In this article we will proceed with the Roman Catholic conception of the Church. According to Rome, the Church is a company of men externally bound together by the profession of the Christian faith, united in the communion of the same sacraments, under and subject to the government of legitimate pastors, especially the pope. Rome practically identified the Church with the pope. No member of the Roman Catholic Church has the right to believe in views which are not in harmony with the official interpretation of the Church, as set forth by the pope of Rome, and as resting upon tradition as well as the Holy Scriptures. Tradition is of equal authority with the Word of God. Before we now proceed with the Romish view of the Church, we would make one observation. Rome believes that the Church is infallibly guided and led by the pope. His opinion may never be challenged. Blind and complete submission to his interpretation of the truth is mandatory. What is the result of this? This, that ignorance and superstition are rampant in the Church of Rome. The admonition of the Scriptures, that we must study the Word of God, that the Word of God must be a lamp before my feet, and a light upon mypath surely goes unheeded among the members of the Roman Catholic Church. The study of the Word of God is not necessary for them. The Word of God is simply explained for them. And the result is that ignorance is rampant in that Church. Besides, whether one believespersonally in the Savior, that his sins are blotted out solely in and because of the blood of Christ, is no guarantee for salvation. If anyone fails to recognize the authority of the Bishop of Rome, refuses to place himself under his guidance and jurisdiction because there is no name under heaven by which man can be saved than by the name of Jesus, he is pronounced anathema, and he cannot possibly be saved. This is the standpoint of Rome.

We will now continue with Rome’s conception of the Church, as set forth in “Radio Replies by Fathers Rumble and Carty,” Volume III, paragraphs 285-298.

285. Do not Roman Catholics make too much of the doctrine of the Church?

They give it that place in their faith which Christ intended.

286. We Protestants have a great respect for Christ, but we do not have faith in any Church.

That cannot be right. If you believe in Christ, you must consider as necessary what Christ believed necessary. To wish to believe in Christ without believing in the Church is a great mistake. For centuries Christians have said, not only, “I believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord,” but also, “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church.” They made an act of faith in both Christ and His Church. If you no longer believe in a Church, something has gone wrong somewhere.

287. Christ does not say, “Come to My Church.” He says, “Come unto Me.”

We come to Christ by coming to His Church. As a matter of fact, the Church, in the person of the Apostles, first preached Christ to the early converts to Christianity. The first fact for the early Christians was, therefore, the Church. They experienced faith in the mission of the Church, and because of that, believed in her teachings about Christ. You will notice, in the Acts of the Apostles, when Saul was persecuting the Church, Jesus appeared to him, and even identified Himself with the Church, saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” The denial of the Church is therefore really a denial of Christ, if people but realize it. (Is this what Jesus means when He asks Saul this question on the latter’s way to Damascus and as Saul approaches the city? Does Jesus mean to say that Saul was really persecuting Him inasmuch as he was persecuting His Church? Or does He mean to say that, while Saul was persecuting the Church, the primary object of his relentless persecution was not the church but the Lord Jesus Christ? This is surely the implication of the question as put to Saul by the resurrected Lord.—H.V.)

288. People are rapidly coming to the conclusion that, without ceasing to profess Christianity, they can dispense with Churches.

I admit that that is the logical ultimate result of Protestantism. The Anglican Dr. Goudge recognizes this. “We are,” he says, “congenital individualists, and exceedingly unwilling, in religion as elsewhere, to recognize our dependence on others. It appears to us obvious that our religion is wholly bound up with our individual relation to God, and that others are not concerned with it. We become members of Christ, so we think, by our individual faith alone. This is the Protestant view. The result is that we neglect the doctrine of the Church. It is not so much that Protestants have a false conception of the Church as that they seem to be without any clear conception of it. We all tend to be hazy on this subject. Yet the doctrine of the Church is, next to the doctrine of God and His redemption, the most important doctrine of revealed religion, both in the (31 and in the New Testament.” (That people are rapidly coming to the conclusion that one can dispense with churches without ceasing to profess Christianity, that one can be a Christian without belonging to a church, may be the conception of some “Protestants” in name, but is certainly not theProtestant view, as is evident from the Protestant symbols, as, for example, specifically set forth in our Confession of Faith, or the Netherlands Confession—H.V.)

289. I can be religious without the Church.

But you cannot thus be religious in the way God wants you to be religious. And since religion is concerned with duties to God, it is for God to dictate the terms and conditions, not for us. Your attitude is due to lack of knowledge and thought. You are contenting yourself with no more than a vague religious sentiment. But religion demands a devotedness of the whole man to God, a devotedness of mind and heart and will. That means that we must believe what God has taught, love Him above all else, and serve Him both by worship and obedience to His law. For all this a man must study and know just what God has revealed, and not be content with a merely vague religious outlook. And as he is not only individual, but also social by his very nature, man must render both private and public worship to God. Christ established a Church to teach all nations and to gather to itself all whom it leads to a belief in Christ. One who says he is religious, yet who refuses to have anything to do with the Church Christ established, simply does not know the Christian religion.

290. The Church as I understand it is in the souls of men.

If the Church is an invisible quality confined to the souls of men, then no human being could say where the true Church is to be found, and no one could hear its voice or obey its precepts. No. Our Lord established a visible society in this world, even though not of this world. And He compared it to a city set upon a hill which cannot be hid. One of the visible and organized Churches in this world today is His. And the Catholic Church alone can show the characteristics which He declared should be those of His true Church.

291. The Church is formed, not of those who belong to a visible organization, but of those who are born again from above and endowed with the Holy Spirit.

That could not be judged by men. No one could tell who belonged to the true Church, and who did not, according to that theory. Christ established a visible Church and appointed visible Apostles. And those belonged to the Church who accepted the teaching of the Apostles, and persevered in the discipline imposed by them. In Acts XX, 28, we read: “Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops to rule the Church of God.” How could bishops rule the Church if they did not know who belonged to it? (In connection with the word “bishops,” as it appears in this paragraph, in the translation of Acts 20-25, we have no objection. However, we do well to bear in mind that this word does not apply here to the apostles, but to the elders of the church of Ephesus.—H.V.)

292. I have a great respect for Christ, but very little for the Church.

That cannot be right. If you believe in Christ, you must consider as necessary what Christ considered necessary. To wish to believe in Christ without believing in His Church is folly itself. As a matter of fact, Jesus did not preach to the first converts; the Church preached Jesus to the people, and on the testimony of the Church, they believed in Christ. And the first fact for the early Christians was belief in the mission of the Church. Through their acceptance of the Church and her authority they were led to faith in Christ.

293. You make too much of the word Church, and not enough of the Savior, who is supreme over all things.

Jesus is certainly supreme over all things. And the Catholic Church exists to bring souls to the Person of Christ. She ever bids her children to love Him, and insists that they can never love Him too much. Meantime, those who obey our Lord by submitting to the Church He founded make more of Him than those who do not, but who insist on dictating their own terms. If I speak often of the Church it is because of the nature of the questions sent in. And that is because non-Catholics, instead of making much of Christ’s doctrine concerning His Church, simply ignore it as if it had not the same value as His other teachings. A man who is not wrong in what he says, may be quite wrong in what he omits. Love Christ by all means. But do not let your love of Christ serve you as an excuse to repudiate His Church, and to assert that it is of no importance whatever to find that true Church He thought fit to establish.

294. I can’t find references to any definite religion of Christ in either the Old or New Testaments.

If so, it is certainly not because the references are not there. Take one classical passage from the Old Testament: The prophet Isaiah 2:2-4, certainly predicted a very definite and new form of religion to be given by Christ. The passage says, “The house of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go, and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths. For the law will come forth from Sian; and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge the Gentiles and rebuke many people.”—end of quote thus far from paragraph 294.

In this answer to the implied question, 294, a correct sense of this passage is offered. The Lord willing, we will return to this answer in our following article, which, we understand, is of such a nature that the text in Isaiah 2:2-4 refers to the Roman Catholic Church. This is supported from certain quotations from the New Testament.