A Refutation of Roman Catholicism
I. An Open Letter to Roman Catholics
II. Six Issues of Separation
III. Cults and Catholicism: Comparison Chart
An Open Letter To Roman Catholic Scholars
The New Catholic Catechism in Section 847 states that non-Catholics who “seek God with a sincere heart” and “try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience” will “ achieve eternal salvation.”
The Catholic Catechism in Sections 839-845 says that sincere people from non-Christian religions such as Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Taoists, animists, etc. will make it to heaven without the necessity of hearing of or believing in Catholicism. As long as they are sincere in their faith and live a good life, they will make it to heaven.
Various modern Popes have also publicly stated that this means that sincere people who have no religious convictions such as agnostics, atheists, skeptics, etc. will make it to heaven without the necessity of hearing of our believing in Catholicism. As long as they are sincere and live a good life, they will make it to heaven.
The Catholic Catechism also says in Section 838 that the Orthodox, Evangelicals, Pentacostals, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists, etc, will also make it to heaven without hearing of or believing the Roman Catholic Church. As long as they are sincere in their faith and live a good life, they will make it to heaven.
Since Catholic scholars teach that non-Catholics can make it to heaven without converting to Catholicism, why do Catholics continue to try to convert us to their church?
1. We do not need to hear or believe in the Catholicism to make to heaven. There is thus no rational basis for your existence.
2. Our “ignorance” of Catholicism is our salvation according to RCC Catechism. Thus if you try to convert us, you will endanger our souls! The Catechism 846 states that people go to hell if they believe that the RCC is the true religion but “refuse to enter it.” Thus we may lose our salvation if we become convinced that Catholicism is true. So please leave us alone!
3. Section 846 also states that people who believe that the RCC is the true religion but “refuse to remain it,” will go to hell. Those who leave the RCC and then are sincere in their new beliefs and live a good life will still make it to heaven. But, if we become convinced that the RCC is the true church, their souls will become endangered. Therefore it is better that we are left alone. As sincere ex-Catholics, they are going to heaven. They would be damned by being converted back to the RCC.
4. Section 856 of the Catechism states that a “respectful dialogue” with non-Catholics may be done. But the RCC has failed to be “respectful.” Instead, the RCC has repeatedly engaged in rude and offensive “Protestant bashing.” If Evangelicals are only “separated brethren,” then stop demonizing them.
5. Since, according to the RCC, we non-Catholics can get to heaven without becoming Roman Catholics, there is no need for the Roman Catholic Church to exist. And, since we are quite happy in our own religion, we do not want the RCC to attempt to convert us. By trying to convert us, more harm is done that good. It is thus time for you to seek gainful employment elsewhere. We suggest that you put your talents to work selling insurance, cars or shoes.
Essential Issues Between Catholics And Protestants:
The Roman Catholic Church is structured according to the O.T. Judaism instead of N.T. Christianity
O.T. Judaism Roman Catholicism
1. The High Priest —————-> The Pope
2. Jewish Priests —————-> Catholic Priests
3. Continuous Sacrifices —————-> Continuous Sacrifices
(Animal) (The Mass)
4. The Temple —————-> The Cathedral
5. The Holy City —————-> The Holy City
6. Physical Discipline —————-> Physical Discipline
Even Unto Death Even Unto Death
7. Passive Laity —————-> Passive Laity
8. Under Law/Good Works —————-> Under Law/Good Works
9. O.T. Worship with. —————-> Worship with incense,
incense, altar, etc altars, etc.
10.Church/State As One —————-> Church/State As One
The Issue of Religious Authority
The central burning issue which divides the Reformed from the Romanist is the issue of religious authority, i.e. what is the final court of appeal and the ultimate judge of truth, justice and morals? This is where the line is drawn with every cult. In a cult the leadership always views itself as having equal or greater authority than the Bible. On this basis, we must conclude that the Church of Rome is a cult.
We recognize that some people do not view the Church of Rome as a cult because of its size and age. But the size or age of a religion cannot erase the fact of it being a cult if its authority structure is cultic.
To put it simply, the Church of Rom is the oldest and biggest “super-cult” of all time. It has killed multiple millions more than the Christian Scientists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hare Krishnas, Jim Jones and all the killer cults put together. It has burned and murdered more Gospel preachers than the communists! For a thousand years it succeeded in the burying the Gospel under a mountain of false doctrines and superstitious ceremonies. If it were not for the brave men and women of the Reformation, we might still be in bondage to the Church of Rome.
1. The Church
a. the pope and
b. the council of bishops
2. The Bible
The Bible is the only final authority in all matters of faith and practice
The Chief Problem: The Claim of Infallibility
While the Church of Rome has changed some of the minor details of its ceremonies, its doctrines have not changed since the Council of Trent. Indeed, the RCC cannot change its doctrines because it claims to be infallible in doctrine. Thus if it ever admitted that it was at any time wrong on any doctrine, it could no longer claim to be infallible.
Since Romanists base their faith on the infallibility of the Pope and the Church, no one can doubt or question the Catholic dogma. While the Bible is mentioned as being one of the sources for its authority, the Roman Church is actually the only and final authority because it will allow only its interpretation of Scripture. Thus when a doctrine is in conflict with Scripture, the Scripture is conformed to the doctrine!
The Bible has become a piece of putty that can be molded by the priests into any thing they want it to be. When pressed, modern priests will often attach the infallibility of the Bible in order to defend the infallibility of the Pope and the Church!
True Religious Authority
Principle #1 There can be only ONE final authority. The attempt to have two, three or more “final” authorities is impossible. Ultimately one will win out over the others. Just as there can be only one captain of the ship or one head of the home, even so there is only enough room in this universe for One FINAL authority (Matt. 6:24).
Principle #2 God is the one ultimate final authority. God has authority over all of life because He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things (Matt. 28:18).
Principle #3 God has revealed His mind and will in Scripture and thus Scripture is the ultimate final authority. The Bible is not to be viewed as a collection of funny religious ideas from thousands of years ago. It is the present revelation of the heart and mind of the Creator toward, man, His image bearer. It is the last court of appeal, the final judge, the ultimate arbitrator, the absolute standard of truth, justice, morals and beauty:
a. Isaiah 8:20
b. Acts 17:2, 10-12
c. II Timothy. 3:16
d. II Peter 1:19-21
Principle #4 Nothing can override the authority of Scripture. Churches, popes, bishops, pastors, priests, human traditions, kings, presidents, congress, civil judges, supreme courts and all human authorities must bow before the eternal Word of the Almighty. Nothing is to be added to or subtracted from the Word of our God.
a. Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32
b. Proverbs 30:5-6
c. John 10:35
d. Revelation 22:18-19
The Holy Scriptures
The leaders of the Church of Rome (such as its priests) have always viewed themselves as “the Church” and the congregation as “the laity.” This radical distinction has given them much power over the people.
When the priests say, “Only the Church can interpret the Bible,” they are claiming exclusive rights to the Bible. In every cult, the leadership cannot stand the idea of “the laity” interpreting the Bible which clearly contradict the doctrines and authority of the leadership. Historically, how did the priests of Rome prevent this?
First, they kept the Bible away from the people:
a. They kept the Bible in languages which people could not understand: Latin, Greek or Hebrew.
b. They outlawed any vernacular translations.
c. The destroyed any translations by burning them.
d. They put to death all who dared to translate it.
e. They made it illegal to have or read a Bible.
f. They substituted other books in its place: ex. Prayer books, missals, devotionals, etc.
Second, they kept the people away from the Bible.
a. They told them that the Bible was far too difficult for people to read.
b. They warned them that the Bible was dangerous. It could destroy their faith and damn their soul.
c. They discouraged people from learning how to read.
d. They spoke out against the printing press. Why?
1. The Reformation followed the invention of the printing press. The resulting accessibility of the Scripture posed a tremendous threat to “the Church.” This is why various Popes condemned the printing press as a work of the devil.
2. Those countries where there was a high rate of literacy became Protestant. Thus “public” education was denounced by “the Church” as evil.
3. While the Protestant counties became centers of education and industry, Cahtolic countries were kept ignorant and poor.
e. They threatened them with death if they did read it.
But has not “the Church” changed? Does not it now allow people to read the Bible?
Yes, in Protestant countries such as the U.S., where there is freedom of religion and where Bibles can be purchased at every book store, it cannot do otherwise. But they cannot just let people read the Bible per se.
1. They have produced their own translations that, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, mistranslate the original text to safeguard their doctrines.
2. Placed notes in the text that give the “official” interpretation. (ex. Rom. 5:1)
In “Catholic” countries the story is different. The Bible is still shunned as “dangerous.” Wherever the Church of Rome has political power, it still does all it can to keep the Bible away from the people. The RCC has never retracted its official denial of religious freedom and its right to use violence to force people to accept its doctrines.
How can a sinner find acceptance before a Holy God? On what basis can we have any hope of escaping His just wrath?
God accepts us on the basis of our performance of certain religious duties such as baptism, confirmation, confession, attending mass, good works, etc., as well as by grace.
God accepts us solely on the basis of the performance of Jesus Christ in His sinless life, good works, death and resurrection. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
Salvation-Not by works but by Grace
The idea that our salvation depends on our participation in certain religious ceremonies and living a life of good works is the basis of all false religions past or present. The ancient Egyptian priests taught their people that good deeds and their bad deeds would be weighed at death and that if the good outweighed the bad, they could go to paradise. This works mentality is the basis of all major religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. It is the basis of all of the cults such as Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is the basis of all liberal religion as found in mainline churches such as the United Methodist churches.
If you search the history of religion from the beginning of time you will discover that the religion of the Bib is the only religion that has ever taught that salvation is by the unmerited free grace of God. It is the only religion that teaches that God became a man in order to die in man’s place and to do all that is necessary for man’s salvation. It is the only religion which points man away from his own works to the works of Christ.
It is on this basis that we cannot view the Church of Rome as a Christian Church. It has always made salvation dependent on the doing of good works. It thus has the same view of religion that all pagan religions have.
What can we say about the issue of works vs grace?
1. One problem with trying to earn your salvation by good works is that you can never know if you have done enough to tip the scales in your favor. Does one big sin outweigh a hundred small good deeds? What if you are one good deed short? What if you piled up a lot of good deeds all your life but did a big sin just before you died?
2. The main problem with works mentality is that it contradicts the plain teaching of Scripture.
a. John 3:16
b. John 6:26, 29
c. Romans 3:9-28
d. Romans 4:1-8, 16
e. Romans 5:1,2, 6-11 etc.
f. Romans 11:6
g. Galatians 2:21, 5:4
h. Ephesians 2:1-10
i. Titus 3:4-7
The finished work of Christ versus the Mass
A. The O.T. Sacrifices (Leviticus)
1. Numerous in number and kind.
2. Continuously offered on altars by priests.
3. The death of the sacrifice accomplished each time.
B. The Catholic Sacrifices (The Mass)
1. Numerous in number and kind.
2. Continuously offered on altars by priests.
3. The death of the sacrifice accomplished each time.
C. The N.T. View of Christ’s Death
1. O.T. Sacrifices were numerous and continuous because they did not spiritually or morally cleanse or save anyone (Heb. 10:1-4, 11).
2. Their purpose was to predict, not to save (Col. 2:17).
3. The book of Hebrews says that Christ’s sacrifice was BETTER than the O.T. sacrifices. Why?
a. His Sacrifice was SINGULAR, not NUMEROUS (Heb. 10:12, 14). One sacrifice.
b. His Sacrifice was FINAL, no CONTINUOUS (Heb. 9:24-28; 10:10,18). For all of time.
c. His Death was accomplished ONCE, not REPEATEDLY (Heb 9:26-28; Rom. 6:9-10). He will never die again.
The Priesthood of believers
In Catholic theology, the “priesthood” is composed of the officials of the Church such as the Pope, the bishops, cardinals, priests, etc. The congregation is called the “laity” or laymen and are not viewed as priests.
Thus a Catholic priest is a mediator between God and His people. The priest is to hear their confession of sin and he is the one who “forgives” (absolves) them of sin and decides what works of penance they must perform. He is the one you must pay to get a suffering loved one out of purgatory. He can even sell you an “indulgence” or “time off” from suffering in purgatory- if the price is right.
At the Reformation, the Reformers revived the biblical doctrine of the priesthood of the believer. Once the common people understood this doctrine the power of Rome was broken. The people realized the
a. They were the church;
b. They were the priests;
c. Christ was the only mediator between God and man;
d. They should confess their sins to God alone;
e. Only God can forgive sins;
f. Purgatory was a myth
g. The seven sacraments were a con-game;
h. Only God decides who goes into Heaven or Hell.
The Catholic priests could no longer rule by fear and intimidation. The people rose up and drove them out of the church!
This historic doctrine of the Reformation must be clearly emphasized today as one of the chief issues between Romanists and Christians.
1. Basic Theological Definition
Under the New Covenant, every Christian is a priest of the most High God (Isaiah 61:1-6; I Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:6; 5:8, 9). All Christians have immediate access to God’s presence through Christ and thus have not need for human priests or mediators. There is now only on High Priest who is the mediator of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ our Lord (I Timothy 2:5)
The High Priest and only Mediator is Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:17)
All Believers are priests and ministers of God (I Peter 2:5, I Tim 2:5)
Cults and Catholicism: Comparison Grid
Issue Catholicism Mormonism Jehovah’s Witnesses Christianity
Specific ChurchLeader on earth ThePope TheProphet Watchtower Organization none(except, of course, Jesus)
Source of Theology Bible and Tradition Bible and additional Scripture Bible and Watchtower Organization Bible
Sample of non-biblical teachings Purgatory, Penance, Indulgences, praying to Mary,her assumption. Many gods, god from another world, goddess mother, you can become a god. Jesus is Michael the Archangel. No blood transfusions, no hell, 144,000 go to heaven If it isn’t taught here, I don’t believe it.
Method of Salvation Faith, grace, baptism, works Faith, grace, baptism, works Faith, grace, baptism, works Grace through Faith
True Church Their church organization is one true church Their church organization is one true church Their church organization is one true church All who are saved by grace thru faith are in the true church
Claim of Authority Apostolic Succession Apostolic Succession Being the faithful servant In Jesus alone
Assets Great Wealth and Power Great Wealth and Power Wealth, not much power Treasures in heaven
Goddess-like figure Mary has godlike abilities: able to hear and answer all prayers of all people all the time, intercede with God. Goddess Mother who has populated this world with spirits who inhabit human bodies Not Applicable Not Applicable
Images of God, or Jesus, or Mary, etc. Used in worship in churches Used in temples and headquarters Not Applicable Not Applicable
I find it disturbing to see the similarities between Catholicism and the cults in regard to a final earthly authority, non biblical teachings, claims to be the one true church, exaltation of Mary to semi-goddesshood, the use of images, and adding works to salvation. The Catholics, of course, will complain that this chart is not fair or does not focus on the dissimilarities. Well, they are right in that it does not focus on the dissimilarities, which are many. But that isn’t the point of this comparison, is it?
The Protestant Reformation happened for a reason: to get back to biblical theology and to be rid of extra-biblical teaching. The counter-cult movement has happened for a reason, to get back to biblical theology and to be rid of extra-biblical teaching.
Eternity is a long time to be wrong.
The Reformation was not a mistake. It was not based on insignificant issues. The truths for which our Protestant fathers live and died are just as important today as when they were first preached. While we love Romans Catholics and do not hold any personal animosity toward them, we must till say that their religion is not true according to the Bible. The only way for them or us or anyone to be saved is to trust in the person and work of Jesus as providing all that is necessary for our salvation. All other ground is sinking sand.
1 a : one that is cursed by ecclesiastical authority b : someone or something intensely disliked or loathed — usually used as a predicate nominative
2 a : a ban or curse solemnly pronounced by ecclesiastical authority and accompanied by excommunication b : the denunciation of something as accursed c : a vigorous denunciation
This is another word for scripture. The Canon consists of the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New. The Canon is closed which means there is no more revelation to become Scripture.
The divine attribute of unchangeableness. God said in Exodus 3:14, “I AM that I AM,” signifying His eternal sameness and His sovereignty. He cannot change His moral character, His love, His omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, etc. God is “From everlasting to everlasting,” (Psalm 90:2).
Immutability does not mean that God does not vary. The incarnation is just such an example of variation. Also, God’s attitude toward a person is changed when the person becomes a Christian. For example, the enmity between God and man is removed (Rom. 5:10).
Mormonism denies the immutability of God. It says that God was not always God, that He was a man on another planet who became a God (Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce McConkie, p. 321.).
Without error, non-errant. In Christianity, inerrancy states that the Bible, in its original documents, is without error regarding facts, names, dates, and any other revealed information. Inerrancy does not extend to the copies of the biblical manuscripts.
1 : incapable of error : UNERRING
2 : not liable to mislead, deceive, or disappoint : CERTAIN
3 : incapable of error in defining doctrines touching faith or morals
The members of the church who are not in the clergy.
In Catholicism, a reenactment of the sacrifice of Christ cross in a ceremony performed by a priest. This ceremony is symbolically carried out by the priest and involves Consecration where the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Jesus.
An incorrect doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. Purgatory is the belief that there exists a place after death where some of the sins of people are purged through suffering. After a period of time corresponding to the suffering necessary for the sins committed, the person is then set free and enters heaven. “Gifts or services rendered to the church, prayers by the priests, and masses provided by relatives or friends in behalf of the deceased can shorten, alleviate or eliminate the sojourn of the soul in purgatory.”1
This is an unbiblical doctrine rejected by the Protestant church. It reflects the misunderstanding of the atonement of Christ as well as adding insult to the finished work of the cross. The error of purgatory is the teaching that we might perfect ourselves and remove sin through our sufferings. If that were possible, then why did Christ need to die? Gal. 2:21 says, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (NIV)
Additionally, on the cross Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). In the Greek, this was an accounting term which meant a debt was paid in full. If the payment for our sins was paid in full on the cross, then how could purgatory be a reality — especially when the scriptures don’t mention it and even contradict it: “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Heb. 9:27).