BABYLON MYSTERY RELIGION #3
by Ralph Woodrow (1966)
ARE POPES INFALLIBLE?
ADDING TO THE many contradictions with which the Romish system was already plagued, there were popes, like the god Janus of olden times, who began to claim they were "infallible." People naturally questioned how infallibility could be linked with the papal office when some of the popes had been very poor examples in morals and integrity. And if the infallibility be applied only to doctrines pronounced by the popes, how was it that some popes had disagreed with other popes? Even a number of the popes - including Virilinus, Innocent III, Clement IV, Gregory XI, Hadrian VI, and Paul IV—had rejected the doctrine of papal infallibility! Just how could all of this be explained in an acceptable manner and formulated into a dogma? Such was the task of the Vatican Council of 1870. The Council sought to narrow the meaning of infallibility down to a workable definition, applying such only to papal pronouncements made "ex cathedra." The wording finally adopted was this: "The Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra—that is, when in the exercise of his office as pastor and teacher of all Christians he defines...a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by the whole Church—is, by reason of the Divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, possessed of that infallibility...and consequently such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable."1 All of the problems were not solved by this wording, nevertheless papal infallibility became an official dogma of the Roman Catholic Church at the Vatican Council of 1870.
Knowing the history of the popes, several Catholic bishops opposed making papal infallibility a dogma at the council. One of these, Bishop Joseph Strossmayer (1815-1905), is described in The Catholic Encyclopedia as "one of the most notable opponents of papal infallibility."2 He pointed out that some of the popes had opposed other popes. Special mention was made of how Pope Stephen VI (896-897) brought former Pope Formosus (891-896) to trial.
The famous story of one pope bringing another to trial is one of sheer horror, for Pope Formosus had been dead for eight months! Nevertheless, the body was brought from the tomb and placed on a throne. There before a group of bishops and cardinals was the former pope, dressed in the rich apparel of the papacy, a crown upon his loose scalp, and the scepter of the holy office in the stiff fingers of his rotting hand!
As the trial got underway, the stench of the dead body filled the assembly hall. Pope Stephen stepped forward and did the questioning. Of course no answers were given to the charges by the dead man; so he was proven guilty as charged! With this, the bright robes were ripped from his body, the crown from his skull, the fingers used in bestowing the pontifical blessing were hacked off and his body was thrown into the street. Behind a cart, the body was dragged through the streets of Rome and finally cast into the Tiber.3
Thus one pope condemned another. Then a short time later, The Catholic Encyclopedia points out, "the second successor of Stephen had the body of Formosus, which a monk had drawn from the Tiber, reinterred with full honors in St. Peter's. He furthermore annulled at a synod the decisions of the court of Stephen VI, and declared all orders conferred by Formosus valid. John IX confirmed these acts at two synods...On the other hand Sergius III (904-911) approved in a Roman synod the decisions of Stephen's synod against Formosus...Sergius and his party meted out severe treatment to the bishops consecrated by Formosus, who in turn had meanwhile conferred orders on many other clerics, a policy which gave rise to the greatest confusion." Such sharp disagreement between popes certainly argues against the idea of papal infallibility.
Pope Honorius I, after his death, was denounced as a heretic by the Sixth Council held in the year 680. Pope Leo II confirmed his condemnation. If popes are infallible, how could one condemn another?
Pope Vigilius, after condemning certain books, removed his condemnation, afterward condemned them again and then retracted his condemnation, then condemned them again! Where is infallibility here?
Dueling was authorized by Pope Eugene III (1145-53). Later Pope Julius II (1503-13) and Pope Pius IV (1559-65) forbade it.
At one time in the eleventh century, there were three rival popes, all of which were disposed by the council convened by the Emperor Henry III. Later in the same century Clement III was opposed by Victor III and afterwards by Urban II. How could popes be infallible when they opposed each other?
What is known as the "great schism" came in 1378 and lasted for fifty years. Italians elected Urban VI and the French cardinals chose Clement VII. Popes cursed each other year after year, until a council disposed both and elected another!
Pope Sixtus V had a version of the Bible prepared which he declared to be authentic. Two years later Pope Clement VIII declared that it was full of errors and ordered another to be made!
Pope Gregory I repudiated the title of "Universal Bishop" as being "profane, superstitious, haughty, and invented by the first apostate." Yet, through the centuries, other popes have claimed this title.
Pope Hadrian II (867-872) declared civil marriages to be valid, but Pope Pius VII (1800-23) condemned them as invalid.
Pope Eugene IV (1431-47) condemned Joan of Arc to be burned alive as a witch. Later, another pope, Benedict IV, in 1919, declared her to be a "saint."
When we consider the hundreds of times and ways that popes have contradicted each other over the centuries, we can understand how the idea of papal infallibility is difficult for many people to accept. While it is true that most papal statements are not made within the narrow limits of the 1870 "ex cathedra" definition, yet if popes have erred in so many other ways, how can we believe they are guaranteed a divine infallibility for a few moments if and when they should indeed decide to speak ex cathedra?
Popes have taken to themselves such titles as "Most Holy Lord", "Chief of the Church in the World", "Sovereign Pontiff of Bishops", "High Priest", "the Mouth of Jesus Christ", "Vicar of Christ", and others. Said Pope Leo XIII on June 20, 1894, "We hold upon the earth the place of God Almighty." During the Vatican Council of 1870, on January 9, it was proclaimed: "The Pope is Christ in office, Christ in jurisdiction and power...we bow down before thy voice, O Pius, as before the voice of Christ, the God of truth; in clinging to thee, we cling to Christ. "
But the historical sketch that we have given plainly shows that the pope is NOT "Christ in office" or in any other way: The contrast is apparent. The very expensive crowns worn by the popes have cost millions of dollars. Jesus, during his earthly life, wore no crown except the crown of thorns. The pope is waited on by servants. What a contrast to the lowly Nazarene who came not to be ministered to, but to minister! The popes dress in garments that are very elaborate and costly—patterned after those of the Roman emperors of pagan days. Such vanity is contrasted to our savior who wore the gown of a peasant. The immorality of many of the popes—especially in past centuries—stands in striking contrast to the Christ who is perfect in holiness and purity.
In view of these things, we believe the claim that the pope is the "Vicar of Christ" is without any basis in fact. As early as the year 1612 it was pointed out, as Andreas Helwig did in his book Roman Antichrist, that the title "Vicar of Christ" has a numerical value of 666. Written as "Vicar of the Son of God" in Latin, Vicarivs Filii Dei, the letters with numerical value are these: i equals 1 (used six times), l equals 50, V equals 5, c equals 100, and D equals 500. When these are all counted up, the total is 666. This number reminds us, of course, of Revelation 13:18, "Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six."
It should be pointed out in all fairness, however, that numerous names and titles, depending on how they are written or which language is used, can produce this number. The examples given here will be of special interest because they are linked with Rome and with Roman Catholicism.
According to Hislop, the original name of Rome was Saturnia, meaning "the city of Saturn." Saturn was the secret name revealed only to the initiates of the Chaldean mysteries, which—in Chaldee—was spelled with four letters: STUR. In this language, S was 60, T was 400, U was 6, and R was 200, a total of 666.
Nero Caesar was one of the greatest persecutors of Christians and emperor of Rome at the height of its power. His name, when written in Hebrew letters, equals 666.
The Greek letters of the word "Lateinos" (Latin), the historical language of Rome in all its official acts, amount to 666. In Greek, L is 30, a is 1, t is 300, e is 5, i is 10, n is 50, o is 70, and s is 200, a total of 666. This was pointed out by Irenaeus as early as the third century. This same word also means "Latin man" and is but the Greek form of the name Romulus, from which the city of Rome is named. This name in Hebrew, Romiith, also totals 666.
Unlike the Greeks and Hebrews, the Romans did not use all letters of their alphabet for numbers. They used only six letters: D, C, L, X, V, and I. (All other numbers were made up of combinations of these?) It is interesting and perhaps significant that the six letters which make up the Roman numeral system when added together total exactly 666.
Turning to the Bible itself, in the Old Testament, we read that king Solomon each year received 666 talents of gold (1 Kings 10:14). This wealth played an important part in leading him astray. In the New Testament, the letters of the Greek word euporia, from which the word WEALTH is translated, total 666.
Out of all the 2,000 Greek nouns of the New Testament, there is only one other word that has this numerical value, the word paradosis, translated TRADITION (Acts 19:25; Matt. 15:2). Wealth and tradition—interestingly enough—were the two great corruptors of the Roman Church. Wealth corrupted in practice and honesty; tradition corrupted in doctrine.
* The "M" has now come to be used also as a Roman numeral representing 1000. But as E. W. Bullinger points out in his book Numbers in Scripture (p. 284), originally 1000 was written as CI with another C turned around, This was later simplified and finally as M.
THE INHUMAN INQUISITION
SO OPENLY CORRUPT did the fallen church become in the Middle Ages, we can readily understand why in many places men rose up in protest. Many were those noble souls who rejected the false claims of the pope, looking instead to the Lord Jesus for salvation and truth. These were called "heretics" and were bitterly persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church.
One of the documents that ordered such persecutions was the inhuman "Ad exstirpanda" issued by Pope Innocent IV in 1252. This document stated that heretics were to be "crushed like venomous snakes." It formally approved the use of torture. Civil authorities were ordered to burn heretics. "The aforesaid Bull 'Ad exstirpanda' remained thenceforth a fundamental document of the Inquisition, renewed or reinforced by several popes, Alexander IV (1254-61), Clement IV (1265-68), Nicholas IV (1288-92), Boniface VIII (1294-1303), and others. The civil authorities, therefore, were enjoined by the popes, under pain of excommunication to execute the legal sentences that condemned impenitent heretics to the stake. It is to be noted that excommunication itself was no trifle, for, if the person excommunicated did not free himself from the excommunication within a year, he was held by the legislation of that period to be a heretic, and incurred all the penalties that affected heresy."1
Men pondered long in those days on how they could devise methods that would produce the most torture and pain. One of the most popular methods was the use of the rack, a long table on which the accused was tied by the hands and feet, back down, and stretched by rope and windlass. This process dislocated joints and caused great pain.
Heavy pincers were used to tear out fingernails or were applied red-hot to sensitive parts of the body. Rollers with sharp knife blades and spikes were used, over which the heretics were rolled back and forth. There was the thumbscrew, an instrument made for disarticulating fingers and "Spanish boots" which were used to crush the legs and feet. The "iron virgin" was a hollow instrument the size and figure of a woman. Knives were arranged in such a way and under such pressure that the accused were lacerated in its deadly embrace. This torture device was sprayed with "holy water" and inscribed with the Latin words meaning, "Glory be only to God."2
Victims after being stripped of their clothing had their arms tied behind their backs with a hard cord. Weights were attached to their feet. The action of a pulley suspended them in mid-air or dropped and raised them with a jerk, dislocating joints of the body. While such torture was being employed, priests holding up crosses would attempt to get the heretics to recant.
Ridpath's History of the World includes an illustration of the work of the Inquisition in the Netherlands. Twenty-one Protestants are hanging from the tree. A man on a ladder is about to be hanged, below him is a priest holding a cross.3
Execution of Protestants in the Netherlands
"In the year 1554 Francis Gamba, a Lombard, of the Protestant persuasion, was apprehended and condemned to death by the sentence of Milan. At the place of execution, a monk presented a cross to him, to whom Gamba said, 'My mind is so full of the real merits and goodness of Christ that I want not a piece of senseless stick to put me in mind of Him.' For this expression his tongue was bored through and he was afterwards burned."4
Some who rejected the teachings of the Roman church had molten lead poured into their ears and mouths. Eyes were gouged out and others were cruelly beaten with whips. Some were forced to jump from cliffs onto long spikes fixed below, where, quivering from pain, they slowly died. Others were choked to death with mangled pieces of their own bodies, with urine, or excrement. At night, the victims of the Inquisition were chained closely to the floor or wall where they were a helpless prey to the rats and vermin that populated those bloody torture chambers.
The religious intolerance that prompted the Inquisition caused wars which involved entire cities. In 1209 the city of Beziers was taken by men who have been promised by the pope that by engaging in the crusade against heretics they would at death bypass purgatory and immediately enter heaven. Sixty thousand, it is reported, in this city perished by the sword while blood flowed in the streets. At Lavaur in 1211 the governor was hanged on a gibbet and his wife thrown into a well and crushed with stones. Four hundred people in this town were burned alive. The crusaders attended high mass in the morning, then proceeded to take other towns of the area. In this siege, it is estimated that 100,000 Albigenses (Protestants) fell in one day. Their bodies were heaped together and burned.
At the massacre of Merindol, five hundred women were locked in a barn which was set on fire. If any leaped from windows, they were received on the points of spears. Women were openly and pitifully violated. Children were murdered before their parents who were powerless to protect them. Some people were hurled from cliffs or stripped of clothing and dragged through the streets. Similar methods were used in the massacre of Orange in 1562. The Italian army was sent by Pope Pius IV and commanded to slay men, women, and children. The command was carried out with terrible cruelty, the people being exposed to shame and torture of every description.
Ten thousand Huguenots (Protestants) were killed in the bloody massacre in Paris on "St. Bartholomew's Day", 1572. The French king went to mass to return solemn thanks that so many heretics were slain. The papal court received the news with great rejoicing and Pope GregoryXIII, in grand procession, went to the Church of St. Louis to give thanks! He ordered the papal mint to make coins commemorating this event. The coins showed an angel with sword in one hand and a cross in the other, before whom a band of Huguenots, with horror on their faces, were fleeing. The words Ugonot-torum Stranges 1572 which signify "The slaughter of the Huguenots, 1572", appeared on the coins.
An illustration from Ridpath's History of the World, as seen on the next page, shows the work of the Inquisition in Holland. A Protestant man is hanging by his feet in stocks. The fire is heating a poker to brand him and blind his eyes.5
Some of the popes that today are acclaimed as "great" by the Romish church lived and thrived during those days. Why didn't they open the dungeon doors and quench the murderous fires that blackened the skies of Europe for centuries? If the selling of indulgences, or people worshipping statues as idols, or popes living in immorality can be explained as "abuses" or excused because these things were done contrary to the official laws of the church, what can be said about the Inquisition? It cannot be explained away as easily, for though sometimes torture was carried out beyond what was actually described, the fact remains that the Inquisition was ordered by papal decree and confirmed by pope after pope! Can any believe that such actions were representative of Him who said turn the other cheek, to forgive our enemies, and to do good to them that despitefully use use.
LORDS OVER GOD’S HERITAGE
HE HIGHEST RANKING men of the Roman Catholic Church, next to the pope, are a group of "cardinals." The Bible says that Christ placed apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in his church (Eph. 4:11). But we never find any indication that he ordained a group of cardinals. To the contrary, the original cardinals were a group of leading priests in the ancient pagan religion of Rome - long before the Christian Era. A booklet published by the Knights of Columbus, This is the Catholic Church, explains: "In ancient times the cardinals were the chief clergy of Rome —the word is derived from the Latin word cardo, 'hinge', and thus referred to those who were the pivotal members of the clergy."1
But why were these priests of ancient Rome linked with the word "hinge"? They were, evidently, the priests of Janus, the pagan god of doors and hinges! Janus was referred to as "the god of beginnings"—thus January, the beginning month of our Roman calendar, comes from his name. As god of doors, he was their protector or caretaker. Even today, the keeper of the doors is called a janitor, a word from the name Janus!
Janus was known as "the opener and shutter."2 Because he was worshipped as such in Asia Minor, we can better understand the words of Jesus to the church at Philadelphia: "These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and no man shutteth: and shutteth, and no man openeth...! have set before you an open door'' (Rev. 3:7, 8). The pagan god Janus was a counterfeit; Jesus was the true opener and shutter!
"The college of Cardinals, with the Pope at its head", writes Hislop, "is just the counterpart of the pagan college of Pontiffs, with its Pontifex Maximus, or Sovereign Pontiff, which is known to have been framed on the model of the grand original Council of Pontiffs at Babylon!"3
When paganism and Christianity were mixed together, the cardinals, priests of the hinge, that had served in pagan Rome, eventually found a place in papal Rome.
The garments worn by the cardinals of the Catholic Church are red. Cardinal birds, cardinal flowers, and cardinal priests are all linked together by the color red. The Bible mentions certain princes of Babylon who dressed in red garments: "...men portrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermillion"—bright red—"girded with girdles upon the loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads, all of them princes to look to, after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea" (Ezekiel 23:14,15). The harlot symbolizing Babylonish religion was dressed in scarlet-red garments (Rev. 17:4). From ancient times, the color red or scarlet has been associated with sin. Isaiah, in his day, said: "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18). Adultery is sometimes referred to as the scarlet sin. The color red is associated with prostitution, as in the expression "red-light district."
In view of these things, it does not seem unfair to question why red would be used for the garments of the highest ranking men in the Romish church. We are not saying it is wrong to wear red, yet does it not seem like a curious custom for cardinals? Are we to suppose such garments were worn by the apostles? Or is it more likely that the red garments of the cardinals were copied from those worn by priests of pagan Rome?
The priests of the hinge in pagan days were known as the "flamens." The word is taken from flare, meaning one who blows or kindles the sacred fire.4 They were the keepers of the holy flame which they fanned with the mystic fan of Bacchus. Like the color of the fire they tended, their garments were flame colored. They were servants of the pontifex maximus in pagan days and the cardinals today are the servants of the pope who also claims the title pontifex maximus. The flamens were divided into three distinct groups and so are the cardinals—Cardinal-bishops, Cardinal-priests, and Cardinal-deacons.
Next in authority under the pope and the cardinals are the bishops of the Catholic Church. Unlike the titles "pope" and "cardinal", the Bible does mention bishops. Like the word "saints", however, the word "bishop" has been commonly misunderstood. Many think of a bishop as a minister of superior rank, having authority over a group of other ministers and churches. This idea is reflected in the word "cathedral", which comes from cathedra, meaning "throne." A cathedral, unlike other churches, is the one in which the throne of the bishop is located.
But turning to the Bible, all ministers are called bishops —not just ministers of certain cities. Paul instructed Titus to "ordain elders in every city" (Titus 1:5), and then went on to speak of these elders as bishops (verse 7). When Paul instructed "the elders" of Ephesus, he said: "Take heed unto yourselves, and to the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers (bishops), to feed (pastor) the church of God" (Acts 20:17, 28). The word translated "overseers" is the same word that is elsewhere translated bishops. The word "feed" means the same as the word translated pastor. These ministers were referred to as elders, bishops, overseers, and pastors—all of these expressions referring to exactly the same office. Plainly enough, a bishop - in the Scriptures - was not a minister of a large city who sat on a throne and exercised authority over a group of other ministers. Each church had its elders and these elders were bishops! This was understood by Martin Luther. "But as for the bishops that we now have", he remarked, "of these the Scriptures know nothing; they were instituted...so that one might rule over many ministers."5
Even before the New Testament was completed, it was needful to give warnings about the doctrine of the Nicolaitines (Rev. 2:6). According to Scofield, the word "Nicolaitines" comes from nikao, "to conquer", and laos, "laity", which, if correct, "refers to the earliest form of the notion of a priestly order, or 'clergy', which later divided an equal brotherhood (Mt. 23:8), into 'priests' and 'laity'."6
The word "priest" in a very real sense belongs to every Christian believer—not just ecclesiastical leaders. Peter instructed ministers not to be "lords over God's heritage" (1 Peter 5:1-3). The word translated "heritage" is kleeron and means "clergy"! As The Matthew Henry Commentary explains, all the children of God are given the "title of God's heritage or clergy...the word is never restrained in the New Testament to the ministers of religion only."
In rejecting an artificial division between "clergy" and "laity", this is not to say that ministers should not receive proper respect and honor, "especially they who labor in the word" (1 Tim. 5:17). But because of this division, too often people of a congregation are prone to place all responsibility for the work of God upon the minister. Actually God has a ministry for all of his people. This is not to say that all have a pulpit ministry!—but even giving a cup of cold water is not without its purpose and reward (Matt. 10:42). It would be well for each of us to pray,"Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6). In the New Testament, the full work of a church was not placed on one individual. Churches were commonly pastored by a plurality of elders, as numerous scriptures show. "They ordained elders (plural) in every church" (Acts 14:19-23) and in "every city" (Titus 1:5). Expressions such as "the elders (plural) of the church" are commonly used (Acts 20:17; James 5:14).
All who have been washed from their sins by the blood of Christ are "priests unto God" and are "a royal priesthood" (Rev. 1:6; 1 Peter 2:9). The priesthood of all believers is clearly the New Testament position. But as men exalted themselves as "lords over God's heritage", people were taught that they needed a priest to whom they could tell their sins, a priest must sprinkle them, a priest must give them the last rites, a priest must say masses for them, etc. They were taught to depend upon a human priest, while the true high priest, the Lord Jesus, was obscured from their view by a dark cloud of man-made traditions.
Unlike Elihu who did not want to "give flattering titles unto man" (Job 32:21), those who exalted themselves as "lords" over the people began to take unto themselves titles which were unscriptural, and—in some cases—titles that should belong only to God! As a warning against this practice, Jesus said, "Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted" (Matt. 23:9-12).
It is difficult to understand how a church claiming to have Christ as its founder—after a few centuries—would begin to use the very titles that he said NOT to use! Nevertheless, the bishop of Rome began to be called by the title "pope", which is only a variation of the word "father." The priests of Catholicism are called "father." We will remember that one of the leading branches of the "Mysteries" that came to Rome in the early days was Mithraism. In this religion, those who presided over the sacred ceremonies were called "fathers."7 An article on Mithraism in The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "The fathers (used here as a religious title) conducted the worship. The chief of the fathers, a sort of pope, who always lived at Rome, was called 'Pater Patrum'."8 Now if the pagans in Rome called their priests by the title "father", and if Christ said to call no man "father", from what source did the Roman Catholic custom of calling a priest by this title come—from Christ or paganism?
Even the Bible gives an example of a pagan priest being called "father." A man by the name of Micah said to a young Levite, "Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and a priest" (Judges 17:10). Micah was a grown man with a son of his own; the Levite was "a young man." The title "father" was obviously used in a religious sense, as a priestly designation. Micah wanted him to be a father-priest in his "house of gods." This was a type of Catholicism, for while the young priest claimed to speak the word of the "LORD" (Judges 18:6), the worship was clearly mixed with idols and paganism.
The Roman Catholic Church uses the title "Monsignor" which means "My Lord." It is somewhat of a general title, The Catholic Encyclopedia explains, and can be properly used in addressing several of the higher church leaders. "Instead of addressing patriarchs as 'Vostra Beautitudine', archbishops as 'Your Grace', bishops as 'My Lord', abbots as 'Gracious Lord', one may without any breach of etiquette salute all equally as Monsignor."9 One of the meanings of "arch" is master. Using titles such as archpriest, archbishop, archdeacon, is like saying masterpriest, etc. The superior of the order of Dominicans is called "master general." We need only to cite, again, the words of Christ which are in contrast to such titles: "Neither be ye called masters: for one is your master, even Christ."
Even the title "Reverend", Biblically speaking, is applied only to God. It appears one time in the Bible: "Holy and reverend is his name" (Psalms 111:9). The word "reverend" comes from the Latin revere and was first applied to the English clergy as a title of respect during the fifteenth century. Variations of this title are these: The Reverend, The Very Reverend, The Most Reverend, and The Right Reverend.
When Jesus spoke against flattering titles, the basic thought was that of humility and equality among his disciples. Should we not, then, reject the supposed authority of those high offices in which men seek to make themselves "lords over God's heritage"? And instead of men receiving glory, should not all the glory be given to God?
AN UNMARRIED PREISTHOOD
THE SPIRIT SPEAKETH expressly, that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; FORBIDDING TO MARRY..." (1 Tim. 4:1-3).
In this passage, Paul warned that a departure from the true faith would occur in later or latter times. "This does not necessarily imply the last ages of the world", writes Adam Clarke in his noted commentary, "but any times consequent to those in which the Church then lived."1 Actually, this departure from the faith, as those who know history understand, took place back in the early centuries.
The first Christians recognized the worship of pagan gods as the worship of devils (1 Cor. 10:19, 21). It follows, then, that Paul's warning about "doctrines of devils" could certainly refer to the teachings of the pagan mysteries. He made special mention of the doctrine of "forbidding to marry." In the mystery religion, this doctrine did not apply to all people. It was, instead, a doctrine of priestly celibacy. Such unmarried priests, Hislop points out, were members of the higher orders of the priesthood of the queen Semiramis. "Strange as it may seem, yet the voice of antiquity assigns to the abandoned queen the invention of clerical celibacy, and that in its most stringent form."2
Not all nations to which the mystery religion spread required priestly celibacy, as in Egypt where priests were allowed to marry. But, "every scholar knows that when the worship of Cybele, the Babylonian Goddess, was introduced into Pagan Rome, it was introduced in its primitive form, with its celibate clergy."3
Instead of the doctrine of "forbidding to marry" promoting purity, however, the excesses committed by the celibate priests of pagan Rome were so bad that the Senate felt they should be expelled from the Roman republic. Later, after priestly celibacy became established in papal Rome, similar problems developed. "When Pope Paul V sought the suppression of the licensed brothels in the 'Holy City', the Roman Senate petitioned against his carrying his design into effect, on the ground that the existence of such places was the only means of hindering the priests from seducing their wives and daughters."4
Rome, in those days, was a "holy city" in name only. Reports estimate that there were about 6,000 prostitutes in this city with a population not exceeding 100,000.5 Historians tell us that "all the ecclesiastics had mistresses, and all the convents of the Capitol were houses of bad fame."6 A fish pond at Rome which was situated near a convent was drained by order of Pope Gregory. At the bottom were found over 6,000 infant skulls.
Cardinal Peter D'Ailly said he dared not describe the immorality of the nunneries, and that "taking the veil" was simply another mode of becoming a public prostitute. Violations were so bad in the ninth century that St. Theodore Studita forbade even female animals on monastery property! In the year 1477, night dances and orgies were held in the Catholic cloister at Kercheim that are described in history as being worse than those to be seen in the public houses of prostitution.7 Priests came to be known as "the husbands of all the women." Albert the Magnificent, Archbishop of Hamburg, exhorted his priests: "Si non caste, tamen caute" (If you can't be chaste, at least be careful). Another German bishop began to charge the priests in his district a tax for each female they kept and each child that was born. He discovered there were eleven thousand women kept by the clergymen of his diocese.8
The Catholic Encyclopedia says the tendency of some to rake these scandals together and exaggerate details "is at least as marked as the tendency on the part of the Church's apologists to ignore these uncomfortable pages of history altogether”!9 As with so many things, we do not doubt that extremes have existed on both sides. We realize also that with reports of immoral conduct there is the possibility of exaggeration. But even allowing for this, the problems that have accompanied the doctrine of "forbidding to marry" are too obvious to be ignored. The Catholic Encyclopedia, though seeking to explain and justify celibacy, admits there have been many abuses. "We have no wish to deny or to palliate the very low level of morality to which at different periods of the world's history, and in different countries calling themselves Christian, the Catholic priesthood has occasionally sunk...corruption was widespread...How could it be otherwise when there were intruded into bishoprics on every side men of brutal nature and unbridled passions, who gave the very worst example to the clergy over whom they ruled?...A large number of the clergy, not only priests but bishops, openly took wives, and begot children to whom they transmitted their benefices."10
There is no rule in the Bible that requires a minister to be unmarried. The apostles were married (1 Cor. 9:5) and a bishop was to be "the husband of one wife" (1 Tim. 3:2). Even The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "We do not find in the New Testament any indication of celibacy being made compulsory either upon the apostles or those whom they ordained."11 The doctrine of "forbidding to marry" developed only gradually within the Catholic church. When the celibacy doctrine first began to be taught, many of the priests were married men. There was some question, though, if a priest whose wife died should marry again. A rule established at the Council of Neo-Caesarea in 315 "absolutely forbids a priest to contract a new marriage under the pain of desposition." Later, "at a Roman council held by Pope Siricius in 386 an edict was passed forbidding priests and deacons to have conjugal intercourse with their wives and the pope took steps to have the decree enforced in Spain and other parts of Christendom."12 In these statements from The Catholic Encyclopedia the careful reader will notice the words "forbid" and "forbidding." The word "forbidding" is the same word the Bible uses when warning about "forbidding to marry"—but in exactly the opposite sense! The Bible terms forbidding to marry a "doctrine of devils."
Taking all of these things into consideration, we can see how Paul's prediction (1 Tim. 4:1-3) was fulfilled. Did a departure from the original faith come? Yes. Did people give heed to pagan doctrines, the doctrines of devils? Yes. Were priests forbidden to marry? Yes. And because of this forced celibacy, many of these priests ended up having their "consciences seared with a hot iron" and "spoke lies in hypocrisy" because of the immorality into which they fell.
History has shown the fulfillment of each part of this prophecy !
The doctrine of forbidding priests to marry met with other difficulties over the centuries because of the confessional. It is plain to see that the practice of girls and women confessing their moral weaknesses and desires to unmarried priests could easily result in many abuses. A former priest, Charles Chiniquy, who lived at the time of Abraham Lincoln and was personally acquainted with him, gives a full account of such corruption in connection with the confessional, along with actual cases, in his book The Priest, The Woman, and The Confessional. We are not suggesting that all priests should be judged by the mistakes or sins of some. We do not doubt that many priests have been very dedicated to the vows they have taken. Nevertheless, "the countless attacks" (to use the wording of The Catholic Encyclopedia ) that have been made against the confessional were not, in many cases, without basis. That the doctrine of confession has caused difficulties for the Romish church, in one way or another, seems implied by the wording of The Catholic Encyclopedia. After mentioning the "countless attacks," it says, "If at the Reformation or since the Church could have surrendered a doctrine or abandoned a practice for the sake of peace and to soften a 'hard saying’, confession would have been the first to disappear"!13
In a carefully worded article, The Catholic Encyclopedia explains that the power to forgive sins belongs to God alone. Nevertheless, he exercises this power through the priests. A passage in John (20:22, 23) is interpreted to mean a priest can forgive or refuse to forgive sins. In order for him to make this decision, sins "specifically and in detail" (according to the Council of Trent) must be confessed to him. "How can a wise and prudent judgment be rendered if the priest be in ignorance of the cause on which judgment is pronounced? And how can he obtain the requisite knowledge unless it come from the spontaneous acknowledgment of the sinner?" Having given priests the authority to forgive sins, it is inconsistent to believe, says the article, that Christ "had intended to provide some other means of forgiveness such as confessing to God alone." Confession to a priest for those who after baptism commit sins, is "necessary unto salvation."14
There is a type of confession that the Bible teaches, but it is not confession to an unmarried priest! The Bible says, "Confess your faults one to another" (James 5:16). If this verse could be used to support the Catholic idea of confession, then not only should people confess to priests, but priests should confess to the people! When Simon of Samaria sinned, after having been baptized, Peter did not tell him to confess to him. He did not tell him to say the "Hail Mary" for a given number of times a day. Peter told him to "pray to God" for forgiveness (Acts 8:22)! When Peter sinned, he confessed to God and was forgiven; when Judas sinned, he confessed to a group of priests and committed suicide! (Matt. 27:3-5).
The idea of confessing to a priest came not from the Bible, but from Babylon!
Secret confession was required before complete initiation was granted into the Babylonian mysteries. Once such confession was made, the victim was bound hand and foot to the priesthood. There can be no doubt that confessions were made in Babylon, for it is from such recorded confessions—and only from these—that historians have been able to formulate conclusions about the Babylonian concepts of right and wrong.15
The Babylonian idea of confession was known in many parts of the world. Salverte wrote of this practice among the Greeks. "All the Greeks from Delphi to Thermopylae, were initiated in the mysteries of the temple of Delphi. Their silence in regard to everything they were commanded to keep secret was secured by the general confession exacted of the aspirants after initiation." Certain types of confession were also known in the religions of Medo-Persia, Egypt, and Rome —before the dawn of Christianity.16
Black is the distinctive color of the clergy garments worn by the priests of the Roman Catholic Church and some Protestant denominations also follow this custom. But why black? Can any of us picture Jesus and his apostles wearing black garments? Black has for centuries been linked with death. Hearses, traditionally, have been black, black is worn by mourners at funerals, etc. If any suggest that black should be worn in honor of the death of Christ, we would only point out that Christ is no longer dead!
On the other hand, the Bible mentions certain priests of Baal that dressed in black! God's message through Zephaniah was this: "I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the chemarims with the priests"(Zeph. 1:4). The "chemarims" were priests who wore black garments.1 7 This same title is translated "idolatrous priests" in another passage about Baal worship (2 Kings 23:5). Adam Clarke says, "Probably they were an order made by the idolatrous kings of Judah, and called kemarim, from camar, which signifies to be...made dark, or black, because heir business was constantly to attend sacrificial fires, and probably they wore black garments; hence the Jews in derision call Christian ministers kemarim, because of their black clothes and garments. Why we should imitate, in our sacerdotal dress, those priests of Baal, is strange to think and hard to tell"!18
Another practice of the Catholic church which was also known in ancient times and among non-Christian people is the tonsure. The Catholic Encyclopedia says the tonsure is "a sacred rite instituted by the Church by which...a Christian is received into the clerical order by shearing of his hair...Historically, the tonsure was not in use in the primitive Church...Even later St. Jerome (340-420) disapproved of clerics shaving their heads"!19 But by the sixth century the tonsure was quite common. The Council of Toledo made it a strict rule that all clerics must receive the tonsure, but today the custom is no longer practiced in many countries.
It is known and acknowledged that this custom was "not in use in the primitive Church." But it was known among pagan nations! Buddha shaved his head in obedience to a supposed divine command. The priests of Osiris in Egypt were distinguished by the shaving of their heads. The priests of Bacchus received the
tonsure. In the Catholic church, the form of tonsure used in Britain was called the Celtic, with only a portion of hair being shaved from the front of the head. In
Eastern form, the whole was shaved. But in the Roman form, called the tonsure of St. Peter, the round tonsure was used, leaving only hair around the edges with the upper portion of the head bald. The Celtic tonsure of priests in Britain was ridiculed as being the tonsure of Simon Magus.20
But why did Rome insist on the round tonsure? We may not have the full answer, but we do know that such was "an old practice of the priests of Mithra, who in their tonsures imitated the solar disk. As the sun-god was the great lamented god, and had his hair cut in a circular form, and the priests who lamented him had their hair cut in a similar manner, so in different countries those who lamented the dead and cut off their hair in honor of them, cut it in a circular form"!21
That such was a very ancient custom—known even at the time of Moses - may be seen right within the Bible. Such was forbidden for priests: "They shall not make baldness upon their head" (Lev. 21:5). And that such "baldness" was the rounded tonsure seems implied from Leviticus 19:27: "Ye shall not round the corners of your head."
DO PRIESTS HAVE power to change the elements of bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Christ during the mass ritual? Is this belief founded on the Scriptures?
The Catholic position is summed up in the following words from The Catholic Encyclopedia: "In the celebration of the Holy Mass, the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ. It is called transubstantiation, for in the Sacrament of the Eucharist the substance of bread and wine do not remain, but the entire substance of bread is changed into the body of Christ, and the entire substance of wine is changed into his blood, the species or outward semblance of bread and wine alone remaining."1
Support for this belief is sought in the words of Jesus when he said of the bread he had blessed, "Take eat; this is my body" and of the cup, "Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood" (Matt. 26:26-28). But forcing a literal meaning on these words creates numerous problems of interpretation and tends to overlook the fact that the Bible commonly uses figurative expressions.
When some of David's men risked their lives to bring him water from Bethlehem, he refused it, saying, "Is not this the blood of men who went in jeopardy of their lives?" (2 Sam. 23:17). The Bible speaks of Jesus as a "door", "vine", and "rock" (John 10:9; 15:5; 1 Cor. 10:4). All recognize these statements are to be understood in a figurative sense. We believe that such is also true of Christ's statement "this is my body...this is my blood." The bread and wine are symbols of his body and blood. This does not detract at all from the reality of his presence within an assembly of believers, for he promised, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20). To reject the idea that he becomes literally present in pieces of bread or inside a cup of wine is not to reject that he is present spiritually among believers!
After Jesus "blessed" the elements, they were not changed into his literal flesh and blood, for he (literally) was still there. He had not vanished away to appear in the form of bread and wine. After he had blessed the cup, he still called it "the fruit of the vine" not literal blood (Matt. 26:29). Since Jesus drank from the cup also, did he drink his own blood? If the wine became actual blood, to drink it would have been forbidden by the Bible (Deut. 12:16; Acts 15:20).
There is no evidence that any change comes to the elements through the Romish ritual. They have the same taste, color, smell, weight, and dimensions. The bread still looks like bread, tastes like bread, smells like bread, and feels like bread. But in the Catholic mind, it is the flesh of God. The wine still looks like wine, tastes like wine, smells like wine, and if one drank enough, it would make him drunk like wine! But this is believed to be the blood of God. When the priest blesses the bread and wine, he says the Latin words, Hoc est corpus meus. In view of the fact that no change takes place, we can understand how the expression "hocus-pocus" originated with these words.2
The poem on page 125 is not included to be unkind or to ridicule what many sincere people consider a very sacred ceremony. In spite of its crudeness, the poem does make a point.
The learned Council of Trent proclaimed that the belief in transubstantion was essential to salvation and pronounced curses on any who would deny it. The Council ordered pastors to explain that not only did the elements of the Mass contain flesh, bones, and nerves as a part of Christ, "but also a WHOLE CHRIST."3 The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "The dogma of the totality of the Real Presence means that in each individual species the whole Christ, flesh and blood, body and soul, Divinity and humanity, is really present."4
The piece of bread having become "Christ," it is believed that in offering it up, the priest sacrifices Christ. A curse was pronounced by the Council of Trent on any who believed otherwise. "If any one saith that in the Mass a true and proper sacrifice is not offered to God...let him be anathema."5 In Catholic belief, this "sacrifice" is a renewal of the sacrifice of the cross. "Christ...commanded that his bloody
A ROMAN MIRACLE
A pretty maid, a Protestant, was to a Catholic wed; To love all Bible truths and tales, quite early she'd been bred. It sorely grieved her husband's heart that she would not comply, And join the Mother Church of Rome and heretics deny. So day by day he flattered her, but still she saw no good would ever come from bowing down to idols made of wood. The Mass, the host, the miracles, were made but to deceive; And transubstantiation, too, she'd never dare believe. He went to see his clergyman and told him his sad tale. "My wife is an unbeliever, sir; you can perhaps prevail; For all your Romish miracles my wife has strong aversion, To really work a miracle may lead to her conversion." The priest went with the gentleman—he thought to gain a prize. He said, "I will convert her, sir, and open both her eyes." So when they came into the house, the husband loudly cried, "The priest has come to dine with us!" "He's welcome," she replied. And when, at last, the meal was o'er, the priest at once began, To teach his hostess all about the sinful state of man; The greatness of our Savior's love, which Christians can't deny, To give Himself a sacrifice and for our sins to die. "I will return tomorrow, lass, prepare some bread and wine; The sacramental miracle will stop you soul's decline." "I'll bake the bread," the lady said. "You may," he did reply, "And when you've seen this miracle, convinced you'll be, say I." The priest did come accordingly, the bread and wine did bless. The lady asked, "Sir, is it changed?" The priest answered, "Yes, it's changed from common bread and wine to truly flesh and blood; Begorra, lass, this power of mine has changed it into God!" So having blessed the bread and wine, to eat they did prepare. The lady said unto the priest, "I warn you to take care, For half an ounce of arsenic was mixed right in the batter, But since you have its nature changed, it cannot really matter." The priest was struck real dumb—he looked as pale as death. The bread and wine fell from his hands and he did gasp for breath. "Bring me my horse!" the priest cried, "This is a cursed home!" The lady replied, "Begone; tis you who shares the curse of Rome." The husband, too, he sat surprised, and not a word did say. At length he spoke, "My dear," said he, "the priest has run away;
To gulp such mummery and tripe, I'm not for sure, quite able; I'll go with you and we'll renounce this Roman Catholic fable."
Author Unknown 125
sacrifice on the Cross should be daily renewed by an unbloody sacrifice of his Body and Blood in the Mass under the simple elements of bread and wine."6
Because the elements are changed into Christ, he "is present in our churches not only in a spiritual manner but really, truly, and substantially as the victim of a sacrifice. "7
Though the ritual has been carried out millions of times, attempts are made to explain that it is the same sacrifice as Calvary because the victim in each case is Jesus Christ.8
The very idea of Christ—"flesh and blood, body and soul, Divinity and humanity"—being offered repeatedly as a "renewal" of the sacrifice of the cross, stands in sharp contrast to the words of Jesus on the cross, "It is finished" (John 19:30). The Old Testament sacrifices had to be continually offered because none of them was the perfect sacrifice. But now "we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE for all. For every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man (Christ), after he had offered ONE sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God., …for by ONE offering he perfected for ever them that are sanctified " (Heb. 10:10-14).
Catholic doctrine says the sacrifice of Christ on the cross should "be daily renewed", but the New Testament sets the idea of "daily sacrifices" in contrast to the ONE sacrifice of Christ. He was not to be offered often, for "as it is appointed unto men once to die...so Christ was ONCE offered to bear the sins of many" (Heb. 9:25-28). In view of this, those who believe the sacrifice of the cross should be continually renewed in the Mass, in a sense, "crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame" (Heb. 6:6).
After the bread has been changed into "Christ" by the priest, it is placed on a monstrance in the center of a sunburst design. Before the monstrance Catholics will bow and worship the little wafer as God! This practice, in our opinion, is similar to the practices of heathen tribes which worship fetishes. Is it scriptural? Notice what The Catholic Encyclopedia says: "In the absence of Scriptural proof, the Church finds a warrant for, and a propriety in, rendering Divine worship to the Blessed Sacrament in the most ancient and constant tradition..”9
This reasoning brings to mind the words of Jesus, "...making the word of God of none effect through your tradition" (Mark 7:13).
Adopting the idea that the elements of the Lord's Supper become the literal flesh and blood of Christ was not without its problems. Tertullian tells us that priests took great care that no crumb should fall—lest the body of Jesus be hurt! Even a crumb was believed to contain a whole Christ. In the Middle Ages, there were serious discussions as to what should be done if a person were to vomit after receiving communion or a dog or mouse were by chance to eat God's body! At the Council of Constance, it was argued whether a man who spilled some of the blood of Christ on his beard should have his beard burned, or if the beard and the man should be destroyed by burning. It is admitted on all sides that numerous strange doctrines accompanied the idea of transubstantiation.
In the New Testament church it is evident that Christians partook of both the bread and the fruit of the vine as emblems of Christ's death (1 Cor. 11:28). This The Catholic Encyclopedia admits. "It may be stated as a general fact, that down to the twelfth century, in the West as well as in the East, public Communion in the churches was ordinarily administered and received under both kinds," a fact "clearly beyond dispute."10 But, after all these centuries, the Roman Catholic Church began to hold back the cup from the people, serving them only the bread. The priest drank the wine. One argument was that someone might spill the blood of Christ. But was it not possible that the early disciples could have spilled the cup? Christ did not withhold it from them on this basis! Serving only half of what Jesus had instituted called for certain "explanations." It was explained that "communion under one kind", as it was called, was just as valid as taking both. The people would not be deprived of any "grace necessary for salvation" and that "Christ is really present and is received whole and entire, body and blood, soul and Divinity, under either species alone...holy mother the Church...has approved the custom of communicating under one kind...Not only, therefore, is Communion under both kinds not obligatory on the faithful, but the chalice is strictly forbidden by ecclesiastical law to any but the celebrating priest"!11
After many centuries, this law has now been relaxed. Some Catholics are allowed to partake of both bread and cup, but customs vary from place to place.
Did the idea of transubstantiation begin with Christ? The historian Durant tells us that the belief in transubstantiation as practiced in the Roman Catholic Church is "one of the oldest ceremonies of primitive religion."12 In the scholarly work Hasting's Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, many pages are devoted to an article "Eating the god." In these pages, abundant evidence is given of transubstantiation rites among many nations, tribes, and religions. Such rites were known in pagan Rome as evidenced from Cicero's rhetorical question about the corn of Ceres and the wine of Bacchus. In Mithraism, a sacred meal of bread and wine was celebrated. "Mithraism had a Eucharist, but the idea of a sacred banquet is as old as the human race and existed at all ages and amongst all peoples," says The Catholic Encyclopedia.13
In Egypt a cake was consecrated by a priest and was supposed to become the flesh of Osiris. This was then eaten and wine was taken as a part of the rite.14 Even in Mexico and Central America, among those who had never heard of Christ, the belief in eating the flesh of a god was found. When Catholic missionaries first landed there, they were surprised "when they witnessed a religious rite which reminded them of communion...an image made of flour...after consecration by priests, was distributed among the people who ate it... declaring it was the flesh of the deity."15
Hislop suggests that the idea of eating the flesh of a god was of cannibalistic inception. Since heathen priests ate a portion of all sacrifices, in cases of human sacrifice, priests of Baal were required to eat human flesh. Thus "Cahna-Bal", that is, "priest of Baal," has provided the basis for our modern word "cannibal."16
During Mass, members of the Romish church in good standing may come forward and kneel before the priest who places a piece of bread in their mouths which has become a "Christ." This piece of bread is called "host", from a Latin word originally meaning "victim" or "sacrifice."17 The Catholic Encyclopedia says that the host "has been the object of a great many miracles" including the bread being turned to stone and hosts which have bled and continued to bleed.18
Hosts are made in a round shape, this form first being mentioned by St. Epiphanius in the fourth century.19 (The illustration shows the way the "host" appears in a Catholic picture dictionary.) But when Jesus instituted the memorial supper, he simply took bread and brake it. Bread does not break into round pieces! Breaking the bread actually represents the body of Jesus which was broken for us by the cruel beatings and stripes. But this symbolism is not carried out by serving a round, disk shaped wafer completely whole.
If the use of a round wafer is without scriptural basis, is it possible that we are faced with another example of pagan influence? Hislop says, "The 'round' wafer, whose 'roundness' is so important an element in the Romish Mystery, is only another symbol of Baal, or the sun"20 We know that round cakes were used in the ancient mysteries of Egypt. "The thin, round cake occurs on all altars."21 In the mystery religion of Mithraism, the higher initiates of the system received a small round cake or wafer of unleavened bread which symbolized the solar disk as did their round tonsure.
In 1854 an ancient temple was discovered in Egypt with inscriptions that show little round cakes on an altar. Above the altar is a large image of the sun23
A similar sun-symbol was used above the altar of a temple near the town of Babain, in upper Egypt, where there is a representation of the sun, before which two priests are shown worshipping. (See illustration).
This use of the sun-image above the "altar" was not limited to Egypt. Even in far away Peru, this same image was known and worshipped.24
If there is any doubt that the shape of the host was influenced by sun-worship, one may simply compare the sun-image before which the heathen bowed with the monstrance sun image—in which the host is placed as a "sun" and before which Catholics bow—and a striking sim arity will immediately be seen.
Even among the Israeites, when they fell in Baal worship, sun-images were set up above the altars! But during the reign of Josiah, the images were torn down "And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images (margin, sun images) that were on high above them" 1 Chron. 34:4). An accompanying old woodcut illustrates some of the strange images that they worshipped, including two sun-images at the top of columns.
The photograph on the next page shows the alter of St. Peter's and huge canopy (the baldaachinum)—ninety-five feet high—which is supported by four columns, twist and slightly covered branches. At the top the columns—"on high above" the most important altar in Cathicism—are sun-images like those that were used in pagan worship. High on the wall, as the photograph also shows, is a huge and elaborate golden sunburst image which, from the entrance of the church, also appears "above" the altar. A large sun-image also appears above the altar of the Church of the Gesu, Rome, and hundreds of others. Interestingly enough, the great temple at Babylon also featured a golden sun-image.25
Sometimes the circular sun-image is a stained glass window above the altar or, as is very common, above the entrance of churches. Some of these central circular windows are beautifully decorated. Some are surrounded with sun rays. In Babylon there were temples with images of the sun-god to face the rising sun placed above the entries.26 An early Babylonian temple built by king Gudea featured such an emblem of the sun-god over the entrance.27 It was a custom for Egyptian builders to place a solar disk (sometimes with wings or other emblems) over the entrance of their temples— to honor the sun-god and drive away evil spirits. We are not suggesting, of course, that the round designs in use today convey the meanings they once did to those who went to heathen temples. Nevertheless, the similarity seems significant.
The circular window that has been so commonly used above the entrances of churches is sometimes called a "wheel" window. The wheel design, as the wheel of a chariot, was believed by some of the ancients to also be a sun-symbol. They thought of the sun as a great chariot driven by the sun-god who made his trip across the heavens each day and passed through the underworld at night. When the Israelites mixed the religion of Baal into their worship, they had "chariots of the sun"—chariots dedicated to the sun-god (2 Kings 23:4-11). An image in the form of a chariot wheel is placed over the famous statue of Peter in St. Peter's. A tablet now in a British museum shows one of the Babylonian kings restoring a symbol of the sun-god in the temple of Bel. The symbol is an eight pointed cross, like a spoked wheel. A similar design marks the pavement of the circular court before St. Peter's.
The Roman tonsure is round. Round images are seen above the altars and entrances. The monstrance in which the round host is placed often features a sun-burst design. All of these uses of sun symbols may seem quite insignificant. But when the over-all picture is seen, each provides a clue to help solve the mystery of Babylon modern.
The round wafers of the Mass are often pictured as circles marked with crosses. We can't help but notice how similar these are to the round wafers seen in the drawing of an Assyrian monument which we have reproduced below.
In this scene, one man is bowing before a priest-king and beneath a sun-image. The second man from the right is bringing an offering of round wafers marked with crosses!
When Jesus instituted the memorial supper, it was at night. It was not at breakfast time, or at lunch time. The first Christians partook of the Lord's supper at night, following the example of Christ and the types of the Old Testament. But later the Lord's supper came to be observed at a morning meeting.28 To what extent this may have been influenced by Mithraism, we cannot say. We do know that the Mithraic rites were observed early in the morning, being associated with the sun, with dawn. For whatever reason, it is now a common custom among both Catholic and Protestant churches to take the Lord's "supper" in the morning [NOT SURE HOW MUCH THAT IS STILL PRACTICED TODAY - Keith Hunt]
A factor that may have encouraged the early morning Mass within the Catholic church was the idea that a person should be fasting before receiving communion. Obviously early morning was an easier time to meet this requirement! But to require such fasting cannot be solidly built on Scripture, for Jesus had just eaten when he instituted the memorial supper! On the other hand, those who sought initiation in the Eleusinian mysteries were first asked: "Are you fasting?" If their answer was negative, initiation was denied.29 Fasting itself is, of course, a Biblical doctrine. But true fasting must come from the heart and not merely because of a man-made rule. Of such, God says, "When they fast, I will not hear their cry" (Jer. 14:12). The Pharisees were strict about fasting on certain days, but neglected the weightier matters of the law (Matt. 6:16). Paul warned about certain commandments to "abstain from meats" as being a mark of apostasy (1 Tim. 4:3).
In commenting on the Mass and its elaborate ritualism, Romanism and the Gospel says: "It is a spectacle of gorgeous magnificence—lights, colors, vestments, music, incense, and what has a strange psychological effect, a number of drilled officiants performing a stately ritual in entire independence of the worshippers. These are indeed spectators, not participants, spectators like those who were present at a performance of the ancient mystery cults."30 A noted work on Catholicism summarizes the mechanical performance made by the priest during Mass: "He makes the sign of the cross sixteen times; turns toward the congregation six times; lifts his eyes to heaven eleven times; kisses the altar eight times; folds his hands four times; strikes his breast ten times; bows his head twenty-one times; genuflects eight times; bows his shoulders seven times; blesses the altar with the sign of the cross thirty times; lays his hands flat on the altar twenty-nine times; prays secretly eleven times; prays aloud thirteen times; takes the bread and wine and turns it into the body and blood of Christ; covers and uncovers the chalice ten times; goes to and fro twenty times."31
Adding to this complicated ritualism is the use of highly colored robes, candles, bells, incense, music, and the showy pageantry for which Romanism is known. What a contrast to the simple memorial supper instituted by Christ!
TO BE CONTINUED