continually accomplished.” Did you know that anyone, who refuses to “worship” these elements is called “accursed” by the Roman Catholic Church. For God must be worshipped and these elements are God (Vatican II upheld this Council of Trent teaching.) Said Charles Spurgeon, “The worship of what is called the Blessed Sacrament is as vile an idolatry as the worship of the Egyptians of onions and other pot-herbs which grew in their own gardens.” Roman Catholic priests and faithful today still worship these elements. Do you think Charles Spurgeon would co-evangelize today with Roman Catholics?

There are other Roman Catholic teachings relating to salvation that we believe to be false. However, the above examples should be sufficient to show that they preach a different gospel—A gospel of faith plus the Roman Catholic Church, plus the mass, etc. Now Paul says, “let them be accursed” referring to those who preach a different gospel (in that instance, faith plus circumcision). What do you think Paul would say to those who preach faith plus the Roman Catholic Church, or to those who teach that Mary is co-mediatrix? If the Apostle Paul says “let them be accursed” and “I would they were even cut off,” do you believe that he would have co-evangelized with them anyway? I don’t. Nor do I believe that he would co-evangelize with those preaching faith plus the Roman Catholic Church.

Another important Scripture that merits consideration for this question of co-ministry with Roman Catholics is Romans 16:17, “I beseech you brethren, mark them who cause divisions and contentions contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them.” This Scripture does not say to avoid those who cause any and all divisions, although some people that I personally know actually interpret it that way. That interpretation seems impossible, for Paul himself encourages separation from brothers, “But now I have written unto you not to keep company if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no, not to eat.” (1 Cor. 5:11) Those to be “avoided” according to Romans 16:17 are those who “cause divisions and contentions contrary to the doctrine which you have learned…”

Does the Roman Catholic Church cause divisions and contentions contrary to the doctrine which we have learned? If so, the Word of God says to “avoid them.” In 1 Cor. 5:6-7 Paul likens as “leaven” those “called a brother”, those with whom we are “not to company”. Paul here says “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?...Purge out therefore the old leaven…” Jesus says “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees…then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:6, 12) Paul uses this same expression “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” in Galatians chapter 5 in reference to those teaching faith plus circumcision. Paul follows this by saying “I would they were even cut off which trouble you.” It is clear that he would not have co-evangelized with them. In 2 Thessalonians chapter 3 Paul says “withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” and “if any man obey not our epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed, yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” ( 2 Thess. 3:6, 14, 15). Now Paul uses much harsher language “let them be accursed” and “cut off” with those teaching false doctrine in Galations.

Why did John Wesley, John Calvin, Luther, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Finney, Hudson Taylor, A. W. Tozer, etc. all refuse to co-evangelize with Roman Catholics? Were they wrong? Or is the Roman Catholic Church different today? Would Calvin’s statement that anything that is “inconsistent with his mediatorial office” still hold true today? If anything, I believe it is more true today. It wasn’t until 1950 that the world was given the Infallible pronouncement (there have only been 3 official Infallible pronouncements) of Mary being co-mediatrix with Jesus. The thing that separates us from the Roman Catholic Church is doctrine, not immeasurable loving feelings toward Jesus. Many professing Christians are attempting to change the Roman Catholic Church from within by leading people to “experience Jesus.” Most of these people are not speaking out about the false doctrine that causes the separation. I have been told not to be concerned over these “secondary” doctrines (i.e., Mary, Papal Infallibility, etc.). That, all you need to do is love and experience Jesus.

Well, I agree that loving and knowing Jesus stand at the top of the “list.” The question, however, is which Jesus are we knowing and loving? The Mormons say they know and love Jesus, as do Children of God, and Witness Lee’s Local Church. The Roman Catholic faithful love a Jesus that has Mary as Co-mediatrix, and who is continually sacrificed at every Mass contrary to scripture (Heb. 9:12-14, - note the past tense in verse 12 {"obtained redemption", etc.). Christianity Today (March 2, 1979) reports Pope Paul II in Mexico stating “that the Virgin of Guadalupe (Mary) is the seat of wisdom, and that she guides the future, the past and the present. He offered to her the entire Latin America Catholic Church as her property, while professing that she provides the spiritual unity that binds the church together.” Is the Jesus that we know and love entrusting our future to Mary? Or is that “another” Jesus? Jesus is love. He is also the Truth. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)

Said the Messiah, “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam… So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans…repent” (Rev. 2:14-16) To another church Jesus says “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest (allows) that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication (almost certainly spiritual) and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication, and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds (Rev. 2:20-22) I cite the above to show that Jesus considers certain doctrine to be very important. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4) “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16) Is it possible that by co-evangelizing with Roman Catholics, people may be given the impression that you endorse the Roman Catholic Church? Is it possible that these people may join that church and end up believing heresy and a different gospel? “….thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.”

That, be it as it may, God says “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being King” (1 Samuel 15:22-23). God says to “avoid them” who cause divisions and contention contrary to the doctrine you have learned.” Search your hearts and Scripture. Does the Roman Catholic Church do this? Would you be “rebellious”, “rejecting the word of God” by co-evangelizing with them? “Let them be accursed”; “I would they were even cut off which trouble you”, “A little leaven, leavens the whole lump”, “Purge out therefore the old leaven”, “I have written unto you not to keep company if any man that is called a brother be a …”, “withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly”, “…if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him…”, separation for different reasons. But Scripture is most severe with those who preach a different gospel.

I would like to conclude by briefly examining the few scriptures I have been most hearing, that supposedly support co-evangelism with Roman Catholics.

4.Romans Chapter 14—This chapter teaches freedom in regard to food and drink and holidays, except when such “freedom” causes brethren to stumble. This chapter does not teach freedom to co-evangelize with members of a heretical church that preaches a different gospel. Additionally, when rightly understood, this chapter speaks clearly against the actions of Christians who today are teaching co-evangelization. For they are creating a new obstacle to their brethren, which for hundreds of years, was basically non-existent. They are causing brethren to “stumble” by urging them to be disobedient to God’s word.

5.1 John 4:2 and 2 John 7---“Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God” and “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an anti-Christ.” These brothers reason that since the Roman Catholic Church says that Jesus came in the flesh, then it is ok to co-evangelize. However, the real question is which Jesus came in the flesh? The Jewish heretics of Galatia were never criticized by Paul for preaching that Jesus didn’t come in the flesh. Paul’s entire contention with them was that they required faith in Jesus plus circumcision. Also as we have pointed out, the Mormons, Children of God, Witness Less’s Local Church, and even the Unification Church say that Jesus came in the flesh. But which Jesus? The Jesus who is the one mediator? Or the Jesus who works with the one mediatrix?

6.Matthew 13—The parable with the tares and wheat in the field. Jesus clearly explains that “the field is the world” (13:38) and not the “church.” Rooting up the tares implies their physical destruction from the field (the world) and not separation within the “church.” (13:28, 29 with 13:38-41).

The apostle Paul says “Prove all things.” (1 Thess. 5:21) and “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

May we all be found to be such workmen.

Footnotes

7.Vatican II, Unitatis Redintegraton, 21 November 1964, Decree on Ecumenicism—Chapter 1.

8.Vatican II, Lumen Gentuim, 21 November 1964, Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, Chapter 8a –Our Lady

9.Ibid.

10.Vatican II, Instruction on the worship of the Eucaristic Mystery, S.C.R., Eucharisticum Mysterium, 25 May, 1967.