What Part do you think that the Roman Catholic Church plays in the Bible?'

'What do you think of all the fanfare on the death of Pope? What part do you think that the Roman Catholic Church plays in the Bible?'

That is quite a difficult question to answer. Regarding the deceased pope, first of all he has to be admired, of course, for having the courage to speak out against abortion when so few other Christian leaders have done so; also his opposition to homosexuality, in the midst of western liberalism, was admirable.

Yet, doctrinally, as we know, the Roman Catholic Church is very compromised and they have not maintained the Apostolic Succession system which - according to their own teachings - is supposedly of such great importance. In other words, they were not all ordained by the laying on of hands of their predecessors in their own prescribed way (in earlier centuries some even bought the office of 'pope' for money!). Neither do they uphold the 'faith of our fathers' in any kind of pure sense since they claim that their own church traditions are of equal importance to Scripture (they believe that this authority was handed to Peter – Matthew 16:18-19; Matthew 18:18-20 - whom they insist on seeing as 'the first pope'). This, of course, has traditionally been a big problem for Protestants who traditionally have taken the 'Sola Scriptura' (Scripture alone) approach.

Catholicism's errors are very serious, and yet, I see errors over huge swathes of Christianity, quite apart from Roman Catholicism. The Liberal Protestantism of the 19th century, for instance, did huge harm to large areas of formerly Bible-believing Christianity and the major denominations have never quite recovered from that onslaught in which ministers were trained in colleges and seminaries which had substituted the true gospel for another message which was about Jesus but considered Him only to be a great and inspiring leader but which rejected the vital doctrine of substitionary atonement(that is, that Jesus died upon the cross for our sins, and if He had not done so, we could never have been reconciled to God).

All one can say is that - through all the confusion - the Lord knows His own and He has founded and established His Church made up of people who walk in faith in Jesus and are led by the Spirit - they are surely to be found scattered throughout various Christian groupings. The True Church is a Spiritual Bodynot any instituition or organisation of men (John 4:23-24; John 18:36), sadly a few never seem to grasp this and spend year after desperate year looking for the perfect church organisation – there is no such thing!!

The members of Christ's Body are necessarily Bible-believing people yet I have little doubt that there will be doctrinal differences between them. Although in the New Testament believers are certainly encouraged to hold on to sound doctrinal teachings (Acts 17:11; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Peter 3:18; Jude 3-4), those Scriptures which speak of the saved and redeemed rarely seem to speak of correct doctrines, but seem to show that those who continually look to Christ and His kingdom in complete faith whilst manifesting the love of God in their lives are the Lord's people (notice the whole of Matthew 25, for instance, just about every parable, and also Galatians 5:13-25; Revelation 7:9-14; Revelation 14:4-5.
Robin Brace. Easter, 2005.