Ancient Errors of Roman Catholicism
Subject; False Religion: Roman Catholicism
By Robert D. Simmons Jr.
“Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason, my conscience is captive to The Word of God… for to go against conscience would be neither right nor safe…” This is a quote from Martin Luther, former German Monk turned Christian theologian/pastor/protestant figurehead from the 16th century, who was one of the key figures that led to a great shift in church history. When you speak of church history, you can’t go too far backwards or forward without touching on that great entity known as The Roman Catholic Church. Today, The Roman Catholic Church is the largest so-called Christian organization in the world with over one billion members. The Catholic Church finds its roots in Rome and is a hierarchal (or ranked) system that is ultimately led by The Bishop of Rome, namely The Pope. The Pope, according to Catholic teaching, is backed by the authority of being directly descended from the 1st century apostle known as The Apostle Peter. Peter was, according to scripture, “given the keys of the kingdom” (Matthew 16:17-19). Because of this claimed authority, The Roman Catholic Church considers itself to be the only true church by the authority thought to be invested in them directly from Jesus Christ himself. Before I even make an attempt to criticize The Roman Catholic Church, I would just like to respectfully note that The Roman Catholic Church is the largest, non-government, provider of education and medical services in the world… I must give “honor to whom honor is due” (Romans 13:7)
The reason I quoted Martin Luther in the beginning is because being a leading theologian of the time; He was very instrumental in inadvertently causing what is known as The Protestant Reformation. This is and was a “protest” of the particular doctrines and practices that were defining the Roman Catholic Church at the time. This is the primary goal of this article… To relive and make clear why they "protested" The Roman Catholic teachings and practices that are even held and observed until this very day.
I won’t draw the conclusion that an individual Catholic cannot be a Christian… But I will claim that a STRONG Christian would have to be a VERY, VERY, VERY WEAK Catholic. Among many of the unbiblical teachings within The Catholic Church there is the Eucharist (Communion Bread and Wine becoming the literal body of Christ), The Veneration of Mary (Excess honor and glory given to Mary, the mother of Jesus), Papal Infallibility(The impossibility of error concerning the Pope) and Sacred Tradition (The church having the same amount divinity as Sacred Scripture). Catholicism does hold to very essential teachings such as The Virgin Birth, The Trinity, The deity of Christ and the Indwelling of The Holy Spirit. The Roman Catholic Church even holds to the position that it is the atonement of Christ that makes a sinner able to be justified by God… But this is where things begin to get very convoluted. In The Roman Catholic Church, Faith in Jesus Christ is necessary for salvation but… “Faith alone” is not sufficient. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that faith in Jesus Christ must be accompanied by works in order for God to consider the sinner as righteous. I would like to note that the Protestant view on justification is that faith is not only necessary for salvation but it is also sufficient… That is not to say that someone can claim to have faith and then live any kind of way (this is known as Antinomianism), but that along with faith, God gives the sinner what is needed to have works that mirror the justification that is given. If these two doctrines were put into and equation, it would look something like this:
Roman Catholic view on Justification – FAITH + WORKS = JUSTIFICATION
(This equation simply means that Catholic doctrine teaches Faith alone cannot make you right with God you must couple Faith with Devoted religion to be right with God, THIS IS THE WRONG VIEW.)
Protestant view on Justification – FAITH = JUSTIFICATION + WORKS
(This equation simply means that most Protestant doctrine teaches people are accounted right with God through Faith alone. And good deeds and religious acts are a result and a proof that the person actually has Faith in God and His word. THIS IS THE CORRECT VIEW.)
Scripture says it, in some instances, like this… “For in it (The Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous ones shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)
Now at first glance, this may not seem like a big deal but because of this seemingly small discrepancy in interpretation of Scripture, I believe it creates the constant downward spiral of soundness within The Catholic Church… You must understand… Within The Catholic Church it is the religious system that determines whether or not a person is justified before God. This actually gives The Roman Catholic Church full control of an individuals spiritual being. If you were to ask me, I would have to say that The Roman Catholic Church has taken a portion, if not all, of God’s authority to justify a sinner.This is a great HIGH JACKING of authority, seeing as that God, and God alone is “Just and the Justifier of the one who has faith if Jesus” (Romans 3:26). I would like to present five ways in which I feel that The Roman Catholic Church has overtaken the authority of God over mankind therefore deeming itself as a false religious system:
Penance is, in The Roman Catholic Church, a sacrament (or religious act) that restores a Catholic that has went wayward in his or her faith… Before I go further with what Penance is, you have to understand that not only does The Roman Catholic Church believe that the grace of God is given by faith plus works, they also believe that an individual is able also to fall from that grace that is given (a teaching that denies Eternal Security in which most in Orthodox Christianity believes). In order to recover from this falling away, the Catholic sinner must go through Penance… This is a church led ceremony, which involves a Priest exhorting the wayward to repent, confession, an act of contrition (such as giving money or service), and the Priest declaring the sinner restored to God. The first issue that I see with Penance is that it assumes that there is a sin great enough to separate a believer from the grace that was given to the sinner once he or she believed in Christ. This greatly limits the power of Christ sacrifice for the believer… Philippians 1:6 says “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” It is God who starts the work in the believer… Not the church! If God starts it… You better believe he’ll finish it. Secondly, Is it such cheap grace that in order to secure it, all the repentant has to do is pay money or time or service to show his or her devotion… Was not Christ sufficient?!.. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; an that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) Scripture capitalizes by clearly stating that the saints are “being justified as a gift by God's grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24) Penance is, in my opinion, an open door for works righteousness, false conversion and ministerial corruption. If all I had to do to be restored to a holy God was pay money, I wouldn’t need a change of heart but rather a pocket full of change.
Indulgences, according to The Roman Catholic Church, is a merit that is imputed to the Catholic believer to cancel a certain amount of punishment deserved for sin that is committed by the individual. Indulgences can relieve punishment both in this life and the life to come. If an amount of Indulgences are accredited to you, it can shorted the amount of time you are required to do Penance (i.e. one month apposed to two months) or even better, after this life, it can shorten the amount of time you will spend in Purgatory (a place of purging of sin that we’ll talk about near the end of this article). Although Christ has already paid the price for sins, punishment is only dealt with by declaration from The Catholic Church. Indulgences can be granted to whomever is deemed worthy by the priest. Such things that would deem a person worthy of an amount of Indulgences are certain prayers being recited a certain amount of times (i.e. “Hail Mary” twice a month) or even giving of money. These Indulgences are contained in what is called The Treasury of Merit (which we’ll talk about following this point). The Treasury of Merit is said to have infinite value seeing as the sacrifice of Christ has infinite worth along with the prayers and righteousness of saints such as Mary and Peter.
Once again, the immediate issue that I see with this sacrament is that it is a pretty presentation of what is really a form of works based righteousness. If you commit sin, No problem! Say a few instructed prayers a few times a month… or pay a good sum of money… and now your punishment will be less than what it could have been. Both the grace of God and the wrath of God are totally understated and diminshed… “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28). How can The Roman Catholic Church expect unholy men to pay for their own sins before a holy God? Secondly, Isn’t it “Therefore there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)? Has not “the record of debt that stood against us been canceled along with its legal demands” (Colossians 2:14)? Why are supposing believers still paying for a debt that is already paid for?.. Why are you subjecting them to washing the restaurant dishes when the tab has already been paid for? Is The Roman Catholic Church keeping its people dependent upon their system to be relieved of their punishment?... You tell me.
3.TREASURY OF MERIT
Like I mentioned before, The Treasury of Merit, or The Treasury of The Church, is a sort of “storehouse” that contains the infinite merit of Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for all of mankind’s sins. Along with his sacrifice (which, in this case, seems to be no greater that that of a 1st century martyr) there are the prayers of The Virgin Mary, the merit of the apostles, and all other such saints who achieved merit. Such scriptures like Matthew 6:19-20, which speak of “laying up treasures for yourselves in heaven” are used to support this practice. The Treasury of Merit is open to all by the dispersion of the clergy in the church. It is also said that merit can be earned on behalf of family and friends that have already died.
My argument would be… Is not the righteousness of Christ accredited to each man at his accepting of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior? Did not Abraham “believe God and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3)? Is not The Gospel “the power of God to salvation to all who believe” (Romans 1:16)? Did not God “give the right to be children of God to all those who believed in the name of Jesus” (John 1:12)? If so, how does the church get the right to lock up the merit of Christ and distribute it at their own discretion? Is the grace of God a bank that gives out grants and loans to those who seem “good for it”? It is sort of ironic that The Roman Catholic Church has the authority to credit merit to a man before God when they can only see the “outer appearance” yet it is God himself that can “see the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Now, I don’t have a problem with confession… If it is looked at in a Biblical sense… On the other hand, Confession within The Roman Catholic Church is a part of the Penance sacrament in which a penitent sinner confesses their sin before a Priest and in turn, The Lord is now able to forgive the sinner through the Priest. Confession is a necessary step to restoring a wayward Catholic to his rightful place within the fold and his rightful place within the kingdom of God. Confession is followed by a pardon from the Priest, which usually includes some act of contrition such a service, alms giving or prayer. “Confessing your sins, one to another” (James 5:16) I believe is essential and necessary. Confession is even necessary for one to come to Christ (Romans 10:9-10). So, I’m not aiming at the practice itself… My problem arises when it seems like there is another “mediator” other than Jesus Christ himself. Is not there “One God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 2:5)? I know I’m asking a lot of questions, but I’m just trying to understand. Don’t we already have a “great high priest that has passed into the heavens, Jesus, The Son of God” (Hebrews 4:14)? Once again, The Roman Catholic Church can be accused of stealing a right that only belongs to Christ himself… Are you satisfied with confessing your sins to an imperfect priest who cannot truly pardon… or would you rather confess your sins to a Priest who is able to “forgive you of your sins and cleanse you of all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)?
Purgatory is, according to The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1030, “All who die in Gods grace and friendship, but still are 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.” Purgatory is not like Hell but it is more of a purification realm. Purgatory is meant to either heighten the sinner’s awareness of life without God or purge him or her impurities. This is done in some cases by “purifying fire”. The amount of time spent in Purgatory depends on the amount of blemish or sinfulness that the individual had upon their soul when they died. Time ranging anywhere from a few months to possibly thousands of years. As I said earlier in the article, such things as Penance and Indulgence can limit the amount of time you must be purged. Prayer, absolution (or pardon) of the Priest from confession, and attending Mass can also cause you to have a shorter time in Purgatory.
The first, and most oblivious, discrepancy is that this is in no way Biblical. Period... It’s just not… What is Biblical is that “it is appointed to man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Secondly, do I really need to repeat 1 John 1:9 or Romans 8:1 to show that Christ sacrifice is sufficient to pay for all of a sinners sins? God was literally “ in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Is The Roman Catholic Church so divine that although Christ over looks trespass that they are able to place people in a place to purge them of their sins? “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who can condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34).
To those of you who may associate yourself with this religious system, I’m not aiming at you to be your enemy or critic… rather I’m aiming at the belief system you hold to. A belief system, which greatly distorts the grace of God, robs Christ of his saving power, and enslaves men to a false system of righteousness, which can lead to God being displeased, which can lead to a Eternal judgement of punishment by God. My prayer is that all people would find the true righteousness, which comes through “faith in Christ alone apart from works” (Romans 3:28). God bless.