On March 17, Shane Lems posted an article entitled Ten Reasons Why I Will Never Go To Rome. In light of all the focus that the church of Rome is receiving from the media recently, I thought it would be a good time to revisit why we have separated from and remain separate from the apostate ‘church’ of Rome.
The following (text in blue) is Shane’s post with the Scripture and references added by me.
Note: References to the London Baptist Confession are not meant to be authoritative, but to show what Baptists believe and have historically believed.
Liberty of Conscience
I will not have my conscience bound by man or man’s decrees. Rome binds consciences beyond the Word by teaching that the dogmas of the Church’s Magisterium “oblige” adherence (Catechism, p. 33, 548). I believe that God alone is Lord of the conscience and that it can only be bound by his Word.
- God alone is Lord of the conscience, and he has left it free from obligations to human doctrines and commandments which are in any way contrary to his Word or not contained in it. So to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commandments out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience. To require an implicit faith, or absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience and reason. (London Baptist Confession, Sect 21.2).
- There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? (Jas 4:12)
- Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. (Rom 14:4)
- Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Gal 5:1)
- Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Mat 15:7-9)
- See also: Col 2:20-23; Gal 1:10; 2:3-5; 5:1
I will never submit to a Pope. Rome teaches that the pope is “pastor of the entire Church” and has “full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered” (Catechism, p. 254). However, Scripture teaches there is no other head of the church besides Christ.
- The Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the church. In him is vested, by the appointment of the Father in a supreme and sovereign manner, all authority for the calling, institution, order and government of the church. The Pope of Rome cannot in any sense be the head of the church, but he is the antichrist, that ‘man of lawlessness’, and ‘son of destruction’, who exalts 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, Sect 26.4)
- And [Christ] is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Col 1:18)
- [God the Father] raised [Christ] from the dead, and set Him at his own right hand in the heavenly places …and hath put all things under his feet, and [He] gave him to be the head over all things to the church (Eph 1:20-23)
- Christ is the head of the church … Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ… (Eph 5:23-32)
One Mediator Between God and Men
I refuse to pray to Mary or have her for a mediator or helper. Rome teaches that Christians should pray “to” Mary; “we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself” (Catechism, p. 704ff). The first commandment, however, teaches us not to pray to or confide in any creature.
- This office of Mediator between God and the human race belongs exclusively to Christ, who is the Prophet, Priest, and King of the Church of God. This office may not be transferred from him to any other, either in whole or in part. (London Baptist Confession, Sect. 8.9)
- For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Ti 2:5)
Rome anathematized the gospel of free grace. “If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone let him be anathema” (Canons of Trent, 43). Scripture, however, teaches that God justifies ungodly sinners by faith alone, completely apart from works.
- …a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Gal 2:16)
- …no man is justified by the law in the sight of God …for, The just shall live by faith. (Gal 3:11)
- …by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested … the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe (Rom 3:20-22)
- Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 5:1)
- …we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Church Subject to God’s Word
I believe the church is under the Word, not beside or above it. Rome teaches that Scripture is not the highest authority in faith and life. Rome says “both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence” (Catechism, p. 31). However, Scripture teaches that it alone is authoritative and sets forth perfect and complete doctrine for salvation and life.
- The Holy Scriptures are the only sufficient, certain and infallible rule for saving knowledge, faith, and obedience… (London Baptist Confession, Sect. 1.1)
- To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, [it is] because there is no light in them. (Is 8:20)
- [The church is] built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone (Eph 2:20)
- 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, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Tim 3:16-17)
- For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Pet 1:21)
- Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John 5:39)
Perseverance of the Saints
I do not believe that salvation is losable. The Council of Trent said that true faith can be lost and one can forfeit the grace of justification (Canons of Trent, 38-40). But God’s Word teaches that Christ will never let go of his sheep and that nothing can separate the elect from God’s love in Christ.
- These can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but they shall certainly persevere in grace to the end and be eternally saved. For God will not repent of his gifts and calling, therefore he continues to bring about and nourish in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit that lead to immortality. (London Baptist Confession, Sect. 17.1)
- I give [my sheep] unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:28-29)
- Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:6)
- …after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Eph 1:13-14)
- [We] are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Pet 1:5)
- All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. …No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:37-44)
- For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son (Rom 8:29)
- He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love (Eph 1:4)
- [Christ] shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 1:8)
I do not believe the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper is a re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice. Rome’s catechism teaches that in the Eucharist “the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever-present, the Eucharist is also a sacrifice, because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross.” (Catechism, p.380). Scripture, however, teaches that the body of our Lord ascended into heaven where he now is; therefore the Lord’s Supper is a proclamation of his death and a reminder of it.
- In this ordinance Christ is not offered up to his Father, nor is any real sacrifice made for remission of sin of the living or the dead. It is only a memorial of that one offering up of Christ by himself upon the cross once for all. It is also a spiritual offering of all possible praise to God for Christ’s work. So the Roman Catholic sacrifice of the mass, as they call it, is utterly abominable and defamatory of Christ’s own sacrifice which is the only propitiation for all the sins of the elect. (London Baptist Confession, Sect. 30.2)
- [Christ will not] offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. …So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Heb 9:25-28)
- We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. …after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. (Heb 10:10-13)
- He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:19)
- That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. (1 Cor 11:23-24)
I am not convinced that baptism itself effects the forgiveness of sins. According to Rome, “by baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sins” (Catechism, p. 353). On the other hand, Scripture teaches that baptism is a sign and seal that points us to Jesus’ blood and the Holy Spirit’s work, which alone can wash away sin and effect its forgiveness.
- Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be to the person baptized a sign of fellowship with Christ in his death and resurrection, of being grafted into him, of remission of sins, and of giving up oneself to God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life (London Baptist Confession, Sect. 29.1).
- But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. (Acts 8:12)
- Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. (Acts 8:35-38)
- [Peter preaches] that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. …Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. (Acts 10:43-48)
- And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And …she was baptized…(Acts 16:14-15)
- And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And [Paul] took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and [they were] baptized (Acts 16:31-33)
- And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. (Acts 18:8)
- These examples from Acts show how that preaching and faith proceed Baptism. Baptism was given as a sign and seal of that inward washing of the Holy Spirit.
- Baptism is an holy ordinance, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, signifies our ingrafting into Christ and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s. (Baptist Catechism #96)
- Baptism is to be administered to all those who actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ; and to none other. (Baptist Catechism #97)
Purgatory is an unbiblical doctrine. Rome says that Christians who die in an imperfect state “undergo purification” after death “to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (Catechism, p. 291). Scripture teaches differently. Scripture teaches that in Christ a Christian has all he or she needs to enter the joy of heaven, since he is our holiness, sanctification, and righteousness.
- The souls of believers are at death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory, and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection. (Baptist Catechism #40)
- See Heb. 12:23; Phil. 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:8; Luke 23:43; 1 Thess 4:14
- The souls of the wicked shall at death, be cast into the torments of hell, and their bodies lie in their graves till the resurrection and judgement of the great day. (Baptist Catechism #42)
- See especially Luke 16:22-24
Rome’s many superstitions lead people away from Jesus. Rome’s icons, images, saints, indulgences, mysticism, and repetitious prayers often lead people into a vortex of idolatry. For example, Rome teaches that dead saints “do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth….” (Catechism, p. 271). Scripture, however, teaches us to stay away from superstitions and myths while standing firm only on apostolic truth, which has Christ as its center.
- Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. (Col 2:20-23)
- One can clearly see, too, how superstition mocks God with pretenses while it tries to please him. For, seizing almost solely upon what God has testified to be of no concern to himself, superstition either holds in contempt or else openly rejects that which he prescribes and enjoins as pleasing to himself. Thus all who set up their own false rites to God worship and adore their own ravings. (John Calvin)