the Roman Catholic Church
Taken from: http://www.fni.com/cim/briefing/cath.html
- Where Catholics disagree with sound Biblical Teaching
A. The Doctrine of Revelation
The subject of this important doctrine is how God reveals Himself and His will to men. The RCC affirms
that God reveals Himself through the Bible and that it is fully inspired by God. This is good as far as it
goes, but it is at this juncture that major disagreements emerge. The Reformers reaffirmed that
you can have only one final authority, and that this was the 66 books of the Bible (sola scriptura). The
RCC has added to the authority of Scripture in a number of ways:
1. The Apocrypha. It consists of 15 additional books which the RCCs add to the Bible. They are bound
between the Old and the New Testaments and are considered part of the OT. Together they are about
80% the size of the NT. They were not considered part of the canon until the Council of Trent in
1546. Prior to this, several “infallible” popes declared them non-canonical (Gregory and Leo X).
They were declared canonical largely because of the dispute about purgatory. The Catholic bishops
thought they found support for this teaching in one of the Apocryphal books (II Maccabees 12:40-45).
The NT quotes the OT approximately 260 times and alludes to it about 370 times and although the NT
writers and Jesus undoubtedly knew of these books they are never quoted or alluded to in the NT. The
Apocrypha is full of historical inaccuracies, fantasies, and teachings contrary to Scripture.
2. Tradition. The RCC classifies the tradition of the Church as “the Word of God.” Vatican II affirmed
that Scripture and tradition “form one sacred deposit of the word of God.” When tradition is
elevated to infallibility several problems arise: (1) The sheer volume of data becomes a major
difficulty; just papal bulls alone comprise about 40 volumes. (2) Contradictions among the many
traditions and the interpretation of traditions are too numerous to mention. Note: we are not saying
that tradition is not helpful or useful in interpreting Scripture.
3. The Pope. The RCC believes in apostolic succession, i.e. the Pope inherits the same
authority as the apostles. They believe that when the Pope speaks “ex cathedra” (from his chair of
authority) that he speaks without error. This doctrine of papal infallibility arose rather
recently in 1870 at the First Vatican Council. According to Scripture only those who had witnessed
the resurrection had apostolic authority (See Acts1:22; I Cor. 9:1)
4. The Bishops, i.e. the Church. When they are in council they are seen as infallible interpreters of
Scripture. Here truth is apparently the result of a majority vote. The edicts of the Council of
Trent were not unanimous. Can we really look at church history and conclude that the church has
always infallibly interpreted Scripture? (Ask Galileo!).
B. The Doctrine of Redemption. It is our opinion that the most serious breach of orthodoxy in the RCC is its
doctrine of redemption. In Galatians Paul argued that if anyone adds to the gospel of grace alone he should
be condemned (Gal. 1:8). Strong words? Yes. It was the teaching of this Epistle that convinced Luther to
go against the RCC. Salvation according to RCC teaching is an intricate system of works involving the
sacramental system. “Grace” is seen as a commodity or substance that can be gained by various means. It is
never known when one accumulates enough grace to actually meet God’s demands, therefore, a Catholic can
never have full assurance of salvation. The process of accumulating “grace” even continues in purgatory. Mary
is said to be “full of Grace.” Catholics, therefore, pray to Mary to receive Grace from her. Grace is not
the disposition of a holy God toward sinners as a result of the work of Christ, but rather an asset that
can be dispensed or infused in the sinner.
C. The Veneration of Mary. Many protestants view the teachings of the RCC about Mary as being nothing short
of cultic. Most of these false beliefs were only canonized by the RCC in 1943 as a result of the
encyclical of Pius XII. The major protestant objections are:
1. Her perpetual virginity. They readily affirm the virgin birth of Jesus, however, they maintain that
Mary remained a virgin throughout her life in apparent contradiction to the Scriptures. In three
passages siblings are mentioned, indeed in Mark 6:3, four of Jesus’s half-brothers are mentioned by
name. Jude and James later wrote the Epistles named for them.
2. Sinlessness. The RCC teaches that Mary is “full of grace” therefore free of original and actual sin.
(Was she too born of a virgin?). In Luke 1:47 she jubilantly calls the coming Messiah her savior.
3. Co-mediatrix and Co-redemptrix. This is perhaps the most blatant heretical departure since it
ascribes deity to Mary despite RCC objections. The two words mean co-mediator, and co-redeemer. This
is blasphemy to ascribe these divine works to a mortal. Catholics are encouraged to pray to Mary.
In order for Mary to hear the prayers of saints around the world would require attributes of deity.
4. The Assumption of Mary. The RCC believes Mary escaped death (because she had no sin) and was
assumed into heaven where she now reigns with Christ. This is nowhere taught in Scripture.
D. The Sacraments. One cannot understand Catholic theology or its complex view of redemption without
understanding the sacraments for they are the heart of Catholic teaching. There are seven sacraments:
baptism, confirmation, penance, Holy Eucharist, marriage, anointing the sick, and holy orders. “The
Sacraments are the means appointed by God for attainment of eternal salvation. Three of them are in
the ordinary way of salvation so necessary that without their use salvation cannot be attained (i.e. baptism,
penance, holy orders)” Ludwig Ott.
E. Purgatory. The doctrine of purgatory was officially proclaimed as dogma in 1438, however, it has ancient
origins. The problem is that its teaching is nowhere to be found in Scripture. It largely comes from the
Apocrypha and from spiritism, i.e. apparitions who affirm it. It is a place of torment where all saints
go to be finally purged of their sins. The length of one’s stay in purgatory is dependent on several
factors: (1) your good works on earth, and they are specific, such as saying the rosary, (2) the prayers of
the living, (3) and indulgences paid on behalf of the suffering.
F. The Priesthood. There is no NT authority for an order of human priests in the NT church. According to the
teaching of the Epistle of Hebrews we have only one priest, Jesus Christ, our High Priest. In the RCC
priests are highly respected and authoritarian figures. According to their own words salvation can come to no
one except through the ministrations of the priest. This teaching is actually very ancient dating back to
the 3rd Century (Cyprian). The priest in the RCC has the authority to mediate between God and man (in the
confessional), forgive sins, and by pronouncement change the elements of communion into the actual Body
and Blood of Christ. Note what the Council of Trent says about the priest: “The priest remits sins as God,
and that which he calls his body at the altar is adored as God by himself and by the congregation….It is
clear that their function is such that none greater can be conceived. Wherefore they are justly called not
only angels, but also God, holding as they do among us the power and authority of the immortal God.” (Note:
some churches: Anglican, Episcopal, and the Eastern churches call their ministers, priests, but their roles
are more like the protestants.)
G. The Church. Protestants emphasize that there are two aspects to the Church of Jesus Christ: the universal
and local. The universal church consists of all believers of all time regardless of denomination or
minor differences of belief; it is the mystical Body of Christ. The Local aspect is the visible congregation
which meets together at a geographical location. In the RCC the stress lies mainly in the outward world-
wide structure which it believes is the one true church and the one founded by Jesus Christ Himself. In short
it sees the church more as an institution rather than living organism.
1. The RCC consistently denies the sufficiency and completeness of the atoning work of Christ and many
other orthodox teachings.
2. Its final authority is ultimately church tradition rather than Scripture alone.
3. There are those who are genuinely saved in the Catholic church but it is in spite of the church and its teachings.
4. Those in the Catholic church who are genuinely trusting in Christ alone for their salvation should be encouraged
to worship where the communion is Biblically administered and where the Scriptures are correctly expounded.
5. Believers need to pray for the Catholic church that the Holy Spirit will visit it with a genuine spirit of revival and reform.
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