One of the strangest trends in evangelical Christianity is the increasing acceptance of Catholicism; I remember talking to one of my friends and implying that the Pope (any Pope) wasn't a Christian, oh boy, the reaction I got was as though I'd implied one of the great certainties of life was not so. Such are the days we live in, when following the biblical command to test confessions of faith and a person's teaching is met with derision. Any reading of the New Testament letters will reveal a better way: it is our duty as Christians to assess other claim's to Christianity. As Paul writes:
"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." Colossians 2 v 8
or as John writes:
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." 1 John 4 v 1.
The problem when it comes to the Pope, and to Catholicism in general, is that they speak the same language as us and we share similar moral views. Thus, it makes the work of discernment harder than in other cases especially today when a lot of Christians have been badly taught to begin with. Indeed, because Catholicism does clothe itself with Christians language and does teach some similar doctrines to Christianity then it worthwhile bearing in mind the following passage:
"For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." 2 Corinthians 11 v 13 - 15.
The fact that the Pope uses Christian language, shares some of our moral values, quotes from Scripture and will even occasionally teach correct doctrine does not absolve us from the duty of judging the entirety of his teachings nor him from the charge of false teaching. The central argument here is that the Pope is an anti-Christ; for his teaching is not in accord with Scripture, he acts to obscure Christ and he receives worship that should only go to God.
Jesus Christ is the foundation of the church
The Catholic church rests its doctrine of the Pope on the verses in Matthew: "Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 18v17-18)
The question is: what is the rock upon which Christ will build his church? The Catholic church argue that it is Peter and in saying this Jesus creates the office of the Pope. This is not exactly backed up by the rest of Scripture, when there were problems in the NT church then they were solved by a plurality of elders and Peter had to be rebuked by Paul for theological hypocrisy, hardly a good example of an infallible leader!
A much better interpretation of what Jesus says is that by 'this rock' he means the declaration which Peter has just made. Namely, that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. This does fit in with the rest of Scripture for we know that "... no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 3 v 11.
Jesus Christ is the head of the church, he is our leader, he is our rock, foundation and cornerstone. The Pope is but a man, a pale ghost of a reflection of the person of Jesus Christ, and worse, a false Christ, an anti-Christ, who obscures our glorious Saviour rather than magnifying him.
The church is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ, his Person and Work. The Catholic teaching is that this work was not enough and the foundation is the Pope.
Jesus Christ in the only mediator between God and man
"For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus," 1 Timothy 2 v 5.
As the above verse says Scripture is quite clear on the fact that is one mediator only between God and man. Only Christ can fulfil that role for only Christ is both God and man. But the perfect sufficiency of Christ in this regard was not enough for the Catholic church and they teach that their priests (which includes the Pope) act in the place of Christ:
"The minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself." (Catechism, 1994, Para 1548)
I do not want to be indelicate but my high priest was not guilty of paedophilia; in fact Jesus Christ was innocent of any sin, that is why he can act as our high priest! But once again, the Person and Work of Jesus Christ is hidden by the Catholic church and sinful men are put in his place.
This teaching also rather defeats the whole thrust of the book of Hebrews which is primarily about the supremacy of Jesus Christ as our one and only, perfect high priest.
"For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever." Hebrews 7 v 26 - 28.
There is so much good theology in here that it immediately makes it stand out in stark contrast to Catholic teaching. For they teach that we still need men to act as our priests as though the direct access to Jesus that we have was not enough!
Jesus is our fitting high priest - holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. The Pope (and catholic priests) are our false high priests, men of weakness, sinful, defiled and completely useless.
There is more to be said, I could tell of how the Catholic church breaks the 1st commandment and worship Mary in the place of God, how they break the second and put up pictures of Christ, how they encourage prayers to the dead and now they force celibacy on their priests then cover up the sexual perversions which result from that false teaching, their denial of original sin, their work based righteousness and I could go through every man-made doctrine of theirs which stand so out of kilter with Scripture but sadly time constrains me.
The Pope is an anti-Christ for he is set against all that the gospel is about, all that Christ has done, for he stands in the place of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and encourages idolatry, blasphemy and works based religion. He damns millions of people with his false teaching and consistently obscures Jesus Christ.