Question: I appreciate The Berean Call. However, the November, 1993 “Q&A” re the Jack Van Impe video contains a serious error: “Roman Catholicism has been apostate for at least 15 centuries.” The “at least 15 centuries” is false and most damaging to the cause of Christ at a time when evangelicals are accepting the papal claims of apostolic succession. I shall be expecting you to correct this damaging statement.
Response: I’m fully aware that the evil errors of Roman Catholicism developed over many centuries and that, as even Jesuit Peter de Rosa writes, “All the councils of the church from Nicaea in the fourth century to Constance in the fifteenth agree that Christ himself is the only foundation of the church, that is, the Rock on which the church rests…the great Fathers of the church saw no connection between [Mt 16:18] and the pope. Not one of them applies ‘Thou art Peter’ to anyone but Peter. One after another they analyze it: Cyprian, Origen, Cyril, Hilary, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine. They are not exactly Protestants. Not one of them calls the Bishop of Rome a Rock or applies to him specifically the promise of the Keys….[I]t was only in the year 1073 that Pope Gregory VII forbade Catholics to call anyone pope except the bishop of Rome. Before then, many bishops were fondly addressed as ‘pope’ or ‘papa.’…The first Bishop of Rome was not Peter…Eusebius never once spoke of Peter as Bishop of Rome…etc.”
So when did the church at large become the Roman Catholic Church in distinction to the true Christians which it persecuted and killed? There is no single date; it happened gradually. Yet the roots can be traced to Constantine (313-227), who while still Pontifex Maximus as head of the pagan priesthood became de facto head of the Church, was the first to call himself Vicar of Christ, and under whose influence the Church married the world. The paganism of today’s Roman Catholicism entered the church in the fourth century and today’s popes bear Constantine’s three titles: Bishop of Bishops, Pontifex Maximus, and Vicar of Christ. “…15 centuries” ago was 493. The apostasy was rampant. You don’t want to call it the Roman Catholic Church that early, and technically you are right—but let the Catholics claim it. My statement re “15 centuries” is of no help whatsoever to Rome.