"Catholic Heresies and Traditions Adopted and Perpetuated by the Roman Catholic Church in the Course of 1600 Years"

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The List of Catholic Heresies And Human Traditions Adopted and Perpetuated by the Roman Catholic Church in the Course of 1600 Years, originally known as The Boetner List by Loraine Boetner, has appeared for years on the internet in a variety of formats. The same virtually identical list "Compiled by Rev. Stephen L. Testa" does not credit Boetner as his source. Among the heresies listed is the Latin language and wax candles.

The List is a form of anti-Catholic polemic, purporting to be an exposé of the unscriptural and demonic doctrines of the Catholic Church as an historical demonstration of the Great Apostasy of Catholicism, based on the word of Jesus in divine condemnation of "the traditions of men" Matthew 15:3; Mark 7:6-13; Isaiah 29:13; Colossians 2:8-23.

Wayne A. Ariss has prepared and made freely available a Catholic refutation of the same List ("compiled by Rev. Stephen L. Testa") in The Boetner List: Fact or Fiction? by Wayne Ariss (beatimundocorde.wordpress.com)A Catholic refutation of a List of Catholic Heresies And Human Traditions Adopted and Perpetuated by the Roman Catholic Church in the Course of 1600 Years.

The same list offered by Rev. Stephen L. Testa on the internet (jesus-is-savior.com) is likewise made available in his List of Catholic Heresies And Human Traditions Adopted and Perpetuated by the Roman Catholic Church in the Course of 1600 Years, Compiled by Rev. Stephen L. Testa (jesus-is-savior.com)The title is self-explanatory. The list is presented as a condemnation of Catholicism as a false and demonic religion of pagan superstitions and rituals.

The Boetner List

The Boetner List: Fact or Fiction? by Wayne Ariss is reproduced here below, by permission.

The following was originally posted at Christian Forums in 2004 by Wayne A. Ariss and is posted here with the original copyright conditions.

Note: anyone is free to reproduce the following material in any form, as long as the author [Wayne A. Ariss] is given full credit for the material reproduced.
God bless all here.

(Copyright 2003 by Wayne A. Ariss; all rights reserved.)

In the years since the Internet became a worldwide communications tool, many types of “bulletin board” have become popular. These are a type of forum where a topic is introduced, and others may “post” replies to the topic by typing their thoughts into the bulletin board’s online system, and clicking on the “reply to topic” button on their computer screen. Their reply will then appear below the previous post, often with highlighted quotations from preceding posts, and the discussion will progress, sometimes with dozens of people joining in.

Some of these bulletin boards, naturally, are Christian discussion boards, where Christians and others can discuss topics such as theology, eschatology, doctrine, current events, and so on, from various Christian perspectives. Inevitably, the old dichotomies bewteen Catholics and Protestants will make their appearance in these discussions, and the doctrinal positions from both sides will be endlessly debated. On boards of a generic Christian nature, or on boards that are of a primarily Protestant makeup, Catholics and Catholic doctrine will often take quite a pounding from non-Catholics—but I can attest from personal experience that the major differences have little to do with what Catholics actually teach and believe, but misunderstandings, misrepresentations, and old canards which sometimes go all the way back to the 16th century.

Having spent years now discussing topics on these Internet bulletin boards, I have seen various claims and charges leveled at the Catholic Church, somtimes over and over again. One of the most common sources for this material consists of a familiar “laundry list” of charges against Catholicism, which I have seen posted literally dozens of times—either in part or in whole—usually verbatim, and tossed out as “proof” of the errors of Catholicism. Although the author of this list is not often identified, anyone familiar with the material will immediately recognize it as the work of one of the 20th century’s premier anti-Catholic screedists, Loraine Boettner.

Boettner was born in Missouri in 1901, and graduated with a Master’s degree in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1929. He held a variety of teaching positions around the country, and was an eminent and well-respected Reformed theologian; he died in 1990. Boettner wrote several books, including The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, Studies in Theology, The Millennium, Immortality, and A Harmony of the Gospels. Unfortunately, what he seems to be the most remembered for was his 1962 book Roman Catholicism, published by the Reformed and Presbyterian Publishing Company of Philipsburg, New Jersey.

On pages 7, 8, and 9 of Roman Catholicism, Boettner included a “list” of claims against the Catholic Church—the very same “list” that is repeatedly posted, verbatim, on the Internet by those who disagree with Catholicism and who wish to point out its “errors”. Subtitled “Some Roman Catholic Heresies and Inventions, and the dates of their adoption over a period of 1650 years”, the grouping contains 44 items running from 300 AD to 1950 AD, with the addition of one item from 1965 in subsequent printings. Thus we have the source of the infamous “Boettner List”, as it is sometimes known.

For each item, Boettner first spells out the “heresy” or “invention” he claims the Church concocted, which is then followed by the date when it supposedly appeared. My purpose in this treatise is to refute each one of the items on Boettner’s list, both by correcting Boettner when he misrepresents the material in his item, and by providing primary source documents—or of materials which quote the primary source documents—that give the actual date of the practice in question, and thereby illustrating that the practices Boettner condemns actually existed in the Church much earlier than he claims. They were not “invented” at very late dates—indeed, many of them existed from the Patristic Era, or at least much earlier than Boettner would have us believe.

This is not meant to be an all-encompassing treatise, nor is it meant to be a deep scholarly endeavor. It is merely meant to highlight the wild inaccuracies in Boettner’s chronology, and let the reader decide for him or herself whether a man who manages to miss the mark so many times has any credibility in other areas as well. I do not present this as a condemnation of Boettner, or of his Reformed theological works or viewpoints; I am concerned with Roman Catholicism alone, and the claims which he makes against the Catholic Church which he provides early on in the book. Whatever the merits of his other works may be, I hope to show that in Roman Catholicism, Boettner truly has little to say with any factual credibility.

I have employed a variety of sources, making heavy use of the old Catholic Encyclopedia; but not all of my sources are Catholic, and all of the works I have used contain further cites from other works in which the material may be found. It remains only for the reader to locate the references I have provided to corroborate my sources and to do his own research to prove, or attempt to disprove, my findings.

1. Prayers for the dead, began about….300 AD.

The first Scriptural mention of prayers for the dead occurs in the Deuterocanonical book of 2 Maccabees, chapter 12, verses 39 through 46, in which Judas Maccabeus and his men pray for their fallen comrades, that God may forgive the sins of the dead men. 2 Maccabees was written sometime after 124 BC [1], which makes Boettner’s date more than 400 years off. Examples of Christians offering supplication for the dead are found in grave scripts such as the Epitaph of Abercius, the Bishop of Hierapolis, written in 180 AD. On this grave marker, Abercius asks all who may read his marker to pray for him [2].

Other examples can be found in the works of the Christian apologist Tertullian, who lived approximately from 155 AD to 250 AD. In his work The Crown (211 AD), Tertullian mentions Christians offering sacrifices for the dead on the anniversary of their deaths [3], and makes a similar reference in his work Monogamy (213 AD), where he mentions widows offering prayers and sacrifices for their deceased husbands [4].

In even the very latest of these two examples, Boettner is still nearly a hundred years off.

[1] Introduction notes to the book of 2 Maccabees, New American Bible. New York: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1969; pg 546.
[2] William Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Volume 1. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1970, pg 78.
[3] Jurgens, pg 151.
[4] Jurgens, pg 158.

2. Making the sign of the cross….300.

Again we go back to Tertullian’s The Crown of 211 AD: “In all the occupations of our daily lives, we furrow our foreheads with the Sign” [5]. This makes Boettner’s date 89 years off.

[5] Jurgens, pg 151.

3. Wax candles, about….320.

The extant Roman record of the execution of Cyprian of Carthage (Acta Proconsularia) indicates that his funeral included the use of candles and torches; this occured in September of 258, more than 60 years before Boettner’s date [6].

[6] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, “Candles”. New York: Encyclopedia Press, Inc., 1907; pg 246.
Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, “Cyprian of Carthage”, pg 588.
Patrick Hamell, Handbook of Patrology. New York: Alba House, 1968; pg 75.

4. Veneration of angels and saints, and use of images….375.

The veneration (or respect) paid to angels can be found in the First Apology of Justin Martyr (148 AD). In Chapter VI, he states that “the host of the other good angels who follow and are made like to Him…we worship and adore” [7].

Likewise, Athenagoras of Athens wrote in Chapter X of the Supplication For the Christians (c.177 AD): “Nor is our teaching in what relates to the divine nature confined to these points [the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit]; but we recognize also a multitude of angels and ministers” [8]. It will be noted in both these examples that Boettner is off by approximately 200 years.

The earliest reference to veneration of the saints can be found in The Martyrdom of Polycarp, a document dating from around 155 AD: “Christ we adore, because He is the Son of God. To the martyrs, on the other hand, we offer the love which is due to disciples and ministers of the Lord, on account of their unsurpassable devotion to their King and Lord” [9]. This again makes Boettner’s date 200 years off.

Insofar as images go, both Exodus 25:18 and Numbers 21:8 mention images being constructed at God’s command. Boettner apparently gets his date of 375 AD from Basil the Great, who writes in his treatise The Holy Spirit from that same year that honor paid to an image is honor paid to God Himself [10]. Basil appears to be merely offering a definition of the use of images, however, since images go as far back as the late 2nd century; archaeological discoveries have revealed paintings on the walls of Roman catacombs depicting Christ, the saints, and scenes from Scripture, which gradually developed into frescoes, then mosaics, and finally bas-relief and statues [11]. Eusebius, who lived from 263 to 340 AD, described a statue he had personally seen, depicting Christ healing the woman of Caesarea Philippi (History of the Church, VII, xviii; 300-325 AD). All of these examples place Boettner anywhere from 50 to 200 years off the mark.

[7] http://www.ccel.org/fathers/2/
[8] ibid.
[9] Maxwell Staniforth, Early Christian Writings. New York: Penguin Books, 1968; pg 131. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1960; pp 318-319.
[10] Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers. Volume 2, pg 18.
[11] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, “Catacombs”, pp 422-424.
Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 7, “Images”, pp 665-668.

5. The Mass, as a daily celebration….394.

The Mass, in the earliest years of the Church, appears to have been celebrated on Sunday only, but it was gradually extended to a daily celebration by the time of Augustine (d.430 AD). This, however, was by no means universal, being confined to specific geographical areas until the end of the 500’s AD. In some places, priests began to celebrate mutiple daily Masses, until Pope Alexander II (d.1073) decreed that priests should content themselves with one or at the most two Masses, one being a requiem Mass, and then only if necessary [12]. What remains unclear is why Boettner felt this to be something sinister, to be labeled a heresy or an invention.

[12] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 2; “Bination”, pp 568-569.

6. Beginning of the exaltation of Mary, the term “Mother of God” first applied to her by the Council of Ephesus….431.

The Third Ecumenical Council, held at Ephesus in 431 AD, did indeed declare that Mary was the Mother of God. However, Mary bore this title long before Ephesus; Ignatius of Antioch states in his Epistle to the Ephesians (110 AD): “For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God’s plan” [13]. Irenaeus of Lyons writes in Against Heresies (180-199 AD), “The Virgin Mary…being obediant to His word, received from an angel the glad tidings that she would bear God” [14]. Finally Ephraim the Syrian (d.373 AD) composed a hymn with the words “This Virgin became a Mother while preserving her virginity….and the handmaid and work of His wisdom became the Mother of God” [15]. In these three examples, Boettner is off by 321 years, 232 years, and 58 years, respectively.
[13] Jurgens, Vol. 1. pg 18.

[14] ibid., pg 101.
[15] ibid., pg 312.

7. Priests began to dress differently than laymen….500.

Boettner here is half right. In the 6th century the manner of dress between clergy and laity was different; however, it wasn’t the clergy that changed and began dressing differently, it was the laity. In the early years of the Church, clergy dressed no differently from the people around them, and indeed, priests were chastised for dressing in any manner that brought attention to themselves (letter of Pope Celestine to the bishops of Gaul, 428 AD; Council of Gangra, 340 AD). This seems to have remained the case up until the 500’s AD.

By then, the Western Roman Empire had collapsed, and the influx of northern Germanic tribesmen that came into Italy had begun to mix with the native Roman population. The clergy retained the common manner of dress that Romans had always worn—the long tunic and a toga or cloak; the laypeople, however, began to quickly adopt the style of dress of the Germans, being a short tunic, breeches, and a mantle.

A local council in Portugal in 572 and another in Germany in 742 mention clerical attire, but only insofar that clerics should be seemly attired and decently covered. The first actual indication of specific clerical dress comes in 875 AD, when Pope John VIII instructs the Archbishops of York and Canterbury to make sure that their clergy was wearing specific ecclesiastical attire. Universal enactments regarding clerical attire came in 1215, 1589, 1624, and finally 1725, when Pope Benedict XIII decreed that a cleric wearing lay garments was an infraction of the most serious order [16]. Boettner is thus off by a margin of 375 years in the earliest example.

[16] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 4; “Costume, Clerical”. pp 419-420.

8. Extreme Unction….526.

Extreme Unction (or the Anointing of the Sick) is mentioned in the Epistle of James, 5:13-15, written sometime between 60 and 100 AD. In light of this fact, how Boettner came up with the idea that the Catholic Church “invented” it in 526 AD is a total mystery.

9. The doctrine of Purgatory, established by Gregory I….593.

The concept of sins being remitted after death is found in the Deuterocanonical book of 2 Maccabees, 12:38-46, which was probably written about 124 BC. This in itself makes Boettner more than 700 years off the mark, but the Catholic concept of Purgatory still pre-dates Boettner’s claim by hundreds of years; for further examples, see #1 of this list under “Prayers for the dead”.

10. Latin language, used in prayer and worship, imposed by Gregory I….600.

Latin was, of course, the language of the ruling culture in Western Europe at the time of Christianity’s inception, being the Roman Empire. As early as 180 AD, the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs mentions that the Gospels and Epistles of Paul had been translated into Latin, and pagan Romans such as Arnobius dismissed such translations as being of a trivial, common, and vulgar form of Latin [17].

The de facto “official” language of the Church appears to have been Greek up until the 3rd century, when official Papal documents began appearing in Latin. This was probably due to the overwhelming majority of Christians being located in the eastern, or Greek-speaking, half of the Empire. Paul, for example, in the 16th chapter of Romans, greets more than twenty people by name, and only six of the names are Latin, the remainder being Greek. However, Latin began to slowly gain more usage, especially in the Roman provinces of Africa, and moving northward. By the 4th century, Jerome had translated the Scriptures into Latin, and the liturgy was being celebrated almost exclusively in Latin in the western parts of the Empire [18].

Although there is no exact date when Latin took precedence in the western Church, virtually all authorities agree that it was during the period from the early 3rd to late 4th centuries. That, along with the lack of evidence of a definitive decree from Gregory I stipulating the use of Latin in his liturgical reforms after 590, places Boettner in a chronological error of several hundred years.

[17] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 9; “Latin, Ecclesiastical”, pg 20.
[18] Peter Stravinskas, Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia; “Latin”. Huntington, IN: OSV Publishing, Inc., 1991, pp 575-576.

11. Prayers directed to Mary, dead saints and angels, about….600.

The most complete ancient prayer which was addressed to Mary asked for her intercession in times of difficulty and danger; entitled Sub Tuum Praesidium, or “Under Your Protection”, it dates from approximately 250 AD, making Boettner’s date approximately 350 years off [19]. Besides this, Marian devotions flourished after the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, nearly 200 years before Boettner’s date [20].
For prayers directed to saints and angels, see Number 4 above.

[19] Mark Miravalle, Introduction to Mary. Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing Co., 1993, pg 27.
[20] ibid., pg 28.

12. Title of Pope, or universal bishop, given to Boniface III by emperor Phocas….607.

Boettner apparently wishes to give the impression that the office of Pope was invented by the Byzantine Emperor Phocas in 607, and conferred upon Boniface. The actual facts are not so simplistic. To begin with, the title of the Bishop of Rome—Pontifex Maximus—is a term meaning “bridge-builder”, which the Popes inherited from governmental functionaries of the pagan Romans. “Pope” is merely a derivation of a Latin word meaning “father”; and use of that term for various clerics is also found in both the Orthodox and Coptic churches.

Tertullian, writing in his treatise Modesty (written in 220 AD), cites a quote from “a pontiff—sovereign, of course—that is, a bishop of bishops” [21]. This places use and understanding of the term 387 years before Boettner’s claim. Two other instances of the term in the definition of a patriarch are found applied to the Bishop of Carthage in 250 AD [22], and to the Bishop of Alexandria in 320 AD [23]. However, the Bishop of Rome was always held to be Head of the entire Church, (as attested to by Ignatius, Hermas, Dionysius, Hegesippus, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian, and others).

Shortly before Boniface III was elected, a dispute had arisen about the way that Cyriacus, the Patriarch of Constantinople, was using the term “ecumenical patriarch”; the manner in which Cyriacus was employing the title seemed to minimize the proper office of the Pope as universal head of the Church. Once Boniface had been elected Pope, Emperor Phocas issued a decree—aimed directly at Cyriacus—which stipulated that the See of Rome was the head see of all the churches, and that the title “Universal Bishop” belonged only to the Bishop of Rome [24]. There was imperial precedent for this action, since Emperor Justinian (527-565 AD) had issued a similar acknowledgement some eighty years before [25].

The wrangling over jurisdiction between Rome and Constantinople would continue for another 400 years, and would eventually contribute to the final East-West schism in 1054 AD; but the examples provided here more than dispose of Boettner’s claim that the title of Pope was “invented” by the Byzantine Emperor in 607 AD.

[21] Jurgens, Vol. 1, pg 159.
[22] ibid., pg 227.
[23] ibid., pg 277.
[24] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 2; “Boniface III”. pg 600.
J.N.D. Kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pg 68.
[25] ibid.

13. Kissing the pope’s foot, began with pope Constantine….709.

This is a practice which was absorbed from the Roman emperors; Roman court officials kissed the Emperor’s foot as a sign of respect for the head of the Empire. In like manner, kissing the foot of the Pope is a sign of respect for the head of the Christian Church, not the man himself—or, as Pope Innocent III described it, it is an act of “reverence due to the Supreme Pontiff as the Vicar of Him Whose feet were kissed by the woman who was a sinner”.

Boettner is incorrect to say that the practice began with Pope Constantine, since there is at least one earlier extant example of Emperor Justin kissing the foot of Pope John I (523-526 AD) some 180 years before [26].

[26] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 8; “Kiss”, pg 665.

14. Temporal power of the popes, conferred by Pepin, king of the Franks….750.

During the years 741 through 747, the Frankish kingdoms that had been the domain of Charles Martel were in a state of rapid change and upheaval. By 750, Pepin the Short was in a position to take charge of the kingdom and establish stability. However, having been educated by Christian monks, and being well acquainted with St. Boniface, Pepin sought advice from Pope Zacharias as to whether he should take charge of the kingdom or not.

Pope Zacharias replied that since Pepin held de facto power over the Franks, it was better, indeed, that he should take charge of the kingdom. This confirmation disposed of the last Merovingian claimant to the throne (Childeric III), and Pepin was crowned king and anointed as such (by Boniface, acting as the Pope’s representative) the next year as Soissons [27].

In light of this examination of Frankish history, it can be seen that Boettner essentially has his facts reversed: Pepin didn’t confer temporal power on the Pope; rather, the Pope confirmed the temporal power of Pepin.

[27] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 11; “Pepin the Short”, pp 662-663.
Kelly, pg 90.

15. Worship of the cross, images and relics, authorized in….786.

Boettner appears to get this date from the 2nd Council of Nicaea, even though he is off by one year (the council actually took place in 787). The council stipulated that the Cross should receive an “adoration of honor” [28}. However, the veneration of the Cross is mentioned as far back as 380 AD, in documents such as the Peregrinatio Etheriae, making Boettner’s claim 400 years off the mark [29].

Veneration of the relics of saints is mentioned much earlier than Boettner’s claim; The Martyrdom of St. Polycarp, written in 155 AD, mentions that the bones of Polycarp, “more precious than costly gems and finer than gold”, were carefully gathered up after his execution, and put “in a suitable place” [30]. For more on veneration of images, see Number 4 above.

[28] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 4; “Cross”, pg 524.
[29] ibid., pg 530.
[30] Jurgens, Vol. 1, pg 31.

16. Holy water, mixed with a pinch of salt and blessed by a priest….850.

The Apostolic Constitutions, a document dating back to the 5th century, attributes the use of holy water to the Apostle St. Matthew; likewise, two more ancient documents called the Pontifical of Serapion of Thmuis and the Testamentum Domini contain liturgical formulas for the blessing of both oil and water at Mass.

The Council of Constantinople in 691 AD makes mention of the blessing of holy water at each church at the beginning of each lunar month. In any event, Boettner is off by anywhere from 400 to 159 years, depending on the source cited [31].

[31] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 7; “Holy Water”, pp 432-433.

17. Worship of St. Joseph….890.

All Catholic saints are “worshipped”, of course, but only in the sense of dulia, or veneration, and not latria, the actual worship given only to God. In the case of St. Joseph, he was venerated by the Copts as early as the start of the 300’s AD; and an oratory was dedicated to him in a basilica erected by St. Helena around the same general time [32]. The apocryphal work The History of Joseph was widespread in the East from the 4th to the 7th centuries, although his cult was not widespread in the West until the 15th century, when his feast was introduced into the Roman calendar in 1479 [33].

In either event, Boettner has missed the mark by a margin of approximately 600 years in both directions.

[32] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 8, “Joseph”; pg 505.
[33] John J. Delaney, Dictionary of Saints. New York: Doubleday, 1980, pg 330.

18. College of Cardinals established….927.

At the Council of Rome, held in 499 AD, Pope Symmachus divided the City into various parochial units, each under the control of a priest known as a cardinale. Pope John VIII published a constitution between 873 and 882 which specifically mentions these cardinal priests, or presbyteri cardinales [34]. The office gradually developed into what we now have, meaning the body of higher clerics who meet to elect the next Pontiff upon the death of the reigning Pope; the actual term collegium comes into general use after 1150 AD [35]. The College of Cardinals was never so much an establishment as it was a development; but in any case, Boettner has again erred by anywhere from 200 to 500 years in either direction.

[34] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, “Cardinal”, pg 333.
[35] ibid., pg 340.

19. Baptism of bells, instituted by pope John XIII….965.

The phrase “baptism” of bells has been in use for hundreds of years, but it was a “pop” usage, which was never instituted by the Church. The actual practice involved the blessing of the bell and application of holy water, the same way that the Church blesses any object which is devoted to the service of God, i.e., an altar, a church, sacred vessels, vestments, vehicles, etc. In no way is the blessing of a bell (or any other object) the same thing as the Sacrament of Baptism, in which a new child of Christ is washed clean of original sin.

The blessing of bells is mentioned in documents dating at least as far back as Egbert, Archbishop of York, in the mid-700’s AD; thus we see that Boettner is about 200 years off [36].

[36] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, “Bells”, pp 420-421.

20. Canonization of dead saints, first by pope John XV….995.

Since veneration of Christian martyrs is mentioned by Eusebius, Augustine, Cyprian, and Cyril of Alexandria (see also Number 4 above), not to mention the religious celebration of the day of St. Polycarp’s martyrdom (155 AD), the veneration of saints has been around since the earliest days of the Church. Usually the bishop of a specific diocese would promulgate the veneration of a local martyr; when this veneration was confirmed by the Pope, it then became universal [37].

The specific instance mentioned by Boettner here, however, was the canonization of St. Ulrich, the Bishop of Augsburg (890-973). Pope John XV announced the canonization—much in the same way that any local bishop might—at a synod held at the Lateran Palace on 31 January 993, and also published the same in a bull to the German and French bishops dated 3 February [38].

This is the first time that a Pope solemnly canonized a saint, so Boettner is half right; however, it is not the first instance of a saint being recognized as officially canonized, as we have seen, although this is clearly what Boettner meant to imply. The striking part is that even when Boettner is partially correct, he still can’t seem to get his dates right, since he states this event took place in 995, when it was actually 993, making him two years off the mark. [37] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, “Beatification and Canonization”, pp 364-365.
[38] ibid., Vol. 8, “John XV”, pg 428.

21. Fasting on Fridays and during Lent….998.

Fasting on Fridays is mentioned as far back as the Didache (140 AD) [39], thus rendering Boettner more than 800 years off the mark. As for the Lenten fast, Athanasius, writing in his Festal Letters of 331 AD, stated that the faithful should fast for 40 days during Lent [40]. This makes Boettner 667 years off the mark. Canon 69 of the Apostolic Canons, which pre-date 341 AD, admonishes bishops, clergy, and laity to fast during Lent; Canon 56 of the Trullan Synod of 692 AD contains similar regulations [41]. Here Boettner is anywhere from 657 years to 306 years off.

[39] Maxwell Staniforth (trans.), Early Christian Writings. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books, 1968, pg 194.
[40] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 9, “Lent”, pg 152.
[41] ibid., Vol. 5, “Fast”, pg 791.

22. The Mass, developed gradually as a sacrifice, attendance made obligatory in the 11th century. The Didache, written somewhere around 140 AD, mentions that Christians should assemble on the Lord’s Day for the Eucharist, but that they should confess their sins beforehand, so that their “sacrifice may be a pure one” [42]; this sacrificial language is echoed layer by both Ignatius and Irenaeus. Thus, Boettner’s “gradual development” occured, rather precipitously, within 50 years of the death of the Apostle John, and not over a course of ten centuries as he implies.

As for obligatory attendance at Mass, the Council of Elvira in 300 AD decreed temporary excommunication as a corrective measure for anyone who missed Mass three weeks in a row [43], 700 years before Boettner’s date.

[42] Staniforth, Early Christian Writings, pg 197.
[43] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 14, “Sunday”, pg 335.

23. Celibacy of the priesthood, decreed by pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand)….1079.

Celibacy, of course, is mentioned as an ideal by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 7, although not as a mandatory injunction. Several early Fathers, including Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, and Epiphanius appear to have viewed the practice favorably as well; but it was the local Council of Elvira in Spain (295-302 AD) where celibacy was first imposed on bishops, priests, and deacons. The practice was held as the ideal for clergy, but was adopted—or imposed—piecemeal in various locations until it was decreed Church-wide for all clergy by the 1st Lateran Council in 1123 [44]. Boettner is thus off by 700 years in the first instance and 40 years in the second.

In the case of Gregory VII, he did indeed seek to strengthen the practice of clerical celibacy, but it was in two Lenten synods in 1074 and 1075, not in 1079 as Boettner asserts [45]. The second of these synods forbade married priests from saying Mass and laypeople from attending Masses celebrated by married priests [46]. Boettner is thus still off the mark by a margin of four to five years.
[44] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, “Celibacy”, pp 483-486.

[45] Kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes, pg 155.
[46] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pg 486.

24. The Rosary, mechanical praying with beads, invented by Peter the Hermit….1090.

The Rosary had a long and slow development, going back to knots tied in cords and holes drilled in pieces of wood, both dating from the 300’s AD. The current prayer, and system of a crucifix and 59 beads, appears to be the result of the devotion as it was practiced in the 12th century; in this state of evolution, it was popularized by St. Dominic Guzman (1170-1221) and later by Alan de Rupe, around 1470 [47].

Peter the Hermit was one of the popular promoters of the 1st Crusade. Along with Walter the Penniless, he helped organize volunteers for the Crusade in 1096, and died in 1115, but there is no body of evidence indicating that he “invented” the Rosary devotion as it is presently known [48].

[47] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 13, “Rosary”, pp 184-186.
Matthew Bunson, Encyclopedia of Catholic History. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 1995; “Rosary”, pg 733.
[48] Bunson, pp 653-654.

25. The Inquisition, instituted by the Council of Verona….1184.

Although there were both ecclesiastical and secular investigative bodies and tribunals which dealt with various heresies throughout the first 1200 years of Christian history [49], the actual first Papal Inquisition was established by Gregory IX in 1233 to investigate the Waldensian and Albigensian heresies; this was under the auspices of the Pope, as distinguished from episcopal bodies under the control of diocesan bishops [50].

Boettner is off by nearly 50 years for the establishment of the Papal Inquisition, and he is likewise inaccurate in calling the convocation at Verona in 1184 a “council”; more properly, it was a synod, and while severe measures were pronounced against the Cathari, Waldensians, and Arnoldists, the synod was a cooperative measure between Pope Lucius III and Emperor Frederick I, rather than an established Inquisition of later years [51].

[49] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 8, “Inquisition”, pp 26-30.
[50] Stravinskas, OSV’s Catholic Encyclopedia, “Inquisition”, pg 512.
Kelly, Dictionary of Popes, pg 190.
[51] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 9, “Lucius III”, pg 412.

26. Sale of Indulgences….1190.

Indulgences, or the remission (through the ministry of the Church) of temporal punishment due for forgiven sins, was bestowed upon the Apostles by Christ in John 20:23, and was thereafter mentioned by Tertullian (Ad Martyres, c.200 AD), St. Cyprian (Letter to His Clergy, 250 AD), and St. Basil (Letter to Amphilochius), 374 AD), as well as the Councils of Ancyra (314 AD), Laodicea (320 AD), Nicaea (325 AD), and Arles (320 AD) [52]. The abuse of indulgences has popped up from time to time throughout Church history, and has been condemned by the Church. The English Council of Clovesho in 747 AD sternly rebuked those who tried to hire penitents to perform austerities for them by means of proxy, with the indulgence thus gained supposedly going to the client of the penitent [53].

Boettner neglects to specify where he gets his date of 1190, which he apparently pulls out of the air at random; even later in his own book (pages 262-267) he blithely skips over this specific date. He is, however, in the general ballpark—the 12th century was about the time that indulgence “sales” gained popularity. Pope Urban II granted a plenary indulgence to all particpants of the 1st Crusade (1095), and after this, “sales” came into prominence, the monies thus gained being used for such projects as building churches, roads, and bridges, care for the poor and the ill, or education of the young. William of Auvergne, the Bishop of Paris (1228-1249) justified these actions as acts of Christian charity [54].

[52] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 7, “Indulgences”, pg 785.
[53] ibid., pg 786.
[54] H.R. Loyn, editor, The Middle Ages: A Concise Encyclopedia. London: Thames and Hudson, Ltd., 1989; pg 179.

27. Transubstantiation, proclaimed by pope Innocent III….1215.

As a concept, transubstantiation can be traced back at least to Tertullian, who states “He took bread, offered it to His disciples and made it into His body by saying, ‘This is My body'” (Against Marcion 212 AD); likewise Cyril of Jerusalem says “Once at Cana in Galilee by a mere nod He changed water into wine; should it now be incredible that He changes wine into blood?” (Catechetical Lectures [Mystagogic], 350 AD) [55].

As a term, transubstantiation was first used by the theologians Magister Roland about 1150, Stephen of Tournai about 1160, and Peter Comestor about 1170 [56]; this terminology was then used by the 1st Lateran Council in 1215, which is apparently where Boettner got his date from. As can be seen, however, Boettner is off by anywhere from 865 to 1003 years in the first instance, and anywhere from 45 to 65 years in the second.

[55] Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, pp 381-382.
[56] ibid., pg 379.

28. Auricular confession of sins to a priest instead of to God, instituted by pope Innocent III, in Lateran Council….1215.

Cyprian of Carthage, in The Lapsed (251 AD) speaks of penitents “making confession of their crime”, and of “having their conscience purged in the ceremony and at the hand of the priest” [57]. Likewise, Ambrose, in Penance (387-390 AD) writes “Christ granted [the power of penance] to the Apostles and from the Apostles it has been transmitted to the office of priests” [58]. From this, it can be seen that Innocent III certainly did not “institute” the practice of auricular confession to a priest; in fact, it existed 964 years before Boettner’s claim.

[57] Jurgens, Vol. 1, pg 218.
[58] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 11, “Penance”, pg 620.

29. Adoration of the wafer (Host), decreed by pope Honorius III….1220.

The implication here, of course, is that Catholics worship a piece of bread. Catholics do not worship bread, they worship Jesus Christ, Whose flesh and blood the bread has become. The fact that Christians considered the bread and wine to be transformed into the flesh and blood of Christ can be found as far back as Ignatius of Antioch, who wrote in his Epistle to the Romans (110 AD), “I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the Bread of God, which is the Flesh of Jesus Christ…and for drink I desire His Blood” [59].

As for the practice of perpetual adoration of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, the first recorded instance took place in 1226, although the practice did not become widespread until the 15th century [60]. From these examples it seems that Boettner erred more than 1000 years one way and about 200 years the other way.

[59] Jurgens, Vol. 1, pg 22.
[60] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, “Adoration”, pg 153.

30. Bible forbidden to laymen, placed on the Index of Forbidden books by the Council of Valencia….1229.

The Index of Forbidden Books was a gradual development. The first general listing of proscribed books was under Pope Paul III in 1542. The Inquisition had an expanded list by 1559, which was intended to be world-wide, and was also the first list to bear the title “Index”. The “Index Tridentinus” was issued by the Council of Trent in 1564, and in 1571, Pope Pius V established a specific Congregation of the Index, which remained in effect until 1917 [61]. Since the earliest date for the formation of the Index is 1542, it would be rather difficult to place the Bible (or any other book, for that matter) on it in 1229, which is more than 300 years before the Index existed. This is Boettner’s first blunder.

The 1962 edition of Boettner’s tome opines that this proscription of the Bible took place at the Council of Valencia; however, as Karl Keating points out, there has never been a Catholic church council held in Valencia, Spain—neither local, regional, nor ecumenical. This is Boettner’s second blunder [62]. Keating likewise explains that even if there had been a council in Valencia, it couldn’t have been held in 1229, since in 1229, Valencia was under the control of the Muslims, who were extremely unlikely to allow a Christian church council to be held in their territory; a quick check of any encyclopedia or historical atlas will bear this out [63]. This is Boettner’s third blunder, and as may be seen, his chronology has completely missed the mark along with both his history and his geography.

[61] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, “Censorship of Books”, pg 521.
Stravinskas, OSV’s Catholic Encyclopedia, “Index of Forbidden Books”, pg 507.
[62] Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988; pg 45.
[63] The Columbia-Viking Desk Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, “Valencia”. New York: Viking Press, 1953; pg 1310.
Hammond Illustrated Family Atlas, Vol. 2; Map, “Europe, c.1200 AD”. Glen Cove, NY: Bobley Publishing Corporation, 1969; pg H-15.

31. The Scapular, invented by Simon Stock, and English monk….1251.

Boettner finally has something right. The brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is, according to pious tradition, based on a vision had by Simon Stock in Cambridge, England, on July 16, 1251. In the vision, the Virgin Mary gave Simon a scapular, with the explanation that it was a “badge of her confraternity” [64].

Scapulars have always been associated with “third orders”, in which laypeoiple affiliate themselves with one religious order or another, pledging themselves to live good Christian lives; so what Boettner found so awful about this remains a mystery.

However, Simon Stock’s vision falls into the category of “private revelation”, which means that even when approved by the Church, it is not a required belief of any Catholic by any means, remaining entirely the option of the individual believer. The so-called “scapular promise” given to Simon Stock is likewise nothing more than private revelation, and is certainly not a doctrine, much less a dogma, of the Church.

[64] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 13, “Scapular”, pg 511.

32. Cup forbidden to the people at communion by Council of Constance….1414.

Instances of Holy Communion under the auspices of bread alone can be found as far back as the Council of Laodicea in the 4th century and the 2nd Council of Trullo in the 7th, both of which specified Communion under the species of bread alone during all fast days in Lent; this makes Boettner about 1000 years off in the earliest example [65]. After this, the gradual removal of the Sacred Blood from laypeople was introduced, apparently for a variety of reasons; one of them was the Church’s desire to reinforce the Church’s authority against heretics and the Reformers, who rejected the idea that Communion could be recieved under only one species. This idea they enforced on their own, apart from the authority of the Church [66]. Another reason was to prevent spillage of the Sacred Blood, and another was to abolish the practice of self-communication by means of intinction [67].

Constance did indeed impose restricting the Sacred Blood from laymen (not in 1414 as Boettner asserts, but a year later in 1415, at the 13th session of the council), but this was a reiteration of previous rulings, including the councils above, the monastic rule of Columbanus (in which the Blood was restricted from novices), and the Council of Lambeth in 1281. It was by no means a new, novel introduction [68].

[65] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, “Communion”, pg 177.
[66] ibid., pg 175.
[67] ibid., pg 178.
[68] ibid., pp 177-178.

33. Purgatory proclaimed as a dogma by the Council of Florence….1439.

As was mentioned in #1 and #9 of this list, the concept of Purgatory pre-dates the Catholic Church, and the doctrine has been around since the 2nd century; the assembled bishops at Florence merely defined the existing doctrine; they did not invent it.

34. The doctrine of the seven sacraments affirmed….1439.

Seven sacraments are mentioned by Peter Lombard (who died in 1164) in the fourth Book of Sentences; seven are likewise numbered by Otto of Bamberg in 1139; the Council of London in 1237; and the Council of Lyons in 1274, all of which pre-date Florence [69]. Boettner is thus off by 300 years in his claim of when the seven sacraments were affirmed.

[69] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 13, “Sacraments”, pp 299-300.

35. The Ave Maria (part of the last half was completed 50 years later and approved by pope Sixtus V at the end of the 16th century)….1508.

If Boettner is asserting that the “Hail Mary” prayer was invented in 1508, that is nonsense, since the first part of the Hail Mary is found in Scripture; Luke 1:28 finds Gabriel saluting Mary with “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you”, followed by Luke 1:42, in which Elizabeth continues, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb”. The prayer remained thus until the 15th century, when the words “Jesus Christ, amen” came into common usage.

The prayer as we now know it first appears in the “Calendar of Shepherds“, which was published in France in 1493; a book written by Girolamo Savonarola in 1495 also contains the entire prayer as we know it, minus the word “us” [70]. Thus, Boettner is off by 15 years for the “first half” of his chronology for the end of the prayer, and by 65 years for the “second half”.

[70] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 7, “Hail Mary”, pp 111-112.

36. Jesuit order founded by Loyola….1534.

Ignatius Loyola did indeed found the Society of Jesus in 1534, although the Society did not receive Papal approbation until 1540. Why Boettner seems to feel that the Jesuit Order (as opposed to the Benedictines, Dominicans, Passionists, Franciscans, etc., whom he never mentions) is a “heresy” or an “invention” is puzzling, especially in light of the fact that his own Calvinist denomination did not exist prior to 1536.

37. Tradition declared of equal authority with the Bible by the Council of Trent….1545.

None other than the Apostle Paul warned about the importance of Tradition, or the oral teachings of the Apostles (1 Corinthians 11:2, 2 Thessalonians 3:6); and he equated Tradition with written Scripture (2 Thessalonians 2:15). Trent re-confirmed the authority and equality of Apostolic Tradition with Scripture in the face of the Reformation, which denied the inspiration and authority of Tradition—along with every doctrine it contained which the Reformers disagreed with. The view of the early Christians, however, is borne out in texts such as these:
“What if the Apostles had not in fact left writings to us? Would it not be necessary to follow the order of tradition, which was handed down to those to whom they entrusted the churches?” (Irenaeus of Lyons; Against Heresies, 3,4,1; 180 AD) [71].
“The teaching of the Church has indeed been handed down through an order of succession from the Apostles, and remains in the churches even to the present time. That alone is to be believed as the truth which is in no way at variance with ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition.” (Origen; Fundamental Doctrines, 1, Preface, 2; 220 AD) [72].
“Of the dogmas and kerygmas preserved in the Church, some we possess from written teaching and others we receive from the tradition of the Apostles, handed on to us in mystery. In respect to piety both are of the same force.” (Basil the Great; The Holy Spirit, 27,66; 375 AD) [73].
“It is needful also to make use of Tradition; for not everything can be gotten from Sacred Scripture. The holy Apostles handed down some things in the Scriptures, other things in Tradition.” (Epiphanius of Salamis; Against All Heresies, 61,6; 374 AD) [74].

These examples could be multiplied, but these few more than suffice to render Boettner’s idea that Trent “added” Tradition to the Church’s Deposit totally null; he again off by 1,365 years in the case of Irenaeus, and 1,171 years in the case of Epiphanius.

[71] Jurgens, Vol. 1, pg 91.
[72] ibid., pg 190.
[73] Jurgens, Vol. 2, pp 18-19.
[74] ibid., pg 73.

38. Apocryphal books added to the Bible by the Council of Trent….1546.

Canon 36 from the Council of Hippo (October 8, 393) lists the following Old Testament books: “Sunt autem canonicae Scripturae: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numeri, Deuteronominum, Iesu Nave (Joshua), Iudicum (Judges), Ruth, Regnorum libri quator (1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings), Paralipomenon libri duo (1 & 2 Chronicles), Iob, Psalterium Davidicum, Salomonis libri quinque (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Sirach), Duodecim libri prophetarum (the twelve minor prophets—Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi). Esaias, Ieremias (comprising the books of Jeremiah, Lamentations, and Baruch), Daniel, Ezechiel, Tobias, Iudith, Hester, Hesdrae libri duo (Ezra and Nehemiah), Machabaeorum libri duo” [75].
(Bolding mine [Wayne Ariss] for emphasis of the disputed books.)
Likewise, Augustine in (2,8,13; 397 AD), lists the following:
“The whole canon of the Scriptures…is contained in these books: the five of Moses, namely, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; and one book of Jesus Nave (Joshua), one of Judges; one little book is called Ruth…the the four of Kingdoms (1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings); and the two of Paralipomenon (1 & 2 Chronicles)…Job and Tobias and Esther and Judith and the two books of Maccabees; and the two of Esdras (Ezra and Nehemiah)…the Psalms of David…Proverbs, Canticle of Canticles, and Ecclesiastes…WisdomEcclesiasticus (Sirach)…the individual books of the twelve (minor) prophets…Isaias, Jeremias (including both Lamentations and Baruch), Daniel, and Ezechiel. With these fourty-four books the authority of the Old Testament is concluded” [76].
(Bolding mine [Wayne Ariss] for emphasis of the disputed books.)

Again, these examples could be multiplied by examining the texts of the Decree of Damasus (382 AD), the 3rd and 4th Councils of Carthage (397 AD and 418 AD), and the Council of Florence in 1441 AD. Since the extant texts of these documents include the seven Deuterocanonical books within their lists of canonical Scriptures, it remains a mystery as to how the Council of Trent could have added them to the Bible (1,164 years later, in the earliest example) as Boettner claims.

[75] Mario Romero, Unabridged Christianity. Goleta, CA: Queenship Publishing Company, 1999; pg 16.
[76] Jurgens, Vol. 3, pg 53.

39. Creed of pope Pius IV imposed as the official creed….1560.

There are three creeds used in the Catholic Church: the Apostle’s Creed, dating at least as far back as Tertullian; the Nicene Creed, formulated at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD; and the Athanasian Creed, dating from the 4th century. The “Creed of Pius IV” however, was not a creed, but a profession of adherence to Catholic doctrine that all ecclesiastical office holders had to swear allegiance to. Contained in Pius’ bull Injunctum nobis, issued November 13, 1565 (not 1560 as Boettner erroneously claims), it contained a long list of doctrines, such as belief in seven sacraments, purgatory, the sacrifice of the Mass, obedience to the Roman Pontiff, acceptance of the Holy Scriptures, and so on, that any candidate for an office in the Church had to proclaim his belief in and adherence to [77]. As such, Boettner’s implication that Pius IV “invented a new creed” is baseless.

[77] Bunson, Encyclopedia of Catholic History, “Pius IV, Creed of”, pp 667-668.

40. Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, proclaimed by pope Pius IX….1854.

The Immaculate Conception of Mary (meaning the doctrine that she was conceived free from stain of original sin) goes back at least to St. Ephraim of Nisbis, who wrote in 370 AD that Mary was “immune from all stain…no spot…nor any taint” could be found in her [78]. Various other Patristic Fathers also described Mary in like terms—St. Ambrose said she was “free from all stain of sin”; Severus of Antioch said she was “pure from all taint”; Sophronius of Jerusalem called her “pre-purified”; Andrew of Crete called her the “pure and Immaculate Virgin”; and Theognastes of Constantinople said she was “conceived by a sanctifying action” [79].

Pius IX officially defined this existing doctrine and declared it to be a dogma in his bull Ineffabilis Deus in 1854 [80]—but as with many things Boettner misinterprets, Pius did not invent the Immaculate Conception; it existed as a concept more than 1400 years before 1854.

[78] Mark Miravalle, Introduction to Mary. Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing Company, 1993; pg 40.
[79] ibid., pg 40.
[80] ibid., pg 41.

41. Syllabus of Errors, proclaimed by pope Pius IX, and ratified by the Vatican Council; condemned freedom of religion, conscience, speech, press, and scientific discoveries which are disapproved by the Roman Church; asserted the pope’s temporal authority over all civil rulers….1864.

The Syllabus of Pius IX ignited a firestorm when it was issued in 1864—condemned by Germany’s Bismarck and Italy’s Victor Emmanuel, forbidden to be published in Russia and France. Many saw it as the Pope’s declaration of war against the modern state [81].

However, Pius’ document is merely a list of viewpoints which, insofar as Catholic teaching is concerned, are erroneous. Among them are the contention that there is no God (#1); that the existance of Jesus Christ is a myth (#7); that all religions are equally legitimate (#16); that the Church has no right to possess property (#26); that bishops may not publish letters to their congregations without the permission of the state (#28); that the state may intrude on the governance of the Church, up to and including the specification of how the sacraments may be administered (#44); that the Church has no right to establish schools; that even seminaries must be subject to the state (#46 and 47); and that the state has the right not only to appoint and depose bishops, but to prevent them from communicating with the Vatican (#49 and 51) [82].

A careful reading of the Syllabus does not reveal a condemnation of freedom of religion or conscience, but rather an assertion that Catholics have the right to freedom of religion and conscience free from interference by the secular state. There appears to be little or no mention of freedom of speech or press, outside of condemning the viewpoint that the state has the right to interfere in the communication of individual Catholics, both lay and clerical, with the Holy See. There is likewise no specific condemnation by the Pope concerning scientific discoveries, as Boettner asserts; but rather a refutation of the wholesale idea that the Church “impedes the true progress of science” (#12). Further, far from asserting the Pope’s rights over temporal rulers, the Syllabus repeatedly asserts the right of the Pope to be free from the interference of the secular state in matters pertaining to the governance of the Church.

In short, Boettner created a monster of his own imagination in what he perceives the Syllabus to contain, while conveniently ignoring the stipulations upheld by Pius IX that call for the protection of not only the individual rights of Catholics, but of all Christians—the same rights which would prove to be especially important in the century which followed the issuance of the Syllabus—a century which saw the flourishing of atheism, Communism, Nazism, and secular humanism.
[81] , Vol. 14; “Syllabus”, pg 368.

[82] http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9syll.htm.

42. Infallibility of the pope in matters of faith and morals, proclaimed by the Vatican Council….1870.

The concept of Papal infallibility has been around for a long time. The letter of Pope Clement I to the church in Corinth in approximately 80 AD issues instructions to that church, and Clement makes it clear that he is to be obeyed [83]; likewise, Irenaeus in Against Heresies (180 AD) states that all churches must conform to the church of Rome and be in agreement with it [84]. Augustine, in Against the Pelagians (420 AD) quotes a letter from Pope Innocent I, and declares, “Rome’s reply has come; the matter is closed” [85].

As a last example, Peter Chrysologus, the Archbishop of Ravenna, wrote to Eutyches in 449 AD, “We exhort you in every respect, honorable brother, to heed obediently what has been written by the Most Blessed Pope of the City of Rome; for Blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own see, provides the truth of faith to those who seek it. For we, by reason of our pursuit of peace and faith, cannot try causes on the faith without the consent of the Bishop of the City of Rome” [86]. These examples more than suffice to show that the 1st Vatican Council merely defined the doctrine of Papal infallibility; as a concept it pre-dated the council by nearly 1800 years, and was not “invented” in 1870, despite what Boettner tries to imply.

[83] Jurgens, Vol. 1, pg 12.
[84] ibid., pg 90.
[85] ibid., Vol. 3, pg 142.
[86] ibid., pg 268.

43. Public schools condemned by pope Pius XI….1930.

Boettner is apparently referring to a document issued by the Catechetical Office of the Holy See on January 12, 1935 (not 1930, as he stipulates), entitled “Provido Sane Consilio: On Better Care for Catechetical Teaching“. The document nowhere condemns public schools, but merely insists on the right of Catholic students in public schools to receive proper catchetical instruction from the Church, as a safeguard against academic instruction hostile to the Catholic Faith.

For example, #12 of the document states that “in some nations, the very right of the Church to direct the Christian education of children is called into question or even denied by reason of political policy”; #15 states that this interference is exacerbated by “the fact that ravening wolves have come into the world, not sparing the flock; likewise, pseudo-teachers given to atheism and the new paganism have made their appearance, giving expression to clever falsehoods and sheer nonsense by writings and by other means cunningly attempting to destroy the Catholic belief in God, in Jesus Christ, and in the divine work of the Church” [87].

Clearly the purpose of the Pope, as evidenced by the issuance of this instructional letter, is not the condemnation of public schools, but a concern that Catholic students, whatever their educational disposition, are allowed access to proper religious instruction under the legitimate supervision of the Church—a right that was being denied even then in countries like Nazi Germany. Boettner has not only misinterpreted the purpose of the letter, but he is also off by five years concerning the date of its issuance.

[87] http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CATTEACH.HTM.

44. Assumption of the Virgin Mary (bodily ascention into heaven shortly after her death), proclaimed by pope Pius XII…..1950.

As with the cases of the Immaculate Conception and Papal infallibility, Boettner tries to give the impression that the Assumption of Mary is something that the Vatican “invented” in recent years. While the Assumption was admittedly a gradual development within the belief of the Church, the fact is that the concept pre-dates its definition by better than 1300 years.

The first explicit reference to this doctrine is from Gregory of Tours (d.593), who states in his letter Libri miraculorum that Mary’s body was borne to heaven after her death; other references come from Germain of Constantinople, Andrew of Crete, and John Damascene, who mentions in his Second Homily on the Dormition of Mary (c.745 AD) that three days after Mary’s death, her coffin was opened, to reveal empty grave wrappings, but no trace of her body [88]. Although all of these references date from the 8th century, liturgical feasts in honor of the Assumption began to appear in Christian churches in Syria and Egypt during the 6th century; in Gaul in the 7th century; in Rome by the 8th century; and were universally celebrated by the whole of East and West by the 13th century [89].

[88] Romero, pg 282.
[89] Miravalle, pp 52-53.

45. Mary proclaimed Mother of the Church, by pope Paul VI…..1965.

This was an addendum to Boettner’s original book, as the first publication date for Roman Catholicism was 1962; however, Boettner remains off in his dates, since the proclamation of Mary as Mother of the Church was issued by Pope Paul VI not in 1965, but on November 21, 1964: “Therefore, for the glory of the Blessed Virgin and our consolation, we declare most holy Mary Mother of the Church, that is of the whole Christian people” [90].

As with most of the other items in Boettner’s list, the subject of Mary’s title as Mother of the Church in neither anything new nor terribly controversial; the earliest reference to Mary as “Virgin Mother of the Church” can be found in a work by Berengaud of Treves (d.1125) in which he says “By the Woman (Revelation 12:1), we may understand Blessed Mary, for she is Mother of the Church for having engendered the one who is head of the Church” [91]. Rupert of Deutz (d.1135) in his Canticum Canticorum refers to Mary as the “Mother of Churches”; and Denis the Carthusian (d.1471) refers to Mary as “Mother of the whole Church” [92].

Further references to Mary under this title can be found in the writings of St. Antoninus of Florence, St. Lawrence, St. Peter Canasius, Matthias Scheeben, and St. John Bosco. As can be clearly seen, Mary was being referred to as “Mother of the Church” 840 years before Boettner’s implication that Pope Paul VI “invented” the title.
[90] Cathechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Edition. Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference/Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997; pg 251.

[91] Leon Suprenant, Jr., “Mary, Mother of the Church”. Catholics United For the Faith,
[92] ibid.

The forty-five “heresies and inventions” that Loraine Boettner lists at the beginning of Roman Catholicism did, indeed, develop over the course of Church history; but as we have seen, none of them are “heretical”; and neither were they “invented” at some point in time—and Boettner is a dismal failure at pinning down the correct dates of the development of these doctrines. As I stated at the beginning, I will leave it up to the individual reader to decide for themselves whether a man who is so grossly erroneous in the fixing of simple historical dates (leaving aside all of his other errors) can be trusted to to be correct in instructing his readers whether a Catholic doctrine is a heresy, and invention, or not.

Perhaps Karl Keating put it best in his assessment of Boettner’s magnum opus: “No effort is made to give sources for his charges, and little effort is made to say what the significance of the ‘inventions’ might be. That task is left to innuendo. What Boettner implies is that any belief or practice not found in the pages of the New Testamant in plain words must be spurious and must have been instituted for some nefarious purpose” [93].

I believe that Boettner himself had a “nefarious purpose” in creating the infamous “list” on pages 7, 8, and 9 of his book: to discredit, malign, and denegrate the Catholic Church, at all costs—even if he had to prefabricate the charges against her. The sad thing is that so many good and sincere Christians, Protestant and Catholic alike, have been taken in by his falshoods. With God’s kindness and grace, perhaps those who read this paper of mine will be helped to see that the only “inventions” to be found in Boettner’s book are the ones he concocted and wrote down himself.

[93] Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, pg 47.


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Kelly, J.N.D.; The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1986.

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Miravalle, Mark; Introduction to Mary. Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing Company, 1993.

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Romero, Mario; Unabridged Christianity. Goleta, CA: Queenship Publishing Company, 1999.

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Stravinskas, Peter; Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 1991.

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Williamson, G.A., translator; Eusebius: The History of the Church. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, UK: Pengiun Books, Ltd., 1965.

See also


''The Two Babylons''

Essay:Reasons the Catholic Church is Unbiblical

The Da Vinci Code

Christian apologetics

Defamation, Calumny, Libel, Slander, Detraction