Seeing Romanism as It Really Is
One more thought on the Manhattan Declaration . . . well maybe not. Anyway, I am traveling in Europe, just completing a teaching stint in Romania. One thing about Europe, you can see Roman Catholicism up close and personal. It’s everywhere and prominent, especially in the parts of Europe I am traveling. The second week of December, before I went into Romania, my Romanian host drove my wife and I to Vienna and Salzburg. Austria is a beautiful country but one which was left virtually untouched by the Reformation since it was held tightly in the grip of Rome. A case in point is Salzburg Castle, a.k.a. Festung Hohensalzburg. The castle was the home of the Prince Archbishop from the 11th century to the early 19th century. Each of the various archbishops served not only as the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the region but also as the sovereign of the city of Salzburg. They lived more like kings than servants of the Most High God. The castle was never taken in battle, but it was surrendered to Napoleon about 1810. During the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), the castle helped to keep Protestantism out of Austria. The castle comes complete with a dungeon and torture room (doesn’t every church parsonage have one?) both of which were used by various archbishops against their enemies. It is an imposing castle that sits atop the hill overlooking old Salzburg and was a constant reminder of the power of the church over the people of the city.
A second place we visited in Austria was the Benedictine Monastery at Melk. One of Austria’s national treasures, it dates to the 11th century also. Today it is home to 30 Benedictine monks and to an impressive library of 100, 000 r
are books. But walking in the church at the Abbey, one is taken back by the gilded accoutrements of worship.
Here one can see Roman Catholicism as it really is—a religion devoid of the biblical gospel with a works-based faith.
Add to these more prominent spectacles the numerous Roman Catholic churches large and small that dot the European landscape, all of which promote a theology devoid of the biblical gospel and one in which justification by faith alone is still anathema (see the 6th Session to the Council of Trent which has never been repudiated), and one wonders what is it about the Church of Rome that makes her a worthy partner in anything?
Nothing has changed in Romanism since the Reformation, and professing Christians who feel compelled to join with her as co-belligerents in anything do nothing but undermine the clarity of their own gospel witness. How sad it is to see many parts of Europe still held in Rome’s grip while American evangelicals make common cause with some of Rome’s many ambassadors. Would to God that Martin Luther still lived and could lift again his thunderous voice against such compromise of the truth!