| This article is reproduced
©1994 by William Schnoebelen
When examining what appears to be "the world's oldest, largest Christian church" one must, of necessity, be very careful to stick to the injunctions of the Holy Bible. This document is certainly not intended to be an attack on the character of Catholics. Certainly, most Catholics are fine, upstanding people who try to live their faith to the very best of their ability. Also, there are some Catholics that are truly Born Again in the Biblical sense. However, because of the doctrines of Catholicism, they are in the distinct minority!
Indeed, I myself am a product of a devout Catholic upbringing and some 21 years of formal Catholic education. I spent 12 years in the Catholic parochial school system, 4 years in a minor seminary college, and later spent four years getting a graduate degree in theology from a Catholic seminary. I was an altar boy, a member of Catholic Action, and later studied to become a priest. Thus, I am not someone who speaks out of ignorance concerning the content or practices of the Catholic faith. It is important that the Catholic church be examined in the light of the Word of God, to see if it is in fact what it claims to be.
There are a several operating premises under which this paper is written. The first is that there is (and always has been since the days of the apostles) a TRUE church of Jesus Christ on the earth today and that it can be identified according to the Bible.
THE SECOND PREMISE is that the Holy Bible, the Authorized Version, is given by inspiration of God and thus is the FINAL authority in matters of doctrinal truth (2 Tim. 3:16). We realize that this is somewhat contrary to the beliefs of the Catholic church, but that is an issue with which we will deal in the course of this paper.
THE THIRD PREMISE is that the Bible is a self-interpreting Book and that no human being needs help interpreting it (2 Pet. 1:20). A corollary to this premise is that there are proper ways of interpreting the Bible. Chief of these scriptural guidelines is commonly called the "Law of Three Witnesses." (Deut. 19:15, Matt. 18:16, 2 Cor. 13:1) This means that one isolated verse of scripture alone does not make enough of a case to establish doctrine with. "A text without a context is a pretext." Thus, every assertion made here will be backed up by at least two or three verses.
THE FINAL PREMISE is that there are several fundamental truths about the Christian faith that one has to get right in order to qualify as a genuine Born Again Christian. These are:
If one gets more than one of these questions wrong, then your soul is in mortal peril according to the Bible. Thus, these are the questions which we are going to examine in Catholicism in the light of the scriptures.
In the broadest sense, the doctrine of the Catholic church is essentially the same as the Bible. Catholics officially affirm the doctrine of the Trinity. This is the belief that God consists of One God in three distinct Persons-Father, Son and Holy Spirit (1 John 5:7, Matt. 28:19) If the Catholics were as accurate in all their doctrines as they are in this one, there would be no difficulty at all in accepting them as members of the Body of Christ.
Though the Catholic church officially affirms a belief in Jesus as Almighty God, actual Catholic practice has produced a multitude of "other Jesuses" which are very problematic (2 Cor. 11:4) and which actually hinder a Catholic's developing a saving relation with the real Jesus. These include:
Additionally, the Bible says nothing about Mary being a mediator between us and the Lord. Rather, it says that Jesus is the ONLY mediator:
Since the high priesthood (like the papacy) could only pass from one person to another at death, the fact that Jesus now lives and reigns forever means that no other person can ever hold a special sacrificing priesthood again, because Jesus will never die. The only other priesthood is simply the priesthood of all believers, which all Born Again Christians share-men and women alike (1 Pet. 2:5,9). Thus, the priests of the Catholic church which offer the "sacrifice" of the Eucharist are functioning under a false priesthood.
Thus, we can see that the Catholic church has managed to thoroughly confuse and muddy the waters as to who Jesus really is, and how we gain access to Him.
Officially the Vatican affirms the Bible as the Word of God, but it claims it created the Bible and thus has the sole right to interpret it infallibly. This leads to the difficult problem of two sources of ultimate authority which often conflict:
1. The Holy Bible (as interpreted by the Vatican)
2. The Magisterium of the church, which consists of two elements: (a) decrees of ecumenical councils or dogmas "infallibly defined" by the pope; and (b). church tradition-pious customs kept from time immemorial which thereby assume the force of law. This is all contrary to the Bible:
Logically, there cannot be two sources of authority. It would be like the proverbial two-headed dog that couldn't decide which rabbit to chase. If there are two sources of authority to choose from, then WE-as fallible, sinful human beings-get to choose which authority we will obey at any given moment. That essentially makes us God, rather than submitting ourselves to the true and living God and His will.
Thus, if the Bible says one thing, and the magisterial authority of the Catholic church says something else (something which frequently happens, as you can see)-then who decides who is right? Trusting the pope to do it is like trusting the fox to watch the hen-house. We will discuss more about the issue of final authority after this next, very important section:
How do you get saved (become Born Again)? Well, the position of the Vatican is that salvation is not normally available to those outside the Catholic church. Baptism is essential to salvation, as is faithful attendance at the sacraments, especially the Sunday liturgy. Tied into this dogma is a complex system of religious practices to facilitate the Catholic's salvation:
The problems with this doctrine are manifold. First of all, it stands against Hebrews 10:10-12 which scripture is already quoted above. Additionally, if the Eucharistic liturgy does what Catholic doctrine teaches that it does, then Catholics are being asked TO PARTICIPATE IN AN ACT FORBIDDEN BY GOD, both BEFORE the giving of the Law of Moses:
Additionally, if the liturgy does what it says it does, then it consists of repeating the sacrifice of Calvary and undoing the effects of the resurrection of Jesus! A central feature of the crucifixion was the shedding of Jesus' blood. This is because without the shedding of blood, there is no remission for sins (Hebr. 9:22). Therefore, the separation of Jesus' blood from His body was essential (1 Cor. 15:50). However, there is a place in the liturgy where by putting a fragment of the host (supposedly the body of Christ) BACK into the chalice of wine (His blood supposedly), the priest actually puts the body and blood of Jesus back together, thus undoing Calvary. What a blasphemy!
Finally, there is the fact that there is no real evidence that when Jesus was calling the bread and wine His body and blood He was speaking literally. Although John 6 is cited by Catholics as additional proof for the truth of the doctrine of Transubstantiation (that Jesus is really present fully in the bread and wine). Though Jesus does call Himself the "bread of life" (John 6:35), the question must be asked, did He intend to be taken that literally? For example, in the same gospel, He also called Himself a "door" John 10:7), a "vine" (John 15:1) and a "light" (John 8:12). Does that mean that Jesus was also a vegetable, a candle, and a piece of carpentry? Indeed, in that same chapter of John 6, Jesus warns His listeners that:
If, one must truly eat His flesh to live forever, as v. 54
seems to say,
Look carefully, and see that Jesus is saying that there is an exact equivalency between the life He lives through His Father and the way He acquires that life, and the way that a Christian can live by eating Jesus. Now obviously, Jesus was not physically eating the flesh of His Father (Who had no flesh- Matt. 16:17), and therefore, we do not need to literally eat Jesus' flesh to have eternal life either. Observe that elsewhere in the same gospel, Jesus defines this kind of "eating" for us:
See how helpful it is when we let scripture interpret scripture (even from the same divinely inspired author-John) instead of allowing men to do it?
Notice that in all these verses (and many others as well), the Bom Again Christian is shown to have eternal life-present tense-right now! It is not something which that have to wait years of purgatorial suffering to attain. They have it RIGHT NOW, the moment they receive Christ as Saviour and Lord! Thus, there is no possible reason for Purgatory. Every Born Again Christian is instantly presented to God... "...holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his [God's] sight" (Col. 1:22) This verse is also in the present tense. There is nothing future about the eternal life which Jesus gives. It is yours the very moment you ask Him to save you from your sins and to be the Lord of your life.
The indulgence system-still fully in place after Vatican II-assigns certain periods of time to certain religious acts. Perhaps saying a "Hail Mary" for the soul of a departed relative might get them 25 days off their time in Purgatory. However, no one on earth apparently knows how long a given dead person's sentence in Purgatory is. Therefore, there is no way of knowing when you have amassed enough Masses, prayers, rosaries, etc. to get them from Purgatory to heaven. I know of relatives who are still having Masses said for departed parents who have been dead for nearly thirty years!!
Of course, this costs money. Masses are not free. The person seeking a Mass to be said must pay a stipend or donation. It is not a large amount of money, but it can add up over the years. Since no one will ever know when enough Masses have been said, this can (and often does) go on for decades, often from poor widows who don't have a lot of income. Jesus warned about those religious leaders who ".. .devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation." (Matt. 23:14)
The sad part of all this is that there is not a scintilla of Biblical evidence that any of it works. Nowhere in the Bible are prayers for the dead exhorted. To the contrary, the Word of God teaches that once you die, your eternal destiny is fixed forever. It cannot be changed by acts either of the living or the dead:
If this were not so, surely Jesus would have had ample opportunity to mention it when teaching about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:20ff). Here a rich man suffers torments in hell and no hope is offered by the Lord of ever getting out. Additionally, the Bible assures us (praise God!) that when a Born Again Christian dies they are instantly with the Lord in heaven!
This pretty much shoots down Purgatory. The Bible is silent about such a place, or about praying for the dead; and instead it teaches that by believing in Christ we can instantly KNOW where we will go when we die.
It is important to understand that the term used, "familiar spirit" refers to a demon masquerading as a known (familiar) dead individual. Basically, there is no essential difference between praying to Mary or a dead saint than there is in going to a seance and trying to communicate with "dear Uncle Harry."
Some Catholics might protest that they do not pray to or worship Mary, etc. They just ask these departed worthies to intercede for them before the Father, much like we would ask a living Christian friend to pray for us about something. That sounds good in theory, but again there is no Biblical evidence for it.
Vatican theologians try to draw a fine theological line between the worship that is offered to God alone and the "veneration" that is accorded Mary and the saints. They have even come up with specialized Greek terms for it. "Latria" is the word they use for the worship afforded to God alone. "Dulia" is a word which refers to the veneration of the saints and "Hyperdulia" refers to the extra-special veneration accorded to Mary. These are technical Catholic theological terms. However, interestingly enough, the Greek root of those terms: DOULEIA, means "bondage" or "the condition of being a slave!"(3) Thus, Catholics are "in bondage" to the saints, and are in "super-bondage" tc Mary. Not a good arrangement!
Ultimately, the deeper problem is that few Catholics understand these subtle distinctions. Most DO pray to Mary. They don't just ask her to pray for them, they pray TO her! This is most especially true in developing nations where Catholicism is so strong. Even in the U.S., one of the most popular Marian devotions is the booklet, "Our Lady of Perpetual Help" which has MANY prayers addressed to Mary asking HER (not Jesus) to save us! That is emphatically not Biblical. Mary cannot save anyone. There is only one Savior (Isa. 43:11, Hosea 13:4, Acts 4:12) and no one but God should be the object of our prayers, worship or devotions.
Space does not permit a detailed examination of the serious heresies in the cult of the Virgin Mary. Suffice it to say that Catholics call her the "Queen of Heaven" (see Jer. 7:18 and Jer. 44:17-25) and have elevated her to the level of a Goddess, de facto, if not de jure!
The bottom line on the salvation teachings of Catholicism is that you are NOT saved by grace in the Catholic church, but rather by the accomplishment of these (and hundreds more) acts of piety such as Rosaries, novenas, etc.; and by abstaining from sin. The clear message of the Bible is that you are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and nothing else:
"Gifts" do not have to be earned, only accepted. If a Catholic is "earning" something, then they are going to be appalled at their paycheck:
Catholics are taught that the pope is the literal successor of Peter as bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff of the universal Church, the Vicar of Christ-Jesus' personal representative. Thus, the pope alone can declare someone a saint, and he has the ability to infallibly define dogma for all Catholics. The Vatican interprets Mt. l6:18 as applying to Peter as the "rock" upon which Jesus built His church. There are two
problems with this:
First of all two different words there are used in Greek. "PETROS" means a piece of a rock, a detached stone or boulder.(4) "PETRA," on the other hand, means a huge mass of immovable rock.(5) Logically, it would be unlikely for Jesus to say that He was going to build his church on a small piece of rock o stone, when instead He could build it on Himself, the mighty, giant rock!
This interpretation is borne out by other scriptures (using the Bible to interpret itself). First of all, over and over again, Jesus (and/or God) is called "the Rock." In 36 places. God is called "the Rock."(6)Yet, nowhere else in the Bible is any other person referred to as a rock. Nowhere in the Bible is Peter treated like a pope, called a pope, and he never calls himself a pope, nor does he call himself a "PETRA." Rather, he writes...
1 Pet. 2:6-8 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture. Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him (Jesus) shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he (Jesus) is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner. And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
Thus, it seems evident from the Bible, and even from Peter himself that Jesus is the Rock upon which the church is built! (see also Eph. 2:20) Additionally, though past popes have demanded worship (bowing down to them, calling them "Your holiness," kissing their feet, kissing their ring, etc.), Peter explicitly refused it-as did other Godly people in the Bible.
The bottom line on all this is where do you get your ultimate authority? How can ultimate truth be determined? Can truth be found by following a mortal man, like the pope-or by following an inspired (2 Tim. 3:16), living (Hebr. 4:12) Book which has never been found to be wrong in the tiniest way!
The fallacy of the "two-headed" leadership of the
Catholic church (Bible and Magisterium) is that if the two contradict
(as they usually do), then who has the authority to referee?
It is like having a corporation with two presidents!
The Holy Bible can be mathematically, scientifically, juridically proven to be truly what it says it is, the very inerrant Word of God.(8) The papacy and the Vatican cannot. On top of everything else, it must be said that if the Vatican is right, then the Bible must be false. However, if the Bible is true, then the Vatican must be false! Look at the fruits of the two "camps!"
The nations where the Catholic church has reigned supreme are among the poorest in the world. Places like Latin America, the Philippines, Haiti, that have had undiluted Catholicism for centuries are full of crime, corruption, illiteracy, high infant mortality, shortened life spans and abject poverty! On the other hand, countries like England, America, and northern Europe . which have revered the Bible (at least until this generation) have been the most prosperous, advanced nations in history. Indeed, the recent decline in US, English, and northern European fortunes can be directly traced to their moving away from the Bible and toward humanism or Catholicism.
Then, you honestly need to forsake the Catholic church and renounce it as a false religious system. You cannot be a part of a religious institution which has been responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of Christians down through the centuries (Rev. 17:6). You must come out from among them and be separate!
I wish my readers to remember that the burning of the ...martyrs is an act that the Church of Rome has never repudiated, apologized for, or repented of, down to the present day.... Never has she repented of her treatment of... the Albigenses;
never has she repented of the wholesale murders of the Inquisition;.. .never has she repented of the burning of the English Reformers. We should make note of
that fact and let it sink down into our minds. Rome never changes! (9)
In one sense.. .you might well think that the Roman Catholic church is the most orthodox church in the world... [It] believes that Jesus of Nazareth was the eternal Son of God; it believes in the Virgin Birth; it believes in the Incarnation;
it believes in His miracles; [etc.]...
But at this point, the subtlety comes in and the difficulty arises. To all that she "adds," with a damnable plus things which are utterly unscriptural and which, indeed, become a denial of the Scripture. So she lands us eventually in a position in which, if we accept her teaching, we are believing a lie.(10)
Roman Catholicism is the devil's greatest masterpiece! It is such a departure from the Christian faith and the New Testament teaching that.. .her dogma is a counterfeit; she is, as the Scripture puts it, "the whore."...
Let me warn you very solemnly that if you rejoice in these (ecumenical] approaches to Rome, you are denying the blood of the martyrs! There are innocent people who are being deluded by this kind of falsity, and it is your business and mind to open their eyes." (11)
Today's Catholics must "accept, without hesitation, and profess all that has been handed down...especially by the Sacred Council of Trent."(12)
If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out to every repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in purgatory... let him be anathema.(13)
[We affirm] that there is a purgatory, and that the souls there detained are aided by the suffrages of the faithful and...[that] bishops shall see to it that the suffrages of the living, that is, the sacrifice of the mass, prayers, alms and other works of piety which they have been accustomed to perform for the faithful depart be piously and devoutly discharged in accordance with the laws of the church...(14)
Salvation outside the Catholic Church?
The Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass:
Worshipping the wafer of bread?
Still sacrificing Jesus today?
The authority of the Holy Bible?
I accept and hold, in each and every part, all that has been defined and declared by the Sacred Council of Trent concerning Original Sin and Justification.
I profess that in the Mass is offered to God a true, real and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; that in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist is really, truly and substantially the Body and blood together with the soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and that there takes place what the Church calls transubstantiation...
I firmly hold that Purgatory exists and that the souls detained there can be helped by the prayers of the faithful. Likewise, I hold that the saints, who reign with Jesus Christ, should be venerated and invoked, that they offer prayers to God for us and that their relics are to be venerated.
I profess firmly that the images of Jesus Christ and of the Mother of God, ever virgin, as well as of all the saints should be given due honour and veneration. I also affirm that Jesus Christ left to the Church the faculty to grant Indulgences...
This is the only church instituted by Christ for the salvation of mankind.. .All are bound to belong to the Church, which Christ established, to share in His merits and thus attain life everlasting.. .Those who know the Church of Christ cannot be saved outside her fold.(26)
[The Roman Catholic church is] the only true Church.. .the custodian and interpreter of Revelation...Man can obtain a knowledge of God's Word [only] from the Catholic church and through its duly constituted channels.(27)
When he has once mastered this principle of Divine Authority [residing in the church], the Inquirer is prepared to accept whatever the Divine Church teaches on Faith, Morals, and the Means of grace.(28)
... the task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the'living teaching office of the church alone. (29)
But by divine institution, it is exclusive task of these pastors alone, the successors of Peter and the other Apostles, to teach the faithful authentically, that is with the authority of Christ.(30)
We believe in the infallibility enjoyed by the successor of Peter when he speaks ex cathedra..., an infallibility which the whole Episcopate enjoys when it exercises with him the supreme Magisterium.(31)
|* Used by permission from William's Schnoebelen's Straight Talk articles. For information on how to obtain these see: With One Accord Ministries: http://www.withoneaccord.org|
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