The Man in the Well, Part 3b: Roman Catholic Priest
And our fellow continues (from Part 3a) to contemplate what the Roman Catholic priest has told him he must do…
[Begin the Man in the Well BLOG Series from the first installment, the Greek Orthodox Priest]
The more I thought of the mass, the more [troubled] I became. Christ, I knew, had been offered once for all, and on the cross He cried, “It is finished.” Why He should be offered again I could not understand. And yet in the sacrifice of the mass the priest claims to make a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the people.
My mind again reverted to God’s Word, and the following passages struck me most forcefully: “But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever sat down on the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12). “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many (Heb. 10:14).
But it was the Confessional that perplexed me the most. I knew that the Bible taught confession of sin to God and God alone, and that since He only had power to forgive, Christ being the only Mediator between God and man, a priest, I concluded, was unnecessary. Man must go directly to God Himself. There were priests in David’s time, but he confessed his sin to God and to God alone (Ps. 51:1; 32:5). Moreover, I remembered that Peter, who confessed his sin directly to Christ, had been forgiven, whereas Judas, who had confessed his sin to the priests, instead of being forgiven, went out and hanged himself. I remembered that it was A.D. 1215, at the fourth Council of Lateran, that Pope Innocent III made particular Confession in an article of faith in the Church of Rome.
When I thought of purgatory, I thought of the words of Christ to the penitent thief, “Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Paradise is not purgatory. Paul had said: “To be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). And Jesus Himself had promised that where He was, there His own would be also (John 14:3). I could recall no mention of purgatory in the Bible. In 1459, I remembered, it had been made a doctrine of the Church of Rome by the Council of Florence, and in 1548 it had been confirmed as a dogma by the Council of Trent.
I recalled incidents I had heard of priests who had been summoned to the bedsides of dying men, and had administered Extreme Unction, solemnly pronouncing full and final absolution, and yet, after the men had died, money was extracted from their mourning relatives and friends to pay for masses to be said in order to shorten their period of torment in purgatory. This I was at a loss to understand. It seemed to me a [bewildering] contradiction…
The things he said regarding the Popes seemed to me to border on blasphemy. Pope Pius X, he informed me, had uttered these words: “The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ Himself, hidden under the veil of the flesh. Does the Pope speak? It is Jesus Christ who speaks.”
He had spoken to me repeatedly of “Our Lord God the Pope,” stating that “the Pope and God are the same.” A mere man [it seems] is elevated to the position of God. [Should we really allow any man (or woman) to have the same authority over us that we should be giving to God alone? Job 15:14-16 states, “What is man, that he could be pure, or one born of woman, that he should be righteous? If God places no trust in His holy ones, if even the heavens are not pure in His eyes, how much less man, who is vile and corrupt, who drinks up evil like water!”]
…his remarks regarding the Virgin Mary [seemed to contradict Scripture]. For the Virgin Mary, a mere woman, the Roman Catholic Church, so the priest told me, accords the position which belongs only to Christ. In Glories of Mary, by Liguori, this statement appears: “He who is under the protection of Mary will be saved; he who is not will be lost.” According to the teaching of Rome, “no man goeth to Christ but by His mother,” whereas I remembered so well that the Bible encourages direct access to God through Jesus Christ alone (1 Tim. 2:5 [, John 14:6]).
While thinking of all this I began to … [discern that these] teachings of Roman Catholicism [and the Bible, did not agree.]
Thus I mused; yet with all my head knowledge
[from the sincere Roman Catholic priest]
I knew not
how to get out of the well…
(From Smith, Oswald J., The Battle for Truth, Marshall, Morgan & Scott, publisher, 1962, pp. 7-23; Edited as noted by brackets and ellipses.)
Our man’s troubles continue next week with the arrival of Mary Baker Eddy of Christian Science, Part 4…
Part 1, Greek Orthodox Priest
Part 2, Jewish Rabbi
Part 3a, Roman Catholic Priest, first portion