Grace and peace, saints
A couple of days ago, I was checking out missionary organizations online, curious to see what mission fields are considered priority right now.
One organization I checked out was SIM, an “international interdenominational mission” headquartered in South Carolina. Established in 1893, the acronym originally stood for Soudan (Sudan) Interior Mission, and, in 2015, the organization claimed to have had more than 2000 missionaries serving in over 65 countries on 6 continents.
On SIM’s website, under the menu tab, “Where Can I Serve?” was a page that broke the world down into three geographical areas: Africa and Europe, The Americas, and Asia Pacific. Under Europe and Africa, I was mildly surprised to see that the only European country listed was France. Germany, where I live and serve, did not appear; and all the other countries under this heading were African nations.
Because Europe is Roman Catholic, and because I am an evangelist here in Germany, where Roman Catholicism is very strong (Pope Benedict XVI is German), I had to know why France made the list, but not Germany. I therefore read SIM’s country and ministry profile for France. Following is their description of the religious situation there:
“France is one of the countries where the Reformation started. The Roman Catholic Church has played a predominant role in French society and mentalities in the past. Anti-religious sentiments have developed in France since the 1970’s and in 1999, those who labeled themselves as French evangelicals were labeled a “sect” by a government commission. There are 36,550 cities, towns, and villages in France, and 35,000 of them do not have an Evangelical church.
“Meanwhile Islam has seen strong growth. For each evangelical Christian in France, there are ten practicing Muslims. France has developed the reputation as a “missionary graveyard.” It is one of the least evangelized countries in the world—only 0.4% of the country are Evangelical Christian. It is both essential and urgent that everything be put into place so that the Gospel is preached with strength and vigor.”
A closer contextual examination of these statements will reveal a serious flaw in SIM’s evangelical focus. First, it is important to understand that Roman Catholicism is not Christianity, but a pagan system of idolatry that centers on the worship of an idol called the Virgin Mary and a piece of bread called the Eucharist that Roman Catholics believe is Jesus Christ Himself. It should also be understood that the highest authority in The Roman Catholic Church is not the Lord Jesus Christ, but a man called the Pope, who is considered God on earth.
1. “France is one of the countries were the Reformation started.”
The problem with this statement is that many Christians have no idea what the Reformation was, and are thus unaware of the importance of this movement and its effect on Europe and the world. Such a cursory treatment of the subject is therefore totally ineffective for helping perspective missionaries to understand the urgent need of evangelism in France.
The Reformation was the movement that began in 1517, when the courageous Roman Catholic priest, Martin Luther, nailed his 95 theses to the door of All Saints Church at Wittenberg, Germany. Because Luther protested against the many excesses and abuses of power of the Roman Catholic Church, Luther and his followers were called Protestants, and the movement that emerged from his bold act became known as the Protestant Reformation. The Middle Ages, the time in Europe’s history when the Reformation began, was also known as the Dark Ages, so called because the Roman Catholic Church had nearly completely extinguished the light of the Gospel.
The Catholic Church claims that its pope is God on earth and that its priests also hold the place of God. This belief is the source of the Catholic Church’s tremendous power and is the reason it can set up and depose kings and queens at its leisure. During the Dark Ages, the only Bibles that were allowed by the Church were in Latin, which most people couldn’t understand. The laity were also forbidden to read the Bible, and it was forbidden to translate the Bible into the language of the common people. Because Luther and the early reformers preached the Gospel from the Bible, and taught that Jesus did away with earthly priests and is, in fact, the High Priest of the New Covenant, the Reformation threatened the power of the Vatican. Moreover, Luther, Tyndale, and other reformers translated the Bible into English, German, and other languages, and with Gutenberg’s movable type, which also came out of the Reformation, for the first time in history, the Bible became widely available to the common people in their own language, and anyone who wanted to know the truth (and was willing to risk his life to learn it), could know it.
With the truth of the Gospel for the first time available to the common man, Rome’s power over the people through fear, ignorance, and superstition was really threatened. In retaliation, Rome launched the Counter-Reformation, a movement to destroy Christianity and the Word of God. One way the Catholic Church is attempting to do this is by infiltrating the true Christian Church with Roman Catholic doctrine and by supplanting Reformation Bibles with thousands of corrupted Catholic-influenced Bibles which alter the true Word of God. Led by the Society of Jesus, a ruthless organization sworn to destroy Christianity and bring the world under the iron fist of the Papacy, the Counter Reformation is in full swing today and has nearly come to fruition.
2. “The Roman Catholic Church has played a predominant role in French society and mentalities…”
This is a gross understatement. The Roman Catholic Church played much more than merely a predominant role in French society. The Roman Catholic Church ordered all of French society. The Roman Catholic Church was all-present, all pervasive, and all-encompassing in the life of all of Europe. Priests took an active role in government, and with few exceptions, all European monarchs were totally subservient to the Roman Catholic pope, who had the power to depose any ruler at his leisure. If a king or queen would not recognize his authority, the pope would merely order all Roman Catholics to disregard the king’s authority, and the monarch’s reign was effectively ended. Several kings were, in fact, excommunicated and deposed by popes.
Through the Confessional, where Catholics confess their sins to a priest in order to have them “absolved,” the priests were privy to even the most intimate details of all Catholic marriages and used their influence to manage the minutest aspects of Catholic families. This practice continues today and through it, the priests wield the same power and influence over Catholics’ lives today.
“…In the past.”
The statement that the Roman Catholic Church has only wielded its influence in France “in the past,” is also very misleading, as it implies that Rome wields no influence in France at the present time. But, just as the Roman Catholic Church was all-present, all-pervasive, and all-encompassing in Europe during the Dark Ages, so is the Roman Catholic Church all-present, all-pervasive and all-encompassing in the 21st Century. Even today, if you drive down the highway in any country in Europe—especially in Germany and France—you will immediately notice that the largest and tallest building in all the little villages dotting the landscape will be a Catholic church. In Munich, Germany, for example, the city’s most famous landmark, the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) often appears in many logos, while the official logo for the city of Munich is a Dominican monk.
3. Anti-religious sentiments have developed in France since the 1970’s and in 1999, those who labeled themselves as French evangelicals were labeled a “sect” by a government commission.
This statement is so misleading that it almost borders on a lie. There is no anti-religious sentiment in France, as the French are nothing if not religious. Anti-religious sentiment SIM is talking about is really anti-Protestant hatred.
It must be understood that the Roman Catholic Council of Trent (1545-1563) condemned all Protestants as heretics and placed them under one hundred twenty-five curses. Under Tridentine doctrine, heretics deserve to die and it is no crime to kill a heretic. As a result of this doctrine, Protestants have been persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church in France, Europe, and the world over for over a thousand years, and this persecution is indelibly recorded in French history. For example, when the Catholic Church succeeded in persuading King Louis XIV of France to revoke the Edict of Nantz, a decree granting religious tolerance to French Protestants, the Roman Catholics in France subsequently went on a killing spree, ultimately murdering over 200,000 Protestants.
The majority of popes have been French, and most of the murderous Crusades were led by French kings, including the Waldensian/Albigensian Crusade of 1208 against the Waldenses, a French Protestant people named for their leader, Peter Waldo. Led by Simon DeMontfort, this crusade so obliterated the Waldenses that it was said of DeMontfort that he “not only destroyed a people, but a literature.”
4. “Meanwhile Islam has seen strong growth. For each evangelical Christian in France, there are ten practicing Muslims. France has developed the reputation as a “missionary graveyard.”
Given that France is a Roman Catholic country—and the Roman Catholic Church wields a lot of power today—then no matter how much Islam grows, it will never overtake Roman Catholicism, even with the huge influx of Muslims into the country in recent decades. For every Muslim in France, therefore, there are probably one thousand practicing Catholics.
It should also be noted that many Muslim immigrants are really baptized Catholics: a fact that the media rarely covers. This is especially true of immigrants from former French colonial possessions such as Morocco and Lebanon. While not all such Muslims are practicing Catholics, it is true that many Muslims attend Roman Catholic mass. For example, one Sunday evening a couple of years ago, my family and I were strolling along the pedestrian shopping area at Marienplatz, here in Munich, when, on a whim, I opened the door of the Catholic Church of St. Michael and gazed in. The very moment I opened the door, an apparently Turkish family walked out, and a woman in the family was wearing the black garb commonly associated with Islam. If I were not already aware that some Muslims are actually practicing Catholics, I would have been very surprised.
Roman Catholics and Muslims actually have a lot in common. In Turkey, for example, Roman Catholics and Muslims have a joint shrine called the House of Mother Mary, believed by both Roman Catholics and Muslims to have been the final abode of the Virgin Mary. Thousands of Muslims make the pilgrimage to the city of Ephesus in Turkey every year to visit the shrine.
So, while Islam may be gaining influence in France, Islam is no threat to Roman Catholicism, as Roman Catholicism and Islam have always been able to coexist. The greatest challenge to Christian evangelism in France, therefore, is not Islam, but Roman Catholicism.
Bottom line: The growing influence of Islam notwithstanding, France will always be Roman Catholic. The historic enmity between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism is the real reason France is a missionary graveyard, as the Council of Trent condemns all Bible-believing Christians as heretics, and Trent is the basis of the Roman Catechism, which every Roman Catholic must learn and follow. Roman Catholics therefore fear and hate the gospel message.
Given all this, it is very troubling that SIM does not consider evangelizing Roman Catholics a mission priority for France.
SIM’s reticence to evangelize Roman Catholics is not restricted to France. Of Australia’s over 24 million inhabitants (according to the November 2015 census), the majority are Roman Catholic (Encyclopedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, Vol. I Micropedia, p. 712 “Australia.”). Yet, SIM chooses to focus its evangelism efforts on the 1.3 million foreign students:
”With more than 25 percent of university students (total 1.3 million enrolled) coming from overseas, Australia has the highest concentration of international students in the world. A notable trend is that foreign students are proving more responsive to the gospel than Australians. Praise God for this open door.”
In that the vast majority of Australians are Roman Catholics, SIM’s decision to target foreign students, who make up only 4% of the total population, is tragic at best. SIM also neglects the indigenous population, the Aboriginals, most of whom are baptized Roman Catholics.
But it gets worse. Under “The State Religion” we read:
“Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus: More than 1.4 million Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus live in Australia. Pray for churches and Christians to overcome fears and prejudice and share the gospel effectively.”
If the majority of Australians are Roman Catholic, and Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus constitute less than 4% of the population, then, clearly “The State Religion” is Roman Catholicism. Again, SIM ignores the clear evidence that their evangelism efforts ought to be directed towards Roman Catholics and expends their energy on a small minority of the population, who are no more lost than the majority of Australians.
But if you think SIM missed the mark with France and Australia, look how SIM describes the ministry needs of the United States:
“The United States is a nation of immigrants with a great diversity of ethnic origins. Her history and vast space create a spirit of individualism and independence in her people. Though its modern history begins with Christians seeking religious freedom, and despite several outstanding seasons of spiritual awakening in the past, the nation has nevertheless become highly materialistic and consumer-oriented.” [boldface mine.]
This is absolutely incredible. The problem with America is not materialism or consumerism. As in France, Australia, and most every other country in the world, the problem with America is Roman Catholicism.
The majority of America’s immigrants have historically been from Roman Catholic countries, and, like, France, though recent years have seen a marked increase in Muslim immigration, Roman Catholicism is and will always be the largest and most influential religion in America. It should be noted that the Roman Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington, D. C., has been billed as “A Church For National Purposes.” In layman’s terms, this means a national church. If the national Church is Roman Catholic, then the national religion is Roman Catholicism. The Capital, seat of the national government, looks like a replica of the Vatican replete with an obelisk out front. You may also find it interesting that the Roman Catholic Church dedicated America to the “Immaculate Heart of Mary” in 1947, and, since then, the United States, like all Roman Catholic countries, even has its own patron saint called Our Lady of America. America is Roman Catholic.
If SIM were truly a Christian organization, then they would recognize the need for Roman Catholics to be evangelized in America. But SIM is not Christian, it is Roman Catholic. This can be proven by looking at SIM’s ministry profile for Canada:
“Canada has a long and rich heritage as a missionary-sending country, and it is the historical base for the original Sudan Interior Mission. The church in Canada has sent thousands of missionaries around the world over many years. This effort has declined in recent decades, corresponding to a weakening regard for global mission overall.”
“[Canada’s] diversity has a spiritual expression as well, and a multiplicity of spiritual beliefs and values is growing. Christianity remains prominent, despite a frequent bias against the church and Christian values in the public forum.”
It must be emphasized that Canada is a thoroughly Roman Catholic country that was originally settled by French Roman Catholic immigrants. Canada was originally known as New France, and the official language of the province of Quebec is French. When SIM says Christian, therefore, what it actually means is Roman Catholic. In that one of SIM’s original three founders was a Canadian, and the organization was originally headquartered in Canada, then it’s a safe bet that SIM was not founded to spread Christianity; that is Protestantism, but Roman Catholicism.
In that SIM is a Roman Catholic missionary organization that sends missionaries to countries that are already Roman Catholic, then the logical conclusion is that SIM’s goal is to counter the efforts of Protestant missionaries in those countries and ensure the dominance of Roman Catholicism. Since SIM has sent thousands of missionaries around the world, it is probably responsible for the growth of Roman Catholicism in Africa, Asia, and the Third World. The decline in SIM’s missionary efforts in many areas is likely, therefore, not due to “a weakening regard for global mission,” but because SIM has seen the fruit of its efforts in those areas to the extent that it can now shift its focus to its own back yard.
Further proof of SIM’s Roman Catholic roots can be seen in its affiliations. SIM is an associate member of the Forum of Bible Agencies International (FBAI). In 2002, at the Southern Baptist Convention, the sponsors of the Today’s New International Version (TNIV), a Bible version that uses “inclusive (gender neutral) language”, in response to critics that the translation was inaccurate, stated that their translation guidelines met FBAI standards. In response, the Forum stated that it does not “approve, endorse, or support” any particular Bible translation. If the FBAI doesn’t endorse any particular Bible version, then it endorses all Bible versions (except, of course, the King James).
Again, the goal of the Counter Reformation is to destroy Protestant Christianity and Reformation Bibles, including the Authorized Version (KJV). One way they are doing this in the English-speaking world is by attempting to destroy Christians’ faith in the King James Bible through promoting Roman Catholic Church-approved Bibles, like the NIV and TNIV, which are based on corrupt manuscripts. The TNIV was even advertised in Playboy Magazine.
In 1989, SIM merged with The International Christian Fellowship (ICF). Founded in 1990, the ICF bills itself as an “evangelical association of churches from [the] Neo-charismatic movement.” You may know that the Charismatic Movement originated in the Roman Catholic Church.
SIM’s history, mission focus, and affiliation, in my view, reveal it to be a Roman Catholic missionary organization which, while donning an “evangelical” guise, is actually part of the Counter-Reformation, promoting the interests of the Papacy through the promotion of Roman Catholic influenced Bible versions in its “missionary” efforts.
Because many Christians support missions and missionaries, we need to be aware of organizations like SIM and examine the origin, doctrine, and affiliations of those organizations we support to ensure we are not unwittingly aiding Rome and the Counter-Reformation.
Be encouraged, and look up; for your redemption draweth nigh.
The Still Man