Question: You claim that the Roman Catholic Church (and presumably the Eastern Orthodox Church as well) went into complete apostasy and became the whore of Revelation 17. If so, then Christ didn’t keep His promise that “the gates of hell” would not prevail against the church he founded, because for many centuries prior to the Reformation the Roman Catholic Church was the only Christian church there was. I’ve heard this argument used by Catholic apologists such as Matatics and Hahn. It is also used by Ken Samples in his articles in the Christian Research Institute Journal. It seems to make sense. How do you respond?
Response: Very simply. The paganization of Christianity began under Constantine and the apostasy worsened for centuries. Eventually the mass of professing “Christians” were identified with what came to be known as the Roman Catholic Church. It claimed to be the one true Church and excommunicated, persecuted, killed, and even tried to destroy the records of all who would not bow to its supreme authority and embrace its antichrist heresies.
Nevertheless, there were always groups of simple Christians who attempted to follow the Bible according to their consciences and who met not in the cathedrals of the “official church” but in the forests or other secret meeting places. One of the best books tracing these groups is The Pilgrim Church, by Broadbent.
Yes, Roman Catholicism is in total apostasy and has been for many centuries. No, that does not mean that the entire church fell into apostasy and thus the gates of hell prevailed against it, for there were always multitudes who were not part of the “whore of Babylon” as John describes her in Revelation 17.