by Ralph Swanson
Grants Pass, Oregon

    "And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREA T, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS  AND ABOMINA TIONS OF THE EARTH" (Revelation 17:5).

    "Neither can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head of the church, but is that antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God; whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming" (London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1677/89).

    This type of statement is being dropped or greatly modified by many denominations. What has happened? Has the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church changed? Is he now being recognized as head of THE church? Is he no longer antichrist? Many are genuinely confused about this issue as they see the Pope embracing Protestant and other religious leaders in royal audiences (as he considers himself a king as well as prophet and priest). President Reagan has just established diplomatic relations with him, a great mystery and amazement to all. Billy Graham and other new-evangelical churchmen now speak well of him, saying that he is one of the greatest living ambassadors for Christ and that he is helping to bring peace on earth, good will to men. Graham said when he received a doctor's degree from a Catholic University that they were founded on the same gospel he preaches. Has the Pope been converted to the true gospel? Has Babylon the Great become part of Christ's Body, His Bride?

    Few today in the professing church seem to care much for doctrine as the mood has been to reduce the teaching of the Bible to a few "essentials." Therefore, many of the doctrines and practices of the Romanists are thought to be non-essential and should then be overlooked. They say they love Christ and believe The Apostles' Creed, so they should be thought of as brethren, it is said. We believe that this attitude is only another symptom of the extreme Laodicean state the professing church has sunk into. True Christians need to know about this great false religion. There are a number of good sources on this subject. The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop, Babylon Mystery Religion by Ralph Woodrow, and Roman Catholicism by Loraine Boettner are recommended.
    All Christians are familiar with the original rebellion against God at Babel (or Babylon). This revolt entailed the establishing of a false
idolatrous religion which was carried to all parts of the earth. It was prevalent in the Egyptian and Canaanite religions which the Israelites combined with the worship of Jehovah. It formed the backbone for Assyrian, Greek, Roman, as well as Indian and Japanese religions. We should not have been amazed to see the similarity between Japanese paganism and Romanism since a substantial part came from the same source, Babylonia!

    God's wrath was stirred up through most of the Old Testament as Israel adulterated His true worship with Babylonian religion. They did not necessarily "forsake" Jehovah, but syncretized His worship with other religious "traditions" copied from their neighbors. This is what the Roman Catholic Church did at its inception; and to some extent, evidences of Babylonian paganism can even be found in Protestant and independent churches today. Even before Constantine declared the Roman Empire to be "Christian," there had been some mixing of paganism into Christianity. However, this adulteration of the true religion took place on a wholesale scale with the "conversion" of Constantine in 312 AD.

    The following is a brief list of some of the tenents of the First Babylon that were amalgamated with Christianity, making the result a counterfeit religion: the worship of the "Madonna," originally Nimrod's wife, also known as the mother of God, Queen of Heaven. She is called "Easter" in English. Mary was placed in this position. (Note: the worship of Mary as a god has even increased in intensity through the centuries with the present Pope being most devout in this idolatry.) The mother-and-the­ child god (the same statues or pictures can be found in Babylon, India, Japan, as well as in all varieties of "Christian" churches). The pagan festivals which take up many days of the Catholic year changed from their heathen names to "Christian" names. In the case of "Easter," they did not change the name of the symbols which include eggs and bunnies. The Christ-mass festival with its "trappings of paganism still continues strong today, particularly with the degeneration of true Christianity. It was the birthday of god, that is, the sun-god, as the daylight began to lengthen again. (There is no example or command in Scripture for a festival for Christ's birth and no one has ever believed that it occured at the season of this pagan festival anyway.) Additional Roman Catholic errors rooted in heathenism include the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, justification by works, the mass, extreme unction, purgatory, prayers for the dead, idol processions, relic worship, the rosary and worship of the "sacred heart," use of candles, images and pictures in worship, the sign of the cross, the symbols of the cross and fish, the rationale of the sovereign pontiff as ruler over church and state, his garb including headdress, priests, monks, and nuns. The days of the week and many of the names of the months are pagan, but were retained by the church.

    In his tract On The Schism Of The Roman Pontiff (when there were several claiming to be the Pope), John Wycliffe wrote in 1378, "Now is the time to cast off the yoke of Rome. God is helping us; He hath cloven the head of the antichrist in two pieces and made one half fight against the other." All of the reformers believed the Pope to be antichrist as he fulfills the description of antichrist and the organization which he heads fulfills the characteristics noted of that great Mother of Harlots drunk with the blood of the saints. We cannot say with complete certainty what the ultimate meaning of the prophetic symbols are, but believe that the Papacy and that great counterfeit church certainly correspond well with what information we do have from the Word.

    Has Romanism changed? They have not changed in their purpose to bring the whole religious world (and ultimately the world itself) under one head, the Pope. Their strategy and methods of achieving that goal vary with the times. When they controlled governments, they cut off people's heads, burned them, or persecuted them in other ways if they opposed the ultimate rule of the Pope. This again could well be the method if this false religion should once more gain political control. In doctrine, the Romanists have not changed; in practice of their religion, a few surface changes have occured as they are flexible, adjusting to the culture of the people and even incorporating the present superstitions of heathen peoples.

    Has Protestantism (we are here thinking of "evangelicals") changed? It has not re-adopted the grosser forms of outward idolatry that are apparent in pagan Catholicism, but it has changed in pivotal doctrinal areas, bringing it back toward Popery. Martin Luther wrote that he regarded the Roman doctrine of man's ability to be the most central issue of all. The Papal teaching was that man's fall into sin had not affected his will to the extent that he could not do in his natural state what God commands, that is, repent and savingly believe. Luther wrote his longest theological theatise on this subject in The Bondage Of The Will, refuting this false doctrine with the biblical teaching that the will is bound by sin and it is only a result of regeneration ttlat man can turn to God. The vast majority of the professing church has returned to the Roman teaching on this issue which, Luther said, was the hinge on which the whole of saving religion turns. The second most important issue was no doubt the doctrine of Justification by Faith. Once again, Protestants and independents have, to a great degree, returned to the camp of Rome. In the position of both God and man in this key issue there is now little difference. Famous figures like Billy Graham have noted and are acting upon a new amiability now apparent with The Harlot Mother of Revelation 17 in many areas of doctrine and practice. The main roadblock to reunion is the acknowledging of the Pope as the prophet, priest and king of his church, the antichrist.


Christ And The Pope Contrasted
Christ wore a crown of thorns. Matthew 27:29 - "And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!"
    The Pope wears a triple crown filled with jewels.

Christ said: "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence" (John 18:36
    The Pope claims the spiritual and temporal sovereignty of the world.

Christ washed His disciples' feet, thus manifesting a spirit of humility worthy of emulation by His followers. John 13:5 - "After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded".

    The Pope presents his foot to be kissed and requires genuflections and
kneeling from those who have audiences with him.

Christ was poor and lowly. Matthew 11:29 - "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls"; 22:19 - "Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny".

    The Pope's material wealth is immense.

Christ carried on His shoulders the cross. John 19:17 - "And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha".

    The Pope is carried on the shoulders of his servants in liveries of splendor.

Christ promulgated the laws of His kingdom and urged His followers to do the same. Matt. 5-7

The Pope tramples them under foot and substitutes his own in their
Christ had no place to lay his head. Matl.8:20
The Pope lives in a magnificent palace surrounded by wealth and
Christ gave His gospel free to all. Matt.10:8
The Pope sells his masses and other favors. Christ said: "Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in Heaven." Matt.23:9
The Pope commands all to call him "Holy Father," and his priests feel
insulted if persons do not address them as "Father."
Christ lived a chaste and pure life. 1 Peter 2:22
Many of the Popes have lived immoral and degraded lives.
Christ taught nothing but true doctrine. John 7:16
The Pope teaches false doctrines.                                                       .
Christ sent the Holy Spirit to be His Vicar on earth. John 14:26
The Pope claims to be the Vicar of Christ on earth.
Christ is the Head of the Church. Co!. 1:18
The Pope claims infallibility for himself in matters of faith and
Christ taught that the church was built upon Himself. Matt.16:18
The Pope teaches that the church is built upon Peter, and he is Peter's
Christ taught His followers to pray to God through Him. John 16:23
The Pope teaches his followers to pray to the Virgin Mary.

Christ gave His churches two ordinances which portray the gospel of His death, burial, and resurrection. Matt. 26:26-29; 28:19,20
The Pope teaches seven sacraments which are supposed to confer grace actually and effectually on the recipient.
Christ taught that He alone is the Saviour. John 3:14-16
    The Pope teaches that the Church is the Saviour.
Christ taught that the Church and State should be separated. Matt.22:21
    The Pope insists that they should be united.
    Christ is the one Mediator between God and men. 1 Tim.2:5
    The Pope teaches that there are many mediators between man and
Christ taught that salvation was by grace. John 6:37, 44
    The Pope teaches salvation by works.

"I defy the pope and all his laws; if God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth a plough shall know more of the Scripture than thou dost."
- William Tyndale, 1523 speaking to a "learned man"