Updated September 5, 2007 (first published via the FBIS April 12, 2000, from the article “Is Mother Teresa an Evangelical Christian” that first appeared in O Timothy magazine, Volume 2, Issue 1, 1985) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
Mother Teresa was born Agness Gonxha Bojaxhiu in what is now Yugoslavia on August 27, 1910. Raised in a middle-class Roman Catholic family, she felt the call to be a nun at age 12. Five years later, in 1928, Agness said good-bye to her mother (it was the last time she would ever see her) and made her way to Darjeeling, India, a picturesque town nestled 7,000 feet in the Himalayas, for training. In 1931, she took the new name of Sister Teresa, after the French nun St. Therese of Lisieux (the Little Flower). In 1939 she took final vows and was named mother superior at St. Mary’s School at the Loreto Sisters convent in a suburb of Calcutta.
While traveling to Darjeeling for a retreat in 1946, she felt called to work in the slums; and in 1948 she first put on the namesake white sari with a blue border, and moved into the wretched slums of Calcutta. The Vatican approved her new order, the Missionaries of Charity, on October 7, 1950. In 1952 she opened Nirmal Hriday, her now-famous home for dying destitutes in Kalighat, in south Calcutta. During Mother Teresa’s lifetime, an estimated 54,000 people were brought into Nirmal Hriday.
In 1963 the Missionaries of Charity was expanded to include male workers. Today roughly 4,500 nuns and 500 “religious brothers” work with the Missionaries of Charity operating 600 homes in 120 countries.
Having lived more than 87 years, almost 50 of those spent assisting the destitute, Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997.
HER GOOD WORK
That this woman was a kind, self-giving woman, we have no doubt. Having lived in that part of the world for 16 years and having spent several weeks in Calcutta itself, I never doubt that Mother Teresa was an unusually self-sacrificing person. Many of Calcutta’s ten million residents live in the lowest squalor, some reports estimating as many as one million people are born, grow up, live, and die on the filthy streets of that massive city. The place is awfully oppressive to one’s spirit, especially for the newcomer.
Even after twenty or more visits, I never ceased to be depressed by wretched Calcutta. I’m not alone in this feeling, either. It is said that Winston Churchill, after his first visit to Calcutta, stated that he was happy he had made the trip--happy, that is, because having been there once and having experienced it, he would not have to return!
Yes, Calcutta is an awful place in many ways, and the living condition of multitudes of people there is wretched. For a woman to give her life to care for the castoffs of society is commendable.
Acknowledging that Mother Teresa is a good woman from the human perspective, though, has not answered the original question inscribed in the title of this report: “Was Mother Teresa a regenerate Christian in the biblical sense, a woman with which Bible-believing Christians should associate and with whom they should work?”
MAN’S ESTIMATION OF MOTHER TERESA
Mother Teresa certainly had a fair share of commendations! The secular world honored her with the Nobel Peace Prize (1979) and with other accolades on every hand--by heads of state, by scientists, by the press and peoples of practically every nation on earth. In 1980 she was given India’s highest decoration, the Bharat Ratna. In June 1985, she received from President Reagan the highest United States civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom award (Christian News, July 1, 1985, p. 15). In October 1985, she received the “warmest ovation of the United Nation’s 40th anniversary celebration” (Birmingham Post-Herald, October 28, 1985). In June 1997, she addressed the United States Congress and was given the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor Congress can confer.
It goes without saying that Mother Teresa was commended by her own Roman Catholic Church. She was awarded the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971. When she died, she was hailed as a saint by Pope John Paul II and other high officials in Catholicism. Cardinal John O’Connor of New York said Mother Teresa is already a saint. In March 1999, Pope John Paul II approved a waver to put Mother Teresa on a fast track to official sainthood. Normally a five-year waiting period is required after the death of an individual before the process toward sainthood is even started, but in Mother Teresa’s case the process began only months after her death and she has already been beatified. The only step remaining is for her to be canonized as a “saint.” With the Pope’s permission, Archbishop Henry Sebastian D’Souza of Calcutta has begun the investigation that will doubtless lead to “beatification” and eventually canonization as a “saint.”
Joining in the applause are most Protestant groups. At Mother Teresa’s death, Coretta Scott King, widow of the slain civil rights leader and Baptist minister Martin Luther King, said, “Our world has lost the most celebrated saint of our times.”
Almost without exception the major Protestant bodies, such as the more than 300 member bodies of the World Council of Churches, have risen up and called Mother Teresa blessed. An example is the statement made in the official periodical of the Church of North India, a member of the World Council and representative of 700,000 Christians in over 2,000 congregations in India. The cover of The North India Churchman for November 1979 featured a photo of a smiling Mother Teresa, and inside this issue editor V. Henry Devadas said:
“We are delighted that Mother Teresa has been awarded the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. We offer our hearty congratulations to Mother Teresa and thank God for her ministry of charity to the poorest of the poor in our country. May her example of dedicated service to God and man inspire each one of us.”
Mother Teresa also appeared on the cover of the January-April 1990 issue of the Sowing Circle, a publication of the Bible Society of India. The accompanying article describes Bible Society General Secretary B.K. Premanik’s visit with Mother Teresa:
“Millions of Christians around the world went down on their knees as they learnt about Mother Teresa’s ill-health. ... A simple, unassuming, white-clad woman but her life speaks volumes about the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. ... Her picture has been printed in some of the Bible Society of India scripture materials. We appreciate her selfless service to the people, the down-trodden in particular. We pray that the Lord would continue to strengthen her to demonstrate the love of Christ and that the Christian community will learn from her example.”
It is not that surprising to see the world, Catholicism, and liberal Protestantism offer unqualified applause to Mother Teresa. More significant and difficult to understand is the applause given to her by those that claim to be Bible-believing Christians.
Consider WORLD VISION, which claims to be an evangelical Christian mission. A report on the Jesus ‘81 rally at Anaheim Stadium appeared in the Los Angeles Times, May 16, 1981, as follows: “In the June-July 1984 issue of World Vision, an article by Joseph Ryan, director of World Vision’s Northwest Regional Office, tells of his visit to Mother Teresa in India who founded and leads the Roman Catholic Missionaries of Charity. Noted for her efforts to help the poor, this famous woman impressed the World Vision visitors with her humble spirit and simple words in which she said her work was ‘all for Jesus.’”
When Mother Teresa died, Evangelist BILLY GRAHAM gave this statement to the press: “It was my privilege to be with her on several occasions. The first time was at the Home of Dying Destitutes in Calcutta. I had a wonderful hour of fellowship in the Lord with her just at sunset, and I will never forget the sounds, the smells and the strange beauty of that place. When she walked into the room to greet me, I felt that I was, indeed, meeting a saint’’ (“Mother Teresa Hailed as a Saint,” Associated Press, Sept. 6, 1997).
Mother Teresa was extolled in an editorial in the January 1982 issue of LIGHT OF LIFE magazine, the most popular evangelical periodical in India.
In early May 1997, the popular radio-television preacher D. JAMES KENNEDY featured Mother Teresa on his broadcast. The announcer for Kennedy stated warmly, “who better to speak on love than Mother Teresa.”
The November 1989 issue of JAMES DOBSON’S Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine featured a smiling Mother Teresa on the cover. The lead article was “Teresa of Calcutta: Little Woman with a Big Heart.” The readers of this magazine were made to think that Mother Teresa was a genuine New Testament Christian and that she did a great work for God through her Missionaries of Charities mission.
Speaking at a Promise Keepers conference in Memphis in 1996, CHUCK COLSON said Christians need to reach across all denominational lines and that he was proud that Mother Teresa was his sisters in Christ (Calvary Contender, November 15, 1996). In his 2003 book “Being the Body” Colson said when he was asked by someone to travel to Calcutta to give the plan of salvation to Mother Teresa before she died, he replied that such a scene would give “a new dimension to the word ludicrous” (p. 64).
BILL HYBELS of Willowcreek Community Church invited Priest Med Laz of Holy Family Catholic Church to speak to his people. When Laz boasted that Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic, Hybels indicated that Protestants are jealous of that fact (Dave Hunt, Occult Invasion: The Subtle Seduction of the World and Church, 1998).
Charismatics have also honored Mother Teresa. PAT ROBERTSON hosted a television special in 1984 entitled “Don’t Ask Me, Ask God.” The program, broadcast on 150 television outlets as well as the Christian Broadcasting Network cable system, featured Mother Teresa, together with other well-known Christians (EP News Service, Aug. 25, 1984).
At a Sign and Wonders Conference in Melbourne, Australia, March 3, 1989, JOHN WIMBER praised Mother Teresa (Protestant Review, March 1989).
In 1992 JAN CROUCH, of Trinity Broadcasting Network, fulfilled a lifelong dream to meet with Mother Teresa. She said, “It was a dream come true. I had my questions all prepared, but when this precious tiny lady came by, all I could do was fall to my knees. What will it be like when we see Jesus Himself, face to face? I felt I had a little foretaste that day!” (Plains Baptist Challenger, June 1992).
The October 4 issue of WORLD magazine contained an article entitled “An Ordinary Faith: Mother Teresa’s life should prod us to go and do likewise.” The second paragraph began, “Last month the gates of heaven finally welcomed Mother Teresa home” (David Kuo, “An Ordinary Faith,” World, Oct. 4, 1997, p. 26). To make such a statement one would have to be utterly careless about the definition of the gospel. Though we could wish that Mother Teresa is in heaven, by her own testimony she was trusting in Rome’s sacramental gospel, particularly in Mary and the Mass.
The November-December 1997, issue of THE PLAIN TRUTH magazine, published by the Worldwide Church of God, featured Mother Teresa on its cover and praised her in a feature article entitled “In His Service.”
The October 20-21, 2007, edition of “Turning Point with DAVID JEREMIAH” featured the work of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta. There was not a hint of warning that they preach a false gospel. The report concluded with the following quote from Pope John Paul II: “Keep Jesus Christ in your hearts, and you will recognize His face in every human being.”
Many other examples could be given. It is obvious that Mother Teresa was accepted as a true Christian by multitudes from practically every spectrum of Christianity.
Let me repeat, I am not doubting the goodness of Mother Teresa’s work from a temporal, human, earthly perspective. Yet the most important question in regard to any religious work is whether or not it is acceptable to God, whether or not it is grounded and settled in the Truth. The Bible says, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).
The Lord Jesus Christ warned that performing wonderful works in His name is not evidence of salvation.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and IN THY NAME DONE MANY WONDERFUL WORKS? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Thus we see that the Lord Jesus Christ solemnly warned that MANY who will do wonderful things IN HIS NAME will turn out to be unsaved people who did not know Him in truth.
It is not enough that someone loves “Jesus” or serves “the Lord” or preaches “the gospel.” The apostle Paul warned of false christs, false spirits, and false gospels (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). The Devil can and does counterfeit everything God is doing in this age. He has his own gospel, his own doctrine of conversion, even his own brand of holiness.
The only way we can know for sure what is genuine and what is counterfeit is to test it by the infallible Word of God. The people at Berea were commended for doing this: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).
Those who carefully test everything by the Word of God today are commonly counted as hateful troublemakers by many within mainstream evangelicalism, but the Bible warns that those who are not careful are foolish. “The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going” (Proverbs 14:15). The wise man knows there are many spiritual dangers. He is aware that he has a formidable spiritual enemy who transforms himself into an angel of light and whose ministers transform themselves into ministers of righteousness. The wise man takes heed to the Bible’s warnings: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). “... Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Because of these spiritual realities, the wise Christian is extremely cautious. He does not gullibly accept someone as a genuine Christian because of a mere profession or because of “good works.” He investigates what gospel the person holds, what Christ he is trusting, what spirit he is following.
Was Mother Teresa a regenerate Christian? To what eternal destiny did she lead those to whom she ministered? This is the important question, no matter how unpopular it might be even to consider making such a “harsh” and “unloving” judgment.
AN EVANGELICAL CATHOLIC?
There are not a few who would say Mother Teresa was a “liberated” evangelical Catholic of the post-Vatican II period and that she was not only ministering food, medicine, and human kindness, but the true gospel of eternal salvation as well. Is this so? We have not far to go to find the answer. Mother Teresa openly and gladly admitted that she was a thorough-going Roman Catholic, a faithful follower of her church, an obedient sister of Romanism (except that she believed that women should be ordained to the priesthood!).
While the declarations of the Vatican II Council of the 1960s did bring changes to the Catholic Church, it did not change the foundational dogmas of that organization. Vatican II not only upheld the false teachings of Catholicism, it actually strengthened them.
The hundreds of bishops attending Vatican II reaffirmed such Roman heresies as papal supremacy; the Roman priesthood; the mass as a re-sacrifice of Christ; a sacramental faith plus works gospel; Catholic tradition on equal par with Scripture; Mary the Queen of Heaven and co-redemptress with Christ; auricular confession; pilgrimages to “holy shrines”; purgatory; prayers to and for the dead; etc.
All of the these Roman Catholic doctrines are reaffirmed in the book Vatican Council II--The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents. This book is published by the Roman Catholic Church and contains the Imprimature: Walter P. Kellenberg, D,D., Bishop of Rockville Centre, August 12, 1975. “Imprimature” is the official stamp of approval for Catholic publications and means “let it be printed.”
Consider some quotes from the Vatican II documents:
Catholic traditions on equal par with Scripture--
“Sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. ... Thus it comes about that the Church does not draw her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Hence, both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal feelings of devotion and reverence” (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Chap. 2, 9, p. 682).
Salvation through sacraments and the church--
“[Christ] also willed that the work of salvation which they preached should be set in train through the sacrifice and sacraments, around which the entire liturgical [ritualistic] life revolves. Thus by Baptism men are grafted into the paschal mystery of Christ. ... They receive the spirit of adoption as sons” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Chap. 1, I, 5,6, pp. 23-24).
Salvation through baptism--
“By the sacrament of Baptism, whenever it is properly conferred in the way the Lord determined and received with the proper dispositions of soul, man becomes truly incorporated into the crucified and glorified Christ and is reborn to a sharing of the divine life” (Decree on Ecumenism, chap. 3, II, 22, p. 427).
Popes distribute salvation--
“God’s only-begotten Son ... has won a treasure for the militant Church ... he has entrusted it to blessed Peter, the key-bearer of heaven, and to his successors who are Christ’s vicars on earth, so that they may distribute it to the faithful for their salvation ... The merits of the Blessed Mother of God and of all the elect ... are known to add further to this treasury” (the ellipses are in the original) (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences, Chap. 4, 7, p. 80).
Mary, the sinless mother of God, perpetual virgin, bodily assumed into Heaven as queen over all--
“Joined to Christ the head and in communion with all his saints, the faithful must in the first place reverence the memory of the glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ ... Because of the gift of sublime grace she far surpasses all creatures, both in heaven and on earth. ... The Immaculate Virgin preserved free from all stain of original sin, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, chap. 8, I, 52,53; II, 59, pp. 378,381- 382).
Mary, co-redemptress with Christ--
“As St. Irenaeus says, she being obedient, became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert with him in their preaching ... ‘death through Eve, life through Mary’ ... This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to his death” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, chap. 8, II, 56, pp. 380-381).
Mary, Heavenly intercessor--
“Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix [Mediator]” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, chap. 8, II, 62, pp. 382-383).
Further quotes from Vatican II and from the New Catholic Catechism can be found in the author’s book Evangelicals and Rome, available from Way of Life Literature.
It is plain that the Catholic Church continues to uphold doctrines which are contrary to the Word of God and even blasphemous. One can stubbornly say, “I don’t care what the Catholic Church teaches or what Mother Teresa believed; I still believe she was a good Christian.” But having faced the facts, one cannot deny that the Catholic Church preaches a false gospel and is committed to a vast range of heresies.
It is possible for a Roman Catholic to be saved IN SPITE OF Rome’s false gospel, but it is not possible for someone to be saved BY Rome’s gospel.
Further, the Bible says that those who are saved will abide in sound doctrine. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 John 2:19). A truly saved person who has the indwelling Holy Spirit of Truth will reject error.
WHAT MOTHER TERESA BELIEVED
Mother Teresa was a thorough-going Catholic, a faithful daughter of Vatican II. She was a great worshiper of Mary; she believed the wafer of the mass is literally and actually Jesus Christ.
In June 1986, Mother Teresa spoke at the second annual Rosary for Peace gathering. She said, “Generously give your child to be consecrated to God. The greatest gift God can give to a family is to have a son to be a priest at the altar, at whose absolution a sinner full of sin becomes a sinner without sin. Pray that one or two of your children be consecrated that you may grow in holiness. Make your family one heart full of love, the heart of Jesus through Mary” (The Tidings, Los Angeles, California, June 20, 1986).
Thus Mother Teresa believed that the Catholic priest has the power to absolve sinners of sin and that we come to Jesus through Mary.
At the same meeting Mother Teresa called on the audience to pray the rosary, “which we pray everyday, in the streets, around the world, wherever we are,” and to have adore the Eucharist in their parishes. She asked that the rosary be said for peace...” (The Tidings, Los Angeles, Calif., June 20, 1986).
The rosary is largely a prayer to Mary. To “adore the Eucharist” is to worship the wafer of the mass as Jesus Christ.
Mother Teresa Believed All Men Are Children of God
In her speech before the United Nations in October 1985, she said, “We gather to thank God for the 40 years of the beautiful work of the United Nations for the good of people. No color, no religion, no nationality should come between us--we are all children of God. ... When we destroy an unborn child, we destroy God” (Christian News, Nov. 11, 1985, p. 17).
Mother Teresa called AIDS sufferers “children of God” and said, “Each one of them is Jesus in a distressing disguise” (Time, Jan. 13, 1986).
The April 7-13, 1990, issue of Radio Times told the story of Mother Teresa sheltering an old Hindu priest. “She nursed him with her own hands and helped him to die reconciled with his own gods.” This is exactly what the Missionaries of Charity do in Kathmandu, Nepal, as we shall see later in this report from the interview with Sister Ann.
In the biography Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work, she is quoted by Desmond Doig as follows: “If in coming face to face with God we accept Him in our lives, then we ... become a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Catholic, a better whatever we are ... What God is in your mind you must accept.”
Mother Teresa participated in the “Summit for Peace” in Assisi, Italy, in November 1986. This blasphemous prayer meeting was arranged by the pope and was attended by leaders of many different religions, including Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, Shinto, Sikh, and North American Indians--all of whom united in prayers for world peace (Time, Nov. 10, 1986, pp. 78-79).
When Mother Teresa died, her longtime friend and biographer Naveen Chawla said that he once asked her bluntly, “Do you convert?” She replied, “Of course I convert. I convert you to be a better Hindu or a better Muslim or a better Protestant. Once you’ve found God, it’s up to you to decide how to worship him” (“Mother Teresa Touched other Faiths,” Associated Press, Sept. 7, 1997).
Mother Teresa Speaks to Priests
As further evidence of just how radically unbiblical Mother Teresa’s views were, consider some quotes from her speech at the Worldwide Retreat for Priests, October 1984, in Paul VI Audience Hall, Vatican City:
“At the word of a priest, that little piece of bread becomes the body of Christ, the Bread of Life. Then you give this living Bread to us, so that we too might live and become holy. ... We and our people are hungry for God, hungry for holiness. I have seen this same hunger even among Hindus and Muslims” (Mother Teresa, cited in Be Holy: God’s First Call to Priests Today, edited by Tom Forrest, C.Ss.R., foreword by Msgr. John Magee, South Bend, Indiana: Greenlawn Press, 1987, p. 108).
“I remember the time a few years back, when the president of Yeman asked us to send some of our sisters to his country. I told him that this was difficult because for so many years no chapel was allowed in Yemen for saying a public mass, and no one was allowed to function there publicly as a priest. I explained that I wanted to give them sisters, but the trouble was that, without a priest, without Jesus going with them, our sisters couldn’t go anywhere. It seems that the president of Yemen had some kind of a consultation, and the answer that came back to us was, ‘Yes, you can send a priest with the sisters!’ I was so struck with the thought that ONLY WHEN THE PRIEST IS THERE CAN WE HAVE OUR ALTAR AND OUR TABERNACLE AND OUR JESUS. ONLY THE PRIEST CAN PUT JESUS THERE FOR US. ... Jesus wants to go there, but we cannot bring him unless you first give him to us” (Mother Teresa, Be Holy, pp. 109, 111).
“So let us ask the help of our Lady! She is a Mother full of grace, full of God, full of Jesus. Let us ask her to be our Mother, guiding us and protecting us. ... It is true that we are already being helped by our tremendous devotion to Mary. She is our patroness and our Mother, and she is always leading us to Jesus” (Mother Teresa, Be Holy, p. 75).
“One day she [a girl working in Calcutta] came, putting her arms around me, and saying, ‘I have found Jesus.’ ... ‘And just what were you doing when you found him?’ I asked. She answered that after 15 years she had finally gone to confession, and received Holy Communion from the hands of a priest. Her face was changed, and she was smiling. She was a different person because THAT PRIEST HAD GIVEN HER JESUS” (Mother Teresa, Be Holy, p. 74).
“We must bring Jesus back into these homes by consecrating them to his Sacred Heart, by bringing prayer into the people’s lives, and teaching them to say the Rosary. Priests always used to do this before, and they have to start doing these things again, so that these families can have peace and joy and holiness through their consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. ... THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS YOU ARE CALLED ‘ANOTHER CHRIST’” (Mother Teresa, Be Holy, p. 112).
It should be clear that Mother Teresa was anything but an evangelical Christian. She was a self-sacrificing woman who followed a false religion.
INTERVIEW WITH ANN OF MOTHER TERESA’S MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY
Further evidence of the spiritual bankruptcy of Mother Teresa’s work is seen in the following interview with one of her co-workers, Sister Ann. The previous references to Vatican II and Catholic doctrine form an important background to understand the full weight of some of the statements made in this interview.
From the interview, you will readily see that this work, no matter how plausible from man’s earthly vantage point, is conducted by unregenerate religious people, promotes a false gospel that is cursed of God (Galatians 1:8), and even encourages the unsaved heathen to have hope in their false gods even as they lay upon their death beds. In God’s eyes, therefore, the entire endeavor is a cursed one, and no Christian should support, assist, or praise a work cursed by God!
Admittedly, these are hard words, but the Bible contains many hard words and it is one’s attitude toward the hard sayings of the Scriptures that distinguishes the obedient from the disobedient. Jesus said, “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God” (John 8:47)?
The following is transcribed from a taped interview that my wife and I had with a Catholic nun, Sister Ann, who worked in Kathmandu, Nepal, with Mother Teresa’s organization, Missionaries of Charity. The interview was conducted November 23, 1984, at the Pashupati Temple. Ann was overseeing the feeding and medical attention of the elderly and terminally ill people that live there, waiting to die by Nepal’s holiest river, the Bagmati. Their hope as Hindus is that to die in this “holy” place, especially if their feet is placed in the water before they are cremated, helps them to be freed from the cycle of reincarnation as taught in the Hindu religion.
The area in which these people live is located next to the river, very near the area where the crematory pyres are lit. One can smell the acrid odor of burning flesh as the bodies are consumed in the “sacred” flames of this awful heathen ritual. We conducted the interview within 100 feet of the river in a tiny room of a Hindu temple which has been converted into use as a home the aged.
The Bagmati River flows from the Himalayan Mountains through Nepal into the vast Indian plains, where it joins the Hindu’s “holy of holy” river, the Ganges. According to Hindu belief, the Ganges “remains eternally pure and inexhaustible.” “The ashes of 35,000 cremated human corpses are swept into the Ganges every year in the belief that the river purifies the soul and relieves it of its endless cycle of death and reincarnation” (Pulse, Nov. 21, 1984).
This place where the Sisters of Charity work is considered the holiest place in Nepal. It is a large temple area, at the center of which is a temple containing a massive golden bull. This temple is so “holy” that non-Hindus are forbidden to enter it. The temple complex is covered with unspeakably vile idols of Shiva and other Hindu gods and the people who are attended by the Missionaries of Charity are praying to these gods.
INTERVIEWER: Who are the people who live here and that you help care for?
ANN: They come who have no one to look after them. They have sons and daughters, but they don’t look after them, so those are the people that come here and stay. This government of Nepal has provided this house for them.
INTERVIEWER: So you are working with Mother Teresa?
ANN: Yes, we are the same. We are her daughters!
INTERVIEWER: Same order?
ANN: Yes, same order, same branch.
INTERVIEWER: So how long have you been working here [in Kathmandu]?
ANN: Not yet one year; just eleven months.
INTERVIEWER: You are not the leader?
ANN: No, no. Here before me there is one more sister, but I am her assistant.
INTERVIEWER: But how many sisters are here in Kathmandu?
ANN: Seven, with our superior.
INTERVIEWER: So your work is mainly right in this place [Pashupati temple area]?
ANN: No, we have two schools for the poor children, and two of us go morning and evening there. And we have children in our own house, altogether 13 of them. Then we have medical clinic in the villages. I go in the morning there, and in the evening I come here.
INTERVIEWER: Did you ever work in Calcutta?
ANN: Yes, yes. We have to work in Calcutta for three years. That is six months aspirancy; one year [tape not clear here], and two years novitiate. So three and a half years we have to work there.
INTERVIEWER: How did you become a Catholic? Were you born Hindu or something else?
ANN: No, no, my great grandfathers were Brahman, but after that they took conversion. They were converted by the Jesuit fathers.
INTERVIEWER: And then how did you become a Christian?
ANN: My parents were Christian when I was born. So my great grandfathers took conversion, then after that my grandfathers took conversion, then after that we continued as Christians.
INTERVIEWER: Here, along with your work, do you go to the mass?
ANN: Yes, daily we have mass at our house, at the convent.
INTERVIEWER: And who leads?
ANN: A father comes from Jhawalakhel [where the main Catholic school is located and operated by Jesuit priests]. Every week one of the different fathers comes. All are American Jesuits. Every day we have mass. Morning we have one hour of prayer--half hour meditation and half hour of mass--one hour altogether. Then again in the evening we have one hour of adoration of the blessed sacrament [the consecrated wafer of the mass]. Then again afternoon before our lunch we have twenty minutes break and the station of the cross; then we have our lunch; then again we have another half hour for spiritual reading. We read some spiritual books to strengthen us. And then we start our work again.
INTERVIEWER: These people living here are dying and their bodies are being burned over at the river. What do you tell them to prepare them for death?
ANN: We are not allowed to teach anything about our religion, because we are strictly forbidden to talk religion [she is speaking of government restrictions that existed at that time in Nepal]. So we don’t talk directly, but indirectly, according to their way. So they speak Bhagwan, no? [This is the Hindu concept of the gods behind the idols.] So we tell them they are going to face the Bhagwan; prepare yourself. If you have hurt him in different ways or if you have offended him by your sin, try to make up with him. Say sorry to him. So they say, “Yes, we are sorry for what we have done.” And they have their own confession in their own ways, you know.
INTERVIEWER: Their own gods and things?
ANN: Yes, so we also take the name of Bhagwan and tell them in that way.
INTERVIEWER: Do you believe if they die believing in Shiva or in Ram [Hindu gods] they will go to heaven?
ANN: Yes, that is their faith. My own faith will lead me to my God, no? So if they have believed in their god very strongly, if they have faith, surely they will be saved.
INTERVIEWER: Do you believe there are different heavens? Like one for them and one for us?
ANN: No, there is only one heaven...
INTERVIEWER: Why do you do this work?
ANN: Because we serve God in them. We find God in the midst of the suffering. The human society has thrown them out, so they are like in a despair, so we serve God in them.
INTERVIEWER: Today we hear there are many changes in the Catholic Church. Do you believe there are changes?
ANN: What changes?
INTERVIEWER: Do you believe that Mary is the mother of God?
INTERVIEWER: And about the pope, what do you believe about him?
ANN: He is the head of the church, the vicar of Christ.
INTERVIEWER: And about the mass, what is your belief about the mass?
ANN: The sacrifice which was once offered at Calvary is renewed in the every day mass at the altar. It is an unbloody sacrifice. That [the cross] was offered in a bloody manner; this [the mass] is an unbloody manner.
INTERVIEWER: So there is a sacrifice in the mass every day, like offering Christ again?
ANN: Yes, again.
INTERVIEWER: But only the priest can do this?
ANN: Only priest.
INTERVIEWER: But today it does not seem that the Catholic Church is trying to convert anymore. I know that John Paul II is saying now that those of other religions are saved.
ANN: We are not trying to do it forcefully; we have never done it forcefully. We don’t give things to make them come, like out of greed. Because they are poor, and they need help. So when we give them help, then out of gratitude and out of their show of love, they try to change. BUT WE SAY YOUR RELIGION IS YOUR RELIGION FOREVER. So if you are changing to please us, don’t do that. But if you think God is calling you, then that is O.K. But when they have asked us and questioned and questioned, they try to change. Our Mother Superior is very keen about not converting forcefully.
INTERVIEWER: But you do not believe they are lost anyway, right?
ANN: No, THEY ARE NOT LOST. THEY ARE SAVED ACCORDING TO THEIR FAITH, you know. If they believe whatever they believe that is their salvation.
INTERVIEWER: Are any people lost? Are all people saved in the whole world?
ANN: Lost; we cannot judge, you know. What is going on in their soul we cannot know. Maybe a certain man lived a very scandalous life outwardly, but what is happening in his soul we don’t know.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think there is a real hell?
ANN: Hell is there, yes.
INTERVIEWER: Do you believe in purgatory?
ANN: There is a purgatory; also hell is there.
INTERVIEWER: When you die--you yourself--what do you believe will happen to you?
ANN: I will not go to hell. Maybe for a few days I may be in purgatory, for we also have our imperfection. Though we are sisters; we are religious; we don’t have any outward, big sin, but some sin is there.
INTERVIEWER: And that is the purpose of purgatory?
ANN: That is the purpose of purgatory.
INTERVIEWER: Who do you pray to? Do you ever pray to Mary?
ANN: Yes, she is our mother.
INTERVIEWER: Do you ever pray to other saints?
ANN: We have some saints in whom we have confidence. We can pray to them also. Like my own patron saint is Saint Ann, the mother of our lady, Mary. So I pray to her to guide me on the right path when I do my work.
Mother Teresa and her co-workers claim to love the Lord Jesus Christ and to have faith in Him, but in reality it is a mixed faith. It is the cursed Catholic gospel of faith plus works, grace plus sacraments, Christ plus the church. If Mother Teresa and her workers had true biblical faith in the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ, they would not attend the Catholic mass, which they freely testify to be the “re-sacrificing of Christ.” When Sister Ann called the mass an unbloody sacrifice, she was only repeating the official teaching of her church and of Vatican II.
If we really love Roman Catholics such as Mother Teresa and her co-workers, we will preach to them the gospel of Jesus Christ, the only gospel whereby they can be saved from eternal destruction.
After our interview, my wife and I preached that blessed gospel to Sister Ann that day by the banks of Nepal’s most holy river. I opened the Bible to Hebrews and explained about the once-for-all Sacrifice that has been accomplished by the Lamb of God.
This is the urgent need of Catholics. Those who ignore their doctrinal errors and affiliate with them as if they were regenerate, Bible-believing Christians are doing them a terrible and eternal disservice.
Amen and Amen! I trust you know this Risen Lord as your eternal and sure Salvation. Those who do must be careful to obey His Word about marking and avoiding those who teach false doctrines. We should preach the gospel to Mother Teresa’s co-workers, but God does not allow us to join hands with them in their work or to praise them as if they were preaching the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).
“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5).