I wish that I could tell you that this latest incident was the first time that Rick Warren had espoused something that was unscriptural. Once would be bad enough, but sadly this isn’t the first time that Mr. Warren has “stepped in it” with his false teaching and judging by his past track record, and it probably won’t be the last. Both he and Joel Osteen have fooled thousands of well-meaning folks over the last decade (more on that in a future post), and now Warren has issued an Ecumenical call to fast and pray for the Cardinals who are seeking a new Pope.
If you don’t have Twitter you probably missed it. Yesterday Warren sent out the following call to his over 900,000 followers on Twitter: “Join me today in fasting and prayer for the 115 Cardinals seeking God’s Will in a new leader.” Since posting the Tweet, which was re-Tweeted over 170 times as I write this, and favorited over 80 times, his comment has understandably been met with criticism. “Mr. Warren, what would the point be?” asked an African follower on Twitter. “Let’s pray for the heretics [to] tone down on their heresy?”
A FORMER CATHOLIC SPEAKS OUT
Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries of Dallas, said that he was particularly disappointed in Warren’s comments. “I’m very concerned because what this does is it confuses the average evangelical,” he said. “Right now, the Body of Christ doesn’t know whether to evangelize Roman Catholics or to join hands with them to go out and evangelize the world. [And] it’s because of people like Rick Warren who either don’t know how exclusive the Gospel of grace is, or he’s not aware of the false and fatal Gospel of the Roman Catholic religion.”
Mr. Gendron, a former Roman Catholic, stated that Warren’s Tweet is harmful in two ways. “Rick Warren is doing a disservice to the Roman Catholic Church because he is putting the Gospel off limits to the Body of Christ for evangelizing Roman Catholics,” he explained. “And so, if they don’t hear the Gospel, they have no hope in ever being saved. Ultimately, it’s a real tragedy,” he said before delving into his second point. “It’s unfortunate because we have a ministry that is dedicated to equipping and encouraging the Body of Christ to reach out to Roman Catholics, and it’s because of people like Rick Warren and other highly visible evangelicals that are signing unity accords with Roman Catholics … that we are getting friendly fire from the evangelical Church.”
My friends, Mr. Gendron is spot on!
THE FALLACY OF THE PAPACY
How tragic that so many evangelicals are wrongfully being led to believe that Roman Catholicism is a valid expression of Christianity. Furthermore it is flat out unBiblical for Warren to assert that it is “God’s will” that there be a pope in the first place. It goes against the Bible. It goes against Scriptural authority. In Matthew, Jesus said [not to] be like the Gentiles, which have a hierarchical structure to rule over people. And when you look at the Bible, the authority is Christ and His Word.
Every evangelical church is to submit to the authority of Christ and His Word, and the leadership of each church is made up of deacons and elders. In fact, Peter, who Catholics believe to be the first pope, declared himself to be a fellow elder. He never once referred to himself as the head of the church, nor did he ever in Scripture have the authority to rule over anybody. He submitted to the Scriptures.
THE VICAR OF CHRIST – A HOAX
No! I’m sorry but we don’t need to ‘pray and fast’ for the 113 cardinals seeking God’s will for a new leader? Why? Because we already have a leader and His Name is Jesus. No one, I repeat NO ONE should be fasting and praying for the man who Catholics consider to be the “Vicar of Christ“. The term “vicar” comes from the Latin word “vicarious” which means “instead of.” In the Catholic Church, the vicar is the representative of a higher-ranking official, with all of the same authority and power that that official has. Calling the pope the “Vicar of Christ” implies that he has the same power and authority that Christ had over the church.
That is blasphemy!
Hebrews 7:23-25 says that the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but Jesus holds his priesthood permanently, because He continues forever. Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him. This means that Jesus is our high priest forever.
Since Jesus is “holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, [and] exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26), He is unlike other priests in that He “does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once and for all when He offered Himself” (Hebrews 7:27).
The Bible says of Jesus that there is no other name by which men can be saved (Acts 4:12). There is only one mediator between God and men, and that is Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). We can now see that there is no biblical foundation for claiming to be a representative of Christ on earth. No man could do what Christ has done, or what Christ is now doing on behalf of humankind.
But the title of “vicar” also carries with it another implication: the bearer has the same jurisdictional power of the official he represents. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus Christ is the one who says that He will build His church. He never delegates this power. By claiming the title of Vicar of Christ, the reigning pope is, in fact, promising to do what Christ promised.
CHRIST’S ONLY VICAR – THE HOLY SPIRIT
Jesus does indeed predict a “vicar” in the sense of a “replacement” for His physical presence here on earth. However, this “vicar of Christ” is not a priest, high priest, bishop, or pope. The only biblical “Vicar of Christ” is the Holy Spirit. John 14:26 declares,
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my
name, will teach you all things and will remind you of
everything I have said to you.”
John 14:16-18 proclaims,
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be
with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him,
because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him,
for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you
as orphans; I will come to you.”
The Holy Spirit is Christ’s “replacement” on the earth. The Holy Spirit is our Counselor, Teacher (John 14:26), and guide into all truth (John 16:13).
In claiming that the pope is the “Vicar of Christ,” the Catholic Church rejects the sufficiency and supremacy of Christ’s priesthood, and grants to the pope roles that Christ Himself declared would belong to the Holy Spirit. It is therefore blasphemy to bestow upon the pope the title of “Vicar of Christ.”
A CHALLENGE TO WARREN AND HIS FOLLOWERS
Nearly twelve hours after releasing his call to prayer and fasting for the pope selection, Warren posted an obscure message on Twitter, declaring, “Not everything that is different is demonic. Learn to appreciate differences. Obviously God loves variety!” It is unknown as to whether this message from Warren related to his previous post.
I suggest that those who follow the teaching of Mr. Warren, WAKE UP and start reading the Bible for themselves. Notice that I said READ and not watch on television. A good place to start might be 2 Peter 3:16,
“as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are
some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable
people twist to their own destruction, as they do also
the rest of the Scriptures.”
And Acts 20:30,
“Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things,
to draw away the disciples after themselves.”
I would encourage Christians to [reach out to] Roman Catholics and point them to the true head of the Church — the Lord Jesus Christ. Catholics must repent of everything they’re doing to save themselves, and put all of their hope and all of their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is sufficient to save sinners completely and forever.