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 remembered.

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 indulgence implies.

Another thing that is not well-known about indulgences is the basis, according to Catholic belief, on which such are granted. According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, the basis or source for indulgences is the "Treasury." This includes the infinite redemptive work of Christ who is the propititiation for sins (1 John 2:2), "besides"—notice the word!— "there are the satisfactory works of the Blessed Virgin Mary undiminished by any penalty due to sin, and the virtues, penances, and sufferings of the saints vastly exceeding any temporal punishment which these servants of God might have incurred." Because of the works these have performed, there is an extra supply or treasury of merits, merits which make it possible for indulgences to be shared with others of the church who have not been as saintly! Such was the doctrine dogmatically set forth in the Bull "Unigenitus" of Clement VI in 1343. "According to Catholic doctrine, therefore, the source of indulgences is constituted by the merits of Christ and the saints.” 4

But if Christ "is the propitiation for our sins" and his blood "cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7; 2:2), in what way can the merits of Mary and other saints possibly add to this? What Mary or other saints did can add nothing to the completed work of Christ at Calvary. To us, such rigmarole provides no support for the indulgence doctrine, but identifies it, rather, as a man-made fabrication.

Without a proper Scriptural foundation, it is little wonder that the idea of indulgences led to many abuses. Because granting indulgences was commonly linked with money, The Catholic Encyclopedia makes such statements as: "the practice was fraught with grave danger, and soon became a fruitful source of evil...a means of raising money...indulgences were employed by mercenary ecclesiastics as a means of pecuniary gain...abuses were widespread"!5

One of the abuses was that some who sold indulgences to sinners were greater sinners themselves. About 1450, Thomas Gascoigne, Chancellor of Oxford University, complained that the indulgence sellers would wander over the land and issue a letter of pardon, sometimes for the payment of two pence, sometimes for a glass of beer, for the hire of a harlot, or for carnal love.6

At the time of Martin Luther, because of construction work on St. Peter's, a special drive was made by the pope to raise money through the granting of indulgences. John Tetzel, known to be a man of poor conduct, but one who had ability as a quack fund raiser, was appointed to sell indulgences in Germany. The following is given as an eyewitness description of Tetzel's entry into a German town. "When the indulgence-seller approached the town, the Bull (the pope's official document) was carried before him on a cloth of velvet and gold, and all the priests and monks, the town council, the schoolmasters and their scholars, and all the men and women went out to meet him with banners and candles and songs, forming a great procession; then with bells ringing and organs playing, they accompanied him to the principal church; a cross was set up in the midst of the church and the pope's banner displayed; in short, one might think they were receiving God himself. In front of the cross was placed a large iron chest to receive the money, and then the people were induced in various ways to buy indulgences."

It is said that Tetzel carried with him a picture of the devil tormenting souls in purgatory and frequently repeated the words that appeared on the money box: Sobald der pfenning im kasten klingt, kie seel’ aus dem Fegfeuer springt, which freely translated means, "As soon as the money in the casket rings, the troubled soul from Purgatory springs." The rich gave large donations, while poverty stricken peasants sacrificed what they could in order to help their loved ones in Purgatory or to obtain pardon for their own sins.

In Medieval universities, those who wished to advocate certain opinions would publicly post "theses"—statements of their ideas—and invite discussion on these points. Following this custom, Martin Luther nailed his famous Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. (His twenty-seventh point was against the idea that as soon as money went into the collection box that souls would escape from Purgatory.) It was not at the Castle Church, however, that Tetzel preached. Indulgence preaching was not allowed in Wittenberg. But many of the people from Wittenberg had gone to hear Tetzel speak at Juterbog, a nearby town.

Luther began to speak out against the selling of indulgences and, eventually, against indulgences as such. He was denounced in a Bull of Pope Leo X for saying, "Indulgences are pious frauds...Indulgences do not avail those who really gain them for the remission of the penalty due to actual sin in the sight of God's justice."

The work of the Reformation did a good job in exposing the abuses of giving money in behalf of souls in Purgatory. Today people are not told that money can pay for the release of these tormented souls. Nevertheless, the giving of money and prayers for the dead go hand in hand. Since priests must admit they have no way to know when souls actually pass out of Purgatory into Heaven, there is never really a settled peace in the matter. There is always the possibility that more money should be given on behalf of loved ones who have died. To play upon the love and tender memories of bereaved people, to take money for masses and long prayers, brings to mind those Jewish priests at the time of Jesus who would "devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer" (Matt. 23:14).

High Mass can be very expensive, depending on the flowers, candles, and number of priests taking part. It is sung in a loud tone of voice. The low Mass, on the other hand, is much less expensive—only six candles are used and it is repeated in a low voice. The Irish have a saying, "High money, HIGH Mass; low money, LOW Mass; no money, NO MASS!"

Those who die without anyone to pay for Masses in their behalf are called the "forgotten souls in Purgatory." However, these are remembered in special prayers on November 2, "All Soul's Day." If a Catholic fears he might become one of the "forgotten souls", he may join the Purgatorian Society which was established in 1856. A contribution each year to the society will assure him that, upon his death, prayers will be said for his soul. During World War II, the Archbishop of Winnipeg, in a letter dated March 1, 1944, urged Roman Catholic mothers to guarantee the salvation of their sons from Purgatory by the payment to him of $40 for prayers and masses in their behalf.

I will say it here quite clearly, whether he be Pagan, Papal, Protestant, or Pentecostal, no pope, priest, or preacher can guarantee the salvation of anyone, living or dead, on the basis of any amount of money given for his prayers. The Bible says it is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19:23, 24). But if the payment of money could help a person escape from Purgatory and go to Heaven, just the reverse would be true. Instead of it being "hard" for a rich man to enter heaven, riches would be a "help."

The Bible says, "They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of riches; none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him" (Psalms 49:6,7). If money cannot redeem a brother who is alive, how could it redeem him if he is dead? There can be no mistake as to where Peter stood on the matter. He plainly says we are "NOT redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold...but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:18, 19). When the former Samaria sorcerer offered money to obtain a gift of God, Peter said, "To hell with you and your money! How dare you think you could buy the gift of God?" (Acts 8:20). These words are from the translation by J. B. Phillips to which he adds a footnote: "These are exactly what the Greek means. It is a pity that their real meaning is obscured by modern slang."

Roman Catholic ideas about Purgatory (and prayers to help those in Purgatory) were not the teachings of Christ and the apostles. Such were not taught within the Romish church to any great degree until around 600 when Pope Gregory the Great made claims about a third state—a place for the purification of souls before their entrance into heaven—and did not become an actual dogma until the Council of Florence in 1459.

During the twelfth century, a legend was spread which claimed that St. Patrick had found the actual entrance to Purgatory. In order to convince some doubters, he had a very deep pit dug in Ireland, into which several monks descended. Upon their return, said the tale, they described Purgatory and Hell with discouraging vividness. In 1153, the Irish knight Owen claimed he had also gone down through the pit into the underworld. Tourists came from far and near to visit the spot. Then financial abuses developed and in 1497 Pope Alexander VI ordered it closed as a fraud.1 Three years later, however, Pope Benedict XIV preached and published at Rome a sermon in favor of Patrick's Purgatory. 8

Beliefs about a purgatory have been around a long time. Plato who lived from 427 to 347 B. C. spoke of the Orphic teachers of his day "who flock to the rich man's doors, and try to persuade him that they have a power at their command, which they procure from heaven, and which enables them by sacrifices and make amends for any crime committed by the individual himself, or his ancestors...Their mysteries deliver us from the torments of the other world, while the neglect of them is punished by an awful doom."9

There is an elaborate description of purgatorial suffering in the sacred writings of Buddhism. There have been times when so many of the Chinese Buddhists came to buy prayers for the deliverance of their loved ones from purgatory that special shops were set up for this purpose. (Above illustration.) In the religion of Zoroaster, souls are taken through twelve stages before they are sufficiently purified to enter heaven. The Stoics conceived of a middle place of enlightenment which they called Empurosis, that is, "a place of fire."10 According to Moslem doctrine, the angels Munnker and Nekier question those who die as to their religion and prophet.

Many of these go into purgatory, but through money given to a priest an escape may be provided.

The concept of giving money on behalf of the dead is very ancient, a point which may be seen within the Bible itself. Apparently the Israelites were exposed to this belief, for they were warned not to give money "for the dead" (Deut. 26: 14). After presenting detailed evidence for his conclusion, Hislop says: "In every system, therefore, except that of the Bible, the doctrine of purgatory after death, and prayers for the dead, has always been found to occupy a place."11

It is very possible that concepts about purgatory and certain ideas linked with Molech worship all stemmed from the same source. It appears that various nations had the idea that fire, in one way or another, was necessary to cleanse from sin. The Israelites were repeatedly forbidden to let their seed "pass through the fire to Molech" (Lev. 18:21, Jer. 32:35, 2 Kings 23:10). Molech (who some identify with Bel or Nimrod) was worshipped "with human sacrifices, purifications... with mutilation, vows of celibacy and virginity, and devotion of the firstborn."12 Sometimes he was represented as a horrible idol with fire burning inside so that what was placed in his arms was consumed. In the above illustration, a heathen priest has taken a baby from its mother to be offered to Molech. Lest the parents should relent, a loud noise was made on drums to hide the screams. The word for drums is tophim from which comes the word "Tophet,"13 the place mentioned in verses such as Jeremiah 7:31: "They have built the high place of burn their sons and their daughters in the fire." While drums sounded, bands played, and priests chanted, human sacrifices were devoured in the flames.

How pitiful to think that by such cruel rites, or by the payment of money, men think they can pay for their sins. The good news is that the price has already been paid—by Jesus Christ! Salvation is by grace—by favor that could never be merited by money, human works, or sacrifices. "For by GRACE are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the GIFT of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8, 9).



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!

Jesus further taught the concept of equality by warning the disciples against using flattering titles such as "father" (the word "pope" means father), Rabbi, or Master. "For one is your Master, even Christ", he said, "and all ye are brethren" (Matt. 23:4-10). The idea that one of them was to be exalted to the position of pope is at utter variance with this passage.

But Roman Catholics are taught that Peter was given such a superior position that the entire church was built upon him! The verse that is used to support this claim is Matthew 16: 18: "And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

If we take this verse in its setting, however, we can see that the church was not built on Peter, but on CHRIST. In the verses just before, Jesus asked the disciples who men were saying that he was. Some said he was John the Baptist, some Elijah; others thought he was Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Then Jesus asked: "But whom say ye that I am?" To this, Peter replied: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Then it was that Jesus said, "Thou art Peter (petros—a stone, a rock), and upon this rock (petra—a mass of rock—the great foundation rock of truth that Peter had just expressed) I will build my church." The rock upon which the true church was to be built was connected with Peter's statement —"Thou art the Christ"—and so the true foundation upon which the church was built was Christ himself, not Peter.

Peter himself declared that Christ was the foundation rock (1 Peter 2:4-8). He spoke of Christ as "the stone which was set at naught of you builders...neither is there salvation in any other" (Acts 4:11, 12). The church was built on Christ. He is the true foundation and there is no other foundation: "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Cor.3:11).

When Jesus spoke of building his church upon a rock, the disciples did not take this to mean he was exalting Peter to be their pope, for two chapters later they asked Jesus a question about who was the GREATEST (Matt. 18:1). If Jesus had taught that Peter was the one upon whom the church was to be built—if this verse proved that Peter was to be the pope—the disciples would have automatically known who was the greatest among them!

Actually, it was not until the time of Calixtus, who was bishop of Rome from 218 to 223, that Matthew 16:18 was used in an attempt to prove the church was built on Peter and that the bishop of Rome was his successor.

If we take a close look at Peter in the Scriptures, it becomes apparent that Peter was not a pope at all!

Peter was married. The fact that Peter was a married man does not harmonize with the Catholic position that a pope is to be unmarried. The Scriptures tell us that Peter's wife's mother was healed of a fever (Matt. 8:14). Of course there couldn't be a "Peter's wife's mother" if Peter didn't have a wife! Even years later Paul made a statement which shows that the apostles had wives—including Cephas (1 Cor. 9:5). Cephas was Peter's Aramaic name(John 1:42).

Peter would not allow men to how down to him. When Peter came into his house, "Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself am a man" (Acts 10:25, 26). This was quite different from what a pope might have said, for men do bow before the pope.

Peter did not place tradition on a level with the word of God. To the contrary, Peter had little faith in "traditions from your fathers" (1 Peter 1:18). His sermon on the day of Pentecost was filled with the Word, not traditions of men. When the people asked what they should do to get right with God, Peter did not tell them to have a little water poured or sprinkled on them. Instead, he said: "Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38).

Peter was not a pope, for he wore no crown. Peter himself explained that when the chief shepherd shall appear, then shall we "receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (1 Peter 5:4). Since Christ has not yet appeared again, the crown that the pope wears is not one bestowed upon him by Christ. In short, Peter never acted like a pope, never dressed like a pope, never spoke like a pope, never wrote like a pope, and people did not approach him as a pope!

In all probability, in the very early days of the church, Peter did take the most prominent position among the apostles. It was Peter who preached the first sermon after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and 3,000 were added to the Lord. Later, it was Peter who first took the gospel to the Gentiles. Whenever we find a list of the twelve apostles in the Bible, Peter's name is always mentioned first (Matt. 10:2; Mk. 3:16; Lk. 6:14; Acts 1:13). But none of this—not by any stretch of the imagination—would indicate that Peter was the pope or universal Bishop of bishops!

While Peter apparently did take the most outstanding role of the apostles at the very beginning, later, PAUL seems to have had the most outstanding ministry. As a writer of the New Testament, for example, Paul wrote 100 chapters with 2,325 verses, while Peter only wrote 8 chapters with 166 verses.

Paul spoke of Peter, James, and John as pillars in the Christian church (Gal. 2:9). Nevertheless, he could say, "In NOTHING am I behind the very chiefest apostles" (2 Cor. 12:11). But if Peter had been the supreme pontiff, the pope, then certainly Paul would have been somewhat behind him. In Galatians 2:11, we read that Paul gave a rebuke to Peter "because he was to be blamed", wording which seems strange if Peter was regarded as an "infallible" pope!

Paul was called “the apostle of the Gentiles" (Romans 11:13), whereas Peter's ministry was primarily to the Jews (Gal. 2:7-9). This fact—in itself—would seem sufficient to show Peter was not bishop of ROME, for Rome was a Gentile city (cf. Acts 18:2). All of this is indeed highly significant when we consider that the entire framework of Roman Catholicism is based on the claim that Peter was Rome's first bishop!

There is no proof, Biblically speaking, that Peter ever went near Rome! The New Testament tells us he went to Antioch, Samaria, Joppa, Caesarea, and other places, but not Rome! This is a strange omission, especially since Rome was considered the most important city in the world!

The Catholic Encyclopedia (article, "Peter") points out that a tradition appeared as early as the third century for the belief that Peter was bishop of Rome for twenty-five years —these years being (as Jerome believed) from 42 A. D. until 67 A. D. But this viewpoint is not without distinct problems. About the year 44, Peter was in the council at Jerusalem (Acts 15). About 53, Paul joined him in Antioch (Gal 2:11). About 58, Paul wrote his letter to the Christians at Rome in which he sent greetings to twenty-seven persons, but never mentioned Peter. Imagine a missionary writing to a church, greeting twenty-seven of the members by name, but never mentioning the pastor!

The accompanying photograph shows a statue, supposedly of Peter, that is located in St. Peter's at Rome. I have witnessed long lines of people waiting to pass before it and kiss its foot.



NIMROD, THE KING and founder of Babylon, was not only its political leader, he was its religious leader also. He was a priest-king. From Nimrod descended a line of priest-kings-each standing at the head of the occult Babylonian mystery religion. This line continued on down to the days of Belshazzar of whom we read in the Bible. Many are familiar with the feast he held in Babylon when the mysterious handwriting appeared on the wall. Some have failed to recognize, however, that this gathering was more than a mere social party! It was a religious gathering, a celebration of the Babylonian mysteries of which Belshazzar was the head at that time. "They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, and of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone" (Dan. 5:4). Adding to the blasphemy of the occasion, they drank their wine from the holy vessels of the Lord which had been taken from the Jerusalem temple. This attempt to mix that which was holy with that which was heathenism brought about Divine judgment. Babylon was marked for doom.

The ancient city is now in ruins, uninhabited, desolate (Jer. 50:39; 51:62). There is a railroad which runs from Baghdad to Basra which passes close by. A sign written in English and Arabic says: "Babylon Halt, Trains stop here to pick up passengers." The only passengers, however, are tourists who come to inspect the ruins. But though the city was destroyed, concepts that were a part of the old Babylon religion survived!

When Rome conquered the world, the paganism that had spread from Babylon and developed in various nations, was merged into the religious system of Rome. This included the idea of a Supreme Pontiff (Pontifex Maximus). Thus Babylonian paganism, which had originally been carried out under the rulership of Nimrod, was united under the rulership of one man at Rome: Julius Caesar. It was the year 63 B. C. that Julius Caesar was officially recognized as the "Pontifex Maximus" of the mystery religion—now established at Rome.

To illustrate how this title was used by the Caesars, we show here an old Roman coin of Augustus Caesar (B. C. 27-14 A. D.) with his title as the "Pont-Max", the head of the mysteries. It is interesting to note that coins such as this were in circulation during the days of our Lord's earthly ministry. "And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's" (Matt. 22:17-22).

The Roman emperors (including Constantine) continued to hold the office of Pontifex Maximus until 376 when Gratian, for Christian reasons, refused it. He recognized this title and office as idolatrous and blasphemous. By this time, however, the bishop of Rome had arisen to political power and prestige. Consequently, in 378, Demasus, bishop of Rome, was elected the Pontifex Maximus—the official high priest of the mysteries! Since Rome was considered the most important city in the world, some of the Christians looked to the bishop of Rome as "bishop of bishops" and head of the church. This produced a unique situation. One man was now looked to as head by both Christians and pagans. By this time, and through the years that followed, the streams of paganism and Christianity flowed together, producing what is known as the Roman Catholic Church, under the headship of the Pontifex Maximus, the Pope.

The title Pontifex Maximus is repeatedly found on inscriptions throughout the Vatican—above the entry of St. Peter's, above the statue of Peter, in the dome, above the Holy Year Door which is opened only during a jubilee year, etc. The accompanying medal, struck by Pope Leo X just before the Reformation, illustrates one of the ways that the title "Pont. Max." has been used by the popes.

But how could a man be at one and the same time both the head of the church and the Pontifex Maximus, the head of the pagan mysteries? In an attempt to cover this discrepancy, church leaders sought for similarities between the two religions. They knew that if they could find even a few points that each side had in common, both could be merged into one, for by this time most were not concerned about details. They desired numbers and political power. Truth was secondary.

One striking similarity was that the Supreme Pontiff of paganism bore the Chaldean title peter or interpreter—the interpreter of the mysteries.1 Here was an opportunity to "Christianize" the pagan office of Pontifex Maximus, the office the bishop of Rome now held, by associating the "Peter" or Grand Interpreter of Rome with Peter the apostle. But to make the apostle Peter the Peter-Roma was not without its problems. To do so, it was necessary to teach that Peter had been in Rome. This is the real reason that since the fourth century (and not before) that numerous tales began to be voiced about Peter being the first bishop of Rome.2 "And so, to the blinded Christians of the apostasy, the Pope was the representative of Peter the apostle, while to the initiated pagans, he was only the representative of Peter, the interpreter of their well-known mysteries."3

According to an old tradition, Nimrod was "the opener" of secrets or mysteries, "the firstborn" of deified human beings. The word translated "openeth" in verses such as Exodus 13:2, as Strong's Concordance points out, is the Hebrew word "peter."4 To what extent things such as this may have influenced traditions that have been handed down about Peter and Rome, we cannot say.

Since the apostle Peter was known as Simon Peter, it is interesting to note that Rome not only had a "Peter", an opener or interpreter of the mysteries, but also a religious leader named Simon who went there in the first century! In fact, it was the Simon who had practiced sorcery in Samaria (Acts 8:9) that later went to Rome and founded a counterfeit Christian religion there! Because this sounds so bizarre, in order to make it clear there is no bias on our part, we

quote the following right from The Catholic Encyclopedia about this Simon: "Justin Martyr and other early writers inform us that he afterwards went to Rome, worked miracles there by the power of demons, and received Divine honors both in Rome and in his own country. Though much extravagant legend afterwards gathered around the name of this Simon...It seems nevertheless probable that there must be some foundation in fact for the account given by Justin and accepted by Eusebius. The historical Simon Magus no doubt founded some sort of religion as a counterfeit of Christianity in which he claimed to play a part analogous to that of Christ.”5

We know that the Romish church became expert in taking various ideas or traditions and mixing them together into its one united system of religion. If Simon did build up a following in Rome, if he received Divine honors, if he founded a counterfeit Christian religion in which he played a part analogous to Christ, is it not possible that such ideas could have influenced later traditions? Perhaps this "Simon" being in Rome was later confused with Simon Peter. The popes have claimed to be "Christ in office" on earth. Apparently Simon the sorcerer made the same claim in Rome, but we never read of any such claim being made by Simon Peter the apostle!

Another mixture at Rome involved "keys." For almost a thousand years, the people of Rome had believed in the mystic keys of the pagan god Janus and the goddess Cybele.6 In Mithraism, one of the main branches of the mysteries that came to Rome, the sun-god carried two keys.7 When the emperor claimed to be sucessor of the "gods" and the Supreme Pontiff of the mysteries, the keys came to be symbols of his authority. Later when the bishop of Rome became the Pontifex Maximus in about 378, he automatically became the possessor of the mystic keys. This gained recognition for the pope from the pagans and, again, there was the opportunity to mix Peter into the story. Had not Christ said to Peter, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 16:19)? It was not until 431, however, that the pope publically claimed that the keys he possessed were the keys of authority given to the apostle Peter. This was over fifty years after the pope had become the Pontifex Maximus, the possessor of the keys. For an example of how the keys are shown as symbols of the pope's authority, see the large fan on page 89.

The key given to Peter (and to all the other disciples) represented the message of the gospel whereby people could enter the kingdom of God. Because some have not rightly understood this, it is not uncommon for Peter to be pictured as the gatekeeper of heaven, deciding who he will let in and who he won't! Janus with key and cock This is very much like the ideas that were associated with the pagan god Janus, for he was the keeper of the doors and gates in the pagan mythology of Rome, the opener. Janus, with key in hand, is shown in the above drawing. He was represented with two faces—one young, the other old (a later version of Nimrod incarnated in Tammuz). It is interesting to notice that not only was the key a symbol of Janus, the cock was also regarded as being sacred to him.8 There was no problem to link the cock with Peter, for had not a cock crowed on the night that he denied the Lord? (John 18:27).

It is certain that the title "Supreme Pontiff" or "Pontifex Maximus" which the pope bears is not a Christian designation, for it was the title used by Roman emperors before the Christian Era. The word "pontiff" comes from the word pons, "bridge", and facio, "make." It means "bridge-maker." The priest-king emperors of pagan days were regarded as the makers and guardians of the bridges of Rome. Each of them served as high priest and claimed to be the bridge or connecting link between this life and the next.

That branch of the mysteries known as Mithraism grew in Rome until it became—at one time—almost the only faith of the empire.9 The head priest was called the Pater Patrum, that is, the Father of the Fathers.10 Borrowing directly from this title, at the head of the Roman Catholic Church, is the Papa or Pope—the Father of Fathers. The "Father" of Mithraism had his seat at Rome then, and the "Father" of Catholicism has his there now.

The  expensive  and highly  decorated garments  that the popes wear were not adopted from Christianity, but were patterned after those of the Roman emperors. The historians have not let this fact go unnoticed, for indeed their testimony is that "the vestments of the clergy...were legacies from pagan Rome."11 The tiara crown that the popes wear—though decorated in different ways at different times - is identical in shape to that worn by the "gods" or angels that are shown on ancient pagan Assyrian tablets.12 It is similar to that seen on Dagon, the fish-god. (cf. the tiara pictured on page 94).

Dagon was actually but a mystery form of the false Babylonian "savior." The name Dagon comes from dag (a word commonly translated "fish" in the Bible) and means fish-god.13 Though it originated in the paganism of Babylon,14 Dagon worship became especially popular among the heathenistic Philistines (Judges 16:21-30; 1 Sam. 5:5, 6).

The way that Dagon was depicted on Mesopotamian sculpture is seen in the drawing above (second figure from left).15 Layard, in Babylon and Nineveh, explains that "the head of the fish formed a mitre above that of the man, while its scaly, fan-like tail fell as a cloak behind, leaving the human limbs and feet exposed."16 Later, in the development of things, just the top portion remained as a mitre, with the jaws of the fish slightly opened. On several pagan Maltese coins, a god (whose characteristics are the same as those of Osiris, the Egyptian Nim-rod), is shown with the fish body removed, and only the fish-head mitre remain-ing.17

A famous painting by Moretto shows St. Ambrose wearing a mitre shaped like the head of a fish. This same type of mitre is worn by the pope as seen in the sketch of Pope Paul VI as he delivered a sermon on "Peace" during his historic visit to the United States in 1965. The picture on page 89 also shows the fish-head mitre.

H. A. Ironside says that the pope is "the direct successor of the high priest of the Babylonian mysteries and the servant of the fish-god Dagon, for whom he wears, like his idolatrous predecessors, the fisherman's ring" Again, in mixing paganism and Christianity together, similarities made the mixture less obvious. In this case, since Peter had been a fisherman, the fish-god ring with the title Pontifex Maximus inscribed on it was associated with him. But a ring like this was never worn by Peter the Apostle. No one ever bowed and kissed his ring. He   probably didn't even have one—for silver and gold had he none! (Acts 3).

Another clue to help us solve the mystery of Babylon modern may be seen in the use of the  which the pope wears over his shoulders. The unabridged dictionaries define it as a garment that was worn by the pagan clergy of Pallium.

In modern times, the pallium is made of white wool which is taken from two lambs which have been "blessed" in the basilica of St. Agnes, Rome. As a symbol that the archbishops also share in the plenitude of the papal office, the pope sends the pallium to them. Before it is sent, however, it is laid all night on the supposed tomb of St. Peteir - such a practice being a copy of paganism that was practiced among the Greeks!

For centuries the Romish church claimed to posses the very chair in which Peter had sat and ministered at Rome. The Catholic Encyclopedia explains that the plates on the front of this chair show fabulous animals of mythology as well as the fabled "labors of Hercules,"18 In another volume of The Catholic  Encyclopedia,  we find these words:  "Gilgamesh, whom mythology transformed into a Babylonian Hercules...would then be the person designated by the Biblical Nemrod (Nimrod)."19 It is curious that Nimrod is likened to Hercules and carvings associated with Hercules appear on the so-called "Chair of Peter." None of these things would cause us to think of this chair as being of Christian origin.

A scientific commission appointed by Pope Paul in July, 1968, has now reported that no part of the chair is old enough to date from the days of Peter. In the official report on the carbon dating and other tests, it has been determined that the chair is no older than the ninth century. Clearly, the old ideas about Peter's chair were interesting, but not accurate.

Near the high altar of St. Peter's (see page 43) is a large bronze statue supposedly of Peter. This statue is looked upon with the most profound veneration and its foot has been kissed so many times that the toes are nearly worn away! The photograph on the previous page shows a former pope (John XXIII) about to kiss this statue which was dressed up with rich papal robes and a three-tiered papal crown for the occasion.

The practice of kissing an idol or statue was borrowed from paganism. As we have seen, Baal worship was linked with the ancient worship of Nimrod in deified form (as the sun-god). In the days of Elijah, multitudes had bowed to Baal and kissed him. "Yet", God said, "I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him" (1 Kings 19:18). In one of his "mystery" forms, Nimrod (incarnated in the young Tammuz) was represented as a calf. Statues of calves were made, worshipped, and kissed! "They sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say to them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves" (Hosea 13:1-3). Kissing an idol was a part of Baal worship!

Not only was the practice of kissing an idol adopted by the Romish church, so was the custom of religious processions in which idols are carried. Such processions are a common part of Roman Catholic practice, yet these did not originate with Christianity. In the fifteenth century B. C, an image of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar was carried with great pomp and ceremony from Babylon to Egypt.20 Idol processions were practiced in Greece, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mexico, and many other countries in olden times.

The Bible shows the folly of those who think good can come from idols—idols so powerless they must be carried! Isaiah, in direct reference to the gods of Babylon, had this to say: "They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship. They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove" (Isaiah 46:6, 7).

Not only have such processions continued in the Roman Catholic Church in which idols are carried, but the pope is also carried in procession. In Isaiah's time the people lavished silver and gold on their god. Today expensive garments and jewels are placed on the pope. When the pagan god was carried in procession, the people fell down and worshipped, so on certain occasions do people bow before the pope as he is carried by. Even as the god was carried "upon the shoulders", so do men carry the pope, the god of Catholicism, upon their shoulders in religious processions!

Over three thousand years ago, the very same practice was known in Egypt, such processions being a part of the paganism there. The illustration on the next page shows the ancient priest-king of Egypt being carried through worshipful crowds by twelve men.21 A comparison of the papal procession of today, and the ancient pagan procession of Egypt, shows that the one is a copy of the other!


In the drawing of the Egyptian priest-king, we notice the use of the fabellumy a large fan made of feathers. This was later known as the mystic fan of Bacchus. And even as this fan was carried in procession with the pagan priest-king, so also are these fans carried with the pope on state occasions, (cf. the drawing with photo.) As The Encyclopedia Britannica says, "When going to solemn ceremonies, (the pope) is carried on the sedia, a portable chair of red velvet with a high back, and escorted by two fabelli of feathers."22 That these processional fans originated in the paganism of Egypt is known and admitted even by Catholic writers.23 The four strong iron rings in the legs of the "Chair of Peter" (page 86) were intended for carrying-poles. But we can be certain that the apostle Peter was never carried through crowds of people bowing to him! (cf. Acts 10:25, 26).


That the papal office was produced by a mixture of paganism and Christianity there can be little doubt. The pallium, the fish-head mitre, the Babylonish garments, the mystic keys, and the title Pontifex Maximus were all borrowed from paganism. All of these things, and the fact that Christ never instituted the office of pope in his church, plainly show that the pope is not the vicar of Christ or the successor of the apostle Peter.



IN ADDITION TO the conclusive evidence that has been given, the very character and morals of many of the popes would tend to identify them as sucessors of pagan priests, rather than representatives of Christ or Peter. Some of the popes were so depraved and base in their actions, even people who professed no religion at all were ashamed of them. Such sins as adultery, sodomy, simony, rape, murder, and drunkenness are among the sins that have been committed by popes. To link such sins with men who have claimed to be the "Holy Father", "The Vicar of Christ", and “Bishop of bishops", may sound shocking, but those acquainted with the history of the papacy well know that not all popes were holy men.

Pope Sergius III (904-911) obtained the papal office by murder. The annals of the church of Rome tell about his life of open sin with Marozia who bore him several illegitimate children.1 He was described by Baronius as a "monster" and by Gregorovius as a "terrorizing criminal." Says a historian: "For seven years this man...occupied the chair of St. Peter, while his concubine and her Semiramis- Pope Sergius III. like mother held court with a pomp and voluptousness that recalled the worse days of the ancient empire."2

This woman—Theodora—likened to Semiramis (because of her corrupt morals), along with Marozia, the pope's concubine, "filled the papal chair with their paramours and bastard sons, and turned the papal palace into a den of robbers."3 

The reign of Pope Sergius III began the period known as "the rule of the harlots" (904-963).

Pope John X (914-928) originally had been sent to Ravanna as an archbishop, but Theodora had him returned to Rome and appointed to the papal office. According to Bishop Liutprand of Cremona who wrote a history about fifty years after this time, "Theodora supported John's election in order to cover more easily her illicit relations with him."4 His reign came to a sudden end when Marozia smothered him to death! She wanted him out of the way so Leo VI (928-929) could become pope. His reign was a short one, however, for he was assassinated by Marozia when she learned he had "given his heart to a more degraded woman than herself'!5 Not long after this, the teenage son of Marozia—under the name of John XI—became pope. The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "Some, taking Liutprand and the 'Liber Pontificalis' as their authority, assert that he was the natural son of Sergius III (a former pope). Through the intrigues of his mother, who ruled at that time in Rome, he was raised to the Chair of Peter."6 But in quarreling with some of his mother's enemies, he was beaten and put into jail where he died from poisoning.

Pope John XII.

In 955 the grandson of Marozia at eighteen years of age became pope under the name of John XII. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes him as "a coarse, immoral man, whose life was such that the Lateran was spoken of as a brothel, and the moral corruption in Rome became the subject of general odium... On 6 November a synod composed of fifty Italian and German bishops was convened in St. Peter's; John was accused of sacrilege, simony, perjury, murder, adultery, and incest, and was summoned in writing to defend himself. Refusing to recognize the synod, John pronounced sentence of excommunication against all participators in the assembly, should they elect in his stead another  pope...John   XII  took bloody vengeance on the leaders of the opposite party, Cardinal-Deacon John had his right hand struck off, Bishop Otgar of Speyer was scourged, a high palatine official lost nose and ears...John died on 14 May, 964, eight days after he had been, according to rumor, stricken by paralysis in the act of adultery."7 The noted Catholic Bishop of Cremona, Luitprand, who lived at this time wrote: "No honest lady dared to show herself in public, for Pope John had no respect either for single girls, married women, or widows—they were sure to be defiled by him, even on the tombs of the holy apostles, Peter and Paul." The Catholic collection of the lives of popes, the "Liber Pontificalis," said: "He spent his entire life in adultery."8

Pope Boniface VII (984-985) maintained his position through a lavish distribution of stolen money. The Bishop of Orleans referred to him (and also John XII and Leo VIII) as "monsters of guilt, reeking in blood and filth" and as "antichrist sitting in the temple of God." The Catholic Encyclopedia says he "overpowered John XIV (April, 984), thrust him into the dungeons of Sant' Angelo, where the wretched man died four months later...For more than a year Rome endured this monster steeped in the blood of his predecessors. But the vengeance was terrible. After his sudden death in July, 985, due in all probability to violence, the body of Boniface was exposed to the insults of the populace, dragged through the streets of the city, and finally, naked and covered with wounds, flung under the statue of Marcus Aurelius...The following morning compassionate clerics removed the corpse and gave it a Christian burial."9

Next came Pope John XV (985-996) who split the church's finances among his relatives and earned for himself the reputation of being "covetous of filthy lucre and corrupt in all his acts."

Benedict VIII (1012-1024) "bought the office of pope with open bribery." The following pope, John XIX also bought the papacy. Being a layman, it was necessary for him to be passed through all the clerical orders in one day! After this, Benedict IX (1033-1045) was made pope as a youth 12 years old (or some accounts say 20) through a money bargain with the powerful families that ruled Rome! He "committed murders and adulteries in broad daylight, robbed pilgrims on the graves of the martyrs, a hideous criminal, the people drove him out of Rome.10 The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "He was a disgrace to the Chair of Peter." "Simony"—the buying and selling of the papal office - became so common, and corruption so pronounced, that secular rulers stepped in. King Henry III appointed Clement II (1046-1047) to the office of pope "because no Roman clergyman could be found who was free of the pollution of simony and fornication"!11

Pope Innocent III

A number of the popes had committed murders, but Innocent III (1198-1216) surpassed all of his predecessors in killing. Though he did not do the killing personally, he promoted the most devilish thing in human history—the Inquisition. Estimates of the number of heretics that Innocent (not so innocently) had killed run as high as one million people! For over five hundred years, popes used the inquisition to maintain their power against   those  who  did not agree with the teachings of the Romish church.

Pope Boniface VIII.

In conflicts with cardinals and kings, numerous charges were brought against Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303). Says The Catholic Encyclopedia, "Scarcely any possible crime was omitted—infidelity, heresy, simony, gross and unnatural immorality, idolatry, magic, loss of the Holy Land, death of Celestine V, etc....Protestant historians, generally, and even modern Catholic writers...class him among the wicked popes, as an ambitious, haughty, and unrelenting man, deceitful also and treacherous, his whole pontificate one record of evil."12 It is not necessary to insist that all charges brought against him were true, but all cannot be dismissed either. During his reign the poet Dante visited Rome and described the Vatican as a "sewer of

corruption." He assigned Boniface (along with Popes Nicolas III and Clement V) to "the lower parts of hell."

Though seeking to put emphasis on certain good traits of Boniface, "Catholic historians...admit, however, the explosive violence and offensive phraseology of some of his public documents."13 An example of this "offensive phraseology" would be his statement that "to enjoy oneself and to lie carnally with women or with boys is no more a sin than rubbing one's hands together."14 On other occasions, apparently in those "explosive" moments he called Christ a "hypocrite" and professed to be an atheist.

Yet—and this sounds almost unbelievable—it was this pope that in 1302 issued the well-known "Unam Sanctum" which officially declared that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church, outside of which no one can be saved, and says: "We, therefore, assert, define and pronounce that it is necessary to salvation to believe that every human being is subject to the Pontiff of Rome." Because there have been sinful popes, being "subject" to the pope has raised a question. Should a sinful pope still be obeyed? The Catholic answer is this: "A sinful pope...remains a member of the (visible) church and is to be treated as a sinful, unjust ruler for whom we must pray, but from whom we may not withdraw our obedience. 15

From 1305 to 1377 the papal palace was at Avignon, France. During this time, Petrarch accused the papal household of "rape, adultery, and all manner of fornication." In many parishes men insisted on priests keeping concubines "as a protection for their own families!"16

During the Council of Constance, three popes, and sometimes four, were every morning cursing each other and calling their opponents antichrists, demons, adulterers, sodomists, enemies of God and man. One of these "popes", John XXIII (1410-1415) "was accused by thirty seven witnesses (mostly, bishops and priests) of fornication, adultery, incest, sodomy, simony, theft, and murder! It was proved by a legion of witnesses that he had seduced and violated three hundred nuns. His own secretary, Niem, said that he had at Boulogne, kept a harem, where not less than two hundred girls had been the victims of his lubricity."17 Altogether the Council charged him with fifty-four crimes of the worst kind.18

A Vatican record offers this information about his immoral reign. "His lordship, Pope John, committed perversity with the wife of his brother, incest with holy nuns, intercourse with virgins, adultery with the married, and all sorts of sex crimes...wholly given to sleep and other carnal desires, totally adverse to the life and teaching of Christ., he was publicly called the Devil incarnate."19 To increase his wealth, Pope John taxed about everything—including prostitution, gambling, and usury. He has been called "the most depraved criminal who ever sat on the papal throne."

Pope Pius II (1458-1464) was said to have been the father of many illegitimate children. He "spoke openly of the methods he used to seduce women, encouraged young men to, and even offered to instruct them in methods of, self-indulgence."21 Pius was followed by Paul II (1464-1471) who maintained a house full of concubines. His papal tiara outweighed a palace in its worth. Next came Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484) who financed his wars by selling church offices to the highest bidders22 and "used the papacy to enrich himself and his relatives. He made eight of his nephews cardinals, while as yet some of them were mere boys. In luxurious and lavish entertainment, he rivalled the Caesars. In wealth and pomp he and his relatives surpassed the old Roman families."23

Pope Innocent VIII (1484-1492) was the father of sixteen children by various women. Some of his children celebrated their marriages in the Vatican.24 The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions only "two illegitimate children, Franceschetto and Teodorina" from the days of a "licentious youth."25 Like numerous other popes, he multiplied church offices and sold them for vast sums of money. He permitted bull fights on St. Peter's square.

Next came Rodergio Borgia who took the name of Alexander VI (1492-1503), having won his election to the papacy by bribing the cardinals. Before becoming pope, while a cardinal and archbishop, he lived in sin with a lady of Rome, Vanozza dei Catanei; and afterward, with her daughter Rosa, by whom he had five children. On his coronation day, he appointed his son—a youth of vile temper and habits—as archbishop of Valencia.26 Many consider Alexander VI to be the most corrupt of the Renaissance popes. He lived in public incest with his two sisters and his own daughter, Lucretia, from whom, it is said, he had a child. On October 31, 1501, he conducted a sex orgy in the Vatican, the equal of which for sheer horror has never been duplicated in the annals of human history.28

According to Life magazine, Pope Paul III (1534-1549) as cardinal had fathered three sons and a daughter. On the day of his coronation he celebrated the baptism of his two great-grandchildren. He appointed two of his teenage nephews as cardinals, sponsored festivals with singers, dancers, and jesters, and sought advice from astrologers.29

Bull of Leo X.

Pope Leo X (1513-1521) was born December 11, 1475. He received tonsure at age 7, was made an abbot at 8, and a cardinal at 13! The illustration given above shows the Bull of Pope Leo X. On one side of the leaden seal appears the apostles Peter and Paul, on the other the pope's name and title. The word "bull" (from a Latin word linked with roundness) was first applied to the seals which authenticated papal documents and later to the documents also.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says that Pope Leo X "gave himself up unrestrainedly to amusements that were provided in lavish abundance. He was possessed by an insatiable love of pleasure...He loved to give banquets and expensive entertainments, accompanied by revelry and carousing. 30

During those days, Martin Luther, while still a priest of the papal church, traveled to Rome. As he caught the first glimpse of the seven-hilled city, he fell to the ground and said: "Holy Rome, I salute thee." He had not spent much time there, however, until he saw that Rome was anything but a holy city. Iniquity existed among all classes of the clergy. Priests told indecent jokes and used awful profanity, even during Mass. The papal court was served at supper by twelve naked girls.31 "No one can imagine what sins and infamous actions are committed in Rome," he said, "they must be seen and heard to be believed. Thus they are in the habit of saying, 'If there is a hell, Rome is built over it'."

One day during Luther's visit to Rome, he noticed a statue on one of the public streets that led to St. Peter's—the statue of a female pope. Because it was an object of disgust to the popes, no pope would ever pass down that certain street. "I am astonished", said Luther, "how the popes allow the statue to remain."32 Forty years after Luther's death, the statue was removed by Pope Sixtus V.

Though The Catholic Encyclopedia regards the story of pope Joan as a mere tale, it gives the following summary: "After Leo IV (847-855) the Englishman John of Mainz occupied the papal chair two years, seven months and four days, he was, it is alleged, a woman. When a girl, she was taken to Athens in male clothes by her lover, and there made such progress in learning that no one was her equal. She came to Rome, where she taught science, and thereby attracted the attention of learned men...and was finally chosen as pope, but, becoming pregnant by one of her trusted attendants, she gave birth to a child during a procession from St. Peter's to the Lateran...There she died almost immediately, and it is said she was buried at the same place."33

Was there really a female pope? Prior to the Reformation which exposed so much error in the Romish church, the story was believed by chroniclers, bishops, and by popes themselves. The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries this popess was already counted as an historical personage, whose existence no one doubted. She had her place among the carved busts which stood in Siena cathedral. Under Clement VII (1592-1595), and at his request, she was transformed into Pope Zacharias. The heretic Hus, in defence of his false doctrine before the Council of Constance, referred to the popess, and no one offered to question the fact of her existence.”34

Some have questioned how Pope Clement could have a female pope, named Joan, "transformed" into a male pope, named Zacharias, centuries after she had died!

Having mentioned the gross immorality that has existed in the lives of some of the popes, we do not wish to leave the impression that all popes have been as bad as the ones mentioned. But we do believe this evidence seriously weakens the doctrine of "apostolic succession", the claim that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church because it can trace a line of popes back to Peter. Is this really an important point? If so, each of these popes, even those who were known to be immoral and cruel, must be included. There is even the possibility of a female pope to make the succession complete! But salvation is not dependent on tracing a line of popes back to Peter—or even on a system of religion claiming to represent Christ. Salvation is found in Christ himself.