• The Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy Article by R. Scott Clark

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2014 | Matthew 16

    On February 28, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI abdicated the papacy. Six days later, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit priest and archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected by the College of Cardinals and installed as Pope Francis I, bringing to a conclusion a remarkable series of events. The papal resignation and Francis’ accession takes us back to the last pope to abdicate, Gregory XII (1415), and the marvelously messy history of the Avignon Papacy. OF POPES AND ANTIPOPES If we believe the popular myth, we might think that there has been an unbroken succession of popes in Rome since Peter. But … View Resource

  • The Fourteenth Century Article by Nicholas Needham

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2014

    The papacy had reached the zenith of its political power in Europe under Innocent III. His death in 1216 was followed by a period of eclipse and, finally, catastrophe. The popes continued to struggle for supremacy against Germany’s “Holy Roman” emperors. However, the long war between papacy and empire had sapped the power of the imperial court by undermining Germany’s national unity. The threat to the independence of the papacy no longer came from Germany, but from France. THE FRENCH THREAT The French monarchy was growing in strength that reached dangerous levels, from a papal perspective, under King … View Resource

  • Swimming the Tiber? Article by Mark Jones

    FROM TABLETALK | December 2012

    The Roman Catholic Church poses several attractions for evangelical Christians. Whether their motivation is Rome’s apparent unifying power, its claims to be semper idem (“always the same”), its so-called historical pedigree, its ornate liturgy, or the belief that only Rome can withstand the onslaught of liberalism and postmodernism, a number of evangelicals have given up their “protest” and made the metaphorical trek across Rome’s Tiber River into the Roman Catholic Church. Historically, particularly during the Reformation and post-Reformation periods, those who defected back to Rome typically did so out of intense social, political, and ecclesiastical pressure—sometimes even to … View Resource

  • To Be Deep in History Article by Keith Mathison

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2010

    The nineteenth century witnessed the conversions of two prominent Anglican clergymen to Roman Catholicism. Both men would ultimately become cardinals in the Roman Church, and both men would profoundly influence Roman Catholic theology. The first was John Henry Newman (1801–1890). The second was Henry Edward Manning (1808–1892). Newman is probably most well known for his involvement in the high church Oxford Movement and for his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845). Manning is best known for his advocacy of social justice and for his strong support of the doctrine of papal infallibility following his conversion to Rome. He … View Resource

  • Is the Reformation Over? Article by R.C. Sproul

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2009

    There have been several observations rendered on this subject by those I would call “erstwhile evangelicals.” One of them wrote, “Luther was right in the sixteenth century, but the question of justification is not an issue now.” A second self-confessed evangelical made a comment in a press conference I attended that “the sixteenth-century Reformation debate over justification by faith alone was a tempest in a teapot.” Still another noted European theologian has argued in print that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is no longer a significant issue in the church. We are faced with a host of people … View Resource

  • The Rise of the Papacy Article by David Wells

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2005

    There are one billion Roman Catholics worldwide, one billion people who are subject to the Pope’s authority. How, one might ask, did all of this happen? The answer, I believe, is far more complex and untidy than Catholics have argued. First, I will give a brief explanation of what the Catholic position is, and then, second, I will suggest what I think actually took place. The Catholic Explanation The traditional Catholic understanding is that Jesus said that it was upon Peter the church was to be built (Matt. 16:18−19; see also John 21:15−17; Luke 22:32). Following this … View Resource

  • “The Greatest of All Protestant Heresies”? Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2004

    Let us begin with a church history exam question. Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621) was a figure not to be taken lightly. He was Pope Clement VIII’s personal theologian and one of the most able figures in the Counter-Reformation movement within sixteenth-century Roman Catholicism. On one occasion, he wrote: “The greatest of all Protestant heresies is _______ .” Complete, explain, and discuss Bellarmine’s statement. How would you answer? What is the greatest of all Protestant heresies? Perhaps justification by faith? Perhaps Scripture alone, or one of the other Reformation watchwords? Those answers make logical sense. But none of them completes Bellarmine’s … View Resource