Martin Luther is remembered and widely honored today in much of
the world—certainly throughout the West.
The recent movie about his life was a Hollywood success that
attracted large secular audiences in spite of its religious content.
Luther stood up courageously against the false doctrines of the
Roman Catholic Church despite Pope Leo X's determination to arrest and burn him
alive at the stake.
He had been disillusioned while visiting the Vatican and seeing
the hypocrisy and open immorality among the clergy from priest to pope.
The final straw was Rome's selling of indulgences for
supposedly releasing one's dead relatives from purgatory to enter heaven. The
infamous sales pitch that raised millions of dollars promised, "As soon as
a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs."
The proceeds from this shameless scam paid for repairing and
enlarging St. Peter's Basilica. That awesome structure stands today as a
monument to the false gospel that Church still regularly preaches!
Disillusioned and furious, Luther wrote his Disputation on the
Power and Efficacy of Indulgences (known as "The Ninety-five Theses")
and nailed it to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church.
Copies were widely distributed in several European languages,
shaking Europe, inciting heated debate, sparking the Reformation, and the
exodus of millions from the Roman Catholic Church—and hopefully bringing
salvation to many of them.
Although Luther retained some of his Catholicism, his bold
declaration before the Imperial Diet at Worms (in stark contrast to the
attitude of so many Christians today) has inspired millions:
"I am bound by the Scriptures... and my conscience is
captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not retract anything... Here I
stand; may God help me."
That he really meant what he said is proved by the fact that it
should have cost him his life had not some powerful German princes taken up his
cause and protected him in protest against Rome—an event from which we get the
Desperate to maintain the Church's totalitarian authority,
Catholic bishops and cardinals launched a counter-Reformation defining Church
doctrines and demanding obedience thereto at the Council of Trent (1545‑1563).
Its Canons and Decrees (see below) denounced the sole authority
of Scripture affirmed by Luther, denied salvation by faith in Christ without Church
sacraments and good works, and basically rejected everything the Reformers asked
the Church to accept in submission to God's Word.
The Council of Trent pronounced more than 100 anathemas
(excommunications or damnations) against all who accepted any Reformation
It was costly to stand for the truth of God's Word in those
days, and many thousands would not compromise their convictions in spite of
torture and death.
We are in great need of a revival of such unwavering conviction
today. It will not come, however, without an awakening of an individual hunger
and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6) and deep passion for our Lord and
for His Word.
Sadly, the truth of God is not only neglected and compromised today,
but is actually undermined by many whom millions of Christians look up to as
Tragically, multitudes are being prepared to follow the great
delusionthat will befall those who "received not the love of the truth,
that they might be saved" (2 Thessalonians 2:8‑12).
Is the fifteenth-century Reformation and Rome's opposition to
it at that time merely interesting history with little relationship to the
church and world today? Hardly!
The battle continues and has reached a far deadlier phase. A
growing delusion has deceived multitudes into embracing ecumenical compromise
while imagining that they are still on the Lord's side.
In 1962, at the opening of Vatican II in Rome, Pope John XXIII
affirmed, "I do accept entirely all that has been decided and declared at
the Council of Trent." Vatican II itself "proposes again the decrees
of the Council of Trent." On December 13, 1995, honoring the 450th
anniversary of the opening of Trent, Pope John Paul II declared, "Its
conclusions maintain all their value."
Regardless of what a Catholic friend, a liberal priest, or a
professor at a Catholic university may say, Trent remains the official teaching
of Rome and has been reconfirmed many times since by the highest Church
Below are only a few of Trent's anathemas, all of which were
renewed by Vatican II, The Code of Canon Law, and the current Catechism of the
Catholic Church, and which remain today as the official teaching of Roman
Catholicism, sustaining the inflexible dogmas of that "infallible"
Church, regardless of statements by anyone to the contrary.
A Few of the Roman Catholic Trent Curses
None of the following have biblical support.
If anyone denies that by... baptism, the guilt of original sin
is remitted, [or] denies that... [the] justice, sanctification, and redemption...
of Jesus Christ is applied both to adults and to infants by the sacrament of
baptism... let him be anathema.... (Rome's emphasis.)
If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law (i.e., the
seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church) are not necessary for salvation...
and that without them... men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of
justification... let him be anathema...
If anyone says that baptism is... not necessary for salvation,
let him be anathema...
If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of
justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so
blotted out... that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged
either in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can be opened,
let him be anathema...
If anyone says that the sacrifice of the mass... wherein that
life-giving victim by which we are reconciled to the Father is daily immolated
on the altar by priests... is a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated
on the cross but not a propitiatory one... offered for the living and the dead,
for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities, let him be anathema.
No bolder nor clearer rejection of the Bible and the gospel of
Jesus Christ could be declared!
This brief sample presents the actual teaching of Roman
Catholicism as it is taught to and practiced by hundreds of millions of
There is no disputing the fact that this is a false gospel,
which, sadly, holds Roman Catholics in bondage on their way to the flames—not
of a "purgatory" invented by popes, but to the eternal Lake of Fire.
How can those who profess to admire Luther and the Reformation
Given these indisputable facts, no evangelical should call
Roman Catholics born-again Christians.
But the shameful irony is that so many evangelical leaders and
their followers, while claiming to honor the Reformation and its gospel of
salvation by faith alone in Jesus Christ, at the same time close their eyes to
the truth and act as though the Reformation never occurred and as if Catholics
believe the biblical gospel.
Has it been forgotten that those who do not believe the gospel
of Jesus Christ by faith alone and not by works are eternally lost? Will their
endless doom be on our hands?
Shameful ironies abound. Although the Roman Catholic Church no
longer burns opponents at the stake (a practice now repugnant even to the
secular world), it still maintains every false teaching and practice opposed by
Luther and his fellow Reformers, thereby deceiving countless millions.
It still teaches salvation through baptism, good works, and
the other sacraments mediated by Mary as the "doorway to Christ"; it
still offers indulgences at a price for release from purgatory to heaven; and
it still rejects the final authority of Scripture!
Eroded dramatically are the teachings of the God-inspired New
Testament which was approved at the Roman Catholic Council of Hippo in 393 AD.