The Roman Catholic Church in History
By Walter Martin
Christian Research Institute, 1960, 87 pages
Most of today’s younger believers have never heard of Walter Martin (1928-1989) but the man played an important role in modern Evangelicalism. Martin wrote the booklet, The Roman Catholic Church in History, in 1960, the same year he founded his once-influential Evangelical apologetics ministry, Christian Research Institute. This booklet is extremely critical of Roman Catholic theology as it examines the papacy, the preeminence of tradition over Scripture, Mariolatry, confession and penance, the mass, and purgatory. While Martin implies there is no salvation in works-based Catholic legalism he unfortunately does not address the primary issue of justification directly.
Martin’s “Kingdom of the Cults,” published initially in 1965 and still in print and widely available, is considered the most important reference on cults over the last 50 years. Surprisingly, there is hardly any mention of Catholicism in that book. I wonder what happened that caused Martin to retreat from his uncompromising criticism of Catholicism in his previous booklet to accommodation and silence? The current director of CRI, Hank Hanegraaff, teaches that Catholicism has many unbiblical doctrines but is, fundamentally, a Christian church.
Because Hanegraaff and CRI would like to forget The Roman Catholic Church in History was ever written the booklet has never been republished and copies are nearly impossible to find. However, photocopies can be obtained from Christian Answers of Austin, Texas (biblequery.org). See here.
For a video clip from a 1980 John Ankerberg Show episode featuring Walter Martin and a Catholic priest debating justification by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone versus Rome’s sacramental grace and works, see here.