I look forward to reading your great column every week ever since I discovered it earlier this year. It seems that so many Christians are not really living for Christ. I know the Bible says something about an apostasy.
I have been only saved for about a year. I am a bit confused about what the Emergent church is, and why some Christian leaders say we should team up with the Catholic Church. Can you help me understand more about this trend? Is the Roman Catholic Church part of the Christian church? I would appreciate it if you can shed some light on any of this.
Thank you for your kind words. I will do my best to address your concerns. We are living in the last of the last days and the prophesied Apostasy is well underway. No, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) is not a Christian church in the true biblical sense. The RCC is part of the Apostasy and so is the Emergent church.
The Greek definition of the word “apostasy” means “a defection; a renunciation.” Webster’s Dictionary, the 1928 Edition provides a solid definition, “An abandonment of what one has professed; a total desertion, or departure from one’s faith or religion.”
Scripture gives us more information on what we can expect prior to the Tribulation. The Day of the Lord is in reference to the Tribulation years:
“Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come, Let no one deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction [the Antichrist]” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).
Notice the order of the passages, the distinct succession of the verses in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3: Let no one in any way deceive you by any means, implies that attempts to deceive are at play. Immediately after that verse we read: For it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, implying: defection, caused by what is stated in the previous verse: “deceive” (deception). After the deception, comes the apostasy, the falling away.
To illustrate further, consider the end-times apostasy in the parable of the leaven showing that apostasy is going to take place in the last days, and that the infiltration of corrupt doctrines into the Church will result in total apostasy. In Matthew 13 and 16, the “leaven” is the end-times apostasy (false doctrines) as shown by Jesus in the parable of the leaven.
Jesus warned about false doctrines:
“Another parable He spoke to them: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened’” (Matthew 13:33).
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadduccees’” (Matthew 16:6, 11-12).
Jesus’ parable of the leaven is concerning apostasy in the last days. It is a warning about false teachings and false doctrines, a “standing away from faith.” By the Lord’s own account, leaven is false doctrine. In Thessalonians 2:3, Scripture teaches that the explosion of false doctrines in the last days will take hold, making the way for Antichrist. The following verses clearly show that some will teach false doctrines that contradict the true teachings of the Bible.
“Now the spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2).
“For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (2 John 7, 9-11).
Many “sheep in wolves clothing” are deliberately infiltrating the Christian church offering confusing, distorted teachings spanning from the Emergent church movement, “contemplative prayer” trends—to “seeker-sensitive” doctrines. They are dangerously compromising the gospel by attacking the very basic, core-truths of Scripture. Substitutes for God’s redemptive work are running awry—propelled by those who do not accept the authority, inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible.
Because they do not like or want to accept the truths of the Bible, a deceptive tactic used by some “evangelicals” who compromise the Scriptures is this: They say the true meanings of Scripture are “unclear” in an attempt to appear modest and gain popular favor with their target audience, when in truth they are casting doubt upon God’s inerrant Word.
The Emergent church is a movement that claims to be Christian. The Emergent church is used to describe a broad, controversial movement that seeks to use culturally sensitive approaches to reach the postmodern, un-churched population with the Christian message. Some Emergent churches might use props such as candles, statues, and incense along with poems, videos, etc. Emergent church services can be very informal, while others are more formal.
Emergent churches seek to reach the lost by focusing on relationships and developing a “story,” a “journey of life” that is expressed through the “narrative of learning.” These words and others are often used by emerging teachers in describing their religious experiences. Other terms sometimes used are “re-imagine,” “tribe,” story of Jesus,” deconstruction,” etc.
Sometimes in this movement there is an ambiguous, feelings-oriented desire to experience God and also share in the lives of people as they seek to find God their way. Some Emergent churches go so far as to say those outside of Christianity will be saved. We know that this is the opposite of what Scripture teaches.
Some Emergent churches are environmentally focused, while others concentrate on local community issues. Some downplay biblical doctrine, reinterpret creeds and de-emphasize tradition, while some hold on to some tradition. It is very difficult to exactly define what an Emergent church is. The common denominator that they have is that they stray from basic biblical truths in some way, shape or form.
In 1994 an ecumenical document was signed by some leading Evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders her in the United States. The co-signers were Charles Colson and Richard John Neuhaus, representing each side of the discussion. It was part of a larger ecumenical rapprochement in the US that had begun in the 1980s with Catholic-Evangelical collaboration in parachurch organizations such as the Moral Majority.
One of the most recent and most outspoken proponents of Christians and Catholics together is the controversial mega-church leader, Rick Warren. A video that was released in 2014 documenting Rick Warren calling for Christians to unite with Roman Catholics and Pope Francis. Warren has also referred to the Pope as the “Holy Father” which has raised serious concerns among Christians nationwide and is resulting in calls for Warren to repent.
Matt Slick of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) repudiated each of Warren’s points. “Sure, there are Catholics who love the real Christ, the one who died on the cross for our sins. That is not the problem,” he said. “The problem is the Roman Catholic Church’s false teachings concerning Mary and salvation.”
“Rick Warren says both the Catholics and the Protestants believe in the Bible. But, there is a significant difference between the Bible of the Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church, which has added seven books,” Slick wrote. “There are numerous problems in the apocryphal books, such as the teaching of salvation by works and the offering of money for the sins of the dead.”
“Warren implies that both Protestants and Catholics have the same view of salvation,” he continued. “Though it’s technically correct to say that Catholics believe in salvation through Jesus Christ, they reject justification by faith alone in Christ alone. Instead, it teaches that good works of various kinds are necessary for salvation.”
Matt Slick also pointed to several Roman Catholic teachings on Mary, mainly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), such as that Mary “by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation” and that “by asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the ‘Mother of Mercy,’ the ‘All-Holy One.’” (This is clearly a heretical unbiblical teaching.)
“Rick Warren has not only failed to recognize the problems in these serious areas, but he has lent his credibility as a Protestant pastor in support of the Roman Catholic Church,” Slick wrote. “This should never be done by any Protestant pastor who takes the Bible seriously. I must conclude that Mr. Warren does not take the Word of God seriously and/or he does not understand the damnable teachings of Roman Catholicism regarding salvation. Rick Warren needs to repent,” he said. 
Mary worship is a big problem in the Roman Catholic Church. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) the RCC call the Catholic Mary the “All Holy One” (CCC2677). Devotion to Mary is encouraged (CCC971). Praying to Mary is part of their teaching (CCC2679).
Mary is worshipped (Vatican Council II, p.420). The RCC teaches that “So no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother,” (Vatican Website: Encyclical of Pope Leo 13th on the Rosary, Octobei mense, Pope Leo 13th, 1903-1914).
The false teaching continues today by the RCC as already pointed out in the Matt Slick quote above; the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that Mary brings us gifts of eternal life and by her manifold intercession continues to bring gifts of salvation (CCC par. 969).
And outrageously the RCC teaches that Mary made atonement of the sins of mankind:
“Mary, by her spiritual entering into the sacrifice of her divine son of men, made atonements for the sins of man and (de congruon) merited the application of the redemptive grace of Christ. in this manner she cooperates in the subjective redemption of mankind.” (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ott, page 213)
“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
Tony, as you can see by just some of the false teachings addressed here, the Roman Catholic Church is indeed a false religious organization that has deceived millions of people. The qualities and works attributed to Mary by the Roman Catholic Church far exceed what is revealed to us in Scripture. In fact the Bible says not to exceed what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6). But through Catholic tradition a whole host of unbiblical teaching concerning Mary have been proclaimed.
And Mary worship is just one of many doctrinal problems within the RCC. The entire organization is filled with unbiblical rituals, idol worship, pomp and circumstance that have nothing to do with the biblical Jesus and His teachings.
Revelation 17:1-18 reveals to us that there will be a one-world religion during the seven-year Tribulation. It is evident that those who call themselves Christians but embrace the false teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the Emergent church movement are paving the way for the Antichrist’s one-world religious system.
We don’t know exactly what the end-time one-world religion will consist of but we can see the formation of it taking place today.
In 2014 Pope Francis came out with a statement that equating Islam with violence was wrong and called on Muslim leaders to issue a global condemnation of terrorism to help dispel the stereotype. The leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics told reporters aboard his plane returning from a visit to Turkey—that he understood why Muslims were offended by many in the West who automatically equated their religion with terrorism. 
So we have the Pope who thinks Islam is a religion of peace and so-called Christian leaders who work to unite Christians with the false teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The Lord Jesus warned that in the last days many would abandon the faith and we can see that prophecy coming to fruition.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
The concerns you have expressed are all part of the last days prophetic time line. We are heading toward a one-world government and one-world religion that will explode during the Tribulation years. The best thing we can do as believers is share the gospel truth with as many people as possible.
Tony, thank you for your sharing your concerns and questions. I hope this brief synopsis of the Apostasy taking place will help you to better understand the deceptive times in which we live.
God bless you,
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).