The Papal system has several appellations, among them the Papacy, the Church of Rome, the Roman Catholic Church, and Roman Catholicism, the term "catholic" meaning universal. The wickedness and blasphemy of the Papal system is without parallel. Fundamentally, the Papal system is a counterfeit of the true Church. The purpose of the Papal system is subversion of the Christian Faith.
I. A COUNTERFEIT WITH A SHAMEFUL HERITAGE PASSED TO ITS PROGENY
Stupidly proud of the shameful labels "Protestant" and "Judeo-Christian," Protestants generally are ignorant of the debauched pedigree of Papistry and are ignorant of the degree to which the Protestant Faith shares that pedigree.
The Papal system was forged during the Apostolic era by the Talmudic Jew, who always has been and always shall be the great enemy of Christ Jesus, of the Church, and of the Christian Faith. Properly understood, the prefix "Judeo" means "Talmudic." Talmudic Judaism is a gross and hideous perversion of the Faith of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. There is nothing "Judeo" about the Christian Faith. Indeed, the Christian Faith and the Faith of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob are one and the same.
It is vital to apprehend the fact that the Protestant Faith is not the Christian Faith. Even as Papistry is an offshoot of Talmudic Judaism, so also Protestantism is an offshoot of Papistry; all three are forgeries which share essential doctrine. The Anglican Church (the Church of England, Anglican meaning English) is nothing other than the twin sister of Church of Rome, with the King of England in the role corresponding to that of the Pope.
In his wisdom, the Lord God allowed the Talmudic Jew to devise and implement the Papal system. The intent of the Jew in creating the system was to subvert the Christian Faith; but the Lord utilizes Papistry as an instrument of judgment upon those who reject the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven.
II. THE MAN OF SIN, THE MYSTERY OF INIQUITY, & STRONG DELUSION
In his second epistle to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul speaks of the "Man of Sin" and the "Mystery of Iniquity," saying that the Mystery of Iniquity already is operating. Paul speaks also of a restraint upon the Mystery of Iniquity, adding that the identity of the restraint is known to the Thessalonians, and saying that the restraint eventually is to be removed. Finally, Paul says that, to those who receive not the love of the truth, the Lord God sends strong delusion, so that they believe the lie and are damned. The truth to which Paul refers is the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven.
While contemporary commentators generally interpret the Scripture according to the fantastic Dispensational scheme of Scofield, devout and competent commentators of previous generations, lacking the guidance of Scofield and his Reference Bible, commonly construed the Man of Sin as the Pope and the Mystery of Iniquity as the Church of Rome.
The aptness of the term "iniquity" in the appellation "Mystery of Iniquity" is apparent from secular history, which records the merciless persecution of the true Church by the Papacy. A great number of Christians have been tortured and murdered by the Church of Rome; not a few of them have been burned alive at the stake, some receiving the "mercy" of being strangled to death before the fire was ignited. John Foxe, in his "Book of Martyrs," documents many instances of torture and murder of the Christian at the hand of the Papist. The barbaric cruelty of the Papal institution is part of its Talmudic heritage.
III. THE FALSE APOSTLE JAMES OF JERUSALEM
A careful reading of the epistles of Paul and of the Book of Acts reveals that the leader, James, of the Christian assembly at Jerusalem is a false Apostle who constantly is working to subvert the Christian Faith. Commentators commonly refer to this James as "James of Jerusalem"; he obviously is James, the half-brother of Christ Jesus, Matthew 13:55. When James is seen in the Scripture, his behaviour is that which one might expect of a prototype of the Pope.
James of Jerusalem maintained in Jerusalem a pack of zealot Talmudic thugs; with these, James successfully intimidated Peter and the other Apostles, with the exception of Paul. Paul alone withstood James, doing so at a terrible price. The teaching of Scofield and the teaching of the contemporary Protestant Pulpit notwithstanding, it is evident that Paul himself is the restraint which he mentions in his letter to the Thessalonians; not until Paul was taken away by death was the Papal system able to blossom and become dominant.
The role of Paul as the restrainer being obvious, James repeatedly dispatched thugs to assault Paul. Clearly, James is the "messenger of the Adversary" who Paul terms a "thorn in the flesh." On one occasion, the thugs of James battered Paul so severely as to dislodge the eyeballs of Paul from their sockets; it appears that the attackers left off beating Paul only because their victim appeared to be dead; consider Galatians 4:13-15. In all probability, this attempt of James and company to murder Paul is the occasion of the vision of which Paul speaks in II Corinthians chapter 12. Paul indeed may have died in that beating, being revived directly by Lord Jesus; he himself is not sure whether he was dead or unconscious when he experienced the vision, II Corinthians 12:2.
IV. A DRAMATIC CHANGE OF SCENE
It is the structure of the Papal system, rather than its error, which makes it so deadly. In the Papal system, an earthly authority is dominant over local assemblies. Such an architecture militates against the correction of error. By the design of the Lord Christ, each local assembly of his Church is to be independent, governed by a Shepherd who answers directly and exclusively to the Lord.
The fact that the Papal system, though in a primitive state, was operational before the end of in the Apostolic era is seen in the activity and behaviour of James of Jerusalem. In particular, in a formal meeting in which Apostles including Paul were present, James had the presumption not only to chair the meeting, but also, at the conclusion of the meeting, to direct that a dictum be issued in the name of the assembly to the local assemblies, Acts 15:13-31. Commentators of previous generations have expressed their astonishment at the brazen usurpation of authority by James, who dared dictate to the very Apostles. The fact that Paul did not then and there denounce James and pronounce a curse upon the usurper is explained by the revelation which Paul received from the Lord regarding the Mystery of Iniquity and the Man of Sin; Paul understood that the will of the Lord Jesus was to permit the treachery of James against the Church. Nonetheless, Paul understood that it also was the will of the Lord that he, Paul, continue to resist and expose the machinations of James.
Following the death of Paul, the Papal system rapidly grew in scope and strength, soon resulting in a dramatic transformation in the visible Church. One historian likens the transition to the change of scene in a theatrical production. The curtain of history falls upon a Church comprised of independent local assemblies, each under the care of a Shepherd who answers only to the Great Shepherd, Christ Jesus. When the curtain of history is raised a century later, the visible Church is a hierarchical structure in which the Shepherds of several local assemblies are under the authority of an overseer, and several overseers are under the authority of a superior, and so forth. Eventually the edifice was crowned with the office of Pope.
At that point, the true Church still is in existence, is invisible to historians, for it has been driven underground, out of sight, for the counterfeit is bent upon annihilation of the genuine. One sign of the true Church is that, in describing itself, it stops with the appellation "Christian"; any qualifier beyond the designation "Christian" is an indication that something is amiss. Even as in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, so also in Christ there is neither Baptist nor Presbyterian; Christ is not divided, I Corinthians 1:13.
V. THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION -- A FOOL'S ERRAND
Protestant teachers assert that, over a span of roughly fourteen centuries, the Church fell into error, and remained in error until the flames of the Protestant Reformation were kindled by Martin Luther. But such an assertion accords legitimacy to the Papal institution. Curiously, the same teachers, looking at the current error within Protestantism, argue that the Reformation is incomplete, and should be re-kindled.
But such assertions regarding centuries of error are blasphemous; the Lord Jesus does not abandon his sheep, allowing generation after generation to stumble blindly in error. The simple fact of the matter is that the Papal institution is illegitimate and never was in possession of the truth. Moreover, that which is illegitimate (which is to say, that which is not of the Lord), the Lord is not going to "reform." The sheep which are mired in the false doctrines of Papistry have not been abandoned by Jesus, for they are not his sheep, nor is the Lord God their father; they are of the same category as the Talmudic Jews who opposed the incarnate Christ Jesus; consider John chapter 8.
The Protestant Reformers were not successful in reforming the great whore of Papistry, for they set out on a Fool's Errand. In the first place, the Lord God does not reform false religions; rather, the Lord commands his people to come out and be separate, after which he destroys that which is false. In the second place, the Scripture plainly declares that the destiny of the whore is destruction, which shall take place at the coming of Jesus to resurrect the Justified. The Reformers should have separated themselves from the Papal institution and sought out assemblies of the true Church; instead, the Reformers stupidly served in the role of midwife, assisting the whore in giving birth to a number of daughters, namely, the Protestant denominations of the present day.
And though the Protestant does not directly venerate the Pope as the vicar of Christ, yet he does give such veneration indirectly:
(1) Abnegating his responsibility to ascertain for himself the canonicity of documents which purport to be Scripture, the Protestant places his trust in the pronouncements of the so-called "Church Councils." Because of this combination of nonfeasance and misplaced trust, the Protestants generally venerate as canonical several books which have no rightful place in the Canon of Scripture. The books are the Book of Esther, the Book of James, the Book of Revelation, the Book of Jude, and the Second Book of Peter. The Protestant Faith rests to a large degree on the false teaching of these spurious books.
(2) Papistry holds to many fantastic and absurd concepts which ultimately have their origin in Talmudic Judaism. Rather than diligently searching the Scripture in order to challenge and demolish those false concepts, the Protestant has embraced them and has founded his Faith upon them. Thus it is that concepts such as fallen angels, the immortal Soul, everlasting torture in Hell, and conscious existence after death, apart from the Resurrection are fundamental to the Protestant Faith.