When popes die or abdicate their throne it is inevitably a test of orthodoxy. Evangelical leaders come out of the woodwork waxing eloquent in the public eye. It’s shocking who outs themselves as Gospel compromising, Reformation canceling, pope adoring apostates. With the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral we’ve seen that it isn’t just the death of popes but the burning of Catholic cathedrals that tests men’s orthodoxy and commitment to “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
In his article titled History Burning Before Our Eyes: The Tragedy of Notre Dame and the Soul of Modern France, Dr. Albert Mohler gazed into the burning flames consuming the Notre Dame Cathedral and wrote, “the Protestant Reformers themselves would have mourned the loss of this great cathedral.” This is an astonishing declaration from a historian, a theologian, and the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The Protestant Reformers suffered unimaginable, creative tortures invented by the Roman Catholic Church and its popes. They were often burned at the stake — slowly. They watched their co-laborers in the Gospel and beloved family members who would not renounce salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone have hot pokers thrust through their bodies. They watched their friends and loved ones have their tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints ripped apart on the rack. They watched their husbands, wives, and children burn at the stake (288 under Bloody Mary alone). The Protestant Reformers would not have mourned the burning and loss of this abominable cathedral!
What about the French Protestant Reformers? Would the Protestant Reformed victims of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre mourn the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral? Catherine de Medici was the adoring niece of Pope Clement VII and was therefore given the best education, training, and discipline that zealous, rod wielding nuns can provide. Catherine was the very Roman Catholic mother of King Charles the IX and arguably the real power behind the French monarchy at that time. In August of 1572 she called for the barbarous massacre of all Protestant Reformed French Huguenots — our Reformed forefathers in the faith. The bloody slaughter of Protestants started in Paris on St. Bartholomew’s Day and swept the entire country in the days following. It is estimated that 40,000 to 100,000 Huguenot men, women, and children were savagely butchered.
A century later, King Louis XIV (whose coronation was held in the Notre Dame Cathedral) threatened the Huguenots with torture and death if they would not convert to Roman Catholicism. Louis demolished 570 of the Protestants’ 815 Gospel preaching, Reformed churches. He hunted down and mercilessly killed any Huguenots that attempted to meet and worship without a church building in local forests. King Louis deliberately selected soldiers known for their brutality and sent them into Protestant areas to cruelly oppress and further harass the Huguenots. The soldiers’ harassment included abusing elderly men and women by bouncing them in blankets, forcing younger men and women to dance until they collapsed, whipping their feet with sticks, pouring boiling water down their throats, stealing their possessions, and raping their wives and daughters. It became clear to our Protestant Reformed brethren that they needed to flee. Four hundred thousand Huguenots escaped France. Those who remained were forced to take Roman Catholic mass. Anyone who refused or spat out the wafer (the supposed transubstantiated body of Christ) was burned alive.
The Protestant Reformers suffered and died for their faithfulness to the Word of God and their declaration and defense of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, and boys and girls would not mourn the burning of the Roman Catholic cathedral that blasphemed Christ and His Gospel for approximately 700 years. The Protestant Reformers would not mourn the burning of the cathedral that was used to damn countless souls to hell under Catholicism’s doctrines of demons for approximately 700 years. The Protestant Reformers would not mourn the burning and loss of the cathedral that was used to inspire the bloody persecution of true followers of Christ for centuries. No. They would say something like this:
“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.” -Revelation 6:9-11
Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!Revelation 18:20
And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.Revelation 18:24
Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!Revelation 19:3
We could debate whether John Gill is right that Revelation 3:9’s “synagogue of Satan” is specifically referring to the Roman Catholic Church. We could debate whether or not Revelation 6, 18, and 19 have any specific prophetic reference to those martyred by the Roman Catholic Church. What isn’t debatable is that the Roman Catholic Church is a synagogue of Satan that has long shed the blood of Protestant Reformed saints and those saints are not mourning the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral. They have the same cry as the martyrs in the above verses.
Seemingly unconscious of both the Gospel and the Reformation, Dr. Mohler goes on in his article to tell Christians everywhere how they should think and feel about the burning of an ancient antichrist cathedral:
As evangelicals think about yesterday’s tragedy, we ought to mourn the loss of the Notre Dame but from an entirely different worldview and perspective than the French. Christians understand the purpose of a cathedral—not as a symbol of national pride, but as a place of worship.
Why exactly should Protestant Reformed Christians mourn the loss of any Catholic building? You might as well tell Jews to mourn the loss of an ancient Nazi building that burns to the ground. Why should those who love the Lord Jesus, His Gospel, our Protestant Reformed brothers and sisters who have suffered and died for the Gospel, and 1.2 billion Roman Catholics who are being ushered into hell by the Catholic the Church (its popes, its bishops, its priests, its churches, its cathedrals, its idols, its relics, and its ancient heresies) mourn the loss of any Catholic building — ever? “But it’s a beautiful place worship!” some say. Do we not “understand the purpose of a [Roman Catholic] cathedral” is to glorify the Roman Catholic cult and gather people to worship relics, wafers, cups, and various other idols? “But it’s really old!” some say. Doesn’t the cathedral’s great age mean it has long been used to oppose and blaspheme Christ and His Gospel, damning millions of souls under the Catholic system of sacramental works righteousness that Galatians 1:6-9 so passionately condemns? Yes! Of course it does.
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” -Galatians 1:6-9
Where is Dr. Mohler’s zeal for the Gospel? Yes, he said something gospelly in one paragraph, but he carefully stopped short of declaring, defining, and defending the Gospel in any way that would offend Roman Catholics or compel them to repent and believe unto salvation:
Evangelical Christians looking at the burning of Notre Dame mourn the absence of the gospel within that great building, even as we feel the loss of such a powerful symbol of historic Christianity. Notre Dame is a place of Catholic worship. Evangelicals fundamentally disagree with the sacramental design of the church and its elevation of the Catholic mass. We do not design our own church buildings to follow the same pattern. Our church buildings, rightly designed, demonstrate the centrality of biblical preaching and the identity of the church as the gathered people of God, bought by the blood of the Lamb.
Not only do Evangelical Christians mourn the absence of the Gospel in Notre Dame, they mourn its absence in Dr. Mohler’s article. Where is the love of Christ, His Gospel, and 1.2 billion perishing Catholic souls? The eyes and minds of the entire world are on the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Would this not be an excellent juncture to declare, define, and defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Why does Dr. Mohler keep missing his Protestant Reformed cue to preach the Gospel?
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.2 Timothy 4:2
The only thing that I’ve mourned regarding the burning of an antichrist cathedral in Paris is the lack of Gospel priority and clarity evidenced by men like Dr. Mohler. I don’t “feel the loss of such a powerful symbol of historic Christianity!” I abhor the idea of Christians feeling such a loss! As a pastor and minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I deeply resent Dr. Mohler’s attempts to compel Evangelical Christians to feel loss for a powerful symbol of Catholicism’s ancient antichrist perversion of Christianity. The Notre Dame Cathedral’s beauty was but sheep’s clothing for the wolfish doctrines, idols, and relics of Roman Catholicism contained therein. Protestant Reformed, Biblical, Gospel believing, Evangelical Christians don’t weep for the burning of a “synagogue of Satan,” saying we’ve lost a “great building” and a “powerful symbol of historic Christianity” (Rev. 3:9). That’s beyond confused, it’s foolish and wicked.
Contrary to Dr. Mohler’s assertion, Evangelicals don’t merely “fundamentally disagree with the sacramental design” of Rome’s churches, cathedrals, and false gospel. In the spirit of Galatians 1:6-9, we passionately declare Catholicism’s pope, bishops, priests, churches, cathedrals, idols, relics, and sacramental false gospel to be anathema! Dr. Mohler and the Evangelical Church need to be reminded that the Roman Catholic Church and all its popes, bishops, priests, sacraments, idols, relics, and heresies are a Revelation 3:9 “synagogue of Satan” that will burn under the wrath of God forever. God’s going to burn it all.
You shall not make idols for yourselves; neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves; nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it; for I am the Lord your God.Leviticus 26:1
I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols; and My soul shall abhor you.Leviticus 26:30
The cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.Revelation 21:8
But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.2 Peter 3:7
Dr. Mohler and the Evangelical Church need to be reminded that the historic and present day Roman Catholic Church is not Christian. It’s an enemy of Christ. It’s an enemy of Christ’s Gospel. It’s an enemy of Christ’s true Church. It’s the most successful, longest standing, soul damning, idolatrous, antichrist, “synagogue of Satan” the world has ever known. It’s also a vast mission field in which we need to labor — by faithfully and dogmatically declaring, defining, and defending the Gospel of Jesus Christ and exposing Catholicism’s heresy, idolatry, and murderous persecution of our Protestant Reformed forefathers without compromise or equivocation.
We are all truly thankful nobody was killed in the fire. However, here’s a question to ponder. What would Jesus say to the Roman Catholic Church or individual Catholics about the burning of an antichrist church, cathedral, or the Vatican in Rome? Do you suppose He would mourn its loss? Think on this. What would Jesus say to the Roman Catholic Church or individual Catholics if eighteen precious Catholic souls had perished and gone to hell when the burning towers of Notre Dame fell? Here’s your answer:
There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.’Luke 13:1-5
Now — brothers and sisters — go think, feel, and speak like Jesus — and beware of foolish thinking, foolish feelings, foolish speaking, and Gospel compromise when old antichrist popes die or ancient antichrist buildings burn!