Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on October 7th, 2015 and has been revised.
The Roman Catholic Church in History
By Walter Martin
Christian Research Institute, 1960 edition, 87 pp.
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 1958, two years prior to the founding of his once-influential evangelical apologetics ministry, Christian Research Institute (CRI). 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 regrettably does not address the primary issue of justification directly.
Martin’s “The 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 55 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 1958 booklet to accommodation and silence? The current director of CRI, Hank Hanegraaff, teaches that Catholicism has many un-Biblical 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 not been republished since 1960 and copies are nearly impossible to find. However, I was able to obtain a photocopy from Christian Answers of Austin, Texas (biblequery.org). See here.
Martin’s accommodation and compromise with Roman Catholicism was one of many contributing factors to the rampant ecumenism we see today. For more details, refer to a subsequent post, “How Walter Martin sowed the seeds for the current Hank Hanegraaff controversy,” published on August 7, 2017, here.
Addendum: People are still curious about Walter Martin. The original, 2015 posting of “Walter Martin was no admirer of Catholicism, but dropped the ball in ‘The Kingdom of the Cults”‘ continues to receive visitors regularly and is this blog’s third-most-viewed post with 1866 all-time hits currently.