Rev. Stewart is pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland. Previous article in this series: September 1, 2009, p. 468.
Malachi Martin in his entertaining, though somewhat long-winded, The Keys of This Blood (1990) claims, “we are all involved in an all-out, no-holds-barred, three-way global competition.”¹ The three contenders to establish the first ever one-world system of government are the communist Soviet Union, led by Mikhail Gorbachev; the democratic capitalists of the West, led by the US president; and the Roman Catholic Church, led by John Paul II. The “new world government,” with its “legislative, executive and judiciary authority and control,” Roman priest Martin reckoned, “will be introduced and installed in our midst by the end of this final decade of the second millennium.”²
Former Jesuit Martin was wrong: wrong about dates (the end of the 1990s has come and gone) and wrong about the main competitors, especially the Soviet Union. By late 1991, the USSR had broken up and Gorbachev had resigned. The nations of the old Soviet bloc are no longer under totalitarian communism, and even China’s communism, since the late 1970s, has engaged in major market reforms and taken some steps towards pluralism. The West, including the European Union (EU) and the United States, has, however, taken several steps towards its former adversary: socialism, big government, and limitation of free speech (through political correctness).
Today, it is widely expected that China and India (with their huge populations and fast economic growth) and the expanding EU will be major players on the world stage in the days ahead.³ The rise in the number (and zeal) of Muslims, the world’s dependence on oil from the Middle East, and Iran’s efforts to obtain the nuclear bomb give the Islamic nations a more significant role in world affairs.4
Globalization continues apace. Increased global travel and improved global communications have led to the idea of the world as a “global village.” Many of the world’s current problems are seen as global in dimension, needing a global solution by the global community: global warming, global pandemics (e.g., bird-flu, swine-flu), global recession, global Islamic terrorism, etc. More and more, intergovernmental bodies, like the G8, the EU, and the UN, are seen as mankind’s best hope, and many want their powers increased. Malachi Martin was right, though, in his central contention. The Roman church—the oldest, the largest, and (possibly) the wealthiest institution in the world—cannot be left out of the equation. Its goal is world dominion, and the pope “is by definition the world’s first fully fledged geopolitical leader.”5 John Paul II insisted,
…the hard, intractable problems of the world—hunger, violation of human dignity and human rights, war and violence, economic oppression, political persecution—any and all of these can be solved only by acceptance and implementation of the message of Christ’s revelation announced by the papacy and the Roman Catholic Church.6
All the various players seeking to influence or control the world want a world of peace and prosperity. They differ as to the nature of this peace and how to achieve it.
For instance, communism has an eschatology or view of the end times and an accompanying calling. By means of both violent and peaceful revolutions, communism seeks the establishment of an egalitarian, classless society throughout the world based on common ownership of property and control of the means of production.
Islam believes in, and works towards, the day when the “house of war” (all the non-Islamic world) will be brought into the “house of peace” (the Islamic world), under Allah and sharia (Islamic law).7 The means to achieve this end is jihad (struggle or striving): “jihad of the tongue” (Islamic mission), “jihad of the womb” (very high Islamic birth rates), and “jihad of the sword [or bomb]” (Islamic terrorism). It has been said that the more radical Muslims differ from the more moderate ones in that the former (unlike the latter) believe that the world will soon be Islamic and that this can be hastened by intense activism.
Roman Catholicism confesses itself to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church headed by the pope, the “Successor of Peter the Prince of the Apostles,” the “Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church,” the “Vicar of Christ,” and the “Holy Father.” As such, it is no wonder that John Paul II, in pursuance of world dominion, as God’s vicegerent on earth, pledged “himself; his personal persona; the age-old Petrine office he [embodied]; and his entire Church Universal, both as an institutional organization unparalleled in the world and as a body of believers united by a bond of mystical communion.”8 John Paul II’s “ambition went very far,” continues Martin, for the pontiff, viewing himself “as the servant of God,” believes that the papacy will “slowly prepare all men and women, in their earthly condition, for eternal salvation in the Heaven of God’s glory.”9 The pope is not merely some harmless old man.
The biblical position is that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world and does not come with observation (Luke 17:20-21; John 18:36-37; Rom. 14:17); the church is a “remnant” (Micah 4:6-7; Luke 12:32; I Cor. 1:27-29); and God’s gracious purposes are completed in this age not with the Christianization of the world but with the conversion of the last member of Christ’s elect body (II Pet. 3:9). Christ’s promise that the meek shall inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5) is fulfilled in the new heavens and the new earth after His bodily return.
In this series, we have already considered the antiquity, size, and geographical spread of the Roman Catholic Church, as well as its political history, positions, and power. Now we need to look at Rome’s “gospel” as a means to furthering its religious and political goal.
The pope claims to be the “father” of every human being, whatever his or her religion, whether he or she be a Roman Catholic or of some other religion or none. In turn, every person on the globe is a son or daughter of the pope—including Joseph Stalin, whom the pope called, “My son, Joseph”10—for Christ has entrusted the world to the care of the man in the Vatican. Since all are the children of God, all are the children of the pope (from the Latin papa, meaning father). Therefore, the pope has everyone’s best interests at heart.
Being the children of God, all men, head for head, are, necessarily, in the image of God, for children bear the image of their father. Thus Rome emphatically denies that man is totally depraved, and it boasts in man’s free will. Salvation is by the will, works, and merit of the sinner. Not surprisingly, in Rome’s theology, God loves everyone (common grace) and wants to save everyone (free offer). In keeping with all this, Christ died on the cross for all without exception.11
Usefulness of Rome’s Gospel
Rome’s false gospel serves it well in its false ecumenism with the Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, liberal Protestants, Charismatics, cultists, etc., for all these groups are Arminian, Semi-Pelagian, or Pelagian. They all believe that all men are sons of God in the image of God possessing free will. They all hold to a universal love of God, a universal atonement, and universal grace. The papal church realizes this and uses it to its advantage, for instance, in Vatican II’s Decree of Ecumenism (1964), which begins by declaring that God loves everybody and Christ died for everybody.12
Rome’s gospel is likewise invaluable in its syncretism with those of pagan religions. God’s love for all head for head (common grace and the free offer), no matter what they believe or how they live, is taught early and repeatedly in the Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (1965) (pp. 661, 664, 667). More-over, God “is the Father of all” and all are in “God’s image” (p. 667). This Vatican II document is based upon Rome’s historic position on natural theology and natural religion, that without the biblical revelation—merely through creation, providence, and conscience—man can know, serve, and please God.
The Holy See’s false gospel not only promotes its false ecumenism with professing Christians and syncretism with those of pagan religions, but also serves to reach out to the humanists. Rome’s common-grace, free-offer, and Arminian theology is a very inoffensive perversion of the gospel of Christ, for it tells unbelieving man that he is God’s image-bearer and son, the recipient of God’s love and grace, and that his salvation depends on his use of free will to accept Christ’s death for him. In keeping with this man-centered gospel is Rome’s advocacy of humanistic ideas of human rights and dignity (pp. 355, 667), plus its firm belief in evolutionism.
Roman Catholicism is a wonderfully attractive religion for the carnal man (whether liberal Protestant, pagan, or humanist, etc.): its tradition, its buildings, its wealth, its pageantry. It appeals to the senses with its “smells and bells.” It is also extremely broad and elastic, for Rome has a way of making Christian doctrine and the Ten Commandments almost completely unrestrictive. Roman religion can be as hard as you want (with lots of scope for works and merit) or as easy as you want (with your money, the priests, and the church doing it all for you). It has just enough of God’s word to salve consciences but not enough to bother people unduly. Roman Catholicism, as Jaroslav Pelikan puts it, “seeks to give everyone as much Christianity as his present situation permits him to bear.”13
On the basis of her tradition but contrary to the Bible, Rome teaches Mary’s immaculate conception (1854) and assumption into heaven (1950). Roman Catholics claim that Mary is the patroness of at least 63 countries, though usually under a specific title or apparition. The Holy See puts a great deal of hope in Mary’s power—as Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, and the one to whom Christ and the pope have entrusted the world—to unite the world under the papacy.
Rome’s idolatrous view of Mary helps her in false ecumenism with the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox, as well as with some Anglicans, Lutherans, and Methodists. It is of service in her syncretism with pagan religions because many of them also engage in goddess worship. It is even of use in Rome’s dialogue with Muslims, for Islam holds that Mary is the virgin mother of Jesus and the most righteous Muslim woman. Mary is the only woman mentioned by name in the Koran, and the nineteenth sura of the Koran is named after her. Mary, as the feminine side of Roman Catholicism, helps Rome with New Agers and women generally.
What do the many apparitions of Mary around the world proclaim?
All the religions are basically the same and must come together for peace. Offering an ecumenical [and syncretistic] gospel that can be “accepted by Catholic, Protestant, Moslem or Jew,” “Mary” declares: “Everyone worships God in his own way with peace in our hearts.” So says Our Lady of Medjuggorje in Southern Bosnia-Herzegovina, where visionaries claim the Virgin has been appearing daily for the past 13 years.14
American Roman Catholic Bishop and radio and television personality Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979) reckoned it remarkable that
…”our Lady” had the foresight to appear in the Portuguese village of Fatima (named after Muhammad’s daughter during the Muslim occupation) and thus became known as “Our Lady of Fatima.” It is a fact that when a statue of “Our Lady of Fatima” is carried through Muslim areas of Africa, India, and elsewhere, Muslims turn out by the hundreds of thousands to worship her. In two days an estimated 500,000 came to give their respects to their idol in Bombay, India.15
So what does the future hold? Before the triumphant return of Jesus Christ, the worldwide kingdom of Antichrist will be established (Rev. 13; 17; 18). The final Antichristian kingdom will have traits like those of Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon, the Medo-Persian Empire, Alexander the Great’s Greece, and the Roman Empire (Rev. 13:1-2; cf. Dan. 7). All will be required to worship the beast (Antichrist), including the (apostate) visible church (Rev. 13:11-18; II Thess. 2:3-4).16
Given the age, size, wealth, and power of the Holy See; its history of political alliances and intrigue; and its policies and success in false ecumenism and syncretism, it is in a unique position to unite all churches and religions in the worship of the beast. No serious contender for this role is evident in our day. Also, Rome’s theology and worship is a “good fit,” for it is a peculiar amalgam of “Christianity” (II Thess. 2:3-4; I John 2:18-19; I John 4:1-6) and humanism (“the number of the beast is the number of…man” Rev. 13:18).
Certainly, papal Rome has been central in “Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots” (Rev. 17) and the false prophet (Rev. 13:11-18) in the history of the New Testament church age. Yet, when we speak of the days ahead, we must remain open to correction, for we do not know how long it will be before Christ returns (though it is drawing nearer), and it is God’s prerogative alone to know the future. Moreover, the precise interplay between the political and religious aspects of Antichrist may well be complex. If this analysis is correct, we would expect Rome to become more and more the leader of apostate Christendom and paganism, until eventually it assimilates all religions to itself—apart from the worship of those written in the Lamb’s book of life! Rome will doubtless experience ups and downs and will respond to changing world events from time to time and from situation to situation as it deems will best gain its purpose.17
This would mean too that Rome’s religious and geopolitical goal is also its destiny, according to God’s eternal decree. But just when the Babylonian harlot and the false prophet are at their most powerful, they will be destroyed according to the just judgment of the Almighty (Rev. 17:16-17; Rev. 19:20).
In the typical Antichristian Roman Empire of the past, all roads led to Rome. In the Antichristian Roman Church of the present, all churches and religions lead to Rome. In the Antichristian kingdom of the future, Rome will lead all churches and religions to the beast.
But do not fear! Hold fast to the truth of God’s word! Beware of all false doctrine and worship from whatever source. By God’s grace, guard against even the beginning of apostasy. The Lord Jesus will soon return with His mighty angels to take vengeance on Antichrist and the false church and all who obey not the gospel. Christ shall forever be admired in all who believe, and all our tears will be wiped away (II Thess. 1:7-10; Rev. 21:4)!18
1 Malachi Martin, The Keys of This Blood: The Struggle for World Dominion Between Pope John Paul II, Mikhail Gorbachev, and the Capitalist West (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990), p. 15.
2 Martin, The Keys of This Blood, p. 16.
3 China’s rate of growth has been especially high, though India is catching up. One of the great fears of the West is China’s rising influence in poor and/or developing countries (especially in sub-Saharan Africa).
4 Conspiracy theorists would include the Masons, the Illuminati, the Bilderberg Group, and a Jewish cabal as plotting to take over the world.
5 Martin, The Keys of This Blood, p. 143.
6 Martin, The Keys of This Blood, p. 74.
7 Here there is a parallel between Islam’s eschatology and postmillennial theonomy, which sees the wholeworld being Christianized and all of society under Old Testament law.
8 Martin, The Keys of This Blood, p. 17.
9 Martin, The Keys of This Blood, p. 25; italics mine.
10 Martin, The Keys of This Blood, p. 132.
11 E.g., Rome’s common-grace, free-offer, and Arminian theology run through the whole of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (USA: Doubleday, 1995).
12 Walter M. Abbot (gen. ed.), The Documents of Vatican II (USA: The America Press, 1966), p. 343. Henceforward, pages in parenthesis refer to this book.
13 Jaroslav Pelikan, The Riddle of Roman Catholicism (USA: Abingdon Press, 1959), p. 230. On the same page, Pelikan quotes Adolf Harnack with approval: “The raison d’etre of the [Roman] catholic church is quite incontestable. Anyone who takes men as they are, and as they will remain for many generations to come, cannot doubt the justifiability of this world-wide institution. This church goes right on nourishing saints, and at the same time it teaches the rest of its children ‘to hurl their spears and honor the gods,’ that is, to take religion as the masses have always taken it and as the masses require it. What more do you want?”
14 Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1994), p. 454.
15 Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast, p. 458. For other material on Mary’s role promoting the one-world religion of Antichrist, see pp. 435, 439, 441, 453ff. 16 For more, see the exposition of the relevant parts of Revelation in Herman Hoeksema, Behold He Cometh (USA: RFPA, 1969).
17 Cf. Albert LÃ©vitt, Vaticanism: The Political Principles of the Roman Catholic Church (New York: Vantage Press, 1960), p. 23; Thomas J. Reese, Inside the Vatican (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996), p. 272.
18 All nine parts of this series, in somewhat expanded and improved form, can be found together online (www.cprf.co.uk/articles/romeandpolitics.htm).