I have appreciated many things about the Catholic church. The Roman Catholic Church has continued to defend the inerrancy of Scripture, the Trinity of God, Christ’s deity and His atonement. It has a good understanding of the seriousness of sin and its consequences in eternal judgment.
Positive changes have recently occurred in the Roman Catholic Church. It has encouraged members to read the Bible and apply it to their lives. And it is no longer a serious sin to attend a non-Catholic church.
Nevertheless, I am not a Catholic. Perhaps the primary reason is the church’s unwillingness to accept Biblical authority alone as the final determiner of Christian doctrine and practice. By accepting Catholic tradition as authoritative, even correct teachings become revised by unbiblical tradition. The problem is not so much a denial of the truth, but an addition of the truth that eventually leads away from the truth.
So let me share three reasons I cannot accept the Catholic faith.
1. The Bible alone is authoritative and free from error and is complete.
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)
Roman Catholic doctrine teaches that in addition to the Bible, there are five sources with divine authority:
- Apocrypha – books written between the Old and New Testament.
- Authorized tradition of the Catholic church
- The Pope when he speaks on matters of faith and practice
- Roman Catholic bishops when speaking or teaching in conjunction with the Pope and catholic tradition
- The official Roman Catholic interpretation of the Bible.
Bible believers reject additional sources of divine authority. Because God cannot contradict Himself and cannot lie, He cannot set up one set of teachings in the Bible and then declare them wrong through additional forms of revealed tradition. The Scripture warns against human tradition (Colossians 2:8).
2. Salvation is by grace through faith alone.
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)
The sacraments of Catholicism are spiritual activities, presided over by a Catholic priest as a mediator between God and man, to dispense God’s grace and favor.
The seven Catholic sacraments are: Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, Holy Eucharist (similar to Lord’s Supper), Marriage, Anointing the sick, Holy Orders (power to bishops, priests & deacons).
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that salvation is a function of God’s grace, individual faith and works, and the Roman Catholic system of sacraments. That is why they have traditionally taught that there is only one true church – their Catholic church – and those outside of the church cannot be saved since they are partakers of neither the one true Church or the sacraments.
The Bible teaches that salvation is something that comes freely to any individual who simply places genuine trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins. The Bible teaches that salvation is by grace through faith alone, entirely apart from personal merit or works of righteousness. Because salvation is by grace through faith alone, this means that once a person has trusted Christ, then he may know that his sins are forgiven – all sins – past, present and future (Colossians 2:13). Full salvation in the sense of forgiveness of all sins and a right standing before God occurs at the point of receiving Christ as personal Savior, even though the practical applications of salvation are worked out over a lifetime.
3. Apart from her role as the mother of Jesus, Mary was not unique or especially blessed.
And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it. (Luke 11:27-28)
Many areas of Catholic doctrine and practice are related to Mary, such as her role as:
- Co-redemptrix – she cooperates with Christ in the work of saving sinners.
- Mediatrix – she now dispenses God’s blessings and grace to the spiritually needy.
- Queen of Heaven – she rules providentially with Christ, the King of Heaven.
Some of the unbiblical teachings relating to the Mary of Catholic tradition are: Mary’s immaculate conception, her perpetual virginity, her bodily ascension, and her right to be worshiped.
The Mary of Catholic teaching has little to do with the Mary of the New Testament. It is amazing to consider the compete absence of even the mention of her name in the New Testament epistles. There is no Scriptural support of any of these Catholic doctrines. As a matter of fact, Luke tells us that Jesus said those who obey God are more blessed than Mary (Luke 11:27-28. Jesus often referred to Himself as ‘the Son of Man.’ but never once, as Catholics do, as ‘the Son of Mary.’
Other unbiblical doctrines: The Pope, Mass, The Confessional, Purgatory.