THE SALE OF relics, church offices, and indulgences became
big business within the church of the Middle Ages. Pope Boniface
VIII declared a jubilee for the year 1300 and offered liberal
indulgences to those who would make a pilgrimage to St.Peter's.
An estimated 2,000,000 people came within that year and deposited
such treasure before the supposed tomb of St.Peter that two
priests with rakes in their hands were kept busy day and night
raking up the money.1
Much of this was used by the Pope to enrich his own
relatives - the Gaetani - who bought numerous castles and
splendid estates in Latium. This was strongly resented by the
people of Rome.
From the days of Constantine, the Roman church had increased
in wealth at a rapid pace. In the Middle Ages, the church owned
entire cities and large portions of land. Those who lived in
Catholic countries were required to pay taxes to the church. This
was not giving from the heart, but fees paid "of necessity" - a
principle which was opposed by the apostle Paul (2 Cor.9:7). In
those days, few people knew how to write, so priests were often
involved in drafting wills. In 1170 Pope Alexander III decreed
that no one could make a valid will except in the presence of a
priest! Any secular notary who drew up a will (except under these
circumstances) was to be excommunicated! 2
Often a priest was the last person to be with a dying man,
for he would give the last rites, the Extreme Unction. With such
arrangements, we can be sure the Romish church was well
Another source of money was the selling of indulgences. The
Catholic Encyclopedia explains that sins committed after baptism
(which for a Catholic is usually in infancy!) can be forgiven
through the sacrament of penance. "but there still remains the
temporal punishment required by Divine justice, and this
requirement must be fulfilled either in the present life or in
the world to come, i.e. in Purgatory. An indulgence offers the
penitent sinner the means of discharging this debt during this
life on earth.3
Many have only had a general idea of what the word
Woodrow goes into more detail of "buying" salvation.
WAS PETER THE FIRST POPE?
STANDING AT THE head of the Roman Catholic church is the
Pope of Rome. This man - according to Catholic doctrine - is the
earthly head of the church and successor of the apostle Peter.
According to this belief, Christ appointed Peter as the first
pope, who in turn went to Rome and served in this capacity for
twenty-five years. Beginning with Peter, the Catholic church
claims a succession of Popes which has continued to this day.
This is a very important part of Roman Catholic doctrine. But do
the scriptures teach that Christ ordained ONE man to be above all
others in his church? Can we find any scriptural authority for
the office of a Pope, a supreme pontiff? Did the early Christians
recognize Peter as such?
To the contrary, the Scriptures clearly show there was to be
an equality among the members of the church and that CHRIST "is
the head of the church" (Eph.5:23), not the Pope!
James and John once came to Jesus asking if one of them
might sit on his right hand and the other on his left in the
kingdom. (In Eastern kingdoms, the two principal ministers of
state, ranking next in authority to the king, hold these
positions.) If the Roman Catholic claim is true, it seems that
Jesus would have explained that he had given the place on his
right to Peter and did not intend to create any position on the
left! But to the contrary, here was the answer of Jesus: "Ye know
that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and
they that are great exercise dominion upon them, but it shall not
be so among you" (Mk.10:35-43).
In this statement, Jesus plainly said that none of them was
to be a ruler over the others. Instead, he taught an equality
clearly denying the principles that are involved in having a
Pope ruling over the church as the Bishop of bishops!
Woodrow gives more Bible proof that Peter was not Pope of the church.
On this subject of Peter being the "head" apostle I have written
in detail, as well as "church government" as a whole. See my
studies for an in-depth expounding of this subject - Keith Hunt.
1. Durant, The Story of Civilization: The Age of Faith, p.753.
2. Ibid., p.766.
3. The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol.7, p.783, art. "Indulgences."
4. Ibid., p.784.
5. Ibid., pp.786,787.
6. Durant, The Story of Civilization: The Reformation, p.23.
7. Ibid., p.735.
8. Encyclopedia of Religions, vol.2, p.159.
9. Smith, Man and His Gods, p.127.
10. Encyclopedia Britannica, vol.22, p.660.
11. Hislop, The Two Babylons, p.167.
12. Fausset's Bible Encyclopedia, p.481.
13. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, No.8612.
TO BE CONTINUED