This post is partly book review, and partly theological discussion:
So I just finished listening to an interesting book about the infiltration of the Roman Catholic Church by Dr. Taylor Marshall. I’ve seen and listened to a few of Dr. Marshall’s podcasts, and have a good friend who is traditional, Latin-Mass Catholic (who set me up with the audio book which I’d been interested in reading since hearing one of Marshall’s podcasts on an open letter Cardinal Vegano wrote to Donald Trump, and the USA).
I rather enjoyed the book; it was well written, well researched and engangingly written, though frankly some of it read to me a bit more like sci-fi than historical non-fiction… also, frankly I think I agreed more with Marshall before reading the book than I do now that I’ve finished it. I’ll do him the favor of not leaving a review on Amazon for the book, as my perspective would little matter to his target audience anyways (his: traditionalist Roman Catholics, like my friend who set me up with the book. I suppose to that demographic I would recommend the book, and not bog them down with what they would see as my ‘protestant,’ and/or ‘modernist’ perspective. As I said, well written, well researched and engaging and as a traditional Catholic, he may persuade you of the thesis (with which I agree)).
The book is about the infiltration of the Roman Catholic church via a centuries-old conspiracy by the Freemasons, and the overall thesis is that they have fully accomplished this end in the installation of Pope Francis who now sits in the papal throne. Essentially I knew this was the thesis of the book before starting it, and as I said, to a degree I agreed more with marshal before I read the book than I do now. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s 100% correct that the Freemasons have sought to infiltrate the church of Rome, and that they have done so. In no way was I dissuaded from believing any of that, rather, Marshall supplied some very good information, and convincing proofs of these things.
I guess to explain my points of developed dissagreement as I read the book, I should explain a little about me and Roman Catholocism: You’ll notice I typically refer to it as ‘Roman Catholocism,’ or ‘the church of Rome.’ This because I do not believe that the organization is the Universal Mystical Church, which the term ‘Catholic’ meaning ‘Universal’ implies, and as certain Popes (such as Pius XII in his Corpus Christus Mysterium paper (or ‘enciclical’/ whater you guys call it)) have affirmed to be the case.
I also don’t actually consider myself a Protestant – for two particular reasons: 1) I’ve never had to ‘protest’ the church of Rome as it has never attempted to lord it over my personal faith (though if it did, I would protest it as other Christians in that position have done), and 2) because the term ‘protestant’ is an identification derived from the relationship with the church of Rome, thus validating its claim to be not merely an earthly church organization, but also the mystical Universal Church of God. I.e. as a ‘protestant’ you protest what? The church or Rome presumably, and thus ‘Protestant’ as a title is a direct derivitive of Roman Catholocism.
Actually these two points are perhaps a good lead-in to why I’m not a Romanist, and where i came to more fully dissagree with Marshal as I read his book: the Apostle Peter himself wrote that ministers ought not to ‘lord it over the clergy’ (1 Peter 5:3 Douay-Rheims), yet the church of Rome insists on the doctrine of a monarchal bishop who lord’s over the faith of all Christians in the name of Peter. Likewise, while Romanists claim Christ instituted the primacy of Peter, the disciples had actually argued this point in scripture (who would be greatest among them), Christ Himself teaches us that the greatest would be the servant of all (Mark 9:34-40); in fact in the same passage John declared that they shut down a person who was not following their discipleship group who was doing miracles in the name of Christ, and Jesus rebuked him, declaring that one doing miracles in His name was clearly on His side. This in contrast to the theology that anyone who dissents from Peter’s primacy is a protestant that Roman clergy stands against (by modern application).
Jesus didn’t teach that the greatest should have the biggest throne and a white cassock, and that people should kiss his papal ring, etc. In fact Jesus even specifically tells us not to call anyone our ‘Father’ but God, so even calling the regular priests Father so-and-so is a direct disobedience to the words of Christ (since I’m talking Roman Catholic, all biblical quotes are from Douay-Rheims):
9 And call none your father upon earth; for one is your father, who is in heaven.
10 Neither be ye called masters; for one is your master, Christ.
11 He that is the greatest among you shall be your servant.
12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled: and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
So… my basic perspective is that THE foundational doctrine of Roman Catholocism (which I believe to be the Papacy) is set upon principles of practice which Christ (and Peter) specifically taught against. (So if you are a Roman appologist reading this to see how one like myself might be persuaded, no ammount of historical, or ecclesiastical precedent, and no decision of church council or papal bull will persuade me to reject the teaching of Christ to accept the clearly (at least to me) doctine of papal primacy, upon which all Roman tradition seems to hang.)
Similarly, while I believe that the church of Rome is a legitimate church organization, its culture is directly derivitive of Roman culture: like the Roman Empire, the Roman church has an Emporer (the Pope) who wears very Roman garments, and even has Cardinals – which is not a biblically appointed ministerial position, but emulates the Roman Emporer’s Cardinal Senators (that’s where they got the idea, and even the term ‘Cardinal,’ albeit it is ‘Cardinal Bishop’ rather than ‘Cardinal Senator.’)
To me, this deriving of church culture from ancient Roman nationalism – nations (even empires) are temporal, not eternal – gives proof that Roman Catholocism is not the Universal Church of God because its modeled after… once again: a temporal earthly culture.
Yet Dr. Marshall believes that Romanism is expressly taught in scripture, and said in this book (and in his podcast) that it fulfils a prophecy of Daniel that the forth kingdom of Nebachadnezzar’s dream (being fulfilled as Rome) was to be given to the Church. I.e the very fact that the Church is Roman means that God gave the kingdom of Rome to the church. To begin with this is a matter of interpretation… no, no, let me correct that: To begin with this is a misquotation of the scripture, secondarily, it is a matter of interpretation (and that on the basis of mis-quoting the verse); since we’re talking Roman Catholic, here’s the verse in Duoay-Rheims:
44 But in the days of those kingdoms the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, and his kingdom shall not be delivered up to another people, and it shall break in pieces, and shall consume all these kingdoms, and itself shall stand for ever.
The verse actually contrasts the prior kingdoms with a DIFFERENT kingdom which God would set up that will never be destroyed – God’s kingdom. It also says God’s kingdom will NOT be delivered to another people i.e. no earthly kingdom or organization can inherit God’s kingdom. So, in fact the verse actually says the opposite of Marshall’s Romanist-justifying interpretation, and does not promise an earthly kingdom or the semblance of it to the Church. In fact the verse that he believes is a biblical mandate for Romanism is a biblical lesson to me AGAINST the belief that any earthly organization can be the mystical Church of God (wherefore, I said it is a matter of interpretation).
ORTHODOXY, OR HETERODOXY?
Okay, so that is my general position on the church of Rome in a nutshell, back to Marshall’s book:
Marshall’s final conclusion (which is is another aspect I [sort of] agree with) is to encourage Roman Catholics toward a growing traditionalist sort of ‘grass-roots’ movement under a rogue papacy whose motto is: ‘acknowledge and resist.’
The concept is: acknowledge that Francis is the legitimate pope, yet resist wrong doctrine and practice being perpetuated by him, even as Paul resisted Peter in the matter of eating with Gentiles (Gal. 2:11-14).
I definately think this is the correct (perhaps I could say: most righteous) line of approach on dealing with just such a situation that traditional Roman Catholics find themselves in, however, much of what this ‘grass-roots’ revival movement seems to be focused on is return to historical church tradition, not specifically return to Gospel principles.
I mean, its all well and good to blame communists, and freemasons for all the sexual abuse scandals, and the Vatican bank scandal of the 70s and 80s. And, again, historically cult groups definately have a lot of motive to infiltrate and couse corruption in such a powerful entity as the Church of Rome. I can get behind a good deal of that, and there is certainly (as Marshall aptly demonstrates with this book) plenty of evidence for that (and its perfect concept for point in history with the Qannon drumbroll playing in our societal background). But, if we are going to revive unto righteousness, ought we not revive unto Christ and the Gospels rather than just the good ol days of Romanist traditionalism?
Here’s an example of what I mean from the book:
Near the end of the book as Marshall is about to begin bringing all of his points together to his ultimate solution of ‘acknowledge and resist,’ (chapter 32) Marshall mentions a few contrasts between the teachings of Pope Francis, and certain points of historical Roman doctrine. In those contrasts (mainly on points in which I agree with Dr. Marshall, that Francis has taught anti-gospel theology and doctrine, even aligning (as Marshall points out) with Masonic, and universalist teaching) Marshall specificaly points out the deeds of certain historical popes in condemning and burning heretics at the stake as if these actions were righteous.
‘Prior popes rejected ecuemenism, and burned heretics at the stake. Pope Francis, however, teaches that God wills the plurality and diversity of religions.’ (Forgive my not having a page number reference, as I listened to the book via audio, but this is a direct quote; it is in chapter 32)
Now, I certainly agree with Marshall that Francis is wrong in declaring that God wills a plurality, and diversity of religion (actually, that almost sounds like Calvinist theology), however in this statement, Marshall contrasts the righteous ancient Popes as rejecting ecuemenism, and burning heretics at the stake. As a Christian who holds a belief system quite different than that of the church, I am one who historically would have been burned as an heretic for rejecting the doctrine of the papacy (and Romanist Mariology, and transubstantiation… and probably a number of other points were it discovered I dissented on them) by popes at certain points in history, yet the ideology is cannonized for the Romanist as it has become church ‘tradition’ (a precedent set by church history, councils and popes), and church tradition is as authoritative as scripture to the church of Rome.
This insinuation (of the just-ness of such practices as burning heretics) brought back to me an argument posed in the introduction to ‘Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.’ In this introduction it was argued that the history of the Roman church’s persecution of protestants with punishments up to the death penatly via burning at the stake (as well as other gruesome tortures leading up to that) in combination with its tendency to cannonize tradition means that the church of Rome can never be trusted not to revert to such diabolical executions of dissentors in the future, quote:
‘Though nearly all sects have persecuted their opponents, during a brief season, when men’s passions were highly excited, and true religion had mournfulky declined, yet no denomination except the papal heirarchy has adopted as an article of religious belief, and a principle of practical observance, the right to destroy heretics for opinion’s sake. The decrees of councils, and the bulls of popes, issued in conformity with those decrees, place this matter beyond doubt. Persecution, herefore, and popery, are inseperably connected; because claiming infallibility, what she has once done is right for her to do again; yea, must be done under similar circumstances, or the claims of infallibility be given up. There is no escaping this conclusion.’ (Digireads reprint publication, 2018, pg. 5)
I’m not sure who wrote this introduction (it wasn’t John Foxe), but the argument is logical and convincing, for if the church never errs in doctrine (as is taught) and historic popes have ordered the execution of protestants (as they have) then those executions and events become cannonized tradition of the church, and present-tense reversion to them becomes ever-imminent, even if curbed by modern social niceties.
Some of what is implied in the devout return-to-tradition Catholic ideology showed me this thesis from Foxe’s book in this thought (though currently benign). So while I fully agree that Marshall is correct in condemning theology which says that God ‘wills’ sundry religions, his contrast in this statement blares rather ominous to me (as I do have some knowledge of Roman Catholic church history).
Now, Marshall’s book did not seem to be recommending a revival of religious persecution, rather the return to historic Romanism, but, if the problem wih Francis’ teaching (and the second vatican council, and the ‘nuevo theologie’, etc.) is simply that it is not heterodox with traditional principles and practice, and not that it is anti-gospel, then the Roman Church has far more to worry about (in terms of salvation) than they realize.
Another element of the book was its heavy focus on Mariology, and certain Marian apparitions which were cannonized… Perhaps at some point I should write about Mariology.
A few years back I found a book about the apparition of Mary at Fatima, Portugal (an event upon which much of Taylor Marshall’s book hinges); when I found the book, I was particularly interested in reading the statements that Mary allegedly made in the apparitions, as scripture gives us guidelines for assessing spiritual encounters of such kinds. I still did read the rest of the book as well (it wasn’t terribly long), but wasparticularly interested in the supposed sayings of Mary.
The Roman Church has officially deemed the apparition a valid and genuine divine visitation (actually, I understand there is to be (or is already?) a Netflix movie of the events of Fatima).
I found the supposed message of Mary from the Fatima vision to be inconsistent with scripture, and am convinced personally that – supposing this apparition was genuine (and I think that testimonies of miracles, particularly the mass vision of the sun give proof that it was legitimately a spiritual encounter rather than a complete delusion) – it was demonic.
Mary’s central message in the vision was that God wanted to establish in the earth ‘devotion to her immaculate heart.’ (For non-Catholics, ‘immaculate’ means ‘without sin.’)
Even if we accepted the idea that Mary was without sin despite numerous scriltural passages which declare that ALL have sinned, yet nowhere in scripture are we admonished to be devoted to anyone besides God (Father, Son and Holy Ghost). But Marian devotion is an area where tradition is cannonized as equal to scripture. Mary’s message at Fatima was not that people should preach Christ, but that they should be devoted to her sinless heart.
Yeah… maybe at some point I’ll wrote about Mariology, I don’t think I’ll go further here.
Anyhow Marshal if you are reading this and you’ve gotten this for (both of which I highly doubt) thank you for the excellent book, you did a great job! Your book was informative, well written, well researched; the narrative was compiled in an engaging, and very followable way. To Roman Catholics reading this, I would definately recommend this book (but, please don’t burn me at the stake).
To others, below is a link to Dr. Marshall’s podcast which first got me interested in the book, there’s great entry level information here about the Freemasons (I don’t mean to advance or perpetuate baseless conspiracy theories, or the Qannon phenomena, but Marshall doesn’t (I don’t think). Satanism and Freemasonry are real, and are very dangerous, and I believe we are legitimately are in the last days… so I’ll also post a link to my book Discerning the Antichrist which is a biblical exploration of the rising spirit of antichrist in our day.)
My Book, Discerning the Antichrist