Testimonial #2 by Joseph C. Malone
Catholics Disregard The Word Of God
I left the Roman Catholic Church because of its disregard for the Word of God. Should any be inclined to take issue with that statement relative to the attitude of the Catholic Church, let me remind you that the Catholic Church maintains that “the Bible is a dead letter and unable to interpret itself.” Yet in the Bible, whether Catholic or not, we read, “The word of God is living and powerful [quick and active], and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). That is Heaven’s pronouncement in regard to the matter. Further the Catholic Church asserts, “We do not in anywise presuppose that the books of the New Testament are inspired, but, rather, they are only genuine, authentic documents written by honest men.” John, one of the writers of the New Testament, wrote, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth:…” (Revelation 14:13). That is either an inspired statement or John was dishonest and, in either case, the Catholic Church would be in error.
Paul, another one of the writers of the New Testament, wrote, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” (1 Cor. 14:37). The attitude of the Catholic Church is the attitude of Diotrephes, “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.” (3 John 9- 10).
The Bible becomes a “dead letter” to those whose doctrine it condemns; but, in the words of Paul, here is the attitude toward the Bible of those who respect heaven’s way. “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 Timothy 3:16-17).
Catholics Claim That New Testament Is Uninspired
Not only does the Catholic Church contend that the Bible is a “dead letter” and the New Testament is uninspired, but it maintains that the apostles appointed a “divine, infallible apostolate” to direct us. That is essentially the way the Catholic Church endeavors to make room in the realm of religion for papal edicts and the decrees of the Romanist councils. But consider this: “For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;” (Hebrews 2:2-3). Those who heard the word were the ones to confirm it, and that is in keeping with the following statement of Peter, “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.”
This was said in regard to one “That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” (Acts 1:21, 22, 25). Can this so-called “divine, infallible apostolate” qualify? And after the word has been spoken and confirmed, what purpose could such an office serve?
God’s Directions Fixed And Not Flexible
I submit to you that the means of direction from earth to heaven is thereby fixed, complete and final. Listen to the apostle Paul, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-12). Thus we are caused to better understand why the same apostle declared, “And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” (1 Corinthians 4:6).
In keeping with that statement is this declaration of John’s with its awful consequence, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” (2 John :9). In closing the Book of God, John said in the last chapter, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. ” (Revelation 22:18-19).
That statement, as already shown, is consonant with the tenor of the whole New Testament. Hence, this very vital conclusion is sustained: the Word has been spoken and confirmed; it is fixed, complete and final; and there is, therefore, absolutely no place or purpose in God’s design for a so-called “divine, infallible apostolate.” Please remember this conclusion. It is essential to a proper understanding of what we shall say henceforth. The weight of that conclusion, as it is readily arrived at in the Scriptures, might well account for why the Catholic Church contends that the Bible is a “dead letter“. Now, perhaps it can be better understood why the Council of Trent in its twenty-fifth session decreed that a council under the pope should draw up and publish an index of books which were to be prohibited in the church. Among these is the Bible, which is said to have been the first prohibited in the Council of Toloso. In the fourth of the ten rules concerning prohibited books as set forth in the Council of Trent, license to read the Bible is put under control of bishops and inquisitors. He that presumes to “read without such license cannot receive absolution of sins.“.
Word Of God Injurious To Roman Catholic Church
Recently, I had a conversation with a young lady who had been a government engineer and a Catholic. She is now employed in a vital capacity with the American Bible Society, a non-profit organization which has as its purpose the distribution of Bibles and Testaments. Last year, that institution in the pursuit of its noble course distributed throughout the world some twelve million Bibles and twenty-nine million New Testaments, and remember, without cost to the recipients.
Several months ago that young lady went to confession. While there, the priest asked her where she was working. She told him that she was working for the American Bible Society. He said, “You’ll have to stop that.” She inquired why adding that she thought it was wonderful to spread God’s Word. His answer was that such furthers Protestantism. If the distribution of Bibles and Testaments free from anything other than the Word of God furthers Protestantism, what can you say for Catholicism? Could there be any stronger indictment of the Catholic Church as a man-made religious organization than that? Incidentally, you might be interested to know that I baptized that young lady into Christ.
Reared As A Catholic
My father was a Catholic and was largely educated by the monks. My mother, who survives him, was not and is not, a Catholic. However, she permitted him to rear us children as Catholics. We attended a parochial school in the beginning of our formal education. We went to confession, took communion, attended mass and studied the Catechism. But my mother encouraged our study of the Bible and I recall quite well that often she gave us Bibles as presents and the text would be King James version. For where I am today, I owe much to her through the grace of God.
Doctrine Of Depravity Of Infants Causes Discontent
If memory serves me rightly, the first thing that caused me to suspect the fallacy of the Catholic Church and, consequently, the beginning of the “why” I left that apostate body is this reading which I found in the Bible: “ “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14). Though but a youth who was otherwise little informed in the Scriptures, I could not reconcile Catholic doctrine of little children being born depraved with the statement of Jesus to the effect that the kingdom of heaven is of such as little children. I have grown some since then and now let me expound the matter a little further.
In the Bible we read, “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.” (Acts 8:36-37). When the eunuch asked to be baptized, Philip, by the inspiration of God, laid down a provision to be met: “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” Whereupon the eunuch confessed his faith in Christ and was baptized.
Now this question: can a baby do that? In Hebrews 11:6 we read, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” He that comes to God must believe that God is. Can a baby qualify?
Now we can readily understand this verse: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:…” (Acts 2:41). Who were baptized? They that gladly received his word. Well, that eliminates babies, does it not? Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16). That word and is a coordinating conjunction. It connects words, phrases or clauses of equal importance. Therefore, belief is just as essential to your salvation as is baptism and baptism is just as essential to your salvation as is belief. It is a case of two plus two equals four. It takes everything on the left-hand side of the equation sign to equal that which is on the right-hand side.
Therefore, we are not saved by faith only; neither are we saved by baptism only. We are saved by faith plus baptism and that eliminates babies.
Someone may yet ask, “Well, what of babies? What if they die without being baptized?” My friends, you cannot be s-a-v-e-d until you are l-o-s-t; a baby is s-a-f-e. Remember, Jesus said, “. . .for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14). This is when one reaches an age at which he or she can understand the gospel of Christ as it concerns the primary steps of obedience: faith, repentance, confession and baptism.
Sprinkling For Baptism
Before we pass from the consideration of this subject, let me say that the Catholic Church ordered sprinkling or pouring of water upon one’s head as baptism about A.D. 1311. Thirteen centuries after God’s order was given to the world the practice of sprinkling for baptism was commanded by the Catholic Church and every religious body under heaven which practices such is merely aping the Romanist church. Here is God’s definition of baptism: “Buried with him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him . . .” (Colossians 2:12).
Seeking For The Truth
As my conviction mounted that the Catholic Church was in error, I began to grope for the truth elsewhere. I eliminated certain churches from consideration on the basis that their names seemed, even then to me, to be foreign to the Scriptures and to the church which I was persuaded that Christ had established. It was on such a basis that I eliminated the Baptist and the Methodist churches. Since then I have found there is overwhelming justification for maintaining there is something in a name. How can one read in the Bible that God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah and Jacob’s name to Israel and named Jesus and John before their births and yet contend that the names by which the church is called in the New Testament have no significance! I have learned of other disparities in the religious bodies mentioned as time has passed, but I still maintain that the name being wrong is, in itself, sufficient error.
Attends The Church Of Christ
One Sunday afternoon in September, 1928, as I was sketching at the Dallas zoo, three young ladies approached. One of them lived in my neighborhood and we had attended the same high school. She introduced the others, who proved to be her sisters, to me. Toward the close of a none too lengthy conversation, one of the sisters invited me to Bible school and church. I inquired, “Where?” She named a church of Christ meeting in south Dallas. I attended the following Sunday. Truth compels me to say that I was not very much impressed with the Bible class and its study seemed to make no lasting impression, but I was very much impressed with the young lady that may, or may not, account for the lack of impression otherwise. Anyway, several times thereafter I attended the worship there with her, but the preacher’s sermons, to me, seemed to carry little force and less clarity and conviction. In due course, the young lady suggested that we begin to read the Bible together. It was agreed and we began the study of the New Testament.
Then in the spring of 1929, while in the home of a certain young man, I listened to a radio sermon which he had seemingly flipped to just in order to employ my time while he took care of some household chore. The sermon was a plain exposition of the Scriptures with frequent reference thereto and it was master-fully delivered. The young man remained away until the entire sermon had been preached and congregational singing in the form of an invitational hymn had been sung. Then I learned that I had been listening to the broadcast of the regular Sunday morning worship of the Pearl and Bryan Streets Church of Christ in Dallas with preaching being done by C. M. Pullias.
That was a pioneering venture in religious broadcasting in Dallas or, perhaps, elsewhere for that matter. The fruits of it in magnitude only eternity itself will disclose. My own experience impresses on me its possibilities for others. I am an advocate not only of the pulpit, for which there is not and can never be a substitute, but also of the press and radio and various new and usable means of visualization which are now being introduced for the promulgation of the gospel. The casual way in which I became a part of the audience of that radio sermon might suggest to many that it was strictly a matter of chance; I do not share that view. Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8). I was seeking the truth; I had no personal axe to grind religiously and, by this time, I had little interest in attempting to exonerate the religious views of others. In short, I wanted to know what God would have me to do. I believe implicitly in the providence of God; and I, for one, am quite persuaded that the instance of which I now speak is an example of it, for which I give thanks to the Father of lights.
Baptized Into Christ
After hearing that sermon, I suggested to the young lady that we attend the services of the church of Christ at Pearl and Bryan Streets in Dallas. She was agreeable. We attended. The truth I learned in our Bible study together was augmented and clarified frequently by what I learned from the pulpit there. That young lady, to whom I owe so much, was formerly Miss Glendelle Myers, but for the past eighteen years she has been Mrs. Joe Malone. Coming to a knowledge of the truth and recognizing my responsibility before God, I was baptized into Christ on April 22, 1934, by C. M. Pullias, to whom I owe a profound debt, at Pearl and Bryan, where a congregation meets which I shall ever hold in grateful remembrance.
Catholic Error Why “I” Left
One’s conversion is, in its nature, a personal matter and to it we have given some attention; but when I am called upon to speak with regard to “Why I Left The Catholic Church“, the motives which prompted my conversion are brought into focus; and those motives, which constitute the “why” with me, far transcend mere personal experience and localized circumstance. Broad principles of truth are unalterably opposed by the Catholic Church. When I expose the error of the Catholic Church and show the danger therein, I am setting forth why I left the Romanist Church. Others are welcome to whatever seems plausible to them, but Catholic error is the “why” with me. Hence, let us examine that error in the light of Truth as it is reflected in the Bible; and as we do, let it be borne in mind that thus I am continuing to establish why I left the Catholic Church.
Catholics Claim The Church Is Authority
When I speak of examining the church in the light of the Word, the Catholic Church will immediately contend that the church is authority for the Word and not the Word for the church. Jesus said, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” (John 12:48). Let those contend that the Catholic Church is authority who will, but, as for me, I am going to accept that authority by which I shall be judged in the last day: the Word of the Lord. Remember that He said, “…All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matthew 28:18). Jesus said of those whose religion is based on the tradition of men, “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.” A bit later in the same connection, “…he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” (Matthew 15:8-9
Did The Catholics Give Us The Bible?
Again, the Catholic Church relative to the Bible is prone to say, “If you accept the Bible, you must accept us for the Bible has been preserved by us and has come to you through us.” My friends, the Lord is responsible for the preservation of His Word as He said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” (Mark 13:31). Should it even be granted that the Catholic Church were the agency through which the Word was preserved for a season, what would it signify? Further, should one be ready to concede that the Bible was handed to us, in a sense by the Catholic Church, does it follow that we must believe in the Catholic Church in order to accept the Bible? If I must repossess the newspaper from the mouth of my neighbor’s dog, does it follow that I must believe in my neighbor’s dog in order to accept what I read in the paper? Those who accept the Bible and the Bible alone plainly show that they reject all else.
Exposed Error Called “Interpretation“
Also, the Catholic Church is very prone to say (and she has a host of allies in this matter) that the force of any scriptural argument which is brought to bear upon her fallacy is “merely your interpretation“. That reminds me of that classic poem about an owl critic. He proceeded to criticize an owl over the open door of a barber shop while the barber went on shaving. The critic pointed out that the fellow that stuffed that owl should have considered a live one. He said it was hunched over unnaturally, the expression on its face was all wrong, its claws were out of shape and so on and on. Finally, the owl with some to-do, left its perch and flew out the open door. Thus some will profess the Bible to believe and yet deny the very thing they see, and, we might add, others will read the Bible with their father’s spectacles upon their heads and see the thing just like their father said.
The Catholic Church would have the people think that they cannot understand the Scriptures and that they must rely upon the priest for the proper “interpretation“. Thus millions of people are kept in the bondage of ignorance and are coached to say, “That’s just your interpretation” when some passage from the Bible is brought to consideration in opposition to Catholic error. Here is the point: let the Bible speak for itself and when you see it in the Book believe it for what it says. Paul said of Timothy, “…from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15). If a child can understand it, can’t you?
Further, if you say that you cannot understand it, you are charging God with requiring of you more than you are able to perform, for we read, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15). We urge you to follow the example of the Bereans: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11).
Now it is greatly to be hoped that we are ready to consider Catholicism in the light of God’s Word and in doing so, we will understand why I left it.
The Origin Of Catholicism: One-Man Rule
Hardly had the second century begun until certain people thought they saw the wisdom of setting one man over an entire congregation and designating that man as priest. All Christians are priests, for Peter plainly states that such compose a “…a royal priesthood…” (1 Peter 2:5-9), but, as to the oversight of an entire congregation of people, let us see what the scriptures say. In 1 Timothy 5:17 we read, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” The elders then are to rule in the church. We might add they rule, “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:3). What is the extent of their rule? In Acts 14:23, we learn that elders were ordained in every church. Thus we are caused to know that there is to be a plurality of elders in each individual congregation. Since the elders rule jointly in every local congregation, it is evident that no one man is to appropriate all such authority unto himself. Furthermore, you do not read in the New Testament of any man, or set of men, having more authority under heaven in the church of the living God than do the elders in the church. That means that, in the matter of organization, there can be nothing larger than the local congregation with the oversight under a plurality of elders.
The Origin Of Bishop, Arch-Bishop,
Cardinal And Pope
More time passes, and the same people thought it prudent to bring many local congregations in a given district under one head and so the bishop was introduced. The name “bishop” is synonymous with elder in the Scriptures and, as for the office given to the one so designated by the Catholic Church, there is absolutely no grounds in the Bible. With the passing of additional time, it was thought to be a part of wisdom to bring all the districts in a state or province under one head and so the archbishop was introduced. Both name and office are unscriptural and anti-scriptural. Then in the course of time it was thought wise to bring all the states or provinces in a continent under one head, and so the cardinal was introduced. Both name and office are unscriptural and anti-scriptural. With the passing of further time in fact, in A.D. 606 old emperor Phocus, who was himself a murderer and an adulterer, appointed Boniface III as the first pope.
Should anyone be inclined to call that in question, being mindful as I am that Romanism proposes a certain lineage from the time of Peter, I think this one argument is enough to settle the matter: for the first six centuries there was no ecumenical council called but what was called by an emperor never by a pope! The decisions of those councils were considered authoritative and nowhere in them was there the slightest or barest allusion to a pope. Why not? If there had been such, quite obviously there would have been acknowledgment of the same.
Why Peter Could Not Be A Pop
Now we have reached a vital juncture in our consideration. A pope has been appointed. The pope is supposed to be the successor of Peter; and yet, is it not strange that Peter in neither of his epistles recognized the eminence of that office? Rather he referred to himself as a servant, as an apostle, as a fellow-elder. Further, is it not strange as recorded in Acts 8, when it was desired to have men sent from Jerusalem to Samaria that they might lay hands on certain ones, that Peter and John were sent? Have you ever heard of a pope being sent anywhere? Can you, in the greatest stretch of your imagination, conceive of the present pope being sent on a mission by anyone? Does then Peter, being sent to Samaria, indicate the preeminence which is ordinarily attached to the office of pope?
Something more: in the council held in Jerusalem as recorded in the fifteenth chapter of Acts, was it not James, if any one at all, who presided? Was it not James who handed down the finality of the decision? Did not Paul say, “For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.” Does not Paul in the Galatian letter tell of withstanding Peter to his face, because he stood condemned? Peter associated with the Gentiles in Antioch before the coming of the Jewish brethren, but when they came, Peter withdrew himself from the Gentiles. Paul condemned Peter because he would have Gentiles live as did the Jews. Does that indicate the preeminence of Peter? You have heard it said that the Catholic Church never changes. Peter had a wife, as shown in Matthew 8:14. The Catholic Church would have you think he was the first pope. Can his successor take a wife? Peter being right, the Catholic Church is wrong. He was certainly not in harmony with it.
Too Many Popes
Let us consider just for a moment this matter of papal lineage. Did you know that, after the papacy was introduced, there was a period of seventy years in which there was no pope at all? Did you know that for another period of fifty years there were two lines of popes? Did you know that at one time there were three popes? They were Benedict XIII, Gregory XII, the French pope, and John XXIII, the Italian pope. Where does all this leave papal lineage and infallibility?
The Pope: Ruler Of The World
When the pope is declared to be the pope, on his head is placed a three-tiered tiara, or triple crown, which means, according to Romanism, that he is the father of kings and princes, ruler of the world and vicar of Jesus Christ. The Prompta Bibliotheca, an official Roman Catholic almanac published by the press of Propaganda Fide in Rome, in its article under the heading of “Papa” states: “The Pope is of so great dignity and so exalted that he is not a mere man, but, as it were, God, and the Vicar of Christ. The Pope is of such lofty dignity that, properly speaking, he has not been established in any rank of dignity, but rather has been placed upon the very summit of all ranks of dignities. He is likewise the Divine Monarch and Supreme Emperor, the King of Kings. The Pope is of so great authority that he can modify, explain or interpret even divine law.” Pope Gregory said, “The Pope is the representative of God on earth; he should then govern the world. To him alone pertain infallibility and universality; all men are submitted to his laws, and he can only be judged by God; he ought to wear imperial ornaments; people and kings should kiss his feet; Christians are irrevocably submitted to his orders; they should murder their princes, fathers and children, if he command it; no council can be declared universal without the orders of the Pope; no book can be received as canonical without his authority; finally, no good or evil exists but in what he has condemned or approved.” Now, my friends, I ask: “Is there, or has there ever been, in all professed Christendom, a parallel to the foregoing in arrogancy and presumption?”
To be continued in #2B….