A Question I Was Asked:

Did the Roman Catholic Church Have Its "Candlestick" Removed a Long Time Ago?

How about the argument that the Catholic Church was once the true Church but no longer is? The idea seems to be that when it went off into excessive superstition, idols, the veneration of Mary etc., ...and started to almost worship the bishop of Rome the Lord washed His hands of them. It now only exists as a relic of the past and God may still use it for people of weaker understanding and of an incredulous disposition until they grow into a deeper understanding. I remember that you once wrote something almost the same. Where do you stand on this? Did our Lord remove His "candlestick" from them a long time ago?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, yes, it's a very interesting argument. The messages to the churches can be found in Revelation 1-3. These were actual churches which existed in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) at the time of the Apostles and, whilst none of us can say for certain, it is not impossible that what - much later - became known as the 'Catholic Church' had some of its roots in one or more of those congregations!

For myself, I do indeed tend to see Roman Catholicism as a relic of the past; something that was once effective as an instrument for the Gospel, but no longer is because of countless compromises and doctrinal errors which have been accepted including a desire for world rulership before God's appointed time. They seem to have gone for glory and influence in the present world rather than in the world to come. They only seem able to think of "church" as a grand physical and administrative edifice, not as a spiritual building.

With regard to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, whilst this too is a form of Catholicism, here I am far less critical. Yes, they too have accepted compromises and errors but they seem to have been faithful in other areas, including a refusal to be ruled by the bishop of Rome. But it seems to me that their proselytization efforts (spreading the Gospel to others) have often been very weak.

So is it actually possible that this denomination was once part, or even all, of the true Church but later had its, or their "candlestick" removed? I do not entirely rule out this argument. One day we will know. Certainly "the church fathers" referred to the original church as 'catholic,' however, this simply meant 'universal' to separate them from heretics. But by about 600 AD serious compromises were entering the church which was based at Rome as they aggressively sought leadership not only over all church congregations, but even over all nations! By about 1200 the Church of Rome (under the unfortunately named pope Innocent III) was at the very height of its powers which it used to persecute, abuse and terrorize. Even kings had to bow before it. By this time, it was, of course, nothing to do with the church which Jesus had founded; it was a fully political and administrative animal and sought to control the masses. As I say, one day we will know.

Robin A. Brace. January 1st, 2016.