This is a picture of me with my friend Jeff, (I’m the one on the right…always) and a singer named Matt Maher. About a year ago Jeff and I went to see Matt Maher in concert in Cincinnati. It was at one of those ultra-hip churches that don’t look like a church and has a name like Warehouse 310…this one was called “The Underground”, but that’s not the point of this story. Jeff and I got to meet Matt Maher before the concert, he’s a nice guy, pleasant demeanor, didn’t have the “I’m a rock star” attitude that a lot of guys in the Christian music business do. I enjoy Matt’s songs very much so, in fact “Christ is Risen” and “Love will Keep us Together” are a couple of my favorite tunes. But there is a problem, Matt Maher is a Catholic. I pray that he would see the error in the ways of the Catholic Church and come out of it, but like so many in the Roman Catholic church he’s been led to believe that the church and it’s system are the means unto Salvation. I was uncomforatble with the entire situation.
As a Christian, I cannot fellowship, worship and ‘do church’ with Catholics. There are matters in the church we can disagree on and still fellowship and worship together. For instance: Ecclesiology, how we “do church” how the church functions…we can disagree on and still fellowship. Eschatology, the study of the last things, we can disagree on and still fellowship, even Pneumatology, the study of the Holy Spirit we can disagree on and still fellowship and still worship the same God together. But there are two views with which we should never compromise on, one is our Christology-How we see the nature and work of Christ on our behalf. And the other is our Soteriology-the nature of our Salvation. Catholicism has a very different soteriology than Biblical Christianity. (and I’m not even speaking of their Semi-Pelagian view of man)
A good Catholic places all of their hope for salvation essentially in themselves, hoping, through faithful adherence to the sacraments they will merit salvation. From the middle ages even through today the Roman Catholic Church teaches that the sacraments work ex opere operato, or by the power of the completed act, and the validity of the sacraments does not depend on the orthodoxy of the minister, or his state of grace. Grace is infused into the sinner through the Sacraments making the sinner righteous; thereby God then justifies the sinner based on this real and inherent righteousness within the person. In Roman Catholic theology sanctification precedes justification; the sinner is infused with righteousness by cooperating with the grace found in the sacraments of the Church and this eventually brings justification or a right standing before God because the sinner has been made righteous. This view of sanctification preceding justification and our works being meritorious to our salvation is exactly backwards of what the Bible teaches.
The Roman Catholic Sacramental Means of Grace: Seven Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Order, and Matrimony. The following definitions taken from: Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (1952) by Roman Catholic Theologian Ludwig Ott, approved with the Papal Impramatur.
Baptism is the means of the remission of the guilt of original sin. In the case of adults, baptism also is the means of the eradication of all personal, mortal, or venial sins. Even when unworthily received, baptism imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, the —Baptismal Character“, and cannot be repeated. The Council of Trent (1545-1563), Session 7, Canon 14, condemned the denier of this doctrine.
In this sacrament by the imposition of hands, unction, and prayer, a baptized person is filled with the Holy Spirit for the inner strengthening of the supernatural life and for courageous outward testimony. By this sacrament baptismal grace is perfected. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) Session 7, Canon 3, condemned the denier of this doctrine.
Eucharist is from a Greek word that means “thanksgiving”. The Eucharist was an early name for the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion. The Roman Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation, first propounded by Paschasius Radbertus (ca.785-860), was defined as dogma by the Fourth Lateran Council (1215). The Eucharistic sacrifice was first defined as dogma by the Council of Trent in 1562 (Session 22, Canon 9) when the Roman Catholic Church also declared the condemnation of anyone who denies this doctrine.
The Council of Trent stated that the “Same Christ” is sacrificed in an “unbloody manner, who once offered himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross.” The effects of the Eucharist are unification with Christ and the preservation and increase of supernatural life, and it is a pledge of heavenly bliss and future resurrection. As a sacrament Christ is partaken as nourishment for the soul. As a sacrifice He is offered as a sacrificial gift to God. Theologian Ludwig Ott wrote, “The purpose of the sacrifice is the same in the sacrifice of the Mass as in the Sacrifice of the Cross; primarily the glorification of God, secondarily atonement, thanksgiving, and appeal….the Eucharist is atoning…a sacrifice of propitiation and can be offered “not only for the living, but also for the poor souls in Purgatory.”
Extreme Unction (“Last Rites” or “Final Anointing” or “Anointing of the Sick”)
Ott wrote: “It is a Sacrament of the Living. It presupposes in general the remission of grievous sins. But if a person in mortal sin is seriously ill and can no longer receive the Sacrament of Penance, or if he erroneously believes that he is free from grievous sin, Extreme Unction eradicates the grievous sins per accidens, but still by reason of Christ’s institution.” Only Bishops and Priests can administer the sacrament of extreme unction. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) Session 14, Canon 4 made this doctrine the official teaching of Rome.
Penance is the act of confession on the part of the penitent, together with the priest’s pronouncement of absolution and his assigning of certain works to be done by the penitent. In a Roman Catholic training book called Instructions for Non-Catholics we read: “In the Sacrament of Penance, God gives the priest the power to bring sinners back into the state of grace and to prevent them from falling into the abyss of hell. Moreover, after confession some temporal punishment due to sin generally remains, and some of this punishment is taken away in the penance (prayers) the priest gives you to say. You should perform other acts of penance also so that you can make up for the temporal punishment due to sin and to avoid a long stay in purgatory. The Church suggests these forms of penance: prayer, fasting, giving alms in the name of Christ, the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, the patient sufferings of the ills of life, and the gaining of indulgences.” (Pg.95)
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that there are three parts to penance: contritio, confessio, and satisfactio (contrition, confession, and satisfaction). Contrition is the realization by the sinner because of the love of God that they have sinned, but one cannot be forgiven merely by contrition. One must then confess, and in confession the penitent (the one who is contrite or repentant) accuses himself of his sins before an ordained priest (known as a —confessor“). After confession, the penitent prays an Act of Contrition and the priest absolves the penitent of their sins. The priest then assigns a penance to be performed that will satisfy for their sins, commonly a series of recitations of prayers such as the Lord‘s Prayer or the Hail Mary, meditation on Scripture, and praying the rosary.
The Church of Rome demands acts of Penance before she grants forgiveness, inferring that the sacrifice of Christ was not sufficient to atone fully for sin and that it must be supplemented to some extent by these good works (faith + works –> Justification -faith plus works brings justification.- synergism). God demands repentance, which means turning from sin, vices, injustice and all wickedness in whatever form: Isaiah 55:7- “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto Jehovah, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon“ (cf. 1 John 1:8-2:2). From the Greek New Testament edited by Erasmus, Luther discovered that Jesus did not say “Do Penance,” as interpreted by Rome because of Jerome‘s Vulgate translation, but Jesus said “Repent.”
Rome teaches that salvation depends ultimately upon ourselves, upon what we do, that one can “earn” salvation by obedience to the laws of the church, indeed that the saints can even store up excess merits in heaven beyond the requirements of duty, through such things as regular attendance at church, masses, rosary prayers, fastings, wearing of crucifixes etc. These excess merits are called “works of supererogation.” Mary and the saints are said to have stored up vast treasures of merit, from which the pope can draw and dispense to the faithful as they perform the works assigned by the priests. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) in Session 14, Canon 15 and Session 25 made penance an official doctrine of the Roman Church.
The Roman Catholic Church has fallen far from its roots and thus we cannot and should not consider Catholics to be Christians in any sense of the term. We should not have fellowship with them and we certainly shouldn’t worship with them. 2 Cor. 6:14 says:
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,” 2 John 1:10
“I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.” Romans 16:17
A good Catholic trusts in their own righteousness to earn their salvation, just like the liberal “Christians” and just like the legalistic “Christians” (as I pointed out in my post the Hell Raiser) and when you trust in yourself, you are rejecting Christ, for when men trust in their own righteousness they do indeed reject Christ’s. And if you have rejected Christ’s righteousness but still claim the term Christian as your own then you are a liar, for you are teaching what is contrary to the Gospel.
I am reminded of a couple of the Seven “Woes” that Jesus called down on the Pharisee’s when thinking of the leadership of the Catholic Church.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” Matt. 23:13
“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” Luke 11:32
Furthermore, even if we could worship with Catholics, were it not forbidden in the Bible, it is considered a sin by the Catholic church for a Catholic to participate in a non-Catholic worship service (except Funerals and Weddings) Furthermore according to the Catholic church all other churches are apostate. I quote to you from A Catechism of Christian Doctrine pgs. 123-124 (Copyright 1941 & 1949 St. Anthony Guild Press, Patterson New Jersey)
How do we know that no other church but the Catholic Church is the true Church of Christ?
We know that no other church but the Catholic Church is the true Church of Christ because no other church has these four marks:
(a) All other churches lack essential unity. They recognize no authority in religious matters vested in an individual who is the vicar of Christ (the Pope). In the worship of God many Christian sects are guided more by sentiment and personal conviction than by the objective truths given to the world by Our Lord.
(b) The founders of Christian sects were not saints and generally were not holy or edifying men. The sects have not given saints to the world. Their truths are but fragments of the doctrines of the Catholic Church. The holiness of their members is due to the means that sects have salvaged from Catholic worship. Moreover, these sects cannot point to miracles wrought in their favor.
(c) Not one of the Christian sects is universal .or catholic; that is, not one universality such as that of the Catholic Church.
(d) Not one of the Christian sects traces its origin to the apostles.
(e) The Greek Orthodox or Schismatic Church began in the ninth century its rejection of the authority of the Pope. From it have come various national churches, subject in some degree to authority. The Protestant churches began in the sixteenth century when their founders, rejecting certain doctrines of faith, broke away from Catholic unity. Many Protestant denominations are offshoots of the earliest sects. The Lutherans were founded by Martin Luther, the Presbyterians by John Knox, and the Methodists by John Wesley.
And on page 125 of the same book we see this claim as well.
Outside the Church there generally is no real recognition of authority in spiritual matters and this disregard for spiritual authority has lessened the respect for civil and domestic authority.
In short: The Catholic Church recognizes no other church but the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has never once refuted this stance. As far as the Catholic church is concerned:
The chief attributes of the Catholic Church are authority, infallibility, and indefectibility. They are called attributes because they are qualities perfecting the nature of the Church.
You see, according to the Catholic Church, it is primarily the Church that sanctities you and makes you holy…not Christ and this is a grievous Soteriological error, one that prevents us from fellowshiping or worshiping together. For the true Christian believes the Gospel when it says that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone it is a gift of God, not of works.
I once preached a sermon on “Sola Fide” and extensively used the example of Martin Luther, mentioning the errors he had found in the Catholic Church and contrasting that with Biblical Christianity. After the message one of church members said “It sure sounded like you were slamming the Catholic Church.” It should have, because the Catholic Church is by no means Christian.
AUTHOR NOTE: Before you get too uptight about whether or not I’m saying there won’t be any Catholics in heaven, just calm down, I’m not saying that. I don’t get to make those kinds of calls, God does. The Bible is clear we are saved by faith alone and there are some who attend a Catholic church that, I’m sure fall into this category; though not by anything they have been taught in their Catholic church, but by the grace of God and power of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, I believe when they become aware of the sound teaching of the Gospel they should come out of that apostate denomination known as Roman Catholicism.