I have recently had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of a Catholic priest. We have met for coffee several times and he has joined us in our home for dinner. For Lent he gave me a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in hopes that it might deepen my knowledge of God and His love. I don’t question his sincerity nor his piety. However, based upon the statements within the Catechism as well as his own convictions regarding salvation expressed in private conversations, I pray for his soul. To put it plainly, if a person, priest or layman, believes what the Catholic Church teaches regarding salvation then they are still dead in their sins, alienated from God, without Christ, and tragically will spend eternity in hell.
This concern should not be one-sided for if a Catholic believes what their church espouses then those who rest in justification by faith alone are condemned by the Vatican. Over 100 anathemas against Christians have been pronounced by the Roman Catholic Church’s Councils of Trent and Vatican II. These condemnations can only be revoked if a Christian returns to the Catholic Church and submits to the authority of the pope.
“If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, Session 6, Canon IX)
The Roman Catholic Church is falsely identified with Christianity by many people because it affirms four fundamentals of the Christian faith: the deity of Christ, the Trinity, the virgin birth, and the bodily resurrection of Christ. However, Roman Catholicism is a corrupted counterfeit of Christianity. Its corruption springs from its denial of the finished and all-sufficient work of Jesus Christ as well as its perversion of His gospel.
Many of the teachings of Roman Catholicism stand opposed to the Bible. Below is a comparison of the Bible and the official teachings of the Catholic Church. (Paragraph numbers in parenthesis are from the Catechism of the Catholic Church). Will you choose to believe the word of God or the words of men? It is impossible to believe both where they are in opposition.
The Bible says scripture has authority over the church.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly* furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16,17 (*throughly – completely; fully; wholly)
Catholicism teaches the Catholic Church has authority over scripture
“The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him… all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgement of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God.” (100, 119)
The Foundation of the Church
The Bible says that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Rock upon which the Church is built
“He [Christ] saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God… And I [Christ] say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock [Peter’s statement, not Peter himself] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:15,16,18
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11
“And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:4
Catholicism teaches that the apostle Peter is the rock upon which Christ was to build His Church
“The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock. “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head.” This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.” (881)
The Bible says man is justified once by faith because justification is a permanent declaration by God
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:28
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:5
Catholicism teaches a man must be justified repeatedly by sacraments and works after he loses the grace of justification through mortal sin. The sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification
“Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as “the second plank [of salvation] after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace.” (1446)
The Bible says a man is saved by God’s unmerited grace
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8,9
“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” Romans 11:6
Catholicism teaches that a man is saved by meriting the graces needed for salvation
“Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.” (2010)
The Bible says a believer can know he is saved
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 5:13
Catholicism believes the sin of presumption is committed when anyone claims to know he has eternal life
“If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, Session 6, Canon XXX)
Offer of salvation
The Bible says salvation is offered to those outside the Catholic Church.
“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
Catholicism teaches salvation is offered through the Catholic Church. Anyone refusing to enter it or remain in it cannot be saved.
“How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.” (846)
Purification of sin
The Bible says a sinner is purified by the blood of Jesus Christ
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:14
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7
Catholicism teaches a man is purified by the fires of purgatory.
“All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent.” (1030-31)
The Lord’s Supper
The Bible says the Lord’s Supper is a memorial
“And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24,25
Catholicism teaches the Lord’s Supper is a sacrifice.
“The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: “The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.” “And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and offered in an unbloody manner… this sacrifice is truly propitiatory.” (1367)
The Bible says that there is only one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ.
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” 1 Timothy 2:5
Catholicism teaches that Mary is a co-mediator with Christ.
“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…. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix” (969)
The above teachings of the Catholic Church demonstrate how the traditions of men can nullify and oppose the word of God (Mk. 7:7-13). This is by no means an exhaustive treatment but just a few examples to demonstrate that Roman Catholicism differs from the Bible and therefore the Bible’s definition of Christianity. For this reason Roman Catholicism is a corrupt church and Catholics need to be evangelized.
“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” John 12:48
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9