Roman Catholic Schism

Religions, Cults & Worldviews: Valuable Answers for Valid Questions.

Roman Catholic Church (“The Catholics”)

Although the Roman Catholic church headquartered in Rome was founded as a result of the Great Schism of 1054, there were early contributors to this organization in Leo I (a.k.a. Leo the Great) who argued for the preeminency of the Roman See and was the first to receive the title of “Pope”, Augustine, the founder of a strict authoritarian and centralized church government (which Catholics would use to murder/martyr opponents of their religion) and Gregory I (a.k.a. Gregory the Great) who blurred the lines between church and state authority.

The word “Catholic” simply means “worldwide” and indeed the first organized group of Christian churches were worldwide and utilised the term “One Catholic and Apostolic Church” in the Nicene Creed but this in no way referred to a delineation of one church vs any other. During the early years of Christianity, there weren’t denominations and therefore no need to refer to a church by a particular tag: Lutheran, Catholic, etc. The earliest Christian Church was unified – not under a Pope and dogma but rather under the teaching of the Apostles which were recorded and preserved in Scripture. Church governance was decentralized with each congregation being generally denoted by its geographic location. i.e. the church at Ephesus, the church at Antioch, etc. and each region was led by a Bishop.

Unfortunately, over the course of nearly 800 years, a small crack would slowly divide this single unified church into two branches: The Roman Catholic branch and the Eastern Orthodox branch of the visible Christian church. Both branches would claim to be the “true church” and would accuse the other of apostasy even up to the twentieth century. Today, in the 21st century, there are active ecumenical efforts to arrive at a peaceful, harmonious co-relationship between the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox within the visible church.

What do the Catholics believe?

Writings of Ignatius and Iraneus (Against Heresies) would begin to extol the Apostle Peter as the first Bishop of Rome and the preeminence of the Roman See over all other regions. The term “Pope” which was derived from the Greek word “Papa” or “Pappas” was not used until the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries to denote the premier Bishop or “Father” over all Bishops. 

The idea of an emerging, strong, and centrally governed church was taken even further by Augustine, a Bishop of Hippo. Augustine believed a strong Church government was necessary for survival and ultimately defeating heresy. Unfortunately, this introduced abuse by the hierarchy of the governing church against those that would question the unbiblical doctrines introduced by various church leaders. i.e. immaculate conception and assumption of Mary, prayer to the saints as intermediaries, etc. John Hus, and others would be labeled “heretics” and would be martyred for their boldness. To further assert authority over the masses the doctrine of Papal Infallibility would be added to this list of errors. Papal infallibility was introduced primarily (and surprisingly) by theologians like Theodore Abu-Qurrah, Thomas Aquinas, and John Peter Olivi, and not by the Popes themselves, as many assert today. During the Vatican I council in 1870, the dogma of the infallibility of the pope was officially codified and is still preached and practiced today.

Papal authority

The idea of Papal authority resulting in an all-powerful “pope” was originally introduced by Leo, then the head of the Church at Rome, who fought to establish Rome as the “primary see” and its Bishop as the “primal Papacy” (which of course at the time, was none other than himself!) He would emerge from this contested ecumenical council as “Pope Leo”, the first to be referred to by that title with the meaning of “Primal Papal Office”. This office would be further solidified in the west by the combination of church and state with the Pope appointing Kings and emperors and Kings and emperors influencing who would be “Pope”. The office of “Pope” would begin to be authoritatively enforced under Pope Gregory the Great (c.AD 600) and the iron-fisted reign of the popes would start to wane with the introduction of the Waldensians (earliest reformers) and the office would become a laughing stock in the Christian world with the “Great Papal Schism” of the 14th century where the Roman Catholic church had THREE Popes at once – none of which wanting to give up their authority!

Originally each church region was led by a Bishop which means overseer or “elder” or “presbyter”. It was not part of a hierarchy of Bishops leading to an Arch-Bishop and certainly not leading to a “Pope” of any kind, however, by the fourth ecumenical council there were churches all over the world that had (and still have) no affiliation whatsoever to the Roman Catholic Church. Churches like the Coptic Christians, Syriac Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, St Thomas Christian Church of India, and Church of the East. All of these were either formed during the time of the Apostles in the first century AD or were formed via disagreement over the 4th ecumenical Council resolution on Christology in 451 at Chalcedon.

It was much later that the Roman Catholic Church began to claim an “unbroken line” of Popes dating back to Peter, even though the first “Pope” was self-designated by Leo I in the 5th century. The proof text of scripture used (centuries later) to justify the power grab by Rome would be found in the book of Matthew:

“But what about you?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Peter made it clear in his writings that he was not the “rock” that Jesus was speaking of but that the “Messiah, Son of the Living God” whom Peter identified is the Rock upon which the church is built which is consistent with the rest of Scripture. Furthermore Peter refers to believers as “living stones” being built up into a “Spiritual House”. Despite this, the Roman Catholic Popes have through history clung to the notion that not only is Peter the first Pope as the “Rock” but they are also his successors and that they (the popes) have the keys of the kingdom of heaven – which is what resulted in them selling indulgences whereby a donation would cause them to utter a prayer that releases a soul from burning purgatory. This ridiculous heresy is what would ignite the Reformation nearly 1100 years after Leo I would declare himself “Pope” of the Church.

The idea of an emerging, strong, and centrally governed church was taken even further by Augustine, a Bishop of Hippo. Augustine believed a strong Church government was necessary for survival and ultimately defeating heresy. Unfortunately, this introduced abuse by the hierarchy of the governing church against those that would question the unbiblical doctrines introduced by various church leaders. i.e. immaculate conception and assumption of Mary, prayer to the saints as intermediaries, etc. John Hus, and others would be labeled “heretics” and would be martyred for their boldness and desire to live and preach the Scriptures instead of tradition and Thomas Aquinas. To further assert authority over the masses the doctrine of Papal Infallibility would be added to this list of errors. Papal infallibility was introduced primarily (and surprisingly) by theologians like Theodore Abu-Qurrah, Thomas Aquinas, and John Peter Olivi, and not by the Popes themselves, as many assert today. During the Vatican I council in 1870, the dogma of the infallibility of the pope was officially codified and is still preached and practiced today.

This office would be further solidified in the west by the combination of church and state with the Pope appointing Kings and emperors and Kings and emperors influencing who would be “Pope”. The office of “Pope” would begin to be authoritatively enforced under Pope Gregory the Great (c.AD 600) and the iron-fisted reign of the popes would start to wane with the introduction of the Waldensians (earliest reformers) and the office would become a laughing stock in the Christian world with the “Great Papal Schism” of the 14th century where the Roman Catholic church had THREE Popes at once – none of which wanting to give up their authority!

Bible and Catholicism compare and contrast

Is Roman Catholicism a part of Biblical Christianity or has it become its own world religion? There are scores of Roman Catholic “dogmas” or doctrine that has been developed over 1500 years that are apart from and often times contradictory to the Bible here are a few of those doctrines (many of which are embraced also by the Eastern Orthodox churches as well):

Bible

Roman Catholic

 ( in violation of Matt. 23:5-6).

Separation of Clergy and Laity specifically by way of elaborate clerical vestments

Contrary to Luke 11:27-28

Adoration, prayer, and veneration of Mary – Theotokos – even referring to her as the “Queen of heaven and earth” – the title “Queen of Heaven” is not new to religion nor is it unique to Roman Catholicism as it has been a famous designation of a false goddess of near eastern mystical religions and paganism.

According to 1 Pet. 2:5,9 all believers in Jesus are a “Royal Priesthood”)

Only those Roman Catholics specifically trained by the Roman Catholics can be “priests” before God.

( Compulsory observance of one day over another is a fleshly/worldy (sinful) ordinance Gal. 4:9-11).

Strict compulsory observance of Catholic-created religious days/periods like Ash Wednesday, Lent, etc

(According to 1 Cor. 1:2 all true believers are referred to as “saints”).

Only special Roman Catholics who have had 3 confirmed miracles by a Roman Catholic Pope can be considered a “saint” and thereby canonised (apparently the miracles considered exclude card tricks)

(This is contrary to Ex. 20:4-5 where the Lord forbids such pagan practices among all who are called by His name – Christians).

The creation of, veneration and bowing to images, pictures, statues, and icons is actively encouraged as a form of Roman Catholic worship

(In Scripture, baptism is clearly communicated as an act of volition by an adult of consenting age and the Baptism doesn’t save a person, but is a public declaration that the baptised person has repented of their sinful rebellion toward God and have received forgiveness for their sins via Jesus death on the cross – Col. 2:12).

Infant baptism by sprinkling is considered a legitimate initiation into the Church, the Body of Christ

(Blatant disregard for Matt. 23:9 which forbids us to refer to anyone as Father save God the Father).

Priests must be called “father” and the Pope “Holy Father”

 (1 Cor. 3:11 says that NO one can lay any other foundation for the church besides the only foundation Christ Jesus – not Peter! And in Luke 22:24-27 Jesus says the leaders of the church are to be servants or “least” to be considered first –

To provide validity to the invented office of “Pope” Catholics try to claim that Peter is the foundation of the Church and the First Pope of Rome and Christ-mandated servant leadership has never been the approach with the Roman Catholic hierarchy who expect to BE served and not to serve.

(Praying to the dead is a form of pagan necromancy and Scripture is clear that there is to be only one mediator between God and man the Man Christ Jesus – 1 Tim. 2:5).

All dead saints and Mary are to be prayed to as “mediators” in the spirit realm to God

(Contrary to 1 Tim. 3:2, 4-5 where Bishops are explicitly instructed to be married in order to be an overseer. Also, we are warned in Scripture that heretical doctrines would creep into the church which forbid Christians to marry ITim 4:3

Priests Bishops and Clergy are forbidden to marry

(This violates Jesus words on the cross when He said, “IT IS FINISHED!”. Also, in Hebrews about apostates who “sacrifice Christ all over again for themselves” which is sign of futile apostasy.

Transubstantiation where the bread and wine literally becomes the flesh and blood of Jesus who is sacrificed over and over each week for our sins.  Also it is a literal interpretation of Jesus illustration that he will be broken as a provision of life to men (bread) and His blood will be poured out for those who partake of Him – like the wine into the cup. This is a blasphemous practice where the priest transforms the bread and wine into Jesus’ literal body and blood for a “re-sacrifice” each time.

 – in Luke 16:26 Jesus tells of a great fixed chasm whereby there is no crossing over from the sinful separated and the forgiven redeemed sides. Also The Apostle Paul speaks of being “absent from the body, present with the Lord” for those who are true Christians 2 Cor 5:8).

Purgatory: There is a temporary holding place after we die called “purgatory” where we supposedly have our uncleansed sins burnt off. (This is a bizarre doctrine in so many ways and has been used to manipulate the masses of people to cowtow to the whims of the Pope who alone (not Christ) can save them from purgatory

(There is no purgatory in Scripture and there is not “buying” souls into or out of an eternal state. Hebrews 9:27 As it appointed once for man to die after this is the judgement

The practice of indulgences whereby a person can donate money to the Catholic Church and the Pope will then pray to have that person’s relative released from purgatory. This is a profane practice which drove Martin Luther to nail his 95 thesis to the door at Wittenberg and ignite the Reformation.

 (This is a pagan practice strictly forbidden by Jesus in Scripture when He says “When you pray do not pray as the pagans do, they believe that with a multiplication of words they will gain a hearing…” Math 6:7.

Repetitive multiplication of words over beads via the Rosary. It is also a pagan practice of Eastern false religions like Hinduism and Buddhism to pray over beads one at a time with a series of mantras – which perfectly describes the Roman Catholic practice of repetitive prayers and the Rosary)

  • Salvation by grace alone
  • Grace through faith alone
  • Faith in Christ alone
  • By authority of Scripture alone
  • Salvation by grace PLUS heavenly merit
  • Grace through faith PLUS works
  • Faith in Christ PLUS the church
  • By authority of Scripture PLUS tradition

What happens to Roman Cathoics when they die?

The Roman Catholic views of the afterlife consists of a heaven obtained by faith + works (good deeds done for others and observance of the ordinances of the church: baptism, communion, confirmation etc.). Those that receive Jesus’ forgiveness of their sins + accomplish all the required good deeds may still have to face a cleansing period between death and heaven that is sort of a “mini-hell” known as ‘purgatory’ where the ‘unforgiven’ sins must be ‘burned off’ prior to entering heaven. This bizarre doctrine is not found in Scripture anywhere but was the invention of Popes. Those that reject this method via this aberrant form of Christianity will instead receive everlasting torment and anguish via seperation from God (hell). This view is the “Catholic” view. This first method is based primarily on the historical teachings of Popes and has little to do with what the Bible says regarding the afterlife.

The Great Schism: Birth of Roman Catholicism

I’ve created a timeline of the key events which were the “cracks” that developed into a full blown schism between the Western Church and the Eastern church by 1054 AD. This event in Church History is known as the “Great Schism” and two schismatic systems of faith would emerge: The Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Select the arrows at the left and right of the timeline below, select the full screen icon in the upper right corner of the graphic to view the timeline in a larger format.

How about you? Are you a Roman Catholic trusting in a religious organisation to escape judgement for rejecting the God of the Bible all of your life? Are you trusting in a priest who needs a Savior himself? Are you trusting in Mary, the “Queen of Heaven” who is a false idol that cannot save? The Bible says that the all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and that the wages we are receiving for this is death (eterna separation from God – Rom 6:23). Click the button below to find out how you can know that you have eternal life.

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