Teachings of the Catholic Church

Catholic Church

The Catholic Church preserves an impressive and unbroken list of Bishops and Popes from the time of the New Testament, known as ‘Apostolic Succession’.

For those who have an appreciation of history, this is a fabulous and most interesting record of succession. However, the claim of 'apostolic succession' or the 'authority of Christ' being transferred from individual to individual is where evangelical Christianity takes issue.

Pope ‘Boniface lll‘ was appointed as the official head over the catholic church in AD 606. This in effect was the birth of the universal Roman Catholic Church. The Pope was officially given the title - 'The Vicar of Christ'.

According to the Catholic Church - the Pope has the authority of Christ on earth. Evangelical Christianity does not and cannot accept this. 

This tradition stems from the notion that Peter was the first 'Bishop of Rome' and possessed the authority of Christ as the head apostle.

The authority of Christ was then transferred from from Peter to his successor - the next Bishop of Rome. And so apostolic succession continued right through to the current Pope Francis. Scripture does not support this tradition.

The Catholic Church today is gripped with superstition and fear resulting from centuries of erroneous teaching that has demonstrated a clear departure from the early doctrines of the New Testament Epistles.

Teachings of the Catholic Church

Before we get into the detail of individual teachings of the Catholic Church, I need to point out that the following views are based on what the bible actually states.

I have friends and acquaintances who are Catholic, some devout and some nominal. These are individuals whom I have come to know and respect over many years and it is not my intention to offend or insult any of them.

Analogy behind the argument

Dear reader, if you are a nominal or devout Catholic, please allow me to pave the way for the following reflection on the teachings of the Catholic Church. 

Imagine that you are asleep in bed with your family all tucked in for the night. Perhaps you still have children at home or you might have grandchildren for a sleep over.

During the night a fire starts in your home, you are oblivious to the danger and everyone is fast asleep. Unless someone intervenes, you will all die in your sleep. First, the fumes will render you unconscious and then the flames will burn you with no one to rescue or help. Tragic thought.

Then let's say that due to a stroke of fortune, you were the only survivor, but everyone else perished.

If you then discovered that I was in the vicinity and saw the flames at the early stages of the fire but didn't bother raising the alarm', I was simply 'minding my own business', you would be furious and would demand that I explain my irresponsible actions.

You would be quite right to feel angry and I would have no excuse.

Thankfully this is only an analogy. But there is a point to my reasoning; I need you to understand that I am totally convinced about what the bible says about the eternal lake of fire, that I simply must raise the alarm and warn you about what I believe are false teachings.

I want to do this in a spirit of humility and compassion and not provoke any ill will. I trust that you will accept the following study in the spirit in which it is given.

Structure of the argument

The structure that I will follow is simple; I will quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church - CCC, and then I will highlight from the bible where Evangelical Christianity takes issue with these teachings or traditions.

The following study will highlight one dominant feature from which these teachings stem; the teachings of the Catholic Church are primarily based on a system of 'tradition' which has evolved and been passed down over the centuries.

The hierarchy of the Catholic Church based in Rome is the driving force behind these traditions.

This system of hierarchy and tradition evolved from circa AD 300 - 1500 and held sway over the church until the time of the Reformation.

Martin Luther 95

Martin Luther nailed his 95 point thesis to the door of Wittenberg Castle in 1517.

The Protestant Reformation happened for a reason. Basically, it was to combat the many false teachings that the Catholic Church had adopted through the centuries.

When Martin Luther compared Catholicism to Scripture, the result was his nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenberg door. See above image preserved for heritage.

However, instead of reforming the Roman Catholic Church, it resulted in the formation of a new group of individuals - protesters or Protestants, whose aim was to get back to the Scriptures.

It must be said for those who live in N Ireland or Scotland, that the early form of Protestantism that we witness in the Reformation period is very different from some forms of sectarian Protestantism that we witness in the modern era of the 'Marching Season'. Elements of these events are far removed from the original religious freedom that was brought about by the early reformers. 

Many of these reformers were burned at the stake under the command of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Rome.

The Catholic Church was determined to silence these reformers as their freedom of speech threatened the income of the Church.

Every year on 'Armistice Day' the Western World remembers those brave men and women who died in World Wars 1 and 2.

But sadly, there is no formal occasion to remember those martyr's who died at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church as directed by the hierarchy in Rome. The tragedy and shame of these terrible atrocities is forgotten by the world at large.

When we witness the pomp and ceremony of the modern day Vatican, it is hard to imagine that the blood of these martyr's was on the hands of those who ruled the Catholic Church from this same centre in Rome. 

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Papal Throne

Following is a summarized paragraph with references found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church - CCC.

This highlights many of the false teachings of Roman Catholicism.

We know they are false by comparing what is taught with Holy Scripture. This is interesting because very few Catholics read the bible.

The Catholic Church does not encourage its members to read the Bible. Its strong preference is for the Catholic Church, through its hierarchy, to teach tradition rather than scripture.

I am indebted to Matt Slick - President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. This is a list of false teachings that he has highlighted.

The comments following the false teachings are inserted for clarity and do not form a part of Matt Slick's observations on the false teachings. The additional comments - 'rebuttal' - are in italics.

FALSE TEACHINGS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH - CCC

The Catholic Church is the one true church

 CCC 2105

"The duty of offering God genuine worship concerns man both individually and socially. This is 'the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies toward the true religion and the one Church of Christ.'

By constantly evangelizing men, the Church works toward enabling them 'to infuse the Christian spirit into the mentality and mores, laws and structures of the communities in which [they] live.' The social duty of Christians is to respect and awaken in each man the love of the true and the good.

It requires them to make known the worship of the one true religion which subsists in the Catholic and apostolic Church. Christians are called to be the light of the world. Thus, the Church shows forth the kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies."

Rebuttal:

The most dangerous lies are the ones that contain some truth. The above statement from the Catechism contains some truth and some goodwill, however it is misleading in that the core meaning of truth is not found in the Church, it is found in Christ alone.

John 14 v 6

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Infallibility of the Catholic Church

CCC 2035

"The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the chrism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed."

Rebuttal

John 14 v 6

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Only the Roman Catholic Church has authority to interpret Scripture

CCC 100

"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."

Rebuttal

John 16 v 12-16

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

2 Timothy 3 v 14-17

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God will be be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The bible encourages us to read the bible and discover the truth for ourselves. We are aided by God the Holy Spirit who reveals the truth to us as we humble ourselves in his presence.

We are not commanded to submit to the church but to God himself.

Apostolic Succession

Apostolic Succession

The Pope is the head of the church and has the authority of Christ

CCC 2034

"The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are 'authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice.' The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teach the faithful the truth to believe, the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for."

Rebuttal

John 15 v 26-27

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father - the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father - he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

John 16 v 12-16

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

We are not dependent on men for the ultimate truth; we are dependent on the bible and the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit. This implies and necessitates the development of a personal relationship with God; through direct access!

The Roman Catholic Church is necessary for salvation

CCC 846

"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."

Rebuttal

This statement implies that salvation can only come through the Catholic Church. This is false and is actually offensive to any evangelical Christian who is not a member of the Catholic Church.

The New Testament never mentions the necessity of the church or church membership as a requirement for salvation. Salvation is found in a person - the Lord Jesus - it is not found in a church or an organisation!

Acts 4 v 12

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Sacred Tradition equal to Scripture

CCC 82

". . .the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence'."

Rebuttal

When Christ came to earth he lambasted the Jewish leaders of the day for their preoccupation with tradition. They put tradition ahead of scripture and Jesus rebuked them for their error.

Matthew 15 v 1-3

1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” 3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?


Forgiveness of sins, salvation, is by faith and works

CCC 2036

"The specific precepts of the natural law, because their observance, demanded by the creator, is necessary for salvation."

CCC 2080

Full benefit of Salvation is only through the Roman Catholic Church

"The Decalogue contains a privileged expression of the natural law. It is made known to us by divine revelation and by human reason."

Salvation by good works

CCC 2068

"So that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments,"

"For it is only through Christ's Catholic Church, which is ‘the all-embracing means of salvation’, that they can benefit fully from the means of salvation," (Vatican 2, Decree on Ecumenism, 3).

Grace can be merited

CCC 2010

"Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification."

Grace can be merited

CCC 2027

"Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods."


Rebuttal to all above

We are saved through faith in Christ alone, not by our own good works. We are not saved by good works but we are saved to do good works. There is a world of difference between the two!

Ephesians 2 v 8-10

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Romans 3 v 22-24

22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Worship Of Mary

If you have an appreciation of photography; the above image focuses on the Pope and Mary and has the crucified Christ faded into the background. Although this photograph is a fine example of aperture control; it betrays a departure from where our focus should be - in Christ alone.

The merit of Mary and the Saints - can be applied to Catholics and others

CCC 1477

"This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission in the unity of the Mystical Body."

Rebuttal

The highly esteemed position that the Catholic Church attributes to Mary the human mother of Jesus is idolatrous and amounts to apostasy.

If you read the New Testament, you will discover that after the death and resurrection of Jesus, Mary is seldom mentioned and has a very low profile rather than an exalted position. Her humility is evident and her blessedness as the human mother of the Son of God is not in doubt.

The last mention of Mary is recorded in Acts 1 v 14. She is not mentioned in any of the New Testament epistles and does not feature as an integral part of church teaching, structure or leadership. 

The significance of the privileged position of Mary and Joseph as the human parents of Jesus ends at the death and resurrection of Christ. 

The central focus in all of the epistles is our relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Penance is necessary for salvation

CCC 980

“This sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation for those who have fallen after Baptism, just as Baptism is necessary for salvation for those who have not yet been reborn."

Rebuttal

Definition of penance = punishment inflicted on oneself as an outward expression of repentance for wrongdoing.

Synonym of penance = atonement or expiation

This CCC 980 is an attack on the gospel of Christ; it strikes at the very core of evangelical Christianity. Regarding our salvation; Christ alone was able to pay the price for sin.

1 Corinthians 15 v 3-5

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.

Romans 5 v 11

11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5 v 21

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin (or be a sin offering) for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Peter 2 v 24

24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”


Purgatory

CCC 1031

"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. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:

Rebuttal

The New Testament only speaks of two final eternal destinations for mankind - heaven and hell - there is no in between and there is no third option or 'waiting room'.

There are only two types of people described in the New Testament - saved and lost. Dear reader, you are either one or the other - there is no third category, there is no in between.

The false notion of a place called Purgatory gives false hope to those who want a foot in both camps. There are millions of people who want to go to heaven but they also want to live their life according to their own agenda and rules. Frankly, this doesn't work.

The only fire that can be misconstrued in this way is the judgement fire that is described in the following passage.

1 Corinthians 3 v 10-15

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.

14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved - even though only as one escaping through the flames.


Perennial links

CCC 1475

"In the communion of saints", a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things."

"In this wonderful exchange", the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin.

Rebuttal

First: God judges us as individuals. We stand or fall on our own decisions.

Romans 14 v 11-12

11 It is written: “ ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ 12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

2 Corinthians 5 v 10

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Second: the Lord Jesus made it clear that after death there is no communication between those living on earth and the dead. The following parable illustrates the point.

Luke 16 v 19-31

The Rich Man and Lazarus
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

Indulgences

Indulgences

CCC 1471

"The doctrine and practice of indulgences in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance. What is an indulgence?

'An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.'

'An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin.' The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead."

Indulgences

CCC 1478

"An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favour of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishments due for their sins."

"Thus the Church does not want simply to come to the aid of these Christians, but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity.”

Indulgences & Purgatory

CCC 1498

"Through indulgences the faithful can obtain the remission of temporal punishment resulting from sin for themselves and also for the souls in Purgatory."

Purgatory

CCC 1472

"...On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the "temporal punishment" of sin..."

False doctrines - Mary

There are many false doctrines concerning Mary found in Roman Catholicism; here are a few:  

Mary is Mediatrix – (mediator)

CCC 969

"Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.'"

Mary brings us the gifts of eternal salvation

CCC 969

"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..."

Mary delivers souls from death

CCC 966

"...You [Mary] conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death."

Prayers to the saints

CCC 2677

"By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the 'Mother of Mercy,' the All-Holy One."

"We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender 'the hour of our death' wholly to her care.


Rebuttal to all the above

1 Timothy 2 v 1-7

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people - 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

First: Prayers and intercession are good and appropriate, but they only apply to those who are living on earth - both the prayers being offered and the recipients are living on earth.

There is no ongoing communication between Christians who are still alive on earth and those who have died and gone to heaven.

Second: There is one mediator between God and men - Jesus Christ.

5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle - I am telling the truth, I am not lying - and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

Eucharist Transsubstantiation

Transubstantiation

The Communion elements become the actual body and blood of Christ

CCC 1374

In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist:

"The body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained."

The Council of Trent

CCC 1376

The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring:

"Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood.

This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."

Rebuttal

This is a distortion and outright perversion of the truth of scripture.

The key to understanding the symbolism in the emblems of communion - the bread and wine - is found in the following verse.

John 6 v 63 - KJV

"The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."

Luke 22 v 17-20

17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

The bread and wine of communion are symbols of the body and blood of Christ. The bread symbolises his body that was broken and brusied at his crucifixion. The wine symbolises his blood that was shed on the cross.


Conclusion

In short, the Catholic Church has departed from the simple and pure teachings of the New Testament. We see the introduction of the clergy and the subsequent installments of tradition and hierarchy which placed men in positions of power and influence that go far beyond the clear teachings of Scripture.

The result of this gradual usurpation of authority was a devastating departure from the simple truths of the New Testament.

Now for those of you who might take issue with the above outline regarding the erroneous teachings of the Catholic Church; listen carefully to what the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Galatia:

No Other Gospel

Galatians 1 v 6-9

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. 

Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.

8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!

9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!


The Apostle Paul does not mince his words; he is not afraid of offending his readers, he is not trying to be politically correct.

Paul treats biblical truth with a sober and serious mindset. So must we.


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