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On this Page: | What is Infallibility? | Infallible Silence | The Galileo Case | Infallible Bible | The Question of Authority | What Would Jesus Say? | Authority of the Believer | Holy Ghost Confusion? | Catholic Theologian on Infallibility | Limits of Infallibility? | A Test of Papal Infallibility?|

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What is Papal Infallibility?

The concept of papal infallibility is quite foreign to all but the Catholic mind. The doctrine states, in essence, that the Pope is incapable of making an error when declaring a matter of faith or morals 'ex-cathedra.' This 'ex-cathedra' caveat means when the Pope is speaking 'from the chair' or more accurately, when he is speaking in his official capacity of 'vicar of Christ,' yet another concept that is foreign to all but the Catholic mind.

Please note that Rome's 'from the chair' pronouncements have nothing at all to do with any physical chair. In the past, the Roman Catholic Church did say that the Popes really did sit on a chair that had belonged to Peter. During a restoration routine, they discovered that chair to be covered with pagan symbols. That was the end of that tradition of Rome.

The following table contains several official Roman Catholic pronouncements regarding Papal Infallibility. We will examine these statements, and compare them with the Word of God.

Rome on Infallibility

[Ref. 1] 891, Page 235.(1) "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals The infallibility is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium."

[Ref. 2] 882, Page 234.(1) "The Pope as Vicar of Christ has full, supreme and universal power over the whole church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.

[Ref. 3] 880, Page 233.(1) "When Christ instituted the twelve, 'he constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter.

We can identify the qualifications for an infallible pronouncement as follows. The pope is infallible only when he:

  1. Speaks "in the power of his office of supreme pastor and teacher,
  2. Proclaims a "doctrine pertaining to faith or morals,"
  3. Speaks as the "vicar of Christ."
  4. His decision is affirmed by the "college of bishops" (usually in a special council).
  5. Imposes the doctrine upon all people, Catholic or not, but especially Catholic, under pain of mortal sin. That is, you will go to Hell if you refuse to believe the doctrine.
  6. Is a real pope, not an anti-pope, or false pope (of which there have been quite a few).

A Test of Papal Infallibility?

The interesting thing about this list of qualifications for infallibility is that it is a most fallible list! No Pope has declared, ex cathedra, that "here is an infallible list of qualifications that will prove Papal statements to be infallible." Not all Catholics agree on the above list, or whether or not all its requirements were fulfilled in any particular Papal pronouncements. Kind of make you wonder.

When a Pope makes a pronouncement regarding, say, the subject of faith, and it turns out to be an heretical statement, Catholic apologists are quick to declare that this particular pope was not speaking ex cathedra, or infallibly. It has happened! For example, Pope Honorius I (625-638 A.D.) taught the Monothelite heresy (regarding the nature of Jesus Christ) to the church. Later, the Sixth General Council condemned Pope Honorius I for heresy. That condemnation was confirmed by Pope Leo II (682-683 A.D.). Thus was an infallible pope anathematized (cursed, damned to Hell) for his teaching on a matter of faith. If the Pope, teaching on faith or morals, is infallible, if he cannot mislead the people with his doctrines, how is it that Pope Honorius I's doctrine turned out to be heresy? Easy. Just rearrange the "requirements" for papal infallibility, then declare that a particular pope was not speaking infallibly.

So if a Pope's doctrinal teaching on a matter of faith goes unchallenged, that Pope must have spoken ex cathdera, or infallibly. But let his doctrine be challenged and proven wrong, then he was not speaking ex cathedra, or infallibly. Thus can the Catholic Church have it both ways, depending upon how the tide turns. This is possible because, as noted above, the list of qualifications for an infallible pronouncement is a fallible list, which can be applied as loosely as desired to retain the illusion of Papal infallibility. In practice, there is no infallible test of Papal infallibility! Lacking an infallible test, one can easily declare a particular Pope's pronouncements infallible, or not infallible, and who's to tell the difference? Cute; very cute.

Limits of Papal Infallibility

The teaching on infallibility that reaches the ears of the faithful, states, in essence, that the Pope is infallible only when speaking in an official capacity, as Vicar of Christ, heir of Peter, in what Rome terms 'ex-cathedra' statements on matters of faith and morals. That was the initial or opening salvo in the progressive development of this contra-Biblical dogma of Rome. As with other false teachings, once the door is opened and the gullible walk through it, Rome skillfully modifies her definitions to increase the range and scope of her self-appointed power.

Thus it came as no surprise when I discovered that our present pope has been working most diligently to expand the scope of his infallibility to include many other things, many other areas of life. His long-range goal is, I believe, to attain total control. Here's the evidence:

"[Pope John Paul II], in an address to the American Bishops on 16 October, 1988 . . . spoke unmistakably, with reference to the moral teachings of the Church which were being scorned in America, of the 'charism of infallibility' that is not only present in the 'solemn definitions of the Roman Pontiff and of ecumenical councils, but similarly in the 'universal ordinary magesterium, which can be regarded as the usual expression of the Church's infallibility.' (cf. Osservatore Romano, 16 October 1988). . . [The] Pope in his statements has only endorsed the de facto infallibility of the doctrine of Humanae vitae, which has always been presupposed in Rome."
. . . the Pope from Poland has put two new emphases on his most recent programmatic statements.
1. He is now declaring specifically that the ordinary magesterium of the Church must be understood and accepted as 'the usual expression of the Church's infallibility.'
2. In his address to the moral theologians on the basis for Humanae vitae he shifts the emphasis from natural law to revelation itself and makes the prohibition of birth control a 'basic cornerstone of Christian Doctrine.'" (Catholic Theologian Herbert Haag, in his preface to the revised, 1994 edition of Hans Kung's Infallible? An Unresolved Inquiry , pages xvii, xv)

Can you see what Pope John Paul II is saying here? He is saying that his infallibility (which, by the way, was only defined in the year 1870) extends beyond 'ex-cathedra' pronouncements on matters of faith and morals to include just about anything he wishes it to include! He has also made his self-assumed infallible authority the basis for a doctrine, and not just 'natural law' (whatever on earth that is!). Thus, any pronouncement from the Pope is to be considered, de facto infallible! As in the example cited, the sincere Roman Catholic is now required to consider contraception a matter of Divine Revelation made exclusively to the Pope - despite the fact that the majority of bishops at the time strongly disagreed, thereby contradicting Rome's own definition of her magesterium! Like his predecessors, this pope is striving to obtain absolute power and authority over the minds of the people.

With the 'ordinary' or everyday teaching of the magesterium (the Pope and his cardinals and bishops) now being 'understood and accepted as the usual expression of the Church's infallibility, it won't be long before some more new 'divine revelations' to the Pope become infallible teachings of Rome. As an aside, I further suspect that such infallible revelations will concern the role played by Mary in the matter of salvation.

This reminds me of the old saying that 'power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.' Are we witnessing the groundwork being laid for the emergence of the 'false prophet' of Revelation? (Revelation 16:13; 19:20; 20:10). I believe we are. Keep your eye on him, dear surfer. Be prepared for his next step toward total power and control - all in the name of God!

Beware Rome's Doublespeak! Rome has a remarkable affinity for Orwellian 'doublespeak.' She frequently declares a thing in one place, and its opposite in another place. Challenge one, and she will point to the other to "prove" she is right. You have just read an example of this treacherous practice. Pope John Paul II has clearly extended his power of infallibility. Yet Rome's declaration that infallibility only applies when the pope speaks "Ex Cathedra" remains on the books. Charge Rome with claiming the power of infallibility elsewhere and she will point you to the "Ex Cathedra" argument. Now you know the truth!

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Infallible Silences

It is one thing to question dogmas and doctrines pronounced 'ex-cathedra' by the Pope, making them infallibly and totally true. But what of places where, using their marvelous power, the Popes could clarify things which create confusion and dissent among Roman Catholics - and failed to do so? Why have the Popes remained silent when a few infallible words would resolve such issues?

Infallible Silence on Mary

Few things have caused more concern, more discussion, more disagreement among sincere Roman Catholics than the many 'apparitions' of Mary. Some believe in them, others do not. Each group charges the other with gullibility or heresy. Which group is correct? Should Catholics believe in (and of course worship) Mary in those apparitions - or reject them as either hoaxes or of demonic origin? What do you think?

A question that naturally arises about Papal Infallibility is this: "Since the Pope claims the power of infallibility when teaching 'ex-cathedra' (in his official capacity as Vicar of Christ) on matters of faith and morals, why has no pope ever intervened and spoken thus with respect to the many 'apparitions' of the Virgin Mary?"

Faithful Roman Catholics flock by the thousands and tens of thousands to places such as Lourdes, Medjeguria (SP?), LaSalette and other sites of such apparitions, seeking a miracle from Mary. Of course commerce is ever-present at these sites, and a tidy sum is made by the selling of holy water, rosaries, medals, scapulars, and so forth - all blessed of course! I can hear the din from here: "Get your miracle water here! Only ten dollars a bottle while supplies last! Wear one of these scapulars and you are guaranteed a place in Heaven, and only twelve-fifty today only!"

Are not the lives and beliefs of the Roman Catholic 'faithful' significantly influenced by these 'apparitions?' Is this not a most serious question of 'faith?' It most certainly is! Yet the silence of the 'infallible popes' is astounding! Here, as nowhere else, a clear, definitive word from Rome would clarify, once and for all, what the faithful are obliged to believe and do with respect to the supposed apparitions. But the infallible popes are silent. I cannot help but ask, "Why?!"

The miracle(?) of La Salette

On September 19, 1846 two children minding cows claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary, who gave them messages in the name of her Son. The children told the story and the place soon became crowded with miracle-seekers. New chapels and inns were opened. The sale of the water of La Salette (said to cure diseases and even bring about the salvation of sinners) was most profitable.

Some local priests declared the apparition to be an imposture. It was later proven in civil court that the 'virgin' who appeared to the children was a certain deranged, Constance Lamerliere. Yet, despite her public exposure, Roman Catholics continue to believe it was really Mary, and continue to pray to 'our lady of LaSalette.'

The Miracle(?) of Lourdes

On February 11, 1858, while picking up dry wood, a young girl named Bernadette claimed to have seen a beautiful lady robed in white, with a blue sash. The lady said, "I am the Immaculate Conception." This apparition reportedly created a new water supply, still in existence, and still raking in money from the sale of millions of small bottles to gullible Roman Catholics, who believe it will cause miraculous things to happen for them.

Did Mary really appear at Lourdes? Is the water really miraculous? Should you schlepp over there to get your gall bladder healed? Can we expect miracles from Mary?

Infallible Silence on the Mass

As you read this, a major schism is occurring in the Roman Catholic Church. It began during Vatican Council II, and is best expressed as the "Tridentine-vs-Novus Ordo Mass problem." What happened was that a number of bishops and priests, disagreeing with the then-pope, declared that his establishment of the Novus Ordo Mass was, in effect, heretical. Those bishops and priests have the strength of centuries of Roman Catholic Tradition on their side, yet they are considered a schismatic group. Click here for a detailed study of this schism.

The Roman Catholic people are in a real quandry over this issue. Vast numbers have simply left the Church altogether, while a large amount of infighting goes on, with each group accusing the other of heresy or being schismatic - without papal authority for their bishops, priest, nuns, convents, churches, chapels and seminaries.

Nowhere would an infallible papal decree be more helpful than with this issue of faith! Yet Pope John Paul II is amazingly silent! He could clear this up so easily, and put the minds of the Roman Catholic people at rest: why does he not do so?
QUESTION: Why does not the Pope make an infallible decree to settle the problem of the Tridentine-vs-Novus Ordo Mass once and for all? Your answer?
QUESTION: Might Pope John Paul II have a hidden agenda that keeps him from settling this serious issue of faith? Your answer?
QUESTION: Why must such serious, faith-centered questions remain unanswered when the Pope has a real duty to guide his flock in such matters? Why are the Popes silent?! Your Answer?

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Infallible Pope Publishes Infallible Bible?

The Council of Trent having stamped the Vulgate as "authentic," ordered that a correct edition of the authentic, authorized Vulgate Bible should be published. Pope Sixtus V undertook this task. In his preface he claims supremacy over the group of translators, because he had authority as successor to Peter. He tells of the endless hours he spent reading the opinions of others and judging the validity of their arguments. When the work was printed he corrected the press-proof personally. Most certainly, then, we should expect the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible to be totally error-free, right? After all, it was a work approved and published by an infallible Pope.

Pope Sixtus's edition appeared in 1590. In the front matter, Sixtus affirmed the plenary authority of the edition for all future time in these words:

"By the fullness of apostolic power we decree and declare that this edition, approved by the authority delivered to us by the Lord, is to be received and held as true, lawful, authentic, and unquestioned, in all public and private discussion, reading, preaching, and explanations."

The infallible Pope Sixtus pronounced that all readings in other editions and manuscripts, which might vary from these of this Vulgate edition, should have no credit or authority for the future. It was forbidden to alter the version in the smallest particle; and anyone who thought or did otherwise was condemned to excommunication. Here was an 'ex-cathedra' declaration on a matter of faith, from an infallible Pope.

Linguists and scholars who were really competent to judge that the edition found it full of errors. Yet they could say or do nothing for fear of being excommunicated. They held their silence until after Pope Sixtus died. After that, they brought their case to his successor.

There was then much embarrassment how to correct these undeniable errors. Bellarmine avoided the issue of Sixtus's fallibly infallible Bible by blaming the printers! That was his public stance. But in his autobiography he says that those errors had been deliberately introduced by Sixtus himself. So here, again, we have one infallible pope reversing the infallible proclamation of another infallible pope. What's wrong with this picture?

QUESTION: Did Sixtus V, an infallible Pope, publish a Bible translation that was full of errors? Yes No
QUESTION: Was the infallible bible of infallible Pope Sixtus V overturned by his successor, also an infallible Pope? Yes No
QUESTION: How many wrong papal declarations, ex-cathedra, on matters of faith and morals must be made by a pope to prove papal infallibility is an illusion, a false idea? Your answer?

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Galileo: Infallibility and Science

Another place where an infallible Pope made a very serious, fallible error, was in the condemnation of Galileo's proposal that the earth was not the center of the universe, but only one small planet rotation around one small sun. The Pope felt very secure in thinking that this theory contradicted the plain words of scripture, he had no problem in condemning it.

What happened? In the year 1609, Galileo, after studying the works of Copernicus, studied the heavens through a telescope. He discovered that the earth was not the center of the universe, but only a small planet rotating around one of perhaps millions of suns. Galileo observed the planet Jupiter, and the fact that its satellites revolved around that planet, not around the earth.

A sincere believer in Scripture, Galileo began to suspect that then-current interpretations of Scripture with respect to earth and sun were incorrect. He said as much in a 1613 letter to Castelli, a professor at the university at Pisa. This letter came to the attention of the Pope, and thus began the great debate. Having discovered that the Roman Catholic doctrine that the earth is the motionless center of the universe was false, he de-facto challenged Papal authority in a matter of 'faith and morals.'

Thus did Galileo encounter the Roman Catholic office of Inquisition. Rome's initial rebuttal was that "The proposition that the sun is the centre of the world, and immovable from its place, is absurd, philosophically false, and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scripture. The proposition that the earth is not the centre of the world, nor immovable, but that it moves, and also with a diurnal motion, is also absurd, philosophically false, and theologically considered at least erroneous."

Here again we have an official, 'ex-cathedra' declaration by a pope, regarding the content of Holy Scripture. This 'infallible' ruling was binding on all. It was also very wrong!

The Pope ordered Galileo, then age 70 and in poor health, dragged to Rome an put in prison while the Inquisition promoted Rome's case against this 'heretic' scientist. They forced Galileo to recant, or to deny the truth of his own observations, kept him from seeing his friends, forbade the publishing or sale of any of his books. Smacks of mind-control, doesn't it?
QUESTION: Acting under the Pope's authority and personal direction, Rome forced Galileo to profess belief in what we now know to be false. How can we believe that such an authority is infallible? Your answer?
QUESTION: Once again, how many wrong, official papal pronouncements does it take to prove the idea of papal infallibility is an illusion, a false idea? Your answer?
QUESTION: When several pope's make 'infallible' declarations that turn out to be false, what reason do you have to believe in papal infalliblity? Your answer?

This error has more than once side to it. Not only was the Pope totally wrong about the scientific aspect, he was also in error about what the Scriptures had to say about the earth! Now don't forget that Rome demands that she has a divine right to interpret Scripture, and that she insists she is infallible when doing so! Go figure!

HOLY FATHER, WE'VE BEEN CAUGHT! JUST KEEP QUIET-IN TIME NO ONE WILL NOTICE!The Roman Catholic Church could save herself a lot of trouble if on she could admit the truth and say that her infallible Popes were wrong in official pronouncements (sic., ex-cathedra, or official doctrine). But she cannot admit error even in the face of evidence that is clear even to today's school children. Rather must she equivocate, or dance around the facts in an effort to sustain the unsustainable! Admittedly, Rome did finally remove the names of Galileo and Copernicus from her published list of cursed, excommunicated people who taught 'lies.' She did this very quietly a few years ago, and has yet to publish a retraction for her errors. Once again the masks come out of the mask closet. Now Rome can try to pretend it never happened by pointing to her documentation and showing us that there is no anathema against those courageous scientists. In time, Rome will boldly declare that she 'believed them all along.' Wait and see!

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The Question of Authority

Some Roman Catholic surfers have asked me "By what authority do I make certain conclusions about the meaning of Scriptures?" Its a fair question. Of course, it is pretty obvious why they raise the question to begin with. Catholics believe in and accept what they consider to be the 'infallible' authority of their pope and of Rome's 'magesterium,' or teaching authority. They vest absolute power in these two man-made concepts, and even claim that such power was deliberately conveyed upon them by Jesus Christ. Evidently these surfers are blissfully ignorant of the raging war amongst Roman Catholic theologians on this very issue. See A Catholic Theologian for some proof of this.

But, as shown above, Rome's 'infallible' popes have made some seriously wrong 'ex-cathedra' declarations. Since only one such error disproves Rome's claim, I reject it out-of-hand.

Yet the question of authority remains! Years of study have shown me that not all of Scripture is so clear-cut as to rule out the need for some degree of interpretation. Equally true, my study of 'the Fathers of the Church' reveal a large measure of disagreement amongst them, especially on critical doctrinal matters. Thus do I recognize the need for experts to help us understand certain things. Since I know but a smattering of Koine Greek, and nothing of Hebrew, I must rely upon linguistic experts to tell me the English meaning of many terms in Scripture. Since I am not an archaeologist, I must rely upon experts in that field to tell me of their findings, and how they relate to Scripture. Since I am not a First Century Jew, Greek, or Roman, I need experts in historical research to inform me of those peoples, and of their times, customs, and even linguistic expressions.

Experts in these and other fields abound. The fruit of their efforts is accessible and understandable. They make no claims to have an inside track on Divine Revelation, as one finds in Rome and other cultic religions. Rather do they present us with hard-learned facts to consider.

While growing up Roman Catholic, I heard nothing of such authorities. Rather was I told to just be quiet and believe what I was told because the pope, who was Christ on earth, had absolute authority and infallible knowledge to dispense. What possible need could I have of external, worldly experts, when I had priests who were, in some mystical manner, Jesus Christ himself (sic., the Catholic teaching that every priest is an 'Alter Christos" (Another Christ)? In short, my church did all she could to keep me from the Bible itself (save those few tidbits she handed me to 'prove' her own authority), and to keep me from thinking about Scriptural things on my own.

Small wonder! Once I began that study I soon ran into insurmountable obstacles to the things I had been taught since childhood. Even without the use of lexicons, concordances, Hebrew and Greek dictionaries, Bible commentaries and so forth, the simple Word of God contradicted many important doctrines of my church.

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What Would Jesus Say?

By the grace of God alone, I was led out of the labyrinth of cannon law and the sacramental system to a clear, simple, joyful faith in Jesus Christ. The same Jesus Christ who lambasted the religious leaders of His time for hiding the simple truth of God's Word beneath their incredible system of man-made laws:
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to." (Matthew 23:13)

I cannot help but wonder what Jesus would say to the church of Rome if he were to appear at the Vatican today? Just visualize Jesus, standing in St. Peter's Square, gazing at the Polish guy all dressed up in white satin, carried on a litter and preceded by gaudily dressed guards bearing all those symbols of papal authority . . . . .

"Woe to you, Roman magesterium and lawmakers! You false Christs! You hypocrites! You claim to be my vicar on earth, but I don't know you! You deny the simple Gospel that I died to give you. You give men instead an incomprehensible system of laws that you say will get them to salvation, but which leads only to hell! You curse those who love my Word! You are so enthralled by your own concepts that you are blind to the simple truth that salvation is a free gift to all who will accept and follow me! You swindle money from the simple minded in the name of religion. You sell salvation in return for good works and money for indulgences and masses! You accumulate wealth and build great buildings on the backs of the poor! You dress in elegance and dine in comfort even while my people cry out for food and clothing! You adorn your idols with rich cloth and precious jewels and parade them through throngs of homeless, destitute, starving people! Woe unto you who claim you are me! Woe unto you teachers of law who place burdens on the backs of the married that you dare not carry for yourself! Woe unto you who drive your people with fear and guilt, when I offer them peace and joy. Woe unto you priests who have neither ears nor eyes as you dispense your law in the secrecy of the confessional! I came to take away the religion of legalism, but you have restored it! I call all men to come unto me, but you call all men to come unto you and your laws. I died to fulfill and eliminate the need for an intervening priesthood, to make each man a priest in his own home, but you have restored what I declared no longer required! Woe! Woe! Woe unto you! If I do not chastise you, I will have to apologize to the scribes and pharisees, for indeed, you are worse than they! Repent! Repent of your sins and come to me while there is still time! Behold, I stand and knock. Unstop your ears that you may hear me! I lived and died for you. Yes, it is that simple! Repent of you self-made path to salvation and accept my offer while you can. Remember, it is appointed to you once to die, then to be judged! Your buildings, your rich clothing and jewelry, your sumptuous foods, your richly laden statues, your man-made cannon laws your accumulated artworks will be a witness against you at that time! All will be burned as hay and stubble. All you will be asked is whether or not you accepted the free offer of my Father to be saved by His grace, through faith in me, your Messiah! Nothing else will help you then! Seek the Father's forgiveness and it will be granted to you. I have promised it. In that day you will see the simple, the loving, the poor and rich who accepted me entering into my Father's house with thanksgiving. You can be among them. The choice is yours."
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Catholic Theologians on Infallibility

Rome would have you believe that all of her bishops and theologians agree with and support the idea of an infallible pope and teaching authority. It is all too easy to put the lie to this deceptive claim. There has been considerable unrest and disagreement amongst Roman Catholic theologians on this topic. Consider, for example, the following statements from Roman Catholic theologian Hans Kung in his remarkable book, Infallible? An Unresolved Enquiry (The Continuum Publishing Company, copyright 1994 John Bowden. ISBN 0-8264-0669-6 and available from AMAZON.COM):
"At the centenary celebrations of the definition of papal infallibility by the First Vatican Council in 1870 the widespread, vague question of infallibility has taken the form of a precisely formulated 'inquiry': Infallible? An Enquiry (1970) was something like a parlimentary question put by His Majesty's Loyal Opposition in a free commonwealth. The Roman Congregation of Faith attempted with the help of the conference of bishops to silence it by a decretal, since it had become such a live issue, and end the discussion once and for all. But this question, though condemned to death, would not lie down, and discussion in the community of faith has not ceased. . . . fathers, teachers and often professors had earlier made similar attempts to rescue their own infallibility once it had been put in question: we are infallible because we have said we are infallible." (Page 201)

Regarding the 'infallible' declarations of the Marian Dogmas, this Catholic theologian goes on to say,

"In brief, no single theologian and no single official authority has so far been able to put forward a proof for the possibility of such infallible statements of faith (and the authorities standing behind them) which are guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. According to the exhaustive discussion which has been carried on so far there are no solid foundations in Scripture and in the great Catholic tradition for the assumption of such infallibly true propositions or authorities. And it is obviously begging the question to cite as proof the magesterial texts from Vatican I and II, since these are the very propositions which are in question." (Pages 206-207)

Recounting just a smattering of false pronouncements by Rome, the author says,

"Among what might be called the classical errors now widely admitted are the excommunication of Photius, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, and of the Greek church, which formalized the now nearly thousand-year-old schism with the Eastern Church; the ban on lending money at interest imposed at the beginning of the modern age, a matter on which, after many compromises, the teaching office changed its mind, much too late; the condemnation of Galileo and similar measures basically responsible for the estrangement between the Church and science that to this day have not yet been finally overcome; the condemnation of new forms of worship in the Rites controversy, which is one of the main reasons for the large-scale failure of the Catholic missions to India, China and Japan in modern times; the upholding by the use of all secular and spiritual means, including the use of excommunication, of the Pope's medieval temporal power until the time of the First Vatican Council, and finally, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the numerous condemnations of the application of the methods of critical and historical exegesis to the authorship of the books of the Bible, and of research into the sources of the Old and New Testaments and the historicity and literary genres of the Comma Johanneum and the Vulgate, .... and in recent times in connection with Pius XII's encyclical Humani Generis and the consequent disciplinary measures, and so on.
As an example from the distant past we shall quote the case - discussed at Vatican I - of Pope Honorius, who was condemned as a heretic by an ecumenical council and by several subsequent popes. As a less remote example of a mistake, in an age when such theological manoeuvres are no longer possible, we may quote the recent decision on the immorality of birth control." (Pages 28-29)

Pointing to the fact that the Roman Catholic Church assumes to itself a power, or a charism as Rome calls it, that it, in fact, has never been guaranteed by either Scripture or by the early church fathers, Kung says that:

"The Roman teaching office (magesterium) has regarded itself as entitled, 'authentically' permitted, to interpret all sorts of things about which there is not a word in Scripture or in early tradition, or even to define them infallibly, as in the case of the two new Marian dogmas." (Page 60).

Kung then goes on the prove that the so-called 'never-failing assent' of the church leadership (sic., cardinals, bishops, priests) is just an illusion that Rome must secretly hope no one ever checks-up on:

"The conflicts between Pope and episcopal college that have constantly arisen at dramatic moments in Church history are passed over (by Rome) in silence. Instead the last sentence of this section (of Article XXV, 3 of Vatican Council II) again solemnly . . . speaks of never-failing assent, which is of special interest in view of the dissent roused by the encyclical Humanae Vitae. . . But, we feel forced to ask, when this assent is not forthcoming in a particular instance, what has gone wrong? The blame can hardly be attributed to the Holy Spirit." (Page 61)

Addressing the parallel issue of the so-called 'apostolic succession' of Rome's bishops, the author reveals the not-surprising fact that such succession is untenable and cannot be proved from tradition, from Scripture, nor from the historical facts:

"we are nevertheless bound to point out that the attribution of infallibility to the college of bishops, based on the traditional, unhistorical theory of the bishop's direct and exclusive apostolic succession, stands exegetically, historically and theologically, on feet of clay." (Page 70)

British Theologian Resigns in Protest. Pope Paul VI, in an address to the Italian National Congress for Gynacology and Midwifery, on October 29, 1966, said that "The overwhelming majority of the Church has given the encyclical (Humanae vitae) their assent and obedience." (See Osservatore Romano, June26, 1968). This obvious, blatant lie led one of Rome's foremost theologians to leave the Roman Catholic Church (see A Question of Conscience, Charles Davis, London, 1967, Page 93).
QUESTION: Why does Rome lie when she claims that she has the 'never-failing assent' of the bishops for her 'infallible' proclamations? Your answer?
QUESTION: Why does Rome remain completely silent when asked about the large history of dissent between her 'infallible' popes and her bishops? Your answer?
QUESTION: Where does the Pope get his authority for claiming to be infallible, when there is no support for it in Scripture, history, or the early church? Your answer?
QUESTION: How can 'infallible' Popes and magesterium make so many, many serious errors? Your answer?
QUESTION: How can you give any credibility to a church that consistently lies and deceives you in such matters? Your answer?

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Authority of the Believer

What authority do I cite when it comes to understanding the Scripture? Beyond, and, in fact, far above the simple authority of historians, linguists, and so forth, is Scripture itself. Study the following Scriptures for yourself, in context, from your Bible. See what the Word of God says to you. God felt you would be smart enough to get the big picture; so do I.

Jesus Confirmed Authority of Scripture

"And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." (Luke 16:30-31)

One of the best examples of Jesus proclaiming the absolute authority of Scripture is the story of His temptation by the devil out there in the desert. (Matthew 4: 1-11). Three times Satan tempted Jesus. Three times Jesus responded by saying "It is written (in Scripture). . ."

Jesus Confirmed the Infallibility of Scripture

"Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;" (John 10:34-35)

Scripture is Sufficient to Lead Us to Salvation

"But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 3:14-15)

Jesus Promised to Give the New Testament

"Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:23-26)

Peter Equates Paul's Writings to Scripture

"And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction." (2 Peter 3:15-16)

Jesus Declares Scripture is Sufficient

"And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." (Luke 16:31)

Paul Declares Scripture Suitable, or Sufficient for our Instruction.

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The Holy Spirit Promised as our Guide to Truth

"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." (John 16: 13-14)
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26)
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit;" (Acts 2:17-18)
"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:12-16)

Scripture is a 'Lamp' to Guide Us

"Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction. I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me. I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts. The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies. have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad. MEM. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. Ihave refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments. I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word. Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me thy judgments. My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law. The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts. (Psalm 119: 92-110)

I included this lengthy excerpt from the Psalms to show how King David, a man who God declared was 'a man after my own heart' viewed Scripture in general and God's law (the Torah, the first five books of the Bible is referred to by my Jewish friends as 'the Law.' See how David made the law of God his primary focus? Do you see David appealing to any human authority? No, not at all. David appealed to the written Word of God, to Scripture, and to that alone. Kind of makes you think of the Reformers, doesn't it!

Paul Says His Writings Inspired

"For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:" (1 Thesselonians 1: 5-6)

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John Says All Believers Have the Holy Spirit in Themselves

"He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." (1 John 5: 10-13)

There you have God's Word on the believer's authority. There are many other Scriptures that confirm these facts:

With so many promises of God, so much inspired Scripture telling me of my authority to read the Word of God and understand it, what more can I ask for? With Jesus Himself declaring that there must be no hierarchy of authority in His Church, why should I ever look to man as a source of authority? Those who do seek some external authority remind me of how the Israelites became discontent, dissatisfied, with God's leadership and demanded a man-made kind of leadership in God's place:

"Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them." (1 Samuel 8: 4-7)

God gave them what they wanted, and the result was a disaster. Well, if God promises to guide me by His Holy Spirit, and give me that authority, who am I to seek elsewhere? Would not the results be equally disastrous? I believe they would, and, in fact, have been so in the Church of Rome. Just as I prefer the simplicity of the Gospel to the complexity of Rome, I prefer to submit to the commands and promises of Jesus Christ over submitting to other men who are only men, just like myself.
QUESTION: Did Jesus clearly state that there must be no hierarchy of authority among the Apostles? Your answer?
QUESTION: Does Scripture promise the Holy Spirit to every believer in Christ, to be their guide to spiritual truth? Your answer?
QUESTION: Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior and Lord? Your answer?
QUESTION: Based upon your answers to the above questions, do you still need some external, man-made authority to tell you what to believe and what to do? Your answer?

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Holy Ghost Confusion?

Some have asked, "If the Holy Spirit is really leading, how is it that there is so much division among the Protestant churches? Only in the Roman Catholic Church can you find true unity." The question part of this is a very good question. Its not a new one either. I have pondered it myself for some time. Indeed, we do see a great deal of denominational infighting, don't we? Where is the Holy Spirit in this apparent chaos?

The statement part is another thing altogether. Yes, among all the individual Roman Catholic churches you have the same thing. Is this unity? Or is it uniformity? If you tie the tails of two cats together you do get them united, don't you! But are they really united? Hardly. Uniformity is like that. While Rome indeed produces rubber-stamp adherents, this is no indication of a true spiritual unity with the teachings of Christ and the Bible. And this is assuming that all Roman Catholics concur with their church . . . which they most certainly don't! In America at least, the Catholic people believe and behave as they individually choose to believe and behave. Lots of them take very little notice of doctrinal issues in places where it touches them deeply, such as the question of birth control, attendance at mass, going to confession, and so forth. While Rome declares unity, the facts tell another story.

Now back to the question of how could the Holy Spirit be the author of so much apparent confusion. Of one thing we can be certain: the Holy Spirit is not the author of confusion. So we must look elsewhere for our answer. What then, are the options to choose from? I've identified a few below. Perhaps you can add to my list?

The first two options are unacceptable; Scripture proves otherwise. The second two options are both possible. I have had times when I knew the Holy Spirit was speaking to me, but I ignored it. Only much later did I learn I had been disobedient by refusing to obey. At other times, I have been too caught up in my own melodrama to be able to hear anything, much less the 'still small voice' of the Holy Spirit. Again I had to learn by painful experience.

Also, there are many people who just do their own thing, and then claim that the Holy Spirit is telling them what to say or do. Often these hypocrites are easy to spot because their teachings so flagrantly contradict the Word of God.

Again, there are people who most sincerely try to do some work for God in their own strength, as a result of their own desires. And while such work may, on the surface, appear very good, God is not compelled to bless or anoint it. Remember what Jesus said:

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:21-23)

So it is that people can do things, say things, teach things, claiming they do so in the name of Jesus, and not be acting in His Name at all! How do we protect against such errors? The only answer is the Word of God itself.

It is a sad commentary that so many Christian organizations are at loggerheads over what are often only minor, or insignificant issues. This is not, however, a new problem. It was recognized in past generations by men of wisdom. That was, in very fact, what gave rise a century ago to a book defining the fundamentals of the Christian Faith.(1) Leaders from the Methodists, the Presbyterians, from many denominations, gathered together to determine exactly what constituted the essential doctrines of the Christian Faith as given in Scripture. It was from the title of that book that the terms 'fundamental,' 'fundamentalist,' and 'fundamentalism' was coined.

With the fundamentals identified and agreed-upon, these denominations agreed there was latitude for variations when it came to non-fundamental issues. Thus, for example, one church can have a very solemn and structured form of worship, another can have an open, joyous, free-flowing form of worship, and both can be right-on when it comes to Scripture. Thus, what some Roman Catholic apologists perceive as disunity is not disunity at all. Rather is it a sign of strength that one church can be different than another without friction or major disagreement. I find this a sign of strength, not of weakness. It is similar to how our nation is made up. We have different states, with different laws, with different cultures, all working together. It would be ridiculous to declare America had no unity because she has so many different states and cultural groups. The same applies to Protestant Christianity. Enough said.

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1. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Libreria Editrice Vaticana; Copyright 1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

1. I'm working from memory here, so please forgive me if I make a technical error. Later, as time permits, I will find a copy of that book and make any minor corrections as may be needed here. Meanwhile, please understand that I am using the creation of that book to illustrate a point. Thanks.