Letting Roman Catholics

Off the Hook




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In this document, Kevin Straub comments on the article at the following link:










“The article pasted down below (which you may want to look over and then come back up to my commentary) is from an independent journalistic Adventist publication begun in 1992 by a group at Loma Linda including the late Raymond Cottrell and others, which is representative of thinking that has been promoted by church leadership of varying rank for some time, now.  For example, we had that jaw-dropping report of “Uncle” Arthur S. Maxwell, then Editor of the Signs of the Times, who gave an eyewitness report on Vatican Council II in a sermon given at the University Church at Loma Linda, California. The title of his sermon, "The Outstretched Hand," reveals the tone of his message. In his discourse Maxwell disclosed the names of leading Seventh-day Adventists that had attended Vatican Council II.

First, the friendliness of the welcome. You see, I’ve been there several times, that is, to Rome. Always a sort of an iciness there, but not any more, not any more! And it was evident in so many ways. For instance, in the giving of these press passes, Brother Loewen was there from Religious Liberty, Brother Cottrell from the Review and Herald, Brother Beach was there from northern Europe, and I was there from the Signs, and provided you had a good reason for asking for a pass, you got it. If you were an editor or a correspondent for a real newspaper, they gave the pass, and they gave them to people of all faiths. Here, four Adventists got these passes. I thought you would like to see mine. It’s the only document I have which has the crossed keys and the triple crown on it. I have to be careful when I show this. I don’t want anybody to think I’m going over to the Church of Rome. But it is a very nice little pass, and it was very valuable. This little pass got me anywhere I wanted to go at the time of the council.

Then, another aspect of the friendliness-the way they arranged for the press of the world to have the best seats at the opening ceremony. I sat closer to the Pope than any of the cardinals. I was only forty feet away from him for three or four hours, and I had the clearest view, just as clear as some of you forty feet away. The reason I know he was forty feet away-I stepped it out after the service was over, because I thought, "Nobody will ever believe me, that I sat so long, so near to His Holiness." But I had a wonderful view, and I saw some most fascinating close-up views which I won’t tell you now, but I would tell some of you privately-some very, very interesting little human details, which you see only when you’re very close in. Arthur S. Maxwell, Editor, Signs of the Times, "The Outstretched Hand," A Sermon Report, given at the Loma Linda University Seventh-day Adventist Church, Loma Linda, California. (emphasis supplied).

Or how about then-GC President Neil Wilson, said under oath before the courts of men:

"Although it is true that there was a period in the life of the Seventh-day Adventist Church when the denomination took a distinctly anti-Roman Catholic viewpoint, and the term ‘hierarchy’ was used in a pejorative sense to refer to the papal form of church governance, that attitude on the church's part was nothing more than a manifestation of widespread anti-popery among conservative Protestant denominations in the early part of this century and the latter part of the last, and which has now been consigned to the historical trash heap so far as the Seventh-day Adventist Church is concerned." EEOC vs PPPA and GC, Civil Case #74-2025 CBR (1975).

So while the fondness for the papacy amongst some of the leading men is nothing new, it is worth highlighting as current, relevant, and ongoing fulfillment of the words of the prophet, to this now off-track movement, who in those earlier times said:


The Roman Church now presents a fair front to the world, covering with apologies her record of horrible cruelties. She has clothed herself in Christlike garments; but she is unchanged. Every principle of the papacy that existed in past ages exists today. The doctrines devised in the darkest ages are still held. Let none deceive themselves. The papacy that Protestants are now so ready to honor is the same that ruled the world in the days of the Reformation, when men of God stood up, at the peril of their lives, to expose her iniquity. She possesses the same pride and arrogant assumption that lorded it over kings and princes, and claimed the prerogatives of God. Her spirit is no less cruel and despotic now than when she crushed out human liberty and slew the saints of the Most High.  {GC 571.1} 

     The papacy is just what prophecy declared that she would be, the apostasy of the latter times. 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4. It is a part of her policy to assume the character which will best accomplish her purpose; but beneath the variable appearance of the chameleon she conceals the invariable venom of the serpent. "Faith ought not to be kept with heretics, nor persons suspected of heresy" (Lenfant, volume 1, page 516), she declares. Shall this power, whose record for a thousand years is written in the blood of the saints, be now acknowledged as a part of the church of Christ?  {GC 571.2} 

     It is not without reason that the claim has been put forth in Protestant countries that Catholicism differs less widely from Protestantism than in former times. There has been a change; but the change is not in the papacy. Catholicism indeed resembles much of the Protestantism that now exists, because Protestantism has so greatly degenerated since the days of the Reformers.  {GC 571.3} 

     As the Protestant churches have been seeking the favor of the world, false charity has blinded their eyes. They do not see but that it is right to believe good of all evil, and as the inevitable result they will finally believe evil of all good.

Instead of standing in defense of the faith once delivered to the saints, they are now, as it were, apologizing to Rome for their uncharitable opinion of her, begging pardon for their bigotry.  {GC 571.4}


Chapter XXXV - Character and Aims of the Papacy


     Romanism is now regarded by Protestants with far greater favor than in former years. In those countries where Catholicism is not in the ascendency, and the papists are taking a conciliatory course in order to gain influence, there is an increasing indifference concerning the doctrines that separate the reformed churches from the papal hierarchy; the opinion is gaining ground, that, after all, we do not differ so widely upon vital points as has been supposed, and that a little concession on our part will bring us into a better understanding with Rome. The time was when Protestants placed a high value upon the liberty of conscience which has been so dearly purchased. They taught their children to abhor popery, and held that to seek harmony with Rome would be disloyalty to God. But how widely different are the sentiments now expressed.  {GC88 563.1}

     The defenders of popery declare that the church has been maligned; and the Protestant world are inclined to accept the statement. Many urge that it is unjust to judge the church of today by the abominations and absurdities that marked her reign during the centuries of ignorance and darkness. They excuse her horrible cruelty as the result of the barbarism of the times, and plead that the influence of modern civilization has changed her sentiments.  {GC88 563.2}

     Have these persons forgotten the claim of infallibility put forth for eight hundred years by this haughty power? So far from being relinquished, this claim has been affirmed in the nineteenth century with greater positiveness than ever before. As Rome asserts that she “never erred, and never


can err,” how can she renounce the principles which governed her course in past ages?  {GC88 563.3}

     The papal church will never relinquish her claim to infallibility. All that she has done in her persecution of those who reject her dogmas, she holds to be right; and would she not repeat the same acts, should the opportunity be presented? Let the restraints now imposed by secular governments be removed, and Rome be re-instated in her former power, and there would speedily be a revival of her tyranny and persecution.  {GC88 564.1}

     A recent writer [JOSIAH STRONG, D.D., IN “OUR COUNTRY,” PP. 46-48.] speaks thus of the attitude of the papal hierarchy as regards freedom of conscience, and of the perils which especially threaten the United States from the success of her policy:—  {GC88 564.2}

     “There are many who are disposed to attribute any fear of Roman Catholicism in the United States to bigotry or childishness. Such see nothing in the character and attitude of Romanism that is hostile to our free institutions, or find nothing portentous in its growth. Let us, then, first compare some of the fundamental principles of our government with those of the Catholic Church.  {GC88 564.3}

     “The Constitution of the United States guarantees liberty of conscience. Nothing is dearer or more fundamental. Pope Pius IX., in his Encyclical Letter of August 15, 1854, said: ‘The absurd and erroneous doctrines or ravings in defense of liberty of conscience, are a most pestilential error—a pest, of all others, most to be dreaded in a State.’ The same pope, in his Encyclical Letter of December 8, 1864, anathematized ‘those who assert the liberty of conscience and of religious worship,’ also ‘all such as maintain that the church may not employ force.’  {GC88 564.4}

     “The pacific tone of Rome in the United States does not imply a change of heart. She is tolerant where she is helpless. Says Bishop O'Connor: ‘Religious liberty is merely endured until the opposite can be carried into effect without


peril to the Catholic world.’” “The archbishop of St. Louis once said: ‘Heresy and unbelief are crimes; and in Christian countries, as in Italy and Spain, for instance, where all the people are Catholics, and where the Catholic religion is an essential part of the law of the land, they are punished as other crimes.’”  {GC88 564.5}

     “Every cardinal, archbishop, and bishop in the Catholic Church takes an oath of allegiance to the pope, in which occur the following words: ‘Heretics, schismatics, and rebels to our said lord the pope, or his aforesaid successors, I will to my utmost persecute and oppose.’”  {GC88 565.1}

     It is true that there are real Christians in the Roman Catholic communion. Thousands in that church are serving God according to the best light they have. They are not allowed access to his Word, and therefore they do not discern the truth. They have never seen the contrast between a living heart-service and a round of mere forms and ceremonies. God looks with pitying tenderness upon these souls, educated as they are in a faith that is delusive and unsatisfying. He will cause rays of light to penetrate the dense darkness that surrounds them. He will reveal to them the truth, as it is in Jesus, and many will yet take their position with his people.  {GC88 565.2}

     But Romanism as a system is no more in harmony with the gospel of Christ now than at any former period in her history. The Protestant churches are in great darkness, or they would discern the signs of the times. The Roman Church is far-reaching in her plans and modes of operation. She is employing every device to extend her influence and increase her power in preparation for a fierce and determined conflict to regain control of the world, to re-establish persecution, and to undo all that Protestantism has done. Catholicism is gaining ground upon every side. [SEE APPENDIX, NOTE 10.] See the increasing number of her churches and chapels in Protestant countries. Look at the popularity of her colleges and


seminaries in America, so widely patronized by Protestants Look at the growth of ritualism in England, and the frequent defections to the ranks of the Catholics. These things should awaken the anxiety of all who prize the pure principles of the gospel.  {GC88 565.3}

     Protestants have tampered with and patronized popery; they have made compromises and concessions which papists themselves are surprised to see, and fail to understand. Men are closing their eyes to the real character of Romanism, and the dangers to be apprehended from her supremacy. The people need to be aroused to resist the advances of this most dangerous foe to civil and religious liberty.  {GC88 566.1}


While there is a lot of commentary that could be made on this piece, I will only take time to look at one other point.  Pastor Loren Siebold says:


“Ellen White expected Jesus to return long before this. We’re not sure why that hasn’t happened.”


If Loren knew about the 1888 message he wouldn’t be in the dark as to why Jesus hasn’t returned.  The prophet identified the message as the Loud Cry Message; that which would go with Latter Rain power:


This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel’s message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure.” TM 91,92


The leadership and people rose up against it, they rebelled and just like ancient Israel at the border of the Promised Land rose up against the prophet and two messengers, so also were there a prophet and two messengers in modern Israel who were spurned.  But Jesus told the prophet by personal appearance, that it wasn’t a rebellion against her but against Himself:


It is not you they are despising, but the messengers and the message I send to My people. They have shown contempt for the word of the Lord.”  {1888 1067.3}


“The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. TM 91,92


There are certain leaders in Adventism that have written and that teach that the church believes the 1888 message, that 1888 was a victory for the truth, etc., but this is not true.  The message has been spurned four times by the official church, the last time being in the year 2000.  It is the message that will bring about the close to the great controversy and hasten the return of our Saviour.  If that would be the effect, and if Jesus has not returned, then the message has not been heeded.  The denomination, I believe, is not going to ever repent; her day for that has come and gone a long time ago.  The call to hasten the return of Jesus by heeding the counsel to the Laodiceans is a call to individuals.  “If any man will hear my voice,” says the Lord, as He stands at the heart’s door.


Mr. Siebold goes on to say:


“But isn’t it possible that some details of the apocalyptic scenario set out in the 1890s may have changed by the 2010s? It happened to Israel. Not all of the original Old Testament prophecies about them and their role came to pass. We call it ‘conditional prophecy.’”


This seems confused.  How can “details of the apocalyptic scenario” change?  The details of the prophecy do not change.  The papacy does not change, as we have been assured in both the Scriptures and the SOP.  Loren is correct about the role that ancient Israel played in failing to realize the fulfillment of prophecy concerning their pleasant outcome as the people of the Promise and how that such prophecy is conditional.  Obedience is key to the outworking of God’s will for His people, both then and now and this is parallel that is vitally important for us to understand in this chosen generation and it should have been clearly drawn, but instead there has been an ambiguity set before the reader, a failing to distinguish between apocalyptic prophecy and God’s Promise to fulfill the New Covenant blessing in His people.  This is an “apples and oranges” distinction and unfortunately it has been missed entirely, as I see it.


Enough.  Go ahead and check this article.  This is where a huge segment of institutional Adventism lives Today.”  ~KS