We must hasten
to examine our clues and leave family history behind.
Clue 9 deals with blasphemy. This clue is
mentioned in relation to the first beast on four occasions in chapter
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a
beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and
upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great
things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty
and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to
blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
(Revelation 13:5, 6)
These passages parallel the little horn of Daniel 7
which in verse 25 was to "speak great words against the most High."
What is blasphemy? The Jews fully understood it.
And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason,
saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins,
but God alone? (Luke 5:21)
The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we
stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man,
makest thyself God. (John 10:33)
Claiming to forgive sins and claiming to be God are
ultimate blasphemies. Of course the Jewish accusations against Christ
were invalid, for He was God. But with sinful man this is an
entirely different matter.
Does Rome fulfill this first criterion of blasphemy?
Does it claim the power to forgive sin?
Russell knows from personal experience that it does.
In December 1985, he visited Rome. Upon hearing that the Pope was
holding an audience, he inquired concerning his eligibility to attend.
He learned that one required an invitation from his local Roman Catholic
Bishop. That was a considerable impediment since Russell was thousands
of miles from his homeland and in any case, it was unlikely that the
local Bishop would issue such an invitation to a non-Catholic.
In search of an episcopal invitation, Russell entered
the area of Vatican offices upstairs and to the right of St. Peterís
Basilica as viewed from St. Peterís Square. Walking along an ill-lit
corridor he eventually found a door ajar. A man in clerical attire was
seated at a desk. He proved to be a friendly and obliging Bishop who
provided Russell with the appropriate invitation.
At the conclusion of the audience, at which between
200 and 300 were in attendance, the attendees were assured that because
of their attendance, all their sins had been absolved and that even the
sins of their loved ones back home had received absolution. Russell was
staggered. No mention of sorrow for sin or deep heart repentance was
But let us examine the words of Papal authorities. In
his book, The Dignity and Duties of the Priest, Alphonsus de
A priest in absolving a sinner, performs the very
office of the Holy Ghost in the sanctification of souls. (Benziger
Bros., New York, 1888, p. 36)
De Liguoriís words carry weight. He was the
eighteenth-century priest whose order of Redemptionist priests was given
Papal approval by Pope Benedict XIV in 1749. He was later canonized.
The Roman Catholic author, William Doyle, wrote,
The poor sinner kneels at his confessorís feet. He
knows that he is not speaking to an ordinary man, but to another
Christ. He hears the word, "I absolve thy sins" and the hidden load of
sin drops from his soul forever. (Shall I be a Priest?, pages
The Roman Catholic priest, Michael Meuller, in his
book, The Catholic Priest, wrote,
The priest does not only declare that the sinner is
forgiven, but he really forgives him. . . . So great is the power of
the priest, that the judgments of heaven itself are subject to his
decision. (Kreuzer Bros., 1876)
At the sixteenth century Roman Catholic Council of
Trent two canons, IX and X, touched on this matter.
IX. If anyone saith that the sacramental absolution
of the priest is not a judicial act . . . let him be anathema.
X. If anyone saith that priests . . . have not the
power of binding and loosing or that not priests, alone are ministers
of absolution, let him be anathema. (Dogmatic Canons and Decrees,
pages 118, 119)
The word anathema means cursed.
A recent publication of the Roman Catholic Church
purchased from a Catholic book store in 1990, contains a catechism
approved in 1921 by the Roman Catholic Archbishops and Bishops of
England and Wales. Article 111 of the catechism questions,
What do you mean by the forgiveness of sins?
I mean that Christ has left the power of
forgiving sins to the Pastors of His church. (John XX.23) (The
Complete Catholic Handbook for the Latter Days, Britons Catholic
Library, p. 22)
We would comment that the unrestricted application of
John 20:23 to priests and ministers does violence to the body of
Scripture. This passage states,
Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto
them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. (John 20:23)
Yet never once does Scripture reveal that any apostle
assumed the prerogative of Deity alone to forgive sins. When the Lord
taught people to pray to the Father, He taught them to beseech the
Father directly for forgiveness. (Matthew 6:12) Further we are informed,
For there is one God, and one mediator between God
and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)
My little children, these things write I unto you,
that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the
Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)
No man dare usurp Godís power to forgive the sins of
mankind, whether he be prelate, priest, pastor, saint or layman.
Does the Papacy claim to be God? Let the claims of
Popes and Catholic apologists speak to this question. Notice the words
of Pope Leo XIII (1878ó1903),
We hold upon earth the place of God on earth. (The
Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII, p. 304)
The same pope stated,
But the supreme teacher in the church is the Roman
Pontiff. Union of minds, therefore, requires, together with a perfect
accord in the one faith, complete submission and obedience of the will
to the Church and to the Roman Pontiff, as to God Himself. (Ibid.
Alphonsus de Liguori, a declared saint of the Roman
Catholic Church, stated,
Indeed it is not too much to say that in view of
the sublimity of their offices, the priests are so many gods. (op.
cit. p. 34)
Doctor F. Lucii Ferraris stated,
The Pope is of so great dignity and so exalted that
he is not a mere man, but as it were God, the vicar of God. . . .
Hence the Pope is crowned with a triple crown, as king of heaven and
of earth and of the lower regions. (Prompta Bibliotheca Canonica
Juridica Moralis Theologica, Volume 4, p. 48)
Dr. Ferraris also declared,
The Pope is as it were God on earth, sole sovereign
of the faithful of Christ, chief king of kings, having plentitude of
power, to whom has been entrusted by the omnipotent God direction not
only of the earthly but also of the heavenly kingdom. (Ibid.)
It is also claimed tható
The sentences which he [the Pope] gives are to be
forthwith ratified in heaven. (The Catholic Encyclopaedia, Vol.
12, p. 265)
A Catholic newspaper, The Catholic National,
July 1895, stated,
The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus
Christ but he is Jesus Christ himself hidden under the veil of flesh.
H. C. Lea reported, Studies in Church History,
In 1335 Bishop Alvarez Pelayo laid down the
doctrine that as Christ partook of the nature of God, so the Pope . .
. is not simply a man, but rather God on earth.
As recently as December, 2000 on the Vatican web-site
the Pope was described as "sweet Christ on earth" in an article
concerning the Secrets of Fatima.
In yet another area does the Roman Catholic Church
blaspheme; indeed, it even dares to exceed the acts of God. Christ had
life, original, unborrowed, underived. In the prophecy of Micah
concerning the incarnation of Christ, the prophet declared His eternity.
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little
among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto
me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of
old, from everlasting. (Micah 5:2)
Of Christ, Scripture declares,
All things were made by him; and without him was
not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3)
He is the Creator of all. Yet in the Mass the Roman
Catholic Church claims to create the One who was never created.
Once more we turn to the writing of the Roman
Catholic saint, Alphonsus de Liguori. He declared,
If the person of the Redeemer had not yet been in
the world, the priest by pronouncing the words of consecration would
produce this great person of a Man-God! "O wonderful dignity of the
priests," cries out St. Augustine, "in his hands, as in the womb of
the Blessed Virgin, the son of God becomes incarnate." Hence the
priests are called the parents of Jesus Christ. . . . Thus the priest
may, in a certain manner, be called the creator of his Creator. . . .
"He that created me without me, is Himself created by me!" (op.cit.
p. 32, 33)
The German author, Dr. Nicholas Gihr in his book,
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, 1877, published in English by B.
Herder Book Co., St. Louis and New York in 1939, and which edition bore
the imprimatur of Archbishop Glennon of St. Louis, asserted the
blasphemous notion that the mass was equally efficacious in the
sacrificial atonement as the death of Christ, Himself. Dr. Gihrís words
The Eucharistic sacrifice is to be considered in so
far as in it Jesus Christ offers Himself, that is, He is not only the
sacrificial gift, but also the most eminent sacrificer. In this
respect the Sacrifice of the Mass is not inferior in value to that of
the cross: both are equally infinite, equally beyond all estimation
and equally valuable. . . . The object offered on the altar . . . is
Christ Himself, His Body and Blood, His holy humanity.
God plainly declares of Christ,
By the which will we are sanctified through the
offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10)
Thus the Papacy in its ecclesiastical arm most assuredly meets the
criterion of blasphemy.