Dominus Iesus: Rome Exalts Her Throne
A Kiss of Death for the Ecumenists
It has been but a short time since Charles Colson, like some modern day Chamberlain alighting from his aircraft, held aloft the ECT and declared, “Peace in our time.” It has been a mere six years; yet the folly of their deeds, apparent to many before, has now been made apparent to all. We can only conclude that if the “evangelicals” who signed that notorious document do not denounce the Vatican, then their act was not one of wishful thinking, but willful betrayal. Rome has dropped her mask; the empty ecumenical charade has ended, and therefore it is time for those who love God’s word to sound the alarm in earnest. Let us play the man, for our people, and for the cities of our God.
On September 5th 2000, the RC document “DOMINUS IESUS”1 (DI) was issued by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.2 Carrying the full authority of an official Vatican decree, it declares the Roman Catholic Church to be the only “instrument for the salvation of all humanity.” DI has been “ratified and confirmed” by “The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II.”3 Even Catholic priests are alarmed by DI. The Irish Independent newspaper states,
The “timing”!!? Is there a better “timing” for betrayal? They were “dismayed” at the document’s timing, not its meaning; they were upset at its tone, not its content. But this is your hour and the power of darkness. Also: to what are they “being both reactionary and defensive”? Overtones of peace? When a lion roars at the sheep, he is not being defensive and reactionary.
Clearly, the numerous ecumenists of “The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” (JD) of last year and the signers and endorsers of ECT 1 & 2 are now not in limbo but rather in no man’s land. Did Colson and his fellow-ecumenists really believe that the Pope will simply fade into the shadows and allow “evangelicals” to exercise themselves independently of his will? Do they think the rhetoric of the Vatican and the witness of history to be empty forerunners; are they as hoodwinked as that generation which had Mein Kampf in their hands and Hitler in their midst, but saw no connection?
Roman Catholic Supremacy
In Section 17, DI speaks of the RCC as the “Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.” This presumed Primacy is the arrogant underpinning of the whole document, flouting the Lord’s commandment, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them...But ye shall not be so.”5 Rome in 2000 speaks as did the infamous Boniface VIII in 1302, “Furthermore we declare, say, define, and proclaim to every human creature that they by necessity for salvation are entirely subject to the Roman Pontiff.”6 The dominant presupposition of Rome is that the Lord set up a totalitarian hierarchy of Pope, cardinals (of which Ratzinger is high on the list), patriarchs, major archbishops, archbishops, metropolitans, coadjutor archbishops, diocesan bishops, coadjutor bishops, etc. This is the spirit of Diotrephes, “who loves to have the preeminence,” gone mad. The Biblical organizational structure of the bride of Christ is utterly different. In the true body of Christ, those ordained as elders and deacons are still only brothers within the same body and the one Master is Jesus Christ the Lord. "For one is your master even Christ and ye are all brethren.” (Mt. 23:8)
Part of the same hierarchical presupposition is expressed in DI, Section 16, “…the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him….” Presumed in this declaration is the idea that Peter went to Rome, was her first bishop, and subsequently, the bishops of Rome have by “apostolic succession” retained his prerogatives and more. The assumption is groundless. In Biblical history there is no mention of Peter ever visiting Rome. The RC position is completely inconsistent with the recorded commission that the Apostle Peter was to take the Gospel to the Jews7 as was the Apostle Paul to the Gentiles8, including those in Rome.
Nowhere in Scripture is there any suggestion of the existence of an “apostolic succession”. In the New Testament, the Apostles appointed elders 9 and deacons, not a line of apostles. There is no Biblical text for these power-endowing statements of DI. Rather the papacy alone declares by fiat that it is so. The papacy now is nothing less than the head of the apostate church depicted in Scripture, ravenous for power, the Woman who is seated upon the beast reigning “over” peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.10
Such arrogance as the presumed “Primacy, which…the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church” is mind-boggling. Irish Catholic author Peter de Rosa, in his book Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy, summarizes the basic mindset behind such statements,
Submission of Intellect and Will
In Section 4, in one sentence of 170 words, DI states that the root of the problem to unity and salvation is “the tendency to read and to interpret Sacred Scripture outside the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church.” This means that the bottom line of DI is the stipulated demand to submit one’s entire mind to an earthly fallible authority that claims to be infallible. In the official word of Rome, “A religious respect of intellect and will, even if not the assent of faith, is to be paid to the teaching which the Supreme Pontiff….enuntiate[s] on faith or morals….”12 Moreover, she pronounces that the consequence for not obeying is punishment with a “just penalty”.13
The Lord himself looked to the authority of the Scriptures alone, as did His Apostles after Him. The Biblical message breathed out by God is revelation in written form (II Tim. 3:15-16). The Biblical claim is that what God has inspired was His written word (II Pet. 1:20-21). When the Lord Jesus Christ said, “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35), He was speaking of God’s authoritative written word. The events, actions, commandments, and truths from God are given in propositional, i.e. logical, written sentences. God’s declaration in Scripture is that it, and it alone, is the final authority in all matters of faith and morals. Thus there is only one written source from God, there is only one basis of truth for the Lord’s people. Against the Section 4 claimed precept of not to believe “outside the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church” is the command of the Scripture not to think above what is written: “… that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” (I Cor. 4:6). God….in these last days hath spoken unto us through His Son, and not through the Pope’s ex cathedra pronouncements nor through the Magesterium of the Church of Rome!
Engineering of Concepts
The key catchword of DI is the word “salvific”. It is repeated in obtuse yet clever sentences 39 times! Many of the statements concerning the role of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in salvation are Biblically correct. However these truthful concepts are used as a camouflage behind which Rome manufactures her claim that Christ’s “salvific” work is in the RC Church. Thus Section 16 of DI asserts, “Therefore, the fullness of Christ’s salvific mystery belongs also to the Church, inseparably united to her Lord.” And, “The Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church…” This claim that Christ’s salvation belongs to and is in the RC Church is based on a faulty definition of salvation. Continually Rome states that justification makes one inwardly just, for example, “Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy.”14 Such a concept of a supposed righteousness within the soul by means of a physical sacrament makes this identification of salvation and the RC Church seemingly possible. The Biblical Word declares that salvation is in “the righteousness of God”15, “the righteousness of the one”, “the obedience of the one”16, “the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”17 Biblical truth makes the DI statement that “Christ constituted the Church as a salvific mystery” impossible. The “righteousness of God” credited to the believer is not on earth, let alone identified with any church. Ephesians 1:3-14 makes clear that such blessed righteousness is in heavenly places in Christ alone. In Section 17, DI quotes from another document18 the RC precept, “The Christian faithful are therefore not permitted to imagine....” Speculation is out of the question, ‘lock-step’ thinking and behavior alone will be tolerated. “Sieg Heil!” echoes through the corridors of the faithful. Dredging the very depths of deception in the ecclesiastical engineering of concepts, Section 16 speaks of “the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church”. Their habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know Me. Scripture speaks of only One who is full of grace and truth, His name, the Lord Jesus Christ.19
Engineering as Lived Out
As Catholics live it out, the “salvific mystery…in the church” is a long journey through the Sacrifice of the Mass, sacraments, good works, merit, worship of Mary and the saints, etc. One is required to partake of the “salvific mystery” in order to be good enough to die in “sanctifying grace” and then to be saved, or at least, for the majority, to land for a time in purgatory. (We are left to wonder how “full” is that measure of grace found within the Catholic Church, how ‘perfect’ is her sacrifice of the Mass, how hopeful are “the last rites,” if their accomplishments are so miniscule as to send souls to a psuedo-hell?)
The same Section 16 states, “This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in [subsistit in] the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.” It is the constant ploy of the RC Church to focus a person’s faith for salvation to the RCC herself. In her words, “There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. ‘There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest.”20 In Scripture, salvation is mediated through Jesus Christ alone, the only mediator between God and man (John 14:6; Acts 4:12, 1 Tim. 2:5). The instrument of salvation is not a church but rather faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”21 “However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.”22 The boundaries of salvation are all of God, and not that of any church, to demonstrate in the words of the Apostle that He is “just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”23 The precincts of salvation are outlined in Romans 3: 24, “being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” showing that God’s grace is the efficient cause, and the payment is “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” To attempt to bring the RCC into the nature of the salvific work of the Godhead, indeed, to make it the fount of that work is speaking against God. It is blasphemy. In Scripture, salvation is in Christ Jesus alone, “to the praise of the glory of his grace.”24
DI and the Gospel
While Bible texts mandating the preaching of the Gospel are given in DI, the Gospel itself is not.25 Instead it defines the Gospel as “the fullness of the truth which God has enabled us to know about himself ”. The definition is a good description of what the Written Word of God is, but it is not an explanation of the Gospel, which is what is at stake.
The Apostle Paul declares precisely what the Gospel is, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:16-17) What Rome declares in DI is not “the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith” granted to the believer, neither is it “the power of God unto salvation.”26 Rather in Section 7 of DI, Rome is bold enough to proclaim that “those who are baptized in these communities [ie., non-Catholic churches] are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ” and “Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ.…” Such cleverness is in accord with her insistence in her official teaching that salvation is given in Baptism, “...The [RC] Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude...” “By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin.”27
She now has the same effrontery, as did the Inquisition and the Council of Trent, to state that there is a “divine origin” and salvific power to her sacraments. Thus DI states, “One cannot attribute to these [ie., non-Catholic traditions]…a divine origin or an ex opere operato salvific efficacy, which is proper to the Christian sacraments.” This is in accord with what she claims in her “infallible” council28, “If anyone shall say that by the said sacraments of the New Law, grace is not conferred from the work which has been worked [ex opere operato] but that faith alone in the divine promise suffices to obtain grace: let him be anathema.”29 What is compromised in DI is the Gospel itself. The warning of Scripture still stands, “As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1: 9)
Outside Rome, No church!
The Roman Catholic Church boldly proclaims, as she did during the Inquisition, “On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense.…” Indeed this is ominous; as the Nazis declared non-Aryans to be non-humans, so now Rome declares other churches “not Churches in the proper sense”. In the words of the Apostle Peter, indeed this sounds as the voice of “a roaring lion”. The statement is directed against all post-Reformation churches, including the Lutherans and Anglicans, so that in DI is boldly stated Rome’s hard-line position regarding those whom she designates as “separated brethren”.30 Had those being drawn into ecumenism and dialogue done any serious study of her major documents and history, they would have found that the RCC has had this iron-clad mindset all along. For her, the only true Church sits on the Seven Hills of Rome; the only successful dialogue is to come back into her arms. Thus Vatican Council II’s post conciliar Document No. 42 on ecumenism had already stated that “…dialogue is not an end in itself…it is not just an academic discussion.”31 Rather, “ecumenical dialogue...serves to transform modes of thought and behavior and the daily life of those [non-Catholic] communities. In this way, it aims at preparing the way for their unity of faith in the bosom of a Church one and visible.”32 Transform them it must, for there is no “equality” in the “doctrinal content” that other churches have brought to the table. The Papal Primacy in a forceful inquisitorial manner is saying the same thing: come back to “Holy Mother”, otherwise we will treat you as a non-church. Confident Ecumenizers need to rethink their position: Their base in groups defined by Rome as “Churches not in the proper sense” leaves them without power because they have compromised the Gospel and the authority of Scripture alone.
Ecumenists Come to the Table Empty Handed
Rome is, in her own words, semper eadem, always the same. She claims that she is infallible and that to her is to be given submission of intellect and will. Her present day Code of Canon Law has not changed her penalties for crimes against her system; rather, they are now clearer than ever. Accepted by most civil powers in the present world, she is becoming more brazen, as DI reveals. She is accepted as a recognized civil and religious body by many civil governments, and in some nations is legally declared so by their very constitutions.
As the Roman Catholic Church’s influence increasingly shapes civil law in the European Union, Biblically based churches there are being legally classified as sects; already there are reports of this from Europe. The Sunday Telegraph, 25th August 1991, noted, “If European federalism triumphs, the EC [European Community] will indeed be an empire. It will lack an emperor: but it will have the Pope...it is difficult not to think that Wojtyla [John Paul II] realises this.”33 In Can. 1404, the Pope claims immunity from all moral and civil authority, “The First See is judged by no one.” In DI he stipulates complete Primacy of “grace and truth” for himself and his Church. In #882 of the new Catechism, the Pope purports to take for himself the Lord Jesus Christ’s divine position: “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, namely, and as pastor of the entire Church, has full, supreme and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.” He is the worst enemy of Christ who under the pretense of service to Christ, presumes to undermine His unique offices by covertly usurping His position and power.
The table is set for a most interesting response to DI. Rome declares that there are “just penalties” for those who will not bend the knee to her. These ecumenists best beware lest they change their minds. Present day canon law shows what offenses she considers punishable. Nonetheless, the ecumenists are playing against a stacked deck. No matter what promises of a compromise are held out to them, Sect. 22 of DI states, “Equality, which is a presupposition of inter-religious dialogue, refers to the equal personal dignity of the parties in the dialogue, not to doctrinal content.” In other words, they have come empty handed to the table, unknowingly facing Canon 1369,
“A person who uses a public show or speech, published writings, or other media of social communication to blaspheme, seriously damage good morals, express wrongs against religion or against the Church or stir up hatred or contempt against religion or the Church is to be punished with a just penalty.”
(In an article on these “just penalties” of Rome, an official commentator states, “While a certain type of diversity clearly enriches the Church, it simply cannot tolerate certain divergent patterns of thought or activity....”)34
“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate”
In DI the Self Exalted Throne of Rome upholds the “Primacy… the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church” while condemning “The tendency to read and to interpret Sacred Scripture outside the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church.” At complete variance to this is the Word of the Lord Christ Jesus, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The same self asserted “Sovereign” and “Infallible” Power declares, “The Christian faithful are therefore not permitted to imagine…” The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul commands, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” 35
The Supreme Pontiff purportedly being Sovereign and possessing “infallible teaching authority”36 is of vast importance to Rome. Satan knew well the worth of that word “infallible”. He carried it off to Rome, that they might claim it as theirs in infallible decrees, infallible councils, and infallible vicars of Christ, and now their infallible DI. Such blasphemous presumption we know the “Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming,”37 else we would wonder the earth does not swallow them up as it did Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. As Bible believers, the infallibility in which we rejoice is that of the God of all truth, expressed in His written Word. Manifested in the same infallible Word is “the God of all grace” who seeks, finds, and saves His people. All the members of Christ are secure in Him. None can pluck them from Him. All the purposes of Divine grace are infallibly settled. And all that the Father gave Christ Jesus the Lord will be surely brought home, to behold His glory and see Him as He is.
These things are written with deep respect and care, because the salvation of many is involved. The Lord faced the sincere and devout Pharisees with a very strong word. They like many present day Catholics they were making Tradition equal to the authority of the Written Word and “establishing their own righteousness” were not counting on God’s grace alone. The Lord said to those Pharisees of His own day, “if you believe not that I am He, you shall die in your sins.” If anyone continues to hold to the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching authority, and her “salvific” righteousness he likewise will die in his sins. The Lord Christ Jesus died in place of the believer, the One for the many (Mark 10:45). His life and finished sacrifice alone are the ransom for the believer. As He declared, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”¨
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Richard Bennett, Berean
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