Baptist Churches In All Ages

Chapter 1



Catholicism was not born in a day. It came as the result of a growth, a development.

In order to understand the origin of Catholicism it is necessary to know something of the state of the religious world when Jesus established his church. Two mighty religious systems prevailed, Judaism and Paganism. Judaism was the religion of the Jews and it was strong on salvation by ceremonies. Paganism was the religion of the Gentiles (nations) and was known for its many ceremonies and many gods.

William Jones in The History of The Christian Church (1882 edition) devotes the first chapter of the book to the state of the world in general at the birth of Christ In discussing the religions of the nations he says:

The minds of the people inhabiting these various countries, were fettered with superstitions of the most degrading nature. Though the sense of a Supreme Being, from whom all things had their origin, and whose decrees regulate the universe, had not wholly become extinct; yet in every nation a general belief prevailed, that all things were subordinate to an association of powerful spirits, who were called gods, and whom it was incumbent on every one, who wished for a happy and prosperous course of life, to worship and conciliate.

He further adds:

The principal deities of most nations consisted of heroes renowned in antiquity, emperors, kings, founders of cities, and other illustrious persons, whose eminent exploits, and the benefits they had conferred on mankind, were treasured up and embalmed in the breasts of posterity, by whose gratitude they were crowned with divine honours and raised to the ranks of gods.


Paganism is polytheistic (many gods). Every nation did not worship the same gods but each bad its own deities differing in names and in nature. Each nation had its multiplicity of gods—the Greeks swelling the number to 30,000!

Concerning their places of worship Mr. Jones writes:

Buildings of the most superb and magnificent kind, under the names of temples, fanes, etc., were raised and dedicated by the people of almost every country to their gods, with the expectation that the divinities would condescend to make these sumptuous edifices the places of their own immediate residence. They were not all open to the public, for some of them were confined to the exercises of private devotion; but those of either description were internally ornamented with images of their deities, and furnished with altars and the requisite apparatus for offering sacrifices.

In a further description of the superstitious worship of the Greeks and Romans Mr. Jones points out:

Those who served at the altar were required to prepare themselves, by abstaining even from lawful pleasures for one or more preceding days; and all who entered the temples, on the occasion, dipped their hands into consecrated water.


It is believed that a short discussion of Judaism would be profitable in helping to understand the growth and development of Catholicism because the Catholic Church did take some of Judaism to form her ungodly system.

The Jews had many blessings above all other nations. In enumerating these many special privileges the Apostle Paul lays the principal stress upon their being favored with a divine revelation, the oracles of God, to guide them to present and everlasting happiness. But with the many incalculable advantages, their religion at the time of Christ was not much superior to the religion of the Gentiles. It is true they recognized only one God, but theirs was a religion primarily of ceremonies with a lacking of moral restraint.

Mr. Jones in his portrayal of the religious world at the time of Christ gives clear testimony concerning the Jewish religion.

The nature of the Jewish religion may be collected from the books of the Old Testament; but at the time of Christ’s appearance, it had lost much of its original beauty and excellence, and was corrupted by errors of the most flagrant kind, that had crept in from various sources. The public worship of God was indeed still continued in the temple of Jerusalem, with all the rites of the Mosaic institution; and their festivals never failed to draw together an immense concourse of people at the stated seasons; nor did the Romans ever interfere to prevent those observances. In domestic life also, the ordinances of the law were in general punctually attended to; but it is manifest, from the evidence adduced by various learned men, that even in the service of the temple itself, numerous ceremonies arid observances, drawn from the religious worship of heathen nations, had been introduced and blended with those of divine institution; and that in addition to superstitions like these of a public nature, many erroneous principles, probably brought from Babylon and Chaldea, by the ancestors of the people at their return from captivity, or adopted by the inconsiderate multitude, in conformity to the examples of their neighbors the Greeks, the Syrians, and the Egyptians, were cherished and acted on in private.

It was into a world permeated by Paganism and Judaism that Jesus came and established his church. As a tiny island is surrounded by the waters of an ocean so the first church was surrounded by the mighty forces of these two religious systems.

The rising tide of Paganism began early to seep into many of the churches. Even during the third century much of the religion of the times was little more than a compound of Paganism and Judaism with a slight seasoning of Christianity.

Early Errors

Christ never promised infallibility to his churches. The Saviour never promised to his churches their absolute preservation from error. Divine revelation (the Bible) was given to guide them, but congregations as such could turn from truth and go into error. The loss and responsibility would be theirs. Even in the first century there was some defection from the truth as evidenced by the Epistles.

From the second to the fourth century we find a rapid departure - from the truth. Many of the churches turned from a congregational rule to that of preacher rule. Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire wanted the powers of Christianity and (in name, at least) he became a Christian. Under his rulership many of the churches were united with the state in. 313 A. I). and a hierarchy was born. Thus a development was started which climaxed iu the rule of the first universal pope, Boniface III, in 606. Popery is the result of a long, drawn-out development. There was no super organization to rule over the churches in the first century.

Mosheim, Vol. I, page 92, says:

The churches in those Ancient times, were entirely independent; none of them subject to any foreign jurisdiction, but each governed by its own rules and its own laws. For though the churches founded by the apostles had their deference shown them, that they were consulted in different and doubtful cases; yet they had no judicial authority, no sort of supremacy over the others, nor the least right to enact laws for them. Nothing, on the contrary, is more evident than the perfect equality that reigned among the primitive churches.

The Catholic Church A Development

It is the unanimous testimony of secular historians that the Catholic Church came as a development. In history textbooks the term Church is used to refer to the Catholic Church. Those dissenting were simply labeled heretics. One of the textbooks this writer studied in college is An Introduction to Medieval Europe by James Wesfall Thompson and Edgar Nathaniel Johnson. (W. W. Norton and Company Inc. Publishers, New York). On page 46 the writers deal with the organization of the Church:

To ward off the danger of dissolving into small warring sects, to assist in the battle against classical paganism, to protect itself in the face of official hostility and popular suspicion, to give succor to his followers in their isolation from the body of Roman society, to care for its poor, to instruct its neophytes and to administer its services, Christianity had perforce to perfect an organization. This it did with speed and skill, under the influence to some extent of the Jewish synagogue and pagan religious associations, but mostly under the influence of the political organization of the Roman state. . .

The magnificent conception of a catholic church bound together in one organization, one faith, one ritual could hardly have been realized by imagination alone, without the aid of time and circumstances.

History testifies that it took "time and circumstances" to build the Catholic Church, and it is easy to see that it was not built according to the Divine pattern, but according to man’s wisdom. It was under the influence of the pagan mystery cults that the wide breach between the laity and the clergy was established. The development of a hierarchy within the ranks of the bishops was accomplished mainly during the fourth and fifth century. So great was this organization that some historians say that the "Church supplanted Christianity."

Along with the growth and development of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church came other errors. With a people steeped in Paganism it would naturally follow that since the Bible had much to say about baptism that this ordinance would soon be given the magical powers of washing away sins. Following on the heels of this error and growing out of it was infant baptism. It is not hard to understand how or why these errors came because by the early part of the fourth century the bishops were having their councils to determine what is orthodox. These churches under the dominion of bishops became legislative bodies. Tradition took precedence over the Bible. From there on many doctrines would be determined, not by Divine revelation, but by the bishops or by the popular appeal of the people.

The Secret of Growth

The Catholic Church, highly organized, moved forward to plant churches and propagate her doctrines in many lands. Relentlessly she moved forward from victory to victory. What was the secret of her rapid growth? The answer is simple. She conquered by consuming the religions about her.

In a college textbook, An Introduction to Medieval Europe by Thompson and Johnson, page 33, the writers explain the survival of Paganism.

Paganism as a distinct and separate religion may perhaps be said to have died, although, driven out of the cities, it found refuge in the countryside, where it lingered long—and whence, indeed, its very name is derived.

In a very real sense, however, it never died at all. It was only transformed and absorbed into Christianity. It is this transformation, and the absorption of classical culture in its various manifestations into the very substance of Christianity which, perhaps more than anything else, explains why after its toleration Christianity swept on with such relentless force to become the undisputed- heir of the whole complex of Mediterranean civilization.

Commenting further on the absorbing qualities of the Church these same writers say:

The competing oriental mystery cults Christianity overcame by becoming itself an oriental mystery cult.

In like manner Christianity overcame Graeco-Roman polytheism by itself becoming in some degree polytheistic. Its polytheism consisted in devotion to its martyrs and its ascetic heroes as saints . . . Local Christian saints became endowed with the powers of local pagan gods. The aches and pains, the fears and hopes, that had formerly been cured or assuaged or satisfied by pagan gods were now taken care of by their Christian substitutes, whose special days of worship in some cases can be clearly shown to have been the days dedicated to their pagan predecessors. In some instances the Christian saints inherited the very temples of their predecessors.

An Example

In the year 597 Gregory the Great sent Austin as a missionary to Britain to convert the Saxons to Catholicism. Austin was instructed not to make any radical changes hi the worship of the people. He was to offer them very liberal terms if they would but submit to baptism. History of Baptists, Vol. 1, page 1179, by John T. Christian (Baptist Sunday School Committee, Texarkana, Ark.-Texas) has this to say about this mission venture:

He was not to destroy the heathen temples; only to remove the images of their gods, to wash the walls with holy water, to erect altars and deposit relics in them, and so to convert them into Christian churches; not merely to save the expense of new ones, but that the people might easily be prevailed upon to frequent those places of worship to which they had been accustomed. Gregory directed him further to accommodate the services of the Christian worship, as much as possible, to those of the heathen, that the people might not be startled at the change; and particular, he advised him to allow the Christian converts, on certain festivals, to kill and eat a great number of oxen to the glory of God, as they had formerly done to the glory of the devil.

Secular history in a startling statement sums up much of which has already been said:

The most striking feature of medieval Europe was that there was but one religious explanation available, from which no serious deviation was tolerated. That religion we call Christianity, but we must never forget how obstinately classical and barbarian paganism survived, and how many of its elements were incorporated into the new cult. If by Christianity we mean the teachings of Christ and nothing else, we are almost bound to call the new religion paganized Christianity—if it was not, as some have claimed, rather Christianized paganism.

(An Introduction to Medieval Europe by Thompson and Johnson, p. 674)

Pagan Doctrines and Practices

It is very evident that many of the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church are Pagan in their origin.

Mariolatry was established as a doctrine of the Catholic Church at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Under the influence of Paganism it was felt that another mediator was needed. The Bible says there is but one mediator and he is specifically named. "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man, Christ Jesus." (1 Tim. 2:5) Not only was Mary added as the chief mediator but there followed a multitude of other mediators in the form of Patron saints.

Pilgrimages and the veneration of relics was borrowed from Paganism. In the fourth century Saint Helena, mother of Constantine and empress of the Roman Empire, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem where she is supposed to have found fragments of the true cross on which Christ was crucified. By the sixth century the belief in relics and their power to work miracles was widespread. Today relics form a vital part of the Catholic religion. The silence of the Scriptures and the testimony of historians make it evident that the veneration of relics came from Paganism and not from God.

The Rosary which is so dear to Catholics in their prayers is of very ancient origin. It is almost universal among all the pagan nations. Reference is made to it in Hindu sacred books. The Brahmins of Hindustan have long employed the rosary. It is a common thing among the adherents of the Buddhist faith. It is pagan in its origin and use. The Bible does not in the least way infer the need of a rosary to aid us in our prayer to God.

The doctrine of Purgatory is pagan in its origin. The Roman poet Virgil (70 B. C. - 19 B. C.) wrote of purgatory showing the pagans believed in it long before the Catholic Church taught it. If purgatory were Christian it could be found in the Bible.

Transubstantiation, which did not become a doctrine of the Catholic Church until the 13th century, is pagan. This Romish doctrine means that the bread and wine when blessed by the priest becomes the actual flesh and blood of Christ. The writer has witnessed a midnight mass (Mass is the center of Catholic worship) and the whole service was reeking with Paganism and Judaism. Many may say it is a beautiful service but to others it is a reminder of the pagan sacrifices and of the pagan mystery cults. If the doctrine of transubstantiation were Christian why did not the churches teach it in the first centuries?

The sign of the cross so frequently made by devout Catholics does not come from Christianity but from the Pagans. Actually the same sign now used by the adherents of Rome was used in the Babylonian Mysteries before Christ was ever crucified!

The infallibility of the pope which was not declared until 1870 could not be a Christian doctrine. Many historians believe that the idea for the powers of the pope with the College of Cardinals came from the Pagan College of Pontiff s with its Sovereign Pontiff which had no doubt been in Rome from the earliest times and must have been framed on the order of the original Council of Pontiff s at Babylon. The infallibility of the pope really sounds pagan when one observes that at one tune there were three popes, Urban VI, Clement VII, and Alexander V!

The way of salvation as taught by the Catholic Church is pagan. It is a way of salvation by works. There is not another church in the world so dedicated to teaching salvation by good works as the church of Rome. It is pagan. Salvation is by grace through faith. Eph. 2:8, 9 (Catholic translation)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not from yourselves, for it is the gift of God; not as the outcome of works lest anyone may boast.

More Pagan Than Christian

Tested by the Scriptures and by history the Catholic Church is proven to be more pagan than Christian. That which could be called Christian in this institution is but a thin veneer over the ancient temple of Paganism and’. Judaism.

Samuel Morland wrote a history of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piemont in the year 1658. In his introduction he writes of the antiquity of the Catholic Church.

The truth is, I deny not but they may challenge some sort of antiquity for their religion, and that a great part of their traditions have been a long-time practiced in the world, whereby they have beguiled many millions of poor souls: which I cannot better express than by that subtilty of the Gibeonites, who when they had designed to betray the men of Israel, and to make them believe that they came from a very far country, they did work wilily, and made as if they had been ambassadors, and they took old sacks upon their asses, and wine-bottles old and rent, and bound up, and old shoes clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them, and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy; and in this posture, they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, ‘We be come from a far country, now therefore make ye a league with us.’ So say I, these Gibeonitish Catholics have taken the old sacks of Jewish ceremonies, and the old clouted shoes of Paganism, together with the dry and mouldy bread of the Arian Heresy, whereof they have made a medley of religion; and now to the end that they may daily gain more and more proselytes, they pretend with confidence, yea and would fain make us believe, that these traditions are derived from Christ and his Apostles, whereas the contrary is as clear as the noon-day.

The Pagan Religion marched into the Christian Era, halted momentarily to change her outer garments, and then marched on under the guise of Christianity. It has been said, "clothes do not make a man" and being dressed like Christianity does not make Catholicism the true Church. Multitudes have come into her fold thinking they have embraced the religion of Christ. What a tragedy! True Christianity is found in the teachings of the Bible and not in the tradition of a church pregnant with Paganism which will eventually give birth to the rule of the Antichrist. Salvation is in the Christ of the Bible.

"Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12).