Stan Cox


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A Discussion of "ISMS"

Catholicism


The Catholic church is one of the oldest of all religious organizations which claim to follow Jesus Christ. Though it is one of the oldest, it is inaccurate to say that it is the first. Though the Catholic Church claims to be the "sole Church of Christ", it is in fact an apostate church. The purpose of this article is to prove that this assertion is so.

In previous articles we have established that the Bible is the Word of God, and constitutes the sole standard of authority for the Christian faith. It is important to review this fact, as the Catholic Church denies it. Notice the following quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    "It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls" (95)

Note: The quotation above, and all quotations in this article, are taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, whose English edition was published in 1994. Concerning this Catechism, Pope John Paul II said, "The Catechism of the Catholic Church, lastly, is offered to every individual ... who wants to know what the Catholic Church believes." It is an official source of Catholic doctrine, and so quoting from it establishes authoritatively Catholic teaching. It is numbered by paragraph, and the numbers in parenthesis following each quote establishes the paragraph in the Catechism where the quote can be found. To view the Catechism online, go to:

Contrary to what the Catechism asserts, "sacred Tradition" and the "Magisterium of the Church" have no place in establishing Christian doctrine. The New Testament affirms that the faith has been delivered "once for all", (cf. Jude 3), and there are strict condemnations expressed toward anyone who would teach something new or different. "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8). "For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Revelation 22:18-19).

The "sacred traditions" of the Catholic church are, in effect, the added innovations of men. The apostle Paul warned about such departures from truth, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth" (1 Timothy 4:3).

Shortly after the close of the New Testament canon, Paul's warnings were realized. Men began to depart from the faith. The organization, work and worship of the church were slowly corrupted. As a part of this corruption, the first man-made creed was established in Nicene in 325AD. This creed, applauded by the Catholics, constitutes the first example of a systemic departure from reliance on scripture as the sole authority for the Christian faith. As churches corrupted the New Testament pattern of a plurality of elders in every church (cf. Acts 14:23), a hierarchical and centralized church government evolved. This gradual change culminated in the proclamation of the bishop of Rome, Boniface III, as Pope in 606 AD. Contrary to Catholic tradition, this was the first time any man aspired to be named as the "Vicar of Christ."

This apostasy is significant. Jesus taught that if a church (congregation) fell away, He would remove its lampstand. "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place; unless you repent" (Revelation 2:5). A religious organization that is so far removed from the teaching of our Lord and his disciples can lay no claim on being the true "catholic" church.

Catholic Tradition VS Scripture

Through the ages, many false doctrines have been established through the traditions of the Catholic church. If you examine the writings of the New Testament, you will search in vain for any passages which establish Catholicism's ecclesiastical form of government; its doctrine concerning the forgiveness of sins being conveyed through the agency of the church; or its peculiar doctrines concerning the Sacraments; Infant Baptism, Transubstantiation; Degrees of Sins; Mass; The Eucharist; Purgatory; Prayers to the Saints; The Rosary; Penance; The Confessional; Praying for the Dead; Indulgences; Celibacy; and the Last Rites.

Space does not permit a detailed refutation of each Catholic Doctrine. However, to establish the magnitude of the apostasy, two primary Catholic institutions will here be exposed as unscriptural. This will allow the careful reader to see that Catholicism is a false system of belief.

Catholic Doctrines Concerning the Pope

  1. The Catholic Church claims that the Pope is the "Vicar of Christ" on earth. Catholics believe that the apostle Peter was the first Pope, serving as the Bishop of the church in Rome. According to Catholic doctrine, from then until now, the Bishop of Rome has served as the "universal father" of the Catholic Church.

      "For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered" (882).

      "The Pope enjoys, by divine institution, supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls" (937).

    However, scripture paints a far different picture. First, Peter was never exalted above others. Jesus taught his apostles that "For he who is least among you all will be great" (Luke 9:48). In fact, the apostle Paul, who describes himself as "the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God" (1 Corinthians 15:9), had the audacity to admonish sharply Peter for his sin. "Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed" (Galatians 2:11). This action does not resemble in the least the veneration and deference that is practiced by all Catholics to their Pope. There is no mention in scripture of Peter serving as the bishop of Rome, or even ever being in Rome. The sole authority for such beliefs resides in Catholic tradition, which we have shown to be unworthy of our confidence.

    Second, such veneration of any man violates clear instructions in scripture. Catholics use the term "Holy Father" to describe the Pope. In contrast, Jesus gave instructions to his disciples, "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven" (Matthew 23:9). Not only is such veneration inappropriate, but the reception of such veneration constitutes arrogance. When Paul and Barnabas were the objects of worship they said, "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God..." (Acts 14:15). Where Paul and Barnabas rejected such exaltation, the Catholic Pope receives it willingly.

    The Pope is not the visible head of the church. Christ is the sole head of the church, which is his body. "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence" (Colossians 1:18). "And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power" (Colossians 2:10).

  2. The Catholic Church Claims that the Pope is Infallible in matters of faith, doctrine and morals. There are many references to this in the Catechism, though it is never stated more clearly than in the following citation:

      "The Roman Pontiff... enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith - he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals... This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself." (891).

    The claim fails on two fronts. First, there are the many doctrinal contradictions found in Catholic tradition. As tradition has established new teaching over the centuries, that which was once held as truth is rejected. Remember Galileo, who was branded a heretic by Rome because of his teaching that the earth revolved around the sun? In our time the Pope has revealed his belief that the doctrine of theistic evolution is true, a contention that previous Popes most certainly have denied.

    Second, the contention that the Pope may "proclaim by a definitive act a doctrine" and be infallible, constitutes a claim that divine revelation continues. We have successfully denied this contention by previous passages, (cf. Jude 3). If the Catholic Pope proclaims a "new doctrine", we must heed the words of Paul, "As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:9). We must not allow ourselves to be "turned away" by such false claims.

Catholic Doctrines Concerning Mary

  1. Catholics believe that Mary plays a part in the salvation of man. Note two representative quotes from the catechism which reveal clearly Catholic teaching in this matter:

      "Taken up to heaven she (Mary) did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation..." (969)

      "Being obedient she (Mary) became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race." (494)

    This veneration of Mary is a peculiarly Catholic institution. No other denomination accords her such extensive intercessory and redemptive powers. The reason for this is clear, as scripture is silent regarding any special power or place for the mother of Jesus. While it is true that Mary enjoyed a special privilege as Jesus' mother, (cf. Luke 1:48), there is no indication in scripture that such a privilege afforded her any special place of veneration in the Christian faith. Her exaltation is purely a product of Catholic tradition. Notice our Lord's dismissal of the importance of the physical relationship between him and his mother, "Then one said to Him, 'Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.' But He answered and said to the one who told Him, 'Who is My mother and who are My brothers?' And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, 'Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother'" (Matthew 12:47-50). Jesus was not expressing disrespect for his mother in this, he was simply pointing out that the spiritual relationship we sustain with Him is of greater import than any physical bond.

    The contention that Mary has any place at all in securing the salvation of man is nothing short of blasphemous. Scripture reveals our Lord's declaration, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).

  2. The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was perpetually a virgin.

      "Mary remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in carrying him, a virgin in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin." (510)

      "And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the 'Ever-virgin.'" (499)

    Notice how this claim clearly contradicts plain scripture. Jesus was well known in his own country. When he astounded with his teaching those who had known him since a child, they said, "Is this not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?" (Matthew 13:55-56). Catholics deny plain scripture in their attempt to revise history.

  3. The Catholic Church teaches that the Virgin Mary is a mediatrix for Catholics. The claim, stated in the following quote from the Catechism, amounts to blasphemy.

      "Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix." (969)

    This writer once heard on a Catholic television program devoted to the veneration of Mary that in her position as Mediatrix she was, due to her nurturing female nature, a more effective and gracious intercessor than Jesus himself! But, the scripture reveals that Jesus alone has the office of mediator. "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5).

    The aforementioned exaltation of the woman Mary constitutes an idolatrous veneration of one who was, simply, a righteous individual. Though a wonderful and blessed woman, she is not deserving of such veneration. This is but another example of the many innovations and errors established by Catholic tradition.

Conclusion

The Catholic church claims to be the one true church of God. Note the following:

    "This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." (811)

Though many in the laity would not accept such a proposition, the Catholic church still claims to be unique among Christian denominations. It claims to be the sole Church of Christ. However, as we have seen, a careful examination of scripture reveals it to be far different from the church of the New Testament. To find the "sole Church of Christ" we must find an institution that is identical to that described in scripture. The Catholic church is rather an apostate institution, and is therefore unworthy of our support or membership.

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