The Idolatrous Strange Fire of Roman Catholic Worship

Leviticus 10:1,2

And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The purpose of God in rejecting strange fire was to retain the people in His own genuine ordinance prescribed by the Law, lest any inventions of men should insinuate themselves; for the prohibition of strange fire was tantamount to forbidding men to introduce anything of their own, or to add to the pure doctrine of the Law, or to decline from its rule…All who forsake the Word fall into idolatry.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): What is idolatry? Is it not the transferring to the creature, the homage due to the Creator?

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Idolatry is a worship in which the honour due unto God in Trinity, and to Him only, is given to some of His creatures, or some invention of His creatures.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Worship God and Him only, even God the Father, Son, and Spirit―this excludes all creatures, angels, and men, things animate or inanimate, and images of them.

A. A. HODGE (1823-1886): What is the Romish doctrine and practice with regard to the worship of angels?

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): [The Roman Catholic church] has commanded its votaries to pay religious homage to angels, contrary both to the example, and the express precept of Holy Writ; the angels are no more to be adored than saintly men, and neither the one nor the other can be worshipped without incurring the sin of idolatry! Take two parallel cases, [Revelation 19:10 and Revelation 22:8 & 9]. When John, seeing an angel, taking him for his Lord, bowed down to worship him, the answer was, “See thou do it not, for I am of your fellow servants, the prophets; worship God.”

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): In the original Greek, it is only, “See not,” with a beautiful abruptness.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): The angel doth not only refuse it, but with some indignation.

C. H. SPURGEON: When the heathens, at Lystra, brought forth bullocks and sheep, and were about to do sacrifice unto Paul and Barnabas as unto Mercury and Jupiter, these holy men tore their clothes, and declared that they were men of like passions with others, Acts 14:6-18. Angels and holy men refuse all kinds of worship; they unanimously sing, “Not unto us, not unto us, but unto the name of Jehovah be all the praise.”

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): The simplicity of the primitive Christian worship, as laid down in the book of the Acts, is worthy of particular notice and admiration. Here are no expensive ceremonies: no apparatus calculated merely to impress the senses, and produce emotions in the animal system, “to help,” as has been foolishly said, “the spirit of devotion.” The heart is the subject in which this spirit of devotion is kindled; and the Spirit of God alone is the agent that communicates and maintains the celestial fire; and God, who knows and searches that heart, is the object of its adoration, and the only source whence it expects the grace that pardons, sanctifies, and renders it happy. No strange fire can be brought to this altar: for the God of the Christians can be worshipped only in spirit and truth.

J. C. RYLE: As for the Church of Rome, if there is not an enormous quantity of systematic organized idolatry, I frankly confess that I do know not what idolatry is…It is idolatry to invoke the Virgin Mary and the saints in glory, and to address them in language never addressed in the Scripture except to the Holy Trinity.

JOHN WESLEY: There is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all,” 1 Timothy 2:5,6. This excludes all other mediators, as saints and angels, whom the Papists set up.

J. C. RYLE: It is idolatry to adore that which man’s hands have made―to call it God, and to adore it when lifted up before our eyes. And if this be so, then with the doctrine of transubstantiation, and the elevation of the host, I say there is idolatry in the Church of Rome.

MATTHEW POOLE: What a fig leaf they have made to cover their idolatry, in worshipping the bread in the eucharist, who think they may be excused from idolatry in it, because they think the bread is turned into the body of Christ; idolatry is not to be excused by think so’s.

H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): I have often pressed this question home to Catholic priests: “What is your function as a sacrificing priest?” They say, “It is my privilege to offer up the Lord Jesus from time to time a continual sacrifice for the sins of the living and the dead.” I generally put it like this: “Well, Christ has to be slain that He may be offered up, doesn’t He?”


“You claim then that every time you pronounce the blessing, you are sacrificing Christ for the sins of the living and the dead?”


“Well then, you kill Christ afresh every time you offer that sacrifice!”

Then they begin to hedge. But there is no escape from the horrible conclusion. The Roman priest says that when he offers the sacrifice of the mass he is presenting Christ again for the sins of the living and the dead. And the only way the Christ can be a sacrifice is to be put to death; therefore, the priest kills Him afresh every time he offers. They cannot get away from it…If Christ has to be offered continually, then every priest is guilty of murdering the Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of God.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins,” Hebrews 10:10,11…How vain are the Romish inventions of confession, absolution, indulgences, masses, penances, purgatory, and the like tom-fooleries!

H. A. IRONSIDE: It was because the great reformers of the sixteenth century saw this clearly and were assured in their own hearts that the doctrine of the Church of Rome in regard to the Eucharist or the Mass was absolutely opposed to the Word of God and was not only blasphemous but idolatrous, that they came out in protest against that apostate system.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): I know they have many evasions; but yet the stain of idolatry sticketh so close to them, that all the water in the sea will not wash them clean from it. This text clearly stareth them in the face―“Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve,” Matthew 4:10.

C. H. SPURGEON: Oh, the long-suffering of God in tolerating that apostate and accursed church which has dared to set up both saints and angels, men and women, and I know not what besides, as objects of reverence in rivalry of the Lord of Hosts!


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